With each new Pokemon game, there are a host of new Pokemon to catch and battle, but perhaps there are no companions more important than your first. Every time you boot up a new game, you’re given a choice between three potential starters, a Grass type, a Fire type, and a Water type (Pokemon Yellow is, of course, an exception — and some starters have multiple types, but still).
As Pokemon fans around the globe debate between Popplio, Litten, and Rowlett in the newly released Pokemon Sun and Moon, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the 19 starters we’ve seen thus far. Since we’re talking about the games, their usability will come into play, as will their final evolution, since that’s the form a trainer will see for the longest period of time. Popularity isn’t the only factor being considered, so keep that in mind! Obviously, this is all very subjective, so be sure to leave your opinions in the comments below!
19. Tepig – Black and White
The later Pokemon games loved to pair Fire starting Pokemon with dual Fighting type evolutions, and that works to Tepig detriment. Not only does his final evolution look like a constipated, bipedal pig, but he isn’t as good as the Fire/Fighting starters in other games. Fire types work best as offensive picks, and Emboar’s defensive leanings don’t pair well with the myriad of Fire/Fighting weaknesses.
18. Chespin – X and Y
Chespin is certainly a contestant for the dumbest looking starter, and things definitely don’t get any better as it evolves. I mean, Chespin doesn’t even really look like he’d be a Grass type. He looks like a Normal Pokemon wearing an ugly green hoodie. The combo Grass/Fighting of its evolution Chesnaught is neat, but that also brings a lot of type disadvantages.
17. Turtwig – Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum
Overall, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl probably have the weakest starters, and Turtwig is the worst of those three. The dual Grass/Ground combo is useful, and the final evolution Torterra can learn Earthquake, but it’s also the slowest Pokemon on this list. Defensive Pokemon just aren’t as much fun to use as offensive ones, and Turtwig pays that price. And I still don’t know if I like or hate Torterra’s design.
16. Chikorita – Gold, Silver, and Crystal
Chikorita is kind of cute, but also looks vaguely like a fat, pampered dog that would belong to some rich snob of a lady. Its evolutions don’t really stretch the imagination either, as they’re basically just bigger, uglier versions of the same thing with more flowers around the neck. As a follow up to the stellar Red and Blue starters, Chikorita was a big disappointment.
15. Chimchar – Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum
I really like the idea behind Chimchar, and I think the fire monkey thing is cute and cool. Unfortunately, I think he came out a bit over-designed, with too many colors and things going on in the later evolutions. There’s nothing aggressively bad about Chimchar, but he isn’t very special, either. All offense and no defense dual Fire/Fighting type. Been there, done that.
14. Snivy – Black and White
Snivy earns extra points for her smug, devil may care attitude. She bucks the cute starter trend and I dig it. I do also really like the design for Snivy (and its evolutions). It’s a solid Grass type, but if you’ve played a Pokemon game before you know that Grass types just aren’t all that great later in the game.
13. Torchic – Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald
Torchic is definitely the best of the three Fire/Fighting starter options, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. That type combo just opens up so many weaknesses, and Fire types already tend to be glass cannons. Its final evolution, Blaziken, has a killer look and rad name, but its high speed stat doesn’t make up for its low attack and defense.
12. Bulbasaur – Red and Blue
Poor Bulbasaur, the red-headed stepchild of Pokemon Red and Blue. In the early game, he’s actually super useful, as he’s a great option for the first three badges and can learn Cut as soon as it becomes available, making traveling around Kanto that much easier. But Grass type is just kind of bland, and his look clearly didn’t click with people the way Charmander and Squirtle did.
11. Piplup – Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum
Piplup was huge in the anime, but that isn’t enough to get it higher on this list. When it reaches its final evolution, it has a dual Water/Steel type, which makes it pretty impervious to various types of elemental damage. It can also learn flying moves, which is helpful. Unfortunately, its stats don’t make it the offensive powerhouse you’d expect from a Water type or the defensive tank you’d expect from Steel.
Continue onto the next page for my Top 10!