I was discussing Pokemon with my roommate and some buddies, as I often find myself doing. We got to comparing the first five generations, and I thought it would be a great idea to break down my favorites in terms of the “starter” Pokemon. Here is the list of the best starter Pokemon I came up with and the reasons for my choices.
#5 – Generation V (Snivy, Tepig & Oshawott)
Generation V really bummed me out when concerning the starting trio. Snivy was by far the lamest Grass-Type starter to date, and unfortunately was my choice when I began playing Pokemon White. Serperior became my first-ever Stage 3 starter to end up in the PC before I reached the Elite Four; never mind its worthlessness as a competitive Pokemon.
Tepig was the third consecutive Fire/Fighting combo, and Emboar ended up being far less impressive than its predecessors. Oshawott never sat well with me, and its pure-Water Stage 3 (Samurott) doesn’t stand out above Blastoise in any major way. I give it props as the coolest-looking of the three.
Overall, Gen V really dropped the ball with these guys. At least the Pokemon encountered in Unova were pretty cool.
Snivy’s Grade: D-
Tepig’s Grade: C
Oshawott’s Grade: C+
#4 – Generation II (Chikorita, Cyndaquil & Totodile)
It was tough to put Gen II above Gen V because most of my issues with these three starters were involved with the general “meh” feeling from all sides: battle performance, lack of type combos, and decidedly boring evolutions. I wouldn’t consider any of their Stage 3′s for a serious and competitive team.
I still think Cyndaquil is the weakest Fire-Type starter to date. Feraligater is literally the only form of any of Gen II’s starters that I like very much – the Water/Dark combo is pretty sweet, for sure. Still, Chikorita was never appealing to me, and Meganium was pretty boring, marking the beginning of a trend of pure-Grass starters that I would never be happy about following Gen II.
Chikorita’s Grade: D+
Cyndaquil’s Grade: C-
Totodile’s Grade: B+
#3 – Generation I (Bulbasaur, Charmander & Squirtle)
Ah, the original trio from Pokemon Red and Blue! Nostalgia aside, these three very familiar Pokemon are pretty solid all-around. Over the generations, they have actually changed quite a bit, but all three Stage 3 forms appear in the competitive battling field from time to time.
I never gave any respect to Bulbasaur as a kid, but Venusaur remains a solid option for competitive players and one of the better Grass-type special attackers. My favorite Fire-type starter is still Charmander. This comes with some bias, as it was my very first Pokemon, but Charizard is still pretty badass. Despite being nerfed a bit by the addition of the Flying-type combo after Gen II, it remains a strong-hitting Fire-type.
I will always appreciate Squirtle, and Blastoise remains another uncommon but valid competitive monster. I still put it in third place within the trio, but only due to its pure-Water type. Blastoise would have been truly monstrous if he had the Steel-Type; I’ve always wanted a re-typing for him from Game Freak.
Still, these starters were truly the perfect way to start and served as great examples for all the ones that followed. They just are not the best three starters to date… or even second best.
Bulbasaur’s Grade: B
Charmander’s Grade: B+
Squirtle’s Grade: B-
#2 – Generation III (Treecko, Torchic & Mudkip)
Despite being my least-favorite Generation overall, Gen III had some pretty damn slick starting Pokemon. I personally chose Treecko – my first-ever Grass-Type starter in any Pokemon game – and was satisfied with Sceptile, its Stage 3 form. Torchic was also great, adding Fighting-Type to its final stages, Combusken and Blaziken. This really spiced up the Fire-type selection.
Finally, Mudkip remains the favorite and my all-time favorite Water starter. The Water/Ground combo of Swampert is just too great, and essentially created the “Muddy Water” combo that remains popular in the competitive field.
Treecko’s Grade: B-
Torchic’s Grade: A
Mudkip’s Grade: A+
#1 – Generation IV (Turtwig, Chimchar & Piplup)
Finally, Gen IV’s starters just slightly edge out Gen III: Piplup is the deciding factor because I think he is the weakest of the trio but still a very respectable Pokemon. Its eventual Water/Steel type combo is very unique, and Empoleon’s movepool supports a pretty destructive style.
Chimchar wasn’t much of a change from Gen III’s Torchic, eventually picking up Fighting-Type…but Infernape was equally impressive as Blaziken. I still consider them to be interchangeable.
The top choice here is Turtwig, which evolves into my favorite Grass-type Pokemon (never mind starter) to date: Torterra. Picking up the Ground type made this little guy into a ferocious monster, one that I actually use personally in my own competitive team.
Turtwig’s Grade: A+
Chimchar’s Grade: A-
Piplup’s Grade: B+