While the Pokemon franchise has progressively grown over time, including new mechanics and Pokémon to the series, no generation will ever tote the sheer iconography of the first generation. Originally released in Japan in 1996, the first generation is responsible for sparking one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time.
While players all have their favorite Pokemon in each generation the competitive viability of a Pokemon often does not line up with a given Pokemon’s popularity. Many popular Pokemon are much less useful than one would expect, while there are sleeper hits that are much more powerful than one may expect. This most definitely rings true within the first generation, so today, we’re going to examine the ten most competitively viable Pokemon in the very first games in the series!
While modern Pokemon players may regard Dragonite as an excellent offensive dragon type, in gen one, it’s useful for a completely different reason. In Gen one, repeated damaging moves such as wrap and bind prevented the opposing Pokemon from doing anything while the attack slowly drained the foe’s HP. The faster the Pokemon with such a move, the more likely it was to sweep an opponent’s team. Dragonite happened to be one of the most powerful wrap users in the entire first generation.
A member of the iconic trio of legendary birds, Zapdos is one of the premier mixed attackers of generation one. As a flying and electric type, Zapdos gets the same type attack bonus from the physical offensive attack drill peck, as well as the special attack, thunderbolt. Between these two attacks, Zapdos was able to meaningfully deal damage to many of the other powerful Pokemon of the Gen. Zapdos notably also had access to Thunder Wave, one of the most consistent status attacks in gen one.
Starmie is a blisteringly fast Pokemon that benefits greatly from the way that generation one Pokemon games handle critical hits. Uniquely, in gen one, a Pokemon’s likelihood of landing a critical hit is based on the given Pokemon’s speed.
Furthermore, due to having a substantial amount of bulk a Starmie could often survive even the most deadly of blows, surviving the likes of a foe’s Explosion. With this bulk and speed, Starmie could reliably utilize Recover, allowing it to stall.
The grass and psychic typed Exeggutor was a stellar option for players who wanted to utilize numerous status effects. Able to learn both sleep powder and stun spore, this Pokemon could reliably prevent an opponent from dealing damage, often forcing them to switch Pokemon. Once an Exeggutor’s health had run low and it had outlived its usefulness, it could utilize the massive damage output of explosion to try to take the opposing Pokemon down with it.
Alakazam was the epitome of an offensive Pokemon in gen one, focusing entirely on special attack and speed. While rather frail, Alakazam could bombard foes with its powerful Psychic, which could potentially lower the target’s special stat. This allowed Alakazam to deal yet even more damage and ensure a KO. This Pokemon was also capable of learning moves like recover for healing itself and thunder wave for paralyzing foes!
When it comes to gen one Pokemon, Snorlax is as iconic as it is impressive. With the phenomenal combination of a massive HP pool and a high attack stat, Snorlax was capable of sticking around, taking hits, and dishing out damage.
With notoriously deadly body slams, few Pokemon could ignore a Snorlax’s power. Defensively, Snorlax could utilize Reflect to increase its survivability even further, or use rest to completely heal itself!
Chansey was without a doubt one of the most consistently used Pokemon on competitive teams in gen one. A normal type with a staggeringly high HP pool and an above-average special stat, the only real way to deal with a Chansey was to use highly damaging offensive moves that subverted its low defense. Often using moves such as Reflect, Thunder Wave, and even the self-healing Soft Boiled, it was nearly impossible to quickly take down a Chansey. Through its high special stat and HP, Chansey was the gen one Pokemon that was the most well equipped to deal with the (at the time) over-powered psychic type.
That’s right; you read that correctly. While in modern Pokemon, Tauros is a pretty run of the mill normal type that doesn’t see much use, in gen one, it was an absolute monster. With high speed and physical offense, a Tauros could burst out of the gate with same type attack boosted Body Slams and Hyper Beams. While known more for its offense than its defense, Tauros packs a solid amount of bulk that allows it to survive hits from nearly any other Pokemon. Often times, the best response to a Tauros in generation one was another Tauros!
One of the two gen one Pokemon banned from competitive play, the legendary psychic-type Mew is able to learn every attack in the entire game. This means that it is without a doubt the most flexible Pokemon in gen one. It can fit any role a player wants for their team, and tote a player’s ideal move-list. Between this unparalleled flexibility and stellar base stats of one-hundred in every category, it isn’t hard to see why Mew was banned.
Mewtwo is without a doubt the most broken and overpowered Pokemon in gen one. With an absurdly high special stat and excellent stats in every other category, few things compare to a Mewtwo’s Psychic. If used in conjunction with Amnesia, a Mewtwo can blitz through an entire team composed of the other entries of this list, and it can do so with ease. Like Mew, banning Mewtwo from competitive play seems like a no-brainer.
Next: 10 Best Pokemon, According To The Anime
Staff Writer, Paul DiSalvo is a writer, comic creator, animation lover, and game design enthusiast currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. He has studied creative writing at The New Hampshire Institute of Art and Otis College of Art and Design, and currently writes for CBR, ScreenRant, GameRant, and TheGamer. In addition to writing, he directs and produces the podcast, “How Ya Dyin’?”
He enjoys collecting comics, records, and wins in Samurai Shodown.
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