I was there at the beginning. I got my copy of Pokémon Blue back in 1999 and, as I didn’t have a GameBoy yet, my friend let me borrow his Super GameBoy peripheral for the SNES so I could play this new game that everyone was so excited about. I have a lot of love for these early days of the series. So, after a lot of agonising, I wanted to talk about my ten favourite Kanto Pokémon.
The only caveats I have for this list are: 1. I’m having to put this list in PokéDex order, as it was enough of a challenge to eliminate the amount of cute creatures I had to without putting them into a ranking too. 2. Although this is only a list of Kanto Pokémon, I am allowing the use of information from latter generations of the series, as long as the Pokémon in question is one of the first 151.
Ready trainers? I sure am …
Blastoise was technically the first Pokémon I ever saw, owing to it being on the box and cartridge of Pokémon Blue, and it begun my life-long affinity with water-type starters (I have only not picked the water starter in one generation). Everything about the design of Blastoise is awesome, I mean, it’s a bright blue tortoise with giant water cannons on its back. What’s not to love?
I have to admit that Blastoise hasn’t remained with me as one of my favourite Pokémon of all time, which is an entirely other list, but he will always remain with me as the first creature I saw and also as the thing that drew me into playing this series, so I have a huge soft spot for this brute of a Pokémon that I don’t think will ever leave me.
I’m not entirely sure why I have such a love for Butterfree, but it was on my team every time I played through Pokémon Blue, and also it was quickly added to my team in Pokémon Yellow. Although, with hindsight, I’m not the biggest fan of the visual design of the creature, it was unbelievably useful in terms of the moves it could learn, even back in Gen 1.
With Grass, Bug, and Psychic moves at its disposal, Butterfree could be used in a variety of situations, even if it was a type that was also weak to a lot of moves too. Furthermore, Butterfree was easily cemented in my ten favourites by “Bye, Bye Butterfree” in the anime, which is a simply heart-wrenching bit of television.
Sometimes Pokémon are just indisputably cute, and that is definitely the case with our little cute fiery fox. There’s just something unflinchingly adorable about the little thing, also it made me slightly sought after as the creature wasn’t in Pokémon Red so it had to be traded over from a copy of Blue for players to complete their Kanto PokéDex, which has extended over to the Let’s Go! titles too!
Furthermore, Vulpix and just how adorable it is hasn’t waned over the years, with even the Alolan form in the Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon games being just as cute despite the change in appearance and typing. Guilty admission now though, I hated evolving Vulpix because I just wanted to keep it the way it was, so Ninetales was one of the last entries in my PokéDex back in the day.
This is my hands down favourite Pokémon of all time, I even have this fiery fluff ball tattooed on my arm. I’m quite intensely a dog person, so I was always going to be drawn to the more canine Pokémon, but Arcanine looked so utterly adorable and badass in equal measure that it was something akin to love at first sight.
What’s more, Arcanine has only become a better and better option in my eyes as the generations have rolled on, with a greatly enhanced moveset and the introduction of abilities making it a viable option for teams even to this day. This being said, even if it wasn’t viable, it would still be in my teams and I would just struggle on because, yes, I am just that stubborn.
Everyone surely knows why Ditto is on this list. However, just in case you’re unaware, Ditto is a breeding master. I don’t know many players of the series that didn’t just put Ditto in the Day Care and basically leave it there as you put a procession of different creatures in there with it to pop out eggs day and night.
It’s a dirty job, sure, but someone has got to do it. And who better than Ditto? Plus, the rise of Ditto-themed merchandise has endeared the little blob to me in a whole new way; I just can’t get enough of different Pokémon inflicted with that adorably gormless grin and could easily bankrupt myself just on that range alone.
Back in 1999, it can’t be glossed over just how unique a lot of the mechanics and ideas in Pokémon were, and this was most evident in the evolution mechanics. There were so many ways to evolve your little creatures and most of this information spread through the playground in whispers. The most surprising for past me though, was receiving a Pokémon that evolved immediately via trading.
Gengar was my first one of these experiences and I distinctly remember how amazed I was that the Haunter my friend had sent me over the GameBoy Link Cable evolved immediately into a Pokémon that I had never seen before. For that reason alone, Gengar has remained with me all these years; oh, and I love his Mega Evolution in the latter games too, but that’s neither here nor there.
Is there a story more sad in the original Pokémon story than that of Cubone? It wears the skull of its dead mother as a helmet and cries every night in mourning over the loss. That detail was completely lost on my as a child, but in adulthood I can look back and see just how sad the tale of this Pokémon actually is.
This isn’t really enough evidence for why Cubone is one of the best Kanto Pokémon though. So, for this I’d like to point out that that little bone that it wields allows it to use two moves that are unique to it and its evolution, which is utterly badass. Also, it is said that it only survived the death of its mother owing to its immense skill with said bone, so hats off where it’s due.
If there was ever a perfect allegory of the power of hard work and perseverance, it’s in Magikarp. This little fish is initially, as most people know by now, utterly useless but yet with time becomes the utterly fearsome Gyarados. Sure, it was pretty difficult sticking with the poor thing whilst it only knew the wonderfully pointless ‘Splash’, but the commitment was totally worth it in the end.
It does learn one legitimate move, ‘Tackle’, but most people tend to forget that in the wake of the fact it evolves into a sinister looking dragon at level 20. I’m keen not to forget the humble beginnings though. What my thoughts about this Pokémon come down to though, is that we could all be a little more like Magikarp and think about what we can become rather than dwelling on what we are.
I’ll level with you all, back in 1999 my favourite Eeveelution was Flareon; but, as you’ve likely noticed, I have a bit of a thing for fire-type Pokémon. Since then though, I’ve realised that Vaporeon is simply the superior of the original trio of grown-up Eevees. It is quite frankly the best designed of the three from a visual standpoint, and has my personal favourite name of them too (I think it’s clever – don’t @ me).
Although in recent times Vaporeon has been replaced with another Eeveelution as my favourite (Leafeon), this majestic water kitten (?) has remained in my top three since 1999 and with good reason. It helps that it’s actually considered to be one of the most powerful water-type Pokémon in the whole series too. But I mostly love it because of how adorable it is.
The original and best Pokémon mystery; how to catch the 151st creature, Mew. There wasn’t a single person in the Red/Blue era that didn’t get sucked into the rumour that you could catch the elusive Mew by moving the truck near the S.S. Anne. Every single thing was tried out by my friends and I, but yet nothing worked (unsurprisingly, looking back).
This was brought to fever pitch by the first movie, that featured the little creature. A lot of time has passed and now Mew is relatively easy to catch by past standards. It still remains an event Pokémon, and is included in the Pokéball Plus peripheral released today, but it is definitely not the pain to acquire it used to me. Oh, and if I needed another reason to add it, this little pink badass can learn almost any move in the whole game, and that is just impressive.
Honorable Mention: Slowbro
I have to give an honorable mention to this absolutely hilarious Pokémon. Slowpoke might be a little dumb and dopey looking, but Slowbro is essentially in the process of being eaten and yet is carrying on as if absolutely nothing out of the ordinary is happening. The level of obliviousness here is so high that I would be doing the franchise a disservice for not putting him on this list.
I’d like to point out also, that this isn’t even factoring in the fact that it is eaten enough by the shell in his Mega Evolution that it is practically wearing the shell as a onesie. This Pokémon is either a complete genius, for using the shell as armour without it knowing, or one of the dumbest creatures ever designed by man.
So that is my favourite Pokémon from the Kanto Region, but what is yours? Do yours feature on this list, or do you think there are particularly egregious picks missing? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter.