Pokémon has been around for a long time, but with each generation of games, a new set of three starter Pokémon has arrived. Some generations look better, others can outperform others in battle and some are just useless. Here is my global ranking for the 18 starters ranging from the classics of Pokémon Red to the current Pokémon Sun and Moon.
In terms of starters, I have to say this looks the most unappealing and seems like Game Freak are running out of ideas. Popplio lacks any feature that makes it iconic. It doesn’t have cool cannons like a Blastoise, the crocodile design of Feraligatr or even the fins of a Mudkip. Why on earth would you choose this to be in your main team, when there are a host of better water type Pokémon available? The only positive I can think of is the Fairy typing at its end evolution which grants it access to moves like Moon Blast, the undisputed best Fairy move in the entire game.
Litten ranks a little higher on this list for the vast difference in design for each evolution. While not as iconic as a Charizard, Litten’s last evolution reminds me of the show character Leo from ThunderCats. Incineroar is something new and exciting we haven’t seen before and along with good movies, it ranks a little higher. Sadly along with the water type, the fire type has seen some great starter Pokémon from other regions, notably from Kanto and Johto. That is why Litten is ranked low on this list even with a good range of moves to choose from.
Rowlet may be cute but upon its last evolution into Decidueye, it becomes a fierce opponent. Decidueye’s strength comes from the fact that it is one of the more unique looking starter evolutions we have seen in a long time for the Grass type. Its typing is also an interesting combination that we have not seen before, a dual type of Grass and Ghost. This means that Decidueye has a moderate amount of resistances to the common types of Ground, Water, Grass and Electric. Users taking Earthquake as their main move to sweep will certainly find a challenge in Rowlet. That is why Decidueye tops the list of Alola starters, but overall out of all the Pokémon starters is at the end of this list.
Tepig may appear weak at first but like so many of the others on this list, doesn’t really hit his stride until the last evolution. A 10 ft. tall fire pig that can shoot fireballs out of is eyes is hard to dislike. Tepig’s evolutions is simply badass and gives players that massive damage Pokémon that hits hard. A hit and run style Pokémon or an ideal sweeper, Tepig is high on this list for move set and appearance alone.
The evolved form of Oshawott, Samurott, has some great stats all around. Pretty good attack, very good defence and nice special attack. Alongside Tepig, his third final form is certainly unique enough to get a moderately high rank on this list. Able to learn moves like Ice Beam or Water Pulse and in combination with high special attack, Samurott is a force to be reckoned with. It would be higher on this list, but competition for water based starters is tough all around with each appealing to me in some form or another.
One of the first generation, I desperately wanted to put Bulbasaur and its evolved final form, Venusaur ,higher on this list. Unfortunately, it is one of the slowest Pokémon in the game and its signature move, Solar Beam, takes an entire turn to charge up. By the time you’re finished charging, Venusaur is already dead.
What can I say, Pokémon needs more snake-like creatures and Snivy’s third evolution delivers on that promise. What it lacks in defence or attack, it makes up for in a great speed stat. This speed is excellent for delivering powerful blows and in the right situation one hit KO-ing enemy Pokémon before they can react. Pair that with a lot of resistances and Snivy can survive hits even if the other Pokémon is slightly quicker. A good Grass Pokémon that combines a great move set and appearance is a winner in my book.
Turtwig, the grass type for the Sinnoh region, is the definition of a tank. Having some of the best defensive stats in the game as well as Giga Drain and Solar Beam makes for a powerful combination. The survivability is excellent for that one turn charge that Solar Beam takes to set up. Earthquake is another move that works really well for Torterra in sweeping pokemon with one hit KOs. Overall great appearance and good move set.
One of my personal favourites, Chimchar’s third evolution into Infernape is truly spectacular. One of the best designed Pokémon to date and my favourite alongside Empoleon, Infernape reeks of cool. I mean ever since we have had Pokémon, who hasn’t been dreaming of a monkey starter that can cloak itself in molten fire? Having a good move set and unique appearance elevates Infernape high on this list. For the new generation, it would have to be one of the best, but unfortunately, nostalgia from the classics of generation 1 and 2 stops me from putting it higher on this list.
Like Infernape, Empoleon fulfils another desire: to see a penguin-like Pokémon as a starter. Evolving from Piplup into Empoleon, this Pokémon is one of the best new designs in Pokémon history. High defences, great attack and special stats also make this starter into a really effective pokemon at a competitive level. Having both looks and good moves elevate this starter high on this list.
