If you listen to the Internet, you might think that the Pokemon games are mere shadows of their former selves. Lackluster design, boring quests and downright bad additions to the roster have, according to the series’ detractors, ruined what was once a truly fantastic franchise.
However, that really couldn’t be farther from the truth. Despite what the so-called ‘Genwunners’ might say, Pokemon has only gotten stronger over the past few entries. While not every new species is a winner, there are far more hits than misses - for every Bidoof and Luvdisc, there are five fantastic Pokemon just waiting to be caught.
Simpy put, some of the newer Pokemon feature some of the strongest designs to ever grace the franchise, and it’s clear that a huge focus has been put on creating some truly unique creatures. For anyone who's still doubting the design prowess of the folks over at Nintendo, here are eighteen new Pokemon (arranged by Generation) that are better than what you’d find in Red & Blue:
Back in 1999, no one knew what the future of Pokemon would be like. For the first time in the series, Game Freak was adding in completely new designs, and not everyone was certain that the studio could pull it off. Thankfully, those fears were swept away as soon as players saw the new starter Pokemon: Chikorita, Totodile and Cyndaquil were all instantly lovable, and their designs only got stronger as they continued to evolve.
Out of all of the original starters, however, Feraligatr is the best. That’s not to say that Typhlosion isn’t great, but it’s hard to compete with a giant alligator that shoots out torrents of water like a high-pressure cannon.
Plus, there's no denying that Feraligatr can hold its own in battle. Its moveset is surprisingly light on Water-Type attacks, but moves like Ice Fang and Superpower definitely make up for any deficiencies. Add in Feraligatr’s long list of compatible TM and HM moves, and players find themselves with a companion that’ll come in handy all throughout their Pokemon journey.
There aren’t a whole lot of Pokemon that could be described as elegant. Most were clearly designed to be goofy, tough, scary or some combination of the three - and yet, only a select few have ever tried to be graceful. What’s worse is that even fewer have actually managed to make it work without coming off as creepy.
Gardevoir, on the other hand, pulls off her elegant style flawlessly. The Generation II Psychic-Type basically looks like it’s wearing an extravagant ball gown - considering just how ridiculous Gallade looks, it’s almost surprising that Gardevoir is as well-designed as she is. Gender-specific Pokemon tend to be hit-or-miss, but in this case, Gardevoir came out on top.
Just because Gardevoir’s wearing a dress doesn’t mean that she can’t fight, either: her moveset is chock-full of incredibly powerful Psychic-Type moves, and her Generation VI Mega-Evolution pushes her impressive Special Attack stat even further. Like many Psychic-Type Pokemon, Gardevoir is something of a glass cannon...but that doesn’t really matter if the other team never gets a chance to attack.
Let’s be honest: some of the Pokemon on this list were chosen simply because of how cute they are. They might not have the strongest stats, or best moveset, but that doesn’t really matter - sometimes, being adorable is enough.
That’s definitely the case with Aron. While its future evolutions are definitely worthy of mention (especially the ridiculously strong Aggron), they just can’t compete with the tiny bundle of cute that is Aron. A Rock/Steel hybrid might not sound like it’d be all that cute, but Game Freak went ahead and did it.
Really, the only thing that holds Aron back is that, as previously mentioned, its stats aren’t all that great. The Iron Armor Pokemon boasts an appropriately strong Defense stat, but that’s about it - realistically, most players looking for competitive play are going to want to evolve their Aron as soon as possible.
For everyone else, though, Aron is one of the few Pokemon that makes an Everstone worthwhile. Who said that every Pokemon needs to be ready for high-level competitive tournaments?
Some of the best Pokemon designs are born from their environment. Simply put, it’s a lot easier to imagine a Pokemon wandering around in real life if their design works in tandem with an actual location. For instance, if a Pokemon supposedly lives in the middle of a barren desert, it should look like something that could actually survive there.
That's where Cacturne comes in. It’s anyone’s guess as to why a scarecrow is sitting alone in the middle of the desert, but it’s hard to argue that Cacturne doesn’t look like it belongs in the middle of an endless sea of sand. In fact, Cacturne fits in more with its desert themes than just about any other Pokemon.
As an added bonus, Cacturne’s no slouch when it comes to battling. As a Grass/Dark hybrid, it has access to a wide variety of different attacks, including its signature move Needle Arm. Even if its defensive stats aren’t anything to write home about, a well-trained Cacturne can wreak some serious havoc on unprepared teams.
