Gen 9 Starter Pokemon
Image: Nintendo Life

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have finally been shown to the world and in spite of all the important debates whirling around the internet right now about the development team's enormous workload, concerned speculation over exactly how we're going to catch all of the new Pokémon this time around after Arceus' welcome refresh of an age-old mechanic, and 'Wait, I've not finished the last one yet!', there is only one question that really matters — the one everyone with even the mildest interest in the series can't help but ask themselves the instant the latest trailer's finished: Which starter is the right one for me?

The importance of this question cannot be understated and, indeed, one we posed you lovely readers very soon after the reveal of Gen 9's starters.

We are drawn towards these beasts before the games they're in go anywhere near our hardware. We judge our friends based on their choices and applaud the impeccable taste of other trainers — even people we've never met — when they decide to join the same 'team' we've dedicated this Poké-generation to. When you think about it, it's all a bit weird.

But it's also more than a bit predictable, too. This strange phenomenon has been going on for as long as there's been Pokémon games with starters, and that means we have decades of heated arguments and thoughtful observations to draw upon for insight into this 25-year-old dilemma.

With this knowledge in hand and after donning a white cardigan in a sorry attempt to get into the mindset of a wise Pokémon professor, we took a look at seven of the more common reasons (we think) behind the monumental decision of how you choose your starter Pokémon.

Have a scroll through these and see which one fits you best...

#1 Burning Down The House

It's all about picking the element that suits you best, in whatever form that happens to take this time around. Bird, crocodile, cat, lizard, some sort of mammal-ish thing — it doesn't matter so long as it's your favourite elemental type in the classic three-way choice between fire, water, and grass.

For some Trainers this is a practical decision, a familiar type to help make the opening hours go a little smoother, but others may just like the idea of having someone around who could theoretically double up as a fiery foot warmer at any time of the day or night.

Choose
Image: The Pokémon Company

#2 Sweet Child O' Mine

For you only the sweetest, fluffiest, starter is good enough. All other concerns pale into insignificance compared to the estimated huggability of this adorable creature, the one you will insist on keeping in your party no matter how much easier it would be to swap them out for something else, the one you will cry over if you accidentally evolve them away from their smallest form.

If any starter's going to have a daft custom nickname, it's the one that belongs to this Trainer — isn't that right, Barry Burdon?

Gen1starters
Image: The Pokémon Company

#3 Never Gonna Give You Up

Tradition dictates you must always choose whichever latest addition to the now unmanageably large Pokédex is closest to the first Pokémon you picked, whether that life-changing event occurred so long ago your first Poké-adventures were powered by a bundle of AA batteries pinched from your parent's TV remote or you bought Pokémon Shield on a whim a few years ago.

You don't know why, but you do know Charmander would be disappointed in you if you went for anything else.

Pokemon Choices Rowlet Cyndaquil Oshawott
Image: The Pokémon Company / Nintendo Life

#4 The Winner Takes It All

You're far more interested in raw stats than the animated cluster of colourful polygons moving around on the screen in a marketable fashion, and you'll take whichever starter is going to crush everything you come across with as little effort as possible.

With little loyalty from one gym to the next, never mind across your journey to be the very best like no-one ever was, you'll happily let this one gather dust in Someone's PC the instant you find a better option and won't feel the slightest pang of guilt for doing so.

Who's the real monster here?

Starters For 10
Image: The Pokémon Company / Nintendo Life

#5 Radio Gaga

The internet said you had to pick this one, so you did. You have no real idea why this is the good one or what to do with it, but someone will probably have a FAQ for you in a week or so… won't they?

There are only two possible outcomes for this kind of Trainer: They either spend a few hours feeling deeply confused and leave the game for another time, or they spend a few hours feeling deeply confused before the 'lightbulb moment' happens and they become a Poké-god; an unstoppable devourer of knowledge happy to trade specially-bred Pokémon with themselves.

Starters Pokemon Bdsp
Image: The Pokémon Company / Nintendo Life

#6 Purple Rain

There's this one move you just love unleashing on your poor opponent and you're fairly certain from the look and type of this little Pokémon that it'll either naturally learn it at some point down the evolutionary line or you'll be able to teach it how to decimate your foes in your favourite way later on.

Things don't look great for this starter if you happen to catch another Pokémon that already has your preferred move ready to go, but until that fateful moment you'll lavish it with all the care and stat-boosting attention it needs.

Pokemon Scarlet And Pokemon Viole
Image: Pokémon

#7 Take On Me

Every trio of starters can be safely divided into the cool one, the cute one, and the... other... one. The one that doesn't show up as often as the more popular Pokémon in the TV series. The one that's always at the back of the crowd on the posters. The one without its own special Hallowe'en plushie or official t-shirt. Politely pushed aside before they ever had the chance to shine, you plump for your starter out of pity for its underdog status, and want to show everyone you meet just how good it can be.


That's how we see it anyway. Why have we gone with song names for all the options, you ask? Well, isn't it obvious? Er, the radio was on while we were writing this one. It was pop-tastic, great mate.

As choosing a starter is such a personal decision, there's bound to be as many reasons for picking one over the other as there are Pikachu plushies in existence, so let us know in the poll below, or head to the comments if there's another reason you gave Froakie and Fennekin the cold shoulder because you were ALL ABOUT CHESPIN.

How do you pick your starter Pokémon?

Further reading: