Let’s rank each Pokémon Generation…
“I wanna be the very best like no one ever was.” Those are the infamous opening lines to the Pokémon anime theme song. For twenty-five years now people have been aiming to do just that. In that time, developer Game Freak has released twenty-four main series Pokémon entries, four remakes, eight different generations of Pokémon, and introduced the world to nearly 900 different monsters. Without a doubt the biggest monster here is the franchise itself, and for good reason. With solid turn-based gameplay, countless Pokémon to catch and train, impeccable soundtracks, and an astoundingly enjoyable design, almost everyone I’ve ever met who’s played Pokémon has loved it. But which Pokémon generation is the best? Putting all nostalgia aside, and attempting to review each entry in light of when it was released, here is my list in appreciating order of the best Pokémon games by generation.
8. Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald (Generation III)
By the time Nintendo’s Game Boy entered its third iteration, the Game Boy Advance, Pokémon was ready to enter its as well. With the trek in to the new region, Hoenn, came some permanent fixtures in the franchise. Generation III introduces Pokémon natures that influence, both positively and negatively, a Pokémon’s stats. It also introduces Pokémon abilities that influence battle. For example, the cover Pokémon Kyogre has the ability Drizzle, which changes the weather to heavy rain, dampening certain elemental attacks and bolstering others. These two developments in particular redefined competitive play, though that’s not all the third generation brings to the table. Pokémon Contests and Double Battles both first appear in Ruby and Sapphire. For the first time, players can also choose to play as a dark haired male character donning his signature white cap (he doesn’t actually have white hair!) or a female trainer with brunette hair. Consequently, we are left with the fan favorite line, “are you a boy or a girl?”
Disappointingly, the third generation games don’t include the day-night system introduced in the second generation. Also, while expanding the total number of Pokémon to 386, with 135 new inclusions, only 202 Pokémon are obtainable in game, fewer than the 251 of the previous generation. While some of those new Pokémon have gone on to be some of the most popular Pokémon of all time, including Rayquaza and Blaziken, the rest handily compose my least favorite generation of Pokémon, especially since this set easily seems the most uninspired and imitative of all the eight generations. This isn’t why Sapphire and Ruby are at the bottom of my list, however; it’s the stupendous amount of water that sinks the score for me. Let me substantiate the claim that there’s too much water in Hoenn, as its a common complaint. For starters, there’s too little variety to the wild Pokémon encountered while using the hidden move Surf. These Pokémon’s levels also aren’t scaled nearly as well as their land counterparts, and encountering low level Pokémon near the end of the game is a waste of the player’s time. Further, the only trainers that the player encounters on water routes, which make up about half of all routes, are swimmers who only use water Pokémon. Consequently, it’s exceptionally easy to level electric and grass-type Pokémon, resulting in an unbalanced grind of an experience for the rest. In direct correlation, the game is also drowned in Hidden Moves necessary for traversing the map, three of which are water-specific. This almost necessitates a monster in the player’s six Pokémon party being nothing more than an HM slave just so the player can get around. As yet another consequence, over one-fifth of all Pokémon introduced in this generation are water-type, resulting in a somewhat soggy situation in terms of variety. While the third generation of Pokémon is an invaluable addition to the progress of the series, its the worst Pok-entry, with or without my nostalgia glasses on.
7. Pokémon Black, White, Black 2, White 2 (Generation V)
The fifth generation of Pokémon is bold. It features 156 entirely new Pokémon, the largest number of all-original Pokémon of any generation. Bolder yet, the game focuses exclusively on Pokémon introduced this generation until after the post-game in an attempt to make Black and White feel like a brand new start. Generation V totes several positive new features, including seasons, which not only allow for aesthetic changes to the environment, but variations of certain Pokémon designs as well. Black and White also utilize the technology of the time well by introducing the C-Gear, a customizable feature that allows players to connect to Wi-Fi, resulting in the ability to conveniently connect with other players to battle or trade anywhere in the game. Other new features, such as Pokémon Musicals and Triple Battles, feel like a slight extension of features from previous games and don’t leave much of an impression.
While focusing entirely on previously unseen Pokémon makes the journey through the Unova region exciting in its own right, the overall Pokémon designs are hit or miss. Some concepts are incredibly cool, like an electric zebra, an animated candle, a ghost-type sarcophagus, and the first legendary bug-type Pokémon. Others seem repetitive and redundant, like another pigeon evolutionary line and another crab Pokémon. Too many are uninspired and unmemorable, like Ducklett, and some are literally rubbish. Literally. While the gamble of a game filled with unfamiliar Pokémon ultimately pays off, it may have resulted in some of Pokémon’s weakest monster designs. While the games present themselves as a slower, more methodical journey with provocative moral dilemmas at their core, they ultimately fail to commit to those themes and end up a slow grind of a missed opportunity. Fitting in with the theme of defying expectation, the fifth generation bucked the trend of including an enhanced, third version of the generation in favor of a proper sequel. While the sequel still takes place in the same Unova region with the same Pokémon, it does provide a new story and a desirable variation on the overall experience, making it a very welcome deviation. Some absolutely epic Pokémon designs, including the two cover Pokémon, perhaps the most unique story, the thrill of an entirely new Pokédex (which makes me a little more accepting of some of the Pokémon designs), and proper sequels instead of a third entry ensure that this is still a quality generation, as fun as many of the others, and deserving of the Pokémon name.
6. Pokémon Sword and Shield (Generation VIII)
The first proper Pokémon games on a home console, Pokémon Sword and Shield are a dream come true in a number of ways. Seeing Pokémon roam in the wild, without the abandonment of random encounters, is genuinely thrilling, and walking into the expansive Wild Area, Sword and Shield’s limited open world area, and encountering Pokémon too strong to take down adds a sense of danger all too often absent in games about impossibly powerful monsters, all of which makes these titles the most realized vision of the Pokémon world yet. The eighth generation comes armed with some colossal new features, including the aforementioned Wild Area, boasting a wide variety of wild Pokémon for the player to encounter and dynamic weather conditions that alter the available species of new and old Pokémon. It’s here that players can also engage in Max Raid Battles, a new cooperative mode of play where up to four players can attempt to take down a massive wild Pokémon for the opportunity to capture it. These raids feature Sword and Shield’s signature Dynamax, which allows Pokémon to grow in size and power regardless of species, circumventing the limitations of the sixth generation’s Mega Evolution, and Gigantamax mechanic, which is species specific and alters the appearance of the Pokémon. A quantity of quality of life improvements also make their debut in Generation VIII, including the ability to access the PC from anywhere and Pokémon Camp, where Pokémoncan be fully healed and interacted with on the road.
Sword and Shield also expand on the idea of regional variations of Pokémon, first introduced a generation prior in Sun and Moon. Not only does Generation VIII’s Galar region have regional forms that draw inspiration outside of first generation Pokémon, several Galarian variants evolve into entirely new Pokémon or beyond their traditional counterparts, unlike in Sun and Moon. Sword and Shield also have expansions in place of an enhanced version or sequels, a first for the franchise, adding new Galarian Pokémon to encounter and challenges to complete, improving upon the concept of the Wild Area with more diverse biomes, and increasing the total number of catchable Pokémon from the 400 to 664, making Sword and Shield’s Pokédex the largest regional dex by over 200 Pokémon!
