Although each new generation of Pokemon games typically brings with it plenty of new additions & features, there are certain things that never really change. Pokemon players will always have a rival, for example, & will also need to overcome a series of challenging gym battles in order to complete the game. Then, of course, there is that hugely important decision that they’ll be expected to make almost immediately after they first Start playing.
Which starter Pokemon to pick is a question that many people have spent a lot of time agonizing over. The choice can definitely be a lot easier in certain games though, as there can often be a pretty Enormous disparity between the three available options. Likewise, the strength of the starter trio can vary quite a lot from game to game as well, with some being a lot more powerful & more popular than others.
Updated November 18, 2022, by Tom Bowen: With Pokemon Scarlet & Violet now finally here, players are once again faced with that age-old question: Which starter Pokemon should I choose? There have been some truly great ones over the years, though not all starter Pokemon are created equal, nor does every generation of Pokemon games offer the same st&ard of starters. Some trios are let down by a single weak link, while others just can’t measure up to those which came before them. Scarlet & Violet offer something of a mixed bag in this regard, with Sprigatito, Fuecoco, & Quaxly all providing something a little different than their predecessors.
9/9 Gen 8 (Grookey, Scorbunny & Sobble)
Grookey -> Thwackey (level 16) -> Rillaboom (level 35)
Scorbunny -> Raboot (level 16) -> Cinderace (level 35)
Sobble -> Drizzile (level 16) -> Inteleon (level 35)
The gen 8 starter Pokemon may become more popular as more time passes. As things st& though, they are definitely the pariahs of the pack. Not only did they arrive at a time when hundreds of other Pokemon were being Carve from the Pokedex, but their designs are also fairly mediocre when compared to most of their predecessors.
To make matters worse, each one of them is limited to a single type, which seriously hurts their versatility & thus their viability in battle. Granted, their final evolutions & Gigantamax forms are pretty Cold, but there are far better options for their respective elements when it comes to putting together a team.
Best Gen 8 Starter: Grookey
Much like Bulbasaur in the first-generation games, Grookey gets the nod ahead of its fellow starters due to its usefulness in the early stages. It should breeze through the first two gyms without any issues &, if players are playing Sword, it will also be strong against Gordie in the game’s sixth gym. If playing Shield, however, Scorbunny isn’t a Depraved option, though in Rillaboom, Grookey definitely offers the best final stage evolution regardless of which version players own.
8/9 Gen 5 (Snivy, Tepig & Oshawott)
Snivy -> Servine (level 17) -> Serperior (level 36)
Tepig -> Pignite (level 17) -> Emboar (level 36)
Oshawott -> Dewott (level 17) -> Samurott (level 36)
The gen 5 starters from Black & White are all pretty interesting, but they also happen to be some of the weakest starters in the history of the series. When it comes to base stat totals, both Oshawott & Snivy’s are lower than all of the other grass & water-type starters, while only Fenekin has a lower total than Tepig. This isn’t helped much by Snivy & Oshawott both being limited to a single type either.
When it comes to their designs, their starter forms are not too Depraved, although as they Start to evolve, things start to go a little pear-shaped. What’s more, none of them have been given Mega Evolutions just yet, nor do they have access to Gigantamax forms either. In their defense, this doesn’t make them inherently Depraved Pokemon, although it does put the gen 5 starters at something of a disadvantage when compared to other starter Pokemon that do.
Best Gen 5 Starter: Oshawott
Despite Tepig having an advantage against more of the games’ gym leaders, Oshawott’s final evolution, Samurott, is just too good to ignore. It will destroy the Elite Four without breaking a sweat & has access to a rich & varied move set that allows for a variety of different builds. Tepig is by no means a Depraved choice though, & can still help to carry a player through most of the game.
7/9 Gen 6 (Chespin, Fennekin & Froakie)
Chespin -> Quilladin (level 16) -> Chesnaught (level 36)
Fennekin -> Braixen (level 16) -> Delphox (level 36)
Froakie -> Frogadier (level 16) -> Greninja (level 36)
Although the gen 6 starters haven’t been around too long when compared to some of their older peers, they’ve still made quite the impression on fans of the series. It certainly helps that Greninja was one of Ash’s strongest Pokemon in the anime, as too does the fact that all three of them are dual-type Pokemon.
