Pokemon games have always been known for their quality and a fairly well-established formula. You explore a new world as a 10 year old with no father. You catch all the new Pokemon you can find and build up your team to defeat gym leaders and gang members. It’s quite simple, but it’s effective and always grabs a lot of sales for Nintendo and their consoles.
For some reason, though, Pokemon has become one of the Big N’s franchises that is used to experiment with new ideas (similar to what they’ve done with Kirby in the past). Granted, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the results have been great and allowed us to experience inventive and fun ways to interact with our favorite creatures, such as with Pokken Tournament or Pokemon XD.
When it’s not done well, the results can be quite disastrous. I’m sure everyone reading this can think of a time when a Pokemon game out that just wasn’t up to snuff. In our time, we’ve found a lot more than just one. Also, try not to take this list too seriously and read through for our supporting arguments on each point.
With that out of the way, we can now look at 15 mediocre Pokemon games that Game Freak doesn’t want you to play.
15. Pokemon Dash
A racing game with Pokemon sounds pretty great on paper, right? Well, what if I told you that it would be native to the original Nintendo DS and use only the touchscreen to control your character throughout the races? You’d probably be less excited. For some reason, that was Nintendo’s thinking when making Pokemon Dash. At face value it seems like a fun time, but once you get past the fact that you’re controlling Pikachu, the cracks show through. The game, first of all, looks quite terrible. Being home to the bottom screen of the DS, blocky models and poorly-drawn set pieces are all too apparent. Then there’s the races themselves. The game never gives you a clear direction on where to go, and you only have to rely on arrows to show you the next boost pad. Unfortunately, those arrows will often lead you through grass and trees that painfully slow you down. The game only becomes more confusing as you play, and ends up at the bottom of the barrel when people talk about the legacy of the DS. If you want a handheld racing game, just stick with Mario Kart.
14. Pokemon Battle Revolution
Pokemon Stadium paved the way for what a console Pokemon game could be, and Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD were large steps in the right direction, giving players a story to follow and unique monsters to capture. When it was announced that the Wii would be getting another Pokemon game similar to these, there could only be excitement had overall. However, Game Freak didn’t want to capitalize on the success of their past entries and decided to take two steps backward when releasing Pokemon Battle Revolution.
Were you fond of the stories found in the Gamecube Pokemon games? Well forget about all of that, because Pokemon Battle Revolution doesn’t have a story. The game simply puts you in a stadium setting, where you simply battle with predetermined teams. While the graphics do look fairly decent, it’s not enough to distract you from the fact that this game is horribly shallow. It does have a small saving grace by letting Diamond and Pearl players hook up to it in order to battle on a TV with full 3D models, but that’s enough to justify the $49.99 price tag it had at launch. This game could’ve been so much more and ended up being so terrible.
13. Pokemon Channel
Speaking of Gamecube Pokemon games, there was one that was quite abysmal when compared to the rest. Pokemon Channel is a successor to Hey You, Pikachu! in a lot of ways, and it’s apparent with how you interact with the little yellow mouse. The problem is that the former game on the N64 had you focus on Pikachu and was mostly a tech demo for that console’s mic peripheral. Never would people have wanted a full game out of it. And yet, we got one anyway.
Pokemon Channel‘s biggest mechanic (if you can call it that) is watching TV. Pikachu loves watching TV, so you have to flip through channels until you find something that it likes. What makes it even more grueling is the fact that the shows are run by Pokemon and they never say anything that you can understand (in the case of a Slowpoke predicting the weather, it’s particularly grating) and you’re just left guessing. You can go out and interact with other Pokemon, but they’ll probably just give you some pointless quiz. At the end of the day, when you put the game away, you’ll wonder where your life went in the past 20 minutes.
12. Pokepark 2: Wonders Beyond
Pokepark Wii: Pikachu’s Adventure was a pretty mixed bag when it released. While the graphics and sound were astounding, the attractions and unbelievably childish story left something to be desired. Nonetheless, there was some enjoyment to be had with some good post-game content and the desire to befriend everyone in the park. It would make sense that Nintendo would want to release a sequel: Pokepark 2: Wonders Beyond. Unfortunately, this game underwent a similar failing to Pokemon Battle Revolution: one step forward, two steps back.
The game still keeps the graphical integrity of its predecessor, and allows more than one person to enjoy the many different attractions. That’s pretty much where the advancements end, though. While you can control four different Pokemon in the overworld, you only get to use those four when completing minigames and attractions. Gone is the massive selection of many different Pokemon, leaving you with Pikachu and the three Unova starters. Furthermore, the game doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that it’s terribly repetitive, much more so than the first entry. Where the first game enticed you to befriend more Pokemon to use in attractions, this one discourages you by not allowing you to use them.
11. Pokemon GO
Okay, let’s be honest: Pokemon GO isn’t the greatest game ever released. Don’t get me wrong- it’s completely addictive and I still play it to this day, but that doesn’t make it a great game. From the start, Pokemon GO has suffered from some issues with the server (although that problem is much better than it used to be). This made catching Pokemon and collecting items through Pokestops very difficult at times, considering that the commands may not even register.
