Pokémon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this February. It became a global phenomenon all the way back in February 1996, with Pokémon Red/Blue and soon after, Pokémon Yellow, three handheld video games that were released on the Nintendo Gameboy. Since then Pokémon has taken the world by storm, spawning several more generations of games which would later be released on future handheld devices. There’s a Pokémon trading card game, an anime, toys, manga, movies, and many, many pet hamsters named Pikachu. With hundreds of cute monsters to raise, a simple battle system, a great story and the goal of becoming the best. Pokémon can appeal to all ages from little kids to grandparents.
Ever since Pokémon came out, people from all over the world, myself included, became fascinated with the genre of battling monsters. Pokémon wasn’t the first to make games where you level monsters up, nor will it be the last. Nintendo hasn’t released a new Pokémon generation since 2013, with Pokémon X and Y, and Pokémon OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire. If you’re like me, and you already played and beat those multiple times, then right about now you’re probably on the hunt to fill that Pokémon void. You’re in luck, because after much effort, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 games that play similar to Pokémon. I wouldn’t consider these games to be clones, so don’t get the wrong idea. These games can match the quality of Nintendo’s best.
Top five games like Pokémon – 2018 List
#1 – Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (PlayStation Vita / PlayStation 4)
Digimon being on the list shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. When both of these franchises became popular a bitter and enduring rivalry grew. Is Pokémon better than Digimon? Is Digimon better than Pokémon? That’s up to you to decide, but regardless of how you may feel about each series, you can’t deny there are a lot of similarities. Many people say Digimon simply copied Pokémon, and there may be some truth to the claim. The franchise was born in 1997 in virtual pet form. These pets were on a small device which you could carry around with you. You couldn’t do much with them, mainly you just watched them evolve or clean up after them, but at the time, they were great. Eventually the series evolved into what Digimon is today. What is Digimon? The anime revolves around parallel universes, and the monsters essentially created themselves via data from Earth. It’s a bit more complex, depending on what you’re watching, but the games aren’t really like that, and that is what we’re focusing on here, the games.
If you’re looking for a classic Digimon game, one that will help you understand the mechanics, and will introduce you to all of the original Digimon, then you can’t go wrong with Digimon World. Released in May of 2000, Digimon World features some of the most popular Digimon of all time. You begin the game by answering a few questions, which result in you getting your first partner Digimon—either an Agumon or a Gabumon. With your partner Digimon by your side, you raise him to level up and grow stronger. You must take care of your Digimon, by feeding him, battling other monsters, and even taking them to the bathroom. You fight other Digimon who will join you on your quest, which is ultimately to save the Digital World from evil Digimon, which are trying to destroy the planet.
Digimon World received excellent reviews by both critics and audiences. The game was such a success, that Digimon World 2 and Digimon World 3, both for the PSX, would soon be released. Digimon World 4 came out for the Nintendo GameCube, and the PlayStation2, but afterwards, Digimon games primarily came out for handheld devices.
Digimon World DS, and its sequels, Digimon World: Dusk / Digimon World: Dawn, both released a few years after Digimon World 4, but for the Nintendo DS. They take the same general idea from previous games, but they make things much easier. Rather than just carry around a few Digimon, you’re able to carry six at a time. There’s also been a large number of new Digimon that have been added to the Digimon universe, so with newer Digimon games, you get more options. The nice thing about the handheld games was the fact you could trade Digimon using WiFi to people from all over the world. But unfortunately, Nintendo completely disabled WiFi access to all Nintendo DS games, so your only option is to trade locally.
After Digimon World: Dusk / Dawn came out, Digimon dropped in popularity. The next two Digimon games to come out were released solely in Japan. But with American audiences begging for more Digimon games to be released locally, Bandai, the company that produces the Digimon games, finally gave in and released their newest entry, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, to English audiences. The game came out in February of 2016, for both PlayStation Vita, and the PlayStation 4. If you’re looking to get into modern Digimon games, you should definitely check it out. There’s tons of story and monsters to choose from. If you’re wanting to buy the game, you can buy the PlayStation 4 version at retail stores or online stores, like Amazon. But if you are buying it for the PlayStation Vita, you’ll need to buy a digital copy.
#2 – Harvest Moon: A New Beginning (3DS)
If you’ve played quite a bit of Nintendo 64 or PSX games there’s a very good chance you’ve heard of Harvest Moon. What was once a very popular console series sadly has, like Digimon, declined in popularity. However, Harvest Moon is still going strong on handheld devices, and there’s even an RPG/Fantasy Harvest Moon game made by the same developers called Rune Factory.
Harvest Moon is a very unique game series. All of them generally begin the same way. You are a young man/woman who has inherited a farm on a dying island. When you visit the farm you’re greeted by fairy-type creatures known as Harvest Sprites. These sprites tell you that there is a problem with the island and you’re the only one who can save it. They choose you because for some miraculous reason you’re the only one who can see them. Between you, the Harvest Sprites, and someone called ‘The Harvest Goddess’, you pretty much save the island from dying.
