The 7 best games to play if you like Pokémon

Since its inception in Japan 26 years ago, Pokémon have been one of the most ubiquitous forces not just in video games, but in pop culture in general. It is the highest-grossing entertainment franchise in history and has naturally attracted many imitators as a result. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t very good.

That said, there are some video games that manage to capture magic similar to Nintendo’s iconic catch-’em-up, while also experimenting with its formula in intriguing ways. The degree of loyalty to which they owe this formula varies, but they are all related to Pokémon one way or another.

With Scarlet Pokémon And Viola just around the corner, it’s only natural that people’s appetites have been whetted for a new monster taming experience. So, to make it easier for you to wait until you can catch them all and become the best (like no one has ever been), here are seven of the best similar Pokémon you can play right now.

Sanctuary of the monsters

Image: moi rai games / Team17

OK, so this doesn’t look anything like Pokémon. It’s a side-scrolling Metroidvania that takes far more visual cues from the homonyms of that genre than anything Game Freak has ever released.

However, the basic premise of Sanctuary of the monsters involves capturing and taming dozens of different creatures to reach the rank of “Master” in the order of Monster Keeper. In doing so, you can finally face the nefarious Alchemists, a guild of evil wizards who want to take over the titular Monster Shrine and use it to wage war on the Old World.

They are a bit like Team Rocket, but with a true story that isn’t “We want world domination, but we’re only willing to achieve it if we can do it using objectively terrible Pokémon.” In other words, these adversaries are a legitimate threat, especially when compared to the Johto-era Rocket. Even at the age of 5, I was embarrassed for them.

Sanctuary of the monsters is available on Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

Crown of monsters

A city in Monster Crown

Image: Studio Aurum / So Tedesco

While Crown of monsters‘S overworld definitely resembles those of the Pokémon of the Game Boy Color era games, anyone looking for cute nostalgia will be out of luck once they set foot on Crown Island.

Safe, Crown of monsters it may speak like a Pokémon, but it certainly doesn’t walk like it. It is heavily inspired by Game Freak RPGs in many ways, as it incorporates 200 original monsters to capture, train and fight together. While this number is impressive, it extends to a whopping 1,200 when you consider the game’s playback system, which allows you to pair specific monsters to gain access to new creatures you can’t encounter by ordinary means in nature.

The area in which Crown of monsters differs from Pokémon is in its narrative and world design. Unlike the hot and mostly harmless stories you’d expect to find in major games released by Nintendo, Crown of monsters it’s intentionally obscure, aimed at a specific demographic of players who grew up with early Pokémon, but who are now looking for something a little more adult. Opinions as to whether the developers managed to realize that vision vary, but if you’re the type of person who constantly talks about wanting “a Pokémon game for adults,” this is the similar Pokémon for you.

Crown of monsters is available on Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Persona 5 Real

Person 5 - fighting a troubled maid

Image: Atlus / Sega

The person the series has been around for as long as Pokémon, so to say that the former owes its existence to the latter is … well, just plain wrong. Rather than being inspired by Nintendo, Persona is a spin-off of Sega’s Shin Megami Tensei, a series in which he collects demons inspired by various mythologies from around the world. These demons are associated with specific elemental types, which interact with each other to create an efficacy structure similar to that of Pokémon. It may seem a little complex at first, but fortunately, 2017 Person 5 it is an excellent starting point.

Persona games are more conventional JRPGs than any Pokémon title, as it’s less about collecting accurate badges to challenge a very friendly and supportive champion and more about attacking and dethroning God. However, the combat is turn-based and relies on a variety of character affinities that can stun certain enemies. Pair it with an impressive roster of 192 individual Personas, each of which can be obtained through persuasion, seduction, bribery, or a ritual mechanic called fusion, and you’ve got an excellent type-oriented and creature-gathering RPG.

It is a little weirder than Pokémon – there are cats that are also trucks (and sometimes helicopters), as well as some rather somber themes that could likely get a Game Freak executive fired for gross negligence if they were raised at a board meeting. If you are willing to enjoy this quirk, however, there are few precious games out there as captivating and rewarding as Person 5.

