As Pokémon Scarlet and Violet arrive on Switch, chances are some of you are peering over the fence with eyes greener than a Metapod. But don't sweat it — we have some awesome monster-raising games on Xbox, too!
Some creature taming adventures available on Xbox are extremely close to the classic Pokémon experience, while others take elements from the monster-catching favourite and put their own spin on the formula. If you're open to the idea of leaving Xbox City to get your creature taming fix, there are even more options available than we've presented here (including the mainline series itself, of course). The Shin Megami Tensei series comes at monster training from a darker, more mature angle (although we do now have its spin-off series Persona on Xbox at last!), Yokai Watch delivers a more ghostly take with a novel battle system to back it up, while on PC, there are countless options available, including randomisers and mods that completely change up the classic Pokémon games. If you'd rather stick to Xbox, though, here are some of your best bets...
Kicking off the list, Nexomon Extinction
packs big Pokémon energy, and this sequel brings improvements over the original across the board. While it's a direct follow-up, the 1,000-year time skip between the two means that it's a fresh start (replete with an entirely new set of 300+ monsters) should you want to jump in with Extinction, though you will miss a lot of callbacks to the first game (which is also really good). With no dual-type monsters and nothing like Natures, Abilities, or IVs and EVs (Individual and Effort Values), Nexomon is lacking a lot of the depth of Pokémon's systems, but makes up for it with a lot more clarity — such as openly telling you when monsters evolve or what your capture chance is — and mechanics that let you easily boost creatures' stats as you see fit. The battle system is also interesting, with one shared Stamina pool rather than individual PP values dictating how much attacks can be used, forcing you to consider weaker moves with lower costs as well as stronger attacks or status ailment that cost a bigger chunk of Stamina to use. All of this is wrapped up in a bold, bright art style and with a dry, knowing sense of humour that often hits the mark, making the Nexomon games an easy recommendation to anyone who wants to be the very best, like no one ever was.
Nexomon: Extinction is a return to classic monster catching games, complete with a brand new story, eccentric characters and over 300 unique Nexomon to trap and tame.
isn't about catching creatures, rather growing
them. As you tend your plot, planting and harvesting all manner of produce, you're also able to grow strange little friends — the titular Ooblets. Further subverting the Pokémon formula, you won't be forcing these adorable dudes to slap one another, either, with confrontation instead taking the form of high-stakes dance battles. Sure, why not? The Ooblets themselves come in all shapes and sizes and you're sure to quickly discover a favourite for whom you would take a bullet (not that there are any guns in this game, of course), and while Pokémon fans will find lots to like in the way Ooblets riffs on the classics, there's more to it than that. In fact, there's just as much here for fans of the likes of Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, and Animal Crossing, with farming, home decoration, and life sim elements all coming into play to help make the game more than the sum of its parts. Ooblets launched into early access back in 2020, and hit full release in August, with the team adding new content and achievements to the game.
Collect, grow, and dance with your new best friends in Ooblets!
Persona 5 Royal
It was a long time coming, but Persona 5 Royal
is finally on Xbox... and in Game Pass, no less! Franchise fans will be glad to hear that 3 and 4 are also coming to Game Pass
in early 2023, and since they all share much the same format, you've got one to play now and more to look forward to in the future. In this super-stylish JRPG, the titular Personas are the demons that grant certain people strange powers from their 'other selves.' Most can only use one Persona, but our protagonist is capable of obtaining and using multiple, and that's where the creature catching element comes in — strike an enemy's weakness and you'll knock them down, allowing you to interrogate them and try to force them to join your cause. As your collection grows, you're able to cover pretty much all bases in terms of damage types and resistances, plus you can even fuse Personas to make even more powerful ones. It's not as kid-friendly as most of the other games here — you can effectively put Satan in a Poké Ball — but it's one of the best RPGs out there, especially if you want something with somewhat darker themes.
Persona 5 Royal
Don the mask and join the Phantom Thieves of Hearts as they stage grand heists, infiltrate the minds of the corrupt, and make them change their ways!
was originally supposed to be coming to Xbox in 2021 after arriving in early access on PC and PS5 in 2020, but the full 1.0 launch on Xbox Series X|S actually only came around a few months back. It's effectively the Pokémon MMO many trainers have been lobbying for
ever since the series first blew up, and it wears its inspiration on its sleeve. With its more connected nature, you won't need to make the long journey to becoming a master tamer alone — other tamers roam the land just like other characters in any MMO, so you can trade with or challenge them to your heart's content, plus you can bring along a co-op buddy to rise through the ranks as a team. You see, Temtem uses doubles-style battles like those that are popular in competitive Pokémon, which offer way deeper strategic options than standard singles showdowns. Unlike most Pokémon games, it's also challenging, so you need to make sure you're always ready for a tough fight. Like Nexomon, Temtem also shifts to a stamina system to govern move usage rather than each attack having its own stock of uses, which makes picking the right skills at the right time even more important to success. Temtem is a great online spin on the typical Pokémon adventure, and thanks to cross-play, its competitive scene is thriving.