There are quite a bit of things to do in Harvest Moon, like growing crops and shipping them off to make money, meeting new villagers, getting married, but the main thing is raising pets and farm animals. This is where your love for Pokémon will really shine through. Depending on which Harvest Moon game you’re playing, there are a wide variety of farm animals you can raise. Cows, chickens, horses, sheep, alpacas, llamas, bulls, goats and even silkworms. All of these pets require daily affection. You need to brush them, feed them, and take care of them, and in return, you’ll get farm goods (like milk or wool) to sell.
Pets in Harvest Moon are a bit different. In the older games, you could pretty much only get a dog. But in newer versions you can get turtles, penguins, bears, cats, and all kinds of other critters. You aren’t exactly required to get them. But if you do want one you need to work hard to get them to love you, mainly by talking to them and giving them food. In return your pet will follow you home and you can give them a name and welcome them to the family.
An interesting feature with Harvest Moon is the developers tend to do something new with each game. Through the many years of them working on this series, they’ve learned a lot by listening to what fans of the series like, and what they don’t like. If you’re looking to get into the series, you can’t go wrong with Harvest Moon: A New Beginning. It’s available on the Nintendo 3DS, and is generally a very rounded game.
#3 – Micromon (iOS)
I wouldn’t call Micromon a Pokémon clone, but rather an iOS game that was heavily inspired by Pokémon. If you’re looking for a game that has similar game play of Pokémon then look no further. Lots of game developers out there have tried to do the Pokémon thing, which is make a successful monster-battling RPG. Micromon is actually one of the first to accomplish this. Back in 2012, the developers behind the game launched a Kickstarter to get Micromon funded. Unfortunately for them, the campaign failed and they didn’t get the required funds in time. However, that wasn’t the end for Micromon, as the team went ahead and created the game anyway. Two years later, Micromon was released on iOS for 0.99 cents.
Micromon is a game where you battle and collect monsters known as ‘Micromon’. The player is thrown into a digital world that is entirely inhabited by Micromon and tamers. The player is sent on a quest to save the world from an evil corporation known as Black Root. But obviously the main purpose of this game is to battle your Micromon with other tamers and wild Micromon, so that you can level up. Much like Pokémon, as your Micromon grow stronger they can evolve into more powerful versions of themselves.
There is actually quite a few more similarities between Micromon and Pokémon, which the developers themselves are willing to admit. Much like with Pokémon, in Micromon you carry around six partner Micromon with you. Battling is done very similarly, with the point of view of your monster showing you its back and your opponent Micromon being faced towards you. The scenery is done much in the same way. Lots of duplicate trees, buildings and NPCs, but that doesn’t take away from its beauty, which is actually like a more modern/western version of Pokémon.
#4 – Monster Crafter (iOS / Android)
Monster Crafter is, like the name suggests, a game where you craft your very own monster. Unlike Pokémon, where monsters are designed by the developers, you the player have full control over what your monster looks like. This is initially what interested me in checking this game out. I really enjoy the freedom of making my own monster. The more you level up your monster, the more you can add on to it. Eventually you can add hats and even tattoos to your monster.
The game takes place far into the future where monsters have overtaken the world. The player must first choose an egg based on what type of monster they want to raise. The choices are: Fire, Plant, Water, Electric, Rock and Alien. After you choose, you get to decide what your monster will look like, by placing blocks and other shapes to morph it. Then the egg will hatch. You must then travel through dungeons, battling other monsters in order to become stronger. The more you level up, the more you can add on to your monster, so over time it goes through its own evolution. You can also feed and play games with your monster so that it retains its happiness.
If you are a fan of Pokémon and a fan of Minecraft, you are going to want to check out this game. The game borrows both the visuals and the point of view of Minecraft. The entire world is very blocky, and when you’re walking, you are holding something in your hands, much like how in Minecraft you walk around with a mining axe.
#5 – EvoCreo (iOS / Android / PC (soon) / Ouya (soon))
Finishing off my top five list is a game called EvoCreo. If you’re someone who enjoys Pokémon but wishes it was more in-depth, I suggest looking into EvoCreo. The developer of EvoCreo has been very outspoken in what he has to say about his game. He acknowledges that it’s a game similar to Pokémon and that he is a huge fan of the series. He wanted to take the critiques he had of Pokémon and expand upon them in an attempt to make a more difficult game. The main ‘improvement’ being the battle system. It’s a little more like Final Fantasy, where you need to put thought into which move you should use. You can’t just spam the same attack over and over in order to win. Each skill has a recharge timer, and the more powerful the skill, the longer it takes to recharge. This is a very nice touch, as it brings more strategy to the game.
Other similarities to Pokémon include being able to evolve your Creo, except in EvoCreo, you actually have more control over your stats, making each Creo a bit different from one another, which is another really nice change. You can also hold up to five Creo at a time, which is pretty close to Pokémon, where you hold six. Visually and game play wise, though this is about as close to a true Pokémon game you’re going to find, so I really have to hand it to the developer for making such an effort into making a game that stands out on its own.
And there you have it, the top five games that are like Pokémon. I tried to avoid picking games that follow the exact same formula, but rather games I know Pokémon fans will enjoy. If you’re a big Pokémon fan like I am, then you must be eagerly awaiting the 7th generation of Pokémon games. I have no idea when they will be announced, so if you need your PokéFix, then definitely check out one of the above games.