Ranking the Top Starter Pokémon in FireRed and LeafGreen: Nuzlocke Edition

Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen introduced players to an updated version of the Kanto region, which brought graphical changes, additional features, and, most importantly, new mechanics. We’ve ranked the best starters in Red and Blue already, but the remakes are different enough to warrant their own rankings. Will their rankings stay consistent, or are the changes in generation three enough to shake things up?

For some general tips on how to select the best starter Pokémon in any generation , check out our four tips for choosing the right starter Pokémon. Read on to get specific advice for picking your starter in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen.

Generation 3: FireRed and LeafGreen

  1. Bulbasaur

Alas, despite mechanical changes, bug fixes, and its signature Toxic + Leech Seed combo being nerfed, the Bulbasaur line holds onto our top spot, although it’s less of a runaway favorite in generation three than in the original games. It’s hard to overstate how important good early-game type matchups are in a Nuzlocke challenge, and Bulbasaur gets great matchups against almost all of the Gyms in the first half of the game (depending on the order you tackle them). Its access to status moves like Toxic and Leech Seed, while less broken in this generation, is still a great way to stall through otherwise overwhelming opponents, and its weaknesses to Bug, Fire and Flying-types are easily covered by catching a common Rock-type Pokémon. Overall, Bulbasaur has perfect typing for the early-game, has a great movepool with tons of utility, and makes building a balanced team by the mid-game much easier, making it our top choice for FireRed and LeafGreen.

2. Squirtle

Squirtle’s good typing, type advantage against the first Gym, and great defensive stats make it a solid choice in generation three. Relatively early access to a powerful Water-type move in Surf is a big bonus for the Squirtle line, but it’s held back slightly by a couple of things. First, while it has solid type matchups against a few important early game opponents, it simply can’t compare to the important early-game dominance that Bulbasaur provides (though this can be mitigated somewhat if you’re able to catch an Oddish or Bellsprout after battling Misty). The second and bigger problem is that everything the Squirtle line does, your free Lapras does as well or even better, thanks to its additional Ice-typing. So, while Squirtle is a solid anchor for your team early on, it becomes somewhat redundant once Lapras is acquired, and in a Nuzlocke challenge, it’s incredibly important to get the maximum value out of each of your limited Pokémon. Still a solid choice, Squirtle gets our second-place pick.

3. Charmander

This poor fan-favorite just can’t seem to catch a break. Unfortunately for Charmander, its type disadvantages against the first two Gym Leaders are too crippling to ignore, and few options exist on the early routes to provide players with other coverage options. If you’re unable to catch a Mankey and Bellsprout/Oddish before those battles, you’ll have a difficult time indeed, and those catches aren’t guaranteed in a Nuzlocke. Our generation one critiques still hold: Charmander’s weaker defensive stats are dangerous in a Nuzlocke, and its type advantages against Grass and Bug-types can be replaced by catching a Spearow or Pidgey, both common early encounters. While certainly a threatening Pokémon later in the game, early-game usefulness is key in a Nuzlocke, and Charizard simply doesn’t bring enough to the table to make up for its shortcomings, earning our third-place spot.


That concludes our ranking of the FireRed and LeafGreen starters. We’re sure people will have lots of different opinions on such a controversial topic, so let us know if we’ve missed something, or if you think they should be ranked differently. Be sure to check out our rankings for these starters in generation one, and stay tuned for more rankings and updates from Nuzlocke University!

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