Unfortunately, all of these improvements come at a cost, and the eighth generation noticeably lacks some polish. Narratively, Sword and Shield largely focus on the “Gym Challenge,” drawing comparison to sports culture in Great Britain, conceivably making Sword and Shield sports games. While this makes for a unique, engaging take on the traditional Pokémon formula, particularly the culmination in the “Champion Cup,” a single-elimination tournament to decide the Champion of Galar amongst competing trainers and Gym Leaders, the games ultimately fail to reflect on the shortcomings and true corruption of the fictional league’s real world counterpart (FIFA), instead devolving into a laughable conflict all too familiar in the genre as a whole. Perhaps more disappointingly, several of the games’ Routes are short and uninspired, lacking trainer encounter density or a significant number of new Pokémon, perhaps a result of an emphasis on the Wild Area instead. While the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra’s Wild Areas feature diverse biomes, the base game’s Wild Area lacks scenery diversity by comparison. The complete lack of trainer battles in any Wild Area also seems like a missed opportunity. With a region richly detailed in callbacks to its British inspiration, a compelling cast of characters, and a uniquely Western themed, well designed Pokédex brimming with many brilliant new Pokémon, Sword and Shield are glistening new entries in the Pokémon franchise.
5. Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum (Generation IV)
If nostalgia was taken in to account, this generation would have ranked higher on my list, as it represents one of my favorite periods in Pokémon history. Making itself right at home on the Nintendo DS, the fourth generation of Pokémon is the first main series Pokémon game to feature 3D graphics, though paired with Pokémon‘s signature sprites. With less sprite animation than the fifth generation, these are some of the crispest and clearest in-game Pokémon pictures, and definitely the sprites at their pinnacle. Taking advantage of the DS’ signature feature, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum utilize the bonus touchscreen by implementing the Pokémon Watch, or Poketch for short. Outside of operating as a watch (very beneficial with the return and expansion of the day-night system), the Poketch also operates as a pedometer, friendship checker, daycare checker, markable map, and twenty other apps, making it immensely helpful while remaining brilliantly simple to use. Utilizing the DS’ online capabilities, the fourth generation marks the first time players can connect with friends online via Wi-Fi. Players can also connect wirelessly and play together in the Sinnoh region Underground, a surprisingly enjoyable diversion which sees the return of the third generation’s Secret Bases. Unlike the Secret Base mechanic in the third game, which were random points on the map where a player could build a base, Secret Bases in the fourth generation can be similarly decorated with Pokémon goods, but are hidden anywhere within a large “underground” map. Players can come in to contact with one another in the Underground, and finding another player’s Secret Base and capturing their flag (which involves clicking on it and then returning to your base) allows for further expansion of your own base. Players can even set hidden traps for one another to keep friends from reaching one’s base, which is probably what makes this mode of play so enjoyable.
There’s more than a good reason that Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are the best selling games on the Nintendo DS, the second highest selling console of all time, just under the PS2. Generation IV is the first to utilize the equipped-move classification system which separates moves not only by element type, but also whether it is a physical or special attack. This resulted in a new level of complexity and strategy when selecting a Pokémon’s move set and gave true purpose and meaning to statistics such as Attack versus Special Attack. At the forefront of this new classification system are some equally diverse, complex, and well designed fan favorite Pokémon who still impact competitive play to this day, including Lucario and Garchomp. Not only do Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum introduce some of the coolest starters since Generation I, but they also complete some evolutionary lines so well and consistently that fans often forget they weren’t always around. Amongst the Pokémon that Generation IV introduces, making full evolutionary lines relevant again, are Roserade, Happiny, Mismagius, Weavile, Yanmega, Gliscor, Gallade, Dusknoir, and many, many others! While some might complain that too many of the fourth generation’s 107 new Pokémon are post-game legendaries, the fact remains that Pearl and Diamond remain playable well after the player confronts the Elite Four, feature some brilliant new Pokémon (including my personal favorite Darkrai!), and are just as fun in 2021 as they were when first introduced in 2006.
