The Pokémon series is mainly known for its beloved anime and the mainline games that feature nine generations’ worth of well over 1000 Pokémon to collect. But there is so much more to this franchise than the mainline games. So if you want to check out the Pokémon world for longer, there are lots of games to explore.
Below are the top 25 Pokémon spin-off games from across the series. These games come from different generations, feature different Pokémon, and have vastly different gameplay. But what they have in common is that they are the best that the Pokémon series offers for spin-off experiences.
1. Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness
The best that the Pokémon series has to offer is none other than Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. Released for the Nintendo GameCube, this spin-off RPG is, by and large, a Pokémon game through and through. Unlike many other spin-offs, it’s the closest to the mainline games.
You roam around a region, collecting shadow Pokémon that you free and turn into companions. It has the signature aspects of the mainline games, such as turn-based battles, monster-collecting, and more. This is all wrapped in a fascinating new region with a somewhat more mature story.
2. Pokémon Go
Easily the biggest Pokémon spin-off on the planet, it is hard to ignore Pokémon Go‘s success. The mobile game has players manually catch Pokémon themselves in the real world and use them to defend various places around their neighborhood and city.
Inventive and unique, there’s a reason the whole world was playing it at one point.
3. Pokémon Unite
Pokémon Unite takes the Pocket Monsters you know and love and transfers them into a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) setting. Taking some gameplay cues from games like League of Legends, this title is fast, fluid, and exciting. The gameplay is strategic and team-based, making for a terrific multiplayer experience time and time again.
4. Pokémon Colosseum
The predecessor to XD: Gale of Darkness, Pokémon Colosseum took the first leap into a 3D environment for a somewhat traditional Pokémon RPG. Taking place a few years before its successor, this story follows an older protagonist and features a darker story than those seen in the main games.
This is all while still offering the classic fighting and catching mechanics.
5. Pokken Tournament DX
One of the most unique gameplay leaps for the series was in Pokken Tournament DX. A 3D arena fighting game, it takes a handful of Pokémon and gives them deep fighting combinations and utilities. While this genre may not be for everyone, there is no denying that this is one of the best-licensed fighting games of its kind.
6. Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
Pinball and Pokémon go well together, with Ruby & Sapphire on the GameBoy Advance being the best example. It takes the classic pinball tables and adds a twist where you can catch Pokémon if done correctly.
7. New Pokémon Snap
The sequel to the original cult classic on the Nintendo 64, New Pokémon Snap brought the photo-catching game to the Nintendo Switch for new audiences.
This modernized and vastly more beautiful sequel allows players to explore stunning environments and catch unforgettable images of their favorite Pokémon.
8. Pokémon Stadium 2
Pokémon Stadium 2 took the idea of the original on the N64 and brought it to new heights. The addition of Generation 2 Pokémon and the smoother mechanics made for a much better version of the only place at the time to check out turn-based Pokémon battles in 3D.
9. Pokémon Showdown
While technically not an official Pokémon spin-off game, Showdown is notable for changing the competitive community forever. This free experience lets you customize and create the competitive Pokémon of your dreams and test them against other players online.
10. Pokémon Trading Card Game
This isn’t about the actual trading card game but the digital version released for the GameBoy. The Pokémon Trading Card Game is a digital RPG similar to Yu-Gi-Oh in how you collect cards and battle against other Trainers to earn badges.
11. Pokémon Masters EX
The second mobile game on this list, Pokémon Masters EX, is a very different approach from its predecessor. This has an active time battle system where you control three Pokémon at once or play with up to two friends.
The battles are challenging, and there are lots of Pokémon to catch in this story-driven, colorful 3D gacha-style game.
12. Pokémon Puzzle League
Pokémon Puzzle League showed on the Nintendo 64 that classic miniature Tetris-style gameplay where you are lining up Pokémon to clear lines and blocks. All the while, each level is you battling against Gym Leaders and other classic Pokémon characters in exhilarating, high-stakes puzzle fights.
13. Pokémon Explorers of Sky
Pokémon Explorers of Sky is the idea of a third version of a game that is much better than the originals but in a spin-off form. Taking the concept of the next games on this list and perfecting them, Explorers of Sky features randomly-generated dungeons with the finest turn-based gameplay in the series.
14. Pokémon Explorers of Time and Darkness
Pokémon Explorers of Time and Darkness might not be the definitive version that the previous entry on this list was, but they set the stage for it. Bringing the dungeon-crawling adventures to the DS, they featured colorful, fun graphics wrapped up with tons of Pokémon to collect.
15. Pokémon Snap
Pokémon Snap is where it all started with the ability to roll along a linear path, taking photos of various Pokémon along the way. While it only had the original 151 Pokémon to take pictures of, it was far ahead of its time, long before selfies and smartphones were a thing.
16. Pokémon Battle Trozei
The Nintendo 3DS had the latest and best iteration of the Pokémon Battle Trozei spin-off series. The puzzle-based gameplay was simple enough with its match-3 mechanics, but the depth was in using it as a platform to collect more than 700 Pokémon—something even the recent main series games doesn’t have.
17. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
The original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game was remastered for the Nintendo Switch. This made it the best place to check out the start of one of the longest-running spin-off series for the franchise.
Players scour deep dungeons to collect more Pokémon in a turn-based adventure with a surprisingly heart-wrenching storyline about turning into a Pokémon.
18. Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
The Pokémon Ranger games took the idea of capturing Pokémon differently, using the touchscreen of the Nintendo DS and letting players wrangle up cute monsters from among the first four generations. Shadows of Almia is the best in the series, allowing for a whopping 17 starter Pokémon and dozens of quests.
19. Pokémon Conquest
Pokémon Conquest showed that the series could thrive in a tactical RPG format. Instead of traditional turn-based battles, fights in Conquest play out on a grid-based battlefield. Though the graphics don’t hold up well, the gameplay is stellar and worth revisiting.
20. Hey You, Pikachu!
Hey You, Pikachu! paid homage to the series mascot in one of the best ways possible. The Pokémon series has always been about befriending your companions, and this was one of the best examples of this, allowing you to speak to Pikachu and have him respond to you.
21. Pokémon Art Academy
Pokémon Art Academy is one of the more relaxing spin-offs in the series, being about recreating brilliant art pieces featuring Pokémon using touchscreen maneuvers. Whether you’re a professional or a newcomer, this game made creating paintings of Pokémon fun and straightforward.
22. Pokémon Cafe Remix
The final mobile game on this list, Pokémon Cafe Remix, is another matching spin-off title. This time, the idea is to use the matching to create custom drinks and dishes to serve at your customizable Pokémon cafe.
While gacha mechanics are rampant, it is still a fun mobile game to explore when not playing the mainline titles.
23. Pokémon Stadium
The 3D spin-off games for the Pokémon series primarily started with Pokémon Stadium. Whereas the series had mainly been 2D games on the GameBoy up until that point, Stadium showed what the 3D future of the series could be.
Well ahead of its time, the turn-based combat and 3D character models laid the foundation for the 3D home console experiences Pokémon has today.
24. Pokémon Picross
Pokémon Picross is the deep and challenging spin-off of both the Pokémon and Picross series, blending the Pocket Monsters with challenging puzzles about uncovering pieces of beautiful images. This is one of the most chill and peaceful spin-offs in the series.
25. Detective Pikachu
This is about the Detective Pikachu game, not the terrific movie. Where the original 3DS title falls short is not in its surprisingly great graphics but the somewhat dull and stale gameplay.
It is a story-driven adventure with little interactivity, but it still makes this list for its outstanding take on what a real Pokémon world might be like.