The best Pokémon games you can play on Switch

Every Pokémon game on the Nintendo Switch ranked by the team.
Brodie Fogg
May 31, 2024
Icon Time To Read12 min read
Icon CheckContributorGeorgia Dixon
Icon CheckContributorAlex Choros
Icon CheckContributorHannah Geremia
Pokemon Games on Nintendo Switch graphic

Pokémon might be reported as the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, but here in Australia its video games still feel a little niche to fans of the series. The franchise's reach is undeniable. You can't visit a single Westfield in Australia without crossing multiple Pikachu plushies or Eevee backpacks, but the games themselves still feel a little bit sacred. That's why we here at take our opinions about Pokémon very seriously. Not only have we listed every Pokémon game you can play on Nintendo Switch below, but we've ranked them from best to... forgettable.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Our top pick for the best Pokémon games on the Nintendo Switch is surely one of the most divisive of the series. 

On the surface, Scarlet and Violet is a response to fans' wildest dreams. A huge open world inhabited by wild Pokémon that encourages exploration with non-linear story progression. Sadly, when that ambition meets Nintendo's ageing hardware, the result is bound to have some performance issues. 

Still, if you can find it in your heart to look past a few bugs and frame-rate issues, you'll find a robust Pokémon game that you could have only dreamed of back in 1995. 

Scarlet and Violet's three main storylines (which you can approach however you see fit) offer some of the most gripping narratives in a mainline game since Black and White. In a first for the series, you actually meet your legendary (Miraidon or Koraidon) in the early stages of the game. As your bond grows, exciting new abilities are unlocked that help you traverse Paldea's vast map with ease. 

Scarlet and Violet cops a fair bit of hate but I truly believe it's the best the mainline series has been in a long time and I can't wait to see where Game Freak takes things next (hopefully on more powerful hardware.)

Play Video
  • Price: From $64 (Amazon)
  • Genre: RPG Adventure
  • Players: Single-player
Get Pokémon Scarlet at AmazonPhysical or Digital Code
Get Pokémon Violet at AmazonPhysical or Digital Code
Graphic of Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X controller and PlayStation 5 controller

Vodafone and Telstra are both offering opportunities for customers to bundle a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S or Nintendo Switch with their plan. 

Pokémon Unite

The second-best Pokémon game on Nintendo Switch may come as a surprise because it's not your typical Pokémon game and it's not even a Switch exclusive. That's right, the League of Legends-inspired MOBA Pokémon Unite isn't just easy to recommend because it's free-to-play (with optional paid characters and cosmetics,) it's easily one of the best (and biggest games) to come out of the IP in years. 

In Unite, players take control of a Pokémon of their choosing to fight alongside other online players, defend their goals and score points by eliminating wild Pokémon and online opponents.

Pokémon Unite is easy to pick up and tricky to master; so it makes for a solid multiplayer game with friends, Pokémon fans or not. 

Plus, matches only last about ten minutes so it's incredibly easy to pick up and play on your lunch break (unless you refuse to quit without taking a win, like me.)

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  • Price: Free-to-play
  • Genre: MOBA
  • Players: Online multiplayer

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX

Hannah's Pick of the Pokés

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a Pokémon? Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX assigns you one based on your personality! Whether you’re strong-willed like a Bulbasaur or irrational like a Skitty, you’ll pull together a team of like-minded adventurers and traverse ice forests, magma caves, and oceans in search of lost Pokémon. Along the way, you’ll meet quirky NPCs, grow your team, and become a food delivery service for Pokémon stuck in dungeons.

As you clear procedurally generated dungeons, you’ll learn more about your compelling involvement with reincarnation and an ancient curse. It’s not your typical Pokémon game, but if you’re after a chill rogue-like with a fresh story and the same emotion as its 20-year-old forerunner, you’re in for a treat.

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  • Price: From $69 (Catch)
  • Genre: Roguelike Adventure
  • Players: Single-player

New Pokémon Snap

No, it's not Pokémon Snap 2, it's New Pokémon Snap but yes, in effect this is just Pokémon Snap 2. The Switch sequel 22 years in the making seemed like a bit of a risk; would contemporary audiences be okay with the on-rails gameplay of the Nintendo 64 classic? As it turns out, yeah, they loved it and so did we. 

New Pokémon Snap captures the spirit of the original and makes almost everything about it bigger and better. There's a complex progression system, riddles to solve, hidden paths and passageways and, of course, a tonne of new Pokémon to snap. 

