The Pokémon franchise took the world by storm when it was launched in the late 1990s, and part of that allure stemmed from the difficult decision players had to make right at the start: choosing their first Pokémon, also known as their “starter.”
In the original Pokémon Red, Blue, and the Japanese Green versions, players have the option to pick one of three classic Kanto starters.
However, Pokémon Yellow shook up the formula by offering a different ‘mon as the sole starter.
This article delves into the nuances of these iconic Kanto starters and how the choice affects gameplay in the early titles.
What Are The Kanto Starters?
In Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green, players are presented with three Poké Balls, each containing a unique starter Pokémon.
Charmander, the Fire-type, is known for its ferocious battling style and evolves into the dragon-like Charizard.
Squirtle, the Water-type, becomes the tanky Blastoise, renowned for its powerful water cannons.
Bulbasaur, the Grass/Poison-type, evolves into Venusaur, a well-rounded Pokémon with balanced stats and the ability to learn a variety of moves.
Choosing your starter can be a heart-wrenching decision, especially for newcomers to the series. Your starter often sets the tone for your journey and can make certain areas of the game easier or more challenging.
Pokémon Yellow, released as a follow-up to Red and Blue, turned the starter paradigm on its head by forcing players to start with Pikachu, the Electric-type rodent that had become the franchise’s mascot.
This choice was largely inspired by the Pokémon anime, where Ash Ketchum begins his journey with a stubborn Pikachu.
Interestingly, while you are compelled to start with Pikachu, the original three starters are not entirely absent from the game.
In Pokémon Yellow, you can still acquire Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur throughout your journey, but they are given or found in different locations rather than being chosen at the outset.
Which Of The Kanto Starters Is Best?
The question of which starter is the “best” is a topic that has fueled countless debates among fans.
Much of this is subjective and based on personal preference. Some players might favor Charmander for its fiery spirit and powerful final evolution, while others might lean toward Squirtle for its defensive capabilities.
Technically speaking, Bulbasaur often emerges as the most useful starter in the early game of Red, Blue, and Green.
It has an advantage over the first two Gym Leaders and its dual Grass/Poison typing offers a good range of effective moves.
However, in the broader Pokémon game series, Charmander and Squirtle each have their own strong points.
Charmander, or rather its evolved form Charizard, gains a secondary Flying type and presents advantages in games where that combination thrives.
Similarly, Squirtle’s evolved form, Blastoise, can be a defensive powerhouse, and its Water typing is consistently useful across various Pokémon titles.
Whether you are a nostalgic fan revisiting the Kanto region or a new player eager to understand the roots of this expansive franchise, the choice of a starter Pokémon is a significant and memorable aspect of the game.
While Bulbasaur might have the early-game edge in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green, the “best” starter is truly in the eye of the trainer.
Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and part of the joy of Pokémon is discovering how your chosen starter complements your playstyle and strategy.