Plenty of real-world mythology has made its way into Pokemon, so it should come as no surprise that the series is home to multiple representations of death. Some are massive winged beasts designed to destroy the world, others are spirits possessing objects from their lives...but there’s only one Pokemon that’s directly based on the Grim Reaper himself.
...and he’s adorable.
Duskull, otherwise known as the Requiem Pokemon, made its debut back in Generation III. From a battling standpoint, there’s really nothing about it that stands out: even for a Ghost-Type Pokemon, Duskull is extremely fragile. His moveset does include a long list of powerful Ghost-Type attacks, but even so, it’s hard to get around Duskull’s extremely weak HP and Attack stats.
That being said, the fact that the Pokemon team was able to turn something that’s so inherently horrifying - the very persona of death - into a pint-sized little ball of cuteness is downright impressive.
So, the next time you’re staring down into the black abyss that makes up our tiny, futile existences, just think: man, Duskull sure is cute!
Speaking of Ghost-Type Pokemon and the downright creepy lore that surrounds them, Drifloon is on this list solely because of its various PokeDex entries. Yes, it’s cute; yes, it’s got a solid moveset - but Drifloon is the sort of Pokemon that could give kids nightmares.
At first glance, Drifloon looks anything but scary. It’s basically a ghost in the shape of a balloon, how dangerous could it be? Well, one look at its most recent PokeDex entry proves just how terrifying such a tiny Pokemon can be:
“Stories go that it grabs the hands of small children and drags them away to the afterlife...”
This isn’t something that’s only popped up in recent games, either: Drifloon’s PokeDex entries have been creepy all the way back to its debut in Generation IV. The only real difference is that, for whatever reason, Nintendo isn’t trying to hide the fact that Drifloon literally drags children to the afterlife anymore.
Because why shouldn’t a game that’s clearly designed for kids try to terrify them every once in a while?
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Dragon-Type Pokemon will always play a big part in high-level play. To be fair, they don’t dominate the competitive game quite like they used to, and there are more ways than ever to get around one - but even so, Dragon-Types are simply too powerful to be ignored.
And, out of all the different Dragon-Types, Garchomp has proven to be one of the most popular. Sure, classics like Dragonite are still worth training, but Generation IV’s Mach Pokemon has been a fan favorite for years now. It’s easy to see why: not only is Garchomp one of the faster Dragon-Types available, but its Attack stat rivals the strongest Pokemon out there.
Oh, and then there’s Garchomp’s Mega-Evolution - because, for whatever reason, Game Freak thought that one of the hardest-hitting Dragon-Types ever created needed that little bit of extra punch. There is a trade-off in terms of Mega Garchomp’s overall speed, but it’s hard to care when it can one-shot most of its competition.
On paper, Rotom sounds like something out of an ‘80s horror movie: what if a ghost could take hold of any household electrical appliance? In reality, however, Rotom is anything but scary. Aside from the occasional prank, there’s really nothing to be worried about - and, when it comes to battling, Rotom can be one of the most unique and versatile Pokemon out there, largely in part to its ever-changing elemental typing.
While the standard Rotom is a Electric/Ghost hybrid, that’s just the start: Rotom has access to no less than five other forms, each with its own unique elemental type. Granted, it’s not exactly easy for Rotom to switch between these forms (players are forced to backtrack to specific locations in each game if they want to change things up), but there’s no denying that Rotom is home to an almost unrivaled amount of variety.
It’s also worth mentioning that Rotom holds an honor that no other Pokemon does: being a PokeDex. In Pokemon Sun & Moon, a Rotom inhabits the player’s PokeDex, giving out advice and helping out whenever possible. It doesn’t necessarily change things all that much, but the added dose of personality is certainly appreciated.
Let’s get this out of the way: Emboar has one of the greatest PokeDex entries ever.
“It can throw a fire punch by setting its fists on fire with its fiery chin...”
Think about that: not only does Emboar have a beard that is literally made of fire, but it can use said fiery beard to make its attacks even more powerful. That’s so over-the-top ridiculous, it’s amazing - if there was ever a Pokemon that deserved a spot on an ‘80s rock album cover, it’s Emboar.
