The start of my favourite Pokémon generations list, starting with the four I like the least.
With the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield last year, Pokémon has entered their 8th generation. Grouping the Pokémon games in generations is more a thing that the Pokémon community does, it’s a way for us fans to make it easier to discuss the almost 25 year old franchise. After snagging myself a copy of Pokémon Shield I started to realise that, with Pokémon Blue, Yellow and Crystal installed on my 3DS I’ve played through at least one Pokémon game of each generation. I started discussing each of them in my head. How much did I enjoy them? Which games had aged well and which once had aged poorly? So, after much consideration, I ranked all the generations from the once I enjoyed the least to the once I enjoyed the most and with me having my own little corner on the internet these days why not put this list on there? So here we are, at the first half of that list.
Why did I decide to split it into two parts? Simple: the post became so long that you’d need almost 20 minutes to read and I don’t think that would be all to appealing to most of you. So for everyone convenience the list is split in two, with this part listing the four generations I enjoyed the least.
I’d like to stress that this list is my own opinion. It’s based on my own experiences and is not an objective list of which generations are superior or inferior but simply how much I enjoyed them. I would also like to make clear that I didn’t play every Pokémon game ever made, I never haven’t played the Let’s Go games for example, so please keep that in mind as well.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get this show on the road shall we!
#8. Generation I
They are very buggy games, everyone who played them knows exactly what I’m talking about, and they are very rough around the edges. There are many situations, moves and Pokémon that just break the game and when you find yourself in such a situation, which will definitively happen a handful of times, it’s so unbelievably frustrating. The graphics are pretty darn ugly (even for a Gameboy game) and I find the 8-bit music to be a bit painful on the ears, especially during longer play. I understand why a lot of this is though and Game Freak does have my respect. They were a very small and rather inexperienced development team who had been working on the games for quite a while and needed them to get out on the market already. This explains why the games feel so unpolished and kind off make the fact that they were released in the state that they are kind off a miracle, but that’s not enough to make me start enjoying them.
#7. Generation IVNext up on the list is the generation I probably have played the most, especially as a kid, generation IV with Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinum. Heart Gold & Soul Silver are also part of this generation and I know are very beloved, but I only partly played through these game on a now busted R4 card so I can’t really talk about them. I don’t have enough experience with them to do so and the same goes for Platinum. So when I start complaining about something and you’re wondering ‘you’re wrong … fixed that’ then now you know why.
So with that said, let’s immediately start with the biggest complaint I have; these games are so incredibly slow. From the walking speed to the battle animations and HP drain to the simple act of entering a new area or saving, it all happens on a snail’s pace. I didn’t really notice this or was very bothered by it as a kid (with the exception of saving, that I do remember finding very annoying) but when I replayed Diamond a year or two ago it bothered me so much. This ‘slowness’ also extends to the story itself, which is poorly paced. There are long stretches in the game were nothing really happens and others were you’re ticking of gyms from the list one after the other. Team Galactic, as the games evil team, are also not very interesting nor very threatening really. The basic grunts are very easy to beat and I feel they’re just not enough about them to make them interesting, which is a problem as the games lean into this plot rather heavily. I also think the Diamond and Pearl don’t have a lot of replay value.
The games are a bit unbalanced with only a very small selection of Pokémon available to you, one that lacks variety (Fire types anyone?) and the difficulty scaling is also not great. Maybe it’s just that I’ve become so used to the experience share but be prepared for a lot, and I really mean a lot, of grinding.
So what is it that I do like about the generation? Well it added a lot of elements that really pushed the franchise forward. The physical/special split and the internet connectivity are things that have become integral to the Pokémon games since. I think that the Pokémon introduced are pretty solid and the Sinnoh region is very memorable to me. From all the regions, Sinnoh is the one I remember the individual towns and routes the best which might also be because I played Pokémon Diamond so very much. I started playing Pokémon only a few months before Diamond and Pearl were released in Europe and I spent almost my entire childhood in this generation and because of that, I’ve got a lot of memories associated with these games. Oh, and the spin-offs. There were many spin-off games in this gen, most prominently the Ranger and Mystery Dungeon games and I have a lot of fond memories playing those games as well.
