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Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

Pokémon never really went out of style, but the franchise has been on people’s minds thanks to mobile phenomenon Pokémon Go and the recent release of Pokémon: Let’s Go on Nintendo Switch. Both games spun the classic monster hunting games in a new direction while still retaining the series’ iconic charm. Pokémon is essentially like any other turn-based RPG. Like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Dragon Quest, you assemble your party, level them up, customize their abilities, and engage in random battles against enemies while exploring your world. The real draw of Pokémon has always been collecting tiny creatures that populate the world. While not quite as common as the standard RPG, there are still quite a few to choose from, all of which benefit from their own unique look and gameplay.

A new mainline Pokémon game is expected to launch on Nintendo Switch later this year, marking the first time a traditional Pokémon experience will appear on a home console. But if you’re eager for a new world in which to catch critters right now, there are plenty out there that will fit the bill.

Yo-Kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch, a series of Japanese video games with a companion cartoon and manga from RPG developer Level-5, has become a cross-media phenomenon on par with Pokémon in Japan. The series follows Nate, a young boy who has a special watch that lets him hunt and capture Yo-Kai, ghostly entities from Japanese folklore. Players collect Yo-Kai by feeding them the types of food they like, then defeating them in battle with other Yo-Kai they’ve collected. In other words, it’s a lot like Pokémon, but with a distinctly Japanese look and feel.

While fighting enemy Yo-Kai is the core of the franchise, the series presents more variety for those who desire to engage in other activities. If you decide that you need a break from battling, you can take part in a number of different mini-games and side quests — fishing, bug catching, etc. — to strengthen your team or obtain new items. The original Yo-Kai Watch has spawned two sequels thus far. Yo Kai Watch 3 arrived in North America on February 8.

Shin Megami Tensei series

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

If the cutesy, cartoon style of Pokémon is a turnoff, the Shin Megami Tensei series might be more your speed. Almost all of the series under the larger Megami Tensei umbrella — Persona, Devil Survivor, Devil Summoner, Digital Devil Saga, and Shin Megami Tensei — feature a collection or monster training element that is reminiscent of Pokémon, but built around narrative with mature themes, and dark tales about demons, the occult, and technology.

For those core Pokémon-style collection mechanics, we recommend the core Shin Megami Tensei series. The most recent of the dungeon-crawler RPGs, Shin Megami Tensei IV and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, require you to collect and level up creatures with unique strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. However, instead of simply capturing them, players must convince demons to join them through a dialogue minigame. Once you’ve got them, you can combine your demons to create stronger creatures, or trade them with other players.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

Ni No Kuni is a traditional RPG made in conjunction with the world-renowned animation studio, Studio Ghibli, known for acclaimed films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, and Spirited Away. Created by Level-5 — yes, the same Level-5 behind Yo-Kai Watch — Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a whimsical JRPG where players take the role of Oliver, a young boy who enters a magical kingdom in order to save his mother. Along the way, you can recruit, train, and evolve creatures known as “familiars,” who will battle alongside Oliver. Like Pokémon, familiars have specific stats, types, and moves that determine their effectiveness against other types of Familiars.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a deep game with a sweeping storyline, and with well over 300 Familiars to recruit and train, you can get quite a bit out of this charming RPG. Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch is available on PlayStation 3. The PS4/PC sequel, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, dropped the Familiars, so if you’re looking for games similar to Pokémon, you’ll want to stick to the excellent original.

Dragon Quest Monsters

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

While the main Dragon Quest games mainly feature a static party of customizable characters, the spin-off series Dragon Quest Monsters is all about training, breeding, and battling the iconic monsters of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Quest world. Much like Pokémon, these battles take place between your team and wild monsters, but instead of one-on-one duels, they’re party-based fights much like those in the classic Dragon Quest games.

In Dragon Quest Monsters, players tame enemy creatures by feeding them meat, then beating them in combat. Once you collect new monsters, it isn’t necessarily smooth sailing. The game requires you to manage attributes such as their “wildness,” along with their personalities. If a monster’s personality doesn’t mesh well with your strategies in battle, it may refuse to follow your commands. Alternatively, if you’re both on the same page, it may be granted a boost and become more powerful.

Only a few of the Dragon Quest Monsters games have been localized in English, but there are a few titles available on Game Boy Color and Nintendo DS. The latest released outside of Japan is Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2, but if you happen to read Japanese, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 is available as well.


Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

While the other games on this list involve collecting various types of wild monsters, the Suikoden series tasks you with recruiting a large number of warriors to build your own private army. Set in a medieval fantasy world based on Shi Naian’s Chinese epic, Shui Hu Zhuanm, the Suikoden games bear a strong resemblance to more traditional JRPGs — turn-based battles, upgradable stats, and grand plots — but share Pokémon’s collecting elements, though in a different context.

Each game in the series features a protagonist who gathers the “108 stars of destiny,” a group of warriors who are unknowingly on their way to saving the world from some sort of major threat or calamity. Players complete quests and special tasks while keeping an eye out for the “stars,” who aren’t always the people you’d expect. Once they’ve joined your team, your group makes its home at your stronghold, where you can talk with other characters, customize your party, and buy new gear.

