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Feature – Ranking The Best Starter Pokemon

I was discussing Pokemon with my roommate and some buddies, as I often find myself doing. We got to comparing the five past 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 I came up with, and reasons for my choices:

#5 – Generation V (Snivy, Tepig & Oshawott)

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Gen. 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 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, but 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)

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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 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)

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Ah, the original trio: 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 aren’t 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)

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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)

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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, and 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+

How Will Generation VI Compare?

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For the sixth Generation of Pokemon, I really hope Game Freak picks up the slack from Gen. V and does something really interesting. We have already seen a little footage of Chespin, Finnekin & Froakie, but little is known about the specifics of the three new starters. After discussing the best and worst of the previous starters, I would like to point out some ideas that I hope to see in X & Y:

- New Type Combos & Base Stat Distribution:
I feel like these two things go hand-in-hand; first, I hope Game Freak changes the final Type combos for the three starters & does something truly different, and I hope that the performance of each starter isn’t too obviously similar to past starters. To be more clear, I do not want to see another Fire/Fighting or pure Grass/Water-Type Stage 3. Why not add Fighting to Chespin, and make a quick physical-attacking Grass-type? Why not add Ice-Type and all-around solid stats to Froakie – it seems to make sense, with the white snow-looking material on its neck, and the “Fro-” at the beginning of “Froakie” (like “frost”). I hope Finnekin doesn’t stay pure-Fire; I would love to see a special-sweeping Fire/Psychic or Fire/Electric.

- New Abilities:
The Ability for all Grass, Fire and Water-Types has been Overgrow, Blaze and Torrent, respectively: these are not terrible choices, but I would like to think the starting trio could use something a little more unique, or at least tailored to something besides the origin Type. For instance, if Chespin picks up a Fighting-type combo, why not make its Stage 2/3 Ability into something that benefits its secondary type? The Overgrow/Blaze/Torrent Abilities are unique to starter Pokemon, but it would be great to see special ones that help counter-balance certain weaknesses.

- Better Movepools:
Part of my problem with the Grass/Fire/Water trio isn’t the Pokemon, it’s the moves they learn. In Gen. VI, I really hope to see the movepools of the starters begin to expand, including some of the newer and more interesting attacks. This was a big problem with Snivy; it just never really picked up any solid moves outside of its strongest Grass-type attacks, and was therefore completely one-dimensional. Mudkip and Turtwig picked up the Ground-type and became physical walls, totally changing the way Grass and Water-types performed. I would love to see this happen with all three Gen. VI starters; ideally their movepools will feature a wide variety of different types and special moves to mix things up. I feel like expanding the movepool into the Level 70-100 range would help; the starters are supposed to be with you through the entire game, why should they stop learning new moves before getting to the highest Levels? …and that about does it for this blog/list; I highly encourage comments and feedback, just click the box below!

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