Just imagine, it’s your 10th birthday, and you finally get to choose a name and gender. You also get the gift of a fantastic animal that will be your lifelong companion (or yours to stuff into a digital box if you find something better). It’s the start of your very own Pokémon journey!
Every Pokémon game starts the same way. You’re a kid in a small town where nothing happens. You’re excited to go off on your own to make it as the next Pokémon Champion. You probably also have a rival or two who gets on your nerves from time to time.
To start your journey, you’re given the option to select one of three Pokémon: a grass type, a water type, or a fire type. Each region (and game generation) has its own set of starter Pokémon for you to choose from, and today I’m going to pick the best overall starter of each type and a couple of our favorites.
#1 Fire starter – Charmander
You can’t make a list ranking Pokémon starters without Charmander; you just can’t do it. As one of the OG Pokémon starters and one of the most recognizable ever, Charmander will forever rank among the top tiers of the Pokémon games. Picking Charmander may have given you a hard time when it came to gym battles in the Kanto region (especially Brock and Misty), but if you kept at it and evolved Charmander, you were rewarded with Charizard, which is one of the greatest Pokémon ever. The latter half of the game was also pretty easy with a Charizard in your team. Charmander has it all, iconic design, name recognition, and the power to put its money where its mouth is.
#1 Water starter – Froakie
While I may not have played Pokémon X or Y, I am an avid Super Smash Bros. player, so I have a lot of respect for Froakie, which evolves into Greninja. (Do I even need to explain why Greninja is so cool?) The water-type Kalos starter is the fastest starter and overall actually has the highest stats as well. Froakie has a much-beloved design and an insane move set for its final evolution who becomes a dual dark-water type. From adorable to deadly, Froakie definitely deserves the number one spot among all water-type starter Pokémon.
#1 Grass starter – Treecko
Grass types often get the short end of the stick. They usually aren’t as flashy or memorable as their fire and water counterparts, but I’d say Treecko may be the exception there. This third-gen little grass gecko broke the slow, husky mold created by Bulbasaur and Chikorita. Treecko’s strength unquestionably lay in its speed; its final evolution even has a speed stat double that of Swampert! (The final evolution of the water starter of the region). Being a single-type Pokémon does put Treecko at a bit of a disadvantage, but true grass-type lovers won’t be bothered by that one bit.
Our favorite – Rowlet
I mean… This is the Everyday Owl. How could we not love Rowlett? The grass owl is the only Alolan starter that starts out as a dual type Pokémon and for reasons unknown, changes from Grass-Flying to Grass-Ghost in its final evolution. Being a dual-type from the beginning, too, makes Sun and Moon pretty easy since the games are filled with so many water and grass types. With a swift and dead-ly (hah, because it evolves into a ghost type. Get it?) evolutionary line, it is easily one of the best grass starters in any region.
Honorary Mention – Sobble
Admittedly my reason for putting Sobble here is mostly personal. Pokémon Sword drew me into the Pokémon games after a long hiatus, and something about the miserable little lizard was incredibly endearing. It doesn’t hurt that Inteleon is kind of insanely strong, at least to a casual player such as myself. With a powerful move set and an unmatched speed, Inteleon is a force to be reckoned with. It was also heartwarming to see the little Pokémon glow up and gain confidence in itself as you journeyed through the Galar region. From crybaby to awkward teen to sleek and confident adult, it was impossible not to feel like a proud parent by the time you made it to the Championship fight with Leon.
No matter the game, region, generation, or type, it’s impossible to go wrong no matter which starter you choose. Pokémon isn’t a difficult game. If you get really into it, there’s a whole world of competitive play available where stats and breeding come into the equation, but if you’re just looking for cute characters and an easy to follow storyline, you can feel at ease picking any Pokémon you like.