If you don’t have a Nintendo console, don’t worry – here are some excellent creature battlers for PC
Can you play the classic Pokémon games on PC? Err, probably, but we wouldn’t know anything about illegal activities like that. What you want instead are some excellent, legal alternatives. Nintendo’s world-changing Pokémon series is celebrating 25 years of monster-catching, and us PC players certainly deserve a slice of that battle-flavoured pie. Let’s face it: who doesn’t enjoy a spell of kidnapping cute animals and forcing them to scrap, tooth and claw, now and again? Exactly.
Despite our beloved format being the spiritual home of turn-based combat, no official main series Pokémon game has yet made the jump to PC. We can’t exactly blame Nintendo for wanting to sell more Switch consoles, but we also can’t help but feel a small pang of jealousy every time we catch a glimpse of anything yellow and electric out of the corner of our eyes. And remember: Pikachu rhymes with ‘PC too’.. Well, sort of.
To soothe our forlorn spirits, however, we do actually have an official Pokémon online game on PC – namely Pokémon TCG Online, a card battle game that is free to play, offering both single-player and multiplayer challenges for Pokémon card game fans. While it might not offer the Pokéball pitching action of the beloved handheld games, you’ll still need to collect Pokémon cards and trade with your friends – anyone got a shiny Charizard?
Though we still long to catch ‘em all on the very best platform there ever was, there are a handful of similar – and excellent – titles that have set up shop on PC. Some ape Pokémon’s structure closely, while others feature elements that are inspired by the grandparent of digital creature battlers.
ARE THERE ANY POKÉMON GAMES ON PC?
POKÉMON TRADING CARD GAME ONLINE
We’re not saying it’s a classic, but it’s an official Pokémon game that’s officially available on PC. Battle against your rival Trainers in the free-to-play Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. While there are a wide range of popular online card games out there, the charming Pokémon artwork and the characters we all know and love make this one stand out from the pack.
If that doesn’t quite satisfy your creature-collecting urges, we’re sadly not expecting Pokémon on Steam any time soon, but there are many alternatives to Pokémon available on PC and all of them are built on the core components of collection and cute(ish) beasts.
This Poke-like may be unashamedly inspired by Game Freak’s cherished creature catcher, but it brings plenty of new ideas. The biggest difference you’ll find here is a sense of challenge. Temtem swiftly brings it to your notice when your tamer rival thumps you in your opening battle. After that, you’ll find going from town to town difficult as potions are expensive, so resource management comes into play.
Temtem’s battle system is equally demanding of your attention. Each one of your tems has a stamina bar, strengths and weaknesses, and fights are two-on-two. If you want to succeed in winning fights and making it to the next town, you’ll need to have a full team of well trained tems. If you want something that’s close to the Pokémon series, you can’t get much closer than this.
In a galaxy far, far away is a world where sentient slimes roam free. In Slime Rancher, you inherit a slime ranch, so it’s now your responsibility to get it up and running by collecting every type of slime. They come in all manner of colours and varieties, each bringing with it varying properties – and associated challenges. You can even go vegan, if you want.
In Pokémon, you have to complete your Pokédex as you gradually imprison an increasingly alarming number of sentient creatures and force them to fight each other in gladiatorial bouts. In Slime Rancher, however, there’s the quite charmingly named Slimepedia to keep track of your livestock. There are 90 colourful slimes to collect, including pink slimes, rock slimes, puddle slimes, fire slimes… you get the picture.
SLAY THE SPIRE
Decisions made outside of Pokémon battles are as important as the choices made in them. Slay the Spire gets this. Building a deck with excellent synergy between cards requires the same thought process as constructing a winning Pokémon party. Creating powerful combinations and seeing a battle go as you planned is at the core of all card combat games, of course, but Slay the Spire is one of the best. It’s moreish, brilliant design hearkens back to Pokémon’s heady trading card days.
It offers up a less colourful adventure than Pokémon, and the journey up that titular spire is certainly more arduous. But even as you battle foes and overcome the game’s ever-changing obstacles, the sense of becoming stronger both through sheer weight of numbers and a deepening understanding of the power available to you can’t help but evoke the feelings that Nintendo’s classic conjures.
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY
This spin-off sees you explore the world of Grymoire, collecting Mirages – cute versions of classic Final Fantasy creatures. That mechanic reminds us of… something. Oh yeah: Pokémon. To wield your captured Mirages in battle, you have to organise them into strategic stacks – and here’s where further similarities with Nintendo’s series reveal themselves.
The stacking system in World of Final Fantasy is an utterly charming twist on Pokémon’s battle formula, you see. And rediscovering all of your favourite Final Fantasy creatures in chibi form is simply adorable and more than reason enough to give this one a go.
DIGIMON MASTERS ONLINE
Back in the ‘90s, Pokémon overtook Digimon to become the ultra-successful Japanese media franchise it is today. But today, Digimon is the only one of the two that’s made the jump to PC.
Digimon Masters Online is an MMO where you train and evolve the eponymous creatures by battling other players. Digimon evolve into stronger forms with special attacks, similar to Pokémon, but Digimon Masters battles are real-time, not turn based. As such, you’ll need to keep your wits about you!
NI NO KUNI 2: REVENANT KINGDOM
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom’s enchanting characters and rich worldbuilding get you in the mood for an epic adventure. It’s like stepping out of your house for the first time in Pokémon’s Pallet town – a whole world waiting to be explored. The game uses a similar battle system to Tales of Vesperia, so you should feel right at home with its style of combat if you’re familiar with it. Ni No Kuni II also has a unique city-building tool, where you can help manage the work forces for Evan’s kingdom – a nice touch.
And then there are Ni No Kuni II’s Higgledies. They help your party during battles, can heal characters, attack enemies, and even shield the group with protective spells. They’re cute little companions who help you to win against impossible odds, and would fit perfectly into Pokémon’s next generation.
NI NO KUNI: WRATH OF THE WHITE WITCH REMASTERED
If the sequel is too much of a curve ball for you, then the original Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is more like Pokémon, and also surprisingly difficult. It also benefits from a glorious collaboration between RPG masters Level-5 and the legendary Studio Ghibli.
Battles feature a curious blend of real-time and turn-based combat mechanics, so does take some getting used to if you’re coming from the handheld Pokémon games. But the important part is that you fight alongside monsters that you capture, befriend, and train just like in Pokémon.
Ooblets is an indie adventure directly inspired by Pokémon. The Double Fine-produced game will feature living plants, character customisation, house-building, and a smattering of other fun and quirky activities. You plant seeds that blossom into baby ooblets, and after levelling them up, you can have adorable dance battles with fellow ooblet trainers. These are built on turn-based battles, type-effectiveness charts, and various other mechanics that are about as Pokémon as they come.
Farming and dance training is just the beginning, too. You can explore strange lands, talk to friendly neighbours, and indulge in the relaxing routines of town life. It’s also so ridiculously cute you may not be able to stand it. Ooblets is out now in Early Access on the Epic Game Store.