Top 5 Pokemon Games of the Gameboy Franchise: Will you be a Pokemon Master?

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Pokemon, the games follow more or less the same setup, give or take a few details. You, the open minded hero (who never says anything) has moved to a new town. Curious about Pokemon, you visit the Professor of the area and get to pick one of 3 starter Pokemon (either grass, water or fire type) and set off on your journey. Which generation of games you pick up determines what these 3 Pokemon will be, as each game has a new set of 100 or so Pokemon.

Ash and the gang that is ever expanding

Your goal throughout the game is ultimately to get all 8 gym badges and defeat the Elite Four of the Pokemon League (i.e. be the best out of everyone). It sounds straight forward, and it is. Even though the set up for each game follows this format, the way the games are different makes fans come back for more. Different Pokemon (what number are they up to?), maps, trainers, gym leaders and problem-solving challenges await! Whenever you restart a game you can approach it slightly differently as well.

I grew up with the games, and have played at least one of every generation, so I am here to rank them, for newbies, and for the entertainment of veterans alike. I have mostly taken into account how challenging the game is, although graphics and unique features have also been considered. Let’s begin at number 5…

5. Platnium Version (Nintendo DS)

Platnium (2009) is the offspring game of the Diamond & Pearl (2007) franchise- which sold more than their preceders Ruby & Sapphire and FireRed & LeafGreen. It is based in the region of Sinnoh, which is a copy of the Japanese island Hokkaido. It expands the number of Pokemon to 387-493, and is in the anime timeline of episodes 469-659. For those interested, you can watch the promo for it here.

Changes from previous generations include an expansion on times of day (morning, day, afternoon, evening and night); labeling those “status” type moves with the name ‘status’ (how original), and Pokemon Contests that last for 3 rounds rather than 2. The game mixes both 3D and 2D graphics – Platnium itself adds 60 Pokemon available to capture, new areas to explore, more backstory to the Cyrus character and improved graphics in important regions of the game.

This is number 5 because it requires a bit more thinking in order to complete it. I got stuck a number of times, the cities are more interesting and the bad guys (Team Galactic) are slightly less predictable as other badies in the games. It is more challenging than Ruby & Sapphire, whose Gym Leaders did not take long to defeat. I think I like the new Pokemon in this compared to Hoenn, and the camera angles and graphics are more creative (not that it counts for too much). Basically, it has the fun features of Ruby & Sapphire but improves on the gameplay.


4. Soul Silver / Heart Gold – (Nintendo DS)

Soul Silver and Heart Gold (2010) are remakes of the Gameboy Color games Silver & Gold (1999). With the film industry being risk-free and making remakes for everything, it seems the same treatment for these classic games was inevitable. Since 2011, millions of copies were sold and the games were listed amongst the best selling Nintendo DS games. This generation have Pokemon from 151-251, with 100 of the Johto region (old school!) – and follows the anime episodes 119-276. You can watch the promo for the game here.

These games follow a similar plot to the original 1999 editions – you explore the regions of both Kanto and Johto, with Team Rocket as the main badies. Improved features include the Suicune storyline from the 2000’s Crystal version, improved graphics, some legends from Ruby & Sapphire, a few new areas and a feature where the first Pokemon in your party follows you, much like the beloved Yellow version. These games are compatible with a PokeWalker – a sort of tamagotchi where you can catch Pokemon outside of the DS console.

Gold and Silver were originally such challenging games – they were great fun, the Pokemon are cute and not starting to get ugly, but I admit these remakes take the cake over the original. The Johto region is a unique one, and worth exploring for anyone interested in Pokemon (at least, the anime had not declined to hell yet). Highly recommended, for a bit of Pokemon history!


3. Yellow Version (Gameboy Colour)

Yellow version (1998), is the offspring version of Red & Blue version, and sold well for the time it came out. It is set in the Kanto region, with the 150 original Pokemon (151 if you know the glitch for it!) – and followed the anime for episodes 1-118 (if you’re going to watch any of the anime, these are the episodes worth watching – episode 1 is a must see!). You can see the nostalgic-plagued promo for the games here.

This is the first Pokemon game I played (my Dad bought it for my sister and I’s birthday), so naturally I have fond memories of it. At the same time, despite all the improvements of later games, this one still stands out as one of the most unique of the franchise. The fact you are forced to have none other than Pikachu as your starter Pokemon makes the rest of the game more challenging, than if you could pick one of the other 3 types. Brock, in particular, is one damn hard guy to beat if you just want to use Pikachu! Also, you can talk to Pikachu and see his mood (I guarantee you will melt from sheer adorableness of it!).

