Pokémon, the phenomenon that rocked both eastern and western culture 20 years ago, has somehow managed to do it again. After its launch in July, Pokémon GO managed to capture the loyal, recapture the lapsed, and introduce new generations to the monsters that stole our hearts two decades ago.

The original 151 Pokémon that Ken Sugimori designed for Pokémon Red and Green will always hold a special place in gaming history (and our hearts). On this, their 20 year anniversary, we’d like to celebrate the timeless brilliance as well as the smart reinvention of these iconic creatures by sharing our team’s picks for our favorite Pokémon from the generation that started it all.

Blastoise

by Jaxson Tapp

When it comes to starting your Pokémon journey in the Kanto region, there is no better choice to be your lifelong partner than Squirtle. Ash Ketchum himself picked Squirtle first before learning that there were no Pokémon left for him, all in hopes to get the most fearsome of all of the final starter evolutions, Blastoise. This Pokémon has powerful water cannons protruding from its shell, and these cannons are powerful enough to blast holes in thick steel. After it mega evolves, Blastoise’s cannon has a range of over six miles, which is roughly 6,034 times the height of your average Blastoise. Blastoise isn’t all power and no peace, however, as it’s frequently seen leading groups of Squirtle and Wartortle to put out fires. Blastoise is a loyal companion for any Pokémon trainer, and is always my go-to start Pokémon every time I journey through the Kanto region.

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Ninetails

by Ben Fruzzetti

Based on an old Japanese legend of a nine-tailed fox, Ninetails is one of the most elegant Pokémon out there. It’s also said to be quite intelligent and even vengeful, cursing those who mistreat it. Its great design and solid use in battle, not to mention how it evolves from the super cute Vulpix, has cemented it has a fan favorite, and the fact that it’s getting an Alolan form drew wide praise. Ninetales is a perfect mix of mystique, power and beauty, all in one fox-shaped package.

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Raichu

by Logan Plant

Raichu is often overlooked thanks to its devolved form (see below), but it’s still a great Pokémon in its own right. It’s more powerful than that other mouse everyone can’t stop talking about, which is proven in one of the early episodes of the Pokémon anime, when Ash Ketchum’s rodent loses to Lt. Surge’s Raichu. Raichu is so cool that Ash even considers evolving his partner into a Raichu so he can be as strong of a trainer as Surge is! If all that isn’t enough, Raichu is receiving a pretty sweet Alolan form where he surfs on his own tail. If that’s not Top 5 worthy, I’m not sure what is.

pokemon-raichu

Vaporeon

by Logan Plant

There are so many paths to take Eevee down, but Vaporeon is definitely the best choice. Besides always presenting itself with grace and dignity, Vaporeon has the ability to turn itself into pure water molecules. This keeps Vaporeon camouflaged during swims, but it also makes it extremely difficult to find a Vaporeon in the wild. Pokémon have plenty of unique and exciting abilities, but this one definitely takes the cake. See that puddle over there? That could be a Vaporeon. How about that tub of water you wash your dog in? Yeah, there’s a Vaporeon in that as well. Next time you catch an Eevee, be sure to hand it that water stone, because you definitely want a Vaporeon hanging out in your party.

pokemon-vaporeon

Pikachu

Pikachu, we choose you!

Okay, so Pikachu definitely has an unfair advantage when it comes to favorite Pokémon lists. Not only has he served as mascot for the entire franchise since its inception; but he also received a double dose of personification through his journey with Ash in the Indigo League anime, which debuted alongside the original Game Boy games in 1996.

pokemon-pikachu

All that considered, though, we’d argue that Pikachu is still very much deserving of his fame and adoration based solely on his own merits. Pikachu perfectly balances all of the attributes that make Pokémon so endearing; he’s adorable, powerful, resolute and loyal. It’s no accident that this little electric rodent has remained the face of Pokémon for 20 years and counting.

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Written by Brittin Shauers

Brittin literally grew up with Link, Mario and Samus. These three characters and their worlds collectively capture everything that he loves about video games.

Brittin Shauers