1. Sinnoh, to the surprise of no one. You’re probably saying this is solely based on nostalgic bias, and that is a huge part of it, I’ll admit that. Pokémon Diamond was what brought me back into Pokémon, and it and Platinum were the first times I started to really consume all the data I could about the games, which set the trend going forward. Sinnoh’s the reason I’m playing Pokémon today, so it will always have a very special place in my heart. Of course, there is more to love about Sinnoh: personally I very much like the general design aesthetic of Gen IV Pokémon, I adore that the region is steeped in legend and myth, Cynthia, you can play your badges like a xylophone, and how could you not enjoy the Underground? I know Sinnoh has faults, but it’s very special to me, and I dearly hope the eventual remake is on a system I own.
2. Alola. Probably not surprising either. It’s a beautiful and extremely unique region, and it introduces many new twists on the Pokémon formula without rendering it unrecognizable. Many things I liked about other games/generations/regions were present in Alola, and while they weren’t all handled perfectly, I do think they were handled well, and it helps give the region a more “complete” feel. The plot and mythology are both engaging, though I do wish they’d intertwined a bit more. The Pokédex features favorites from every generation, and as for the new Pokémon…well, I’m a bit 50/50 when it comes to Gen VII’s design aesthetic, but that doesn’t weigh it down too much. And Alola forms are inspired (even if I can’t seem to get behind any that end up Dark-type). There are a few miscellaneous things from ORAS that I wish had stuck around, but Sun and Moon are improvements over X and Y in every conceivable way, and that helps me just really love this region. And judging from what we’ve seen of USUM, I’m beginning to wonder if it could even give Sinnoh a run for its money.
3. Johto. Kind of bumpy getting here, but…nostalgia played a big part again. Gold version was the first Pokémon game that was really mine and I didn’t have to share, so it’s the focal point of nostalgia as far as I’m concerned. Yeah, some of my memories of Gold are hazy, I don’t feel like I excelled when I played HeartGold, and now that I’ve got VC Gold I’m just baffled by some of the Pokémon distribution choices, but the feel of the region is something that just works. Difficult to explain, but this is all subjectivity anyway. And there’s something interesting about this graphical style, something notably old but still in vibrant color, that helps it retain this feeling of being a refreshing update to Gen I. There are some great Pokémon here too, though it can be difficult to find some of them—Typhlosion will always be a favorite, and darn it, I love Unown, I know they’re utterly useless in a battle but I’m too fascinated by their concept to feel anything but love towards these letters with eyes.
4. Hoenn. Before ORAS, if you heard me mentioning Hoenn, it was only to disparage it. I lost interest in Pokémon during Gen III, a large part of which I still blame on not being able to send Pokémon from Gen II up to the new Generation, and even now a large number of the Pokémon designs introduced here just feel a bit odd to me. Again, this hatred was all before ORAS. ORAS, when they came out, were the utmost pinnacle of Pokémon games on a mechanical level, and are still pretty darn close. They took a great deal of the good things in X and Y and really drove them home, capitalized on everything people already liked about the region (except for trumpets), and introduced plenty of new things that all worked very well. I utterly adore soaring, I can’t speak too highly about that feature. Hoenn’s personality also shone really well in those games, and it’s helped me find a much greater respect for the region. Though, since nearly all I like about it is strictly from ORAS, Hoenn itself falls smack dab in the middle.
5. Unova. Really, I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Unova, largely stemming from the fact that during Gen V I was unfortunately going through a bit of a genwunner phase. (Thank God that’s over.) Make no mistake, I still stand by some of my criticism: Black and White try far too hard to distance themselves from the other games, worst of all by expressly forbidding us from catching any Pokémon from the first four Generations until we beat their main story, and that issue is exacerbated tremendously by the general design aesthetic of Gen V Pokémon, which I find to be, well…pretty terrible. (With notable exceptions—Chandelure, Gigalith, and Zekrom are some of my all-time favorites.) But there’s also a lot that Gen V does right. It was an enormous step forward in story and characterization—the Gym Leaders never felt more like an actual ensemble of people, to say nothing of Team Plasma, and it’s always impressed me that the plot actually interrupts your initial League challenge. There’s also a wealth of post-game areas to explore, and we’ve still only covered Black and White. Black 2 and White 2 (as opposed to the expected Pokémon Gray) were a unique choice in and of themselves, and retained the best of their predecessors while strengthening the mechanics, adding loads more content, and no longer restricting you to Unovan-original Pokémon, thank God. (Though now that I think about it, I did only use Gen V mons when I played B2 and W2…huh…) Taking a fairer look at Unova, it really is a wonderful place, and as that teenage inclination towards arbitrary bad decisions abates it might actually move up this list. Still…Gen V Pokémon designs…I haven’t gotten over most of you.
6. Kanto. Kanto is just, well…basic. And I mean, it’s the first Gen, it kind of has to be since it’s the template. But still, I just kind of…I don’t know, I guess I’ve used up all the nostalgia I had for it and feel like there isn’t really much else going for it? I’ve trekked through this region probably more than any other, but I don’t know that I really have anything in particular to say about it. The last two slots on this list were hard to decide between, and part of why Kanto’s here and not the bottom might just be extra slack for having the burden of getting the franchise off the ground. Again, I don’t know that I really have anything to say.
7. Kalos. And like, I like Kalos. I do. But X and Y left me wanting more from it in the worst possible way, and while I was focusing on the positives and giving it the benefit of the doubt when I was expecting them to do a third version or a second pair to fix that, they dropped this region like it was hot and moved right along to Gen VII. So ultimately, Kalos feels like a half-baked trial run for the rest of the 3DS titles and even GameFreak doesn’t really care about it all that much. And that sucks. Because there are a lot of things I like about Kalos: the Gen VI Pokémon design aesthetic is marvelous, its Pokédex being a collection of favorites across all Gens was a wonderful decision that thankfully seems to be the new norm, and I love Mega Evolution and have honestly docked points from Sun and Moon for being so quick to discard it. It’s controversial, but I’m very glad for the changes made to experience—I’m in my 20s, I don’t have the time or patience to grind and now I don’t have to. But for everything Kalos did well, there’s a lot that is just so sloppy. Characterization is a huge step back from Gen V. Plot is about as bare as Gen I. Can’t say there’s much of a post-game. X and Y, in hindsight, just feel like they could have been so much more, and while we can forgive that at the start of a generation, not following up with a correction just makes it look so much worse. Because now X and Y are all we have to judge Kalos with, and it doesn’t compare well. Again, there’s a lot that I like about X and Y and Kalos—I enjoyed playing these games. I just wish I could have had an even better Kalos game after that. Sun and Moon feel like far more complete games, and remembering how abrupt the transition from Gen VI to Gen VII felt at the time, that’s somewhat strange to me. So I guess my relationship with Kalos now is a bit like what I once had with Unova, and maybe as time goes on I’ll be less bitter about the lack of a third game and I’ll feel better about this region. Chances are there will in the distant future come a day when X and Y are remade, and I dearly hope those take better advantage of Kalos.
So, there you have it. Who’s offended?