The second and final part of my favourite generations of Pokémon list.
Welcome everyone, to part II of my ranking of every Pokémon generation to date! For those of you just joining in, I'd advise you to read part I first to get the whole picture, but here's a short explanation regardless. It has taken me a few years, but since I've now played at least one 'core' Pokémon game from every generation I've decided to put them on a list and rank them from my least to my most enjoyable.
Just as with part I, 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 haven't played the Let's Go games, for example, so please keep that in mind as well.
Now then, let's finish this, shall we?
#4. Generation IIFalling just short of the top three is the second generation, with Gold, Silver & Crystal. I didn't have any means to play these games until they were released on the 3DS virtual console and even then I decided to wait so I could get my hands on the 'physical' edition of Crystal. I had heard how much other people enjoyed these games, they frequently top the list of many peoples and outlets when it comes to the best Pokémon games and I have to tell you that I was always a bit sceptical of this. I just didn't see why these games are widely considered to be 'the best'.
Now that I've actually played one of them, I understand it much better. The games are an improvement over its predecessor in every way. While the graphics are still hindered by the hardware, the Gameboy Color was only a marginal improvement over the original Gameboy on that front, I feel that GameFreak managed to pull as much out of the hardware as they could. That the games are in colour is already a great improvement, the graphics of the overworld seem cleaned up and the sprites from the trainers and Pokémon are leagues better than in Red & Blue and even Yellow. The game also runs much better, there are fewer bugs and glitches, and the games are much more balanced overall. The introduction of the Dark and Steel types and splitting the special stat helps to bring an end to the domination of all things Psychic and many other tweaks in the name of balance and fairness were made as well. They also introduced a slew of new features such as held-items, the progression of time and some actual post-game content.
The soundtrack and the overall atmosphere that these games accomplish are just very pleasant in my mind. It's just very relaxing and fun to play these games!
With all that praise comes some drawbacks, however. While it's unique and very, very, welcome that you can revisit Kanto after becoming champion, there really isn't much to it. Kanto is shortened and stripped down so it would fit on the cartridge and the only thing to really do there is defeat the Gym Leaders. The Pokémon designs are also something that I'm iffy about. I just think that they're rather bland and aside from a few standouts, they're just not very memorable to me.
Last but not least, the story of these games are just not good in my opinion. Crystal has it a little bit better with the Eusine and Suicune plot but that's not that substantial. The resurgence of team Rocket is too short and not all that well thought out, you have only four encounters with them of which one is in the post-game. In these encounters, the only thing you do is battle faceless grunts and it all ends with team Rocket dissolving itself because Giovanni, their former boss, doesn't answer their calls and not because of anything you did. In other words: your involvement changed nothing and that's not something you should do in your story.
#3. Generation III
The nostalgia is strong with this one, but not so strong that I'm blind to its faults. When I first played Emerald, I though the roster of Pokémon was rather limited and looking back at it now I still think that holds somewhat true. With 202 Pokémon in the Pokédex more than half of all Pokémon at the time made it in, but they aren't spaced out over the region very well and there are some obvious omissions. I personally missed Gengar the most back then and it's something that 9-year old me thought was very disappointing.
The biggest criticism I have with these games is that they lack features that the previous games did without any real reason why. The day-night cycle is missing, the sprites go from being animated in Crystal to being static again in Ruby & Sapphire and that's only the examples I can give you on the top of my head. This helped make the games feel a bit disconnected from what came before and not coincidentally I think, Pokémania died down considerably during this time. But, there's still much more in this generation that keeps it near and dear to my heart. There is, of course, the nostalgia and because these were my first Pokémon games I got to experience everything for the first time. Treecko was my first Pokémon ever and many of the Pokémon found in Hoenn rank high on my personal list of favourites.
Many people point at generation III when they say that the Pokémon design has gone downhill, but to me, that isn't the case. I think the new Pokémon are unique, are well-designed and have some interesting backgrounds. Yeah, there are a few Pokémon which are kind of forgettable to me, like Spinda for example, but if there was a roster of Pokémon I had to choose above all others it would be this one. And generation III is what brought us Ralts. I love Ralts. Ralts is best Poké. Don't even think about fighting me on this.