4. Pokémon X and Y (Generation VI)
It’s pretty remarkable that so many games are ahead of Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum on this list when I didn’t speak poorly of Generation IV at all. That speaks to the quality of the top four, including Generation VI, introduced in 2013 in the games Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. X and Y brought with them an immense amount of change, and I am not just talking about the ability to change the protagonist’s appearance. Immediately recognizable is the transition from semi-sprite graphics and 2D to full 3D models (not to be confused with the 3D effects of the Nintendo 3DS!). Featuring fully-animated Pokémon, exciting attack animations worth watching, and short cutscenes, the result of the jump to modern graphics (which could have debatably happened earlier) is a more cinematic and thrilling Pokémon experience gorgeously realized on the 3DS. Pokémon’s online experience is also massively expanded with the sixth generation. It’s never been easier to find other players, specific trades, battles, and much more that was probably never anticipated, like the sharing of trainer PR Videos, where players can create and edit videos about their in game trainer. I don’t know why it’s in the game, but it’s fun! Even more fun are Wonder Trades, often called Trade Roulette by fans, where players can trade a Pokémon in return for a totally random Pokémon. While this can result in some undesirables (which can then be re-rouletted if that’s how you want to be. I’m not judging, I’ve done it.), more often than not it results in some cool rare Pokémon, including version exclusives, Pokémon not available in game, and some even more unexpected gems!
Playing Pokémon has never been as convenient as Pokémon X and Y. The sixth generation makes it easier to be a competitive player by allowing players the ability to see EVs, super, hidden stats, and allowing players to build these stats through Super Training without the hassle of defeating specific Pokémon over, and over, and over again. That’s just hardcore players. Both hardcore and casual players benefit from Game Freak’s solution to transferring Pokémon between games and storage space, which is the Pokémon Bank, a great 3DS app for a reasonable price. Or even finding rare Pokémon is much more convenient with new areas like the Friend Safari. Not to mention the changes made to the in-game tool Experience Share, which generates experience in generous amounts for the entire party when turned on, making for the smoothest, quickest, and cleanest Pokémon experience to date. And while it might seem like a bigger deal to competitive players, casual players also benefit from adjustments to balance, abilities, and in-battle effects, including limited weather effects, certain elements being resistant to certain effects, and type effectiveness adjustments.
Speaking of types, Generation VI is the first generation to introduce a new Pokémon type since Gold and Silver in 2000. Many of the newest generation’s Pokémon fit in to the new type, Fairy, including X’s cover Pokémon, Xerneas, while several classic Pokémon have been seamlessly adjusted to fit in to the new categorization, making some old match-ups strikingly different. While X and Y boast only sixty-nine new Pokémon (or seventy-one if you include Hoopa and Volcanion), they are also the first to feature Mega Evolution, a fun mechanic that allows a Pokémon to impermanently transform and transcend its previous limitations. Just as Generation IV made many evolutionary lines relevant again by introducing some cool new monsters, the sixth generation gave us twenty-seven Mega Evolutions, making some fan favorites more viable competitively, more powerful, and it’s a fun way for the designers to toy with some very classic Pokémon designs. It’s no surprise that the two most popular Pokémon, Charizard and Mewtwo, already have two Mega Evolutions each. And this on top of some brilliant, entirely new Pokémon that rival some of the best designs from the beginning. With all of its brilliant changes, adjustments, its advancements to 3D models, its smoothness and accessibility, on top of its overall world class design, Pokemon X and Y are the quintessential post-modern Pokémon games and a fitting place for rookies and youngsters, like Ben, to start. I like shorts too, Ben. Though fair warning, after X and Y, going back might be hard. Maybe you should start at the beginning.
3. Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun,and Ultra Moon (Generation VII)
The premier Pokémon title on new hardware is rarely, if ever, the best, as is the case with the sixth generation and Generation VII. While X and Y brought an immense amount of positive change, Pokémon Sun and Moon are an improvement in almost every regard while supplying some sensational contributions of their own. Improving upon Pokémon Amie, Generation VII’s Pokémon Refresh allowed trainers to not only connect with their Pokémon and rapidly improve affection through petting and feeding, but also heal their status conditions and clean them in between battles, limiting pesky trips to Pokémon Centers and adding yet another avenue toward affection. That affection, in turn, resulted in the player’s Pokémon evading and withstanding more attacks and landing more critical hits, breathing life into the trainer fantasy. Sun and Moon also introduce the stellar S.O.S. Battle system where wild Pokémon and certain boss Pokémon call for the aid of additional Pokémon, shifting the battle from a one-on-one battle to a two-on-one fight. Not only does this add engaging challenge when it comes to simple tasks like catching Pokémon, as a weakened, wild Pokémon is more likely to call for help and a Pokémon can only be captured when it’s alone, but certain Pokémon will only appear in the wild when called upon for help. Creating a chain of encounters this way also increases the chances of encountering a Pokémon with better stats (IVs), hidden abilities, and shiny Pokémon. Thankfully, Sun and Moon also introduce the Poké Pelago, a new area accessed from the main menu at any time where players can develop isles which in turn allow the player to leave Pokémon there to improve happiness, to collect rare items and stones, and even grow large quantities of berries, including Leppa Berries, ideal for sustaining a Pokémon’s PP for long S.O.S. chains.
Generation VII’s Alola region, taking clear inspiration from Hawaii, is also the most vibrant and most distinct in the entire series. Alola further distinguishes itself by supplanting staples of the franchise. Gyms in Sun and Moon have been replaced by “trials” in the island challenge, where players travel island to island solving puzzles, taking down a powerful “totem” Pokémon, before challenging each island’s Kahuna. Players anticipating a legendary trio over the course of the game will find four “Island Guardians” instead. Pokémon habitats don’t encompass entire routes, but are instead found in specific patches of grass, making the Pokédex an invaluable tool throughout. It’s all a breath of fresh air, making Alola a truly delightful deviation. Speaking of, and perhaps best of all, Generation VII introduced regional forms or variations of preexisting Pokémon. With new typings and designs, these Pokémon are impeccably designed and rival, and in some cases surpass, their original forms in what is a sensational celebration of some of the original Pokémon and one of the best additions to the franchise as a whole to date. Alola’s eighty-six native Pokémon are equally up to the task of matching the region’s vibrancy and charm, culminating in one of the strongest Pokédex line-ups in the history of the franchise. The Ultra Beasts (or UBs), extradimensional Pokémon encountered in the finale of the seventh generation, are particularly fun, unexpected additions appropriately bizarre considering their extraterrestrial origin. With a brilliant new region, equally vibrant new Pokémon, some of the best visuals in the franchise, a strong cast of supporting characters, a charming willingness to poke fun of itself with the likes of Team Skull and UBs, and an unexpectedly deep and moving narrative unprecedentedly using wormholes as a metaphor for distance between loved ones, and no HMs, the seventh generation of Pokémon is truly a Poké-paradise.
2. Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow (Generation I)
You might be shocked or offended at finding Red and Blue close to, but not at the top of the list. Before you do anything drastic like smash the device you are reading this on, or send me stuffed Pikachus with their heads cut off, please read on. As I mentioned early on, this list is in consideration of the game when it was released, and without nostalgia taken in to consideration. This hurts the first generation’s case, as nostalgia is its best friend, and for good reason! While more recent generations have certainly surpassed Red, Blue, and Yellow graphically and introduced stellar new features that make it hard to go back, the first generation introduces us to a winning formula that has lasted twenty-five years and counting! And twenty-five years later (twenty-three everywhere outside of Japan), the game holds up just as well as it did then, provides just as much fun, and leaves the player wishing for more. Introduced on the Game Boy, Nintendo’s first portable console, the first generation of Pokémon first appeared in three colorful cartridges. Despite the game’s visuals having no color at all (well, maybe a singular hue), the game is creative, addictive, and enormously colorful in the other sense of the word. The game is captivating from the opening monologue welcoming us to the world of Pokémon, a world full of magical creatures imbued with the powers of fifteen different elements or types that the player is tasked with catching and training in the attempt to be the best Pokémon trainer that ever was. Somewhere in this setup is the magic recipe that has made Pokémon such a lasting franchise.