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  • Price: From $79.95 (Amazon)
  • Genre: On-rails Adventure
  • Players: Single-player

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Pokémon Legends: Arceus was possibly the biggest surprise from a franchise that had baked-on expectations after decades of drip-fed innovations. It acted as the proving ground for the open-world Pokémon formula and in a first for the series, took us back in time to a simpler age of Pokémon mastery.

Set in the region of Hisui (which would later be known as the Sinnoh region from Diamond and Pearl,) Pokémon Legends: Arceus gave us an even deeper glimpse at an open-world region than Sword and Shield did before it. But it still wasn't an open open-world like Scarlet and Violet would become. Legends: Arceus featured various interconnected biomes, kind of like the Monster Hunter series. 

Regardless, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a unique experience. Interactive catching elements from the Pokémon GO game were adapted for a third-person perspective, and select Pokémon were used in place of HMs for traversal. 

My main beef with Pokémon Legends: Arceus was the rate at which your party levelled. The EXP share in this game was so overpowered that I felt more than ever like the Pokémon in my party were a commodity, rather than a friend that I'd bonded with over many battles. 

Still, as an experiment, Pokémon Legends: Arceus was clearly a success because we'll be getting another entry in the spin-off series when Pokémon Legends: Z-A releases in 2025. 

Play Video
  • Price: From $64 (Amazon)
  • Genre: Adventure RPG
  • Players: Single-player

Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Let's Go, Pikachu!

Georgia's Pick of the Pokés

The very first mainline Pokémon game to arrive on the Switch, Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Let's Go, Pikachu! are essentially remakes of Pokémon Yellow, which itself is essentially an enhanced version of Pokémon Red and Blue. Derivative though it may be, Pokémon: Let's Go is still a whole lot of fun, designed to appeal to O.G. Pokémon fans like myself as well as entice new generations to the franchise.

Although the setting, story, and battle mechanics are much the same as before, Pokémon: Let's Go! does incorporate a few elements from later titles, like riding larger Pokémon (first introduced in Pokémon X and Y) and even catching Pokémon by throwing berries or balls with the Joy-Con's motion controls, reminiscent of Pokémon Go. It's also a whole lot easier to avoid annoying repetitive Pokémon encounters (looking at you, Pidgey) since you can see wild Pokémon out in the open, rather than stumbling upon them randomly.

Pokémon: Let's Go isn't groundbreaking, but it was our first glimpse into what future Pokémon games might look like. Plus, it's worth it alone for the nostalgia factor. The only hard part is choosing your starter.

(Just kidding, Eevee is the obvious choice.)

Play Video
  • Price: From $69 (Amazon)
  • Genre: Adventure RPG
  • Players: Single-player

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl

Ever since the popular Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green successfully remastered the original Game Boy titles for the Game Boy Advance, Game Freak and The Pokémon Company have returned to the well every few years to re-release an updated version of an older title. The most recent of those, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, remakes the fourth generation Pokémon titles from 2006. For me, and older fans like me, these games fill a huge gap (i.e. the games you told yourself you were too old for as a teenager.)

In a first for the remakes, Shining Diamond and Brilliant Pearl don’t just polish the graphics, they've taken on a different art style completely; a sort of chibi-inspired take on the original adventure through Sinnoh. This rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way but I think it’s just neat.

When they were first released, Diamond and Pearl were criticised for being more of the same and while it wasn’t reinventing the wheel, there was still a more serious and high-stakes story at the centre of it. Usually, Pokémon villainy amounts to some petty theft from an organised crime syndicate like Team Rocket. Diamond and Pearl’s Team Galactic up the ante a little, threatening to create an entirely new universe by destroying the current one with the help of some godlike legendary Pokémon. Only you and your pet chicken, penguin or gecko can stop those goons from literally destroying the universe.

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  • Price: From $69 (Amazon)
  • Genre: RPG Adventure
  • Players: Single-player

Detective Pikachu Returns

The first Detective Pikachu sort of came out of nowhere on the 3DS eShop in Japan way back in 2016. From Australia, it was kind of hard to make heads or tails of it; a Pokemon game with no Pokemon battles… where you partner with a coffee-swilling, smack-talking Pikachu that kind of sounds like a Japanese Danny Devito?

By the time the game did make it to English-speaking countries, Detective Pikachu had been expanded into a much bigger physical release, with a nine-chapter story (compared to the original’s three-chapter arc.) What it ended up being was a story-driven Pokemon game with light investigative elements and puzzle-solving. Sort of like a child-friendly Phoenix Wright. It was okay, if a little too simplistic for adult audiences but popular enough to form the basis for the 2019 Detective Pikachu film starring Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the titular detective.