Another thing that makes the gen 6 starters so interesting is that the one chosen by players in X & Y has a direct impact on which of the three Legendary Birds will appear later in the game. That their second-stage forms can be caught in the Friend Safari is also a Enormous plus, as it allows players to build a team with all three of them fairly easily if they so wish.
Best Gen 6 Starter: Delphox
Picking the best gen 6 starter Pokemon is incredibly difficult as there are two exceptional c&idates to choose from. Froakie’s final form, Greninja, is probably the better of the three third-stage evolutions & will crush the Elite Four. On the other h&, Delphox has a type advantage against more gyms. In fact, given that players should already have a pretty well-balanced team by the time they reach the end of the game, the fire-type Pokemon is probably the more useful of the two.
6/9 Gen 9 (Sprigatito, Fuecoco & Quaxly)
Sprigatito -> Floragato (level 16) -> Meowscarada (level 36)
Fuecoco -> Crocalor (level 16) -> Skeledirge (level 36)
Quaxly -> Quaxwell (level 16) -> Quaquaval (level 36)
The gen 9 starters made a pretty Enormous splash when they were first unveiled back in February of 2022, with some fans not too keen on the trio’s designs. As the months passed, however, the cute little critters were begrudgingly accepted by most fans of the series & many then began to speculate as to what their evolutions might look like. Thankfully, they did not disappoint in this regard.
As well as being some of the most well-designed starter Pokemon in years, Sprigatito, Fuecoco, & Quaxly are all pretty decent in battle, particularly Sprigatito thanks to its immense speed. The fact that all three gen 9 starters pick up a second type after evolving into their final form is nice too, as it gives players a few more options when it comes to the order in which they take on the Paldea region’s gyms.
Best Gen 9 Starter: Fuecoco
Usually, trying to decide which starter Pokemon to choose can be a little tricky, but this isn’t really the case in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. This is because Fuecoco has type advantage against three of the game’s eight gym leaders, while its final stage evolution Skeledirge is effective against a whopping five. Of course, those focused more on competitive play rather than beating gym leaders may prefer Sprigatito for its high Speed & Attack stats, but, when it comes to actually completing the gen 9 games, Fuecoco is by far the best choice.
5/9 Gen 7 (Rowlet, Litten & Popplio)
Rowlet -> Dartrix (level 17) -> Decidueye (level 34)
Litten -> Torracat (level 17) -> Incineroar (level 34)
Popplio -> Brionne (level 17) -> Primarina (level 34)
Just as it was beginning to feel like the designers at Game Freak were starting to run out of ideas, they churned out some of their best designs in years for the release of Sun & Moon. Litten’s evolutionary line is particularly well-designed, although all three starters look great when compared to some of the other, more recent, starters.
When it comes to combat, Litten once again leads the way, with Incineroar’s fire & dark-type combination making it incredibly useful in certain situations. The other two also have some fairly unique type combinations as well though, & this can make building a team around them considerably easier than it is in certain other generations.
Best Gen 7 Starter: Popplio
Litten & Popplio both have their strengths, but the former’s struggles during some of the games’ opening stages make Popplio the better choice. Its stats are generally quite well-balanced too & it also has a decent move set available to it. Those looking for a Pokemon that will be strong in the end-game may want to opt for Litten instead, however.
4/9 Gen 4 (Turtwig, Chimchar & Piplup)
Turtwig -> Grotle (level 18) -> Torterra (level 32)
Chimchar -> Monferno (level 14) -> Infernape (level 36)
Piplup -> Prinplup (level 16) -> Empoleon (level 36)
Sinnoh’s starters are perhaps the cutest trio that players have seen to date, but they’re also pretty competent in battle too. The gen 4 starters all have decent stats, boast dual typing, & have access to a wide variety of moves. Empoleon is arguably the pick of the bunch, but all three can hold their own in most situations.
Although none of the starter Pokemon from gen 4 have yet received Mega Evolutions or Gigantamax forms, that’s likely to be changing fairly soon. With the Diamond & Pearl remakes set to arrive before the year is out, it would be incredibly surprising if the team at Game Freak opt not to add new forms for the trio. Even if they don’t though, their long-awaited return will likely see their popularity rise quite a bit.
