10 Pokémon-Like Games Worth Playing

Pokémon has long held a special place in the hearts of gamers worldwide, and its popularity has even cemented it as one of the biggest intellectual properties in the world, covering video games, animation, films, toys, apparel, fashion, theme parks, retail — the list is never-ending. The thrill of capturing creatures, exploring expansive worlds, and engaging in epic battles is a distinctive experience.

As the video gaming scene expands, several titles have joined the monster-taming genre, offering a Pokémon-like adventure with its own unique flavour. Here’s a roundup of some Pokémon-inspired games (in order of release date, from oldest to newest) that are worth adding to your gaming library.

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1. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Price: S$64.90
Release date: 12 March 2015

Digimon is perhaps the next most recognisable monster-taming franchise after Pokémon. For those who grew up with the series, this game is a nostalgic journey. Cyber Sleuth combines traditional Digimon charm with an accessible gameplay system that holds deeper layers of complexity. Players can capture, train, and evolve Digimon while taking command of up to three Digimon in strategic battles.

However, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is not just about battles. Digimon often boasts more mature themes compared to Pokémon, and this game is no different. Cyber Sleuth weaves a narrative tapestry filled with moral ambiguity, genuine intrigue, and touching character arcs.

2. World of Final Fantasy

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Price: S$32.90
Release date: 17 October 2016

While not a traditional Pokémon-like game, World of Final Fantasy incorporates monster collecting and battling into the beloved and expansive Final Fantasy universe. Adorable chibi characters and familiar monsters from the franchise make this a delightful experience for both Final Fantasy enthusiasts and fans of creature-collection games.

3. Monster Sanctuary

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Price: S$23
Release date: 28 August 2019

Monster Sanctuary combines the joys of creature collection with metroidvania-style exploration. Players traverse a beautifully crisp, pixelated world, collecting and training monsters for epic battles. By evolving monsters and solving puzzles, players can delve deeper into the eponymous Sanctuary. Additionally, there’s also the option of challenging players across the globe in PvP battles.

With a mix of turn-based combat and platforming elements, Monster Sanctuary offers a unique blend of genres that elevates the monster-taming formula.

4. Temtem

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
Price: S$62.25
Release date: 21 January 2020

Temtem is a massively multiplayer online game, distinguishing itself from the traditionally limited online features of Pokémon. While the mechanics may bear some semblance, the shift to a multiplayer platform adds a layer of dynamism and community engagement that imbues the game with a greater sense of possibility. A variety of quests contribute to a sense of purpose and progression, keeping players engaged in the immersive world.

In battles, Temtem takes on a Double Battle format (the preferred format in the Pokémon Video Game Championships), demanding a thoughtful approach and fostering a genuine need for strategy. It caters to the cravings of hardcore Pokémon fans hungry for a genuine challenge.

5. Ooblets

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Price: S$26
Release date: 15 July 2020

Ooblets marries creature collection with farming in a whimsical and charming setting. Players explore Badgetown, where they collect and train quirky Ooblets. The creature design is downright adorable, and instead of traditional fights, they participate in dance battles to show off their skills. The game’s lighthearted tone, vibrant art style, and unique blend of gameplay elements offer a refreshing take on the genre.

6. Nexomon: Extinction

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Price: S$18.50
Release date: 28 August 2020

Nexomon: Extinction introduces players to a world on the brink of extinction, where they must capture and tame over 300 Nexomon to save humanity. The pixel art style and classic RPG gameplay pay homage to old-school Pokémon games, providing an engaging and nostalgia-inducing experience for players seeking that familiar charm. 

What’s more, the captivating storyline and beautifully-crafted world cater to both newcomers and fans of the genre.

7. Shin Megami Tensei V

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Price: S$44.80
Release date: 11 November 2021

The lineage of Shin Megami Tensei predates Pokémon by nearly a decade, sharing the creature collecting (or in Shin Megami Tensei’s case, demon recruiting and fusing) ethos that defines both series. Shin Megami Tensei V proudly carries the torch of its old-school roots, reinforcing the consequences of every tactical misstep, whether in a routine skirmish or a high-stakes boss battle. This stern approach keeps players on their toes, a stark reminder of the challenges inherent in the demonic landscapes they traverse.

In a departure from traditional dungeon layouts, Shin Megami Tensei V introduces expansive, open areas with visible demons on the map. This shift may appeal to modern Pokémon fans, as it echoes the design philosophy seen in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, as well as the wild areas of Pokémon Sword and Shield.

8. Cassette Beasts

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo SwitchPrice: S$18.50
Release date: 26 April 2023

Cassette Beasts is a delightful indie gem crafted with Pokémon fans in mind. In a quirky twist, instead of entrapping creatures within Pokéballs, you’ll be recording them on cassette tapes. Visually, Cassette Beasts presents a nostalgic yet refreshing aesthetic, calling back to Pokémon Black/White with elements of Octopath Traveler.

Meanwhile, the game’s monster designs showcase creativity and diversity, with beasts representing one of 14 distinct types, each carrying its own set of strengths and vulnerabilities. Steeped in the charm and intricate mechanics reminiscent of Pokémon, Cassette Beasts stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the franchise’s finest entries.

9. Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Price: S$75
Release date: 1 December 2023

As the latest entry in this Dragon Quest spin-off series, The Dark Prince draws inspiration from the monster-catching phenomenon made famous by Pokémon, with a refined and evolved take on the captivating formula. The core gameplay loop invites players to traverse expansive open areas, recruiting and training a formidable team of monsters. 

Beyond mere scouting, the game introduces a unique twist — fusion. By combining any two monsters that have reached level 10, players can enhance their team. This fusion system injects a refreshing dynamism into team-building, ensuring a constantly renewing line-up.

While the turn-based combat system might be perceived as simplistic, it stands as a testament to well-executed fundamentals. The game elevates the excitement by introducing skills and skill trees, adding layers of strategy to the battles.

10. Palworld

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Price: S$26
Release date: 19 January 2024

Palworld is one of 2024’s hottest new games, gaining notoriety as ‘Pokémon with guns’, which empowered it to sell more than four million copies in three days. However, the reality is that Palworld is more akin to ‘ARK: Survival Evolved with Pokémon’ — it’s a survival game with plenty of crafting involved.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of fun to be had with friends in Palworld. This multiplayer experience allows players to party up and explore a sprawling open world, set up campsites and craft valuable tools, cook food, and even gang up on cute and ferocious monsters (aka Pals) together. It’s an engaging gameplay loop that can lead to several lost hours.

Unfortunately, the game has received accusations of AI-generated content and plagiarised game assets, with The Pokémon Company stepping in to investigate the possibility of copyright infringement.

Whether you’re a seasoned Pokémon Trainer or a newcomer to the genre, these Pokémon-like titles provide exciting alternatives for fans of creature collection and exploration. Regardless if you’re into turn-based battles, open-world adventures, or charming pixel art, these games are sure to scratch that Pokémon itch while offering something new and delightful.