For the past 20 years Nintendo and Game Freak have been presenting their unique take on the RPG genre with the main series Pokémon games. From the original Red, Blue, and Yellow to the more recent Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire the games have captivated millions with their creative creature designs, charismatic settings, and addictive gameplay that is best summarised as “easy to get into, difficult to master and even harder to put down”. But the series doesn’t just consist of turn based RPG games; in fact over the years the Pokémon spin-off games have covered a range of genres. Some of these games are actually really good, so here’s my list for the top 5 Pokémon spin off-games.
Pokémon Shuffle (Android, iOS, and 3DS)
Let’s start off the controversial choice. Yes this is a free to play game that is effectively a Candy Crush clone, but at the same time if you’re a Pokémon fan it’s a great game to just have in your pocket when you have 5 minutes to kill. It’s basically a puzzle game in which you fight against various Pokémon by matching three or more of the same Pokémon on the bottom of your screen. If you win a battle you have a chance to catch the Pokémon you were just fighting and then add it to your ever-growing collection. The Pokémon that you use in battle can even grow stronger as you use them more often and have their own unique abilities.
The PokéPark Games (Wii)
I’ve always wanted to play a game that would let me have real time Pokémon battles and with PokéPark Wii and PokéPark 2, that’s kind of what I got. I say kind of because that’s only one aspect of the PokéPark games. Besides getting to partake in battles with various Pokémon from around the PokéPark you’ll also be encountering legendary Pokémon, solving a few basic puzzles, and playing loads of classic Wii mini-games. In the original you only get to play as Pikachu, but in the sequel you get a few more playable characters which was a very nice addition. My only real complaint is the somewhat clunky control scheme and the fact that the games can get a bit repetitive at times.
The Pokémon Pinball Games (Gameboy, and Gameboy Advance)
Taken on face value, these games appear to be nothing more than generic pinball games with the Pokémon name slapped on to sell more copies. Even if this was the case that wouldn’t necessarily make for a bad game as it’s very hard to make a bad Pinball game. As things stand however, the Pokémon Pinball games are actually very creative as they allow you to capture and evolve various Pokémon from throughout the series. This combined with the ability to travel to numerous locations from the main series games, and some really catchy music, make the Pokémon Pinball games ones that I will more than likely still being returning to for years to come.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Games (Gameboy Advance, DS, and 3DS)
This dungeon crawling spin-off series has seen more entries than any other spin-off series, and there’s a good reason why. Set in a world in which Pokémon can talk and have formed their own societies, players choose an avatar from a selection of different Pokémon at the start of the game, and then begin their perilous journey. You’ll get to explore randomized dungeons and battle countless other Pokémon along the way as you uncover the mysteries of the surprisingly complex plot. The battling is a mixture of real-time and the turn based battles of the main series games and is definitely the highlight of the experience.
Pokémon Snap (Nintendo 64)
This on-rails first person camera shooter takes you to Pokémon Island and sets you the task of snapping pics of over 60 different Pokémon across the islands various courses. There’s a volcano course where you’ll come across fire type Pokémon, a river course where you’ll encounter water type Pokémon, and various other themed courses that are simply oozing with charisma. It’s a bizarre concept that you wouldn’t expect to work, but somehow despite the game’s brevity, it manages to be an addictive wild ride and one that Pokémon fans should not miss out on. It was also the first Pokémon game to feature fully 3D Pokémon character models, which back in 1999 was simply mind-blowing.