Furthermore, catching enough Pokemon to fill out your Pokedex is an extremely tedious process that has discouraged many from continuing. Collecting 400 Magikarp candies to get a Gyarados is especially difficult when catching a Pokemon only rewards you with 3. There is a chance you can find evolved Pokemon, but they are few and far between. The game could solve this by allowing trading and battling between other individual players, but those are features that are mysteriously absent. The only battling that can be done is through gyms. And let’s face it- if you’re not at least level 20, you’re not going to get anywhere near one of those. Pokemon GO is an unfinished game with a horrible penalty to newer players.
10. Pokemon Rumble U
When Pokemon Rumble came out for WiiWare all those years ago, it was a pretty fun title. It could get slightly repetitive at times, but the thrill of using adorable versions of your favorite Pokemon to bring down waves of others was quite fun. With each new area rewarding you with new Pokemon to find, it was also rewarding for exploration. The series has since improved gradually over time, but there was one entry that left us all incredibly confused in the long run- Pokemon Rumble U.
It had been a while since Disney and Activision introduced their toys-to-life figures, so Nintendo decided they would give it a try with Pokemon Rumble U. Unfortunately for them, that move didn’t quite work out, and it wasn’t because of the figures. The game itself was very lackluster, especially when compared to previous entries in the series. Gone was the exploration and hectic action that came from collecting new Pokemon. Instead you were given a bunch of arena battles to get through. There wasn’t a lot of depth to it. But at least you could scan in a Pokemon figure and use it in the battle. Yay?
9. Pokemon Ranger
A lot of the spin-off games on this list are based on alterations to the Pokemon formula. However, these alterations actually serve to hurt rather than enhance the resulting game as a whole. Pokemon Ranger is based on the premise of catching your Pokemon and not being able to keep them. Okay, it’s a bit more interesting than that, but that’s the main point that turned a lot of people off.
I will go on record and say that this series does improve with its two sequels, Shadows of Almia and Guardian Signs. However, the successes of those two only make the failings of the first entry much more apparent. There are several characters throughout the game’s story and none of them are memorable at all. I doubt that there are many people who even remember a single character’s name. Then there comes the gameplay. You have to temporarily capture Pokemon in order to use them to progress through the environment. You do this by finding a wild Pokemon and continuously draw uninterrupted circles around them as fast as possible. It’s incredibly frustrating and can easily give your wrist some pain if you’re engaged in a tough battle. It does have some merit through giving the player a Manaphy that you can transfer to Diamond and Pearl.
8. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates To Infinity
The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series began with some of the strongest entries in the series, and has been either hit or miss since then. But there is arguably no lower point for the franchise than with Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates To Infinity. On paper, this game had a lot going for it. It was the first of the Mystery Dungeon games to be released on the 3DS. Because of this, there were graphical capabilities that simply couldn’t be there in the past. Every Pokemon was given a full 3D model, and it all looks quite nice. Unfortunately that doesn’t save the game from being horribly shallow. Gates To Infinity is lacking in content and a lot of Pokemon (in a series where you can normally find every Pokemon in the Pokedex). Then there is the whole “Magnagate” mechanic, where you use the 3DS camera to find black circles in real life that reward you with dungeons. It’s just a cheap gimmick. It’s also apparent that the dungeons have no real variety and don’t stand out in any way, shape, or form.
7. Pokemon Puzzle League
Look, I’m all for stylized puzzle games. Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine happens to be one of my favorite puzzle games of all time. I also have a lot of love for Puyo Puyo Tetris, due to how it makes things fresh, bright, and exciting. Pokemon Puzzle League does none of the above. From the get-go, there is no hiding that this game is just a reskin of Tetris Attack: a formula that is practically a dime a dozen these days. Right off the bat, there isn’t much going for it. Then there are the graphics. While this game came out on the N64, you’d never be able to tell. Everything is relegated to measly 2D graphics that probably would’ve fit better on the SNES. However, if the game can take the Pokemon theme and turn into its own experience, similar to aforementioned games on this list, who cares, right? Well, Pokemon Puzzle League doesn’t put any such spin. All you do is play Tetris Attack. Every time you get a good match, you’ll hear the annoying voice of Ash cheering you on. The backgrounds are also stagnant and lifeless, giving no incentive to ever return to this forgotten title.
6. Pokemon Black and White
It seemed that after the release of Pokemon Heartgold and Soulsilver, Game Freak was ready to stop living off of the long-surviving Gen 4 and go an entirely new route. When I say “entirely new route,” I mean it too. Pokemon Black and White introduced one of the largest new rosters of Pokemon in order to recapture that feeling of booting up Red and Blue to see what was out there for the very first time. The first problem with this is that a lot of the Pokemon in Black and White were pretty ugly and not many people wanted to catch them. The second problem with this is that the games felt completely disconnected from every other entry in the series, almost as if you were playing in an alternate reality. In a Pokemon game, that’s not a great feeling. The gameplay and mechanics were all there, but there are only so many advancements one can make with the DS’s graphics before its age begins to show. Black and White brought moving sprites to the mix, but everything was so pixelated that you couldn’t fully appreciate it. At least the story was pretty solid in this entry.
