It’s one of the most difficult and significant choices a person can make, right up there with what subjects to study at college and whether to propose to your significant other: which starter should you choose in Pokémon?
Although gamers were first faced with this dilemma way back in the nineties, the topic is still fiercely debated to this day and with the addition of each new generation, the equation becomes more and more complex. Nevertheless, there are a multitude of reasons why Squirtle trumps Bulbasaur and Charmander, why Totodile is preferable to Chikorita and Cyndaquil and why Popplio is better than Rowlet and Litten.
Taking into account their usefulness in battle, physical appearance, and any other interesting stand-out features, this list gives fifteen different reasons why your next starter Pokémon pick should be a Water critter. With that said, it’s worth remembering that choosing your first companion on the road to Pokémon League glory is an intensely personal choice and one often based upon instinct and personal preference. As such, any Pokémon that you treat with love and kindness and that helps you attain your dreams is the perfect choice…right?
With that out of the way, here are 15 Reasons Why Water Type Pokémon Are The Best Starters!
15. Learning HMs
You won’t get far in the Pokémon games without making full use of the various Hidden Machines dotted throughout the land. HMs are techniques that can be used outside of battle to perform actions such as cutting down trees, lighting up dungeons or moving large boulders.
From Pokémon Gold and Silver onwards, the amount of Water-based HMs took a sharp upturn, with the likes of Waterfall and Whirlpool being added to the ever-present Surf (although some of these would later be relegated to TM status).
Since using these techniques is necessary to beat the game, a Water-type Pokémon is a must-have for your party. Picking one as your starter companion ensures you’ll always have your HM moves ready to go, even if you do end up filling up three out of four move slots with these mandatory techniques.
14. Awesome Designs
Starter Pokémon tend to showcase some of the better designs in the franchise’s canon since the three creatures essentially act as the face for each generation of games. And within this elite group, the Water types boast some of the most attractive appearances on offer with a consistent stream of quality visual motifs and inspired thematic ideas.
Whether it’s the cute and charming Squirtle, the mischievous-looking Totodile or the elegant and playful Popplio, the Water-type starters ensure you’ll begin your Pokémon journey with a critter that not only battles hard but also looks the part.
The evolutions are no slouches either. Aside from Blastoise (who we’ll be covering in more detail later), the ninja styling of Greninja and the samurai theme present in Samurott’s design are some of the best visuals on offer in their respective generations.
13. Helpful in Dungeons
Trekking through the various dungeons in the Pokémon universe can be an arduous and time-consuming experience thanks to the masses of random battles you’ll be forced to reckon with. Unfortunately, none of the starter Pokémon you can pick will help with the heaving swarms of Zubat that will come your way but a Water-type can at least handle the various Rock and Ground Pokémon present.
The likes of Geodude and Onix are very common in caves and can be damn near impossible to defeat without exploiting the type advantage. Having a Wartortle or Marshtomp in your party can make quick work of these creatures and allow you continue your exploration uninterrupted (almost). Sure, Grass Pokémon are strong against Rock too but why would you want to pick one of those bugs?!
In the ‘Best Pokémon of All Time’ discussion, Blastoise is an obvious and immediate contender. Firstly, this final evolved form of Squirtle has one of the strongest designs in the game, managing to look fearsome while still somehow retaining the friendliness of its earlier forms. And if that wasn’t enough, Blastoise has TWO MASSIVE CANNONS coming out of his shell which is surely enough to convince anyone of its awesomeness.
This Pokémon’s appeal isn’t merely aesthetic though. Blastoise is capable of learning awesome moves such as Hydro Pump and Skull Bash, as well as the aforementioned HM techniques.
Things got even better in Pokémon X and Y with the introduction of Mega-Evolutions and thus, Mega Blastoise. This form gives the Pokémon a huge, back-mounted cannon and two smaller pistols protruding from the wrists, essentially spelling watery destruction for any of Mega Blastoise’s opponents.
