Can you play Pokémon games on PC? Err, probably, but we wouldn’t know anything about illegal activities like that. What you want instead are some excellent, legal alternatives. Nintendo’s world-changing Pokémon series is a modern classic, and us PC players deserve a slice of that battle-flavoured pie. Let’s face it: who doesn’t enjoy a spell of kidnapping cute animals and forcing them to scrap, tooth and claw, now and again? Exactly.
Despite our beloved format remaining the spiritual home of turn-based combat, no official Pokémon game has yet made the jump to PC. We can’t exactly blame Nintendo for wanting to sell more Switch and 3DS consoles, but we also can’t help but feel a small pang of jealousy every time we catch a glimpse of anything yellow and electric out of the corner of our eyes. And remember: Pikachu rhymes with ‘PC too’.. Well, sort of.
Anyway, despite it being pretty unlikely that Pokémon will ever make the leap from consoles, there are a handful of similar – and excellent – titles that have set up shop on PC. Some ape Pokémon’s structure closely, while others feature elements that are inspired by the grandparent of digital creature battlers.
Are there any Pokémon games on PC?
Not currently – Nintendo keeps its enormously successful series on Switch. But there are many alternatives available on PC and all of them are built on the core components of collection and cute(ish) beasts.
Here, just for you, are the best of the bunch.
In a galaxy far, far away is a world where sentient slimes roam free. In Slime Rancher, you inherit a slime ranch, so it’s now your responsibility to get it up and running by collecting every type of slime. They come in all manner of colours and varieties, each bringing with it varying properties – and associated challenges. You can even go vegan, if you want…
In Pokémon, you have to complete your Pokédex as you gradually enslave an increasingly alarming number of sentient creatures and force them to fight each other. In Slime Rancher, however, there’s the quite wonderfully named Slimepedia to keep track of your livestock. There are 90 colourful slimes to collect, including pink slimes, rock slimes, puddle slimes, fire slimes… you get the picture.
World of Final Fantasy
This spin-off sees you explore the world of Grymoire, collecting Mirages – cute versions of classic Final Fantasy creatures. That mechanic reminds us of… something. Oh yeah: Pokémon. To wield your captured Mirages in battle, you have to organise them into strategic stacks – and here’s where further similarities with Nintendo’s series reveal themselves.
The stacking system in World of Final Fantasy is an utterly charming twist on Pokémon’s battle formula, you see. And rediscovering all of your favourite Final Fantasy creatures in chibi form is simply adorable and more than reason enough to give this one a go.
Slay the Spire
Decisions made outside of Pokémon battles are as important as the choices made in them. Slay the Spire gets this. Building a deck with excellent synergy between cards requires the same thought process as constructing a winning Pokémon party. Creating powerful combinations and seeing a battle go as you planned is at the core of all card combat games, of course, but Slay the Spire is one of the best. It’s moreish, brilliant design hearkens back to Pokémon’s heady trading card days.
It offers up a less colourful adventure than Pokémon, and the journey up that titular spire is certainly more arduous. But even as you battle foes and overcome the game’s ever-changing obstacles, the sense of becoming stronger both through sheer weight of numbers and a deepening understanding of the power available to you can’t help but evoke the feelings that Nintendo’s classic conjures.
Digimon Masters Online
Back in the ‘90s, Pokémon overtook Digimon to become the ultra-successful Japanese media franchise it is today. But today, Digimon is the only one of the two that’s made the jump to PC.
Digimon Masters Online is an MMO where you train and evolve the eponymous creatures by battling other players. Digimon evolve into stronger forms with special attacks, similar to Pokémon, but Digimon Masters battles are real-time, not turn based. As such, you’ll need to keep your wits about you!
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom’s enchanting characters and rich worldbuilding get you in the mood for an epic adventure. It’s like stepping out of your house for the first time in Pokémon’s Pallet town – a whole world waiting to be explored. The game uses a similar battle system to Tales of Vesperia, so you should feel right at home with its style of combat if you’re familiar with it. Ni No Kuni II also has a unique city-building tool, where you can help manage the work forces for Evan’s kingdom – a nice touch.
And then there are Ni No Kuni II’s Higgledies. They help your party during battles, can heal characters, attack enemies, and even shield the group with protective spells. They’re cute little companions who help you to win against impossible odds, and would fit perfectly into Pokémon’s next generation.
Ooblets is an indie adventure directly inspired by Pokémon. The Double Fine-produced game will feature living plants, character customisation, house-building, and a smattering of other fun and quirky activities. You plant seeds that blossom into baby ooblets, and after leveling them up, you can have adorable dance battles with fellow ooblet trainers. These are built on turn-based battles, type-effectiveness charts, and various other mechanics that are about as Pokémon as they come.
Farming and dance training is just the beginning, too. You can explore strange lands, talk to friendly neighbours, and indulge in the relaxing routines of town life. It’s also so ridiculously cute you may not be able to stand it. Ooblets is set to release in 2019 so keep an eye out for updates.