5. Pokemon Dream Radar
It seems that the Black and White era of Pokemon was home to several bad decision by Game Freak, and one of their more notorious ones was the Pokemon Dream Radar. This game makes use of the 3DS’s camera to interact with and capture new Pokemon that you could then transfer to Black and White 2. If the package sounds very familiar to Face Raiders, that’s because it is. In a move very similar to Pokemon Puzzle League, Nintendo took an established formula, slapped a Pokemon skin over it, and called it a new game. Thankfully, the game will only set you back about four dollars. But for a title that gives you access to new legendary Pokemon, it seems a little cheap to lock them behind a paywall. However, this game isn’t something we have to worry about now, as Black and White 2 have long been considered obsolete and we now have Sun and Moon to sink our teeth into. Let’s just hope that something like this doesn’t come up in a future console or game.
4. Pokedex 3D Pro
One cannot talk about the strange decisions in the Black and White era without mentioning Pokedex 3D Pro. Not long after the 3DS came out, Game Freak launched the Pokedex 3D app, which would give you full models of each of the Unova Pokemon, as well as their moves and evolution lines. It was a somewhat helpful and cute little tool that was nice because it was free for those that wanted it. However, Game Freak felt that they could capitalize on it with the release of Pokedex 3D Pro. This app added in all of the Pokemon from the previous four generations, but locked the app behind a staggering pay wall of $15. Yes, it was as crazy as it sounds. What hurts the most is that those who invested in this app didn’t get their pay off either. Not long after it was released, Pokemon X and Y came out, and there was no proper support for generation six on Pokedex 3D Pro. At that point, it would be much more beneficial to get some kind of paper guide that contained all of that information and then some for an arguably less price. You wouldn’t even have to suspend your game to look at a guide either.
3. My Pokemon Ranch
The first WiiWare Pokemon title was something of an interesting addition to the franchise. It was marketed as a cute little simulation game where you take care of adorable sprites of various Pokemon. In actuality, it was essentially a bank where you could store up to 1000 Pokemon from Diamond and Pearl onto your Nintendo Wii. That would be a pretty sweet deal if the game didn’t cost upward of $10. You could excuse it if the game itself was fairly decent, and it wasn’t. Granted, there is a certain novelty to transferring your Pokemon onto My Pokemon Ranch and seeing how they interact with the scenery, as well as witnessing how your ranch grows overtime. The problem with that is once you boot up the game, get your new Pokemon from your in-game friend, and open the toy boxes, there isn’t much else that you can do. You can create tornadoes and earthquakes to jostle your little critters, but that’s about it. You’re then left just watching the Pokemon behave on your ranch, wondering what in the world you’re doing with your life. If you are a trooper and manage to gradually grow the ranch enough, though, you are rewarded with a Phione and a Mew that you can transfer to your handheld games.
2. Pokemon Play It!
Understand, before I continue, that every Pokemon game that is based on the trading card game plays quite well. They all adhere to the strict rules and guidelines set by the real life equivalent. That said, not all of them function well to give you the best experience when learning how to play the TCG and beyond. For this entry I debated between this game and Pokemon TCG Online for its horrible UI and poor server quality (in my experience), but I chose to settle on Pokemon Play It! instead. One of the standout reasons for this is how horribly terrifying the character models look in the game. That opening cutscene is nightmare fuel, I tell you. Furthermore, the game feels very stagnant, and the animations and sound effects for the attacks just seem quite off. Furthermore, the structure of the video game itself is quite ugly, and you’d probably be better off at playing the Game Boy Pokemon Trading Card Game that came out around roughly the same time. However, if you want the definitive experience, go to Wal-Mart and buy a deck.
1. Pokemon X and Y
Now now! Before you start sending me death threats and hate mail, just hear me out. First of all, this list is not ranked. Secondly, it wasn’t until after I finished my time with Pokemon Y that I began to understand why it deserved a spot on this list. You see, X and Y were pretty revolutionary by introducing a 3D engine (which was based on a grid movement) with fully 3D Pokemon in the game. There were some new and great additions to the roster, but you could still catch Pokemon that you were familiar with.
The problems with X and Y lie mostly in its story, post game content, and lasting appeal. Coming off of the amazing drama of Black and White, X and Y’s story was convoluted and uninteresting, even by Pokemon standards. The post game content was also dreadfully thin. There are a total of three legendaries to catch once you beat the main game and that’s it. There’s also a little side quest, but you’re pretty much done as soon as you conquer the Elite Four. Because of this factor, the games have no lasting appeal. You can battle and trade with trainers across the world, but if you’re not into that stuff, there isn’t anything there left for you.