11. Medium Difficulty
Although the Pokémon games don’t feature varying levels of difficulty in the traditional sense, the starter creature that you select at the outset can greatly impact the ease of the player’s progression, at least in the early stages. For instance, in Generation One, picking Bulbasaur will give you a type advantage against the first two Gym Leaders, Brock and Misty. Selecting Charmander however, will give players a much harder time as they attempt to overcome Rock and Water type Pokémon with Fire.
Although which type represents which difficulty changes with each generation, selecting Water is often seen as the middle-of-the-road choice, making the first few gyms neither ridiculously easy nor annoyingly difficult and therefore ensuring the game is enjoyable for both newcomers and Pokémon veterans alike.
10. A Balance of Tough and Cute
Oftentimes, Pokémon can either fall into the category of cute and cuddly or cool and fearsome, with certain types generally leaning towards one or the other. As far as the starter Pokémon are concerned, Grass and Fire creatures seem to land definitively in one group. For example, Torchic, Litten and Meganium are very much of the cute variety, whilst the likes of Emboar and Venusaur are distinctly badass in appearance.
The designs of the Water types, however, seem to strike a far more pleasing balance between friendly and fierce. Swampert, for instance, manages to retain the endearing goofiness of its base form Mudkip despite being physically intimidating and Froakie’s bulging frog eyes don’t take away from its style and coolness.
9. Learning Ice Moves
Perhaps the biggest advantage to choosing a Water Pokémon, at least from a battling point of view, is their ability to learn Ice type moves. Bestowing a technique such as Blizzard, Ice Beam or Ice Punch upon an already strong Water Pokémon can make a great creature almost unbeatable.
The only two real type disadvantages for a Water Pokémon are Grass and Electric but with a strong Ice-based move in your arsenal, Grass Pokémon can be swiftly taken out of the equation, meaning that Thunder users are all a Water trainer need worry about.
Even more tantalizingly, if you teach a Swampert a move like Blizzard, not only will it be protected from Grass Pokémon but the creature’s status as a Ground type will also prevent any Electric damage, making a very formidable fighter with virtually no real weaknesses.
8. A Great Move Set
Admittedly, Water type techniques do lack somewhat in their ability to inflict status changes. By contrast, Fire starters can learn to burn their opponents and Grass types are able to cause a range of nasty afflictions. Happily, Water starter Pokémon compensate for this deficiency with a vast array of hard-hitting techniques.
Easy to obtain moves such as Bubblebeam and Water Pulse can be endlessly useful in the early-to-mid stages of your adventure before moving on to heavyweight techniques such as Hydro Pump. Decent physical moves such as Aqua Tail and Waterfall mean that opponents with high Sp Def. won’t pose much of a problem either.
Fortunately, later games went on to include techniques such as Scald and Muddy Water which cause status and stat changes despite being Water based. Few other Pokémon types have such a varied and powerful move set.
7. Water Types Would Be Useful in Real Life
Moving away from the in-game mechanics for a minute and considering the potential real-life applications a Water type could have if the Pokémon universe were hypothetically real, Squirtle and co. would be the most useful companions by far. As shown in the Pokémon anime series, they’d make excellent fire fighters and the bigger creatures could ferry you across stretches of water on their backs.
In the wider world, Water Pokémon would be ideal for powering dams, providing drinking water for the thirsty (assuming that stuff they spew out isn’t salt water) and acting as lifeguards and ocean rescue workers. As for Grass Pokémon, they’d only be useful to trainers interested in gardening and although a Charmander may be able to start fires, so can a lighter…
6. High, Balanced Attributes
Some trainers base their first Poké pick on appearance and others on the move set but some trainers prefer to delve deep into the statistical attributes of each possible starter Pokémon. To this extent, a strong case can be made that Water types offer the best options.
This is because their statistics tend to not only be high but also very balanced with Attack, Defense, Speed and Special all being represented fairly well across the board. Grass Pokémon generally excel in Special and Defensive attributes and Fire types lean more heavily towards the Attack-based statistics.
