Friday, May 13, 2016

Top 20 Pokémon

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise.  Actually, there isn’t much hype about it.  There was a Super Bowl commercial about it, introducing a website (Poké  But I’m not aware of any special movie, game, or mega-event (except the Beta release of Pokémon Go, but that isn’t a tie-up to the anniversary) planned.  Anyway, this post is to commemorate this milestone.  Though I’m not really a die-hard fan (I even consider the Digimon anime superior to the Pokémon anime), I’m still a fan to an extent, since Pokémon is a huge part of my generation’s pop culture.  I’ve watched the anime – TV series and films – and played the early games.

So for Pokémon’s 20th anniversary, it’s fitting to list down my twenty most favorite Pokémon.  They are ranked depending on the stylishness of their character designs and strengths; depiction in anime/manga; and/or the impact, service, and value they had on me when I was playing the games.

Pikachu might be the face of the franchise, but I prefer Raichu over it.  Not only because it’s an evolution higher than Pikachu, but also because I think Raichu has a cuter appearance.

Pokémon Blue was the first Pokémon game I got to play.  And I remember that my first defeat was against Cerulean City gym leader Misty.  My starter was Charmander, and I made the mistake of challenging her with an under-leveled lineup.  Good thing Oddish were outside the city, and I caught one and leveled it up.  I beat Misty in my second try, primarily due to it.  So it’s in this list because of that fond memory.  It’s also adorable.  It’s evolution – Gloom – not so much.

Graveler was an important part of my lineups during the original games.   Magnitude (and later, Earthquake) was a powerful attack that easily beat opponents early in the game.

I never had a Golem until I discovered Game Shark (since I wasn’t aware of them, I never used a cheat during my first campaigns).  My Graveler never evolved to Golem because it’s one of those Pokémon that requires a trade to evolve it.  And I played via an emulator; I never traded a Pokémon in my life.  Thus, my fondness was developed for Graveler instead of Golem (Later in this list are Pokémon which I had the same experience with).

Gardevoir’s design makes it the most feminine among the Pokémon.  It’s so feminine that it’s even considered “hot” by some fans, and there are even nasty fan fiction out there that are centered on it (yikes).

When I got to play Ruby/Emerald/Sapphire, this Pokémon served what purpose Kadabra (later in ths list) had in Blue/Red.

I never really liked it in the games.  But it’s definitely one of Ash’s strongest and coolest Pokémon.  Its stubbornness and introvertness in the anime made it mightily appealing to me.  I dig Grovyle’s design over Sceptile.

I love Fire-type Pokémon.  There are a couple of these in this list.  First of which is Infernape.  Cool design and pretty powerful.  I’m always entertained seeing it (and its early forms, Chimchar and Monferno) in action in the anime.

I’ve liked it ever since I laid eyes on it.  I find a Fire-type tortoise clever and appealing.  It was not really an integral member of my lineups, but I made sure to capture one.  I also find Ash’s Torkoal very adorable, as well as badass when it breathes out a Flamethrower.

This Pokémon was a vital part of my core lineup for most of Ruby/Emerald/Sapphire.  Being a combo Grass/Flying type, its hardiness, and its capability to use Earthquake and Hyper Beam makes it so.

It reminds me of the badass Ghost in a Shell Tachikoma – a spider-like combat vehicle.  It takes patience to level a Beldum into a Metagross, but very rewarding in the end.  With its durability and powerful Psychic and Steel attacks, it’s one of two strongest two-way pseudo-Legendary Pokémon (the other one is later in this list).  I love having it in my lineup.

The first time I fought against the Elite Four – in Blue – Lance and his Aerodactyl destroyed me.  The experience made quite an impression on me that Aerodactyl became one of my early favorites.

The Rock/Flying dual-type advantage is definitely a big plus to a lineup.

Here’s another one of those Pokémon that requires a trade to evolve.  Just like Golem, I only had a Gengar through Game Shark.  Prior that, I was stuck with Haunter, hence, it got the chance to become the favorite, not Gengar.

Haunter was a valuable member of my lineups early on.  Its Curse and Destiny Bond abilities are extremely useful in taking on strong trainers that have several Pokémon on hand.

Nidoking was an early favorite of mine.  I remember admiring Gary’s Nidoking in the anime.  I thought of it as incredibly badass.  In the game, I was delightfully surprised how it’s capable of learning a wide array of abilities – even Fire, Water, Ice, and Electric moves.  Also, its passive ability, Poison Point, makes it possible to poison opponents that physically attack it.  Pretty invaluable.


Same case with Haunter and Graveler.  Couldn’t trade, so I had no Alakazam, and was stuck with Kadabra.  But no matter.  As a Psychic-type, it can deal some nasty damage.  So every time I played Blue and Red, I made sure I got an Abra to evolve into a Kadabra.  It had been one of the most useful Pokémon in my roster during mid to late game.

I never liked Legendary Pokémon.  Being the most powerful Pokémon there are make them unappealing and one-dimensional to me.

With the sole exception of Mewtwo.

Its tragic back story, being a kickass clone of Mew, and its depiction in the first Pokémon movie give it depth, as well as the appeal that I couldn’t see in other Legendaries.

I personally think Snorlax is more adorable than Pikachu.  More than that, with proper utilization, it’s an invaluable piece.  As a Normal type, it’s very versatile – ready to be equipped with a wide range of auxiliary abilities.  It’s also magnificently tough.

Here’s my other favorite pseudo-Legendary.  It’s a chore to level Lavitar up towards Tyranitar, but it’s worth it.  It’s extremely durable and has some very strong attacks.  I prefer having one in my lineup when I go fight the Elite Four.

An early favorite of mine in using Surf outside of battle (since the sprite animation takes the actual form of a Lapras instead of the generic sprite design).  But what makes it really invaluable is its lethal Perish Song.  Due to this move, it was the front line – the first Pokémon to battle – of many of my lineups when going against the Elite Four.

In my book, Blastoise has the best Pokémon design ever.  Never really liked Squirtle and Wartortle, but Blastoise is a bona fide badass.  The cannons on its back make this so.

Fighting/Fire is a fantastic combination.  There’s an appealing stylishness about it.  Mashing up the visceral grace of martial arts motions with the allure and destructiveness of fire produces a visual delight in both the game and the anime.

When Pokémon first came out, Charizard easily became my favorite due to its striking character design, efficient stats and effectiveness in the game (making Charmander the hands down best starter), and interesting arc in the anime.  Several Pokémon generations later and it’s still my favorite.  A true classic.    

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