The five Suikoden games and a number of spin-offs have been released across the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and a host of other systems. Most recently, Suikoden II was ported to the Vita and PS3, and is available via the PlayStation Network.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

Like the main Pokémon series, the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games lets players create, level up, and fight with a team of Pokémon. Unlike, the original series, however, you aren’t training Pokémon … you are a Pokémon. Rather than a grand adventure to be the best trainer, you transform into a Pokémon to explore a dungeon and team up with other Pokémon to solve mysteries.

The Mystery Dungeon series incorporates roguelike gameplay elements, an RPG sub-genre known for “permadeath,” meaning if your characters die, you must begin again from the beginning. Thankfully, the Mystery Dungeon games take it relatively easy on players compared to other roguelikes. Instead of resetting all progress upon death, for instance, you’ll only lose your items. At the same time, many of the core moves, items and, of course, Pokémon make their way into the games.

There are several Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games available across Nintendo’s portable consoles. The most recent game, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, is available on the Nintendo 3DS.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

Digimon has always played second fiddle to Pokémon. While the series, which began life as a Tamagotchi-style virtual pet, may have never quite achieved the same levels of popularity as Pokémon, the series has endured for almost 20 years. Like Pokémon, the Digimon franchise has spawned numerous anime series and movies, manga, and video games. The most recent game, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, is the closest the series has ever gotten to Pokémon-style gameplay. Players assume the role of a young, skilled hacker who, through a series of strange encounters, winds up with the ability to travel freely between the real world and cyberspace.

Utilizing the help of the Digimon — aka digital monsters — you capture and train in cyberspace, players work to solve a threat plaguing both the real and virtual worlds. Like Pokémon, Digimon can transform into other, stronger creatures through a process known as “Digivolving.” This isn’t a linear process, however, and Digimon can Digivolve along a number of branching paths, which adds greater depth and customization when it comes to powering up your team. Digimon are also added to your Digibank after you encounter them in battle a certain number of times. This makes collecting all the creatures in the game much easier, and also ensures you have plenty of Digimon to use in combinations and Digivolutions. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is available on PS4 and Vita.

Jade Cocoon

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

Jade Cocoon, a forgotten gem from the original PlayStation, is set in a world covered by giant forests and jungles overrun by hostile monsters. Jade Cocoon puts players in the role of Levant, a young guardian of the town Syrus, who embarks on a quest to save his village. To aid him in his quest, Levant can capture “minions,” wild beasts that fight off forest creatures for him.

Battles against enemy Minions are a one-on-one affair, which feature elemental rock-paper-scissors system very reminiscent of Pokémon. Also like Pokémon, minions in Jade Cocoon can transform into stronger beasts. By combining two different Minions, players can mix and match not only what abilities pass along to the next form, but their outward appearance.

While the original Jade Cocoon is beloved for its minion battling and upgrading, the sequel represents a major departure from these original systems. Jade Cocoon 2 is still a fine game, but if you’re looking for a Pokémon-like experience, stick with the original.

Golden Sun series

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

Ever since its debut on the Game Boy Advance, the Golden Sun series has made a strong impression on gamers and critics thanks to its deep battle system and character building, both of which revolve around tiny elemental creatures called Djinn. In these deeply narrative-driven RPGs, players stumble across Djinn hidden in dungeons and will obtain the creatures as a reward for exploring and solving various puzzles. Once obtained, Djinn increase the strength of characters, enabling the use of stronger moves, increasing their stats, and unlocking powerful spells. While you don’t train and fight Djinn like Pokémon, finding and collecting them becomes an important and addictive objective.

Golden Sun and Golden Sun: Lost Age were released on the Game Boy Advance in 2001 and 2002, respectively, while a third game, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, was released on the Nintendo DS in 2010.

Monster Hunter Stories

Collected ’em all? Here are 10 collection-based RPGs Pokémon fans should try

While the core Monster Hunter series bears some resemblance to Pokémon, Monster Hunter Stories is a straight-up Pokémon affair. Rather than hunting down giant monsters on loop, you fight alongside monsters in turn-based battles against other trainers (they are technically called Riders here). Monsters are hatched via eggs that you steal. After they hatch, you get to name them, toy with their abilities, and even change their appearances before riding on their backs to your next destination.

In a change of pace from Pokémon, both you and your monster companion can attack during the rock-paper-scissors battle sequences. The core premise and progression plays out similarly to Pokémon. Even though it’s not about catching them all, it still focuses on battling and training monsters. Monster Hunter Stories is available for Nintendo 3DS, iOS, and Android.

We also recommend the mainline Monster Hunter games to fans of Pokémon. Despite their action-oriented gameplay and much different loop, they still scratch that Pokémon itch in a way. There are quite a few titles to choose from and they’re all fairly similar. The more recent entries in the series have added new features that have made the games slightly more accessible, but these are still deep, hardcore games designed for hours of gameplay. Monster Hunter: World refined the hunting formula and upped the visual fidelity in 2018 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Meanwhile, you can also grab Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for Switch (or regular Generations for 3DS), which acts as a greatest hits of sorts for the series pre-Monster Hunter: World. There are also games on Wii U, Wii, PS Vita, PSP, and PS2.

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