So far, 19 different starter Pokemon have appeared in the Pokemon video game series. Find out which 10 of these starter Pokemon are the cream of the crop.
Over the years, there have been 19 starter Pokemon in total, with the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Moon likely to add three more to the mix. While we wait to see what the new starter Pokemon in Pokemon Sun and Moon will look like, we thought it would be fun to look back on the starter Pokemon from previous games in the series, and determine which starter Pokemon were the best.
We have narrowed the list down to what we believe are the 10 best starter Pokemon in franchise history so far, based on their general popularity, how they influence the dynamic of the games, their appearance, and the impact each creature has had on the Pokemon franchise in general.
10. Torchic (Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald)
Torchic, the “chick” Pokemon, is considered by many to be one of the cutest starters players can choose in the series. In case you need more evidence of its cuteness, its Pokedex entry says that Torchic has a “flame sac” inside of its belly, which allows it to give its trainers “warm hugs.” Torchic doesn’t get by on just its cute looks, though. On the contrary, it evolves into the formidable Blaziken, whose popularity started a trend of starter Fire-types becoming Fighting-type Pokemon in their evolved forms that continued for two generations of Pokemon.
9. Froakie (Pokemon X & Y)
Arguably the most popular Pokemon X & Y starter Pokemon, Froakie is a Water-type that eventually evolves into Greninja. The popularity of Froakie, and by extension Greninja, resulted in the latter being added to the roster of playable Pokemon in the Super Smash Bros. series. Froakie is also notable for being the only starter to eventually evolve into a Dark-type Pokemon.
8. Cyndaquil (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal)
Like Torchic, Cyndaquil is a Fire-type that has built a reputation on its cuteness. Its appearance is a composite of various rodents, and its eyes are often closed because of how young it is. Cyndaquil evolves into the intimidating Typhlosion, and is unique in that it is the only Fire-type starter that remains a pure Fire-type throughout its entire evolutionary line.
7. Totodile (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal)
Totodile is not only cute, but powerful, with a jaw strong enough to cut down trees (according to its Pokedex entry). As the Water-type starter in Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, Totodile is super-effective against the previously mentioned Cyndaquil, and also poses significance in the Pokemon anime series, as it appears in the very first episode of the Johto Journeys arc in the show.
6. Mudkip (Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald)
Even those that are somehow unfamiliar with the successful Pokemon franchise may be aware of Mudkip. The Hoenn region’s Water-type Pokemon, Mudkip was the subject of the old Internet meme that posed the question: “so i herd u liek mudkipz?” Mudkip has proven to be one of the more popular starter Pokemon to date, and even won a Nintendo of Europe fan poll to determine the fan favorite starter.
5. Piplup (Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum)
The only starter from Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum on this list, Piplup is the Sinnoh region’s Water-type Pokemon. Known for being fiercely independent, Piplup refuses to accept handouts from others, and sometimes doesn’t listen to its trainer. Piplup is plenty cute in its original form, but don’t let its looks fool you; Piplup evolves into the powerful Steel/Water type Pokemon Empoleon, making it a force to be reckoned with in battles.
4. Bulbasaur (Pokemon Red & Blue)
The very first Pokemon listed in the Pokedex, Bulbasaur has been prominently featured in Pokemon merchandising. From plushies, to t-shirts, to having appearances in the Pokemon anime series, Bulbasaur should be easily recognizable, even to those not very familiar with the franchise.
In terms of gameplay mechanics, choosing Bulbasaur as one’s starter Pokemon in Red and Blue is akin to picking “easy” mode in other games. This is because Bulbasaur is a Grass-type Pokemon, making it super-effective against Brock’s Rock-type Pokemon as well as Misty’s Water-type Pokemon.
3. Squirtle (Pokemon Red & Blue)
A Water-type Pokemon that, like Bulbasaur, has proven to be one of the most popular Pocket Monsters created to date, Squirtle has appeared in many of the Pokemon spin-off games, and was even playable in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a part of the Pokemon Trainer character’s roster of Pokemon.
2. Charmander (Pokemon Red & Blue)
Few would argue against Charmander’s popularity with Pokemon fans. The creature’s heartbreaking introduction in the Pokemon anime series probably played a role in that, as did the fact that it evolves into Charizard, which is one of the most recognizable Pokemon of them all. Charizard’s importance in the world of Pokemon has been acknowledged by Game Freak and Nintendo by making it a playable character in the latest entries of the Super Smash Bros. series, and by giving Charizard two Mega Evolutions, whereas most other Pokemon only have one.
1. Pikachu (Pokemon Yellow)
When it comes to the most iconic starter Pokemon of all time, no one beats Pikachu. Used as the face of the Pokemon franchise since its inception, Pikachu was selected to be the companion of Ash Ketchum in the anime, which propelled the creature to heights that will likely never be reached by any of the other Pokemon.
Pikachu is unique for a few reasons. For one, it is the only starter Pokemon on the list that is forced on the players in its game (Pokemon Yellow). Secondly, Pikachu refuses to stay inside a Pokeball, and instead follows players around the Kanto region during their adventure. As our recent Pokemon Yellow review will attest, Pikachu’s electric personality helps make the Pokemon Yellow experience extra special, and the creature’s likability played a large part in the massive success the franchise has enjoyed since it was created in the 1990’s.
We know that Pokemon Sun and Moon will introduce new Pokemon to the franchise, and it’s safe to assume that at least three of them will be starters. It will be interesting to see if they will yet again be Grass, Fire, and Water-types, or if Pokemon Sun and Moon will mix things up a little bit. We will likely find out within the next few months, as the latest games in the Pokemon franchise are set to release this year.
Do you agree with our list? Which starter Pokemon is your favorite? Sound off in the comments below.
Pokemon Sun & Moon will be available by the end of the year, exclusively for Nintendo 3DS.