Well, here we are again friends. A long, long time ago, I foolishly decided it would be a good idea to rank every single one of the original 151 Pokemon. I think I always knew in my heart I’d be back one day.
Can you believe after 23 years and (soon to be) eight generations of games, we now have 24 starter Pokemon? Back in my day we only had to argue over which one was the best choice out of three (and a little later on, six).
But, as every person raised in the UK says but never actually means with an ounce of sincerity: the more the merrier. It won’t be anywhere near as awful as ranking 151 individual monsters was, either. I should actually get this one done with zero breakdowns.
Before we dive in, some rules. I’m looking each starter Pokemon as they are, so I won’t be taking into account what they eventually evolve into. I’m a shallow prick like that. Also, some genuinely great later gen starter Pokemon evolve into some abominations, so I’m not holding that against them.
We’re also not counting Pikachu or Eevee, as we’re looking at the “core” games only. Happy? Good. I’m not. Let’s go on anyway.
Not only is Chespin an incredibly forgettable Pokemon, it also has a name like an 11th century baron and looks like it’s wearing one of those stupid novelty hats you can get at the fair.
There’s just too much going on here. I don’t know what you’re about Chespin, but I’m not into it.
Snivy has absolutely nothing appealing about it. It’s got a name like a painful sneeze, and looks like it absolutely couldn’t give a toss about you or your quest to be the very best.
Just look at the cold indifference in the snake’s eyes. Snivy probably knows exactly how and when you’re going to die but doesn’t care to share this information with you. Apathy isn’t cool, man.
Poplio is what happens when a dog, a clown, and a fish have a drunken one night stand. Just look at this mess of a Pokemon. I know it has its fans, but those aren’t people I want to get to know anytime soon.
I used to think Chikorita was kind of cute, but looking back on my preference for this lump of green mush now I can see why I struggled so much through the early stages of Pokemon Gold.
It is literally a splat of a Pokemon with a leaf chucked on top for good measure, just in case it wasn’t obvious enough what type this starter was. Proof that Game Freak were running out of ideas long before the later gens.
Tepig is basically just a weirdly coloured pig. Not exactly the most inspired design, is it? Zero flare in the design, which is unusual for a fire Pokemon (great joke alert).
Seriously, that’s really all I have to say about Tepig. It’s a forgettable husk of a Pokemon. Get outta here.
What is Cyndaquil? I’ve been scratching my head for a while now. Is it supposed to be a certain type of animal? It kind of looks like an ant eater, I guess.
Okay I just Googled it, and it’s based on an echidna apparently. It looks more like an echidna than Knuckles, so points for that, but it’s still a weird looking dude. Oh, and it has a name like a cough syrup. Not a criticism as such, just an observation.
I think we all know I picked the above picture of Treecko for a specific reason, so I think we can leave this one at that.
Turtwig is nothing more than grass Squirtle, and I accept no substitutes. Also its name is dangerously close to turd wig.
Chimchar is fine, I guess. I mean it really is just a monkey with its butt on fire. I get that Charmander is also basically just a lizard with its tail on fire, but at least Charmander had the decency to do it first.
Yes, Froakie evolves into Greninja and Greninja is probably the coolest final evolution since Charizard, but as I established at the start of this article, we aren’t taking evolutions into account.
So what of Froakie, if we are to base it on its own merits? Well, it’s just a mouldy looking frog. Not much to write home about really. Call me when you evolve, nerd.
I know a lot of people aren’t really into Oshawott, but this is my list and I love otters, so just deal with it. Did you know otters break open shells on their bellies? That’s why Oshawott has a shell on his tum, see?
Look at its lil face too! So pure, so full of love. Not like that Snivy SOB. Otters, man.
The latest batch of starter Pokemon were recently unveiled, and I’ll be honest, I’m picking up what Nintendo is putting down this time. My least favourite of the bunch is this grass monkey by the name of Grookey, but it’s still a damn sight better than a lot of recent starter Pokemon.
