This is Objection Network’s countdown of the top 25 video game series of all-time. We’re counting down to the best franchise ever on March 31. For more info on the voting process, click here.
6) Pokemon (6 votes, 268 points)
Chris: This is the first of four franchises that was a unanimous choice from our panel. Strangely enough, that means two of our top 5 did not.
Pokemon may not score many points in the way of innovation, but I don’t care. I’ve loved these games since the very beginning.
The series gets flak sometimes because the formula is generally the same: a 10-year-old kid getting their first Pokemon and going out into the world, collecting gym badges and thwarting an evil organization along the way. Sun and Moon actually toyed with this idea quite a bit (more on that later), but honestly, I think the main reason the franchise feels stale is because of the remakes and third version of games. If you take things like Crystal, Emerald, Fire Red and Leaf Green, etc. out of the equation, there has been a new game for a new generation every 3-4 years consistently. But the remakes are also a smart decision, utilizing tech that already exists to put out another release in the current gen.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying I don’t care that this series won’t implement a more hardcore story or change up its narrative. It’s great as it is. I love the journey. I love strolling through patches of grass and finding new Pokemon to be my friends, stalwart members of a team that eventually eclipses the Elite Four as I become the champion. I’ll always go back for more.
Sun/Moon made some small changes to the franchise that I think were for the better. The usual structure of the game (visit new towns, go to gyms, get badges, beat Team _______) was still under the hood, but the flow was much better. HMs were gone, which was a huge step in the right direction. If the series continues to innovate in these small but significant ways, it’s going to do just fine.
Michelle: My childhood, plain and simple. My first Pokemon game was Blue, and I remember staying up way, way way past my bedtime, tilting the screen into the light of a night light plugged into the wall so I could see it and play it in the dark, but otherwise go undetected. These games consumed me.
There hasn’t been a ton of innovation across the board for these games, which is a nagging complaint that becomes more and more frustrating the older I get, but there’s something about these games that have resonated with millions upon millions of people despite that. Their formula is one that appeals to new generations of players and those who grew up with the game series and are now adults. Building a strong team to face off against gym leaders and the eventually the Elite Four is a fun challenge, mainly because there’s so much variation in terms of team-building. Over time, graphics have improved, mechanics have improved. Some of the formula has been shaken up a bit, especially in the most recent addition to the franchise. The stories for each game fluctuate between passable to decently good. Never great, but that’s all right in my book. There are so many generations of Pokemon now, with standouts from every single one. Personally, Gen I will always have my nostalgic, sentimental heart, but there are more recent ones that have some of the aesthetically best-looking and well-balanced Pokemon around. The addition of fairy and steel-type was a great move, creating even more possibilities for your team.
I’d say I’ve spent somewhere in the range of 1,000 hours of my life playing Pokemon games. A waste in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely. But they’ve provided me tons of entertainment over the years. The Pokemon games will always be very near and dear to me.
Cary: Never in a million years did I think I’d have anything constructive to say about a Pokemon game, but here we are. And…um…okay, maybe I still don’t have that much to say, because I’ve only played two games from the series: LeafGreen and Emerald. But they were really enjoyable, and rather eye-opening. I’d like to get around to playing more titles, but y’know…lack of time, adulting, other games, etc., etc. I’m a little curious as to why this one didn’t rank higher, and again, that’s mainly because of the amount of Pokemon talk that’s gone on within ON’s walls.
Christine: Owning a Nintendo DS Lite and a Nintendo 3DS made it really easy for me to start buying a bunch of the newer generation of Pokemon games to play. Admittedly, I’ve started some of the Pokemon games I have but never finished. The world of Pokemon is huge and the number of Pokemon you can catch and train are extremely overwhelming and addicting to collect. Part of the reason I have yet to finish at least one Pokemon game is because I get caught up in the catching aspect of the game. I gotta catch ’em all, damn it! How can I not? Looking for Pokemon in the grass is enough to eat away hours of gameplay time that should be going towards moving the story along. Just like Ash and the Pokemon trainers from the anime, playing the series does have the effect of feeling as if you’re bonding with your Pokemon. I get attached to my starters and the ones who I’m slowly trying to strengthen and eventually evolve. The series may not really change their game formula much, preferring to stick to what makes the series work for as long as it has, but that constancy is kind of comforting when you know what to expect and it keeps everything simple. Sometimes, you just need games that don’t have to constantly reinvent itself to keep players interested. Make better improvements here and there, of course, but leave the game as we know and love it as is.
(8) Kingdom Hearts
(9) Mario Kart
(10) Smash Brothers
(11) Fire Emblem
(12) Street Fighter
(13) Batman: Arkham
(14) Metal Gear
(18) Saints Row
(20) The Sims
(21) Grand Theft Auto
(23) Animal Crossing
(24) Silent Hill
(25) Donkey Kong