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Looking back at Pokémon spinoffs

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Posted (edited)

Awww yeahhhh! Time for me to bust out the Revive! And a whole host of Full Restores to fix all of the images that broke in this 4 year lull.

Generation 8 has come and gone, and with Pokémon Sleep kicking off the ninth generation of Pokémon spin-offs, it's time for me to cover the 8th generation of spin-offs.

Before I get stuck in, I want to point out that while I was getting images to replace all the ones that Wikipedia broke, I stumbled upon this.

3 years ago, some nutjobs made an English translation for the WiiWare Pokémon Mystery Dungeon titles. It's really impressive, because WiiWare is notoriously difficult to work with.
Might have to badger @Dcubed to get this one.

The first proper post will be up shortly.

Edited by Glen-i
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Posted (edited)

Like I did way back, I'll kick off this generation with the titles that aren't really substantial enough to warrant their own dedicated post.


Pokémon Smile is a mobile phone app developed by The Pokémon Company. It released in 2020. The purpose of the app was to encourage children to regularly brush their teeth through collecting Pokémon.

The game utilises your phone's front facing camera to track how you are brushing your teeth, following the in-game guide accurately will remove "bacteria" from the screen. Do it well enough, and a Pokémon covered in this bacteria appears, and when you've finished cleaning your teeth, you're given a chance to capture the Pokémon. The better you do, the easier it is to catch them.


Don't actually brush a Gyarados' teeth. Dealing with it's bad breath is far preferable to what it'd do to you if you shoved a brush in it's gob.

The game features the first 251 Pokémon, as well as Ludicolo, Mime Jr., and Dedenne, for some reason. It's impossible to know how many downloads it got because of how Mobile apps work.


Pokémon Café Remix is a free-to-play puzzle game for mobile phones and the Switch.  It was originally called Pokémon Café Mix in 2020, but it got a rebranding to it's current name in 2021, alongside a large array of mechanic changes. It's developed by Genius Sonority, the developers who made Pokémon Colosseum, in case you forgot.

The game puts you in the role of the owner of a Café that caters exclusively to Pokémon. Amazingly, this doesn't result in the place being quickly demolished by the first hungry wild Pokémon that's the size of a building and spews fire everywhere. They're strangely well-behaved. They do want stuff though, and you fulfill their desires by matching Pokémon icons. Doing well enough will encourage said Pokémon customers to become Pokémon staff, and each of them provide various abilities to help with icon clearing manuevers.

The game still receives updates to this day, the Gen 9 starters were added if I remember right. That said, I've never touched the game. It's free-to-play, and has all the exploitative trappings that come with it, and I've already made my point about how I feel about that.

Free-to-play games are impossible for me to determine how well they do in terms of sales, so no info there.

Next time, I'll be looking at two bigger mobile games, despite not playing either of them, so you probably have an idea of how they work already.

Edited by Glen-i
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Posted (edited)


#2 Anniv. is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (or MOBA) game developed by TiMi Studio Group. It originally released on the Switch in 2021, and mobile phones 2 months later.
Yeah, mobile phones, so it's free-to-play because of course it is.

Oh wait, hang on, apparently it's actually called Pokémon UNITE. Don't blame me, blame the crap icon.

Each person directly controls a Pokémon, generally an unevolved Pokémon and work together with other players to accrue points. You see, unlike most MOBA's, the goal isn't to simply destroy the other team, instead, completing certain objectives such as capturing wild Pokémon, and beating up the other team will generate point balls, which players have to manuever to one of the goals dotted around the arena, getting them points. The team with the most points after 10 minutes wins.

As the game progresses, each Pokémon will steadily get stronger (And evolve, when appropriate), gaining access to Unite Moves, special abilities unique to that Pokémon. There are no type advantage mechanics in this game, so those Unite Moves and how they synergise with your teammates are generally what decide matches.