Persona 5 Real is available on PlayStation 4. It will also be released on Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X on 21 October.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

The kinship indicator in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Image: Capcom via Polygon

It may seem odd to compare Pokémon to the Monster Hunter series – one is about collecting cartoonish creatures, while another is about brutal hunting of wacky monsters – but Monster Hunter’s turn-based spinoffs have a lot in common with the flagship of Pikachu.

The stories of monster hunters the games avoid the meticulous preparation, stalking and actual hunting of fearsome giants for a much gentler approach to these creatures (they are even renamed from “Monsters” to “Monsties”). In Monster Hunter Stories 2you can even gather a team of these monsters to join you on your adventure across the island of Hakolo.

This warmth also extends to the game’s story, where you become a Knight rather than a Hunter. Together with your trusty group of Monsties, you, a literal child, are tasked with saving the world from impending doom. If that doesn’t qualify a game as “Pokémon-like”, I’m not sure what it does.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is available on Windows PC and Nintendo Switch.

Ni no Kuni: The wrath of the white witch

The protagonists observe a castle in Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Image: Level 5 Bandai Games / Namco

The only things Pokémon and Ni no Kuni: The wrath of the white witch what they have in common is that they both feature prominently the process of capturing and befriending magical creatures (known as “Familiars” in the latter). Combat is also distinctly different, insofar as it includes Ni no Kuni on this list might seem a bit controversial to some.

On the contrary, this is precisely the reason The wrath of the white witch belongs here. His focus on Familiars gives him enough overlap with Pokémon to make him feel … familiar, while the foreground of a deep and emotionally resonant story gives longtime Pokémon fans something entirely new. Oliver’s journey is significantly more punchy and poignant than most of the relatively simplistic beats from Kanto, Johto and beyond, and it certainly helps that all of the animated sequences were designed by none other than Studio Ghibli.

Hell, the soundtrack was also composed by frequent Studio Ghibli collaborator Joe Hisaishi, who provided the music for all but one of Hayao Miyazaki’s films (Lupine III: The castle of Cagliostropreceding Miyazaki’s tenure at Ghibli).

Ni no Kuni: The wrath of the white witch is available on Windows PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

Cormone

A Coromon confronts enemies in a mine

Image: TRAGsoft / Freedom Games

Cormone is the perfect game for people who specifically chase an experience reminiscent of that of Pokémon third and fourth generation – occupies a strange aesthetic limbo between those of the Hoenn and Sinnoh regions.

Unlike other games on this list, Cormone – as can be assumed from its name – is a very intentional love letter to a specific era in Pokémon history. From ice puzzles to static encounters with legendary monsters to proprietary piles of sentient sludge, it’s the kind of game someone who grew up with Diamond And Pearl will fully enjoy.

It is also particularly useful for anyone who is up to date with modern Pokémon the challenge runs. In addition to having a world inspired by Pokémon, Cormone comes with built-in difficulty and randomization settings, adding a layer of complexity to the game that incentivizes experimentation and replayability, which is the kind of thing Pokémon itself could put it to good use in the future.

Cormone is available on Windows PC and Android.

Tem

A character in Temtem runs with his monster.

Image: Cream / Humble Package

While there are many similar Pokémon on this list, none of them compete Temthe best new RPG for taming monsters since Game Freak hit the scene in 1996.

Tem, in many ways, it is a carbon copy of Pokémon. Its map is made up of trails and rivers, cities and caves, mountains and swamps. Outside of the cities, the areas are populated by wild ‘tems that you can capture, train and use to fight other tamers. Dojo Masters are essentially Gym Leaders, and defeating them allows you to advance the story. On paper, they’re basically just Pokémon with another name.

But Tem it is also intriguing in the way it introduces new life to obsolete concepts. For example, all battles in Tem they are double battles, which makes most encounters a lot more strategic. There’s also a range of single-use niche items that enhance the competitive viability of your Temtems, and the overall narrative seems to target a demographic that isn’t just “10-year-olds and 10-year-olds in or since 1996. There are also bars!

If you are a Pokémon fan who is looking for something similar in view of (or down from) Scarlet And Viola, you should of course go with whichever item on this list resonates the most with you. But what if we had to recommend a game for Pokémaniacs? It certainly is Tem.

OR Persona 5 Real, if you want to defeat the Prime Minister of Japan before beating the Old Testament God in a physical manifestation of the collective subconscious that you and your friends can access via a smartphone app. It really depends on you.

Tem is available on Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

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