Pokémon games have stood the test of time by adhering to a consistent formula predicated on catching, battling, and raising over 800 unique creatures within the Pokémon universe. Today, the long-running JRPG series stands as one of the most popular Nintendo properties, with the most recent main series games Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon released in 2017 for 3DS.
And while we’ve gotten confirmation that Pokémon Sword and Shield are on the horizon, it seems we’ll have to wait till later in the year to experience everything they have to offer. In the meantime, we’ve created this list to highlight some excellent titles that manage to scratch that same Pokémon itch, as well as some upcoming games that may not be on your radar. We’ll also be updating this list in the future, so make sure to check back.
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Monster Hunter Stories
Monster Hunter Stories plays completely different than the main series games and features a turn-based combat system as well as the ability to befriend monsters and hatch new ones by stealing eggs. The game lets you name, ride, and train your monsters to become more powerful while experiencing an original story that sees you attempting to prevent a mysterious black blight from destroying the world.
If you haven’t already picked up on the Pokémon similarities, the game also features Rock-Paper-Scissors style combat mechanics, with attacks falling into one of three categories: Power, Speed, and Technique. A nice addition is the ability to fight alongside your monsters by choosing from one of four different weapons from the MH games: the Great Sword, the Sword and Shield, the Hammer, and the Hunting Horn.
Heartbeat is a top-down RPG that was created using the RPG Maker engine. The game has you playing as Eve Staccato, a simple Conjurer from a small mountainside village who sets off on a life-changing journey set in a world where humans and creatures known as Mogwai have been feuding for years.
As a Conjurer, you’re constantly being targeted by Mogwai, who wishes to defeat you in battle. By enlisting the help of your pet familiar and friends, you’ll fight to rise to the top and befriend the Mogs. The game’s 20+ hour story features multiple endings and takes a very diverse approach with how it portrays the Mogwai compared to Pokémon’s treatment of its creatures.
Yo-Kai Watch 3
Yo-Kai Watch 3 is the latest installment in the highly underrated Yo-Kai JRPG series. The game follows the intertwined stories of the series’ main protagonist Nathan Adams, who’s recently moved to the Southern United States city of St. Peanutsburg, and Hailey Anne Thomas, a self-proclaimed nerd who lives further upstate in the city of Springdale.
Both characters possess watches that allow them to see, befriend, and summon creatures called Yo-Kai in battle. The game features a 3×3 grid battle system and over 600 different Yo-Kai creatures to collect. While the Yo-Kai games have never been able to come even close to replicating the success of Pokémon, they’ve always had a lighthearted and bizarre sense of humor that’s reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons.
Persona 5 is the most recent entry in the long-running JRPG series developed by Atlus. You play as a teenager code-named Joker whose recent transition to a high school in Tokyo is interrupted when a series of supernatural events begin to unfold. As the only one who can combat these evil threats, it’s up to you to recruit companions that can help as you explore alternate realities while also maintaining your day-to-day life.
The game grants you a lot of freedom when it comes to deciding how to spend your days, with options ranging from training with party members, getting a part-time job after school, and shopping for gifts to give your friends. When it comes to battling, Pokémon fans will appreciate Persona 5’s turn-based combat system, which uses a similar Rock-Paper-Scissors approach for different elemental attacks.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI is the latest entry in the long-running JRPG series. The game sees you as a young man who discovers he’s the reincarnation of a legendary hero from a forgotten age. Setting forth into an unknown and dangerous world to uncover the mysteries of your path, you’ll enlist a team of fascinating adventurers who seek to aid you on your quest.
The game boasts a 100-hour gameplay experience comprised of a standalone story in addition to plenty of side-quests and mini-games to explore. Additionally, it features an updated turn-based battle system that takes an “easy to learn, tough to master” approach to combat. This makes Dragon Quest XI one of the best entries in the series to start with, especially if you’re someone who loves lengthy JRPGs.
There are a lot of free-to-play Pokémon MMOs out in the wild; however, none are quite as refined as PokéOne. While still in open-beta, the online game includes all moves, abilities, and mechanics from previous games all the way up to Gen 7.
Additionally, you have the option to play the game with either 2D or 3D graphics, a nice touch not offered in the official games. There are some micro-transactions in the form of cosmetics, however these are completely avoidable. If you’re looking for a 1:1 Pokémon experience that allows you to seamlessly interact with other players, look no further than PokéOne.
This one may be somewhat of a cheat since it’s a mod for Minecraft and not a full-fledged game, but Pixelmon does such a great job at replicating what it’s like to play Pokémon to the point where it almost feels like a completely different game. The fan-made mod allows players to go on both new and familiar adventures as Pokémon trainers, picking a starter from any generation in the series.
From there, players are free to capture, trade, train, and battle Pokémon to their heart’s content. Pokémon can even evolve and appear randomly out in the wild. The mod also introduces some fun mechanics like being able to craft your own Pokéballs and take on gym battles by travelling to different servers. Frequent updates have resulted in better looking Pokémon models and attack animations.
Temtem is an upcoming MMORPG that makes no attempt to hide its clear Pokémon influence. The game has players embarking on a quest to become the ultimate tamer and explore the six floating islands that make up the Airborne Archipelago, where creatures called Temtem live peacefully side-by-side with humans.
Along the way, they’ll encounter different creatures that can be caught and trained, battle other tamers, trade Temtem with friends, and strive to beat the eight Dojo Leaders. The game features a colorful art palette as well as some really interesting creature designs. If the game manages to deliver on its online, connected world and has solid catching and battling mechanics, we might see it grow into something big.
What better to include on this list than a game currently being developed by Game Freak themselves. Town is a new IP from the Japanese developer that seems to share a lot of the same DNA as Game Freak’s creature-collector, featuring a turn-based battle system and powerful monsters to battle.
At the moment details are scarce, however, the brief gameplay shown does suggest the game’s combat will have several layers of depth, something Game Freak loves to incorporate into every title. In terms of story, Town is set in a singular village that’s become overrun by monsters; you’ll be teaming up with other townsfolk to defend your home and uncover the mystery behind the creatures’ recent invasion.
Ooblets is an upcoming life sim and creature collecting game inspired by the likes of Pokémon in addition to farming games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. In it, you play as a customizable human character that spends its time maintaining a patch of farmland and exploring a world inhabited by Ooblets, adorable creatures that come in all shapes and sizes.
Together, you and your Ooblets will go on new adventures battling other trainers, having dance parties, and visiting different islands. The game oozes cheerfulness and seems like it’ll provide a laidback experience for casual Pokémon fans looking for more variety and customization options.