The evolutions for the latest generation of Pokemon starters have leaked into the world and completely changed fans opinions on which starter to choose. Or at least, these evolutions have complicated that conversation quite a bit, as is often the case with recent generations. So leading up to the launch of Pokemon Sword and Shield, how do the starter evolutions we've seen stack up compared to previous generations of Pokemon?
From Charmander and Squirtle to Litten and Popplio to the holy franchise mascot Pikachu, Pokemon starters have always been the cute friendly way to introduce kids into the Pokemon universe, no matter which game is their first. With the exception of Pokemon Yellow and the Pokemon: Let's Go games (essentially remakes of yellow), the formula has always stayed tried and true. Players embody a young trainer who gets to choose his or her first Pokemon. Will it be the water, fire, or grass type? Each starts out adorable and grows into a powerful Pokemon that is often a core team member through the entire game.
The images leaked of the Sword and Shield starter evolutions have been a little off-putting, and the reception from fans has not been the kindest, especially water type Sobble's final form Intelleon, whose aesthetic and stance in the image has turned many fans off. In addition to the strange appearances, every final form is a Pure type according to these leaks. Most, but not all, starters in past games evolve into multi-type Pokemon, but apparently Grookey's final evolution is pure grass, Sobble's evolution is pure Water, and Scorbunny's final evolution is pure Fire. As more and more types are added to the Pokemon games, pure types are becoming increasingly tough sells for a well-rounded team.
Note that while most of the leaks surrounding Pokemon Sword and Shield have been more or less confirmed to be true, the information about type has not been confirmed by Nintendo or Game Freak. So with all this speculation out there, let's take a look at past generation starter evolutions and see how they compare to the new batch.
Sobble, Drizzile, and Intelleon
Oh Sobble, the sad water type. The divisive meme-able starter instantly divided the fan base, but the recent leaks have complicated matters a bit. The sad child of the starters goes through an emo phase as Drizzile and eventually evolves into the lanky, strange Intelleon.
The biggest issue here is that none of these forms have any real flair. Intelleon simply cannot compare to the hard hitting final evolutions of previous generations, incredible Pokemon like Greninja, Blastoise, and Swampert. Water type starters can be a bit hit and miss, and unfortunately this seems like a miss, which is a bummer considering gen seven's Primarina was a also bit disappointing aesthetically. However, being the only Fairy type starter evo is a point in that Pokemon's favor that Intelleon doesn't have. In terms of types, though, water starters have the highest chance historically of being pure type. In fact, generations one, two, and five all have pure water type evolution lines.
Scorbunny, Raboot, and Cinderace
Arguably, the best of the new starters is Scorbunny. This little fire type is a bunny rabbit who loves to play soccer; interesting choice, huh? Scorbunny's evolution line goes all in on this gimmick, with Raboot, looking like a teenage soccer fan whose name is a play on rabbit and also "boot", and Cinderace, who is an "ace" soccer player of sorts that comes fully decked out in jersey and sports garb. All in all, Scorbunny's evolutions have the most thematic consistency of the new lot.
Historically, fire type has been the fan favorite. From the start of it all with Charmeleon's evolution into the flying type Charizard to Pokemon Sun and Moon, with Litten, Torracat, and Incineroar, the fire type starter almost always delivers with a final evolution that is multi-type and very strong.
The only generation where the final evolution of the fire starter was not multiple types was back in gen two, the last time every starter was pure type. Even then, the second generation Typhlosion was by far the coolest and arguably strongest final evolution of the Silver, Gold, and Crystal generation.
After that, for three generations in a row, Game Freak chose to make the fire starter's secondary type fighting, and these starters began to lack the excitement of previous generations. Considering that and compared to the other gen eight starters, Scorbunny and its evolutions seem like the standout choice and the one most players are likely to pick in Sword and Shield.
Grookey, Thwackey, and Rillaboom
The much maligned grass type starter is a staple of the Pokemon games. Monkey grass type Grookie evolves into Thwackey and Rillaboom, all of whom are monkeys who love to drum. Rillaboom is the only starter final form from Sword and Shield who looks as strong and intimidating as some of the best Pokemon starters of generations past.
In terms of typing, Grass type starters have an interesting history. Bulbasaur and Rowlet are the only two starters to be multi-type from the get go, with the former being grass/poison type and keeping that type pairing even after evolving to Venusaur. Decidueye, Rowlet's final form, makes the awesome shift from flying to dark type, keeping some flying type moves if the player sees fit, making them a really interesting choice from Sun and Moon. Other generations, like the third and fifth, are pure grass types all the way to the end of the line.
At the end of the day, a pure grass type doesn't usually hold the same type of appeal as a super strong pure water or fire type. For this reason, Grookie and its evolutions might look the coolest but may not be as useful as the other picks. Compared to the weak history of grass type starters, Grookie doesn't seem so bad.
Pokemon Sword and Shield release November 15, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.