With the release of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, remakes of two legendary Pokemon games, I’ve been asking myself: what’s the best Pokemon remake released so far?
Which Pokemon remake takes me back to my childhood the most? Which one improves the original game the most? And which is just outright the best Pokemon game that’s been remade?
This week, I set out to answer those questions.
I’ve gone through each Pokemon remake one by one, judging it on a list of criteria to determine which game is best.
So, what is the best Pokemon remake?
Let’s take a look.
We originally recorded this as a video, if you’d prefer to watch it:
Fire Red & Leaf Green
I often look forward to the remakes more so than the actual new game as I like the Nostalgic aspect to them.
Fire Red and Leaf Green came out way back in 2004 and are the first remakes of the original Red and Blue games. Seeing as they’re updating the very first releases, there wasn’t a lot they needed to do to be honest, and they didn’t, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
First off, looking at the art style and aesthetics of the game, we saw a massive improvement in Fire Red and Leaf Green.
Because the original games were so glitchy and slow to play, these remakes were welcomed with open arms. The purpose of them was to make the games that everyone fell in love with more playable and modernized.
The fact they pretty much stuck completely to the original storyline was perfect. It was the nostalgia trip that everyone was asking for.
Basically, people just wanted to be able to run in Pokemon Blue and Red to move around faster, and these games implemented this feature. They also fixed broken moves such as Wrap and Slash, and balanced the Pokemon much more so that Psychic types weren’t unstoppable.
In terms of new features, the game had a few small ones here and there, like the game corner where you could earn coins and exchange them for Items, and Teachy TV (did anyone use this?) but the main one was the introduction of the Sevii Islands.
This post game storyline actually added a bunch to the titles, and also gave players the ability to catch Generation 2 Pokemon as well, which was a nice addition.
They contained a small storyline involving the finding and returning of a Ruby and Sapphire from Team Rocket, and also were home to the Battle Frontier.
These games were really fun to play. Being able to relive the original and not have to spend 14 years walking from Cerulean to Vermilion is absolute Blissey (I’m sorry). It made the game and made the experience better.
The only real negatives about these games were that they were a bit bare bones, but this is totally understandable due to the lack of technology available at the time.
Maybe I’m looking back on them with rose tinted glasses because they were my most played games as a kid, but I enjoyed them.
The scores I’m awarding to Leaf Green and Fire Red are:
- Art Style: 8/10
- Nostalgia: 10/10
- New Features: 4/10
- Fun Factor: 10/10
That’s good for a total score of 32/40.
The Pokemon Red and Blue remakes captured exactly what made everyone fall in love with the franchise and made it much more playable. These are undeniably great games.
HeartGold & SoulSilver
Released in 2009, Heart Gold and Soul Silver are the remakes of the original Gold and Silver games.
The art style of these games was aligned with the original Gen 4 games, Diamond and Pearl, and really suited the Nintendo DS at the time. It felt like a big step up from the Game Boy advance games, but didn’t stray too far from the good old Pokemon feels.
Gold and Silver are kind of in the same boat as Red, Blue and Yellow; they were very limited with the technology at the time. So, this was also a welcomed update to the graphics, and they included some really nice cutscenes too.
The storyline stayed true to the originals for the most part, which again, is good for a game like this.
I feel that because the original Game Boy Color games were so slow and hard to play, these remakes just needed to make them smoother and didn’t need to add in a bunch of storyline features, much like Fire Red and Leaf Green.
What I can say for these games is that they expanded the post game story and added in little things, like the Pokeathlon, which gave people a sure fire way to obtain evolutionary stones.
One other thing that these games brought in was the Pokewalker. This was a device that counts your IRL steps and allows you to unlock things in game using Watts you earn. Every 20 steps is one Watt, and Watts are the in-game currency. Another neat thing it does is slowly raise your Pokemon’s happiness, cute.
HeartGold & SoulSilver boast a wide variety of Pokemon that can be caught, basically any of them up to Gen 4. This allows for diverse teams and makes the games more replayable.
However, a lot of the Gen 3 and 4 Pokemon can only be caught late or post game, which is a bit of a disappointment.
