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How to play the Pokémon games in order: Complete timeline in chronological release

Gotta play them all to catch them all!

pokemon games
Published: Thursday, 22nd April 2021 at 1:32 pm

If you take the "gotta catch them all" motto seriously, then there is a good chance you have played absolutely everything you can get your hands on - you could even say playing them all is your destiny.


But playing through every single one can be a daunting task - something made even trickier by the fact that the latest console, the Nintendo Switch, does not have all the old games ready to play as part of its classic game subscription service. In fact, you can't even buy them for the console.

So you are going to need to get your hands on many different Nintendo consoles to play through the lot - so that's the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance, the DS, the 3Ds and, of course, the Switch.

We have broken down all the games and the order to play them based on the generations of Pokemon that they include. We have also let you know what you can play each one on if you were wanting to play some of the earlier titles. How many have you played?

What order should you play the Pokémon games?

The best order in which to play the mainline Pokemon RPG games is the order in which they were released. This way, you'll be gradually introduced to new regions and more cute critters as you go, rather than being absolutely overwhelmed at the start of your journey.

We've omitted spinoff titles like Pokemon Snap on this list, because really you can dip into those whenever you want, and you'll have a nice time without having to worry about the timeline.

If it's the main saga of Pokémon that you want to play through, though, below you'll find the best order in which to do it!

Generation 1 Pokémon games (1996-1999)

pokemon red

The following games are the first out for the franchise and they were all released for the original Game Boy. One side note here is that Green was only available in Japan - although many have been able to get their hands on the game over the years. Another thing to note is that, unless you're a true completionist, you only really need to play one game from each generation. These are your options to start off with:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Blue
  • Pokémon Green
  • Pokémon Yellow

Generation 2 Pokémon games (1999-2002)

pokemon gold

The Game Boy Color was the home for the generation 2 games in the Pokémon series, with the graphics getting a much-needed colourful upgrade. The games released as part of this generation are:

  • Pokémon Gold
  • Pokémon Silver
  • Pokémon Crystal (an enhanced version of Gold and Silver)

Read more on Pokemon Go:

Generation 3 Pokémon games (2002-2006)

pokemon ruby

Onto Gen 3 now, and these were all games that were released on the Game Boy Advance! Again, the world got a little bit brighter and more colourful, and there were even more new creatures to catch. This is also the generation that first introduced remakes to the mix, with the Game Boy Advance playing host to some new versions of the original generation.

  • Pokémon Ruby
  • Pokémon Sapphire
  • Pokémon Emerald (enhanced version of Ruby and Sapphire)
  • Pokémon LeafGreen (remake of Gen 1's Green)
  • Pokémon FireRed (remake of Gen 1's Red)

Generation 4 Pokémon games (2006-2010) 

pokemon diamond

Generation 4 moved us into the era of the Nintendo DS - a home for Pokémon games for several years until the 3DS and the current Switch console came along. The games you can play to catch all the gen 4 Pokémon are as follows - and remakes of Diamond and Pearl are meant to be coming to the Switch later in 2021.

  • Pokémon Diamond
  • Pokémon Pearl
  • Pokémon Platinum (enhanced version of Diamond and Pearl)
  • Pokémon HeartGold (remake of Gen 2's Gold)
  • Pokémon SoulSilver (remake of Gen 2's Silver)

Generation 5 Pokémon games (2010-2013) 


The Unova region was the go-to destination for generation 5 of Pokémon and once again the games that came out for it were released exclusively for the Nintendo DS. Interestingly, this generation went down the route of giving itself a hasty brace of sequels, rather than remaking any old generations.

  • Pokémon Black
  • Pokémon White
  • Pokémon Black 2
  • Pokémon White 2

Generation 6 Pokémon games (2013-2016)


Welcome to the world of 3DS! The evolution of the last Nintendo console gave us more Pokémon games and this time they were from the sixth generation! The games that were part of gen 6 were:

  • Pokémon X
  • Pokémon Y
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby (remake of Gen 3's Ruby)
  • Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (remake of Gen 3's Sapphire)

Generation 7 Pokémon games (2016-2019)

pokemon sun moon

Generation 7 was a transition period for gaming on the Nintendo as the 3DS was phased out and the revolutionary Nintendo Switch took its place from the Let's Go games onwards! The gen 7 games are:

  • Pokémon Sun
  • Pokémon Moon
  • Pokémon Ultra Sun (enhanced version of Sun)
  • Pokémon Ultra Moon (enhanced version of Moon)
  • Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu! (remake of Gen 1's Yellow)
  • Pokémon Let's Go Eevee! (remake of Gen 1's Yellow)

Buy Let's Go Pokemon at Amazon

Generation 8 Pokémon games (2019-present)

pokemon sword shield

Welcome to the present day and generation 8, with the Nintendo Switch playing host to a whole new generation of Pokémon experiences, channeling The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to give us larger environments than ever!

  • Pokémon Sword
  • Pokémon Shield
  • Sword and Shield's Isle of Armour DLC
  • Sword and Shield's Crown Tundra DLC

Buy Pokemon Sword and Shield at Amazon

Sword and Shield and its DLC are Nintendo Switch exclusives and the last of the mainline games to be released so far. But with Pokémon, remarkably, not showing any signs of slowing down, look for more to come along before too long.

Check out some of the best subscription deals in gaming below:

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