12 – Pokemon Crystal (Game Boy Color)
Praiseworthy for all the same reasons Pokemon Gold & Silver were, Pokemon Crystal is ranked much lower than its Gen-2 predecessors simply because it was virtually the same game, and did little new to move the franchise forward or distinguish itself. A few changes are memorable, including a subplot with a new character named Eusine, the Pokemon Suicune, and the Unown at the Ruins of Alph. The legendaries played a much more prominent role in Pokemon Crystal, adding an additional plot motivation to capture them. An NPC named Buena added a new radio station complete with Quiz Show. Pokemon gained battle animations (a feature that would appear sporadically in future generations), and the Battle Tower opened up for an added challenge. And then there’s the most notable difference: for the first time, Pokemon trainers could select a female protagonist, the blue-haired “Kris”. Though a routine feature now, at the time, adding the gender difference was groundbreaking for such a major RPG, and the feature has become a mainstay ever since.
Next: #11 - Pokemon Puzzle Challenge