This means that choosing anything but Water at the start of the game will give your first Pokémon at least one significant weakness, whereas plumping for an amphibian leaves you with a level foundation from which to build upon.
5. Useful Dual Types
One of the most important things to consider when choosing your starter Pokémon is what they’ll eventually evolve in to when they’re all grown up. And as well as looking awesome and having brutal and stylish move sets, the final evolutions of Water starters also offer some unique dual type combinations.
For instance, Empoleon is the only Water and Steel Pokémon in the game, Greninja mixes in a Dark nature and Primarina belongs to both the Water and Fairy types. Additionally, both of Mudkip’s evolutions offer a Water and Ground combination which is ideal to avoid your swimming critter being electrocuted by those pesky Pikachus.
These double-type Pokémon can help create more resistances and advantages for your team and also open up a whole new set of moves to learn. Considering you only have six slots in your party, taking full advantage of dual-type monsters is vital.
4. Few Type Weaknesses
Speaking of type advantages and disadvantages, it’s vital to recognize that Water type Pokémon have relatively few weaknesses. Fire types are vulnerable against Water, Ground and Rock moves, whilst Grass-users are susceptible to Flying, Fire, Ice, Bug and Poison opponents. On the other hand, the only real natural enemies of Water Pokémon are Electric and Grass.
Even then, Electric type Pokémon aren’t especially common in the games and in the earlier generations at least, there are precious few truly damaging Grass moves. As covered previously, it’s also very easy to account for Grass opponents by teaching your Water pal an Ice technique.
3. Greninja’s Battle Bond
Later generations of the Pokémon franchise gifted each creature with innate abilities that provided some kind of beneficial effect in the heat of battle. Players who selected Froakie as their starter Pokémon in Pokémon X and Y would be gifted with one of the best of these powers when the Pokémon reached its final form, Greninja.
Aside from being one of the coolest Pokémon of its generation, Greninja has the hidden ability Battle Bond which allows it to transform into an entirely new Pokémon, Ash-Greninja. Aside from getting an even more attractive design, Ash-Greninja gets an attack boost and the only downside is that the Pokémon is unable to breed.
This ability far exceeds those of Greninja’s Fire and Grass counterparts, who are lumbered with Magician and Bulletproof respectively and although those hidden abilities are certainly useful, they don’t generate an entirely new awesome form.
2. Weather Boost
The Pokémon Gold and Silver games introduced a mechanic whereby the in-game weather affected certain creature types in battle. The most common of these – and the most relevant for starter Pokémon – were the rainy weather that would increase the effectiveness of Water-type moves and the extremely sunny weather which would have the same impact on the Fire-type.
This can either be achieved by the conditions occurring naturally on a certain section of the map or via the use of moves such as Rain Dance or Sunny Day. However the effect is generated, this phenomenon gives both Water and Fire Pokémon a distinct potential advantage against any opponent.
You could argue that this point applies equally to both Water and Fire starters, however rainy weather generally seems to be more common in the Pokémon series. Also, the rain mechanic makes far more logical sense. It’s easy to see why the presence of rain would help make water moves more powerful but how on Earth does hot weather do the same for fire? Thus, once again, Water has proven itself to be superior.
1. Science proved Squirtle was the best starter
If you’re the type of trainer who routinely picks a Fire or Grass Pokémon every time a new game hits the shelves, these humble musings are unlikely to alter your preference. But what if it could be scientifically proven that a Water starter was the best option? Well wonder no more for, at last, science has spoken.
In a post on the Scientific American website, one budding Pokémon Trainer managed to put forward an argument as to why Squirtle should be picked ahead of Bulbasaur and Charmander via a series of graphs, tables and statistics.
The study takes into account each of three’s growth, base stats and type match-ups against the game’s Gym Leaders and puts the ‘Tiny Turtle’ Pokémon on the top of the pile. And you can’t argue with that. Because science.
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