With the surprising reveal of three new Pokemon Games (Pokemon Sleep, Pokemon Masters, and Detective Pikachu for Switch), it’s a good time to remind everyone that the history of Pokemon spin-offs has been surprisingly solid over the years.
Actually, you could make the argument that some of the best Pokemon games ever are spin-offs. That’s a bold claim that we happily support by showcasing 10 great Pokemon spin-offs you need to play.
Technically, Pokemon Snap is a first-person shooter. While that sounds like an awful idea, it’s made brilliant by the fact that what you’re “shooting” are pictures of Pokemon.
Pokemon Snap‘s simple photography gameplay is satisfying, but what really makes this game work is its Metroidvania-like progression system. Unlocking new items that let you learn the secrets of each level remains an absolutely brilliant hook.
Pokemon Pinball may not sound like much, but it’s so much more than the sum of its parts.
Pinball‘s brilliant table designs make great use of the Pokemon license and add quite a bit of depth with their “catch” mechanics. Those surprising bits of depth make it that much easier to fall into the title’s fantastic gameplay loop that has you chasing high scores.
Pokemon Puzzle League
Pokemon Puzzle League is essentially a re-skinned version of Tetris Attack, but that’s actually a big part of the reason why it’s so brilliant.
Not everyone gave Tetris Attack a chance despite its brilliant take on the Tetris formula. The presence of the Pokemon license lent Tetris Attack the charm it needed to hook players on a slightly different puzzle game concept.
Pokemon Stadium 1/2
We’re combining these two since they were basically the same concept with slight modifications.
Yes, Pokemon Stadium was basically just Pokemon‘s battle system in 3D, but that’s really all we ever needed at that time. Pokemon Stadium was the closest we came to recreating the battles of the animated series and got everyone dreaming about a proper console game.
Pokemon Trading Card Game
The physical Pokemon Trading Card Game was great, but it was also expensive and often quite cumbersome.
Pokemon Trading Card Game for Game Boy allowed fans to experience the best of the card game without the physical components. It remains an addictive and deep experience that deserves to be revisited.
Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon
The Mystery Dungeon franchise, in general, is fantastic, but we’ve got to give a special shout-out to the beloved Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon.
Essentially a dungeon crawler starring Pokemon, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon‘s incredible mechanics would be enjoyable regardless of the characters and world. However, once again we see how the creative brilliance of the Pokemon universe enhances something that’s already great.
Some Pokemon spin-offs are quite a stretch, but Pokemon Conquest stands as one of the most organic spin-off concepts in franchise history.
There’s always been an element of rock, paper, scissors strategy to Pokemon, so turning Pokemon into a Final Fantasy Tactics/Fire Emblem strategy game is actually a natural evolution (pun intended) of Pokemon combat.
No, it’s not the deepest game in the world. Yes, it was a bit of a fad.
Still, Pokemon GO sports a brilliant concept that clearly captured the attention of millions. On top of that, Pokemon GO has benefited from a series of updates over the years that added many of the features that arguably should have been included in the first place.
We’d say that Pokemon Colosseum and its sequel have been forgotten, but the truth is that they never really caught on in the first place. That’s quite odd considering they were basically the 3D Pokemon games people had been dreaming of.
Granted, Colosseum didn’t completely realize that dream, but as a slightly more involved take on Pokemon Stadium, it was a great time that showcased the brilliant possibilities of this concept.
Pokemon Ranger could have easily been Diablo with Pokemon (and would have been awesome), but this action-RPG is a little more ambitious than that.
Pokemon Ranger‘s excellent world-building and stylus-based capture system elevated what was an otherwise solid RPG adventure. It’s a shame this concept doesn’t really work outside of a touch screen system.