Anyway, it is free-to-play, so the majority of the over 50 playable Pokémon at this point have to be purchased seperately, and let's not forget the large amounts of costumes (Dubbed Holowear, it's not actual clothing, because dressing up animals is weird). Suffice to say, that adds up, so it's not feasible to actually unlock all of that. It's been downloaded over 80 million times to date. Of course, that figure neatly glosses over how many people actually stick around, but I can safely say the game is popular enough. At least, popular enough to usurp Pokkén's place in the Pokémon World Championships (Which are actually on, right now).

BTW, shout out to Switch Icon Showdown, a very cool website that catalogs every Switch menu Icon in history, even ones that get updated. It also has a feature that makes you choose the best icon out of two randomly picked icons. Fun way to kill 15 minutes, and I've definitely had to vote for a crap icon, purely because it had an actual title on it.

Pokkén got robbed, but speaking of robbing things...


Pokémon Masters Ex is a very unfortunately named RPG developed by DeNa in 2019. At least, being an RPG is what The Pokémon Company want you to believe. In reality, it's a Gacha game, a sub genre of games especially popular on mobile phones that revolve around literal gambling with various characters. In this game's case, the various trainers from the mainline Pokémon games are what this game uses to try and rob you blind.

Yeah, I know I've been trying to keep myself somewhat impartial when it comes to talking about these games, but this game doesn't deserve that courtesy. It's easily the lowest, most predatorial, Pokémon spin-off to date, and I'm not going to ignore that. I'd feel dirty if I did.

The game takes place on Pasio Island, where various trainers from the series are gathering together to become the Pokémon Master Champion. This is done by teaming up with 2 other trainers to battle other teams of 3 trainers.
What's that? Why don't these clearly elite trainers use more than 1 Pokémon? To make you spend three times as much, duh!

To get trainers that don't suck, you'll have to scout for Sync Pairs. This is effectively a lootbox system that you pay for with the in-game currency, Gems (That can be purchased with real money, naturally). Yeah, you can't just buy the trainer you want. No, that's far too reasonable. You've gotta roll the dice, and hope you get what you want.

Still, at least once you get a trainer, you have access to all the Pokémon that are associated with them? Right?


Yeahhhh, no. That's not how it works. That would be far too reasonable. Pulling a sync pair only gets you that specific combination of trainer and Pokémon. You want Lance's Dragonite? Tough! You pulled his Dragonair instead, screw you! You've gotta feed more money into that gacha roulette! Maybe this time, you'll get the one you want. Just one more go, one pull doesn't cost that much, go on, do it!

Oh, and these trainers have different costumes (And some of them are swimsuits, because it's a Gacha game, and they all have swimsuits), and they count as entirely different sync pairs, so you gotta roll for that too. And the game constantly goes through Power Creep, which means that newer sync pairs are generally better then older ones, so you gotta spend even more!

You see why I hate Gacha games? They are all like this. It is positively gross, and no, don't give me that crap about how the game lets you pick a specific pair after a certain amount of pulls, I've done the maths. It takes 134 pulls to get that courtesy, that's 40,200 gems, which adds up to about 87 pounds! And that's not the only in-game currency, but I'm not looking into this anymore, as I'm liable to throw up

Anyway, remember way back when I talked about Puzzle League?


The first is pretty obvious from the boxart in that the game features Ash Ketchum for the first (but not the only) time.

Yep, over 20 years after that game, Ash Ketchum makes his second video game appearence here.


You know that unwritten rule that the game universe and anime universe are totally seperate? Yeah, forget that, gotta chase that Gacha dosh!

Poor kid... I feel bad for dunking on him back then. Maybe.

Anyway, some more lighthearted stuff with this game to take the horrible taste out of my mouth. I hinted at Pokémon Masters Ex being an unfotunate name for this game. If you don't see it, try making a hashtag with it.

Literally, the only time this game has made me smile.

The game made over 75 million dollars in revenue during it's first year. And that's depressing.


Oh my god, this might be the saddest post I've done in this thread, and not in a nerdy way!

Pokémon Trading Card Game Live is a rebranding of the earlier Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. Much like the original one, it's an app that allows people to play the TCG online.
No, it's not a sequel to the Game Boy Games. It came out on PC and Mobiles this year.

