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Sunday, 6 March 2016

My Top 20 Pokémon
This week the trailer for Pokemon Sun and Moon was released. Pokemon has been a major aspect of culture for the last twenty years and it has been a massive part of my own life. For years I would be fully emerged in the world of Pokemon travelling across the lands of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh with my six Pokemon. We bonded with our Pokemon and felt elated when they won and crushed when they lost. Very few series have managed to create such a bond with the characters and the world as poignant as that of Pokemon. Watching the trailer for Sun and Moon brought back many found memories of the hours that I spent playing Pokemon. As it is the twentieth anniversary I thought it would be fitting to do my top 20 Pokemon. The last generation that I played was Generation Four, Black and White was released in 2011 so it was either buy one of the games or save up for Skyrim and unfortunately the 3DS was a bit too far out of my price range, so this list will only cover Generations 1 to 4. Now let us travel through Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh one more time!

20- Poochyena
Introduced in Generation Three Poochyena is not one of the most stand out Pokemon. With total stats of 220 it is one of the weakest of the initial Pokemon encountered with only Wurmple being weaker; even then Wurmple was purposefully designed to be a weaker Pokemon. Although it's abilities Quick Feet and Run Away can be useful, especially Run Away if in a cave and are constantly being attacked by Zubats, it is not the best Pokemon to battle with. However, Poochyena earned a spot on the list purely for one reason: it was the first Pokemon I ever caught. My first Pokemon game was Sapphire and the first wild Pokemon that I managed to catch was a Poochyena (which I named Poochy). Although Poochy was often knocked out he remained with me through the entire game alongside my starter. He was unfortunately knocked out by the Champion's Aggron but he was there regardless when the Champion was defeated. Poochyena may not be the best Pokemon around but it has a special place in my heart.

19- Miltank
Miltank has turned out to be one of the most enduring Pokemon in the entirety of the franchise. With speed of 100 and combined with defense of 105 already it is a Pokemon not to be dealt with lightly. I have seen many people rage about Whitney's (the third Gym Leader in Generation 2) Miltank would destroy their party. Although I did not start with Generation 2 the infamy of this Miltank would cause me to hunt for a long time in the Safari Zone in Emerald to find one. A year later when I managed to get a second hand copy of Silver I found out firsthand the power of this unsuspecting Pokemon. It's move Rollout would continuously decimate the health of my Pokemon for turn after turn and the move Milk Drink (which restores up to 50% of Miltank's health) would render all the work I had previously done useless. For that reason Miltank has to be on this list.

18- Gastrodon
Gastrodon is not one of the most strongest Pokemon, in fact its health stat is the only stand out stat that it has, and being both Water and Ground type makes it doubly weak to Grass type Pokemon. However Gastrodon has the benefit of Storm Drain which makes all Water type moves 100% accurate which decimated any Fire type Pokemon. Gastrodon is also very unique by having two designs based on where it is found, the blue/green one found in east Sinnoh and the pink/brown one in west Sinnoh. I thought this was a very inventive aspect of the game as often in the wild we see animals which can look different depending on where they are in the world. Game Freak (the creators of Pokemon) implementing this into the game added another layer of detail and helping us be immersed in the world even further. Gastrodon also looks much like the animal in which it is based on, sea slugs, so this is why Gastrodon appears on this list over the Pokemon it evolved from (Shellos).

17- Pidgeot

Although not as good as Staraptor from Generation 4 Pidgeot was hands down one of the best bird Pokemon for years. With speed of 101 accompanied by an attack of 80 Pidgeot was one of the most formidable member of any finely tuned Pokemon teams. In fact a Pidgeot was one of the Pokemon that I used in FireRed to defeat the Champion and she managed to survive the battle. Pidgeot narrowly beats Fearow in terms of stats and wipes the floor with Farfetch'd making it the best bird Pokemon in Generation 1. It would take until Generation 4 for a new bird Pokemon to knock Pidgeot of its roost so for that Pidgeot is one of the best Pokemon in my opinion.