The only other real negatives are that the levelling curve wasn’t addressed from the originals — I’m fighting level 15 wild pokemon at the 7th gym — and the gym leaders themselves don’t use that many Gen 2 Pokemon. Maybe that’s a personal preference but I’d have liked to see the Johto pokemon shine for the leaders.
All in all this game was phenomenal and gave us so much for what it could at the time.
For Heart Gold and Soul Silver, I’m going to award the following:
- Art Style: 9/10
- Nostalgia: 10/10
- New Features: 6/10
- Fun Factor: 10/10
Overall, that’s a score of 35/40.
These Pokemon Gold and Silver remakes might just be some of the best Pokemon games of all time — let alone just the best remakes.
Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, or ORAS for short, were released in 2014 and were caught up in the awkward Gen 6 stage, where X & Y’s art style was just a bit weird. It was kind of in between a more realistic looking game and an arcade like feel. Maybe this is a personal critique, but I never felt like it looked like a real Pokemon game.
That being said, if you were to pick this up as your first Pokemon game, you’d probably love the art style. The graphics are really good!
Aside from the old ‘too much water’ meme, these games actually divulged from the original quite a bit.
Some of the towns are completely different to the original Ruby and Sapphire. Mauville, I’m looking at you.
Some parts are actually better, i.e the Scorched Slab, which had little meaning in the original games but had a huge revamp for these titles.
Some of the new features they added make the game feel like a totally different experience.
Obtaining a Latias/Latios so early on is strange, and makes the game a bit easy if you were to use it, but the Soar ability was a really nice addition to the game and allowed us to look at Hoenn from a completely different perspective.
Mega evolution was another new feature, which really spiced up the battling mechanics, but did take it further away from the original in terms of storyline.
One big downside to these remakes is that they only remade Ruby and Sapphire. A lot of what made Gen 3 great was added in Emerald, so to not include it in these games was a strange choice. I’m mainly talking about the Battle Frontier here.
ORAS does have an amazing amount of Pokemon to catch, including a post game experience where you can catch all of the legendaries. This definitely adds more to the games if you were to look at them as standalone titles.
All in all, the games themselves are good, there’s a hell of a lot going on in them with a tonne of new features to get into, but they feel a bit slow to play. Now this could be the whole ‘too much water’ thing, but I’m not so sure.
There are a lot of cutscenes and halting of your progress, which is something that the 3DS games definitely suffered with.
Aside from that, the games were too indistinguishable from the original to be a really solid remake for me. As always, this is a personal opinion, but for a remake to be good, it has to have a healthy dose of nostalgia, and these just didn’t for me.
- Art Style: 6/10
- Nostalgia: 6/10
- New Features: 10/10
- Fun Factor: 6/10
Overall, that’s a score of 28/40.
Whilst I personally didn’t like Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire that much, I can see the value in it. There were a tonne of new features and stuff to explore. It didn’t have a very nostalgic feel, but put a new spin on the Gen 3 games we loved. It’s definitely not the best remake, but also not the worst.
Let’s Go released in late 2018, about a year after the Nintendo Switch launched.
I’m going to immediately contradict myself a little here, as I’ve just said that changing too much from the originals was a negative for ORAS, but that is literally the entire point of Let’s Go.
These games were essentially a promotion for the Nintendo Switch and were bringing some of the Pokemon Go mechanics into the console’s games. It’s actually a little hard to judge these as remakes, because it’s almost like that wasn’t really their purpose, but they do completely focus on Gen 1 so we’re judging them anyway.
The art style is cool, It feels more like an RPG game. The battle scenes are interesting and the towns are really in-depth. There’s not really much more to say about the game’s design; the capabilities of the Switch made it look really good and that’s all there is to it.
The storyline is very similar to the originals, which makes the experience great for anyone diving back in after all those years.
But if you’re like me and played through Fire Red and Leaf Green countless amounts of times, you might be a little bored of the same story. This game, unlike ORAS, should have changed a little from the original, in my opinion.
The main differences come in the gameplay mechanics.
With the popularity of Pokemon: Go, they wanted to test out how it would translate to console. It actually translated pretty well, with the Overworld encounters being a nice touch — you never have to run into a Zubat again — and the actual catching mechanic being pretty solid.
