Still the top multimedia franchise in the world after two-and-a-half decades, the Pokemon franchise has far outgrown its roots. Once tied to the tiny monochrome screen of the original GameBoy, the series has entered the realm of full-3D.
It goes without saying that, in recent years, Pokemon has played things very safe. Until the announcement of the upcoming Legends: Arceus, the franchise was becoming fairly monotonous. However, fans have been making the series more creative and engaging than ever, and they're not doing it on Nintendo.
Emulating Pokemon on Android
The first thing you think of when playing a game series on another platform is emulation. It's been a staple of gaming for decades. Android emulation has been great for years – I personally enjoyed titles like Paper Mario and Pepsiman on the school bus. However, as smartphone hardware has gotten exponentially more powerful, emulation has only gotten better.
The open nature of Android has resulted in a collection of some of the best emulator software around with a decade of optimisation. My Boy is perfect for Game Boy content, Drastic has been the go-to for Nintendo DS for years and newer systems are also playable. In fact, nowadays even 3DS Pokemon games can be played on a smartphone or tablet through Citra.
On a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+, Citra runs Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon with just minor stutters from time to time. It's a fantastic experience, especially as a gamer that has trouble with pressing physical buttons as of late. Even spin-offs like the Gamecube cult classic Pokemon Collesium and XD Gales of Darkness run flawlessly on the Android version of Dolphin.
Anyone with a modern flagship can play almost any Pokemon game that's not on Nintendo Switch or Wii U. Android has become a powerhouse for emulation with a very focused aim at Nintendo. With the power avaliable on new high-end mobile devices, these games can also run and look better than their original releases. However, it's what else Android has to offer that's even more impressive.
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Playing Fan Games on Android
Pokemon fan games have exploded in popularity over the past decades. While rom hacks use pre-existing Pokemon games to create new experiences, fan games are a different breed. These titles are made in entirely different engines with new interfaces, mechanics and storylines.
One of the most popular way of making fan games is on RPG Maker, a user-friendly game engine that fans can make full Pokemon titles in. Using a fan-made kit called Pokemon Essentials, creating fan games has never been more streamlined.
Until recently, these fan games were only ever playable on PC. However, through the use of an interpreter program called JoiPlay, the majority of these beloved fan games are now fully playable on Android devices. Fire Ash, a recreation of Ash Ketchum's Indigo League adventures is fully playable, so is the fantastically edgy fan games Insurgence.
The fan made game library is vast and exciting. With the years of formula tweaking in the official series, many of these fan games get straight to the point with their new structures and mechanics. Pokemon Infinite Fusion, a game designed around combining creatures into new beings, is something you'd never see in an official release.
It’s no wonder the Poké YouTube community thrives on fan games like these. They're creative and bewildering with seemingly no end in sight for content creators. Now, finally, that wider world is now far more accessible than it’s ever been before. Nintendo consoles haven't been the best place for Pokemon games in years, but now they're not even second-best – Android is.
What's the best place to play Pokemon?
If Android is second-best, what's the best place to play Pokemon? Obviously, it's PC. Every benefit of the series on Android is exacerbated on PC. Emulation is faster, fan games are immediately compatible and there's, surprisingly, less faffing about.
With mobile PCs like the GPD Win and Aya Neo, you'll even be able to play Pokemon on a portable – the best way to play. PCs creativity and unbridled freedom is the perfect home for the series, but Android isn't far off it. In fact, it's a pretty damn good place to catch come Pokemon.