16- Geodude
Although being a very common Pokemon and being doubly weak to Water and Grass Geodude is a must for any early Pokemon Trainer. For being the first Pokemon in an evolutionary trio it has staggering defense at 100 and its attack, although not as strong, can really pack a punch. It is a difficult Pokemon to catch early in game with Defense Curl raising an already high defense even higher and if you are unlucky enough to encounter one early game that knows Magnitude it can do serious damage to your team. On the plus side if caught those negative effects can be used to your advantage. In Generation 1 (and in the remakes) Geodude can be caught at Mt. Moon, just before the Electric Gym so with Geodude being immune to Electric attacks this can be a great help to get your third Gym Badge.

15- Blaziken
I initially did not pick Blaziken's initial form (Torchic) in Generation 3 but after battling my rival's Blaziken I decided to trade for one (albeit that trade was with myself when I traded a Zubat for a Combusken). Blaziken's mixture of Fire and Fighting makes it a formidable opponent with it knowing several very powerful attacks. When adds to this is Blaziken's extremely high stats with it having an attack of 120 and special attack of 110 which makes Blaziken's already powerful moves even more powerful. On top of this every Fire type attack that it knows is made even more powerful by the fact that it has the ability Blaze which makes these moves far more powerful. We have to mention its design as well. It looks like it is a formidable Pokemon and looks like it is a born fighter. This makes even more sense when the designers announced that Blaziken was based off of Shamo chickens, a breed bred especially for cock fighting. Blaziken was so popular that the next generation Game Freak tried to replicate Blaziken with Infernape but nothing could surpass this Fire/Fighting warrior.

14- Mew
Mew is our first legendary Pokemon on our list. Mew is on here for several reasons. For one in the Pokemon world it is said to be the very first Pokemon, the DNA of Mew is supposedly to have the genetic codes for every Pokemon. Catching Mew itself lives up to its legendary nature. In Generation 1 the only way to catch Mew involved glitching the game and since the only way to obtain a Mew was via a short event held by Nintendo and Game Freak. Since that event there has been no legitimate way, that I know of in Generations 1-4, to catch a Mew without glitches, cheats or hacks. Mew also is one of the few Pokemon to have 100 for each of its stats making it an overall powerful Pokemon but on top of this Mew knows the move Transform. That means Mew can take the form of any other Pokemon and use its move set. As a result of this Mew can know every move possible. Hence Mew is truly a legendary Pokemon.

13- Blastoise
Blastoise was the final evolution of the first generation and has gone on to be one of the fan favorite Pokemon. Although outmatched in other fields by other Water type Pokemon Blastoise more than makes up for this with the staggeringly high defense and special defense meaning it takes much to drain this Pokemon's health. While I was playing FireRed my rival had a Blastoise and the raw power of this Pokemon made the battle extremely enjoyable as well as making the victory even greater. Game Freak has even shown us that Blastoise will be appearing in Sun and Moon, look on the designs for the fire truck and you can see that there is a Blastoise sitting on it.

12- Absol
Absol is the better version of Mightyena, without a doubt. When choosing which Pokemon to use to battle the Elite Four in Sapphire my Absol was almost chosen over Poochy and later on for Emerald I did battle the Elite Four with an Absol. Although Absol is weaker than Mightyena in health, defense and special defense it more than makes it up for it in attack (at a staggering 130!). Moreover Absol is more of what I expect a Dark type Pokemon to be: something mysterious and foreboding. Houndoom, Mightyena and Luxray all look foreboding but Absol has been designed to have an air of mystery about it, just as the dark should be. Moreover Absol can only be found in one area in Generation 3 and two in Generation 4 (and even then those two places were not in the same place) which added to the mystery behind this Pokemon. Good stats, design and rarity definitely earns Absol a place on this list.

11- Dragonair
Dragonair is a regal looking Pokemon. When we think of a dragon we either think of the great winged behemoths of The Hobbit ilk or we think of the majesty of the Japanese ryu or Chinese lung. Dragonair perfectly encapsulates this design having an air of sheer beauty surrounding it. It is a powerful Pokemon as well having stats equivalent to that of fully evolved Pokemon. Dragonair's less frequent appearances in the Pokemon games also adds to the idea that it is a psuedo-legendary Pokemon. In Generation 1 and the successive remakes Dragonair could only be obtained via evolving Dratini and in the later generations any wild Dragonairs were extremely rare. With it being a hard to obtain Pokemon this adds to the overall appeal of Dragonair. I chose to put Dragonair and not the evolved form, Dragonite, for two main reasons. One is how I actually used a Dragonair for quite some time playing FireRed so I got more attached to it being a Dragonair than a Dragonite. The second reason is how Dragonair and not Dragonite was deemed so important to appear in the opening of the first season of the anime. 

