Pokémon has grown to be known as a massive franchise over the years, with classics becoming ever more prevalent over generations of gamers. It’s not uncommon for such games to receive a spin-off to try and make more money, but most of the time they leave a bad mark on the franchise. An example would be something like Hey You, Pikachu! for the N64. But keep in mind, not all ideas fall through the roof, there are some spin-offs that were so good they spawned sequels or at least left fans begging for more. Today, We are taking a look at what we consider to be the best Pokémon spin-offs.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon
We actually did a retro review on Red Rescue Team, so this one shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is by far one of the most successful Pokémon spin-offs to date and here’s why. It fundamentally is the same gameplay as other Pokemon games but from a different perspective. You take control of a Pokémon, you battle, and you capture. But where Mystery Dungeon differs is the storyline and the overall gameplay. Unlike main-stream games, the Mystery Dungeon series has always had a better narrative. It follows a roughly similar plot each game, where you are a Pokémon who was originally a human, and you are trying to uncover your past. But what Mystery Dungeon does is create a solid world to amplify the story. It personifies Pokémon, giving them humanistic qualities and personalities that make them relatable.
The combat system is great, taking a more tactical approach. You can set your AI teammates strategies, their moves, and every move for each Pokémon. The variety of strategies you can use is massive. What I think is clever is the turn-based aspect too, where the enemy only moves as you do. It is so quick and smooth it gives the feel of real-time strategy even though it isn’t. Overall, a must play, we recommend Explorers of Sky, Time, or Darkness, as it’s personally our favorite of the series.
We are honestly a bit half-hearted about this choice. It’s popular and has good stories most of the time, but the gameplay is terrible. The Pokémon Ranger series revolves around Pokémon Rangers, people who tame Pokémon by drawing circles around them. Throughout the story you can use benefits from your partner or wild Pokémon.
Ranger gives a unique plot approach to the games. Instead of forcing Pokémon to fight each other, you do the work for once. In terms of gameplay, it gets very frustrating, as you need to draw rings around the Pokémon you are trying to tame. When you get so close to taming a legendary Pokémon it is so unnerving to fail at the last moment.
So overall if you are in it for the story, it’s good, but the gameplay is lacking.
Our favorite of the spin-offs by far. Conquest takes a strategic approach to the Pokémon games, where you instead take control of warriors or warlords. You lead them in battle in a tactical RPG style similar to Disgaea or Fire Emblem. The story is really straightforward, but we love Pokémon and strategic games so this game was easily going to make this list.
As we mentioned before, we are looking forward to finally be getting a sequel and we are hopeful that they implement some more improvements. Firstly being able to change Pokémon mid-battle like a trainer in the main games. Second would be four moves per Pokémon instead of just the one. And obviously, more Pokémon to take into battle. This game has so much potential for the devs to squeeze more out of and we really hope they achieve it.
Did you agree with our list? Or were there other spin-offs that you enjoyed as well? Leave a comment below of what you would like to see and make sure to connect with us on social media for more awesome content.