Each generation of Pokemon brings us a new bundle of three starters to choose from. What inevitably happens when these starters are revealed is that the internet devolves into arguments about which one is the best. Of course, which one you prefer is very subjective, but that doesn’t stop people online from telling you that you’re wrong for the one you choose. It also doesn’t stop people from telling you why they think your choice is terrible.
Allow me to join in on this particular trend. This generation’s collection of starters is, without a doubt, the worst we’ve had in ages. I’m not even necessarily talking about the three base-forms of the starters. Scorbunny, Sobble, and Grokey are mostly pretty standard in terms of Pokemon starters. They seem to conform to the color-coding of starters, and they’re all basically just elementally-inclined animals. It’s actually the following evolutionary stages where things start to get weird.
Recently, there was a leak of several of the advanced forms of the starters. Sobble and Grokey had their second forms leaked, both coming from Reddit and both seemingly in their shiny color schemes. Once again, these forms actually look pretty standard in terms of second forms of starter Pokemon. Then the final stages were leaked.
This time we not only go the leaks of all three Pokemon’s final forms, but we also found out their names. Grokey’s final form, called Rillaboom, is the best of the bunch. Basically taking the form of a giant monkey with a wooden drum kit, Rillaboom actually looks pretty good. Most importantly, it’s dissimilar to every other final stage evolution for previous starters.
Soble and Scorbunny didn’t fare nearly so well. Sobble’s final evolution, Inteleon, is entirely hideous. It’s essentially an anthropomorphic version of Sobble, but far too thin and tall, with a face that was made for punching. Apart from being just a little too “uncanny valley” for comfort, it’s also an underwhelming design to see yet another humanoid Pokemon.
Worse still, in many ways, is Cinderace – the final evolution of Scorbunny. The leaked image for this one is pretty grainy, but from the blurry outline we have, it looks like Nintendo basically elected to make a furry. Now, there’s nothing wrong with furries or anthropomorphic characters in general, but having two humanoid final evolutions feels astonishingly lazy. Moreover, the design seems like it couldn’t be more generic if they were trying.
As good as Sword and Shield look, the combined lack of cloud saves and these stupefying new starters don’t speak well to this generation’s potential. If you were wishing for interesting final starter forms, then you’re out of luck. At least those who planted their flag in team Grokey have been mostly vindicated. Rillaboom might not be the best design in Pokemon history, but at least it’s not just another anthropomorphic animal again.
But if there’s one thing gamers should learn from these Pokemon leaks, it’s that the only good starter is a grass starter.