10- Lugia
First appearing in Generation 2 Lugia is one of the most memorable of the legendary Pokemon and when it was first released it was also one of the more powerful ones. In the world of Pokemon it is supposed to be the leader of the trio of legendary birds from the first generation, (Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres), and is said to be the guardian of the seas. The PokeDex entry from Diamond and Pearl says that Lugia can cause 40 day storms by flapping its wings. Not only that but Lugia is based off of the legendary dragon Ryujin from Japanese mythology adding to Lugia's credibility as a powerful legendary figure. A final point to mention is how Pokemon XD: Gales of Darkness had Lugia as the flagship legendary Pokemon bearing a slight color redesign to make it look like a malevolent god. As a child the image of Dark Lugia stuck with me for a long time making Lugia one of the greatest legendary Pokemon.

9- Pikachu
No list is complete without Pikachu. Pikachu is the most recognizable Pokemon around being the flagship for the entire franchise. Pikachu is one of the few Pokemon to appear in every game in the Pokemon franchise and even managed to have games entirely devoted to Pikachu. Over the years this Pokemon has been parodied in many forms of media ranging from The Simpsons, to Drawn Together to the Nostalgia Critic thus showing how recognizable this Pokemon is. Although not the best Pokemon Pikachu is the most enduring and I always made sure that I had a Pikachu in either my party or my PC through each play through. Even if I had evolved my Pikachu into the much stronger Raichu I would always go out and catch another one. We also have to mention how Ash's Pikachu in season one of the anime gave us two of the best episodes of said season, Electric Shock Showdown and Pikachu's Goodbye.

8- Butterfree
Many of you would be thinking why I placed Butterfree so high on the list when there are many more better designed and stronger Pokemon. My two favorite Pokemon games growing up were FireRed and Emerald for several personal reasons. The first wild Pokemon that I caught in FireRed was a Caterpie and it soon became the first Pokemon in that game which I fully evolved. That Butterfree would remain a loyal member of my party through the rest of the game and would often prove decisive in every gym battle. My Butterfree would often use Confusion and Psychic to great effect which helped me win several hard gym battles. The same can also be said for helping me defeat one of the four members of the Elite Four. Butterfree was one of my best Pokemon in that game. The second reason lies with the anime. Ash's first fully evolved Pokemon was his Butterfree and the episode Bye Bye Butterfree was one of the best episodes in the series. It was heart wrenching and one of the most sad episodes of the entire program let alone season. Hence Butterfree has earned its way onto the list. 

7- Lucario
Lucario is one of the best known Pokemon of recent years having great success among non-Pokemon fans. Although having no where near the acclaim that Pikachu can boast Lucario has earned much acclaim. For one it is one of the four fighters from the Pokemon franchise to appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (the others being Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Pokemon Trainer), being one of the mascots for the new game Pokken and even had a movie before the Pokemon even appeared in the games. Not only that Lucario has extremely high stats for a Pokemon which isn't a legendary or psuedo-legendary with a total stats of 525. Even obtaining Lucario is a task in itself having to complete a certain amount of Diamond and Pearl, hatching the egg of Riolu and then increasing Riolu's happiness during the day to help it evolve. Despite such as hassle obtaining a Lucario it is well worth it.

6- Alakazam
This Pokemon is one of the most powerful Psychic types in the entire franchise. Having speed at 120 and special attack at 135 this made Alakazam one of the most powerful non-physical attack Pokemon. Not only that Alakazam was one of two Pokemon (the other we shall get to shortly) which caused Psychic Pokemon to be weak against Ghost and Dark types when Generation 2 was released due to have overpowered it was. In fact the Dark type was actually introduced in Generation 2 to combat the strength of Psychic types. Alakazam also raised a few questions in the Pokemon world. Several PokeDex entries state that Alakazam has an IQ of 5000 and is smarter than many supercomputers. The world's smartest person, Christopher Langan, has an IQ between 195 and 210. In the Pokemon world a being with an IQ almost 24 times that of the smartest human can be trapped in a ball to fight for a ten year old child...