The original generation’s controls and game mechanics have remained basically the same from the beginning. Starting with either Charmander, Bulbasaur, or Squirtle, a partner with which to progress through the game, the player can build a team of up to six Pokémon. With 150 Pokémon throughout the game’s region, Kanto, there’s a lot of variety and options for teams, while also providing a deep level of strategy, allowing the player to discern what Pokémon type will be most effective. Battling them gains your Pokémon experience, which in turn makes them stronger, and in many instances provokes transformation in the form of Pokémon evolution. Seeing Pokémon grow and evolve is still as immensely gratifying and exciting as it was back then, and its hard to forget the first time one of your favorites reaches the next level. There’s a reason Charizard and Blastoise are so loved. The game’s battle mechanics are also rich, rewarding, and engaging. Some moves hit opponents with seemingly nuclear force, like using your Charizard to Fire Blast a wild Oddish. It’s super effective! Others induce effects on opponents’ Pokémon, like sleep or confusion. Some moves are weak, but guaranteed to hit first, while others are brutishly strong but less accurate. For every six Pokémon in a player’s party there are up to four moves for endless combinations for optimum devastation to opponents. Or there is the game of patience and calculation that is catching wild Pokémon. Weakening a wild Pokémon makes it easier to catch, but with too much force it will be knocked out and the opportunity is lost. Each and every new Pokémon caught offers a new friend and ally or a new piece to a collection. Both are viable reasons to catch a Pokémon and reasons to play. Mechanically speaking, Pokémon preys upon some of humankind’s most primitive instincts and desires: desires to grow and be strong, desires to collect, desires for friendship, and the pursuit of simple enjoyment. The reason Pokémon is such an enduring franchise is an issue for another article, but it ultimately boils down to a deeply enjoyable game of competition and exploration, wrapped in strategy and personalization, and filled with monsters that, despite their simpler sprites from the time, the player gets deeply attached to.
And with the second largest singular generation of new Pokémon with some of the most memorable designs, it’s not hard to imagine why most of these Pokémon are still so loved. The games opening cutscene features a dark, round, shadowy ghost fighting either a cute balloon Pokémon or a…bunny…dinosaur…rhino…yeah, let’s go with that – a bunny-dinosaur-rhino – before leading in to a world complete with a fire-breathing lizard, a water-shooting turtle, a bulb-sprouting frog, an electric rodent, a spooky ball of gas, more than one bipedal plant, a fiery fox, a terrifying sea serpent with unlikely origins, a rocky rhino, a genetically enhanced clone of a powerful, mythical, psychic cat hell-bent on destroying you, and so much more! These include household names like Pikachu, names recognized worldwide by people who have never even touched the game! With all of its beautifully designed creatures on top of its fittingly simple story, some of the best musical themes from any video game and the most memorable from the entire franchise, its charming dialogue and quaint, imaginative, and exceptionally inviting world, Pokemon is the perfect portable title, and undoubtedly a classic, timeless video game. It’s easy making a case for the first generation as one of the best, if not the best, generation of Pokémon, if not on its own merit, then for giving rise to one of the best game franchises of all time. Perhaps the only Pokémon games above Red and Blue are the immediate sequels.
1. Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal (Generation II)
Pokémon has often been marked for its ironically slow evolution from game to game. In the case of the Pokémon Red and Blue‘s sequels this is decidedly untrue. Pokémon Gold and Silver were designed as the final games in the series according to the president of the Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara. This absolutely shows through the follow up to Pokémon Red and Blue, as it’s truly a no-holds-barred, more finessed and explosive experience from beginning to end. Story-wise, it is the direct sequel to the first generation, where the evil force, Team Rocket, is seeking to rebuild, and the protagonist is woven into the story in a much more personal way, resulting in a better-told and perhaps more impacting narrative. The game’s interface and inventory system also sees notable improvement, making the game easier to play than the originals. Pokémon Gold and Silver also introduces the day/night system where real time is reflected in game and in game features are impacted by time of day, such as what Pokémon species are available in a given area. The second generation also introduces items that can be equipped to Pokémon, such as berries, with effects that vary from improving the efficiency of certain types of attacks to healing a Pokémon of a particular status affliction. Generation II also bred Pokémon breeding, which has forever altered competitive play and the way players obtain rare Pokémon. What’s better than Squirtle? Thirty-seven Squirtles, all bred with the move Hydro Pump and the ability to surf. Not only can a Pokémon be bred with moves its parent Pokémon know, but certain moves can only be taught to a Pokémon through breeding.