It was around the time of the movie that a sequel to the video game was announced, but the trail went cold after that until June 2023 when Detective Pikachu Returns was revealed for the Nintendo Switch, to be released later that year in October 2023. The overdue sequel was as tepidly received as the first. It looks a lot better and the story is fun and at times genuinely funny but there still isn’t anything challenging about its gameplay. If anything, the sequel seems to simplify things even further, which might be great for the little ones learning to wrangle a controller, but a bit of a snoozefest for the franchises’ ageing audience.

Play Video
  • Price: From $59 (Amazon)
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Players: Single-player

Pokémon Sword and Shield

Pokémon Sword and Shield is an interesting artefact in the history of Game Freak's megapopular franchise. Releasing off the heels of the worldwide phenomenon that was Pokémon GO (and Let's Go Eevee! and Pikachu!,) it was the first new generation of Pokémon since Sun and Moon in 2016.

While it didn't have a completely open world, it did feature the Wild Area, an open area between towns where you could catch free-roaming Pokémon. The problem was, there wasn't much to the Wild Area. It felt disparate from the main game and a little like a chore whenever you had to visit. This wasn't helped by the low-stakes story of Sword and Shield, which essentially amounted to a bad analogue for a Football underdog's rise through the ranks. 

Dynamaxing your Pokémon was novel, but a cheap replacement for the Mega Evolutions that were introduced in Gen VI (Pokémon X and Y.)

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to love about Pokémon Sword and Shield, particularly the starter Pokémon, but if you're looking to put the hours into a fully-fledged mainline Pokémon adventure for the Switch, I'd start with Scarlet and Violet. 

Play Video
  • Price: From $69 (Amazon)
  • Genre: RPG Adventure
  • Players: Single-player

Pokkén Tournament DX

Pokkén Tournament DX gives us a roster of some of our favourite Pocket Monsters in a full-blown fighting game, like Tekken, from Bandai Namco. It does an okay job of that in an arcade environment but as a solo experience, there's not much to keep you going. No unlockable characters and really no reason to keep playing unless you've got some friends around to fight. 

It also has a disappointingly small roster of Pokémon all things considered. 

An early release on Nintendo Switch, Pokkén Tournament DX was a port of an okay Wii U game that didn't get much of a polish during the transition to Switch. 

If you want a Pokémon fighting game, just play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

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  • Price: From $92 (Amazon)
  • Genre: Fighting game
  • Players: One to two players local and online

Pokémon Café ReMix

The spiritual successor to Pokémon Trozei! on Nintendo DS and Pokémon Shuffle on 3DS and mobile, Pokémon Café ReMix offers a similar puzzle experience with more thoughtful art and more of a free-to-play vibe. 

If you've never played any of the aforementioned games, Pokémon Café ReMix offers up a fairly simple matching puzzle, like Bejeweled. As the owner of a café, you must fill customer orders (puzzles) in order to grow your establishment's revenue and staff. 

It's not an all-time great but it's a nice alternative for people who just want a new Pokémon Puzzle League.

Play Video
  • Price: Free-to-play
  • Genre: Puzzle game
  • Players: Single-player

Pokémon Quest

I'm at a loss for reasons to recommend Pokémon Quest other than maybe its cute blocky aesthetic and that its over-simple gameplay could be a good fit for little weens still figuring out the buttons on a Joy-Con.

Combat is so painfully simple that the game lets you use an auto-battle feature in case things start to get boring (which they do, quickly.) There's a thin layer of strategy over the top when it comes to team composition but that's easily mastered early and about as deep as it goes. After that, you'll hit a steep hill to grind, or if you've got access to your parent's credit card, some wonderful opportunities to spend real money. 

As a lifelong Pokémon fan who will consume almost any slop Game Freak serves up, even hated every moment I spent with Pokémon Quest. Then again, it's free but then again, so are Pokémon Unite and Café ReMix and those games are a million times better. 

Play Video
  • Price: Free-to-play
  • Genre: Puzzle game
  • Players: Single-player

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Honorary Pokémon game

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  • Price: From $79 (Amazon)
  • Genre: Platform fighter
  • Players: Up to 8 players local and online multiplayer

Ever since the first Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64, I've wanted a Pokémon-centric spinoff. Exact same mechanics but with a full and extensive roster of Pokémon to play as. I'll probably never get that game but Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is as close as I'll get. 

