The 9 Best Pokémon Games in 2019

Gotta catch 'em all

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The Rundown

  • Best Overall: Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee! at Amazon, "Its setting, the Kanto region, will evoke wistful childhood memories for longtime series veterans."
  • Best Mainline: Pokémon Ultra Moon at Amazon, "In addition to the 81 new Pokémon introduced in Sun and Moon, Ultra Moon brings five new monsters to your pocket."
  • Best Story: Pokémon White 2 at Amazon, "Over 300 Pokémon can be captured natively in the Unova region of Black and White 2, gracing it with the largest regional Pokédex to date."
  • Best Remake: Pokémon SoulSilver at Amazon, "In some regards, Pokémon Go is the natural evolution of SoulSilver and HeartGold."
  • Runner-Up, Best Remake: Pokémon Alpha Sapphire at Amazon, "Its charming characters, creatures, and world more than make up for any shortcomings."
  • Best Battles: Pokémon Platinum at Amazon, "Brings new forms to legendary Pokémon — such as Giratina and Shaymin — and reinstates older legendaries, now available to capture."
  • Best Spin-Off: Pokkén Tournament DX at Amazon, "Pits two players together in an active 3D fighting arena as you compete in one of two modes."
  • Runner-Up, Best Spin-Off: Detective Pikachu at Amazon, "Centers around a talking, bad-tempered Pikachu who is understood only by a random boy he stumbles across in Rhyme City."
  • Best Pre-Order: Pokémon Sword and Shield at Amazon, "Older Pokémon — including all evolved forms of Eevee — have been confirmed for the Galar region Pokédex." 

Our Top Picks

01
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Best Overall: Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee!

4.2

While some will claim it’s a stripped-down version of an otherwise complex turn-based role-playing game (RPG), we like to think of Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee! (and its electrifying counterpart, Let’s Go, Pikachu!) as a return to form for an overcomplicated franchise that, in recent years, has alienated some of its most devoted fans. 

Taking cues from the overwhelming success of the Pokémon Go mobile game, Let’s Go, Eevee! removes the battle-to-capture element common to previous games in the series and replaces it with an active — and motion-controlled — Poké Ball throwing mechanic leveraging the unique functionality of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. Generously considered a remake of the 1998 Game Boy title Pokémon Yellow, Let’s Go, Eevee! also reduces the number of creatures you’ll find in the wild, from a headache-inducing 809 to a more manageable 151. 

Its setting, the Kanto region, will evoke wistful childhood memories for longtime series veterans, while newcomers will enjoy traversing the Kanto region for the first time.

Ready to spice up your travels? We also ranked the best Nintendo Switch games of 2019.

02
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Best Mainline: Pokémon Ultra Moon

Returning to the Hawaiian Islands-based Alola region of the Pokémon Sun and Moon games before it, Pokémon Ultra Moon is the latest game in the mainline Pokémon franchise. Released in 2017 for the Nintendo 3DS, it is the first "enhanced" third installment in any Pokémon generation to include a new cast of creatures, even if the selection is thin. In addition to the 81 new Pokémon introduced in Sun and Moon, Ultra Moon brings five new monsters to your pocket.

The storyline is almost identical to that of its immediate predecessors — you’re an 11-year-old residing on Melemele Island and, to become the next Pokémon League Champion you have to complete nine Island Trials and four Grand Trials before contending with the Elite Four. Since there are no gym battles, Pokémon Ultra Moon might estrange those confined to series mainstays. On the other hand, if you've grown tired of the traditional "wash, rinse, repeat" formula, you'll relish the chance to explore new Pokémon forms and mechanics.

03
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Best Story: Pokémon White 2

Traditionally, every mainline Pokémon game is broken into two different versions, with subtle differences between each, which are then followed by a third, "enhanced" composite of the two not long thereafter. After Pokémon Red and Blue came Yellow. Silver and Gold were reimagined one year later as Pokémon Crystal. And so on. Pokémon Black and White 2 deviate from this norm, opting instead to serve as a sequel to Black and White.

Under the assumption that you played the first Pokémon Black and White, White 2 takes place two years after the events of the first two games. In the wake of Ghetsis' arrest and N's brooding monologue rescinding his earlier condemnation of humanity, you play as an entirely new character, born and raised in Aspertia City, where you and your rival set out to procure all eight gym badges, conquer the Elite Four, etc., etc. Until the climax, which we won't spoil, the plot is similar to that of Black and White. It's the Pokédex that has changed. 

Over 300 Pokémon can be captured natively in the Unova region of Black and White 2, gracing it with the largest regional Pokédex to date. For those feeling bummed out by the absence of an international Pokédex in Sword and Shield, Black and White 2 is a sobering retreat.

04
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Best Remake: Pokémon SoulSilver

Pokémon SoulSilver

A decade on from their debut on the Nintendo Game Boy, Pokémon Gold and Silver were starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. Considering they were — and still are — the only games in the franchise spanning two regions, their remaking was long overdue in 2009. But, even more so than Red and Blue remakes FireRed and LeafGreen, which came out five years prior, Pokémon SoulSilver and HeartGold did their source material justice, introducing a suite of new features to an already content-dense foundation. 

Pokémon SoulSilver and HeartGold, like every mainline Pokémon release, are variants of the same game, with specific creatures exclusive to each. Though it can also be captured in HeartGold, Lugia is featured on the front cover of Pokémon SoulSilver, therefore it is the superior of the two. Bundled with SoulSilver and HeartGold is a PokéWalker accessory. Clip it to your pants and you can level up and catch Pokémon while leisurely walking around.

