The Pokemon Fan
Oh man, you got the easy one. Nintendo is literally the only place to go for Pokemon games (unless you want to get into the conversation of the endless knockoffs which, man, please don’t) but there are some interesting hurdles.
In the case of this, we are going to assume your kids are past the 1st grade reading level and can tell you the difference between an Espeon and an Umbreon.
Note, you’re going to notice that some of the games here might have two names. Many Pokemon games have two names. That’s because a lot of them have two versions to encourage kids trading with each other to “catch ’em all”.
1) Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee – Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu (w/Pokeball Plus)
Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu are fantastic remakes of the classic Pokemon Yellow. And while the original is an absolute chore to play today, this remake takes everything that makes the old games an absolute nightmare and makes it fun.
Depending on which version you get you get either a special Pikachu or a special Eevee that is your friend throughout the game. It runs with you throughout the world or sometimes just rides on your shoulder. It’s cute and you can literally mess with their hair via a touchscreen game.
The art style is fun and the game mechanics are a lot easier as well making it a fantastic entry point.
The reason I say “w/Pokeball Plus” is that I really recommend it with this controller. Originally the game came out around the same time as the Pokeball Plus, a Pokemon Go accessory. When used with Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu though it becomes a simple to use one handed controller for the game. You can even use it (after securing the wrist strap) to physically do a throwing motion to catch the Pokemon. It’s really fun and also has the option to put a Pokemon in your game into the Pokeball so that you can go out for an IRL walk and interact with your Pokemon simply by going for a walk.
2) Pokemon Sword and Shield
It’s not the newest but out of all the mainline Pokemon games on the Switch, this one is easily the most feature filled. It walks you through the story points in a way that makes it hard to get lost. The Pokemon are all visible so you’re not going to get random encounters frustrating your kid. And the story is honestly cute.
The reason I recommend this one over the newer one is that if your kid beats Sword and Shield and gets really into it, you can use the app “Pokemon Home” to transfer their Pokemon to the next game. You can do it forward but not backwards meaning that ones from Sword and Shield can go up through two other games. It’s an investment in your future!
Just, be careful if they play online. There’s no voice chat but my lord do some grown people take Pokemon way too seriously. Your kids need to understand that if they play online they’re going to go up against some real boring teams against some really obnoxious people that use some really really frustrating moves. (Note: It’s not fun)
3) Pokemon Legends Arceus
While it’s not, technically, considered a traditional Pokemon game, it’s in this writer’s opinion that it is, without a doubt, the best Pokemon game you can get for your humble Switch.
Not only does it have an incredibly deep (but light) story. It’s beautiful. The sense of community, wonder, discovery, it has everything. Unlike most Pokemon games where everything is about battling and showing how strong you are, this game is about understanding the Pokemon ecosystem. It’s about finding out their behavior and how your community can develop a town in harmony with these strange creatures.
It’s a fantastic game that allows you to move at your own pace and just appreciate the world around you. There were a couple of times where I just found myself crouching my character in the tall grass and just watching what the Pokemon do. Great experience.
Games to Avoid:
Not every Pokemon game is created equal. Here’s a couple that you might want to reconsider.
- Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
- It’s a remaster of an older Pokemon game where MANY of the modern quality of life features have been removed making this an absolute slog.
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX
- Listen, I used to work retail and I saw this game go out and come back all the time. This game is a very barebones dungeon crawler that has almost zero feeling of progression and is mostly designed to be “baby’s first dungeon game”. While it’s really fun at the beginning when the game gives you a personality test and assigns a Pokemon to you, that’s also when the fun stops.
- Detective Pikachu Returns
- This one is honestly subjective. If you have a MUCH younger player (but they can still read) this might be a good one. But if not you have a detective story that is slightly harder than when you have to find Blue in an episode of Blue’s Clues.
Read on for what to get your weeb (anime enthusiast) this holiday, and keep reading for more suggestion lists!