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Gen 1 Starter Pokémon: I Choose You?



Today, fans from all over the world are coming together to celebrate and play the original RPG that helped redefine handheld gaming, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow.   Over the years, the Pokémon universe has grown right alongside the Gameboy, transitioning seamlessly into each new generation while still maintain its simplicity and ease of access. For fans, often times the hardest part of the game is the first choice: Which Pokémon should I pick as my starter? Today, with the re-release of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, fans will be forced to make the tough decision once again, choosing between Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. For experienced players, this choice may be an easy one, as they already have a favorite from past playthroughs and childhood nostalgia, or if they are playing Yellow, the choice is made for them, but newer or inexperienced fans may wonder about the ramifications of their decision.


At first glance, this fire-type Pokémon seems like a great choice, as he evolves into the menacing Charizard, but if picked, the trainer is in for a tough road. To start, the first gym leader, Brock, will take advantage of Charmander’s ground and rock weaknesses, doing super effective damage and forcing players to rely on another Pokémon in their party. After trainers make it though Brock, they will then have to fight their way through Misty, whose water type Pokémon will dominate thanks to the most well known (fire<water) weakness in the game. From there, it is relatively smooth sailing for a bit, as one can breeze through Erica’s grass types and remain neutral to the rest, but players will then hit another major roadblock at the end of the game, Giovanni and the Elite Four. Gym leader Giovanni’s use of Rock and Ground type Pokémon will give players flashbacks of Brock, while the Rock and Water Pokémon of Lorelei and Bruno in the Elite Four will present another problem. Although Charmander and his evolutions have highest attack power of each of the starters, the cards are stacked against players who pick this ‘mon.


If players pick the water-type Squirtle, their journey will be a little bit easier, as this ‘mon’s high defense and the variety of moves that they can learn gives trainers a lot of flexibility in battles. Squirtle is super effective against Brock’s rock/ground-types, and he will handily defeat the last two gym leaders, Blaine and Giovanni. That being said, the middle of the game presents a bit of a problem, as both Erika’s grass-type Pokémon and Lt. Surge’s electric-type Pokémon will give players a bit of a headache, but after these battles, the game will be smooth sailing. Squirtle can also learn later HM move Surf, allowing players to save a party slot for another ‘mon besides one that can learn it. Also, the Elite Four will present no big surprises for you, as their Pokémon do not have many moves that will prove too much of a threat.


The grass/poison type Bulbasaur also makes for an easier adventure, as his high special attack and defense compliment his move set. As a dual type, he has a few more weaknesses than the other ‘mons, but he also gains a number of resistances. As a more complex Pokémon from the start, trainers need to aware when in battles. Like Squirtle, he breezes through Brock as well as Misty, only having problems with later gym leaders Sabrina and Blaine. The Elite Four is a bit more of a challenge, as Lorelei’s ice and Agatha’s psychic moves will be super effective, but he will coast through the water and rock types.


While there is no correct answer to the starter decision at the beginning of Pokémon Red and Blue, this choice will affect the difficulty of the game for players. For trainers, it is obvious that Charmander will present the biggest challenge, as his fire-type makes the beginning and ending of the game a tough battle, but this can still be managed with a diverse party. The choice between Squirtle and Bulbasaur is a much tougher one, as they both have strong start and ends to the game, with Squirtle being a bit more effective against the Elite Four. For trainers, Squirtle seems to be the easier choice, namely because they do not have to think to closely about type match-ups, while Bulbasaur’s dual poison-grass type forces trainers to play with a little more attention to detail. Ultimately, the hardest decision is often not made by stat matchups or gym order, but by the player’s favorite, generally, which one looks the coolest. As fans enjoy the re-released versions of the game, the will discover that each Pokémon makes for a different experience and that the choice will speaks to the person’s play style. Who do you think is the best starter? Leave a comment below!

Ty is here to talk gaming and chew bubblegum, but he's all out of gum. Writer and host of the Stadia Wave Podcast, he is an Animal Crossing Fanatic, a Mario Kart legend, and a sore loser at Smash. Add him on Switch @Creepshow101, PSN/Live at Grimelife13, or Stadia at Grimelife and play!