The mainline Pokemon games remain one of the most popular game franchises of all time.


From the first instalment of the video game series, Pokemon Red and Blue, to the latest entries in the series, the games have drawn a huge fanbase that continues to attract new audiences.

However, if you’re new to the Pokemon video games, you might be wondering where on earth to start.

Well, you're in luck: has broken down all the games and the order to play them based on both the release date and chronological order.

It's also worth noting 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.

Read on for everything you need to know about playing the Pokemon games in order.

Do you have to play the Pokemon games in order?

Meowth, the iconic cat Pokémon, wraps up Pikachu.
Meowth, the iconic cat Pokémon, wraps up Pikachu. The Pokémon Company

Most of the big titles in the mainline Pokemon RPG games are great standalone games to dive into, but if you want want to start from the beginning, there are two different ways to play in order: by release date or chronologically.

Which Pokemon games should I play first?

It's best to start with the games that were released first. 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.

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Read on for everything you need to know about Pokemon games in order of release.

Pokemon games in order of release

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!

Pokémon Red, Blue, Green and Yellow (1996)

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

Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal (1999)

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:

Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (2002)

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)

Pokémon Diamond, Peal and Platinum (2006)

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)

Pokémon Black and White (2010)

pokemon black

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

Pokémon X and Y (2013)

pokemon x y

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)

Pokémon Sun and Moon (2016)

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

Pokémon Sword and Shield (2019)

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.

How to play Pokemon games in chronological order

If you want to attempt to follow the convoluted chronological timeline, here are all of the mainline Pokemon games in chronological order:

  1. Pokemon Legends: Arceus
  2. Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow
  3. Bonus: Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen
  4. Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald
  5. Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal
  6. Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum
  7. Pokemon Black and White
  8. Pokemon Black 2 and White 2
  9. Pokemon X and Y
  10. Pokemon Sun and Moon
  11. Pokemon Sword and Shield
  12. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

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