Whether you’ve played Pokémon since the very beginning with Red & Blue or began your journey to catch ‘em all with a newer title, Pokémon has released dozens of games for fans to enjoy. We all have our favorite titles. It might be the first game you played, one you got to enjoy with friends or one with a special memory.
My favorite Pokémon games are HeartGold and SoulSilver, remakes of the generally beloved generation II games Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. I was in college when they were released and really enjoyed the combination of bright, updated graphics, the Pokéwalker (more on that later), and visiting the Johto region again. For me, it was nostalgia at its best.
I was recently thinking about the remakes as we approach the one-year anniversary of the release of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, remakes of the fourth-generation games Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl. At first, I enjoyed playing through Sinnoh again. But the more I played, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.
In my view, these remakes didn’t raise the bar on the original games—in fact, they drug down what was a good game and soured the experience for many of those people who didn’t get to play those games when they first came out in 2006.
I decided that I could help future Pokémon trainers by ranking these remake games from best to worst. As the years go by, it is harder for some people to get access to the older Nintendo hardware (like Game Boy and the Game Boy Advance) to experience the original titles on their original systems.
So in some cases, people might choose to enter the series or just play through their first game of a specific generation with a remake title. It’s also worth noting that younger players might not see the appeal or charm of the 8-bit colors of the original Game Boy system.
All remakes offer improved graphics to add more eye candy to Pokémon trainers. So how many remakes are there to play? A lot! As of late 2022, Pokémon has released remakes for each of the first four generations of Pokémon games, including 2 different remakes for the first-generation games.
- Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green (first-generation [I] remake)
- Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver (second-generation [II] remake)
- Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby (third-generation [III] remake)
- Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu (first-generation [I] remake)
- Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (fourth-generation [IV] remake)
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon DX (original mystery dungeon game remake)
When ranking the remakes, I had to set aside what I thought about each of the original titles and focus on what the remake games brought to the table, such as improved graphics. The remakes were scored and ranked based on the following three factors:
- Graphics. Did the graphics improve significantly from the original game to the remake?
- Playability. Did the remake games offer quality-of-life improvements?
- New Features. Did the remake game add new features to make the game more interesting?
Bottom Line Up Front
All main-series Pokémon games are ranked below. Each remake was split into two versions, but both versions are kept together for the purposes of this ranking.
Version differences between these games are usually limited to specific available (or unavailable) Pokémon. The rankings of each remake are subjective opinions and are based on the total score of three factors: graphics, playability, and new features.
(Not rated [NR]) Pokémon Mystery Dungeon DX
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- Generation: I (of the Mystery Dungeon Series)
- Release Date: March 6, 2020 (worldwide)
- Graphics: NR
- Playability: NR
- New Features: NR
The first remake on this list is a single game, Mystery Dungeon DX. Unfortunately, I never got to play this title, though I did play the original Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team. Though I enjoyed those games, it really is a totally different experience from other main-series Pokémon games.
These games involve recruiting Pokémon to rescue other Pokémon from dungeon-like levels. At the end of each level, there is a boss, usually an evolved or legendary Pokémon. These games are definitely a fun change of pace from other Pokémon titles and include some fun dialogue and humor.
The simple fact that this game is now available on the Switch instead of restricted to the Game Boy Advance is a huge improvement as it is available to far more players. Vintage games are getting more expensive as game collectors invest in the hoppy. Gone are the days of picking up used popular handheld titles for under $20.
Due to popularity, there are also many instances of fake copies of popular Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles circulating in the marketplace.
Buying a copy of this game on the Switch avoids the headache of tracking down an authentic affordable copy of this game. I’m looking to pick up a copy the next time it’s on sale and you should too!
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl – Overall Rating: 18/30
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- Generation: IV
- Release Date: November 19, 2021 (worldwide)
- Graphics: 5/10
- Playability: 6/10
- New Features: 7/10
Games with so much potential that ended up falling a bit flat. I was so excited when these games were announced after playing through Pokémon Sword and Shield. I thought we were going to get a stunning visual remake of the Sinnoh region. Instead, the community received a rushed, sloppy mess of a game that didn’t deliver on its promise.
