In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
Almost all Pokémon adventures begin with selecting one of three companions, a Grass, Fire, or Water "starter". While you're not technically required to use them throughout your journey, players often bond with their first ally, and thanks to two evolutions, they maintain power throughout your journey.
It's hard to hate on any starters, as we've bonded with most if not all of them to some extent, but there's definitely some that didn't explicitly capture our hearts. Whether from poor typing, missed opportunities, or lackluster design, here are the ten worst starters in the Pokémon video games!
After two previous generations of exciting dual-type Waters (Ground on Swampert and Steel on Empoleon), a return to a generic Water just wasn't quite as exciting. Plus, the gen-5 starters have slightly lower base stat totals than most starters.
Samurott would probably rank higher if not for its updated Hisuian form (from Legends of Arceus), which diversifies it by adding the Dark type. Which we've seen on Greninja, but hey, it's something.
Like Samurott, Cinderace's biggest sin is simply not standing out from the crowd (though to be fair, the only other singular Fire companion is Typhlosion). That said, props for having two signature moves, Pyro Ball and Court Change, but since Fire types haven't had great diversity in dual-elements, Cinderace could have helped alleviate the issue. Heck, even Fire/Normal would have been more interesting.
What some fans don't like about this starter is the design of his first form, Chespin, whose theoretically cute appearance can come across as annoying or sloppy. But the other issue is typing; while Grass/Fighting was a unique starter pairing, it just isn't amazing in practice, suffering many weaknesses, including a quad to Flying attacks.
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Read More From Levelskip
Hear me out, for I too love Feraligatr's design. But a few factors actually make Totodile's family underwhelming, at least gameplay wise. For one, he was the only Johto starter not to end with a different typing than the prior Kanto starter, offering the same singular Water element that Blastoise did. Plus, Water-types abound throughout Johto.
More than that, when Gold and Silver first debuted, all Water attacks were still special, which means that Feraligatr's best stat, physical attack, wouldn't work with his own type (you could use other-typed moves like Earthquake, but then you wouldn't get STAB, same-type attack bonus).
Barring the original Venusaur, distinct for its dual Poison type, Grass took awhile to gain elemental traction; Meganium and Sceptile were both pure Grass, and we'll get to Torterra's issues in a bit. But then Serperior comes out, disappointing plant fans with another run-of-the-mill pure Grass. Some were also perplexed by Snivy's gradual loss of limbs, though I personally don't have an issue with the design.
However, anime fans may also hate Snivy because of its win (having just been received as a starter by Trip) against Ash's seasoned Pikachu, though to be fair, Pikachu's electricity had been disabled from a prior encounter.
So, Delphox finally broke the Fire/Fighting drought, and props for introducing a secondary type that hadn't yet been seen on a starter. That said, many didn't appreciate its evolutionary design transition, first beginning as the quadruped Fennekin, getting hopes up for a true four-legged Fire beast. Then it becomes bipedal as Braixen, strange but offereing a cute and elegant form.
But then you get Delphox, who just isn't the four-legged beast or graceful fighter fans were hoping for. The idea of a mage is cool, but Delphox's puny stick and broom-like appearance (especially its original sprite) disappointed purely in an aesthetic sense.
While Fire/Dark is a pretty cool typing, Incineroar's disappointing transition from quadruped to biped alienated several trainers, particularly on the heels of Delphox's similar route. But at least Delphox had Braixen to ease the transition; Incineroar took many by surprise, as both its prior forms, Litten and Torracat, seemed content on four legs.
Add in an over-the-top goofy design (nice fire crotch, buddy), and even his inclusion in Super Smash Brothers doesn't save this feline.
I do enjoy Torterra's appearance, although it was the third quadreped Grass starter of the four Grass that existed back then, but that's a nitpick. The problem here is gameplay, as Grass/Ground is just atrocious. Grass already resists Electric, making Ground's immunity to it far less helpful than it was for prior generation's Water/Ground Swampert. Even worse, a quad weakness to Ice, one of the most common offensive attributes, means Torterra probably won't ever join the competitive scene.
Poor Infernape; Chimchar was a cute starter that had us eager to see where and what typing he'd end up with, only for us to get the same Fire/Fighting element we had just seen in Hoenn's Blaziken. But hey, at least Nintendo would never do the same pairing three times in a row, right?
Whoever came up with the typing for Unova should be fired (no pun intended). Seriously? Three Fire/Fightings in a row? And with no dual types on the alternative Grass and Water options? Tepig's evolutionary line was doomed from the start solely from stale elemental pairing.
Also, middle form Pignite is ugly, just saying. No thank you, Nacho Libre.
Other Starter Controversies
While starters vary widely from both competitive and fandom perspectives, it's hard not to bond with your chosen ally, and the choice helps each player's journey feel unique; my siblings and I would always pick different starters to differentiate our journeys.
Even beloved starters like Charizard have some controversy (him being part Flying instead of Dragon, somewhat rectified through Mega Charizard X). Many fans, myself included, are still hoping for the return of Mega forms, especially to the starters that didn't get them, but for now, vote for your favorite companion and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2022 Jeremy Gill