Top 12 Pokemon Side Games of All Time

These side games deserve more than just a sideline.

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While the mainline Pokemon games are beacons in gaming all their own, side games fill the gaps between each release. A turn-based RPG is fun for most, but what about those who enjoy tactical strategy RPGs? What about dungeon crawlers or idle games?

Thanks to Pokemon’s wealth of side games, we have all these creative new takes on the Pokemon series, bringing in new fans by tapping into different genres. Below we’ll be listing out some of the best side games that you can try out if you love Pokemon but are looking for a fresh new way to play on an entirely different console:

12. Pokemon Quest

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Pokemon Quest is a mobile title idle game that can be experienced on anything from a tablet, to a Switch, to your mobile phone. It’s a cute little blocky simulation game that allows you to roam new islands, find new Pokemon, and build a team of three to conquer all the cube-y lands you desire. While it is a bit simple, the premise of a well-built idle game was not lost on all, and it made a somewhat decent run in popularity during its time. If you want a time killer as a side step to your work, this game is perfect.

11. Detective Pikachu

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Detective Pikachu has to be one of the most unique side games to grace the spinoff section of Pokemon. Featuring voice acting, the main game fans are a bit jealous that Detective Pikachu got the treatment first. As a game designed for the younger market, Detective Pikachu is a neat and whimsical search-and-find game that takes place in the Pokemon world, not from a Trainer’s perspective, but from a detective and their partner-in-fighting-crime, Pikachu.

10. Pokepark 2: Wonders Beyond

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If you like the idea of taking over a Pokemon instead of a Trainer, PokePark can definitely scratch that itch. Released for the Wii, this action-adventure game is designed for kids but was beloved by all ages. The first PokePark did well, but the second did even better, improving on the mechanics and bringing in Gen 5 to play. Unlike the first game, in 2, you can also have multiplayer with more than one Pokemon on screen. For Generation 5 in the mid-2000s, this was a pretty big deal, and even in the 2020s, it remains that way. While we don’t have a modern Pokemon title for PokePark, PokePark 2 will have to do.

9. Pokemon Dash

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If you’re looking for more than one DS title to get yourself into, consider the short but great sprint that Pokemon Dash was. This simple but satisfying game is a little racing simulator where you can dash past other Pokemon to the goal in record times. While it is a pretty barebones title compared to main games or even other side titles, this unique take on Pokemon is the only one of its kind.

8. Pokemon Unite

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If you’re a fan of League of Legends, try Pokemon Unite for that exact spin, but in the Pokemon world. This strategic battle game occurs on Aeos Island, where Pokemon are much stronger than normal. Every Pokemon in the roster is different. Some are meant for attacking, defending, steamrolling, and area control. Work together with other members of your team to take areas and snuff out the other team. Sharpen your game knowledge by implementing strategy, communication, or the enemy’s lack thereof to conquer opponents, and learn more about what tactics work best to bolster your winning streak.

7. Pokemon Conquest

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If you’re a fan of turn-based tactical fun while also liking the blast to the past that Pokemon Legends Arceus was, then this side game mixes those two perfectly into a blend that you’ll likely enjoy. Taking place in a world deeply planted in the past, Pokemon Conquest focuses on warriors who use Pokemon in battle as a unit alongside themselves. Both warriors and Pokemon fight side by side in territory disputes, which you are a major part of for your own country. Functioning just like Fire Emblem, Pokemon Conquest is a fantastic side game for anyone who wants a change of genre without losing the Pokemon charm. Gameplay is engaging and tastefully difficult right up until the final battle, where you face off against legendary Pokemon with your carefully built team.

6. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon as a series is a creative spinoff that excels in storytelling, as well as taking the roguelike formula as far as it can go with Pokemon. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a remake of the original Red Rescue Team game that came out for the GameBoy in 2005. Gather items from dungeons called Mystery Dungeons that change every time you enter, strategize to reach the end, and use the combined power of preparedness and wit to defeat bosses and become a great rescue team as a Pokemon. Because Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX is a remake of the Red Rescue team, the story is entirely the same. However, the convenience of the modern version and the ability to play it on a TV make it rank quite high in the list for the quality of life fixes alone.

5. Pokemon Ranger

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Pokemon Ranger is one of the oldest but best titles on this list due to its persistence and iconic nature as a spinoff. If you have a Nintendo DS, this game can be a fantastic return to the classics for any Pokemon enjoyer. Using the stylus, Pokemon Ranger introduces fans to Rangers, who use the power of friendship to work alongside Pokemon without capturing them in Pokeballs. This series is three games long, which means if you enjoy looping around Pokemon with the stylus, there are three titles of that to explore. The game features a brand new soundtrack, region, and Pokemon up to the third generation to befriend and observe.

4. New Pokemon Snap

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New Pokemon Snap is an improvement upon the original concept: Pokemon Snap, which was originally released all the way back for the Nintendo 64. With improved graphics, quality-of-life fixes, and a whole new way to get around, New Pokemon Snap is an absolute improvement from the original game. Catch photos of Pokemon doing their thing in the wild: whether that be eating, sleeping, or being downright adorable. With every ride you take to photograph the Pokemon wildlife, you never know what you may discover them doing.

3. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team

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The first games in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team, were monumental steps in the side Pokemon game timeline. For many fans, these are the best side games in their prime. With Red Rescue Team for the GameBoy and Blue Rescue Team for the Nintendo DS, these iconic dungeon crawler titles mix the cuteness of Pokemon with the strategy required for any roguelike. While some fans of roguelikes may consider these titles rogue-lites, the idea of preparing for a dungeon and having consequences should you lose still holds well with these games and is comfortable for most ages to play.

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2. Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs

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Pokemon Rangers: Guardian Signs is the final game in the Pokemon Ranger series of side games for the Nintendo DS. What makes this rendition so remarkable in comparison to the previous two entries is that you can now use Pokemon to help in your captures with the stylus. This means that obtaining more Pokemon and experimenting to see what they do benefits the gameplay, not only making it a great experience as another Pokemon Ranger game but one with diversity and replayability within the game as well. That and the pixel graphics get a major update with this one.

Related: What are Dark-Type Pokemon’s Weaknesses?

1. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky is an improvement of the two games that came right before it: Explorers of Darkness and Explorers of Time. These two first games tell a brilliant story that blows the Blue and Red Rescue Team out of the water regarding campaign length and character quality. Not only is the main campaign good, but as you complete Explorers of Sky, you can unlock special bonus episodes where you play as other characters that you befriend within your Exploration Team Guild.

In Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, you’re once again a human-turned-Pokemon destined to save the world. However, instead of encountering natural disasters galore, you instead encounter a swath of hostile Pokemon, a rise in Mystery Dungeons, and a mysterious Pokemon who seems to be stopping time itself. With all this happening and no clear shot to your memories in sight, all you can do is keep pushing forward through dungeons, obstacles, and all with your partner and your new, work-in-progress exploration team.