Of course, the fiery facial hair isn’t the only reason to love Emboar. From a battling perspective, Emboar is one of the strongest starter Pokemon in the series, and the fact that it’s a Fire/Fighting hybrid opens up a huge list of hard-hitting attacks. True, there have been quite a few Fire/Fighting starter Pokemon in the past, but it’s arguable that Emboar is a step up from both Blaziken and Infernape.
Plus...c’mon, it’s got a face made of fire!
Certain types of Pokemon will resonate with certain people. For some, the gentler nature of a Grass-Type may seem more appealing - for others, the mischievousness of Dark-Types may be a perfect fit.
Some trainers...well, some trainers like to punch things. For those trainers, Conkeldurr is the perfect companion.
There are few examples of a Fighting-Type Pokemon as pure as Conkeldurr. Its stats, its moveset, even its weaknesses - Conkeldurr is even referred to as the ‘Muscular Pokemon’. For those willing to put the time in to train one, a Conkeldurr can easily stand at the forefront of a team, and its abilities can be absolutely devastating.
On top of all that, Conkeldurr is basically a grumpy old man. Sure, its PokeDex entry mentions that it helped mankind discover concrete thousands of years ago, but that’s not necessarily all that important. What is important is that Conkeldurr’s two concrete walking sticks double as blunt force instruments, and that’s amazing.
While it may not come as a shock to longtime trainers, some fans may be surprised to learn that Dark-Type Pokemon are actually known as ‘Evil-Type’ in Japan. In a lot of cases, the American name makes more sense, as many Dark-Type Pokemon don’t seem all that malicious. Krookodile, on the other hand, is a one-Pokemon campaign for the Evil-Type designation.
Most of the time, it’s not a good idea to judge a book by its cover - though, in Krookodile’s case, what you see is what you get. The aptly-named ‘Intimidation Pokemon’ is all about overpowering its opponents: Krookodile’s Intimidate Ability puts its opponents at a disadvantage before the fight even starts, and its wide range of hard-hitting attacks can end a battle before it really begins.
It’s also worth nothing that many of Krookodile’s PokeDex entries make mention of its insanely powerful jaws. Real-world crocodiles are known for having a nearly unstoppable bite...but they can’t even compare to Krookodile, who’s known for biting entire cars in half. That’s not just powerful, that’s just plain scary.
The Generation V region, called Unova, was partially based on the United States - and, more specifically, New York City. It can be subtle, but there are several different points where this inspiration shines through. Not all of these references are positive (the trash Pokemon Trubbish and Garbodor debuted in Generation V, for example), but there are still plenty of allusions to life in New York City that resonate with American players.
One such reference is Scrafty. As a Fighting/Dark hybrid, the Hoodlum Pokemon was always meant as a reference to youth culture in the city. The baggy clothing, the punked-out style, the scrappy nature: all of it was meant as a nod to growing up in the middle of the American urban sprawl.
Surprisingly, Scrafty almost works best as a defensive tank, rather than the traditionally heavy offense of other Fighting-Types. It’s not that Scrafty can’t dish out the damage, it’s just that its Defense stats are easily its best - it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see a Scrafty absorb more damage than it dished out.
Ask any Pokemon fan what their favorite monster is, and there’s a good chance that they’ll mention Zoroark at some point. The Illusion Fox Pokemon of Generation V became one of the series’ most popular species seemingly overnight, and that fan fervor doesn’t seem like it’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
Then again, there are plenty of reasons to love Zoroark. The lore suggests that they are not only intelligent, but are the best illusionists in the world. Their PokeDex entry mentions that they can maintain their illusions across a large group of people, or that they’ll keep their nests hidden with their powers...or that any trainer who tries to catch one and fails can end up locked inside an illusion forever.
This focus on illusions does make the jump to battling, though it’ll be up to individual trainers to determine whether or not Zoroark’s ‘Illusion’ Ability is worth the trouble. Even disregarding this, Zoroark still packs quite a punch, with impressive Attack, Special Attack and Speed stats. Long story short, Zoroark doesn’t need to resort to mind games in order to secure a win.
Jellicent is absurd.
There’s really no other way to put it: Jellicent is a pompous, froofy, inflated jellyfish wearing a crown. It’s such a perfect example of just how silly the Pokemon series can get...and, let’s be honest, that’s part of what makes Jellicent so lovable.