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate not only includes a healthy selection of playable Pokémon characters but also an additional 57 Pokémon available as summons with the Pokéball item.

With Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Pichu, Mewtwo, Lucario, Greninja, Incineroar and Pokémon Trainer (who switches between Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard) you can create your own brutal Pokémon beat-em-up. 

Pokémon classics available with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack

Play some Nintendo 64 classics with an upgraded Switch Online subscription.

If we're getting technical, there are actually more Pokémon games available to play on Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription. It's not fair to pit these titles against the newer releases above, but if you do fancy a trip down memory lane, the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack will cost you $109.95 per year. That's a steep increase on the standard Nintendo Switch Online subscription ($54.95 per year) but it features exclusive content and free games, like a library of Nintendo 64 games, Game Boy Advance games, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe courses, Animal Crossing DLC, Splatoon 2 perks and a list of SEGA Megadrive games. 

Pokémon Puzzle League

Alex's Pick of the Pokés

A much younger me was obsessed with Pokémon Puzzle League. At the time, I didn’t know it was effectively a reskinned version of Tetris Attack (also known as Panel de Pon) with some extra game modes, but that didn’t matter. A massive Pokémon fan at the time, I bought Puzzle League without knowing anything about it and was instantly hooked.

At its core, Tetris Attack is a colour-matching game. Blocks rise up from the bottom of the screen, and you need to group three or more of the same colour to clear them. Clearing larger rows and chaining combos further increases your score. This was amped up in Pokémon Puzzle League with a versus mode, where clearing blocks and making combos would send “garbage” blocks to your opponent. A sort of Pokémon battle, if you will.

While there’s a story mode, my mum also ended up getting really into Pokémon Puzzle League, and we’d spend countless hours playing versus. While we’d normally trade matches, Mum eventually got so good - thanks to staying up far too late practising - that she was able to consistently kick my ass.

Pokémon Puzzle League - it’s fun for the whole family.

Play Video
  • Price: Included with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack ($109.95/year)
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Players: Single-player

Pokémon Stadium 1 and 2

Both Nintendo 64 Pokémon Stadium games were exciting for their time when you could use the Transfer Pak to import your own Pokémon from all six Game Boy and Game Boy Colour games. Part of the thrill was seeing the Pokémon you’d trained up over months or years on the big screen with full 3D models but beyond that, the core game was fairly barebones, essentially a scaled-up version of standard Pokémon battles.

That’s probably not what you remember about the Pokémon Stadium games though, right? Pokémon Stadium 1 and 2 are a rare case where the bonus content became more popular and memorable than the core game. Minigames like the mimicking game Clefairy Says or Sushi Go-Round, an eating competition where players (as Lickitung) must eat as much sushi as possible before the time runs out while avoiding spicier treats that’ll set you back. It was like the best bits of Mario Party (aka the minigames) featuring your favourite Pokémon.

Play Video
  • Price: Included with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack ($109.95/year)
  • Genre: RPG + minigames
  • Players: Up to four players

Pokémon Snap

Long before the New Pokémon Snap, there was Pokémon Snap for Nintendo 64. It was new at the time, we just didn’t celebrate that as much. When things were new you could tell because they hadn't been around before. Oh, it was a simpler time my friends. And so too it was for the Pokémon Snap series.

Considered a bona fide classic amongst lifelong Pokémon fans and burgeoning photographers, Pokémon Snap was the first game that showed Pokémon in their natural habitats, giving shape to the world we’d all extrapolated from four shades of grey on a tiny 160 x 144 pixel LCD screen.

The Switch successor from 2021 has all the heart of the original with some more serious challenges for those patient enough, but the original has standout moments and puzzles I’ll never forget: doinking a Charmeleon with a pester ball so it evolves into Charizard, or perfectly aligning a more abstract Kingler rock formation.

Professor Oak was no pushover either. He’d knock you even if your subject was slightly off-centre, and hold back points if the Pokémon wasn’t looking straight down the barrel. Come to think of it, when did this guy become such a know-it-all about photography?

Play Video
  • Price: Included with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack ($109.95/year)
  • Genre: On-rails Adventure
  • Players: Single-player
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Brodie Fogg
Written by
Brodie Fogg
Brodie Fogg is the Australian editorial lead at He has covered consumer tech, telecommunications, video games, streaming and entertainment for over five years at websites like WhistleOut and Finder and can be found sharing streaming recommendations at 7NEWS every month.