With the 20th anniversary being today (February 27th), I thought I’d share my top picks for each generation of games released so far. Before I get started, let’s be clear that when I say “best”, I say so in the most biased, prejudiced way possible (as most of these top x lists tend to be). With that said, let’s begin!
Generation 1 (Kanto): Bulbasaur
I’m not quite sure what it is I love so much about Bulbasaur. Pokemon Red was my introduction into the series, and I started with a Charmander. Whenever people debate about the best generation 1 starter, it’s almost as if there were only two: Charmander and Squirtle. Which one had the best final evolution, which was easier to build a team around, etc? There is however, something undeniably charming about the plant dinosaur. On the occasions that I did start with a Bulbasaur, I always mashed B whenever he was getting ready to evolve, which made the Everstone’s introduction in Silver/Gold version quite welcome. Say what you will about Ash Ketchum, but he was smart to keep Bulby around for as long as he did. Number 1 on the Pokedex, and number 1 in my heart, Bulbasaur takes the top spot not just as my favorite Gen 1 Pokemon, but perhaps my favorite of all time.
Honorable Mention/Runner Up: Nidoking
Generation 2 (Johto): Umbreon
Pokemon Silver/Gold brought in some new features like the night and day system. Along with what was available to be captured during the different time of day, Eevee was one Pokemon that the day/night cycle affected the most. Raising its happiness level during the day meant it would evolve into the Psychic Espeon while night time meant it would become Umbreon, a new dark type that was introduced in Gen 2. Umbreon just has a really fun design and is a fantastic party member, though most of the better moves had to be introduced through TMs. One of those Pokemon that I immediately added to my main team as soon as I could, Umbreon also had a spot on my roster in Pokemon X and Y, and played a big part in helping me stay un-defeated against a former roommate and his Miltank (Damn you, Jules). Thank goodness for TM06 (Toxic). If you’re ever lucky enough to get a shiny Eevee, Umbreon’s yellow rings take on a neon blue glow in its shiny form, which makes a really cool looking Pokemon look even greater. In my opinion, one of those rare shinies where the color scheme doesn’t look absolutely bizarre.
Honorable Mention/Runner Up: Scizor
Generation 3 (Hoenn): Aggron
I’ve always put Pokemon on my roster that I thought looked cool, and thankfully, most of the cool looking ones were usually pretty strong. While designs were started to dip in Ruby/Sapphire, not all hope was lost. When I found out that the puny (but adorable) looking Aron would eventually evolve into the Nidoking of gen 3, I captured one for myself as soon as I could. While Aggron hasn’t made it to my most recent team, it’s one that I can appreciate aesthetically. Aggron also receives a much deserved Mega Evolution in X/Y and Omega Sapphire/Alpha Sapphire.
Honorable Mention/Runner Up: Latias
Generation 4 (Sinnoh): Lucario
While I was growing out of Pokemon by the time Diamond/Pearl rolled out, I was curious enough months after release to head down to Gamestop after school to grab my own copy of Diamond. Most of this curiosity had to do with it being the first title to be released on the Nintendo DS. While it gave nods to previous games, like the Red Gyrados in Silver/Gold/Crystal, the new game itself didn’t really initially do too much for me. The ability to slot in Gameboy advance games to gather my previous Pokemon meant I could just breed new copies of my previous team, instead of learning the new ones. While I swapped out the Gen 4 starter for Charmander, I did start to enjoy my copy of Diamond a bit more and found myself playing under the covers late at night. Upon hatching a Riolu from an egg, it was enough to sway me to keep him on my team. Lucario would later become a staple on that team, helping me clear through the rest of the game. Lucario would of course also become a fan favorite, making appearances in Super Smash Brothers 4 and the upcoming Pokken Tournament. Lucario also receives a Mega Evolution, later on, making him look even more badass.
Honorable Mention/Runner Up: Luxray
Generation 5 (Unova): Haxorus
I’m not gonna lie. I completely skipped Black/White and the subsequent Black 2/White 2. With Black/White coming out in 2011, I decided instead to buy Soul Silver, which had been out for about a year already at that point. While nostalgic, I barely made it past the first gym before burning out, which indicated to me quite clearly that I had sadly outgrown Pokemon. This obviously wasn’t the case however, as Pokemon X would be my main reason for buying a Nintendo 3DS several years down the line. Locked in a set of battles with my housemate at the time, we’d give each other a week to raise a new team. Deciding to go with a Dragon theme, I quickly picked up an Axew and raised it to its glorious final form. While my housemate’s Sylveon did quite a number on my Haxorus (and the rest of the dragons), a level 100 Haxorus is quite intimidating. I’d even argue that it’s one of the best-designed dragon types. I do want to note that the same housemate graciously gave me a copy of Pokemon White which I’ll get around to playing at some point. Cheers, bud.
Honorable Mention/Runner Up: Hydreigon
Generation 6 (Kalos): Mega Charizard X
I feel like I kind of cheated with this one. Pokemon X/Y added a wealth of features to the franchise. From swapping the in-game sprites to full 3d models to Mega Evolutions, it was the best title in a while. After seeing how much love the original starters were getting, I dropped down to Gamestop and picked up a Purple 3DS along with my own copy of Pokemon X. Mega Charizard X doesn’t look too different from Charizard, but that color scheme. That neon blue on black is a kickass combination (i.e. Shiny Umbreon). While I prefer the color scheme on shiny Charizard/Mega Charizard Y (Red and Black), Mega Charizard X has a better overall look and doesn’t even need to be a shiny to look extra cool. Mega Charizard X led my first team (Umbreon, Scizor, Ampharos, Mewtwo, and Dragonite) quite well and is my favorite Mega Evolution by far.
Honorable Mention/ Runner Up: Talonflame
Well, that’s that! Did any of your favorites make the list? Hate one (or all) of my picks? Send a comment below!