Using your Joy-Con to throw the Pokeball is pretty satisfying, however if you’re playing handheld, pressing A to throw the ball and directing it with the actual console is pretty tedious.
Let’s Go gave us the ability to ride on our Pokemon, which is really cool. What kid didn’t want to fly around on their Charizard?
They also included a co-op aspect to the game, which is great. I’ll always believe that social gaming is definitely the best form of gaming.
The integration of Pokemon Go into the game meant that you can transfer any Pokemon you catch on there to your actual game. This is really good for team diversity.
Also this game was a dream for shiny hunters with its chain mechanic and the fact that overworld spawns would actually appear shiny.
Let’s Go offered a completely different experience to a stereotypical Pokemon game, but stayed true to the storyline. It did it in a fun way that definitely added a different aspect to it, but I wouldn’t want it to be like that in every Pokemon game.
It’s nice to play as a one-off game, but is too different from a mainline game in my opinion. For a piece of promotional material that was meant to be extremely gimmicky, it did a good job. I wouldn’t class it as a brilliant remake, though.
For Lets Go, my scores are:
- Art Style: 8/10
- Nostalgia: 5/10
- New Features: 5/10
- Fun Factor: 7/10
Overall, that’s a score of 25/40.
Let’s Go offered us a new take on the original Pokemon games without going too far away from what we all loved about them. And it’s a bit of a gimmicky game — not really a proper remake. Still a tonne of fun though!
Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl
These were the remakes that everyone was waiting for. Diamond and Pearl were beloved by the community and desperately needed to be brought into the modern era.
The Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl art style has divided opinion. The Chibi style is vastly different from recent titles and actually makes the game feel much closer to the original. I personally like it. The game feels a touch more nostalgic but still definitely modernised with the battle scenes and general building design.
In my opinion, with the release of Legends of Arceus, this game had to be as close to the original as possible.
I say that because Legends offers a completely different take on Pokemon. If this remake had been vastly different from Diamond and Pearl, then the Pokemon community would have no new games to play that delivered the nostalgia hit that most people are after. So, it was a good move to make them look more similar, in my opinion.
Alongside the art style feeling close to the originals, the storyline is familiar, too.
The towns are the same, the gym leaders use the same Pokemon, it is a like-for-like of the original Sinnoh. This could be seen as lazy. There really isn’t much in the games that you weren’t expecting already, aside from the underground tunnels having a nice revamp with small wild areas added.
The reappearance of the Exp share that is impossible to turn off also makes the game far too easy. This is magnified when you consider they give you a Mew and Jirachi — for absolutely nothing! At least in ORAS you could turn the Exp share off, it just makes your Pokemon highly-levelled very early on.
TMs are also single use again, which isn’t great, and HMs are now just TMs…really odd.
Poison also doesn’t affect your Pokemon outside of battle anymore. Not having this inconvenience is actually a little sad, as that was always a big part of Pokemon.
Whilst the fact that the games are true to the original is definitely good for me, I do think the sheer simplicity of this one gives off the wrong impression. All I wanted was to play a better looking version of DP on a current console, so I don’t personally mind it too much, but I can understand why it would annoy a lot of people.
I don’t think these remakes are terrible by any stretch, but they are a little bit bare bones. I’m not saying go overboard like ORAS, but a few new things here and there would have been great. A little bit disappointing, but it is still a very good nostalgia trip.
My review for Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl finishes with scores of:
- Art Style: 6/10
- Nostalgia: 8/10
- New Features: 3/10
- Fun Factor: 7/10
Overall, that’s a score of 24/40.
Unfortunately, there weren’t many improvements here, so I had to throw my bias and admiration for the original games out the window.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl comes in as our lowest-rated Pokemon remake.
In 4th place Let’s Go, and in 3rd was Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, with not massive differences separating all three of these remakes.
At the top, Fire Red and Leaf Green are my second favorite remakes, narrowly missing out on my picks for the best Pokemon remakes, which I awarded to HeartGold and SoulSilver. They’re so good that I think they’re potentially better than the originals.
What are your favorite Pokemon games?