For this year’s twenty-five days of Christmas special, I’ll be focusing on the Pokémon series, albeit in a different manner than in years past. Instead of making one giant list of my favorite Pokémon or what have you, I’ve opted to make five separate ‘top five’ lists, each highlighting a different aspect of the series. I will be posting these roughly a week apart from one another, between now and the end of December. So today marks the first list, which details my top five starter Pokémon!
Picking your starter in each Pokémon game is the first major decision toward the long journey ahead. The five listed below are my personal favorites for a variety of reasons, partially because I like their typings and movesets, partially because they simply look cool. But the biggest factor that played into their inclusion on this list was how well they worked for me as team members during my various playthroughs of Pokémon games – and not just for the main storyline, but the post-game content as well.
#4) Typhlosion – The fully-evolved form of Cyndaquil, Typhlosion was the first starter I ever picked in a Pokémon game, back in the days of Gold on the Gameboy Color. It was the first Pokémon I identified as one of my favorites, because despite being into the anime and trading cards during the generation I craze, I didn’t play any of the core video game entries until generation II. When I dove back into Pokémon a few years ago with Soul Silver, Cyndaquil was my obvious choice, and though I’ve since gone back and replayed that DS remake with Totodile and Chikorita, Typhlosion will always hold a special place for me.
#5, #3, and #2) Blaziken, Sceptile, and Swampert (respectively) – While my journal entries on the generation III games and their remakes have indicated my being overall less favorable toward them than practically every other release in the series, I will admit that if there is one thing I felt Ruby and Sapphire excelled at, it was the Pokémon they added to the mix. These three starters are considered by many to be some of the best out there, and for good reason – they changed up battle tactics considerably with Swampert’s dual-typing of Water/Ground, and Blaziken being the first in a line of Fire/Fighting combos. And while Sceptile remained a pure Grass type, its stats and moveset proved that it could certainly hold its own in the company of the other two. The generation III starter Pokémon are among the rare few starters that have seen consistent use between the main single player game and the competitive multiplayer scene.
#1) Greninja – The ninja frog that debuted in generation VI, Greninja is, surprisingly enough, my all-time favorite starter Pokémon. His Water/Dark dual-typing is oddball enough that it offers up moveset options that are both varied and practical, while his stats make him ideal for landing hits fast and hard. He’s become something of a fan-favorite since the release of X and Y, as well as the recent Super Smash Bros. Really though, when compared to his fellow Kalos starters, the only other one that stands up as somewhat practical beyond the main game is Chestnaught. Plus, Greninja's aesthetic is absolutely radical, tongue scarf, water shurikens and all.