In some regards, Pokémon Go is the natural evolution of SoulSilver and HeartGold. These remakes paved the way for the ultimate Pokémon experience, with a never-ending list of things to see and do, including the return of the Battle Frontier, 16 gym badges, new areas, interregional wild Pokémon, and much, much more.

05
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Runner-Up, Best Remake: Pokémon Alpha Sapphire

Another remake, albeit on a more recent platform, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire launched alongside Omega Ruby back in November 2014. For Pokémon fans of the early 2000s, Alpha Sapphire might evoke feelings of nostalgia. Its fully orchestrated soundtrack features a wide array of brass instruments while the PokéNav has been updated with some of the functionality that originated in Pokémon X and Y. 

PSS, Pokémon Aime, and Super Training keep you not only connected with other players outside your game but allow you to develop hidden stats as well. Those who prefer the classic Pokémon formula will appreciate the inclusion of HMs, or hidden moves, obtained in the game that streamline traversal of the Hoenn region, as they were removed in its successor, Pokémon Sun and Moon. 

Although the abundance of water-type Pokémon (and actual bodies of water) has been noted as a common complaint against Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, its charming characters, creatures, and world more than make up for any shortcomings.

06
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Best Battles: Pokémon Platinum

Pokémon Platinum

Sadly, 12 years after their appearance on the Nintendo DS, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl have not been remade. That said, you can still take a trip to the Sinnoh region in Pokémon Platinum, the "enhanced" remaster of Diamond and Pearl, which was released two years later. The biggest change from those games is the reintroduction of the Battle Frontier, first demonstrated in Pokémon Emerald four years earlier. 

In Pokémon Platinum, the Battle Frontier is home to five facilities, most of which will drop you into sets of seven battles at a time. After facing each batch of powerful rivals, they continue to grow stronger, and it becomes increasingly more challenging to prevent your Pokémon from fainting. What's more, certain Pokémon deemed too unbalanced for the Battle Frontier are barred from entry. So if you were hoping to wield the might of Arceus, the Pokémon god itself, you are unfortunately out of luck. 

On top of its stimulating battles, Platinum brings new forms to legendary Pokémon — such as Giratina and Shaymin — and reinstates older legendaries, now available to capture.

07
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Best Spin-Off: Pokkén Tournament DX

If Tekken were a Pokémon game, it would be Pokkén Tournament. In fact, Pokkén Tournament was developed by Bandai Namco, the studio that created Tekken, so it's safe to say the similarities aren't merely coincidence. Pokkén Tournament and its Nintendo Switch variant, Pokkén Tournament DX, pits two players together in an active 3D fighting arena as you compete in one of two modes. Over time, by using various combos and attacks, you can build up a "Synergy Gauge" to fuel special moves and Mega Evolutions. 

Whereas the original Wii U version of Pokkén Tournament would require you to unlock individual fighters (which are, to be clear, Pokémon), Pokkén Tournament DX has 21 playable characters out of the box, including five that were omitted from the Wii U game. You can also employ a number of support Pokémon to layer on basic support attacks, namely "Attack," "Disrupt," and "Enhance." New playable fighters include Aegislash, Blastoise, Croagunk, Darkrai, Decidueye, Empoleon, and Scizor. 

As for multiplayer modes, you can play "ranked" or "friendly" in either the Group Match or Team Battle Modes. The latter, exclusive to Pokkén Tournament DX, lets you select a three-Pokémon team, with the ultimate goal of knocking out the party chosen by your opponent.

Step up the difficulty (on another console) with the best PS4 fighting games of the year.

08
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Runner-Up, Best Spin-Off: Detective Pikachu

Before it was a jarring live-action film starring Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith, Detective Pikachu was an adventure game for the Nintendo 3DS. Released worldwide in March 2018, Detective Pikachu centers around a talking, bad-tempered Pikachu who is understood only by a random boy he stumbles across in Rhyme City named Tim Goodman. Together, Pikachu and Tim conduct an investigation into the disappearance of Tim's father. However, they become sidetracked along the way upon learning of a drug called "R" causing Pokémon to go "berserk."

Similar to L.A. Noire, you'll spend much of your time in Detective Pikachu talking to non-player characters (NPCs) in the world and searching for clues. Time-sensitive quick time events (QTEs) also make up portions of Detective Pikachu's roughly 12-hour campaign but worry not: If you fail, the story persists, just with inconsequential changes to the animated cutscenes that ensue.

09
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Best Pre-Order: Pokémon Sword

Taking place in an all-new Galar region, Pokémon Sword and Shield are slated to hit store shelves on November 15, 2019, so while neither is playable as of this writing, you can pre-order either, or both, for same-day delivery. So far, the biggest highlight of Pokémon Sword and Shield is their inception of the eighth generation of Pokémon creatures. About 20 have been revealed, though older Pokémon — including all evolved forms of Eevee — have been confirmed for the Galar region Pokédex. 

Unfortunately, despite the continued existence of the Pokémon Bank (not to mention the advent of another cloud-based storage solution called Pokémon Home), only Pokémon native to the Galar region are transferable to Pokémon Sword and Shield. Of course, with sheep this relatable, what more could you need?

Our writers spent over 100 hours researching the best Pokémon games on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 40 different titles overall, testing 34 themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust