When Nintendo announced Pokémon Sword and Shield in February of 2019, the internet was immediately flooded with tweets, memes, and all kinds of content showcasing the upcoming title’s adorable new Pokémon, particularly the impish grass starter Grookey.
But while the Pokémon fandom was ablaze with love for the newcomers, we at G FUEL couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about our own glory days—the days long before the advent of the Nintendo Switch, when we’d fire up our Game Boys and traipse around Kanto and Johto with pixels on our screens and Poké Balls on our hips. They were simpler times.
Speaking for myself, I knew which starter I wanted to use before I ever picked up my first copy of Pokémon Red Version. Full disclosure: The main reason I picked Red Version over Blue was because I had seen Pokémon the Movie and wanted a Charizard, like Ash. But that’s as good a reason as any, right?
Ever since then, I’ve always considered Charizard the coolest starter evolution, and without fail, I always pick the fire-type starter whenever I boot up a new Pokémon game. After all, you never quite get over your first Pokémon.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
For better or for worse, each region’s starters seem to get more complicated with every generation of Pokémon games. In terms of fire-type starters: we started out with a fire lizard, and only two generations later, we ended up with a kung-fu flame chicken. This time around, pyromaniacs like myself will select Scorbunny, a rabbit who can apparently start fires with his feet.
These developments reflect the increasing complexity of the Pokémon series itself. In Red Version, there just weren’t that many assets associated with each pocket monster—a couple of black-and-white sprites, a garbled cry, and a PokéDex entry were just about the only content assets each Pokémon needed. Nowadays, each Pokémon must have its own list of sprites, animations, sounds, and other extra content in order to fit into the newer-generation titles.
As a result of this increased workload, the developers at Game Freak announced at E3 that Sword and Shield would have to cut some Pokémon from past versions, doubling down on this announcement after weeks of complaints from outraged fans. All I have to say is that Charizard had better make it in. (He will.)
They Were Ours, And Nobody Else’s
One of the reasons why starter Pokémon are so cool is that you rarely see them in anyone else’s hands in-game—as a kid playing Red Version, I loved the idea that my Charmander was just as special as Ash’s Pikachu, and that I was the only trainer in the world who would someday have a Charizard on my team.
For the most part, the Pokémon games have stayed true to this rule, but Game Freak finally broke the convention with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, in which Charmander can be caught on Route 3 via Island Scan. So in the end, it turns out that Charmander does indeed appear—albeit rarely—in the wild. That’s fine, guys. It’s fine. I’m fine.
All jokes aside, the starters in Galar region look absolutely dope, and we can’t wait to find out more about their powers and evolutionary forms.
How about you—who was your first or favorite starter Pokémon?
Drop us a comment below!
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Top image via Nintendo, edit by Alexander Lee
This article was written by Alexander Lee, an esports journalist, lifelong Nintendo fan, and proud cat dad. Follow him on Twitter @alexleewastaken, and check out more of his work on his website.