PokéBase - Pokémon Q&A
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By this, I mean like, what experts and game reviewing things say, as well as fan input. Maybe even reviews or interviews from The Pokemon Company themselves? Copies sold? I've always wondered what the top/best/most popular generation was, and why it is.

I'm sure there's probably statistics of something related to this somewhere, and I'd really like to know

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I think game critics are more reliable than personal experience and "common consensus of fans" for 3 important reasons.

Critics usually play more Pokemon games than other fans, so they're less likely to compare a game to that one other game they played or compare to what they heard about other games.
Critics usually write their reviews right after they finish playing, so they're more likely to remember how fun they thought the games were.
There's a website called Metacritic ( https://www.metacritic.com/search/game/pokemon/results ) that aggregates lots of critic reviews for each game. I can easily read a whole bunch right before writing this comment, instead of having to remember what I heard other fans say in the past.

Gen 8 is the lowest-scoring generation on Metacritic, with Sw and Sh both scoring 80. Dynamax is not a very fun mechanic. The story and characters are kind of boring and overused some cliches. People who didn't care much about Dexit still gave low scores.

Gen 3 is the second-worst generation, with Ruby scoring 82. Many old Pokemon are unobtainable, and the music is sometimes repetitive and irritating. There were also just not enough significant changes from gen 2.

Gens 4, 5, and 7 each had a game (or a pair of games) that scored 87. They are HGSS, BW, and SM.

Gen 6 is apparently the best generation by a tiny bit, with Pokemon Y scoring 88. There was the obvious graphics overhaul, and the exp. all made the game less grindy. Online features like PSS and Friend Safari were pretty cool.

This is a comment and not an answer because Metacritic has very little information about the first 2 generations. However, according to Video Game Canon ( https://www.videogamecanon.com/ ), there are more critics who put RBY on best of all time lists, even after gen 6 was released.

Also this doesn't fit neatly into any generation, but I think GO deserves a mention for being the only Pokemon game in Metacritic's best of the 2010s list ( https://www.metacritic.com/feature/best-videogames-of-the-decade-2010s ) while also having a lower score than every core series game for some reason.

1 Answer

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Best answer

In terms of copies sold, Generation I was the most popular, hitting over 47.5 million. After that came Generation II, at 29.5 million. Sword and Generation VIII came next, with 21.1 million sold as of March 2021. No Pokemon game did badly (unless you count LGPE's relative failure), and as such, all are popular.

Experts and game reviewers are not the best source to determine what games are the most popular (They think Sword and Shield are average/good, but more vocal fans express hate, some considering them the worst of the series.). Fan input is more reliable, so I'll be going with common consensus I've seen throughout my years of playing.

Gen 1

Considered "the gen". Genwunners are the people that consider Gen 1 the best of generations, and as there's so many of them, the games are clearly popular. Gen 1 was a lot of peoples' childhood, and the nostalgia plays a big part. The only things that bog them down are the less-than-modern capabilities of the 1990s, and as such the games are glitchy, buggy messes filled with poor choices.

Gen 2

Extremely positively received, as old fans got to take on Kanto again and new fans being drawn in for the first time. Criticisms were mainly directed towards a poor level curve and lack of variety in Pokemon, but overall, Gen 2 was a hit. It attracted fewer people than Gen 1, however, as evidenced by the sales -- so for all its praise many people still deemed Gen 1 superior.

Gen 3

A success, but people didn't like it as much as the first two generations. The main reason is because you're unable to transfer Pokemon from Gen 2 to Gen 3, meaning your Level 100 Charizard you raised in the '90s isn't able to follow you to Hoenn. Other reasons fans drew on to dislike the games were the amount of legendaries they brought: ten was a massive step up from the last generation, making people feel as though the legendary status was being diluted. The games were appreciated, however, for the unique concept of two villainous teams (fighting both in Emerald), the Emerald Battle Frontier, and massively popular Pokemon like Blaziken, Swampert, Gardevoir, Flygon, and more. People generally liked Emerald more than Ruby or Sapphire, due to more gameplay and a Battle Facility. Overall, they were popular games, just definitely not the most popular Pokemon games.

Gen 4

What many players consider the absolute best generation. Diamond and Pearl were decent, but then Platinum came and blew them out of the water. People loved Sinnoh, and they still do. The biggest reason Gen 4 was so popular though, is because of HGSS. Games from a kid's childhood were being remade into something bigger and better, with more vibrant colours, moves, Pokemon, and more. The terrible level curve was still in place, but Pokemon variety was improved, and HGSS were even better received than the first Johto games.