Not that Generation V’s Floating Pokemon doesn’t have anything else to offer. Right off the bat, Jellicent is one of only two Water/Ghost hybrids (the other being its pre-evolution), and its list of available attacks is one of the more unique movesets in the series. And, while its stats aren’t all that fantastic, they’re not terrible, either.
Finally, there’s the traditionally dark PokeDex entries that seem to accompany all Ghost-Type Pokemon. In Jellicent’s case, the bright colors and goofy expressions are offset by the fact that any and all sailors lost in their territory are never heard from again.
Well, if Nintendo’s proven anything with Jellicent, it’s that a bright pink cartoon jellyfish can still be terrifying!
We’ve spoken about Joltik before, and yes, it’s on this list for the same reason it was on the last one: Joltik is arguably the cutest Pokemon ever created.
However, in terms of practicality, Joltik is far from perfect. It’s one of the few Bug/Electric hybrids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much when it comes to battling. Joltik’s moveset isn’t all that great, especially when compared to its evolved form, and its hybrid elemental typing seems to open it up to more weaknesses than anything else. Even its stats are mediocre across the board - basically, Joltik won’t start sweeping Gym Leaders anytime soon.
Seriously, though: Joltik is one of the cutest Pokemon ever. Even the notion of taking something as grotesque as a spider and turning it into something that’s fluffy and adorable seems impossible - and yet, this literal ball of fluff managed to do just that. It may be shallow to include a Pokemon on this list simply because of looks, but let’s be real: Joltik deserves its spot.
When it came time to pick one of the Pokemon from the Solosis line, it wasn’t an easy decision. Would Solosis’ baby-faced cuteness prevail, or would Duosion’s surprisingly strong stats come out on top? Then again, at the end of the day, there really was no other choice but Reuniclus. It’s the perfect storm: cute and surprisingly strong.
To put it bluntly, Reuniclus is one of the stronger Psychic-Type Pokemon out there. As with most other psychic Pokemon, it doesn’t have much in the way of defensive stats, but a properly-trained Reuniclus can be utterly devastating in the right hands. It’ll take some time to train one enough for high-end play, but it is definitely worth the wait.
And, as an added bonus, Reuniclus is adorable! The idea of a giant, floating, psychic embryo may turn some people off, but just one look at its pudgy face and half-formed arms will melt the coldest of hearts. Generation V was packed with great designs, but it’s hard to find one better than Reuniclus.
With Pokemon Sun & Moon finally hitting store shelves last week, millions of gamers are finally getting a chance to go hands-on with a trio of new starters - including the fiery wrestling Pokemon, Incineroar. Of course, the Heel Pokemon has got some big shoes to fill: Generation VI was home to one of, if not the greatest wrestling-themed Pokemon ever.
Hawlucha might not seem like much at first, but any player who’s ever fought with one by their side knows just how powerful they can be. Its signature move, Flying Press, is an absolutely devastating attack in Pokemon X & Y, and that’s just one of the several different Fighting-Type techniques that Hawlucha can learn. Plus, there’s the fact that Hawlucha has access to Flying-Type moves: not only does it gain access to even more powerful attacks, but one of Hawlucha’s biggest potential weaknesses gets cancelled out.
From a purely statistical standpoint, Hawlucha has some room to grow - but it’s hard to complain when it spends so much of its time dominating whatever fight it’s in.
Grass-Type starters tend to get the short end of the stick. Fire-Types get to dish out huge damage, Water-Types usually sport huge defensive stats, and Grass-Types... well, they usually get stuck trying to catch up.
Generation VI changed all that with the addition of Chesnaught. Sure, its pre-evolutions were somewhat fragile, but scratching and clawing to Level 36 was worth it. Chesnaught, as one of the few Grass/Fighting hybrids, can be an absolute tank of a Pokemon with the right training - and, thankfully, it doesn’t take too much extra effort to get a Chesnaught ready for high-level play.
This is largely thanks to Chesnaught’s immense moveset. With both Fighting and Grass-Type moves at the ready, Chesnaught can work extremely well as a front-line, heavy damage Pokemon. On top of that, it can learn from a ridiculously long list of TMs and HMs, giving it more than enough variety to make up for its relatively average stats.
It’s no secret that Grass-Type starters haven't always been the best, but Chesnaught makes a strong argument for the best starter Pokemon of Generation VI.