My love for the Pokémon also extends to the region of Hoenn. I spent many hours as a kid walking its routes, climbing its mountains and sailing its vast sea all the while listening to its beautiful and distinctive music. Yes, there is a lot of water here, but there is also a great variety of landscapes here that I don't hear a lot of people talk about. From a volcano, a jungle and underwater routes there's so much more to Hoenn then people give it credit for.
I go could go on even longer about these games, like how cool it is that there are two evil teams this team and that you have a Dad whose also a gym leader and how epic the battle between Groudon and Kyogre feels, but I think it's time to move on the number two on this list. Can't let my nostalgia get the better of me, now can I?
#2. Generation VComing in as the runner-up is the fifth generation of games with Black & White and their direct sequels, Black 2 & White 2. There was some controversy leading up to the release of these games. Unlike previous instalments, you would only be able to catch brand new Pokémon. There were no older Pokémon obtainable before the post-game not even Pikachu. I was a bit worried about this decision as well but that didn't hinder me from calling ahead to my local Intertoys (a Dutch chain of toy stores) and reserving a copy. And I wasn't disappointed.
Restricting you to only new Pokémon actually gives returning players an experience that harkens back to the first time you ever played a Pokémon game. This generation gets a lot of flack from the community for its Pokémon design, that they're 'the worst' and that Pokémon had truly run out of ideas with a garbage Pokémon and an ice cream cone Pokémon. I don't want to hear any of this, because I really dig the Pokémon. Every time I start a new generation, I always look forward to seeing the returning Pokémon. I like my teams to be a healthy mix of new and old Pokémon and there's a slew of Pokémon I want to add to one of my official teams and the vast majority of those are generation V Pokémon. I can't really put my finger on why, but I've got a fondness of these Pokémon and I always get excited when I run across any of them. I think this might be an extension of how much I enjoyed these games on a whole. I love just so much about these games. The graphics are still sprite-based, but they're a big step up from the in my opinion lacklustre graphics of Diamond & Pearl. Not only that but the environments are much more dynamic and positively busting with life, like in Castelia City. I'm also very fond of the soundtrack and overall sound design, which are my favourite of the entire franchise. It has some good compositions, a very cool style and some nice little touches like the music in a Gym match changing when they send out their last Pokémon.
And, of course, there's the story. The story questions the relationship humans and Pokémon have and put simply, you won't find a better story in any other core series Pokémon game than right here. What do I dislike about generation V? Not that much really. The sequels, Black 2 & White 2 are unique in that they are the only real sequels Pokémon has and while I really want them to do something similar again, they didn't get as invested in them as their predecessors. The Black & White post-game is also very lacklustre. There's next to nothing to do after the story is over and that's very disappointing.
#1. Generation VI
But how does the generation itself stack up? Pretty darn good if you ask me. Pokémon X & Y not only brought the franchise into 3D but also shook things up by introducing some new features. The biggest change is undoubtedly the introduction of the Fairy type to act as a counter to the Dragon-type that had been become very popular and rather dominating and has become my personal favourite type. Mega-evolution was introduced, the biggest shake-up to the formula we had up until then, which I loved back then and you could also finally customize the appearance of your character. Just like with generation V, I also dig the soundtrack and sound design. It gives off a bit of an orchestral vibe and the tracks are generally at a quicker pace yet feel very relaxing.
The Pokémon are also pretty good. I wouldn't say the new Pokémon are my absolute favourites ever, but they are solid and I can't think of anyone that I actively dislike. The amount of Pokémon available to you in X & Y is also one of its strengths because this means you have a lot of variety when it comes to building a team. I primarily play Pokémon as single-player experiences and I'm not really interested in online battles and such so the single-player is where I get my enjoyment. And, this is very important, it has the generation III remakes. Getting to revisit my Hoenn all over again in 3D, with so many improvements is just the icing on the cake for this generation. It's by no means perfect though. X & Y's story is lacklustre, the post-game is once again on the week side, Mega-Evolution is pretty unbalanced and is practically an instant win button.
These flaws can't hold down this generation for me though. For both the good it does on its own and what it ended up during for me personally, generation VI is my absolute favourite and I don't see that changed anytime soon.
Well, that marks the end for my very first 'top' list. Do you agree with my ranking, or have committed a sin for putting such a good generation so low on the list?