These are the best of the starters in each Pokemon generation

By Steven Rondina


Jun 14, 2022

Reading time: 5 min

Starters are a big deal in Pokemon games, but which Pokemon starters are the best of all?

The answer has changed over time. New mechanics like the hidden abilities that were introduced in Pokemon Black and White, the addition of fairy typing in X and Y, and other granular changes have made different Pokemon stronger or weaker.

With gen-9 starters looming just on the horizon it’s worth taking a look at all the past Pokemon generations and picking out the best from each. Here are the best starters for each generation.

Venusaur is the best of the original Pokemon starters

Bulbasaur was originally imagined as the easy mode for Pokemon Red and Blue. The grass-type starter could steamroll Brock, easily get through Misty, resists Lt. Surge, and was on even footing with Erica. By the time Sabrina came around, players had ample opportunity to get Pokemon that resisted her psychic-type attacks.

In PVP battle, Venusaur was somewhat lackluster for a long while but that changed in generation five. Venusaur’s hidden ability, Chlorophyll, doubles its speed in harsh sunlight. Combine that with Sleep Powder and Venusaur can lock down the entire enemy lineup with a bit of help from RNG.

Typhlosion is the ideal choice in Pokemon Gold and Silver

Pokemon Red and Blue had Bulbasaur as easy mode and Charmander as hard mode. Pokemon Gold and Silver flipped the script by making fire-type Cyndaquil the path of least resistance and grass-type Chikorita the toughest option. 

Meanwhile, Typhlosion has held up better than its constituents. Though it isn’t particularly strong, its respectable special attack and speed stats let it hit harder and faster than Meganium or Feraligatr.

Swampert is the best gen-3 starter Pokemon

Swampert has a strong combination of stats, typing, and move coverage. It can hit hard, but that’s not all it can do. In singles battles, its access to Stealth Rock via TM and Yawn as an egg move makes it a powerful support option in singles battles.

It’s not just useful in serious PVP play, though. Swampert’s typing, high attack stat, and mega evolution make it very powerful starter for all the players still enjoying Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Infernape is the best starter for Pokemon BDSP

Infernape can be used in a few highly specialized ways in Pokemon BDSP battling. None of the Pokemon are radically better than the alternatives in the single-player experience, but Torterra’s double weakness to ice makes it unwieldy.

What makes Infernape better than Empoleon is its ability to provide support and raw offensive output. Focus Sash with a Blaze-enabled Overheat hits brutally hard, and players can also use a diverse set of physical attacks to smash enemies.

Best starters for Black and White, X and Y unclear

Fans were left frustrated by Pokemon Sword and Shield’s lack of a national dex. The game will likely go down in history as never having all of them, with the release of Scarlet and Violet now looming. But not even the combination of Sword, Shield, Legends: Arceus, Brilliant Diamond, and Shining Pearl don’t have all the Pokemon, or even all the starters.

The Pokemon Black and White starters Snivy and Tepig haven’t actually made it into any gen-8 Pokemon games, nor have any of the starters from Pokemon X and Y. With how the gyms are arranged and the lack of integration into modern generations, it’s unclear how they would fit into Sword and Shield at this point.

Incineroar is best of the gen-7 starters, possibly the best starter of all

Across all Pokemon generations, Incineroar is likely the best starter ever to this point. While multiple starters have enjoyed relevance in different formats over time, Incineroar is has been a top-tier Pokemon across multiple games and Pokemon generations. 

The Intimidate hidden ability, solid bulk, and a strong arsenal of support moves lets Incineroar frustrate a number of top threats in competitive play. This has seen Incineroar enjoy high usage in both Sun and Moon and Sword and Shield competitive play. Odds are it will continue on into Scarlet and Violet, too.

Cinderace, Rillaboom tied for best Pokemon Sword and Shield starters

Cinderace and Rillaboom are both very powerful Pokemon and are essentially tied as the top choices among Sword and Shield starters. And that isn’t because Inteleon is bad.

Both Pokemon have strong offensive options and well-distributed stats. Libero Cinderace can hit hard and is a good option for Dynamaxing in both doubles and singles formats. Meanwhile, Grassy Surge and Grassy Glide give Rillaboom a deadly priority attack. The cherry on top for these two are strong Gigantamax moves that hit for 160 damage.

Samurott is the best Hisuian starter in Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Pokemon Legends: Arceus offered Hisuian newcomers the choice between Oshawott, Rowlet, and Cyndaquil as their starters. The twist was that there were Hisuian versions of Samurott, Decidueye, and Typhlosion, making them the first starters to have regional variants.

Hisuian Decidueye is cool, but has terrible grass-fighting typing. Samurott and Typhlosion have a stronger water-dark and fire-ghost typing and strong moves, and Samurott gets the nod by a narrow margin. Its unique Ceaseless Edge move deals strong damage and its type coverage is significantly better than Typhlosion.

Fans are waiting to find out the best gen-9 starter in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly have been warmly received by fans. Unfortunately, all the Pokemon fans out there won’t know who the best gen-9 starter is until Pokemon Scarlet and Violet launch.

For the time being, all fans can do is pick their favorites. All three are cute and have an instantly recognizable personality, which makes it easy to figure out which one is the best fit for a player.