Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald introduced players to the Hoenn region, along with a collection of new Pokémon and, of course, three new starter Pokémon. The original games of generation three, Ruby and Sapphire, have slight differences in gameplay and important battles compared to one another and to their successor, Pokémon Emerald. This guide will specifically focus on each starter’s usability in a Nuzlocke run of Emerald version, but the games are similar enough that these rankings will hold mostly true for Ruby and Sapphire as well.
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, and for a tier list ranking nearly all Pokémon in the Hoenn region, head over to our Hoenn Nuzlocke tier list. Read on to get specific advice for picking your starter in Pokémon Emerald.
Generation Three: Pokémon Emerald
Mudkip’s fantastic offensive typing, mixed offensive and defensive stats, and powerful movepool make it a clear choice for our top ranking. Early game usefulness is key for a starter, and Mudkip enjoys overwhelming type advantages against the first, third, and fourth Gyms. Its relatively early access to powerful STAB moves in Surf and Earthquake allow it to overpower much of the mid-game, it has type advantage against Team Magma, and it has access to Ice Beam to deal with the Flying-type sixth Gym (as well as a last ditch-option against Grass-type opponents). Its one major flaw is a crippling weakness to Grass-type moves, but these threats can be handled by fairly common Flying-types such as Swellow, or early on by even weaker Pokémon like Dustox or Beautifly. Despite this weakness, Mudkip’s early-game dominance and high overall power make it our top pick in Hoenn.
The Torchic line began a long tradition of starters with the dual Fire/Fighting typing, and it uses this excellent offensive typing well in Pokémon Emerald. In the early-game, Torchic is useful yet faces many dangers. The Rock-type first gym can be cleared by a Combusken with Double Kick, but also threatens knock-outs with super-effective Rock-type attacks. The Electric-type third Gym’s Magneton can be similarly handled in part by Double Kick, but the Torchic line does not resist Electric-type attacks and has uninspiring defensive stats. This is a theme for Torchic which keeps it out of the top spot: it provides a powerful offensive weapon to defeat many powerful opponents, but is also in constant danger of being knocked out due to its poor defensive typing and stats. While this holds the Torchic line back, its offensive firepower and coverage allow it to single-handedly sweep many teams once it achieves full power in the late-game, making it a valuable addition to any Nuzlocke team and earning it our second-place ranking.
Treecko and its evolutionary line are strong Pokémon, and its position as our third-place pick speaks to the high quality of the starters in the Hoenn region. Excellent speed and good attacking stats, along with a good STAB move in Leaf Blade, make this a useful Pokémon throughout the game, and a type advantage against the Rock-type first Gym, as well as a resistance to the Electric-type third Gym, bolsters its utility early in a run. However, Treecko begins to run into trouble by the mid-game, as the Fire-type and Flying-type gyms force Treecko to largely sit out of important battles. Its single Grass-typing limits its offensive coverage, and by the late-game its power begins to fade, as Leaf Blade only has 70 Base Power in generation three. This is somewhat offset by a type advantage against the Water-type Champion Wallace (though this does not apply to the same extent in Ruby and Sapphire, where the Rock and Steel-type Steven is Champion). Without the early-game dominance of Mudkip or the late-game firepower of Torchic, Treecko finds itself outclassed by the other two starter Pokémon and thus earns our third-place ranking.
That concludes our ranking of the starters in Pokémon Emerald. Do you agree with our rankings? Let us know your thoughts, and be sure to check out our Guides and Articles section for more rankings, tier lists, and tips. If you’re planning on starting a Hoenn Nuzlocke challenge, don’t forget to look over our Pokémon Emerald tier list for advice on which Pokémon to build your team around, and check out our Pokémon Emerald Nuzlocke Guide and Tips to for all the information you need to complete the run. Happy Nuzlocking!