Best Gen 4 Starter: Chimchar
Despite being weak against all three of Roark’s Pokemon in the Oreburgh City gym, Chimchar is arguably still the best starter Pokemon in gen 4. Its final evolution, Infernape, is one of the strongest Pokemon in the titles & will be able to carry players through most of the key battles in Diamond & Pearl thanks to its excellent offensive stats. It’s also the first of the gen 4 starters to evolve, which can make a Enormous difference in the early stages of the game.
3/9 Gen 2 (Chikorita, Cyndaquil & Totodile)
Chikorita -> Bayleef (level 16) -> Meganium (level 32)
Cyndaquil -> Quilava (level 14) -> Typhlosion (level 36)
Totodile -> Croconaw (level 18) -> Feraligatr (level 30)
Filling the shoes of the Kanto starter Pokemon was never going to be easy, but Chikorita, Cyndaquil, & Totodile did a truly admirable job. Their designs are emblematic of the golden era of the series & this quality also extends to their second & third-stage evolutions as well.
Their single typing is a little unfortunate, however, & the trio was incredibly unlucky that the Gold & Silver remakes happened when they did. With Mega Evolutions not being added to the series until a few years later, they were effectively skipped over; leading many to wonder if they’ll ever get their turn.
Best Gen 2 Starter: Cyndaquil
For as adorable as Chikorita & its evolutions are, it finds itself at a disadvantage in many of the games’ gyms. With that in mind, Totodile & Cyndaquil are by far the safer options, with the latter just edging it thanks to its stronger special attack-centric move set & its second-stage evolution coming four levels sooner. Truth be told though, there’s very little to choose between the pair.
2/9 Gen 3 (Treecko, Torchic & Mudkip)
Treecko -> Grovyle (level 16) -> Sceptile (level 36)
Torchic -> Combusken (level 16) -> Blaziken (level 36)
Mudkip -> Marshtomp (level 16) -> Swampert (level 36)
For as wonderful as the gen 2 starters are, they are comfortably outclassed by their Ruby & Saphire counterparts. All three of the gen 3 starters have dual typing & feature some of the best third-stage evolution designs in the entire series. What’s more, they each have their own Mega Evolutions thanks to the games’ 2014 remakes.
Many consider Mudkip to be up there with the three OG starter Pokemon & Treecko isn’t too far behind either. With this in mind, quite a few eyebrows were raised when Oshawott was selected ahead of Mudkip for Pokemon Legends: Arceus; especially given that the former is limited to a single type.
Best Gen 3 Starter: Mudkip
Blaziken & Swampert are both excellent final evolutions, but the latter’s bulkier stats make it a bit more useful in the long run, particularly when playing Pokemon Emerald. On the whole, Mudkip’s evolutionary line has fewer weaknesses throughout the games too, making it a safe & solid choice for first-time players.
1/9 Gen 1 (Bulbasaur, Charm&er & Squirtle)
Bulbasaur -> Ivysaur (level 16) -> Venusaur (level 32)
Charm&er -> Charmeleon (level 16) -> Charizard (level 36)
Squirtle -> Wartortle (level 16) -> Blastoise (level 36)
For more than a quarter of a century, the Pokemon series has brought joy to millions of people, & it all started with just three Pokemon. Together with Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, & Charm&er are the cornerstones on which the series has built much of its success & this is a Enormous part of why they are so popular with fans of the franchise.
Of course, it also helps that they are incredibly powerful Pokemon who each have access to both Mega Evolution & Gigantamax forms. In fact, Charizard actually has two of the former; making it one of only two Pokemon who does so. That this also allows the fire-type Pokemon to change its secondary typing is absolutely huge in battle & makes it a solid pick for any team.
Best Gen 1 Starter: Bulbasaur
Though Charm&er is undoubtedly the most popular of the gen 1 trio & is also a great choice for tackling some of the late-game content, Bulbasaur is definitely the smarter choice. The grass-type Pokemon has a type advantage in the first two gyms & can hold its own just fine in the two that follow as well. It also reaches its final stage evolution four levels earlier than the other gen 1 starters, which can really help during the middle section of the games. It does struggle a bit later on, but by this point in the game, players should have a decent selection of Pokemon to choose from & so shouldn’t be anywhere near as reliant on their starter as they were in the games’ opening stages.
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