It's been a rough week for Pokémon Go players. Developer Niantic has stripped away any decent means of tracking down the Pokémon you want, and the game has seemingly gotten harder out of nowhere. Fortunately, there's already a great alternative to Pokémon Go. It's called Pokémon.
The series of Nintendo games that kickstarted the Pokémon craze in the 90s is still going strong, and even the oldest installments hold up pretty well. Your best bet for playing as many Pokémon games as possible is to get a Nintendo 3DS, which plays 3DS and DS games as well as a few emulated Game Boy classics. The New Nintendo 3DS is the best version of the system, though the $80 Nintendo 2DS is an excellent entry point if all you want to do is play a few Pokémon games.
If you want to start where it all began, you can pick up Pokémon Red, Blue or Yellow on the 3DS eShop for $10 a pop. For those who got into Pokémon via Go, there's not a whole lot that will be foreign to you here. You adventure through various villages, collect and battle as many as 151 Pokémon, and aim to take down the game's eight gym leaders.
The turn-based battling is far more strategic and rewarding than the screen-mashing of Pokémon Go, as you get to choose from a variety of attacks for each Pokémon. You level up and evolve your monsters simply by fighting — not by catching the same Pokémon 400 times in search of candy. Despite their pixelated Game Boy graphics and simplistic mechanics, the OG Pokémon games are still a blast to play today.
Pokemon Gold and Silver. Credit: Pokemon.com
While you can't go wrong with the originals, many fans consider the second wave of games — Pokémon Gold and Silver — to be the series' apex. This generation introduced new Pokémon types as well as multiple genders for certain monsters, and their DS remakes (HeartGold and SoulSilver) borrow a bunch of gameplay refinements from later installments.
If you're looking for something more modern, the newest core installments — Pokémon X and Y — offer fully-animated 3D exploration and battling, as well as online trading and fighting. Playing X and Y (or the latest remakes: Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) is a good way to prepare for this fall's Pokémon Sun and Moon, which are built on a similar foundation.
Of course, there are a boatload of spinoffs that take the Pokémon franchise to new genres, from the arcadey action of Pokémon Pinball to the Mystery Dungeon series, the latter of which casts you as a Pokémon rather than a trainer. I'm personally hooked on the Wii U's Pokken Tournament, which is a surprisingly deep Pokémon fighting game made by the folks behind Tekken.
Pokémon Go might not be in the best place right now, but as you can see, you've got a boatload of options when it comes to enjoying the series' creatures in digital form. While catching Pokémon in the real world can be a blast, the Pokémon video games aren't prone to server issues or infuriating developer updates like Go is. So, put your phone down, grab a 3DS, and have some fun — you just might end up with a new favorite game.