Each team is assigned an appropriate pocket monster, and teams are ranked accordingly. Nobody gets to be a legendary (looking at you, Philadelphia Ho-Ohs. Generations I and II only.
Description: The unbelievably powerful dragon that will crush (almost) all foes with ease. Final stage of Dratini.
Verdict: Dragonite is amazing. He has one of the highest attack scores in the game, and is immune or resistant to several common types. He does have a quadruple weakness to ice-beam, so you’re boned if you run into one of those, but he can know flamethrower and thunderbolt, so it may not matter anyway. You’ll wear out your thumbs training to get him (level 55!) but he’s worth it.
Description: The badass dragon of flame that has been with you from the beginning. Final stage of Charmander.
Verdict: She once may have been a tiny, adorable lizard, but now she’s made of pure badass. Immune to ground and wielding some powerful attacks and great stats, Charizard is going to burn out a lot of her opponents. The quad-weakness to rock is a little alarming, but rock attacks have fairly low accuracy for the most part, so it doesn’t hurt as much as you’d think. Major bonus points for being a starter-Pokémon.
#3—Windy City Wildfire (Rapidash)
Description: The wild, stunningly beautiful, fiery unicorn. Evolution of Ponyta.
Verdict: He’s really fast and is a rare non-starter fire Pokémon, who can either stomp on your face or He doesn’t quite have the stats you’d like for a core monster, but he makes up for it in cool.
burn you to the ground.
burn you to the ground.
Description: Regal and powerful, the enormous king of all rodents, equipped with a deadly horn. Final stage of Nidoran(m); evolves with moonstone.
Verdict: Nidoking is big, scary, and imperial, and he can be acquired as early as level 16, which earns him huge bonus points. The ability to crush face with one-shot moves like Horn Drill and near one-shots like Earthquake are great. But still, the poison type isn’t a great one, so he can’t move up higher on the list. There are just too many great psychic Pokémon out there.
#5—Indianapolis Alleycats (Persian)
Description: Elegant cat with sharp claws and a taste for fine jewelry. Evolves from Meowth.
Verdict: Persian is basically a lioness, who matures from the gold-adorned cat, Meowth. Being able to smack a foe and have coins materialize out of thin air is pretty cool, and her stats are decent. She doesn’t get really good until later generations of the games, when she picks up a couple of neat abilities that make her quite the technician. Probably not worth a spot on your main-quest Pokémon roster, but she’s a favorite of arch-badguys Team Rocket, so that has to give her some cred as someone to keep an eye on.
Description: The triple-threat magnet beast that got a whole lot tougher the second time around. Evolves from Magnemite.
Verdict: In the first games, Magneton was pretty bad. A slow electric type? Lame. But in the second generation, it picked up the new Steel type, which made it resistant to basically everything except fire- and ground-type attacks (and it was already getting killed by ground anyway). So Magneton turned out to be pretty decent after all. Alas, the speed factor is still a problem, so he can’t go any higher than here. Still, you have to wonder how difficult is to make a decision with three separate brains linked together.
#7—New Jersey Hammerheads (Marowak)
Description: Wear a goddamn skull for a helmet. Enough said.
Verdict: You thought we were going to go with some sort of shark on this one, didn’t you? Well, Marowak fits the Hammerheads just as well. She’ll smash you in the face with her head and not feel a thing through the skull of a vanquished foe that she wears just for fun. Also, she has a tendency to haunt memorials, so watch out if she comes down to play in DC.
Description: The…um…actually, I’m not really sure how to describe this one.
Verdict: Smeargle can only do one thing: once every ten levels, he can use the move Sketch to permanently copy a move that was just used against him. Sounds dumb, sure, and it takes forever to get things right, but you can end up with some otherwise impossible, but really fun combinations. Spore/Dream-Eater is probably the coolest idea ever. Anyway, nothing screams ‘Revolution’ more than taking your opponents’ weapons and stealing them for yourself. Go Smeargle!
#9—Madison Radicals (Ditto)
Description: The amorphous blob who reshapes himself to mimic foes.
Verdict: In combat, Ditto is a useless one-trick pony. BUT he has the uncanny ability to mate with anything that has genitals (no, seriously, Nintendo put that in the game), so he gets huge bonus points and a big bump up in the rankings for being very useful in breeding baby Pokémon eggs (also a thing). What could be more Radical than a constantly-changing free-love hippy?
Description: What is he? A chicken? Whatever, he’s part ice and somewhat Christmas-themed.
Verdict: Delibird is completely terrible, but he’s the only non-legendary ice-flyer, so in keeping with the rules, instead of Articuno, Minnesota gets Delibird. Delibird only learns one move: Present, which can either damage or heal the targeted opponent. On the bright side, he can learn TMs like Ice Beam, and the HM Fly, so he at least has some utility. By far his best contribution to the gaming universe is his Supermarket-Sweep style Pokémon Stadium minigame.
Description: Yep. She’s a pigeon.
Verdict: Able to conjure a mighty breeze with the move Gust, and maybe throw some sand in your eyes. But that’s about it. Only the flying type and the ability to learn Fly make her more useful than the Pokémon who brings up the rear.
Description: Yep. He’s a rat.
Verdict: Look, yes, for about a half hour Rattata is pretty good. He’s kind of quick and he can do some good damage until you clear Viridian Forest. His early Quick Attack move is what gets him matched up with the Rush. But then what? His stats are bad, he doesn’t have any type advantages, and he doesn’t learn any particularly interesting moves. He can’t even learn any good out-of-combat moves. At least a Metapod turns into Butterfree one day. Rattata just gets fat.