After 20 years of releases, there’s a Pokémon game for nearly every Nintendo console, but only a few consoles reign supreme for the Pokémon experience, with one standing high above the others. Not everyone has the time or the resources to acquire the original consoles and games to experience the earlier Pokémon phenomenon, but everyone deserves the chance to. With online expansions and e-shop availability on some later Nintendo consoles, it is (slowly) becoming possible to have the full experience of every generation of Pokémon.
The very first generation of Pokémon games, Red and Green in Japan, were released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996. The breakout success of these games led to multiple spin-offs and expanded versions of the main games. With the tenth generation, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, set to release for the Nintendo Switch on November 18, 2022, there are numerous classic Pokémon features that can come back. As Pokémon continues to evolve and create new games, many fans still long for the chance to play some of the older games that started it all. With all the evolving technology and resources Nintendo has, the earlier Pokémon generations, including all the extra games, should be made compatible with modern consoles.
Coupling the huge successes of the Pokémon franchise with the ever advancing technologies for video game designers and consoles, it’s shocking that the earlier Pokémon gens aren’t more readily available. Though there are mods and emulators available for PC users to capture the experience, it’s not an option that everyone agrees with, nor is it an option for non-PC players. Another important feature of earlier gens is the fact that older Pokémon games are harder to play, meaning players who have only played the most current gens haven’t experienced the best and the worst that Pokémon has to offer. Finally, each generation features new Pokémon, so some earlier titles have actually been missing in the more recent generations. For those uncomfortable with emulators, and those unable to access older hardware, there is a solution in some of Nintendo’s latest consoles.
Nintendo 3DS Is The Best Console For Pokémon Nostalgia
By far, the best console for the player looking to play the most Pokémon games is still the Nintendo 3DS. The 3DS Virtual Console allows players who don’t have access to a Game Boy and Game Boy Color to easily purchase and play the first and second generation games, Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue, as well as Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal. Even the special edition game, Pokémon Yellow, is available in the 3DS eShop. Pokémon Yellow featured many changes and additions on the Virtual Console, too, which offers some improved gameplay. The Nintendo 3DS eShop even offers the Pokémon Trading Game and Pokémon Puzzle Challenge Game Boy Color spin-offs. All of these titles, apart from their original consoles, are currently only officially available through the Nintendo 3DS eShop, making the Nintendo 3DS the best console for classic Pokémon games.
In addition to offering the first two generations, the Nintendo 3DS is also compatible with the fourth and fifth Pokémon generation games that were initially released on the Nintendo DS. Though the Gen 4 games, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, were remade for the Nintendo Switch as Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, these remakes make the point that Gen 5 Pokémon games should be ported, not remade, as too much of the original charm and uniqueness of Pokémon Black and White titles can be lost in a remake. Too, the beauty of the Nintendo 3DS eShop is that the Gen 1 and 2 games, except for Pokémon Yellow, aren’t drastically changed, allowing players the opportunity to play the earlier games and get an authentic experience out of it. Finally, the Nintendo 3DS also featured Gen 6 and Gen 7 games, making it the console with the most Pokémon games by far.
Nintendo Switch Has The Potential For Pokémon Supremacy
The latest Nintendo console, the Nintendo Switch, has the potential to bring all the earlier Pokémon generations into one console experience for the first time. Pokémon Snap being added to the Expansion Pack’s N64 lineup could lead to Gen 1 and 2 games for Switch Online, but that hasn’t happened just yet. The Nintendo Switch concluded the sixth generation with side games, Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! The 7th Gen games, Pokémon Shield and Sword were introduced as the first main-series Pokémon games for the Switch. Since then, there have been multiple spin-off games released on the console.
Nintendo also released the first game where players could be attacked by Pokémon with a story set definitively in the long-ago past on the Switch, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, marking the conclusion of the eighth generation. With the upcoming ninth generation, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet set to be the open-world Pokémon experience Legends: Arceus wasn’t. The Switch has the potential to break Pokémon into new territory by offering every main game on the same console for the first time ever, though it seems unlikely Nintendo will go through all the trouble.
The Wii U Has A Respectable Pokémon Game Lineup
Judging by the amount of Pokémon content for the Switch, it’s evident that Nintendo has learned from its mistake of underusing the Wii, and more specifically, the Wii U for Pokémon games. While the Wii U didn’t get any of its own core Pokémon games, it did get some spin-off games. Through the Virtual Console, the Wii U was compatible with the Wii rereleases of classic N64 games, Pokémon Snap and Super Smash Bros. which features Pokémon characters. The Wii U was an innovative console that didn’t get the chance it deserved for featuring Pokémon content. The Wii U is a console that featured many Pokémon spin-offs that deserve remakes, similar to the latest Switch edition of Pokémon Snap. Though it’s too late, the Wii U still deserves an honorable mention for what it contributed to Pokémon spin-off games.
With news that the Wii U and 3DS eShops will be closing in March 2023, now is the time for those interested in the earlier Pokémon games to purchase them. The eShop closures are closing is certainly disappointing, but there is room for the hope that Nintendo will start putting more effort into making the earlier Pokémon generations compatible with the Switch. Otherwise, the only option will be to purchase a CRT TV, retro consoles, such as the Nintendo 64 or the Game Boy Color, and either original or reproduced physical games. As exciting a prospect as that is, it’s not realistic for many people who don’t have the access or the resources to attain the retro systems. Though, it is worth trying just to see the Pokémon designs that looked better in classic games. Depending on the needs of an individual player, the Nintendo 3DS is the best option for the quantity of games and older generation exposure. However, the Nintendo Switch provides the highest quality graphics, and as the most advanced Nintendo console, will hopefully become the newest home for the earlier generations of Pokémon.