You can register any cards you get in real life and use them in the app. You can also use in-game currency to add cards you don't have to your digital collection. Amazingly enough, there aren't any microtransactions! That's a shocker, but I guess asking people to shell out cash on both real life and digital cards might have been a bit much.
Still, Pokémon card collecting is proper pricey these days, and the app is pretty notorious for not running that well.

You want my recommendation? Get on the Game Boy NSO app, and play some trading card game there. It's online compatible now, and it's wayyyy cheaper!

Man, Gen 8 spin-offs are proper rough, huh? Everywhere I look, it's just...

But wait, we're not done, there's still more next week? But what else could there possibly be...?


They didn't, did they? But that's not possible...

Edited by Glen-i
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Posted (edited)

Right, now that I'm not dying from illness anymore, this is long overdue.

On 20/10/2018 at 5:27 PM, Ashley said:

Are you confirming that there's a sequel coming?


On 20/10/2018 at 5:28 PM, Glen-i said:

When Todd Snap gets into Smash. Guarantee it!


Well, last time I checked, Sora is still the last character in Smash Ultimate, so that's egg on my face.

New Pokémon Snap is quite possibly a fever dream I had once, but for the sake of this write-up, let's assume it actually exists, OK? It's developed by Bandai Namco, the developers of Pokkén(!?) and was released on the Switch in 2021. Yeah, the Switch, not the three other consoles that actually had a bloody camera in them! It's a first person rail shooter game where the gun is a camera. And it's worth remembering that, as the name suggests, it's a sequel to a 22 year old N64 game!

I still can't believe this game is a thing. Stars must have truly aligned for this one.

The game follows some random nobody as they're asked by Professor Mirror to uncover the secrets of the Lental region by photographing Pokémon in their natural habitat. The Lental region is known for a strange phenomena of Pokémon giving off a luminsecent light. It's up to you to find out what this is and document it.

Yeah, unlike the original N64 game, this one isn't tied to the anime at all. Most Pokémon games tend to steer clear of the anime these days, so it's not too surprising, still, it would've been nice to get some acknowledgment of the original title's existence.


Holy crap! Is that Todd Snap!?

It's a small thing, but I had such a massive smile on my face when he showed up. 22 years have been really kind to him. He talks about his N64 adventure, but never really mentions Professor Oak by name, which is odd, but whatever. It's cool that he exists in the Pokémon universe again, even as an NPC.

The game plays pretty much the same way as the N64 game, but with the option of motion controls, so it controls a million times better. The same basic idea is still the same though, get pictures of Pokémon that provide the subject centered, large, and looking at the camera. Interesting poses don't hurt, and having multiple of the same Pokémon is nice too. Along the way, you unlock various tools that you can use to help Pokémon co-operate with you.

There are 234 different Pokémon in this game, which is almost 4 times as much as the N64 game had! There's a lot more stages as well. And you can unlock variations of said stages by getting photos of a lot of Pokémon in each stage. Suffice to say, the game is a lot larger then it's 1999 counterpart. There's been 7 generations of Pokémon since then, so there's plenty of new stuff to work with.


It's a spin-off game after Gen 3, of course Kecleon is in it.

Did you know that Kecleon appears natively in more spin-off games then mainline ones? That's quite rare, because unless you're a cover legendary, a starter Pokémon, or Pikachu, you don't really show up in a lot of spin-offs. Everyone that isn't Game Freak seems to really like that dopey little chameleon.

Now, it's worth noting that at the launch of this game, it didn't actually have everything the current game does. A few of the stages from after the credits were flat out unavailable to begin with. This is not a rare occurrence these days, to be fair, but when news of a free update that added these stages was revealed, it became apparent that the game was rushed out to meet a deadline. That's not to say what was there at launch was sparse, it still had more to it then the N64 game, and it was such a well crafted product, that free update felt like a bonus. At least, that's how I see it.

