When they said “Pokémon! Gotta catch ’em all”, we all assumed that they meant catching all the pocket monsters. But actually, what they were talking about was catching all the Pokémon and Pokémon-like games out there — of which there are many. And now, at last, we have caught them all, and wrangled them into this very article.
If you are 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 are the games to keep your eyes on the Poké Ball, to train up your A-mashing fingers, and to tide you over until the next Pokémon Thing and Pokémon Different Thing.
Now, let’s make like a Wailord and dive right in…
Note. Yes, we know Temtem’s out on Switch! We’re working on our review right now, and we’ll be adding it to this list in due course. If it’s up to snuff, of course.
Publisher: Freedom Games / Developer: TRAGsoft
It’s Pokemon, goal: With built-in Nuzlocke modes and simpler type-matching!
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Coromon is the greatest love letter ever written. It makes no secret that it has been inspired by classic Pokémon titles, particularly those from the Game Boy Advance era. It stops just short of being a direct imitation of those games but was clearly created to cater to fans who loved those generations and have been craving more of them.
Publisher: bandai namco / Developer: witchcraft
It’s Pokemon, goal: It’s a visual novel!
Digimon Survive is one of the best visual novels of 2022, with plenty of heart and tension to carry you through to the final act. Fans looking for an engaging story with well-written and presented characters that deal with life-and-death situations will enjoy the ride, while players focused on the combat will probably find that the game comes up short.
It’s certainly not a traditional Poké-like, but if you want more time to hang out with your animal buddies rather than all that fighting, you’ll find it here.
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Publisher: Soedesco / Developer: Aurum studio
It’s Pokemon, goal: With contracts!
Monster Crown is set in the wild world of Crown Island, where humans and monsters don’t so much live together in harmony as they do in begrudging acceptance. Catching 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, goal: With more complex battles and non-linear exploration!
Nexomon: Extinction wears its influences unapologetically on its sleeve. You’re a kid who becomes a Nexomon tamer (not trainer, that’s a different word, see?), you must travel the land going from town to town while catching and training (sorry, taming) more Nexomon, and of course eventually saving the world. It’s the same idea, same formula, and even has the same battle UI. It’s a fair bit harder than Pokémon when it comes to battles, which can be both a blessing and a curse, as the difficulty spikes a fair bit. It’s ruddy gorgeous, though.
Publisher: bandai namco / Developer: bandai namco
It’s Pokemon, goal: It’s Digimon!
Come on, you know the deal with Digimon: They can talk, and devolve, unlike their simpler (stupid?) Poke equivalents. Evolution is also more complicated as a result, and most battles 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, although it’s still leaning towards the “visual novel” side of things with long cutscenes of dialogue. There’s also a fair bit of grinding, but if you are a Poké-enjoyer, that won’t stop you, will it?
Publisher: bandai namco / Developer: Level-5
It’s Pokemon, goal: Much better writing and visuals!
Level-5’s bewitching fairytale 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 make Ni No Kuni unlike any other game out there (except maybe Xenoblade Chronicles… and Ni No Kuni 2, obviously).
The Poké-part of Ni No Kuni is that you can catch and train Familiars, which are creatures with incredibly precise and weird names (like the “Shonky-Honker” and the “Sleepeafowl”) that range from charming to terrifying. They’ll fight on your behalf, and you can evolve–sorry, metamorphosis them into more powerful beasties, too.
Publisher: Glumberland / Developer: Glumberland
It’s Pokemon, goal: There’s no fighting!
Ooblets, which came out recently after a long time in early access, is a quirky creature-collecting life sim set in a rundown town. But this game offers more than just creature collecting — between farming, making friends, and busting a move, players are responsible for restoring life to Badgetown and its surrounding areas through the power of the ‘Oobnet’.
Yes, the Ooblets are roughly analogous to Pokémon in that you collect them and they follow you, but matters are settled with dance battles, and your weird and wonderful menagerie can be used as farm help and companions, too. Way more useful than Pokémon ever were.
Publisher: Monomi Park / Developer: Monomi Park
It’s Pokemon, goal: With capitalism! And slimes!!
Slime Rancher: Plortable Edition is all about collecting various types of slime, not for companionship or fighting, but for sweet, sweet cash. Sort of. The slimes all, erm, excrete something called “Plorts”, which can be sold on the Plort Market for extra money, which can be used to get more slimes and build enclosures for new types, which give you different Plorts… and so on. We’re not doing it justice; it’s a blinkin’ marvelous game.