Gen 5

Hated on release, beloved by the fans now. The fanbase's hate for Unova was based on many things, including how "Game Freak had run out of designs" (Chandelure, Garbodor, Vanilluxe), and how only new Pokemon were able to be used. Despite this, they still sold well. At the time, however, they were the most hated Pokemon games out there. Black and White 2 were released, and fixed some of the "problems" with the originals: more of a story, and old gen Pokemon before the post-game. They were received better than the first ones, but "Unova bad" mentality stuck with people for a long time. In recent years, however, fans that grew up with Unova instead of Kanto are becoming more vocal, and Unova is recognized as part of Pokemon's Golden Age, up there with Generation 4.

Gen 6

The switch to 3D, while impressive, was not a good generation for Game Freak. Fans felt Kalos was bland and uninspired, the evil team was terrible, and Lysandre was just sexy Cyrus. People didn't appreciate the switch to friendly rivals/friends, either. The games sold well enough in their own right, but the backlash was strong, and many still find Gen 6 one of the low points of Pokemon to this day.

ORAS weren't as negatively received, but many fans still felt they cut corners. People hated the fact that they cut the Battle Facilities, and reviewers like IGN docked points for "too much water". Much like the original Hoenn games, however, they were still popular, even if complaints were voiced about the games being too easy.

Gen 7

Lots of problems here. You could barely progress without being stopped by Hau, Lillie, Kukui, or one of the other NPCs in an overly long cutscene. Festival Plaza was terrible in the eyes of many, a massive step down from the PSS just a generation before. Ultra Sun and Moon made the games a bit harder, and many fans appreciated it for the first modern Pokemon game with a challenge. However, they still aren't nearly as well-respected as the earlier generations, and as such Generation 7 falls down the list.

Note: I'd mention LGPE, but those were the worst sales ever from a mainline game and it's basically just Kanto. Moving on.

Gen 8

The most controversial Pokemon games ever. Dexit was a massive upheaval in the "Gotta Catch 'em All" mentality of Pokemon, and many fans expressed desire to boycott the games for such injustices. attitudes didn't get better when the games released, either -- models were taken from the 3DS games, animations were shoddy (look up Double Kick Generation 8 and laugh), the map was linear, the story was nonexistent, trading and battling online weren't free and there were far too many cutscenes for most peoples' liking. The games are the third-bestselling Pokemon titles of all time, but the vocal minority hated on them to no end.


So, to conclude. Generatons 4 and 5 were considered "The Golden Age of Pokemon" by many, and Gens 1 and 2 were no slouches either. The general order of popularity based on fan reactions and sales should look something along the lines of:

4 = 5 > 1 > 2 > 3 >> 6 >> 7 > 8

Hope I helped!

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edited by
“Gen 7

Lots of problems here. You could barely progress without being stopped by Hau, Lillie, Kukui, or one of the other NPCs in an overly long cutscene. Festival Plaza was terrible in the eyes of many, a massive step down from the PSS just a generation before. Ultra Sun and Moon made the games a bit harder, and many fans appreciated it for the first modern Pokemon game with a challenge. However, they still aren't nearly as well-respected as the earlier generations, and as such Generation 7 falls down the list.”

I disagree with most of this probably because Im biased and UM was the most fun game ive played ;)

I do however object to the critique of ORAS because I feel that they were so much better than you gave them credit for imo. IGN also has been criticized for saying that ORAS has too much water in the past, mostly because it’s Hoenn and it was made to have a lot of water. Literally the whole plot was based around the water, whether it be taking it away or adding more.

Just giving my opinions because Alpha Sapphire and Ultra Sun are up there with my favorite Pokemon games.

also rip LGPE which also happen to be two of my favorite games :(
I don't currently have the time to edit my answer, but:

@HT I'll try to find more on Gen 3 -- that's the primary reason I've seen for people disliking it though. I've also seen plenty of love for Gen 2, but you do have a point. I'll edit that when I'm able.

@sumwun true. I more went off the fact that SwSh won the Famitsu GotY 2019, but I'll be sure to change that.

@Bandit you're sadly in the minority with your opinions on Ultra Sun. While most thought they were much improved from SM,  the cutscenes were still too long too often, and the Plaza was generally deemed inferior to PSS. I don't think I made my paragraph on ORAS very clear; I'll edit that soon. LGPE have sold around 13 million copies, making them a relative failure when compared to other Pokemon games.
shut up x theyre still the best </3
Yeah Famitsu GotY is one publisher, so they really are just one small group of fans with a weird opinion.

@Bandit The problem with ORAS water is not that there was too much of it, it's that the execution was bad. Land routes have a nice mixture of all 18 types of Pokemon (including water), but sea routes are mostly water Pokemon. This makes sea routes more boring to explore. Gen 8 seems to do a better job of having Pokemon that look like aquatic animals but are not water type.
I think this is really accurate other than I think you should unfortunately swap Gen 6 and Gen 8's place at the end there. I think people enjoy sword and shield more now, and people had their hopes **extremely** high. Gen 6 was fun and my first game but yeah kinda lackluster.

@Bandit have you played a 2d pokemon game you should play a gen 4 or 5 game if you haven't.