For me, the graphics were the first letdown. After the beauty of Pokémon Sword and Shield, I expected more from this remake. Then there were the constant bugs, glitches, and crashes. What seemed like a minor inconvenience turned horribly wrong for me one day in the Grand Underground.
As I was exiting a side tunnel, I ran into a full-odds shiny Hoppip. I caught it and proceeded to exit the room so I could exit the Underground area. Except my game froze on the loading screen and I lost my shiny Hoppip. After that, I never picked up the game again.
New features, such as Pokémon following you in the overworld, an app for the former HM moves, and being able to access your Pokémon in boxes anywhere were about the only highlights of these two games. In the press, Pokémon called these two games “faithful remakes.”
But I don’t think people thought that would mean very few upgrades or improvements to the playing experience and the addition of lots of game-breaking bugs and glitches. Hopefully, GAMEFREAK learned its lesson and don’t pass the development of a Pokémon game to a third-party developer again in the future.
Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu – Overall Rating: 22/30
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- Generation: I
- Release Date: November 16, 2018 (worldwide)
- Graphics: 7/10
- Playability: 7/10
- New Features: 8/10
The remake that is more unique than any other set of games on this list, the Let’s Go games are unique in many ways. To start, these were the first remakes produced for the latest-generation Nintendo hardware (the Switch).
This was exciting, as the computing power in the switch should have given GAMEFREAK the ability to really showcase the land of Kanto like never before. But visual treats didn’t seem to be part of their planned gifts to the community with these titles. In fact, these games probably weren’t meant for hardcore fans at all.
The Let’s Go games dramatically changed the way Pokémon games were played. Gone were the days of battling wild Pokémon for experience points. Instead, you could only capture wild Pokémon with well-timed throws using the motion-activated controls of your Joy-Con controllers.
Probably modeled after the mechanics (and success) of the mobile game Pokémon GO, the capture mechanics made the game a bit tedious for catching a lot of Pokémon. Add to that the child-friendly graphics and simplistic design, and these games felt like they were made for a younger audience who wanted to try out Pokémon for the first time.
I enjoyed my playthrough of Let’s Go Pikachu, but once I finished the game, I never picked it up again—probably the only time I can say that about a Pokémon game.
Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green – Overall Rating: 24/30
- Platform: Game Boy Advance
- Generation: I
- Release Date: September 9, 2004 (North America)
- Graphics: 8/10
- Playability: 8/10
- New Features: 8/10
The original remakes, these games weren’t universally loved or understood when they were announced. At the time, public opinion and reception were mostly negative, as people didn’t know why GAMEFREAK would put time and money into a remake of a game that had already been done before.
It seemed like a waste to rehash Red and Blue when they could’ve just made a brand-new Pokémon game. But over time, these games would be respected as well-made remakes with improved features. One massive change was the inclusion of a wireless adaptor for the Game Boy Advance.
The adapter eliminated the need for link cables to complete trades, making it much easier to complete your Pokédex. The games went on to be best sellers, selling more copies than any other Game Boy Advance games other than Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
Improvements and new features abound in these games compared to the original titles, including the Sevii Islands, and the addition of natures, abilities, genders, and held items. Music was also improved, given the advantage in power output of the Game Boy Advance over the Game Boy.
One major critique of these games is the graphics. Though these games were released about two years after Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, there is no noticeable difference in gameplay graphics.
While any visual upgrades are an improvement over the original Pokémon Red and Blue games, I think Pokémon could have done a better job here to truly make these remakes stand out from other Pokémon titles.
Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby – Overall Rating: 25/30
- Platform: Nintendo 3DS
- Generation: III
- Release Date: November 21, 2014 (most of the world)
- Graphics: 8/10
- Playability: 9/10
- New Features: 8/10
A really underrated game that deserves your attention if you haven’t played it before. The game takes us back to Hoenn and the theme of water against fire, the seas against the land. As a generation VI title, these games continued the story and mechanics of mega evolution and mega Pokémon and included several new mega evolutions not included with Pokémon X & Y.
