The Pokemon franchise has launched numerous video game titles over the years, from a collection of mainline adventures to more unique spin-offs. Many of these games have been released during the lifetime of the Nintendo Switch, meaning there’s plenty of content for any Pokemanic to enjoy on the portable hybrid console.
However, not all of these games live up to the expectations of fans, so if you’re curious about which titles you should consider picking up for your switch — as well as the iffy candidates you’d be better off feeding to Garbodor — then we’ve got you covered. Here’s our ranking of every Pokemon title on the Nintendo Switch.
11. Pokemon Quest
While it is a fine addition to your library due to being free-to-play, Pokemon Quest remains lackluster as far as franchise titles on the Nintendo Switch go.
Utilizing a blocky pixel art style that shares a similarity to Minecraft, Pokemon Quest is an action-adventure game that features Pokemon called Pokexel. You use them to adventure, clear levels of wild Pokemon, recruit new members for your team, and improve your Base Camp.
It’s an okay choice if you want to kill a few minutes here or there with rather simplistic, straightforward gameplay, but you can’t expect too much from this title. A lack of memorable moments, story, and interesting features leave it feeling dull and repetitive.
Honestly, I’m a huge Pokemon fan, and I’m usually eager to get my hands on any new titles or spin-offs to try them out. I played this game on Switch for a few weeks after release — and I completely forgot it even existed until now. Let that speak for itself.
10. Pokemon Cafe ReMix
Pokemon Cafe ReMix sure is cute, there’s no denying that.
Utilizing an adorably charming art style and some cozy animated cutscenes, this free-to-play title is a fine choice for any Pokefan who enjoys puzzle games. The gameplay revolves around operating a cafe and serving food and drinks by completing puzzles, which involve clearing Pokemon heads by linking them together in a string. Completing orders will enable you to level up your cafe and unlock more menu items.
Unfortunately, while Pokemon Cafe ReMix offers a cute, simplistic experience, there are significant drawbacks that stop the game from being entirely enjoyable other than boredom from the repetitive gameplay formula. Most significantly, you have three ‘lives’ in this game, and attempting a level will consume a life — regardless of if you fail or succeed. After consuming all three lives, you’ll be unable to keep playing and make progress for a specific amount of time.
The only way to get around this is by purchasing extra lives with Golden Acorns, which can be earned through play, gifted by friends, or purchased as microtransactions, which is less than ideal. Because of this, you’ll likely run out of both lives and Golden Acorns and be unable to continue progress until the cooldown period is over or you’re willing to fork over some real world cash.
For a game that is fairly simple and repetitive, this is incredibly restricting, and somewhat ruins the limited moments of entertainment Pokemon Cafe ReMix offers.
9. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
As someone who was a huge fan of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon spin-off series while growing up, I felt immense joy and nostalgia when I heard the Nintendo Switch was receiving a new Mystery Dungeon title, knowing there was a chance to kick things up a notch. Introducing a new, almost storybook-like art style for the game was a unique and intriguing approach, and one I embraced wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, I can’t find many positives to share beyond that. This modernized remake fails to uplift and improve on the original beyond the charming new graphics and endearing character roster. Dungeons feel oddly repetitive and predictable, often lacking a challenge. The story, while interesting, had a few pacing issues which made it rather hard to enjoy the lovable Pokemon friends you meet along the way. In all honesty, this game felt like it was a hassle to play, with very little reward.
As someone who once sunk a ridiculous amount of time into Mystery Dungeon games, I was rather surprised that I lost interest completely in this title within my first few hours of playing and never picked it up again. Rescue Team DX just fails to create the same sort of magic and fun in exploring and combat that made elder PMD titles much more enjoyable.
It’s still a decent title to pick up if you’re looking for an introduction to the Mystery Dungeon series, but you should follow up with one of the DS’s Explorers titles if possible for a much more well-balanced experience in terms of story, music, dungeons, and content.
8. Pokemon UNITE
If you’ve ever wondered what a Pokemon-themed MOBA game would look like, then Pokemon UNITE is the answer.
There’s nothing wrong with downloading this free-to-play title, as it makes for quite a decent time killer and you can team up and play with your friends. Besides, as far as MOBA games go, Pokemon Unite is much more simplified and straightforward than other contenders, making it the perfect title to jump into if you’re new to the genre. Matches are short at just 10 minutes long, which is about a quarter of the time taken to complete a match of say League of Legends, for example.
This enables you to keep moving and having fun, and helps the game to be suitable for younger players too.
Unfortunately, while Pokemon UNITE does offer pretty solid gameplay and has a fun roster featuring a good number of fan-favorite creatures, the potential of the game is significantly crushed by an arguably pay-to-win approach. There’s a clear influence of microtransactions, as players are tasked with finding success without spending hours upon hours to unlock new playable ‘Mons and get on even ground with their competitors.
7. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl
Pokemon Diamond & Pearl were among some of the most beloved mainline titles in franchise history, with fans begging for remakes once the Nintendo Switch was released. Unfortunately, when we finally received those remakes, they failed to live up to the expectations of many Trainers worldwide.
Skipping over the numerous bugs that players experienced on release, the most notable criticism of these titles is the odd, chibi art style.
While ORAS utilized a pseudo-chibi art style for the Ruby & Sapphire remakes, BDSP takes it to a new extent; almost to the point where these remakes look less like a part of the mainline series and more like a mobile game spin-off. It’s cute and all, but it seemed like a step backward for mainline Pokemon graphics on the switch.
Beyond updated visuals and a few notable features, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl also offer very little in terms of new content or refreshing tweaks, especially in comparison to other remakes.
For example: Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire utilized the well-adored Delta Episode for some intriguing and entertaining post-game content featuring the mysterious Zinnia. Heart Gold and Soul Silver, meanwhile, introduced the first follow mechanic that was compatible with every Pokemon in the game — even enhancing this feature with the Pokewalker bonus accessory.
Comparatively, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl only really offer updated visuals. Everything else is the same as the originals. Furthermore, the Pokemon Platinum content was completely left out of the mix, making them feel even more lacking.
Truthfully, it’s hard to find a lot of positives about these titles when fan-made content for the same remake concept completely blows them out of the water.
6. Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Let’s Go, Eevee!
Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee have had rather mixed reviews due to a few significant changes to the traditional formula.
For the most part, these games are very enjoyable and incorporate several key features that make them the perfect first Pokemon game for any young Trainer looking to take a step into the franchise. In these titles, traditional starter Pokemon and leveling mechanics are thrown out the window, with players being gifted a Pikachu or Eevee as their partner depending on which variant of the game you own.
The majority of team progression and evolution comes from catching a lot of Pokemon, which can even be done with the Joy-Con’s motion controls. This can let you feel like you’re physically throwing those Pokeballs at the poor low-level Pidgey and Rattata. It’s fun at first, but can admittedly grow tiresome rather quickly.
At the same time though, it makes the game extremely straightforward and exciting for younger fans. Plus, you can toggle motion control captures on or off, so it’s not the end of the world.
Some longtime fans have complained that the Let’s Go games are far too easy, but veteran Trainers weren’t exactly the target audience here, so we might as well all just enjoy them for what they are.
5. Pokken Tournament DX
Most people who have played Pokemon have pondered the thought: What if there was a game where we could physically control the Pokemon in battle to attack the opponent and dodge incoming moves? Well, Pokken Tournament DX answers that question, and while it’s no traditional mainline Pokemon game, it is a highly enjoyable fighter game and the closest we’ve gotten to the concept of controlling Pokemon in battle.
This game is seriously fun to enjoy in co-op mode with friends, as you can battle it out for bragging rights or engage in perfectly competitive in Online Play should you be up for the challenge. There’s a decent roster of Pokemon that each have a unique playstyle too, and every specimen on the roster is complete with unique finisher moves and victory animations.
The controls are also surprisingly easy to pick up, allowing even the most casual of players to jump in and have some fun; often with a pretty solid success rate too.
Sadly, it isn’t without its flaws. While it does have impressive cinematics, the story mode remains subpar at times due to a rather bare-bones and repetitive narrative even for a fighting game.
All the same, Pokemon fans could do a lot worse than to give this spin-off a try, especially if they’d like to dive into a title their friends can play alongside them.
4. New Pokemon Snap
If you’re looking for one of the coziest Pokemon games around, then New Pokemon Snap is a top contender.
In this title, all levelling, EXP grinding, gym battling, and desperate hunting to catch em’ all is thrown out the window. Instead, you take on the role of photographer, observing and capturing Pokemon in their natural environments. Pokemon you encounter will be up to all sorts of adorable and mischievous actions, such as dancing together, feasting on a snack, or splashing around in the water.
Environments are bright and bold, and many of the trails you explore are genuinely gorgeous to look at. More than once, I found myself admiring my surroundings — especially the illuminated night tracks — and forgetting to collect snaps of the wild species inhabiting said areas. The controls are also as simple as it gets. All you need to do is point and click as your travel device automatically moves along each track for you.
Each area has a pretty decent level of replayability too, as you’ll often stumble across Pokemon that you missed the first time around or capture a shot with a much better rating than your first attempt.
New Pokemon Snap has good aesthetics, relaxing and mellow gameplay, and gives players a sneak peek inside the lives of wild Pokemon – it doesn’t get much better than that.
3. Pokemon Sword & Shield
Though it may now feel more like a prototype for the top rankers on this list, Pokemon Sword & Shield are still some truly great mainline Pokemon titles.
