Last Updated on January 29, 2024
Can you really play old Pokémon games on your Nintendo Switch?
Millions of trainers hold cherished memories of catching ’em all in those pixelated Kanto plains or battling rivals amidst Johto’s bustling cities. But in this age of Switch supremacy, how do you revisit these classic Pokémon adventures? While a native Virtual Console like the 3DS offered, the answer today requires a bit more… strategic evolution.
Official Pokémon (limited, but exciting!)
While there is a shortage of Game Boy classic titles from the Pokémon universe on Nintendo Switch, games from other platforms are available.
- Pokémon Stadium & Stadium 2 (Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack): Relive the nostalgia of transferring your Game Boy Pokémon to these N64 classics! Battle gym leaders, challenge friends, and even participate in mini-games like Poké Ball Factory.
- Pokémon Trading Card Game (Game Boy Color): This childhood favorite has finally arrived on Switch Online, letting you build decks, battle trainers, and unlock iconic cards like Charizard and Blastoise.
- Remakes & Remasters: From FireRed/LeafGreen to Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, several classic Pokémon games have received modern makeovers on Switch. Admittedly they differ from the originals with an “upgraded” experience, but they succeed in capturing the essence of the originals with updated visuals and gameplay tweaks.
Playing old Pokémon games beyond the Switch
If you don’t have a Nintendo Switch or a Nintendo Switch Online pack, you still have options.
- Emulation: While not officially supported by Nintendo, emulators allow you to play ROMs (copies of game files) on your computer or mobile device. However, legality and compatibility vary, so research thoroughly before venturing down this path. Emulation can be achieved on a PC, mobile device, or even something compact like a Raspberry Pi 5.
- Retro Consoles: Dust off your old Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, or Nintendo 3DS! The original cartridges remain the most authentic way to experience these games. Plus, you can find used consoles and games at online retailers or retro game stores.
Find more Pokémon help
While this guide will help you get started, problems may be encountered. In that case:
- Consider online communities: Dedicated forums and Reddit threads offer advice, resources, and even trading opportunities for emulated or retro gaming.
- Weigh your options: Each path has its pros and cons. Official options offer convenience and legality, while emulation and retro consoles provide access to a wider library and potentially lower costs.
- Remember, it’s about the journey! Whether you revisit Kanto on your Switch or battle rivals on your trusty Game Boy, the joy of rediscovering these classic Pokémon adventures is timeless.
While the path to playing old Pokémon games on Switch isn’t as straightforward as in previous generations, there are still plenty of ways to reignite your trainer spirit. Remember, the true thrill lies in catching, battling, and trading your way through iconic regions once again. So, grab your Poké Balls, pick your path, and get ready to catch ’em all (again)!
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine, TechRadar.com, and other publications.