These games included a significant number of quality-of-life improvements over the original Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire games. TMs are unlimited use, the Experience Share item can be used for all Pokémon and turned on or off, and the day/night cycle has returned.
A number of points of interest, cities, and gyms were redesigned for these games. This was a welcome change for me and other players of the original games.
Everything still felt familiar, but I was always pleasantly surprised about a new area or events I didn’t remember. Without getting too much into spoilers, the Delta Episode, available after you beat the Pokémon League, is one of the most fun and engaging stories available in any Pokémon game.
One critique of these games is the amount of time spent on the water. As large parts of Hoenn are coastal or inland seas, traversing these areas is a challenge without a good stock of repels. An improved method of travel for these areas would have been nice, but overall these are two great games.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver – Overall Rating: 27/30
- Platform: Nintendo DS
- Generation: II
- Release Date: March 14, 2010 (North America)
- Graphics: 9/10
- Playability: 10/10
- New Features: 8/10
The crown jewel of them all. I have so many fond memories of this game. My only regret was not buying both versions, but at the time I was a poor college student, and this game was $10 more expensive than most DS titles of the day because of the inclusion of the Pokéwalker.
This pocket-sized step counter device could be used to train and capture Pokémon. Though somewhat gimmicky, it was a fun addition to these games. Unlike my original copy of Soul Silver which I have to this day, my Pokéwalker didn’t survive a trip through my washing machine.
This game totally changed the visual appeal of Pokémon games from the very beginning. All Pokémon were obtainable, and you can have the first member of your party follow you in the overworld! This was such a groundbreaking feature that many fans clamored for it to be a staple in all future releases, which unfortunately did not happen.
The following feature was well crafted, and Pokémon were mostly scaled to size (within reason), gender differences were apparent, and shiny Pokémon companions appeared shiny in the overworld.
The graphic improvements over Gold & Silver were notable, as the original games struggled to produce much noticeable color on the original Game Boy games (note that Pokémon Crystal was on Game Boy Color and did have improved and more variable colors compared to the first two generation II titles.)
Playing through the game felt like a wonderful stroll down memory lane. A total of 16 gyms spread over Kanto and Johto provided numerous opportunities to test your team in battle. Two continents worth of routes, caves, rivers, ruins, seas, and other places to explore make these games go-to titles for exploring all the Pokémon world has to offer.
Question: How many Official Pokémon Game Remakes Exist?
Answer: Currently, there are 11 officially released remakes of Pokémon games: four games for generation I (Fire Red, Leaf Green, Let’s Go Eevee, and Let’s Go Pikachu; two games for generation II (HeartGold and SoulSilver); two games for generation III (Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby); two games for generation IV (Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl); and one game for the Mystery Dungeon series (Mystery Dungeon DX).
Question: Are Remakes Worth the Price of a New Game?
Answer: Usually, yes. All remakes offer at least some improvements (graphics, features, new storylines) over the original titles. However, one of the best arguments for buying the remakes is probably the price and availability.
Original Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and DS games are more expensive and harder to get than ever. Remakes are usually widely available and the same price (or less in some instances) compared to the original titles.
Question: Will Pokémon Make more Remakes in the Future?
Answer: Almost certainly. Pokémon and GAMEFREAK have shown a willingness to rerelease games to make the company money and introduce newer players to older Pokémon games. I think we probably have a remake of generation V (Unova region) headed our way within the next few years.
Every Pokemon Remake There Is: Conclusion
Remake rankings are always subjective. Though my rankings might differ from yours, they do mostly line up with overall game critic rankings of the games mentioned above. Generally, remakes are not just based on the original game, but on what the developers did to improve the game and make it fresh for returning and new players.
I think the best way to judge a remake is to play both the original and the remake and see what you think. That also means you can try different teams for each playthrough and make some different decisions to keep your experience fresh.
There’s never a wrong way to play the game, so enjoy the games as you like and give the remakes a try. They might give you a new perspective on some of the older generations and unique regions in the world of Pokémon.