#6. Generation VIIFollowing the 4th generation is a very recent one, the 7th generation with Sun & Moon and Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon. A rather good generation with a good set of games, but one that just didn’t really grab me. Let’s start with the positives first. Pokémon was brought into the 3rd dimension with X & Y, but it was starting with these games that I feel they made the jump proper. With X & Y, I feel that the designers were still in the mindset of making a 2D, with the grade based design of the world for example, but with Sun & Moon they let got into the mindset proper and made a world that was much more dynamic. They tried to do shake up the formula a bit by letting go of the gym challenge and replace them with the island trials, with tied into the Alola regions own distinct culture very well, giving it all a bit more personality. Pokémon also introduced the regional forms of Pokémon, AKA what you’d consider real evolution, a fun and fitting concept that should be a part of every new generation from now on if you ask me.
As you can read, there’s a lot to like about these games but I do have some criticisms that holds this generation back. While I appreciate trying to shake up its formula, it’s very much a ‘new barrels, old wine’ type of situation (which is an old Dutch expression, maybe worth a Google). On the surface it might all seem different, but when you start digging a little you see that’s basically just the same as it was before, only the coat of paint is different. I’m also not a fan of the Z-moves, this generation marked the start of Pokémon intruding a new, big gimmick to grab people’s attention and shoving the old one under the rug which I’m not happy about. I’ve seen quite a few franchise with this exact same approach and it never ended well for them. I could write pages about why this is, but this post is already long enough, so let’s save that discussion for another day. Lastly, the Alola region is very beautiful and well designed, but it was very memorable to me. I don’t really feel the need to start re-exploring the world nor do I feel very attached to the new Pokémon. I’ve played through the Alola region once with every starter and I don’t feel the need to pick the game back up for quite a while.
#5. Generation VIII
Why isn’t it at the bottom of the list for me you ask? Well, because I feel it has a lot in common with the generation it preceded it, but does it all a smidge better and has more potential going forward to boot. It makes even more use of being in 3D, in large part because the games are on the Switch, and it boasts a slew of small quality of life improvements. The regional forms are, thankfully, back and they have even been turned up a notch with regional form exclusive evolutions and (maybe) legendary Pokémon getting variants as well. Aside from that, I just love the Galar region. From its design to its atmosphere, from its memorable characters to its soundtrack and strong roster of new Pokémon to its kick-ass soundtrack, I just love it. It also does a few things Pokémon has never done before. The Max Raid events introduces an ongoing, online co-op, aspect to the games and Pokémon is getting (paid) DLC for the very first time, so it’s going to be interesting to see how that works out.
But, there are definitely drawbacks. With the introduction of Dynamaxing and the complete omission of both Mega Evolution and Z-moves the franchise keeps going the gimmick route which I so despise. The game also has a very palpable ‘two steps forward, one step back’ feel and just gives me and many others the impression that it needed more time in the oven. And there’s the little matter of Dexit. I don’t like it and that’s all I’m going to say about that. I’m sick and tired of all the controversy and just a sense of unpleasantness, swirling around in the fan-base these days and that’s hindering my enjoyment of this generation as well. But, generation VIII is far from over and we can only wait and see where it goes from here. Hopefully we’ll be able to look back at it with a smile and leave all of the controversy behind us. Hopefully.
Well, that’s it for the bottom half of the list. Join me Wednesday, when I discuss the second part of the list, the four generations that I like the most. Do you agree with my ranking so far, or have committed a sin for putting such a good generation so low on the list? Please leave a comment below if that’s the case, but please, do keep it classy. For those reading this in the future, I’ll drop a link to part II right here so you can continue reading right away. I’ll see you there!