I'd love to know how this game came around. Like, who put this idea forward? Did someone at Namco go up to TPC and suggest it, or did TPC suddenly remember Pokémon Snap was a thing and commission Namco for some reason? No idea, but again, I'd love to know.

As of December 2021, the game sold 2.4 million copies. For comparison, the last known sales of the N64 game was 3.63 million.
It's worth remembering that it's been 2 years since we saw those sale figures, and the Switch has a real knack for selling anything on it. So it's entirely possible that this is one of those rare spin-off sequels that sells better then the first game. I have no proof of that, mind.

So, could we see a sequel? Oh, I don't know anymore! Why would you listen to me after this? I want to defend myself by saying that... Come on, we last saw Pokémon Snap in the 90's! This "series" was dead, and you know it! I just hope we don't have to wait another 22 years for the next one.

BTW, I should mention that this game is bloody gorgeous! Namco did a really good job making this game the looker it is. I'm not particularly keen on the idea of putting Pokémon in a more realistic environment. *cough* Scarlet/Violet *cough* Because of that, I can't say that New Pokémon Snap is the best looking Switch Pokémon game, the most graphically impressive, sure, but not the best looking. No, that honour goes to next week's game.

Edited by Glen-i
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Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a remake of the GBA/DS title Red Rescue Team/Blue Rescue Team. The only remake of a spin-off game in the entire Pokémon series, It's a roguelike game with a Pokémon flair developed by Spike Chunsoft and came out for the Switch in 2020.

I covered the original game as well as the other DS title in a previous post. I go into the origin of the Mystery Dungeon series there if you need a reminder. For that reason, I won't go into too much detail about the base game here.

There's a number of notable differences here, one being that the gameplay is based around the mechanics seen in the 3DS entry, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (I covered that here). The only thing it doesn't do is retain the way you recruit Pokémon, that's still the same as the original game. This has the side effect of making the game quite a bit harder then the original game, not as hard as Super MD, but still. It can get real brutal, especially if you go for the post-credits plot points.
The game features every Pokémon from the first three generations of Pokémon, just like the original game, with a few additions. Pokémon that got evolutions from Gen 4 such as Electivire and Porygon-Z, as well as Sylveon, and despite not being an evolution of an older Pokémon, Riolu and Lucario are here. Yeah, weird at first glance, but it's not just there because Lucario is stupid popular, it's a nice nod to the original Rescue Team games being the first game appearance of Lucario ever.

Another key difference is how gummis work. In the original game, gummis are items that raise the IQ of a Pokémon, which will get them to learn various IQ skills, which make the AI smarter or provide some passive buffs. In the Switch version, IQ skills are replaced with Rare Qualities, more potent passive buffs that affect the whole team at once, the downside being that each Pokémon can only have one at a time.

Of course, I'm burying the lead a tad here, because the most notable difference here is...

absol.png   ES7BxWXUUAEDvW4.jpg

Bit of a glow-up, eh?

So yeah, I truly believe that Rescue Team DX is the best looking Pokémon game to date. Technically speaking, the likes of Pokken and New Pokémon Snap are more heavy hitters, sure. But much like comparing The Wind Waker to Twilight Princess, the art style absolutely shines here. The game utilises a watercolour painting style for it's environments, making it the closest a Mystery Dungeon game has ever come to looking like the artwork you see on the title menus. The Pokémon models are the kind you see in most Pokémon games, but the textures have been tweaked to make them fit in more. You can even see a hatching technique in the shadows of Pokémon. It does kinda make the likes of Scarlet and Violet look amateurish in comparison, but Mystery Dungeon has been doing that to the mainline series for ages now, so nothing new there.

The cutscene direction is another surprising upgrade. As you can see above, the jump to 3D models have allowed the use of more dynamic camera angles. What makes this surprising is that the two other 3D Mystery Dungeon games kinda pale in comparison in that regard. There's a fight scene in the original game that was, well, basic as hell on the GBA, but the Switch version blindsided me with how much better it was. (@Dcubed can back me up on that)


Even the little conversation portraits have had their texturing tweaked!

