Pokémon games are immensely popular with a huge demographic. Pokémon is the single franchise that has lured and captivated multiple generations of gamers in its clutches.
Years of diligence and continuous improvements have made it one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
Unfortunately, despite the immense popularity of the game, there are long gaps between official releases.
Nintendo simply can’t keep up with the demand for new Pokemon games. This is where Pokemon fan games enter the stage.
The fan-made Pokémon games fill the long gaps between the official releases and keep the fans engaged.
The dev community has produced a number of fan games filled with new adventures.
Despite being inspired by the Pokémon series, all the games on this list bring something new and rousing to the table, be it new characters, new locations, or new Pokemons altogether.
Are Fan-Made Pokémon Games illegal?
Fan-made games have always been a subject of scrutiny. In short, most fan-made games are illegal since they use copyrighted intellectual property without the creator’s permission.
Nintendo, the creator of Pokemon, is notorious for taking down pokemon fan games or any other games that use their intellectual properties.
Over the past decade, Nintendo has taken down thousands of fan-made games of varying popularity.
All they need to do is send a DMCA to the creator. The original creator of the fan-made games must compile to the DMCA within 24-72 hours, or be subjected to a lawsuit that they are bound to lose.
Nintendo states that its intent behind shutting down fan projects is not only constraining independent creators from leaching their intellectual property, but also preserving the spirit of their original games.
One of the most famous examples of this was Pokemon Evoas, an extraordinarily ambitious Pokemon game that was hyped beyond limits.
The game radically changed the Pokemon formula, and thus, Nintendo shut the project down via a lawsuit before it ever saw the light of the day.
That being said, it’s would be wrong to say that making a pokemon fan game is impossible. The best way to make legal Pokemon fan games is simply to ask for Nintendo’s permission to use their intellectual property.
Alternatively, if the indie creators don’t monetize their fan-made games, there is a slight chance that they slip under the radar.
On the other hand, are you breaking the law by playing Pokemon fan games? The simple answer, despite the circumstances, is ‘NO’.
You’re not infringing on any intellectual property or earning money, you’re simply enjoying a video game. So it’s safe to say that playing fan games is well within the boundaries of the law.
Now the legality of Pokemon fan games is out of the way, let’s dive into the best Pokemon games that you can play.
Quick disclaimer: Since Nintendo proactively removes fan games for legal reasons, there is a slight chance that you might be unable to officially access some of the below-mentioned titles.
However, at the time of writing this article, all the games mentioned are available online with active support.
Best fan-made Pokémon Games: Our Top Picks
Pokémon Insurgence is the most popular fan-made Pokemon game that hasn’t been taken down by Nintendo, asserting a permanent position among the best fan-made pokemon games.
Set in a completely new region called Torren, the game takes a gritty departure from the traditional story where you go out, happily explore the world, and raise to the rank of master.
Instead, cults and thugs have infiltrated the world of Insurgence and there is a power struggle for world dominance. Now, it’s upon you and your trusty Pokemons to restore peace and order to Torren.
A ton of highly requested features that Nintendo never delivered made their debut in Pokémon Insurgence, including trainer-customization, mega evolutions, online trade, and secret bases.
Creative delta species allows you to mix two Pokemon together and create a new one, an eccentric feature available in the game.
With over 700 Pokemons to catch and a gritty world to explore, Pokémon Insurgence offers a ton of playtime. The game is based on an RPG maker, you won’t need any emulator to play the game.
While most of the Pokemon games emphasize the development and leveling of the Pokemons, Godra takes the unusual route of emphasizing the trainer instead.
You, as a player, aren’t stuck with being a Pokemon trainer. You can choose from an array of careers such as War Party Leader, a Military General, a Safari Zone Warden, and many more with your Pokemon on the side.
Godra is essentially an RPG game in the Pokemon world, a great entry point for gamers who’re looking to make their way into the Pokemon world.
The game includes a plethora of Pokemon’s form a number of generations and games. In addition to the official maps, Godra also features new regions with unique storylines and quests.
If you believe that Pokemon games are way too easy, then Dark Rising is the game for you. Described as the “Dark Souls” of Pokemon games, the difficulty is bumped all the way up to 11, which is super difficult.
You Pokemons will faint within a single attack even from low-level wild Pokemons if you aren’t careful enough.
Losing all your Pokemons and starting from nothing will be commonplace in the world of Dark Rising.
Fortunately, the game allows you to choose any dragon-type Pokemon from the first five generations as your starter Pokemon.
Pokemon Uranium took over 9 years in development and was subsequently released in 2016. It was one of the few RPGs that received a compliance letter in its production phase itself, thus slowing down the process.
However, a dedicated fanbase picked up the mantle and finished the game.
The events of the game take place in the Tandor region after a nuclear explosion.
