When main entries continuously bring in millions of sales every time, it’s hardly surprising that Nintendo’s hit series has so many spin-offs. Since arrived in Japan one fateful February in 1996, we’ve witnessed over 100 different games, and even dedicated fans only have so much time.
Many are familiar with bigger spin-offs like , , , and , but plenty ended up slipping through the cracks, too. For better or worse, they’ve brought us significant variety to Pokémon’s formula over the years, covering everything from edutainment, racing, and even tactical RPGs.
We previously ranked the best mainline Pokémon games, so if you wanted to tell us why we’re wrong about the big players, come take a look. However, if you’ve been looking for something different whilst waiting on or , allow us to offer up a few entries you may have forgotten about.
Making for a pretty barebones experience, we gave it 4/10 stars, calling it a “stripped-down version of Pokémon Stadium” and criticised its dependency on the DS games. Our biggest praise went to its online play – which shut down back in 2014 – and each main entry has offered online battles since, making this entry redundant to all but the most dedicated fans.
Simulating TCG but including RPG elements, players were tasked with defeating eight Club Masters, each carrying decks that represent elemental cards. We believed it still held up when Nintendo released it on the 3DS Virtual Console, giving it 8/10 stars. A second TCG game followed in 2001, significantly expanding upon the original but, outside of fan translations, it remains a Japanese exclusive. Otherwise, TCG Online is still running, and some of us believe it’s time we saw a Switch entry.
Reviews were generally mixed, criticising PokéPark for poor controls and repetitive gameplay, and we weren’t exactly impressed ourselves. A sequel emerged two years later with , taking greater influence from Black and White and, thankfully, we had better things to say about it.
This story followed Lucy Fleetfoot, who attempts to take down the Phobos Battalion, a shady group stealing Pokémon to power their secret weapon. It didn’t receive a huge amount of attention but it reviewed fairly positively, eventually getting a 3DS sequel in 2014 – got a solid 8/10 stars from us.
It held interesting ideas, letting players link up with GBA entries to create courses based around your team, but the wider experience was significantly lacking. Dash reviewed badly. We didn’t cover it ourselves, but it holds the dubious distinction as Metacritic’s second lowest-rated Pokémon game, with a 46 Metascore. It’s only beaten by , and may explain why we’ve not had another racing entry since.
Offering over 40 step-by-step lessons to teach players the basics, it used over 100 different Pokémon as reference images. Including some new quality-of-life features like an undo button, it won’t convince anyone that isn’t artistically driven, but we thought it made for an “extremely accessible experience”, giving it 8/10 stars.
Our goal was helping Professor Oak set up his TV network, watching broadcasts with Pikachu and obtaining collectible trading cards. Notably, it recreated the Pokémon Mini hardware’s five games, also including an exclusive 6th title. If you beat Channel, players could also obtain Jirachi, who was transferable to . Ultimately, it wasn’t well-received, earning a 55 Metascore.
This time around, we captured Pokémon by correctly typing out their names, working for Professor Quentin Werty within the Elite Typists’ Club. We thought it held some flaws, but still earned a decent 7/10 stars from us. Uniquely, this is also the only Pokémon game with an English translation to never release in North America.
Playing as the Warlord of the Aurora kingdom, defeating fellow Warlords unlocked access to further Pokémon. Featuring 200 of the (then) 649 Pokémon, they were restricted to one move each, and evolution only occurs by hitting specific conditions. We thought pretty highly of this one at the time - awarding it 8/10 stars - saying it could’ve benefitted from a deeper story but Conquest stands strong as one of Pokémon’s better spin-offs.
It reviewed well and gained a second lease of life back in 2008, when the N64 entry arrived on the Wii Virtual Console, where we awarded it 8/10 stars. Sadly, that’s no longer available, but the GBC game was also released for the 3DS Virtual Console in 2014, and it holds up just as well. Arguably, remains the best choice in the Puzzle League franchise, but we’ve still got a soft spot for these two Pokémon-flavoured spin-offs.
Have you gone through any of these Pokémon spin-offs? Anything here you’d argue isn’t obscure enough? Let us know in the comments!