Every Pokemon Game, Reviewed

Pokemon Through the Years

Pokemon is one of Nintendo’s most popular properties, and it has existed now for 25 years. With such an extensive history of games, you’ve probably crossed paths with the franchise throughout its numerous generations. Whether you started playing from the beginning with Red & Blue or jumped onto the series when it re-debuted on 3DS with X&Y, Pokemon has likely left an indelible mark upon you. It has undoubtedly left a mark on GameSpot, that’s for sure.

Across our site’s similarly long history, we’ve reviewed every mainline Pokemon game. Many of GameSpot’s writers engaged with the series throughout the years and found something to treasure, even if not every game impressed us entirely. To mark Pokemon’s 25th anniversary, we’re sharing key excerpts from each review. Below you’ll find quite a fascinating array of critiques about the series that developed and evolved just as much as the games did.

For more about Pokemon and what’s ahead for the series in 2021, be sure to read about the Diamond & Pearl remake’s different approach to revisiting the series’ fourth generation, and how Pokemon Legends: Arceus evokes Breath of the Wild.

Pokemon Red & Blue – 8.8/10

“Under its cuddly exterior, Pokemon is a serious and unique RPG with lots of depth and excellent multiplayer extensions. As an RPG, the game is accessible enough for newcomers to the genre to enjoy, but it will entertain hard-core fans as well. It’s easily one of the best Game Boy games to date.” — Peter Bartholow

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Pokemon Yellow – 8.9/10

“Overall, Yellow is just a stopgap to help us wait for the real sequels – Gold/Silver. Thankfully, the new challenges are enough to fill the hole – but only just. Good thing for Nintendo that Pikachu is so darn cute.”Cameron Davis

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Pokemon Gold & Silver – 8.8/10

“The only prevailing question is whether or not Pokémon GS is the right game for you. If you’ve never played Pokémon, you really ought to go out right now and pick up a copy of either Pokémon Gold or Pokémon Silver. If you’re a fan of Pokémon, the same goes for you. If you’re displeased with the Pokémon phenomenon in general or were only a mild fan of the first games, a cautious look is still highly advised. You really can’t go wrong with 251 monsters, two main adventures, countless side quests, and a baseline of 60 hours of gameplay.” — Frank Provo

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Pokemon Crystal – 8.4/10

“It’s not a brand-new game by any means, but for those who are new to Pokémon or have yet to upgrade from the Red/Blue/Yellow series, Pokémon: Crystal Version offers a great deal of value for the investment involved. As for those who already own the Gold or Silver versions of the game, unless you absolutely need to snag Celebi, there is no reason why you should even consider buying Pokémon Crystal.” — Frank Provo

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Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire – 8.1/10

“Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire may be too easy, but they’re still great games that can last you a good long time. There’s definitely enough value in the single-player portion of the game alone, and if you really do want a challenge, you can always pit your overpowered Pokémon squad against a friend’s using a link cable. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire aren’t a big departure from their predecessors, but they definitely look better and have lots of new Pokémon to catch, so Pokémon fans will be in for exactly what they want. Meanwhile, any GBA owner who’s never played a Pokémon game before now has the perfect opportunity to see what this unusual and likeable series is all about.” — Greg Kasavin

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Pokemon Fire Red & Leaf Green – 8.4/10

“You’ll be in very familiar territory with FireRed and LeafGreen if you’ve played any of the Game Boy Pokémon games before, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. Though Pokémon could probably use a few new twists after all these years, FireRed and LeafGreen are great role-playing games on their own merits, filled with lots more content and more challenges than last year’s Ruby and Sapphire, and offering up plenty of addictive gameplay that can be a lot of fun for players of all ages.” — Greg Kasavin

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Pokemon Emerald – 7.5/10

“Players who have already soaked up everything Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire have to offer will probably appreciate the largely subtle changes Emerald makes, thanks to the “gotta catch ’em all” mentality bred by the series, though it’s unlikely to do a satisfactory job of scratching the itch for an all-new Pokémon adventure. Still, despite being made mostly of recycled parts, Emerald proves that the Pokémon formula still works. As a result, it remains an enjoyably light RPG experience.” — Ryan Davis

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Pokemon Diamond & Pearl – 8.5/10

“Between the 100-plus new Pokémon, the improved presentation, and the online play, this is a must-have game for established fans. The new features also make this the most well-rounded Pokémon game to date, and if you’ve never dabbled in the world of Pokémon before, there’s no better game to start with.” — Ryan Davis

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Pokemon Platinum – 8/10

“Though most of Platinum’s content is recycled from the Diamond and Pearl games, the Battle Frontier and numerous tweaks applied to even the smallest of elements manage to make it feel fresh. Pokemon Platinum’s rich gameplay and extensive replayability create a highly satisfying adventure that’s well worth taking for newcomers and Pokemaniacs alike.” — Shiva Stella

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Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver – 8/10