The end goal is to earn 8 badges, rather than the traditional 4, before facing the Tandor league.
Along the journey, players will come across numerous dangers that threaten both Pokemon and humankind in the aftermath of the nuclear explosion.
The players will have the opportunity to catch and train the original 150 Pokemons, as well as a few unique, ‘nuclear’ Pokemons.
Pokemon Phoenix Rising is an episodic game Pokemon game where player choices affect the world and the story.
Hawthorne is a war-torn region at the mercy of its tyrannical ruler.
Trainers are tasked to explore the land and find Ho-Oh, a legendary Pokemon that is prophesied to bring an end to the war and restore peace in Hawthorne.
Every choice you make will actively alter the course of the game and your relations with other NPCs.
Skills can be invested in well-laid-out skill trees to acquire unique skills as per your playstyle.
On top of that, Phoenix Rising includes well-crafted quests, new towns, and Pokemons. Overall, the game is a hefty package that will keep you up for hours.
Pokemon Ash Gray puts you in the shoes of the original Pokemon Master, Ash Ketchum himself, and closely follows the storyline of the original anime.
Along the way, you’ll meet beloved characters and old friends including Misty and Brock. Pave your way through and catch them all.
Pokemon Ash Gray is based on Pokemon Fire Red, a beloved classic, but it’s not a simple reskin of the game.
The enemies will be stronger, gym battles will be harder and the region will expand on the original map. You’ll love the game if you loved Pokemon Red or the Pokemon Anime
Bonus Entry: Pokémon Fire Ash
Pokémon Fire Ash is another fan-made Pokemon game based on Pokemon Fire Red that puts you in the shoes of Ash Ketchum. However, the game doesn’t follow the original anime as closely.
The story sets you on the quest to defeat the Indigo League and become a Pokémon master.
If you want to experience the original anime, then Ash Gray is the Pokemon game to pick.
However, if you want a more independent story where you play as Ash Ketchum, then Fire Ash should be your pick.
7. Pokémon 3D
Pokemon 3D is visually the most interesting game on this list of the best fan-made Pokemon games. The game reimagines the world of Pokemon in 3D.
The main character, the Pokemons, and all the environmental assets are three-dimensional and rendered in real-time.
You’ll be able to interact with your friends and other trainers on the server and even battle in real-time.
Along with hundreds of Pokemon that are roaming around in the wide-open world, there is a proper inventory and weapons management system.
The graphics are pretty great, but being a fan-made game, a few bugs here and there are expected. You can create your own base full of Pokemons as well. There isn’t a special emphasis on the story, but its loss is hardly ever felt.
Pokemon 3D was first released back in 2015 and it took the world by storm then. The game was regularly updated until Nintendo took it down as the game was estranged from the original Pokemon formula.
Fortunately, the game is still going strong in the shadows with thousands of players on the server to date.
Pokemon ClockWork is a prime example of a Pokemon Essentials title, a dedicated mode in RPG makers to make Pokemon games.
Pokemon ClockWork brings you to the rural town of Rosari where humans and Pokemon coexist peacefully, but that’s about to change.
You are called on duty by Celebi, the mythical Pokemon itself. Celebi traveled back in time to warn you about an imminent attack set up by Team Epsilon which shall ruin the peaceful time of Rosari.
ClockWork remains true to its name and introduces a number of features, a few major and a few minor, that elevate the game among its competition.
There are time travel sequences and dynamic evolutions that occur mid-battle. The active day and night cycle will affect your Pokemon’s states in a battle.
You’ll engage in a number of entertaining quests on the road to saving your town. The story is regarded as one of the best narratives in a fan-made Pokemon game.
Unova RPG is a free-to-play, massively multiplayer online RPG game with over a million active players.
Unova RPG is better described as an MMORPG set in the Pokemon world rather than a Pokemon game, but this system allows the creators to set up a virtual community where players can fulfill their dream of catching them all and becoming the Pokemon master.
At the moment, there are 807 Pokemons from all eight generations spread across a wide map.
You can even set up your teams with up to 6 players a battle other teams online for the control of gyms.
The best part of Unova RPG is that it can be played on mobile phones as well since it’s an online game and doesn’t require any emulators.
10. Pokémon Sage
If you’re tired of catching and battling the same old Pokemons, then you need to try Pokemon Sage, a fan-made title that features a completely original Pokemon.
The map is based on a Litin-American design and all the Pokemons are unique creatures with their own unique traits and evolutions.
The game still works like a traditional Pokemon title.
Unfortunately, the game is really short. In fact, it’s just a demo with 3 gyms.
There are rumors and speculations that the complete game will be released soon, but there are no official words from the devs.
Fan-made Pokemon games are fantastic! They reimagine the game, world, and narrative structure and fill the long gaps between official releases.