After a Pokémon trailer on February 27th announced the next games in the series, Scarlet and Violet, fans were treated to a first look at the next trio of starters. Fuecoco, the Fire Croc Pokémon, is the newest introduction in a long line of beloved fire starters.
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When just looking at the first forms, both the design and characterization are more important than stats and gameplay. Gameplay matter more for the forms that last from (typically) level 36 and on, whereas initial starter forms are all about introducing the player to the world of Pokémon and giving them a lovable starter.
The Fire Pig Pokémon is maybe the happiest looking of the nine fire starters. The joyful pig’s Pokédex entry describes them as being fond of berries but states that Tepig often accidentally burns the berries to a crisp while trying to lightly roast them.
Tepig as a design is, well, tepid. While most starters fit the classic “element + animal” combo that comprises many designs in the Pokédex, Tepig is the weakest at incorporating fire into its design. The light yellow arrow on the nose is an allusion to a burning ember, but other than that Tepig really is just an orange pig.
Litten, the Fire Cat Pokémon, is best known for its standoffish attitude. According to the Pokédex, Litten won’t open up to its trainer, and “giving it affection is a no-no.”
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While Litten has a fun fire aesthetic with its red whiskers that resemble a burning flame, it’s still lukewarm compared to other designs. Character-wise, starters are supposed to be the very first Pokémon a trainer connects with. A starter that doesn’t want to bond with its trainer is counterintuitive to the point of starters.
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Fennekin, the Fox Pokémon, is usually remembered for its giant ears with fire-like fur. Fennekin’s main source of food is twigs, and its ears function as vents for the heat it generates.
Fennekin’s design of a fennec fox with flaming ventilator ears is certainly a unique one. However, Fennekin’s Pokédex entries and design don’t really create much of a personality for the fox. For fire, one of the most beloved Pokémon typings, Fennekin is cute and fun but still average in comparison.
Torchic, the Chic Pokémon, is the main partner of May: one of the most iconic trainers in the Pokémon anime. Torchic’s Pokédex entry tells trainers that they’ll be warm if they hug Torchic and that it often stumbles about following them.
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Torchic’s design and Pokédex do a great job of characterizing it as a clumsy but lovable partner for trainers. For its design, Torchic’s spiky orange wings and pointed fluff on its head do a good job at pushing the fire motif. The design keeps Torchic from being “just an orange chicken,” but there are still fire starters that have an even stronger design and personality.
The Chimp Pokémon Chimchar is best recognized by the fascinating red circles around its eyes and the flaming “tail” behind him. Although, according to the Pokédex entry, Chimchar’s tail is actually just gas from its stomach being exerted as flame.
Chimchar gets points for being the only fire starter with both an actual flame and the classic flame-inspired fur. Chimchar’s orange spiral on top of its head matches well with the burning tail. Chimchar’s personality comes more from design than Pokédex, but the design itself conveys the fun and mischievous monkey dynamic well.
The Lizard Pokémon Charmander is one of the most iconic Pokémon in the franchise. Even non-Pokémon fans know Charmander. The fire lizard’s Pokédex entry has a strange bit of information about it: Charmander’s tail is directly tied to its life. The brighter the flame, the healthier the Charmander.
There’s nothing about Charmander’s design that’s especially complex, like most gen 1 Pokémon. Charmander is a flaming lizard and more or less a baby dragon, but that’s mostly it. Personality-wise, Charmander seems mild and kind. Charmander’s iconic and adorable, but is a fairly average starter compared to some of the later entries.
The Rabbit Pokémon’s main design feature is the bandage-like pads on its nose and feet. The Pokédex entry for Scorbunny describes the pads as heating devices that aid Scorbunny in combat and makes sure to mention that Scorbunny “warms up” beforehand.
While most starter Pokémon first forms are simply element+animal, Scorbunny is one of the most unique Pokémon in Sword & Shield. Scorbunny’s design and description do a perfect job of characterizing the Pokémon as a parallel for young boys and girls who want to become a soccer star. The Pokémon fits the region perfectly.
The Fire-Mouse Pokémon Cyndaquil’s iconic flaming back “quills” make him feel like a cross between his namesake the mouse and a hedgehog. Cyndaquil’s Pokédex entry reveals to players that Cyndaquil has a distinct similarity to Charmander. While Charmander’s tail corresponds to lifeforce, Cyndeauil’s corresponds to its mood. A timid Cyndaquil will have a smaller flame, and when Cyndaquil is angry its flame will burn bigger and brighter.
If Scorbunny is the perfect example complex starter, Cyndaquil is the perfect example of a simple starter. A flaming mouse with hedgehog-like flaming quills on its back is simultaneously simple and unique. Cyndaquil’s Pokédex entry also gives players a hint of its dynamic personality. He’s not one of the strongest Johto Pokémon, but he’s one of the cutest.
Pokémon newest fire starter, the Fire Croc Pokémon, features a chili-pepper-inspired body structure including a small stem on top of his head. He has been initially described as a laid-back Pokémon that does things at his own pace.
Fuecoco, like Scorbunny, takes inspiration specifically from his region. The newest region appears to be based on Spain, and the chili pepper croc reps his region perfectly. He has the most unique starter design so far, and the use of the pepper for the fire inspiration is much more creative than slapping actual fire on a Pokémon or just making it have an exclusively warm-colored palette. Fuecoco also has a clear and lovable personality from the start: a chill chili.
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About The Author
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Sam is a BFA acting major from Texas Christian University who specializes in both voice acting and freelance writing. After his articles are complete, Sam spends time writing an upcoming novel series and gaming with friends.
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