It's been almost three decades since Pokémon took schools by storm. From Red and Blue to Sword and Shield, the franchise seems to release one hit after another, forever expanding their digital cockfighting menagerie and making addicts of players worldwide.

But all great series have their spin-offs, and Pokémon, far from being the exception to this rule, seems to lean into it, which means they naturally have some entries that stink like a Muk ...

Pokémon Play it

When looking through the past Pokémon titles, this name didn't stick out to me. But the second I saw the screenshots, I was ripped back in time to several mind-numbing hours in the early aughts when I had to look at this total garbage:

The Pokémon Company

Pokémon in this game are from Kanto and the trainers are from Uncanny Valley.

Pokémon Play It was an atrocious game for PC that taught kids with thousands and thousands of Pokémon Trading Cards how to actually play the game they owned. The game was misery, and the graphics were from my nightmares. Nowadays, Nintendo will let YouTube take care of teaching kids games from now on, though, depending on which channel, they may also get a free education on how to be bigots too.

Hey You, Pikachu!

On its face, Hey You, Pikachu! is a game about screaming into a bad microphone to get a lightning rat to pay attention to you. But under that facade of screeching and pleading, there's actually a game with surprisingly little depth and absolutely no redeeming value too.

The Pokémon Company

Why did they write Pikachu on the sides of the screen? The only thing in the game is Pikachu.

Apparently, people thought the microphone was broken, but really it was programmed only to pick up on the extremely high-pitched voices of children. Somehow this game about yelling at your virtual dog was a total flop. 

PokéPark Wii: Pikachu’s Adventure

PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure might be the worst-received game on this list. The plot is that you're Pikachu, and you have to befriend other Pokémon to keep your park from being destroyed. Except befriending Pokémon is bafflingly easy, and you only need to befriend 14 to win. But for completionists, there are 193 Pokémon in the park. As one contemporary review put it, "the prospect of befriending all 193 Pokémon might seem like a great challenge. Wrong! There are times when you won't have to do a thing other than talk to them before they're begging to be your chum." 

The Pokémon Company

Chums don't smile at their chums like that, sir.

You may be thinking, "Well, at least it looks better." And to quote that same 2010 review, "The visuals are just about the only positive that this game produces."

Pokémon Smile

This is, without a doubt, the oddest game on this list. Yeah, including the one where you howl a command into a bubble and throw it at Pikachu. Because, like Hey You, PikachuPokémon Smile also forgoes a typical controller. Rather than picking up a joy con or a Wiimote players pick up a toothbrush and brush their teeth.

The Pokémon Company

I’m extremely not joking.

I'm convinced the only reason this didn't go viral is because it came out the same year as this other game called Covid-19. Pokémon Smile was released in June of 2020, and if you missed it, as Kotaku said, "I don't blame you; this is barely a game at all." I can tell you now, I will be streaming this.

Pokémon Trading Card Game

Thanks for continuing to read after seeing that title and not heading off to make a burner account and leave a nasty comment about how the Pokémon Trading Card Game video game was the reason you got clean. Listen, this is a good game. It was fun. But we also need to take a moment, remove our nostalgia glasses, and admit this game was a completely bonkers idea.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game is exactly the same as this:

Doritos

It even comes in Red and Blue versions!

For those of you who are healthy, in 2013, Taco Bell teamed up with Doritos to make a taco with a Doritos shell called the Doritos Locos Taco. Then Doritos made a chip that was based on that taco which was, as you'll recall, based on their chips. I truly believe this is the closest any branding has come to art.

And Pokémon did exactly the same thing. They made a video game. Then they made a card game based on that video game. Then they made a video game based on the card game based on their video game. Genius. To make it better, when you're not in battle, the two games are indistinguishable.

The Pokémon Company

One of these is from the trading card video game ... 

The Pokémon Company

… and one is from the main series.

I love this game, but if they remake it, I want it to be in the form of a new card game based on the video game based on the card game based on the video game. Anything else is a pale imitation of this art.

Top Image: The Pokémon Company

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