Despite taking a trip down memory lane with old school 90’s graphics, this one improves over Red & Blue by changing the color of each location – just generally having a wider variety of color – the game involves its fair share of problem solving and is great fun. If you’re going to play any of the 90’s Pokemon games, this is the one to play.


2. Leaf Green / Fire Red (Gameboy Advanced)

FireRed and LeafGreen (2004) are, in the same respect as HeartGold and SoulSilver, remakes of the original Red & Blue (1996) Pokemon games. Like Yellow, the originals contained dominantly Pokemon from the Kanto region, although in these remakes a couple of adjustments have been made. You can watch the promo here.

Changes from the original include new locations, storylines, tradability between Ruby & Sapphire (so you can get all the Hoenn Pokemon!), Johto Pokemon can be caught, improved graphics, as well as some cool battle features. Since both the Gold & Silver remakes contain both Kanto and Johto Pokemon, it seems like the differences are really which area you start off with – although the stories appear to end differently.

Nothing beats old school – except when the original material is improved upon! This is the case with LeafGreen & FireRed. They are the place to start if you have never played a Pokemon game and want to start from a “beginning” of sorts. However, if you are familiar with the Pokemon formula, the upcoming title may be more worth your time.


1. Black / White Version (Nintendo DS)

Black & White (2011) were a milestone for change in the Pokemon world. The games take place in the Unova region, which adds a larger number of new Pokemon to the scene, filling in the numbers of 494-649 – the Pokemon don’t look too ugly which is a plus. The graphics combine 3D and 2D the way Diamond version did, but what makes the game special, besides the fact it shares great features of previous games? Promo for Black & White 2, the next game in this franchise, can be seen here.

Black & White version place number one because they break the mold all the other games follow. Firstly, the Pokemon were only ever revealed when the game came out, so there was a sense of freshness exploring the familiar patches of long grass, not having the slightest inkling of what would appear. I found I often made mistakes trying to guess what type a Pokemon was – something that looked water type was in fact rock type, and this added an extra level of challenge to the game. The way key events play out is different, and the badies (Team Plasma) have a pretty interesting and legitimate reason for doing what they do- it makes you think! I won’t spoil the changes or it will ruin the fun, but it is a great challenging game, even for those who have played lots of Pokemon.


Pikachu hopes to be seeing you soon on whichever console you decide to play!

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Posted on by
I started writing about anime when I was 15 and it looked far worse than this. If you like my articles, check out my Goodreads to see what I'm reading.

Want to write about Games or other art forms?

Create writer account


  1. Robert Miller

    Nice article. My son and I have played them all and are partial to Black/White and Emerald.

  2. Very cool! Which is your favorite outside of the Gameboy franchise?

    • Jordan

      I don’t think I”ve played enough to be able to say, but I don’t mind the Pokemon Pinball games XD

  3. Simplex

    Are Pokemon games still being produced as much as back in the early Gameboy days?

  4. Travis Wheeler

    Heart Gold and Soul Silver are so good. They are definitely my favorites. So polished! I’m also a big Black and White fan, but something about HG/SS just puts a bigger smile on my face than the others can.

  5. James Lillywhite

    It is great to see Pokemon Yellow included here, it always seems to be forgotten when people talk about the series! I loved that game when I was younger.

  6. I’m kinda torn between fire red and leaf green, due to nostalgia and the improved gameplay,
    and Black and White, due to the story and graphics as my favorites. But i still love pokemon never the

  7. Idiot Wind

    Hey there! I don;t know if many people have been keeping up with the newer pokemon games, but I would like to see an updated review on the X and Y series and the recent Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire games! I just bought the latter ones and I think they are revolutionary!

  8. deez nuts


  9. Ashlay Jones

    Cool list. Before you started I thought to myself Link to the Past would be at the top of my personal list, but wasn’t sure if others would agree. When you got to number 5 and I still hadn’t seen Link, I was sure it had to be number one. When you said Blackthorne I was like WHAAAT!!???? lol Despite your telling us in the intro that it hadn’t made the list. Made me laugh out loud. Loved the vid. Thought the choices were great, the commentary was funny and the attention given to each game was just the right length. Awesome job!

    Some of my favs that didn’t make the list 🙁
    – Super Punch-Out
    – Super Double Dragon
    – Breath of Fire
    – NBA Jam
    – The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse

  10. I guess this list is the one to use as a guide if, in Pokémon, you want to be the very best…

Leave a Reply