“As remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver do a great job of bringing the original versions up to speed on the DS with some charming visual updates and a general tightening and buffing of the formula. It’s disappointing that the gameplay doesn’t push any major boundaries for the Pokemon series, but you’ll still find an addictive and compelling solo adventure, lots of local and online multiplayer options for battling and communicating with other players, and a legion of Pokemon to care for and train. The Pokewalker adds another dimension to the overall experience, bumping the prospect up a few notches from “sure, why not” to “gotta catch ’em all!” — Nathan Meunier

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Pokemon Black & White – 7.5/10

“The small tweaks in Pokemon Black, such as the improved visuals, new battle modes, and enhanced online features, go some way toward making it feel like a new experience, but it’s difficult to shake the feeling that this is the same game that’s been released countless times before. And yet, underneath the formulaic narrative lies a deep and engaging RPG. The quality of the battle system and that undying urge to catch ’em all means you’re still sucked into its world, eager to explore its extremities just to get that one Pokemon no one else has captured yet. If you’ve never seen the appeal of the series, then the lack of innovation in Pokemon Black will do little to change your mind. Fans, however, should snap it up straight away.” — Mark Walton

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Pokemon Black & White 2 – 6.5/10

“When it comes down to it, though, Pokemon Black 2 is–well–Pokemon. It still has the same excellent battle system and the same charm; it’s still chock-full of things to do; and there are still hundreds and hundreds of Pokemon to catch, train, and battle with. Plus, there’s loads of postgame content and plenty of optional activities too. But there’s no escaping the fact that the Pokemon formula is wearing thin now, and it’s clearly time for a change. Black 2 tries to cash in on fans eager for more, and just highlights how derivative the franchise has become.” — Ashton Raze

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Pokemon X & Y – 8/10

“To put it in terms a Pokemon professor would understand, Pokemon X/Y is a welcome evolution in this long-running franchise. It’s a great-looking game whose visuals can finally match the inherent charm of its many potential pokemon protagonists, and its engrossing core has been enhanced by the new additions to its gameplay. Pokemon X/Y isn’t quite a mega evolution of its numerous predecessors, but like a dark move played against a ghost- or psychic-type pokemon, it doesn’t disappoint.” — Randolph Ramsay

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Pokemon Omega & Alpha Sapphire – 8/10

“Becoming a Pokemon master is a long journey that is at times exciting, and unexpected discoveries and the potential for hard-fought battles with friends compels you to charge forward. Yes, its the same game we’ve seen before, but that’s not a bad thing when the core concept is so engaging and rewarding. Your dedication to the cause makes the difference between becoming a good trainer or the best trainer, and while some people may end their journey once the story concludes, there’s a wide variety of Pokemon to capture and raise, and potentially thousands of opponents waiting to put your Pokemon skills to the test. Give these remakes enough time, and you begin to understand why Pokemon’s formula hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s a seemingly simple and cute journey, but with the underlying potential for strategy in combat, and a massive number of adorable Pokemon to catch, you can’t help getting hooked by Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.” — Peter Brown

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Pokemon Sun & Moon – 8/10

“For better and worse, Sun and Moon is essentially the same Pokemon experience that comes out every few years, just with enhancements to make it feel more modern. But this an entry that should appeal to more than just the series’ devoted fanbase who’ll notice those details. For players who have loved or been interested in the franchise before, but who felt that the growing roster and feature set made it too unapproachable, Sun and Moon is like meeting a long-lost friend again. And for everyone else, Sun and Moon is the perfect game for understanding what makes Pokemon so popular.” — Justin Haywald

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Pokemon Ultra Sun & Moon – 8/10

“Though they aren’t very different from their predecessors, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon make enough changes to stand apart as the definitive version of the seventh generation games. An overly complicated story is offset by charming details that bring even more life to the most vibrant Pokemon region to date, and small fixes iron out the shakier parts of the original journey. If you make it through Alola a second (or even first) time, you’ll be rewarded with a fun-filled and uplifting Pokemon adventure with its own share of spoilery surprises in store.” — Kallie Plagge

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Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu & Let’s Go Eevee – 8/10

“Despite these concessions, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee are delightful reimaginings of the series’ origins and a deep RPG in their own right. It makes a lot of smart improvements on the original Red, Blue and Yellow while holding on to what made them so special in the first place. Fans of the series might be let down by the lack of features they’ve come to expect, but Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee take the Pokemon formula in some exciting new directions.” — Jacob Dekker

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Pokemon Sword & Shield – 9/10

“In collecting, battling, and exploring, Sword and Shield cut out the bloat and focus on what makes these pillars of the Pokemon games so captivating in the first place. You’re not held back by overly complicated back-end systems or hoops to jump through; from the outset, you can start wandering the Galar region, seeing its new Pokemon, and trying out its new battle strategies with very little in your way. This leaves you free to enjoy what Pokemon is all about, and that makes for an incredibly strong showing for the series’ proper debut on Switch.” — Kallie Plagge

[Read the review]

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