What solidifies Gold and Silver as the best Pokémon generation, and is completely unique to the second generation, is the ability to travel between regions. After collecting all eight gym badges and tackling the Elite Four in the Johto region, players can travel to Kanto, the original region from Red and Blue. There they can capture all of the original Pokémon, travel every route from the first games, and even challenge the original eight gym leaders. Once the player has collected all sixteen gym badges, they can challenge the Elite Four once more who are bringing their A game the second time around. Toppling the Elite Four demonstrates once more the strength and determination of the protagonist, this time earning him the right to scale Mt. Silver, at the pinnacle of which awaits none other than Red, the protagonist of Red, Blue, and Yellow. The battle against the silent champion is the most climactic moment of the entire Pokémon series, whose high leveled Pokémon look mighty familiar, particularly to those who played Pokémon Yellow. It’s undoubtedly one of the hardest fights players will face in Pokémon in general, though Generation IV’s champion battle against Cynthia is a struggle as well. Cynthia’s battle, however, has nothing on the battle with Red, complete with its epic, unique theme that calls back to the opening video in Pokémon Red and Blue. It’s a fitting conclusion to a brilliant game, and would have made an excellent end to the series, as it and the second journey through an extra region is unlike anything else in the franchise.
Strikingly familiar, however, are the Pokémon designs, which blend brilliantly well with the original 151. Gold and Silver feature precisely 100 new Pokémon, including some with one of two new typings, Steel and Dark. From Chikorita to Celebi, Johto’s Pokémon certainly feel like an extension of the original generation, which again makes sense, since these entries were planned as the continuation and conclusion of Pokémon. Some new designs highlight the day/night system, like Noctowl, a fierce flying Pokémon only catchable at night, or Sunflora, the sunflower Pokémon only available during the day. The second generation frequently presents remarkably idiosyncratic designs in the best possible way, like Donphan, a short, elephant-like monster combined with a tire, resulting in something completely original. And who can forget Lugia, the response to Mewtwo, similarly colored white with purple accents and a powerful Psychic type as well. Plus, with the two new types there’s better balance in the type effectiveness chart, and some expansion, fine tuning, and rounding out of the moves list as well. Not to mention that all 251 Pokémon are featured in vibrant colors that match to colorful nature of the game and its enthralling world. Unsurprisingly then, Gold and Silver also mark the introduction of “shiny Pokémon,” extremely rare color variations for fans to hunt and collect. Its unique cast of Pokémon, new typings, multiple regions, new features, improved interface, engaging story, well-designed map, astounding soundtrack, and overall improvement on a winning formula help Pokémon Gold and Silver do the impossible – surpass the hit phenomenon that is the originals. The record-breaking sales of the second generation of Pokémon, surpassing the sales of Red and Blue, spoke volumes to both the world and those at Game Freak. It was far from time to hang up the franchise. Pokémon was just getting started. Consequently, to me, Pokémon Gold and Silver and the second generation of Pokémon will always represent the best era of Pokémon history.
Thanks for reading this celebration of twenty-five years of Pokémon! Would the list have looked terribly different had I taken nostalgia or remakes into account? More than likely. I’m no genwunner, but I certainly love Red, Blue, and Yellow! Either way, I love all of Pokémon, and these aren’t fighting words…but they could be! Think your list of Pokémon generations could beat mine in battle? Prove it! Share your favorite generations, moments, Pokémon, and whatever else you want in the comments! And keep checking back as Goombastomp.com continues its celebration of twenty-five years of Pokémon right alongside the rest of the Pokémon world!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 23, 2016.