There are hundreds of Pokémon to hunt down in each new Pokémon game, but every time you fire up a new title, you gotta start with just a single one before you catch ’em all! With new gym leaders to battle and different challenges in the beginning stages of each generation, how the heck are you supposed to pick your perfect starter Pokémon?
Starter Pokémon stick with you all throughout your early run through the games, but they all have their pros and cons. Let’s talk about the list of all Pokémon starters, from the earliest generation 1 starters to the latest generation 8 Pokémon by game.
Gen 1: Bulbasaur / Charmander / Squirtle (and Pikachu!)
These guys are the starters who started it all! Early on in Pokémon Yellow, Blue, and Red, you’ll be squaring off against Brock’s tough-as-nails rock-type Pokémon, and not much later, you’ll be battling Misty’s Starmie in Cerulean City.
While Bulbasaur is a classic counter to rock and water-type Pokémon, he’s often considered the toughest starter in generation 1. Squirtle, on the other hand, is a strong contender in early gym battles but struggles in the Vermillion and Celadon City gyms. Charmander is by far the most popular choice, but Charmander also faces tough challenges in the first two gym battles.
Of course, Pokémon Yellow gives you no choice but our pal Pikachu, so Pokémon Yellow players have to prioritize catching and training wild Pokémon early on to make it through Pewter City unscathed.
Gen 2: Chikorita / Cyndaquil / Totodile
Generation 2’s Pokémon starters, like generation 1, are a mix of water, fire, and water-type Pokémon but the early gym battles are much different.
Cyndaquil is a powerhouse against Bugsy in Azalea Town but struggles against Falkner’s flying-types and their Sand Attack. Totodile is much easier Pokémon to work with early in the game but struggles later on when you battle Chuck, Jasmine, and Pryce. Chikorita is probably the hardest generation 2 starter with very little edge in battle against most of the game’s gym leaders.
Gen 3: Treecko / Torchic / Mudkip
Generation 3’s starters are more whimsical in nature but still pack a wallop!
As with generation 1, you’ll be facing rock types in the very first gym, making Mudkip the obvious choice if you’re looking to power through without catching many Pokémon. Treecko stacks up well against Roxanne’s rock types, but struggles more against Brawly. Torchic is the most balanced of these starters early on in your quest.
Gen 4: Turtwig / Chimchar / Piplup
In generation 4, your early gym battles will pit you against rock, grass, and fighting-type Pokémon making Piplup a strong choice for survival in the first few towns. However, these Pokémon starters all have an advantage against an early gym leader.
Chimchar will help in the fight against Gardenia but struggle against Roark, while Turtwig effortlessly slays Roark’s Pokémon lineup but suffers against the matching grass types in the Eterna gym battle.
Gen 5: Snivy / Tepig / Oshawott
Generation V’s starters are more balanced for early-game progression, with the Striaton City gym battle adjusting to your choice.
You’ll always face the gym leader your starting Pokémon has a weakness against, making Tepig the easiest choice for progressing through the Nacrene and Castelia City gyms. For the greatest challenge, pick Oshawott as your starter Pokémon.
Gen 6: Chespin / Fennekin / Froakie
The X and Y Pokémon games in generation 6 start with a choice of grass/fire/water types, but your first gym battle pits you against a Pokémon list of bug types. This generation also includes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, but keep in mind that Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are simply enhanced remakes of the generation 3 titles.
Froakie is an easy early starter given that you’ll fight rock types in the Cyllage City gym. Chespin handles these early battles well, too, but Fennekin comes with a much tougher challenge having to face off against bug/water, rock/ice, and fighting-type Pokémon through the first three gym battles.
Gen 7: Rowlet / Litten / Popplio
Pokémon Sun and Moon feature the first flying-type Pokémon starting choice with Rowlet, an owl with grass-type powers. Sun and Moon pit you against a series of trial challenges, but sadly, Rowlet is widely considered to be the poorest starting Pokémon in this series. By the way, there are no traditional gym leaders in Sun and Moon.
Popplio will be the biggest help in the game’s earlier trials, but Litten is by far the best of the Pokémon starters for later progression with his evolution into the mighty Incineroar. While Litten struggles in earlier trials, you can make up for this by catching and training a full team before taking on the first few challenges.
Gen 8: Grookey / Scorbunny / Sobble
Generation VIII gets back to the basics with a full roster of gym leaders to conquer in battle and puts your Pokémon starters to the test early. The first three gyms, in order, feature grass, water, and then fire-type Pokémon.
If you want to quickly blast through the first gym battle, then Scorbunny is the obvious choice. Grookey is the other popular Pokémon for early progression, since you can always build out your team later in the game to balance your starter’s weaknesses. Scobble makes early advancement more challenging, but his later evolutions are helpful in the Girchester and Hammerlocke gyms.
Dane started off gaming at the tender age of 3 with the first Atari console. His favorite video game genres are turn-based RPGs (can I get a shout out for Tactics Ogre?) and fighting games. Read more...