The Pokemon franchise turns 20 years old today, and in that time there have been a lot of pocket monsters. What started out as 150 fictional critters has ballooned to 721 across six generations of games — that doesn't even include what new additions are coming in Pokemon Sun and Moon later this year. And, well, they vary in quality quite a bit; for every adorable Pikachu there’s a Luvdisc —literally a heart turned on its side that’s supposed to be a fish. Two decades after the series debuted, the most important question is which pokemon is the best. Using a highly scientific process — which primarily involves measuring how much the pokemon in question makes me say “aww” — I’ve managed to narrow it down to the ten most coolest, cutest pokemon yet discovered.
Really, you don’t need to know much about Rapidash to know why it’s so great: it’s a flaming horse. A horse, you can ride, which is also on fire. At the same time. Plus, it has a unicorn-like horn, which I assume makes it more aerodynamic because it can run upwards of 150 miles per hour.
Drifloon is a classic example of how deceptive appearances can be. Sure, it looks like a scraggly balloon thing, with stringy little arms, but it’s actually a creature out of your worst nightmares. Those strings are actually a trap. "These pokemon are called the ‘Signpost for Wandering Spirits,’" the Pokedex explains. "Children holding them sometimes vanish."
Just like people, pokemon come in all shapes and sizes. Some are lithe and athletic, others cute and fluffy. And then there’s Snorlax, a creature whose defining trait is its ability to sleep basically anywhere at any time. In the games they can be annoying; a sleeping Snorlax can regularly be found blocking a path that prevents you from progressing. But it’s hard not to sympathize. I’d probably get sleepy too if I ate 400 pounds of food per meal.
One of the biggest debates in the pokeverse is which of the original starters is best. And while Charmander is pretty adorable, there’s just something about Squirtle. Maybe it’s the way it looks in sunglasses, or maybe it’s that it has the best possible name. Whatever it is, Squirtle slightly edges out his fiery counterpart. (Please stop reading now if you prefer Bulbasaur.)
Apparently the designers at The Pokemon Company really know their way around a turtle. They got things really right with Squirtle, and improved on him a few years later with Turtwig, one of the starters from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Turtwig is, literally, a baby turtle with a twig growing out of its head. As it evolves, so does the twig, eventually turning into a giant tree on the back on an intimidating turtle called Torterra.
Patience is an important virtue, and nowhere is that more true than in a Pokemon game. The process of raising and evolving pokemon takes hours and hours of repetitive battles. But sometimes the payoff is worth it. Take Gyarados, for example. In order to get one, you first need to keep a completely useless, flapping goldfish in your team, taking up a valuable roster spot. But if you’re patient, eventually it will evolve into an awesome water dragon that will immediately become one of your best fighters.
The Pokemon games may seem like cute games for kids, but they can get incredibly dark. Cubone is easily the saddest pokemon in existence. The little guy wears a skull on its head, which is creepy enough, until you realize that it’s the skull of its dead mother. According to the Pokedex, "when it thinks of its dead mother, it cries. Its crying makes the skull it wears rattle hollowly." Seriously, just add this guy to your team now. It could use the company.
Piplup is the kind of creature that can get by on its looks alone. If you found out that Piplups ate baby Squirtles alive, and teased Cubones by stealing their skulls, well it wouldn’t make much difference. Because look at that little face. A Piplup is so cute that after seeing one you will forever look at penguins as a disappointment.
Eevee is an inspiration to everyone. Most pokemon have their futures planned out for them. A Pikachu knows that, eventually, it will become a Raichu. There’s no chance it will be anything different, that’s just not how things work. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like that myself, as if my future is predetermined and I can't do anything to change it. But Eevee’s future isn’t so set in stone. Depending how you play, it can become any number of creatures, from the electric Jolteon to the icy Glaceon. The world isn’t a straight road for Eevee, it’s a series of paths, and it’s the only pokemon that will teach you that you have freedom to choose.