PokéBase - Pokémon Q&A
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So, as most of you, I've traveled thru Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Unova and Kalos.
I've been there and done that.
Became the ultimate champion as everyone else.
I experienced all of it and loved it till the last stretch.
Although, I have noticed something.
Before I go onward, I need you to see this in an analytical point of view, so don't jump on me with your preferences.

For the Kanto region we had the 90's kids favorites:
Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur.
Depending on the cartridge you picked, the best choice could variate between the fire breathing lizard and the blue tinted turtle.
This is due to the fact that in Red the logical choice for the smoother playthrough would be Squirtle, since you could pick up the awesomeness that is Arcanine later on.
On Blu I'd personally pick Charmander, due to a lack of decent fire pokémons. (...I'm looking at you Ninetails)

Moving on to Johto we could pick Chikorita, Totodile or Cyndaquil.
Now, as before, I've found myself playing thru the game multiple times always choosing between the fire and the water starters, but ultimately I would mostly gravitate towards Totodile, due to his final form ability to carry me thru the game with a solid set of ice, water and HM moves.

Hoenn was a tricky one.
As a person that likes art and has always studied it, I've always loved the design of these starters the best. Although I have to admit that between the three Torchic was by far the most useful: early on with the double kick it would learn at lv 16 and at the end against the champion Rocco (I think he is called Steven for you guys?).
BUT! In Emerald the champion greatly caught me by surprise, to the point which I decided to restart the whole game and pick the grass starter Treecko, which I've since then respected and appreciated.

I've never played Gen 4, but to be honest the penguin starter is pretty cool (pun deeply intended) and his final evolution is just a beast of a design.

Unova was where I, strong of my experience with Sceptile, decided to pick the sassy grass starter from the get go.
I quickly got stuck and restarted with the emergency-bacon fire pokémon Tepig and, frankly, I don't regret it because he too, as most of his predecessors, carried me thru the game with ease.

In Kalos we all picked Froakie because Greninja is bae, let's be honest.

Thus, finally, here is my question!
With the exception of Emerald, I've never needed the grass starter in all my years of playing this franchise.

So, what I'd like to ask is: WHY?
• Why even give us this choice if, inevitably, we have two other better options right next to it that can and will carry us thru the adventure more smoothly?
• How many times have you picked the grass starter, and in what game, and didn't decide to restart with a different choice?

Let me know DataBase, because I can't be the only one who thinks that streaming down the choice to two Pokémons won't cause that much of a difference.

Because your dumb rival needs the edge in case you pick up the water starter.
not a bad q i dont see the reason for the downvotes
but no starter is particularly as per se but rather based on preference
so each one plays a different role
look at meganium its defensive while typhlosion and feraligatr are offensive both in nature and in battle
so to conclude nothing is bad its just they're different and good in their own ways like a golie in football good in his own way. he cant play forward as well as a striker but acts as a line of defense
sorry for the long comment
boy you wrote a damn essay to ask this dumb question
I like froakie, bulbsaur, chickarita, snivy, piplup or turtwig, treeco. But in the end it has to do with what types you like and work best with.
I know this is probably necroposting, but I really wanted to say this. I think the three starter types weren't intended to be balanced, and the game designers didn't care if one of the three options was significantly worse than the other two. As you already mentioned, grass has the most weaknesses of any starter type, which means the game designers cared about making the game realistic and logical more than they cared about balancing the game. Additionally, the grass type had worse moves from the very beginning. Fire has always had flamethrower and fire blast. Water has always had surf and hydro pump. They could have easily had grass counterparts to those moves since the first games, but it took FOUR generations for them to introduce energy ball. So my guess is that the game designers thought giving types a rock-paper-scissors relationship was a cool idea, and they didn't think this all the way through.

2 Answers

12 votes
Best answer

Despite what you may think, your preferences are your preferences and the Fire/Water type starters are not objectively better in all respects.

For starters (excuse the pun) Bulbasaur was a common Pokemon to choose in the original Red/Blue because it made the game easier for beginners (the first two gyms are Rock and Water). The manual even stated this.

Secondly, some of the grass starters are good, like Serperior with Contrary. Others have their own niches. But Grass as a type is on average weaker than the others due to more type weaknesses and fewer good moves.

But the main reason there are three starter types is to explain the type system to newcomers. Grass/Fire/Water is the perfect example to show how there is no one type that's better than everything.

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im just gonna say this because no one else is but
>pokemaster answering a question
Actually, in the original R&B, Bulbasaur/Ivysaur has a neutral matchup against the second gym.
Ivysaur (GRA/POI) v Starmie (WAT/PSY)
It's an honor to have you answering my question, PokeMaster.

Although things must have been different where you grew up, as I can remember clearly that a vast portion of the kids I grew up with all picked Charmander, I being one of the few odd ones out that chose Squirtle.

The thing is, the games provides you with help for the gyms almost all the time.

You and I are probably in the same age group, so you may remember that before the forest, in the 1st Generation, it was possible to find a Monkey or a Nidoran(M/F) that would learn double kick at lv 12, and later on after Mt. Moon and the bridge with the trainers, you could find an Oddish.

What I'm trying to say is that the game gave you reasons NOT to choose Bulbasaur as your starter, but obviously you wouldn't know that on your first run.

But clearly this discussion can't be made for all the games, so I won't go forward with this.

Furthermore, what you said made me realize that I wrote this question having knowledge of the type system, something I wouldn't otherwise have known if not for that Grass starter way back in Gen 1.

Thank you,  as a fan to the other , for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.
I know you don't usually answer questions and I'm glad you chose this one to do so!
If I could I would vote your answer up
It shows how there is no one type that's better than the others, but it does eventually show how there is one type that's worse than all the others.
0 votes

I originally posted this as a comment, but the more I thought about it, the more confident I became that this guess was right.

So basically the game designers thought giving the starters a rock-paper-scissors relationship was a cool idea and then didn't put much more thought into it. I think it's pretty obvious that, in the first Pokemon games, the three starter types weren't intended to be balanced. (or they were intended to be balanced, and the game designers were just dumb) Fire started with 3 weaknesses and was resisted by 4 types, water started with 2 weaknesses and was resisted by 3 types, and grass started with 5 weaknesses and was resisted by 6 types, which means the game designers cared about making the game realistic and logical more than they cared about balancing the game. Also, fire has always had flamethrower and fire blast. Water has always had surf and hydro pump. They could have also given grass some good moves from the beginning, but it took them 3 more generations to introduce energy ball. The only reason Bulbasaur was slightly better than Charmander (and still worse than Squirtle) was because it was saved by sleep powder. When a grass starter doesn't get sleep powder, it becomes GSC Chikorita. I do see that the game designers have tried to balance the 3 types recently (by introducing Kartana), but grass is still resisted by 7 types.

Pokemon's target audience probably doesn't put much thought into their games, so why should Pokemon's game designers put in any more thought?