We all love Pokemon games, and why not? it’s one of the greatest entertainment franchises in history.
Exploring its vast world, meeting the most charming characters, and listening to its wonderful soundtrack are some of the pleasures that these games have to offer, but undoubtedly, the key to its success is in its gameplay of capturing and training all the pocket monsters, which are divided into countless classes and sizes.
Although the series took its first steps in the 90s on the Game Boy, it was on the Nintendo DS that monster-collecting video games like Pokémon reached new success. It was undoubtedly the golden age of Pokemon. So it is not surprising that other developers have taken note of the formula of GameFreak’s titles, which were so much fun for gamers.
That’s how a few original games were born with a clear inspiration in Pokémon, but have enough personality and their own, which makes them unmissable adventures if you want to experience new stories set in this subgenre of RPG and adventure. We will be sticking to the original NDS so no Nintendo 3DS here, these are the
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10 best Pokemon-style Games For The Nintendo DS
We start the list with a peculiar video game developed by EA Bright Light, featuring the world of Zubalon, whose inhabitants are friendly humanoid creatures called Zubons.
But all is not peace and love in Zubalon, as the evil Big Head wants to take control of the kingdom with the help of his Zombos minions, fake Zubons. The player is thrown into this civil battle, in which his alliance with the Zubons is decisive to defeat Big Head.
Sorry for mentioning the word Zubon so much, but the story requires it.
The gameplay is as peculiar as its premise since it is a rhythm game, that is to say, you must touch the touch screen at the right moment to defeat your enemies in combat.
Throughout 10 worlds, you take your team of Zubons to banish the minions of Big Head, but you also come across fun mini-games that give dynamism to the adventure.
With a very characteristic humor and more than 50 characters with their own skills to collect, Zubon is a fun game that takes good advantage of the special functions of the console.
Bakugan: Battle Trainer (2010)
From its beginnings as a strategic card game using metal playing cards and miniature moving figures, Bakugan demonstrated its clear inspiration from Pokémon but charged its universe and creatures with a unique personality that at the time was very popular among children.
Developed by Magic Pockets and distributed by Activision, Battle Trainer is the sequel to 2009’s Bakugan Battle Brawlers.
The storyline puts us in the shoes of Dan, the anime hero of this saga, who suffers from a fortuitous memory loss, forgetting everything about the Bakugans, making this title a good entry for new players.
It turns out that the Dark Star spaceship has captured all the Bakugans on Earth, forcing our amnesiac hero to retrieve them while remembering along the way how to master the Bakugans again.
Bakugan has always had something fascinating about the presentation of its creatures. At first, they’re just miniature talking toys, but in battle, they become mythological titans of such power that you find it hard to believe that teenagers own them.
Once you have trained through various mini-games the Bakugans you want in your team, you jump into the Dark Star, where you confront evil Bakugans in battles in which the class of your Bakugan and their training points will be vital to achieving victory.
With more than 30 creature types, Bakugan Battle Trainer is an alternative to the classic game system of the saga, like Pokemon Rangers did in its time.
Digimon World Championship (2008)
If Pokemon is Mario, Digimon is Sonic. This sums up the rivalry between these franchises, in which Pokemon usually wins in popularity polls, but Digimon has elements that make it unique, gaining a very loyal fan community.
Unlike the main Digimon RPG saga, World Championship focuses more on simulation and less on action.
In this title, you are a Tamer, who must raise, feed and clean your Digimons, going back to the origins of the franchise, when Digimons were just virtual pets like the Tamagotchi. But battles are not left out, not for nothing is it called World Championship.
In the battles, you will only be a spectator, as your Digimons make their own decisions, based on the training and care you gave them. This system scared off many fans of the franchise, as it’s not what they were used to.
But for those who want a more relaxed experience with some touches of strategy, it’s the perfect game. Besides, who hasn’t wanted a Digimon as a pet at some point?
Spectrobes is an action RPG from developer Jupiter, with a sci-fi theme based on the Pokémon formula.
The story takes you centuries into the future when a horde of evil aliens called Krawl threatens to devour the galaxy. The only solution to stop them is to revive the Spectrobes, powerful creatures, natural rivals of the Krawl.
The person in charge of this mission is Rallen, a young and impetuous officer of the Planetary Patrol of the Nanairo system who, with the help of his friend, the intelligent Jeena, digs up the fossils of the Spectrobes, to bring them back to life and then feed and train them to become great fighters and stop the threat of the Krawl.
Nothing more than the premise explains a basic game mechanic, only unlike Pokemon, where you capture the creatures in a wild habitat, here you have to dig in rocks until you reach their fossils, in the style of the Jurassic World simulation games.
The gameplay as such is a classic turn-based RPG, where the level and age of your Spectrobe determines whether you’ll be enshrined as the victor or not.
It has more than decent graphics and remarkable music, with which the adventure becomes more enjoyable, although some mechanics such as digging end up becoming somewhat repetitive.
Spectrobe is a good approach to what a futuristic Pokémon franchise would look like.
Fossil Fighters (2009)
We didn’t mention dinosaurs before in vain, since they have an appearance in this Nintendo title.
Fossil Fighters tells the story of the Hero (this is how he is nicknamed to involve the player more), a boy who lives endless adventures on Vivosaur Island, where he finds fossils of vivosaurs, mythical creatures based on dinosaurs.
The boy’s task is to collect these relics to revive them and turn them into his vivosaurs, with which to compete against teams of other inhabitants of the island and win the title of Fossil Fighter Master.
The game boasts two main mechanics. On the one hand, fossil digging, in which you must be extremely careful, making good use of the tools and taking care of the state of the fossils. It is a fairly calm section of the game, which prepares you for the other, the combat.