The games’ Galar Region gave players a glimpse at open-world gameplay through the Wild Area, and featured an assortment of endearing and intriguing new Pokemon to catch. The Wild Area also featured Dynamax Raids, where players can team up in groups of four to take on and capture Dynamax Pokemon to earn some extra rewards.
Dynamax Raids were an enjoyable and worthwhile addition for longterm players and Pokemon collectors in particular. This is due to the excitement of limited-time event Raids, which offer the chance to obtain rare ‘Mons with Hidden Abilities or shiny variants.
Pokemon Sword & Shield also have some of the best character customization when it comes to titles on the Nintendo Switch. Players are able to fully customize their outfit and hairstyle with various options that they unlock as they progress through the story, adding a personal touch to their Trainer.
Alongside this, the games introduced EXP Candies, which quickly became a fan-favorite item due to how quickly and efficiently they enable you to level and evolve Pokemon — making them perfect for collecting a living Dex or raising a Competitive team.
However, despite these positives, there are a couple of reasons why these mainline entries are slightly outshined by Legends: Arceus and Scarlet & Violet.
Sword & Shield is extremely linear in its gameplay and was heavily criticized for lackluster animations and re-using assets from the DS’s Sun & Moon games. Most notably, they recycled Rival Hau’s animations for Rival Hop, on top of them already sharing many of the same personality traits. This dulls down characters and makes them feel less like their own unique person, which is quite disappointing and enabled side Rivals Marnie and Bede to outshine Hop with ease.
Despite offering new features, it would’ve been nice to see Sword & Shield’s story taking some fresh turns or spin on the classic structure too, which Scarlet & Violet does much better.
However, these titles are undoubtedly fun despite their flaws. They have brilliant Pokemon designs, and feature big doggos as the Box Art Legendaries, so we can’t complain too much. If you’re a Pokefan who missed playing through Sword & Shield, you should give these titles a chance!
2. Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
While Scarlet & Violet have had their struggles with significantly buggy gameplay and performance limitations due to the Switch’s limited hardware, these titles are the first big step in a new direction for the mainline Pokemon series and were a complete joy to play.
These titles allowed the first truly open-world approach to gameplay, with three different Story Paths that you could complete in whichever order you like as you roam the lands of the Paldea Region freely with your trusty buddy Miraidon or Koraidon.
They also outshine Sword & Shield in the story and character writing. Each Story Path has a range of characters that you’ll interact with such as Nemona, Arven, and the Team Star members. As you progress through each Story Path, you’ll become more familiar with these characters and even get little snippets of their backstory, which gives insight into their personality; exactly the little details fans said were missing from SW&SH’s more flat characters.
Scarlet & Violet also puts a fresh spin on its evil organization with Team Star, who are instead not that bad at all and even arguably good at heart. This was one of my favorite elements of the entire game and made completing their Story Path extremely worthwhile. The other paths are just as rewarding, giving some touching moments with Arven’s Mabostiff and a truly strong friendly rivalry with Nemona.
Lastly, the multiplayer functions are infinitely better than previous games, allowing you and up to three other friends to run around Paldea together in real-time to soak up all the joys the Region has to offer. Trainers can run, jump, swim, and fly their way across the lands with Koraidon or Miraidon, collect rare Paldean Pokemon, and even explore the notorious Area Zero once you’ve completed the Story Paths.
Scarlet & Violet is a brilliant step in the right direction and the most enjoyable mainline title to play alongside your friends. Even if it’s not the best Pokemon Switch game, it’s darn close and a good sign of where the mainline series could go next.
1. Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Before Scarlet & Violet, Pokemon Legends: Arceus was the first game to give players a glimpse at a truly open-world experience, set hundreds of years in the past in an ancient version of the Sinnoh Region, labeled Hisui.
This was a complete breath of fresh air in terms of story and gameplay formula, enabling fans to participate in the exploration and discover the history of one of the most popular fan-favorite Regions in the franchise.
Legends: Arceus makes catching Pokemon much more fun, with the ability to sneak up on wild specimens and throw you Pokeball, or engage in battle. For the first time, you can also take damage and faint as a Trainer, which keeps you on your toes and makes exploration and battling that much more exciting.
Legends: Arceus’ art design is also something to behold. The characters in this title all have brilliant, eye-catching designs. The Pokemon featured throughout the Hisui Region include an abundance of fan favorites, as well as the addition of new ancient Hisuian forms for select species.
Of course, like many others on this list, Legends: Arceus had its flaws. The game is marred by inconsistent frame rates, restrictions on inventory space, and an overwhelming amount of repetitive of fetch quests. Considering this was the first game to completely break out of the repetitive and predictable gameplay and story formula though, it’s easy enough to look past any minor annoyances.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is an absolute blast to experience, and until the possibility of another Legends title occurs, there’s nothing else quite like it. For this reason alone, it easily claims the distinction of being the best Pokemon Switch game.