Can you play the classic 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 celebrating 25 years of monster-catching, and we PC players certainly 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 being the spiritual home of turn-based combat that RPG games are known for, no official main series Pokémon game has yet made the jump to PC. We can’t exactly blame Nintendo for wanting to sell more Switch 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, especially when we know a PC can run Pokémon Scarlet and Violet far better than Nintendo’s ageing console.
Though we still got a long way to go before we can catch ‘em all on the very best platform there ever was, 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?
Yes, there is one officially available Pokémon game on PC.
Pokémon Trading Card Game Live
We’re not saying it’s a classic, but it’s an official Pokémon game officially available on PC. Battle against your rival Trainers in the free-to-play Pokémon Trading Card Game Live. While there is a wide range of popular online card game alternatives, the charming Pokémon artwork and the characters we all know and love make this one stand out from the pack. There used to be the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online service, but this is now being sunset. You can learn more about Pokémon Trading Card Game Live via the official website.
If that doesn’t satisfy your creature-collecting urges, we’re sadly not expecting Pokémon on Steam any time soon. Still, many alternatives to Pokémon are available on PC, and all of them are built on the core components of collection and cute(ish) beasts.
Here are the best games like Pokémon for PC:
This Poke-like may be unashamedly inspired by Game Freak’s cherished creature catcher, but it brings plenty of new ideas. The biggest difference you’ll find here is a sense of challenge. Temtem swiftly brings it to your notice when your tamer rival thumps you in your opening battle. After that, you’ll find going from town to town difficult as potions are expensive, so resource management comes into play.
Temtem’s battle system is equally demanding of your attention. Each of your Tems has a stamina bar, strengths and weaknesses, and fights are two-on-two. If you want to succeed in winning fights and making it to the next town, you’ll need to have a full team of well-trained Tems. If you want something close to the Pokémon series, it’s difficult to get much closer than this.
Slime Rancher 2
As Slime Rancher 2 is currently in early access, it feels more like an update to the original than a full-blown sequel. However, that’s not to say that this won’t become its own game in the future. Plenty of new slimes are available to gather and deposit in your slime farms, as well as many secrets to unearth in Rainbow Island’s ruins and new gadgets to make for your home base. It may not have the same collection mechanics as a Pokémon game, but it’s just as simple to pick up and play and is a relatively relaxing way to get into FPS games if you’ve not delved much into the genre.
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. Its 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 through the 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.
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.
Coromon is as close to Pokémon game as you’ll get without playing a Rom hack. It shares a similar style to that of Pokémon’s Gameboy Advance era but tries to shake things up by introducing players to a new set of monster types. It also introduces the idea of catching better variants of the same monster for better stat distribution overall.
Coromon follows similar story beats to your regular Pokémon game in many ways. However, unlike its inspiration, Coromon includes some popular game types to keep things fresh, including one similar to Nuzlocke challenges, where you can only catch one monster per route. If said monster faints, it’s gone permanently. So if you want a Pokémon clone with some replay value, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered
While the sequel is a bit too much of a curveball for recommending as a game like Pokemon, the original Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is more like it. This surprisingly difficult game also benefits from a glorious collaboration between RPG masters Level-5 and the legendary Studio Ghibli.
Battles feature a curious blend of real-time and turn-based combat mechanics, so it does take some getting used to if you’re coming from the handheld Pokémon games. But the important part is that you fight alongside monsters you capture, befriend, and train, just like in Pokémon.
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 levelling 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 be unable to stand it.
Those are all of the games like Pokémon on PC, and while it sucks that we’ll likely not see the main series game appear officially on PCs for quite some time, plenty of other JRPG games out there are making the leap from consoles to your gaming rig. Of course, if you don’t mind a lack of Pokémon, here are the very best PC games you can play right now.