The Pokemon series is one of the most widely recognizable games in the world. There isn’t a person who doesn’t know the name Pikachu or at least thrown a single pokeball. Since the launch of the first game Pokemon Red and Blue in 1996 for the Gameboy, it has gone on to become a global craze. There are now eight generations of main-line games totaling more than 30 titles. But that’s not all, as the Pokemon IP has branched off into numerous spin-off games as well. Here are some of the best and worst of the past decade alone.
Best: Pokemon GO!
Hands down the best Pokemon Spin-Off game of all time has to be Pokemon GO! It was one of the first games to step into the augmented reality space and turned a global phenomenon into an absolute craze. Mobs of fans and players were highlighted on the news. Entire communities came together playing this game, trying to catch as many Pokemon on their phone as they could. Generations new and old still play to this day, though the craze has died down considerably from when it first launched. Being able to walk around in real life and catch Pokemon on your smartphone was a natural move for the Pokemon games.
Worst: Pokemon Smile
Pokemon Smile is another augmented reality game aimed at motivating kids to brush their teeth. I feel bad including it as a worst because the mission here is a good one. You set up your phone with the camera on to capture you brushing your teeth. You can put cute Pokemon hats on yourself and as you brush you score points and capture Pokemon. It has a lot of functionality for just a simple concept, including capturing pictures and being able to put stickers on it. I didn’t think something as simple as brushing your teeth needed to be turned into a game by the Pokemon Company…but here we are.
Best: Pokemon Snap
Ok, so I’m cheating a little bit here. The original Pokemon Snap came out over 20 years ago. However, Nintendo has announced a new Pokemon Snap to release sometime…soon? I’m still putting it on the list because there has never been another game like this. Pokemon Snap takes you on a safari ride across several Pokemon habitats and lets you click pictures of the pocket monsters. The better the photos the more points you get. The more points you get, the more you unlock; new areas, new tools, and other stuff. What made this fun was trying to figure out how to get the best pictures. You could take a picture of a lone Charmander, or if you threw some snacks out it would lure other Chamanders out and they’d all start playing together. Or, if you lured a Slowpoke to the water he might evolve right in front of your eyes into a Slowbro.
If you’re a fan of Pokemon and Pokemon Snap check out our recent article about what we hope the next installment adds to the game.
Worst: Pokemon Sleep
This is another game that’s not quite out yet and I may have an idea why. Pokemon Sleep’s original trailer points out how PokemonGO made walking entertainment. One of the biggest boons of PokemonGO was definitely that it got people outside and exercising. The next logical step for the Pokemon Company would be to design a game around sleeping, right? Apparently so. Though we have no idea exactly what that means just yet and I’d suspect that the Pokemon company doesn’t either. Sleeping isn’t a game, you’re unconscious. Let’s spend our money and resources somewhere else. I’d even go for Pokemon Smile or whatever this ends up being.
Best: Pokemon Unite
Pokemon Unite was just announced so it hasn’t been released yet, but it’s one of the most unique uses of the Pokemon series in recent memory. Pokemon Unite is a Multiplayer Online Battle Area game, or MOBA for short. It’s following in the footsteps of popular esports games League of Legend, DOTA2, and Heroes of the Storm. Players face off in a 5 v 5 format and have to battle their way across a map to capture the team’s base. They do this using specialized heroes, champions, or in the case of Unite, Pokemon. It’s a perfect use of the Pokemon franchise as the Pokemon translate perfectly to champions with varied abilities. Plus, we’ve been battling Pokemon for decades and this puts a new spin on the idea of a team battle.
Worst: Pokemon Magikarp Jump
Finally, a game that actually seemed to have a lot of effort put into it. Magikarp Jump is about catching a Magikarp (with different patterns!). Then you must train your floppy fish pokemon by slapping it against punching bags, having it run laps and other things a floppy fish can’t actually do. All in the name of a jumping competition. That’s it! If you watch the trailer you’ve seen the entire game. I’d rather Pokemon Sleep my way through the day than take the time to download and then immediately uninstall this on my phone.
Which, sadly, when it first came out…I did.