Feature image from teefury.
Holy crap, everyone needs to cool their jets. Pokemon communities have been divided by the controversy-rife Sword and Shield, and I think it’d do a lot of good for everyone to take a deep breath and step back. The game will be what it will be. In the mean time, getting bombarded by all this has been absolutely exhausting, so I’m gonna kick back, grab an iced tea, and spend the next few weeks focusing on all the good in the Pokemon series by admiring my top 10 Pokemon from each generation. Keep in mind that this is a personal list, not intended to be a definitive ranking. These choices aren’t because they’re good battlers, but rather due to pokedex entries, fond memories, or looking especially cute or cool. Let’s get started!
Don’t get me wrong, Charizard is cool and all. Fire breathing dragons never go out of style. Me, though, I’ve always picked the Bulbasaur line, and they’ve treated me very well. “Small dinosaur with a flower blooming on it” has always felt more unique than a traditionally “cool”-looking dragon (although traditionally “cool” definitely shows up on this list), and Bulbasaur captures the half-plant, half-animal aesthetic perfectly. Besides, by level 14, you can already have a horrifically annoying ‘mon to fight against by having it learn sleep powder, poison powder, and leech seed. Cheese your way through the early game. If none of that convinces you, just look at its big ol’ derpy face for a while. Adorable.
I was a Leaf Green gal growing up, so I never got to use this particular doggo growing up. While I certainly did love Vulpix and Ninetails, using Arcanine in Let’s Go was a life-changing experience. Was it entirely because when it evolved, it got so big I could ride it around? Yes, it definitely was, but also look at the pokedex entries for this thing: “It is said to be capable of running over 6,200 miles in a single day and night”. Assuming it takes the full 24 hours for that, that’s 258 miles per hour! That’s faster than the NASCAR speed record! What the hell?
Vaporeon was the very first eeveelution I used in a game, and it wasn’t my last, nor will it be the last one to grace these lists. Eevee’s line was always fascinating to me, a pokemon with the potential to be so many different things, even if it is getting a little more humorous than anything to see increasingly specific methods of evolving them to justify why you couldn’t do it in older games. I like all the original three eeveelutions a good deal, but my fondness for mythology draws me to Vaporeon. It looks like a majestic creature you’d see in the sea out of the corner of your eye, but when you look back, it’s gone… because it can literally dissolve into water, according to the dex. These things are wild.
HECK yeah, it’s Halloween season. I like Gastly’s entire line, and while Gengar is certainly a superior battle counterpart than this child, and it’s much more menacing than Gastly’s goofy smile, but it’s Gastly’s pokedex entries that are interesting to me. There’s only a handful of Pokemon that could be considered “elementals”, or living embodiments of some force of nature. Gastly is a mostly-amorphous, nearly invisible cloud of poisonous gas that can envelop a person and knock them unconscious in seconds. Evil, but fascinating. This spawned a bit of a fascination with ghost types for me, and I love seeing all the creepy pokemon Game Freak came up with over the generations.
A bit of a standard choice, and “fire pokemon you can ride” is already covered by Arcanine, but while the Growlithe line have the “good bois and girls” category covered, the ponies have a sort of sublimity to them. They may not run quite as fast, but according to the first generation of pokedex entries, they can jump higher than the Eiffel Tower and their hooves are ten times stronger than diamond (again, what the hell?), but most importantly, they’re based off the horses that pull Apollo’s chariot through the sky in Greek and Roman myth. Imagine riding a horse that carries the sun!
When I mentioned I was doing this list, one of our other writers told me to include Dragonite or else he’d “eat my chin”, his words, not mine. My answer: no. Dragonite is an after school special lookin’ ass and whenever I see him I expect him to be on his way to teach a bunch of middle schoolers about the wonders of abstinence. It’s a shame too, because I really liked the serpentine dragon look they were going for, and I would’ve loved to see a final evolution that followed the same design Dratini said. Despite that, Dragonair is certainly cool enough to make the list on its own. A good chunk of these pokemon are ones that I’d love to have in real life, and although finding a place big enough for Dragonair to live comfortably would be difficult, having a giant serpent around would be sick.
Hell yeah, Scyther. The other bug types in this game are a bee, a butterfly, a weird parasite, a moth, and a stag beetle with a terrifying sideways mouth. They’re good for establishing what the bug type is about, yes, but none of them are extremely “cool”. That’s where Scyther comes in. A five foot tall bug with blades for hands is a terrifying concept to think about existing in real life, but it’s exactly the kind of “stupid awesome” thing I loved when I was younger, and still do. If there’s in-universe pokemon anime, I’m really hope there’s a sentai-esque show featuring scythers fighting each other.
Kangaskhan was one of those pokemon I thought was cool but didn’t end up using for a while, because in all my teenage wisdom I thought I was too cool for normal types. It’s not immediately available in a lot of games, either, so my team was usually filled out by the time I got to it. This pokemon is a combination of a lot of things I really like, though: a “mama bear” pokemon that’s also a Kangaroo and never gives up while battling. I don’t know why it’s named like Genghis Khan, though, that’s pretty messed up.
I used Sandslash the first time I played Leaf Green and I’ve used it in a good chunk of playthroughs since, as well as in Let’s Go. Is that because it’s a good battler? Absolutely not. Does it have good typing? No. Does it fill some niche other Pokemon in the game don’t? Not really. Do I love it anyway, probably out of nostalgia? Helllll yeah. They may be useless competitively, but I’ll never forget sweeping Agatha’s team with this little misfit.
Helllll yeah, Gyarados. This is what Dragonair could’ve evolved into. Gyarados is probably best known for evolving from the legendarily weak Magikarp, not only being a metaphor for how strong even the meekest of us can become, but also raising countless questions about something so small instantaneously evolving into something so big. But seriously, look at this thing and tell me you care what it evolved from or how. Gyarados is the equivalent of a dumb summer action movie: the logic of it falls apart when you think about it (How does it just float there? Why can’t it learn fly? What’s with that big mouth? Its pokedex entries say it leaves cities in “blazing ruin”, but it’s a water pokemon!), but when you see it, it’s hard to care.
Max is a student at Rutgers who likes writing fantasy and playing video games such as Zelda, Mario, Undertale, Earthbound, and Stardew Valley.