5- Kyogre
Kyogre was one of the legendary Pokemon introduced in Generation 3 and is one of my favorite legendary Pokemon. Within the games it is said that Kyogre controls water and created the seas but also has intense battles with a legendary Pokemon called Groudon that can destroy the entire planet and said battles can only be stopped by the intervention of a third legendary Pokemon. Not only does this resemble biblical tales of gods fighting but it also raises issues about how a child can catch it in a ball and make it fight for them. Like all legendary Pokemon Kyogre has staggeringly high stats being at a total of 670. There is a reason why I put Kyogre so high: it got me interested in Pokemon. Seeing Kyogre on the adverts so many years ago it instantly drew my attention to the franchise. I started watching the anime in hope that I could catch a glimpse of the Pokemon and eventually when I first played Sapphire I was eager to do battle with the behemoth.

4- Sceptile
Sceptile is not even close to being the strongest starter Pokemon never mind Pokemon in general but it has a special place in my heart. It was my very first starter Pokemon and I would use it again in Emerald. Over two adventures I battled with a Sceptile and it earned a firm place in my heart. What made it even better was how Ash in the anime managed to get a Sceptile as well so I felt a stronger connection with mine. I could see an animated version of my own Pokemon alongside some of my favorite characters. Also the fact that it was with a Sceptile that I caught a Kyogre helps a lot to endear itself in my childhood nostalgia.

3- Charizard
This is easily one of the best known starter Pokemon in all of the games. Charizard is one of the more powerful of the starter Pokemon and is one of the best design. Dragons instantly capture the attention of everyone and Charizard is no exception to this rule. The design for Charizard is fantastic. Not only that the people in charge of adapting Pokemon noticed this as well. Ash's Charizard was the only fully evolved starter that he had in season one, Red in Pokemon: Origins had a Charizard and Charizard even appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl being one of the Pokemon Trainer's Pokemon. Not to mention how Game Freak made you battle two Charizards in Pokemon Ranger and gave Charizard two mega evolutions showing how popular this Pokemon is. Finally I love Charizard myself. Not only was Charizard my starter in FireRed but my character was also a character in the first Mystery Dungeon game. Being as blunt as possible Charizard is awesome.

2- Rayquaza
Rayquaza is without a doubt one of the best legendary Pokemon around. When first introduced it had the joint highest stats of any Pokemon, only to be beat by Arceus in Generation 4, but with the addition of Mega Rayquaza it now has the joint highest stats once more. Flying endlessly in the ozone layer it is a virtual god and is the only Pokemon able to end the battles between Kyogre and Groudon. As stated earlier Emerald was one of my favorite Pokemon games and this legendary happened to be said game's mascot. Rayquaza even served as the final boss in Mystery Dungeon as well as a boss in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Not only that but the design of Rayquaza is fantastic. The design is clearly inspired by the dragons of Japanese mythology and Rayquaza fits the part perfectly. In Japanese mythology dragons are often god like beings which Rayquaza definitely is. 

1- Mewtwo
Here we have the ultimate Pokemon. Born of genetic experiments by splicing the DNA of Mew Mewtwo has become the ultimate fighting machine. The power of Mewtwo is so strong that this is one of the Pokemon that influenced Game Freak to introduce Psychic Pokemon being weak to Ghost and Dark types to counteract how overpowered it is. Until Generation 3 it was by far the most powerful Pokemon having stats of 680 and even then when Rayquaza was introduced it was only equal to Mewtwo's stats. With the introduction of Arceus however Mewtwo ceased to be the most powerful Pokemon. When mega evolutions were introduced Mewtwo though Mewtwo became the most powerful again alongside Rayquaza. Like Charizard Mewtwo was recognized as being a fan favorite and gained two mega evolutions.  Mewtwo even has an entire movie based around it! Mewtwo remains one of the greatest legendary Pokemon and one of the greatest Pokemon altogether.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my list and were there any Pokemon which you would have chosen instead? Please feel free to comment. 

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