Now I know this game came out during the 8th generation, but I think this might be a game that was developed for the 7th one instead. Mega Evolution is still a thing here, the TMs and movesets of Pokémon are based on the Sun/Moon games, and various other things that stand out. I have absolutely no concrete proof of this, but it wouldn't surprise me. Despite that, the regional variants introduced in Alola aren't available here, which is a little disappointing.


Just have to settle for boring old Kantonian Marowak, I guess.

As of December 2022, this sold 1.99 million copies, which puts it as the 3rd best selling PMD game, only beaten by the original games and the first Explorers games. Thanks, Switch Effect!

In a world where Pokémon Snap can get a sequel, I'm certain Pokémon Mystery Dungeon will get another entry. It's a matter of when, not if. The real question is whether it'll be a remake of the Explorers games, or a new entry entirely. I'm fine with either, especially if it looks that good! I'm starting to get a bit impatient, mind.

And that wraps up the eighth generation of Pokémon spin-off games. It has some gems, but unfortunately, it is mostly microtransaction mobile tat, and it's getting worse (Pokémon Sleep has them because of course it does) and that's just the sad truth.

Oh well, see you in another 4 years, I guess.

Edited by Glen-i
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Thanks for these @Glen-i, it's been a joy reading through all of these, and it really highlights for me what a shame it is that the trickle of spin-offs we get now just feels like it's doing so much less for the brand outside of the core series games than used to be the case. Sequels (New Pokémon Snap), remakes (hey I'll take all the PMD remakes I can get, to be clear, maybe give me some Ranger ones too?), and attempts at creating new known massive spin-off brands (Detective Pikachu), it really feels like the outlook of the rest of the industry has finally caught up to Pokémon spin-offs, and it feels so much less inventive for it. 

It also just really brings to fore that, even nostalgia put aside for me as someone who grew up on those games, there's a very easy case to be made for the DS era being the golden era for Pokémon in both the spinoffs and core series. The sheer volume, variety, and quality of those games were something else, and it felt like the last time Pokémon were really in a position where they were looking to try new ideas and takes risks, which they were handsomely rewarded for. 

And lastly, it's also just a reminder that I need to pick up Rescue Team DX :p I remember when, where and why I got Blue Rescue Team (2007 when I was in Year 4; it was £20 from my local CeX and a treat from my parents for a solid parent's evening!), I don't think it's up to the standard that the Explorers game set following it, but it holds such a special place in my heart. Your write-up has definitely bumped it up to the top of my backlog for when I'm looking for a new look on a nostalgic trip down memory lane :peace:

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26 minutes ago, Julius said:

there's a very easy case to be made for the DS era being the golden era for Pokémon in both the spinoffs and core series.

Speaking as someone who grew up in the 90's with Gen 1, oh my daze, absolutely! There's no argument! You have 4 seperate mainline games and yet Diamond/Pearl are in the running for least good!? (Of course, if you have access to Platinum, then that argument gets really tough) Yeah, that's an outstanding mark of the sheer quality the DS era of Pokémon provides

And then there's the spin-offs, it had some clunkers (Looking at you, Pokémon Dash), but the variety on hand was bonkers! Plot heavy Roguelikes, Typing games, a Nobunaga's Ambition crossover (Seriously, who asked for that!?), 3 games about Beyblades and circles, a home console action adventure, puzzle games, and whatever the hell Pokémon Rumble is.

Anyway, I'm gonna be somewhat (un)helpful and point out that Rescue Team DX does have a demo on the eShop. Save Progress transfers over.

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They really need to make another pokemon pinball. Still paly the GBC and GBA ones from time to time.

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On 02/09/2023 at 8:10 PM, martinist said:

They really need to make another pokemon pinball. Still paly the GBC and GBA ones from time to time.

God yes! I miss Pokémon Pinball something fierce!

Have actually been playing both games quite a bit recently, especially with the cartridge rumble patch that lets you play the GBA game with rumble on the Analogue Pocket & MiSTer; has been a blast! :hehe:

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