When they said “Pokémon! Gotta catch ’em all”, we all assumed they meant catch all the pocket monsters. But really, what they were talking about was catching all the Pokémon and Pokémon-like games out there – of which there are many. And now we’ve finally captured them all and wrangled them into this very article.
If you’re the kind of person who hates waiting for the next Pokémon game, even though they’re currently arriving at a rate of two or three a year, then these games are for keeping your eyes on the Poké Ball, training your A-mashing fingers, and to turn yourself over until the next Pokémon Thing and Pokémon Different Thing.
Note. Yes, we know Temtem is out on Switch! We are working on our review right now and will add it to this list over time. If it says snuff, of course.
Publisher: Freedom game / Developer: TRAGsoft
It’s Pokemon, but: With built-in Nuzlocke modes and simpler typing!
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Coromon is the greatest love letter ever written. It makes no secret of the fact that it has been inspired by classic Pokémon titles, especially those from the Game Boy Advance era. It stops short of being a direct imitation of those games, but was clearly created to cater to fans who loved those generations and have longed for more of them.
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Witchcraft
It’s Pokemon, but: It’s a visual novel!
Digimon Survive is one of the best visual novels of 2022, with plenty of heart and excitement to carry you through to the final act. Fans looking for an engaging story with well-written and presented characters dealing with life-and-death situations will enjoy the ride, while gamers who focus on the combat will likely find the game falling short.
It’s certainly not a traditional Poké-type, but if you want more time to hang out with your animal friends rather than all the fighting, you’ll find it here.
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Publisher: Soedesco / Developer: Studio gold
It’s Pokemon, but: With contracts!
Monster Crown takes place in the wild world of Crown Island, where humans and monsters don’t so much live together in harmony as they do in grudging acceptance. Capturing monsters is as simple as offering them a pact, which they then read mid-battle and then either accept or reject based on factors like level and health. It’s also designed to look a bit like an 8-bit Game Boy Color game, if you’re into that!
Publisher: PQube / Developer: VEWO Interactive
It’s Pokemon, but: With more complex battles and non-linear exploration!
Nexomon: Extinction wears its influences unapologetically on its sleeve. You are a kid who becomes a Nexomon tamer (not trainer, that’s another word, see?), you have to travel the country from town to town while catching and training (sorry, tame) more Nexomon, and of course save the world at the end. It’s the same idea, same formula, and even has the same battle UI. It’s quite a bit more difficult than Pokémon when it comes to battles, which can be both a blessing and a curse as the difficulty ramps up quite a bit. It is, however, ruddy beautiful.
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Bandai Namco
It’s Pokemon, but: It’s Digimon!
Come on, you know the deal with Digimon: They can talk and decentralize, unlike their simpler (dumb?) Poké equivalents. Evolution is also more complicated as a result, and most matches are also 3v3 rather than 1v1.
Unlike the other Digimon game on this list, Cyber Sleuth is more like what you’d expect from a Pokémon-like, though it still leans towards the “visual novel” side of things with long stretches of dialogue. There’s also quite a bit of grinding, but if you’re a Poké enthusiast, that won’t stop you, will it?
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Level-5
It’s Pokemon, but: Much better writing and pictures!
Level-5’s enchanting adventure masterpiece of a JRPG is like a playable Studio Ghibli movie. Their trademark localization makes the writing come to life, and the fantastic choice to use regional British accents for the characters makes Ni No Kuni unlike any other game out there (except maybe Xenoblade Chronicles… and Ni No Kuni 2, of course).
The Poké part of Ni No Kuni is that you can catch and train Familiars, which are creatures with unbelievable precise and odd names (like “Shonky-Honker” and “Sleepeafowl”) that range from charming to terrifying. They will fight for you and you can develop – sorry, metamorphosis them to more powerful beasties, too.
Publisher: Glumberland / Developer: Glumberland
It’s Pokemon, but: There is no fight!
Recently released after a long time in early access, Ooblets is a quirky creature-collecting life sim set in a run-down town. But this game offers more than just collecting creatures – between farming, making friends and breaking a move, players are responsible for restoring life to Badgetown and its surrounding areas through the power of ‘Oobnet’.
Yes, Ooblets are roughly analogous to Pokémon in that you collect them and they follow you, but cases are settled with dance battles, and your weird and wonderful menagerie can also be used as farm help and companions. Much more useful than Pokémon ever were.
Publisher: Monomy Park / Developer: Monomy Park
It’s Pokemon, but: With capitalism! And slime!!
Slime Rancher: Plortable Edition is all about collecting different types of slimes, not for camaraderie or combat, but for sweet, sweet money. In a way. All the slimes, um, excretes something called “Plorter” which can be sold on the Plot Market for extra money which can be used to get more slime and build enclosures for new types which gives you different Plots… and so on. We don’t do it justice; it’s a twinklingly wonderful game.