Temtem is a massively multiplayer creature-collection adventure. Journey across the lovely Airborne Archipelago alongside your Temtem squad. Catch every Temtem, battle other tamers, customize your house, join a friend's adventure or explore the dynamic online world.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered
Classic PS3 JRPG Ni No Kuni
is a collaboration between Level-5 and legendary animation team Studio Ghibli, so of course it has a bunch of cute, colourful critters to collect in the form of Familiars. These have elemental affinities like Pokémon, although there are only four types so you don't need to worry about memorising a periodic table of move effectiveness. Combat is generally a little more hands-off than in similar games, though you do still get to tell your buddies when to employ their Tricks to help turn the tide of battle. With hundreds of Familiars to collect and evolve, those who enjoy filling up a massive Pokédex will absolutely love this beautiful RPG, and Ghibli's stunning animated cutscenes make the adventure all the more magical. Also, shoutout to Mr Drippy — one of the all-time best sidekick characters. Proper tidy, mun!
Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch™ Remastered
Journey back to the other world in Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered. LEVEL-5’s classic tale returns better than ever, with improved graphics and performance. Join Oliver as he embarks on an adventure through a world inhabited by new friends and ferocious foes alike in the hopes of bringing back his mother after a tragic incident.
Monster SanctuaryMonster Sanctuary
probably deviates most from the classic Pokémon formula of all games on this list, but it still fits the bill due to having a small army of creatures to tame, train, and send into battle. Combat is turn-based but more akin to classic RPG battles, with encounters getting quite hectic due to the greater number of participants in each clash. In an interesting twist, you need to pick a selection of monsters from your full squad ahead of each battle — as in most competitive Pokémon formats — in order to target weaknesses in your opponents, so having a well-rounded team from which to pull is vital. The structure, conversely, is nothing like your usual Pokémon journey, instead taking the form of a 2D Metroidvania-like map to explore. The monsters lend a hand in the overworld, too, with abilities that let you destroy or otherwise overcome obstacles in real time, akin to a more action-centric twist on the HM abilities that were central to the Pokémon adventures until the most recent iterations where they were replaced with new features that serve the same fundamental purpose. If you want a little bit of Pokémon flavour in a game that plays out completely differently during moment-to-moment gameplay, this Game Pass gem should be on your radar.
Monster taming meets metroidvania. Collect, train and battle monsters in a lovely side-view pixel world.
World of Final Fantasy Maxima
The phenomenal success of the Pokémon franchise meant that many major RPG studios would want to cash in on the craze with their own take on it, to varying degrees of success. Enix was quick to the punch with Game Boy Color Dragon Quest spin-off, Dragon Warrior Monsters, which landed mere months after the release of Pokémon Red and Blue here in Europe. Square, meanwhile, didn't get in on the monster-training action fully (similar mechanics can be seen elsewhere in Final Fantasy history, like in XIII-2) until 2016's World of Final Fantasy
, and we didn't even get that on Xbox until the enhanced Maxima edition. With the help of chibi versions of many familiar faces from the Final Fantasy series, your task is to capture iconic creatures from the JRPG series to form an unstoppable team with which to save the world (obviously). The unique gimmick here is the stacking mechanic, with the ability to place smaller monsters on top of larger ones to make them more powerful at the expense of opening yourself up to being toppled by strong enemy attacks. It's a neat feature and the game itself is loaded with fan service that FF lovers will lap up... trust us, World of Final Fantasy is way better than it looks.
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY is now available on Xbox One, and it is bigger and better than ever! Beloved characters from FF lore (Champions) and a multitude of capturable monsters (Mirages) appear in this fun and exciting adventure. This new and and enhanced version also features the Avatar Change system, which allows the protagonists to fight as Champions.
If you're looking for something a little more hardcore, Siralim 3
will see you right. There's a dizzying depth to the systems here, with hundreds of creatures to train and cross-breed in search of the perfect companions as you tackle countless randomly generated dungeons. It's almost more roguelike in its basic structure (not unlike the Mystery Dungeon games, only with a 16-bit lick of paint) and more classic turn-based large-party RPG in its in-depth combat system, but Pokémon fans should really get a kick out of the nigh-bottomless customisation options for your squad. The simplistic presentation will likely leave some players cold — as will the fact that the game launched through the Creators Collection so doesn't have achievements, despite having trophies on PS4
— but if you can get past that, the sheer breadth and flexibility of the mechanics here make for one of the most complex creature-catching games out there.
Siralim 3 is the deepest monster catching RPG in existence. If you're looking for a game with an unbelievable amount of content that will last you for hundreds (or even thousands) of hours, this is the game for you!
Any of these take your fancy? Or maybe there's something else we've missed that you'd like to share? You teach me and I'll teach you down in the comments!