For Pokémon fans around the world, this weekend’s introduction of the sixth generation of games, Pokémon X and Y, was big. But just because Nintendo handheld owners got two new Pokémon games doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to wallow in the shadows while they soak up the sun—we’re PC gamers! We have dozens of monster-culling options that capture the feel of Game Freak’s prodigious franchise, and it doesn’t take a Pokémon Professor to see that you don’t need a console to catch ’em all.
Without further Bidoof, here‘s 10 games you can play to get that Pokémon experience without ever having to leave your keyboard and mouse behind.
Minecraft Pixelmon Mod
Minecraft and Pokémon go together like peanut butter and marshmallow fluff—two superb standalones that, when combined, meld into a sickeningly sweet amalgamate. The Pixelmon mod allows Minecrafters to discover, catch, and train 180 different species from the monster-collecting series all while exploring the biomes of Mojang’s open world.
What makes Pixelmon stand blocks above the competition, though, is the team’s commitment to updates, with new Pokémon, items, and skins dropping every week or two.
How much does it cost? The mod is free; Minecraft can be downloaded from Minecraft.net for $27.
Skyrim (DJSuperGenius’ Pokémon in Skyrim Mod)
Some slick coding by DJSuperGenius satiates that sick urge we’ve had since our youth, finally allowing us to catch Charizard-hued dragons and Pikachu-tone Skeevers and release them into an unwitting town. You can catch up to six minions at a time using a unique summoning spell and, once your Nintendo-inspired beasts start running low on health, you can return them to their red-and-white colored homes. Though the mod only sports 13 of the reimagined monsters, it’s an actually entertaining—if somewhat short-lived—batch of content.
How much does it cost? It’s free! (But a few too many glitches means you get what you pay for.)
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria—Pet Battles
We could discuss the merits of Mists all day. Did the expansion re-ignite the fire in players’ hearts? Debatable. What I can say for sure is that Mists introduced the greatest meta-game in the history of the franchise.
Pet battles are Blizzard’s unabashed riffs on Japan’s largest monster export, and while it sounds like a feature-adding gimmick, it’s anything but. These battles are surprisingly deep and strategic, pitting Azeroth’s ambient animals in fight-to-the-death scenarios. They’re fun, engaging, and add one more reason to keep grinding away day after day.
How much does it cost? $40, but you’ll also need Wrath of the Lich King, The Burning Crusade, Cataclysm, and original World of Warcraft to play.
UnovaRPG is basically Pokémon Online, but without all of the fantastic visuals, tender training tutorials, and feel-good storyline. You can find dozens of these knock-offs in the dark reaches of the internet (MonsterMMORPG, PokéMMO, DelugeRPG, just to name a few). Direct copyright infringement is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
UnovaRPG and its half-dozen clones aren’t for the uninitiated in Pokéballs and monster battles—this is a bare bones version of Game Freak’s fiscal nest egg that has been built from the bottom up for a hardcore crowd and lacks a certain, uh, finesse, that its handheld progenitor has. Still, there’s no better way to get a quick fix of Nintendo’s monster-infested franchise.
How much does it cost? Free with registration.
Spore Creature Creator
Will Wright, you brilliant, brilliant man, you. You built a game that not only let us re-create the monsters that we love in the finest detail, but used your world-crafting powers to allow us to form a city-state of Charizards and eventually send them into the farthest reaches of space to kill, maim, and capture every citizen of the known universe. You sly dog.
Want all of Pokémon’s eponymous monsters the minute you boot up the game? Search Spore’s user-created content page, Sporepedia, for your favorite pokémon.
How much does it cost? $20
Pokémon Trading Card Game Online
If you only try one game on this list, make it Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. This surprisingly brisk card battling game, based off those ’90s-era relics collecting dust in your attic, is a wildly entertaining strategy CCG that rivals Magic 2014 in its ability to engage and delight.
My only real qualms with the nostalgia-inducing card battler revolve around the lack of available modes for non-paying players and lack of diversity to the game’s starting decks, which realistically, I’m hard-pressed to disqualify the game for. If you have a younger brother/sister /son/daughter lying around who plays CCGs, PTCGO might be a great gateway for them into PC gaming.
How much does it cost? It’s free to try, but cards are obtained from real-world booster packs that cost $4.99 each.
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 4
OK, I’ll admit, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series wasn’t perfect. But after investing three episodes worth of time into the tetralogy, it’s hard to stop cold turkey. Episode 4 vastly improved the turn-based role-playing mechanics of the third entry, Poké-fying them to perfection. Tossing Gabe, Tycho, and the ineffectual antagonist Dr. Blood into the cartoonish Underhell served as the perfect plot device to integrate PA’s misguided mythos with an outlandish, faux-Pokémon training mechanic.
While PAOtRSPoD:Ep4 may not be as mechanically sound as Game Freak’s monster collector is, it’s a hell of a lot funnier.
How much does it cost? $5
Why Mystic Guardians? ‘Cause it wouldn’t be a list of offshoots for the ’90s’ most fiscally profitable game if it didn’t include one Facebook cash-in attempt. That said, Mystic Guardians is the best micro-transaction fueled rip-off this side of the iPhone’s Tiny Monsters. You’ll train “Guardians” (read: Pokémon), go to “Guardian Centers” (Read: Pokémon Centers), “collect badges from local gym leaders” (Read: Wait. Seriously?), all while enduring the friends’ and peers’ judgment when your Mystic Guardians activity pops up on their news feeds.
This level of blatant plagiarism and complete disregard for another developer’s work is impressive. I tip my hat to you, Mystic Guardians. Now where’d I leave my wallet?
How much does it cost? Nothing! (Other than your dignity.)
Pokémon Tower Defense
So far this list has covered the monster-collecting portion of Pokémon almost exclusively. “What about the gratifying strategy section of the series that I like so much?” you ask.
Do yourself a favor and check out Pokémon Tower Defense. The perfect silver bullet for boredom, this tower defense game has you leveling up your defenders and upgrading skillsets, all while growing your stationary monster militia. It may not beat Pokémon Conquest as a strategy game, but for a Pokémon-inspired tower defense game it can’t be beat. Not that there’s much competition in that category.
How much does it cost? Free!
It’s time we admit it: Pokémon won the great monster war of the ’90s. But just because Pokémon gets a new game every two years and Digimon hasn’t been relevant since before Black Eyed Peas was “the next big thing” doesn’t mean you should count it out.
And, thanks to Korean developer Joymax, the series based around building bonds of friendship, rooting for the underdog, and whatever the hell this thing is, will keep fighting the good fight. You’ll tame monsters, form parties, and generally lose your life to the Digimon-skinned version of World of Warcraft. Just don’t play it so much that you turn into <a href="http://digimon.wikia.com/wiki/Numemon"one of these.
How much does it cost? Free-to-play