It’s still clearly a monkey, but unlike Chimchar it’s a lot more visually interesting and looks pretty ready to drop you like a sack of spuds the first chance it gets.
Fennekin is just a gorgeous looking creature. A handsome lil fox fella with enough subtle visual touches to tell us it’s a fire Pokemon, unlike Chikorita and that ridiculous bloody leaf on its head.
I didn’t mean to dig into Chikorita any more than was necessary in this article, but life comes at you fast sometimes.
Listen, I love everything about Sobble and I will fight anyone that has a bad word to say about this sneaky damp lizard boi.
The ridiculous name, the terrified expression on its face, the fact it looks like it’s constantly wringing its hands – this Pokemon is social anxiety personified, which is probably why I and many other gaming journalists can relate to it so much.
Like kitten but with lit at the start. A name so awful it had to break my top 10. Plus it’s a cat. Bonus points for that.
Totodile is far and away the coolest of the gen 2 starter Pokemon. Rather than a lump of green mush or a rodent that someone set on fire, Totodile is an instantly cool looking critter.
Sleek, simple, well designed, but still out here looking like a threat, Totodile is a grand addition to any early team. Plus the first half of its name is Toto, as in we bless those God damn rains. Too sick.
Just as Oshawott found itself on my good side as a result of my love for otters, so too has Piplup landed in my good graces just for being a penguin. You wanna fight me on it, my DMs are open*.
* I will ignore you though.
Leaving aside that embarrassingly weird Mudkip meme from years back, I’ve got a lot of time for this weird lil swamp critter.
It’s also based on an axolotl, which is by far one of the coolest creatures on this green and verdant Earth we call home. Google axolotl if you don’t believe me.
It’s a toss up between Sobble and Scorbunny right now, but I think when I get Pokemon Sword or Shield I’ll be going with the fire bunny. That’s what I’m leaning towards at the moment.
I dunno. I just like its energy. It’s like if Bugs Bunny was a Pokemon, and I’m all about that. As long as it doesn’t evolve into Big Chungus.
Look at that. Bulbasaur gets a lot of hate, but it’s made it to fifth place in this, the most prestigious of lists.
Bulbz can finally call home and tell its parents that yes, a Pokemon with a cabbage on its back does have a certain appeal, especially when ranked against 24 other Pokemon that include dirt stains like Chikorita.
Okay, that was my final Chikorita dig.
If Rowlett ain’t just one of the cutest Pokemon you’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is. Look at the bloody grass bow tie on its chest! Another subtle way of letting you know what type it is, unlike…
Well, you know who. I’ve done enough to that Pokemon.
Question: Which other Pokemon gets away with wearing shades and running in a gang? Answer: NONE OF THEM.
Squirtle is an absolute beast, the kind of Pokemon that would drop five absolute fire mixtapes in one year and still have time to smash up Pewter City Gym.
Torchic is a little chicken with a big attitude. A feathery, fiery harbinger of death , and the only truly sensible choice of starter Pokemon in the gen 3 games.
I get the feeling that a lot of Pokemon were designed after they came up with a suitable pun/name, and if that’s the case for Torchic, it’s the best of the bunch.
Don’t look at me like that. We both knew who was gonna come out on top here. I could have been super edgy and picked Bulbasaur or something, but I respect you all too much to lie to you for the sake of it.
Charmander is an all round great Pokemon. A sleek design, genuinely useful, and well loved by all. It’s the Foo Fighters of Pokemon; we all love it really, even if we like to say we don’t.
Oh, and that episode of the anime with the Charmander who was abandoned by his owner and left to die in the rain? Holy hell that was too deep for eight-year-old me, but I learned some real life lessons that day.
There we are then. All 24 starter Pokemon ranked definitively, according to science (or my opinion). If you disagree, feel free to jot your thoughts down a postcard then throw that postcard as hard as you can into the ocean. If it’s meant to be, I’m sure I’ll receive it eventually.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.