Once you have your vivosaurs resurrected, you will have to face others in a turn-based system, in which the element of the creatures reigns, which are fire, air, earth, water, and neutral.
With more than 100 vivosaurs to collect, Fossil Fighter is a game you can’t miss if you are a fan of Steven Spielberg’s saga.
Fossil Fighters: Champions (2011)
With the first game’s success, Nintendo SPD released its sequel, totally upgraded, with better graphics and gameplay.
The story introduces us to Joe Wildwest, the owner of Caliosteo Island, who organizes the Caliosteo Cup, summoning all the vivosaur trainers but the BareBones Brigade, led by the sinister Don Boneyard try to sabotage the tournament
Joe assigns you and your friends in the Patrol Team to stop the BareBones threat, although, along the way, you’ll realize that both Wildwest and Boneyard are not what they seem.
As in its predecessor, the fossil collecting mechanics return, but with new gold fossils and digging zones that make it more entertaining. Same case with the 3 VS 3 turn-based battles, in which each vivosaur has an attack distance, varying from short, medium, and long.
In short, a sequel that enhances everything its predecessor did well, delivering an adventure with more than 170 vivosaurs to revive and a very entertaining combat system.
Monster Rancher (2010)
Developed by Cing and published by UFO Interactive Games, Monster Rancher is a life simulation title, heavily similar to Pokemon saga but more dedicated to breeding and fusing your monsters.
In this adventure, the player is not reflected on the screen, but at all times you see your cheerful assistant, Clea. Of course, the main goal is to make your team of monsters the most powerful in the BOMB Region, facing off against monsters from rival breeders.
Battles are characterized by being fast and almost automatic, increasing the importance of the preparation with which your fighters arrive. Therefore, you have to spend a lot of time training your monsters, assigning them different exercises that improve some stats but worsen others, a system that gives balance to the game.
In general, all the game mechanics are easy to learn, except for combining monsters, as it requires a lot of research and calculations, making you feel like a real genetic scientist in search of the perfect creature.
The other way to obtain monsters is by drawing on the touch screen and mentioning certain magic phrases into the microphone, taking advantage of the features of the platform.
Overall, Monster Rancher DS is an excellent title that changes the “Gotta catch ’em all” to “Gotta raise ’em all”, delivering a relaxing experience to fans of this RPG sub-genre.
Digimon World DS (2006)
We are back with the classic Digimon story, in a Bandai Namco title that combines RPG with the formula of capturing and training Pokémon creatures.
The story allows us to control a male or female tamer, who is immersed in the purest TRON style in a digital world, where you meet the digital Digimon, artificial life forms. It is your mission to unravel the mystery behind these new creatures, while you train your Digimon and face the growing threat of Unknown-D.
The game features more than 250 Digimons of 8 different classes, which you have to take care of in your Digi-Farm, a safe environment where your creatures can evolve. Likewise, the exploration of the different regions of the digital world is an important section to collect resources and thus improve your Digimon.
The battle system is characterized by its dynamism and the importance of predicting the opponent’s attack. It bears some resemblance to Pokemon but adds more layers of strategy.
Digimon World DS is a Pokémon game set in the Digimon universe. But it does not fall into plagiarism at all, it takes advantage of the virtues of Nintendo’s saga to add its own style, putting a lot of emphasis on the care of the creatures and the strategy elements.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (2011)
This legendary RPG series from Square Enix also joined the party of replicating the Pokemon formula.
The 5th installment of the DQ Monsters sub-series and the direct sequel to DQM Joker, this title challenges you to become a monster recruiter, to train them, and create teams that will engage in intense combat against rival recruiters, all set in the fantasy universe of Dragon Quest.
At first, the story is as generic as it sounds, until a plot twist involves you on a mission to rescue lost travelers on a wild island full of ferocious monsters.
Beyond its impressive graphics and addictive gameplay, Joker 2 shines in the monster-collecting genre thanks to its fusion system, which lets you combine monsters to create the perfect creature. This gives the game endless possibilities since the most basic and weakest monsters can be useful.
Combat is intense, fun, and very attractive, but the real focus is on the monster synthesis system. That’s where the game shines and builds its personality with more than 300 monsters.
And in case you didn’t know, the characters and monsters were designed by Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball and regular contributor to the Dragon Quest saga.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (2010)
Developed by Atus, Strange Journey is the fourth installment of the Shin Megami Tensei RPG series, in which we take the role of a named hero, a member of a special forces unit organized by the UN, to explore a distortion in space called Schwarzwelt.
Throughout the story, the protagonist can recruit different demons and enemy creatures to fight against the evil that threatens the planet.
This title was the result of a development team that wanted to adapt a massive role-playing experience to a DS, so exploration is the mainstay of this adventure. As you discover new areas, you encounter random enemies, engaging them along with your 3 demons in turn-based combat quite similar to Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.
In addition to fighting demons, you can interact with them in various ways: bribe, scare, or recruit them. After being recruited, demons can be fused to create new versions of them that will acquire the abilities of the ones that were sacrificed, a feature is that some special demons can only be obtained through fusion.
With more than 300 recruitable demons, inspired by different mythologies of the world, Strange Journey is what it promises, a journey in a world that combines science fiction with fantasy, with a more mature tone than GameFreak games. It is for this and many more virtues that it gets top rank as the best Pokemon-style game for the Nintendo DS.
And with this, we end this incredible list of Pokemon-like games for the DS. It is worth trying these entries from other developers that bring new elements to this beloved gaming subgenre. But no matter which similar games you give a chance to, the ultimate goal is always the same, catch ’em all!