Chespin is one of those rare Pokémon with a final third form evolution that look nothing like their original counterpart. Its final form reminds me of a mix between a panda and a knight templar. Able to use a form of Protect that returns health back to itself, use moves like Wood Hammer and Grass moves, Chesnaught is versatile. Its one big disadvantage is the dual typing of Fighting and Grass. Both have a lot of weaknesses to almost everything, especially, a crippling 4x weaknesses to Flying moves. Even though Chesnaught is a great tank, it wont be able to survive any type of moves from a Flying type. That is why Chesnaught is ranked relatively lower on this list.
For anime fans, or cat lovers, this is the perfect starter for you. In a similar way to the mage class of other games, Fennekin uses a magic stick to direct its attacks. The final form the most human we have seen in a Pokémon to date. Quite beautiful and with very good special attacks, Delphox is the safe option to choose. With a dual typing of Psychic and Fire, moves like Confusion, Sunny Day, Psychic and Flamethrower, Delphox is simply a beast.
Like the name, Froakie evolves into the super ninja badass Pokémon Greninja as its final evolution form. While Greninja does lack high defence stats, this ninja more than makes up for it in a crazy high-speed stat. Able to get the first hit in every time, it makes the ideal sweeper with the right moves. When given the moves, Ice Beam, Extrasensory, Surf and Dark Pulse, Greninja becomes a pure speed demon. It is able to get rid of opponents quickly while having coverage for almost every type in the game. Fully embracing the motto of strike hard in one blow, Greninja also looks the part of a typical ninja with the scarf. One of the coolest new Pokemon in this list, it comes in at a respectable position in this list.
Playing Ruby and Sapphire all those years ago, the Hoenn starters still stand out to me as the best. Treecko’s final evolution has a simple but cool design, reminiscent of the giant bipedal beasts that roamed the Earth thousands of years ago. Having a high-speed stat that enhances learned moves like X Scissor and Leaf Storm, Sceptile ranks near the top.
This Pokémon as a starter was so good that it made the Pokemon Gyms and Pokemon League a cakewalk. Durable, tough and able to tank, Mudkip’s final evolution into Swampert increases every stat across the board. Totally unique in appearance, Swampert ranks slightly higher than Sceptile due to increased survivability.
Starting out as a small chick, Torchic upon its final evolution comes into a league of its own. Blaziken is universally loved for its combination of powerful fighting moves and fire moves like flamethrower. Able to take on and deliver punishment, Blaziken was truly the best of the Hoenn starter Pokémon. In my play through of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, when using Blaziken, I never lost a battle.
Generation 1 and 2 are those nostalgic favourites that cannot be topped. They are where our fondest memories of Pokémon start, from the first time you received a Charizard to the first time your Totodile evolved. Chikorita evolving into Meganium is a basic yet elegant evolution that can learn some awesome moves. Moves like Giga Drain and Razor Leaf can destroy opponents quite easily. Meganium also had the best move set in the game for recharging HP which is effective at all levels. Meganium might have weak defences, but you don’t really need them when you can steal the opponent’s health.
Cyndaquil’s evolution into Typhlosion makes it something you don’t want to piss off. Still up there even today in the new generations, Typhlosion has a very wide move set but one move outshines the others. A move that absolutely, unequivocally destroys everything: Eruption, one of the best fire moves ever created.
Totodile’s evolution, Feraligatr, is still my personal favourite out of every generation, including Sun and Moon. Because I am Australian, crocodiles and the outback have always held a special place in my heart. To see Pokémon create an awesome based crocodile Pokémon is still the coolest thing ever. Hugely powerful and with what I would argue is the most unusual and badass evolution, Totodile ranks in the top three
Squirtle is a good starter, but it really shines on evolution into Blastoise. A giant tank of a Pokémon with massive cannons on its back, Blastoise is a pure tank Pokémon able to dish out massive damage with its signature move of Hydro Pump from its twin cannons while staying protected in its shell. Apart from looking amazing, Blastoise is one of the most useful starter evolutions in battle, with a vast arsenal of moves choose from. TM moves that supplement Hydro Pump like Ice Beam and Earthquake make Blastoise one of the most versatile in multiple situations. Blastoise is the whole package. Enough said. Ranks number 2 for the cannons alone.
Charmander, a small and flightless fire-breathing lizard, eventually evolves into Charizard, a giant flying lizard that breathes fire. Having an amazing speed stat, Charizard and its signature move, Flamethrower, are damn effective in taking down enemy teams. Flamethrower, along with Hydro Pump, is one of the most effective moves ever developed. While Charizard lacks the defence of a Blastoise, its sheer offensive power in combination with speed obliterates most enemies in one hit before they can even strike. If they do survive, you can sure that Charizard wont let them a second time. The best defence is a good offence, and that is why Charizard is number one. Number 1 and a 10 out of 10 for that fact alone.