Pokémon Sun and Moon arrive on Nintendo 3DS today in North America and Japan (the rest of the world must wait just a little longer) and with them come two new cover stars that will inform many a young player's decision regarding which version of the game to buy.
"That sun lion looks cool, but moons are much better than suns and that big night-bat looks better the more I look at it" – you know how it goes. It's a rite of passage for new players to toil over which version to call theirs, and often it's the Pokémon on the box art leading that decision.
To celebrate the launch of Sun and Moon we thought we'd rank the cover stars of each and every mainline Pokémon release, from Pokémon Red and Blue, to Sun and Moon. We've based our decision on the designs of the characters first and foremost, and we fully respect your right to call us clueless idiots for our ranking.
1. Blastoise (Pokémon Blue)
The best generation of Pokémon is, as everyone knows deep down, the Gold/Silver generation. The first generation, that original 151, comes a close second, and the cover stars of Red and Blue rank highly among them. Blastoise tops the list here despite a personal preference to Charizard in our youth. Growing up helped us fully appreciate that he has BACK-MOUNTED CANONS, so we're happy that we've now reached the correct conclusion.
2. Charizard (Pokémon Red)
Charizard is still boss though, but his stock fell in the eyes of many Pokémon fans after causing Ash so much grief in the cartoon series. A great design for sure, but not quite Blastoise.
3. Xerneas (Pokémon X)
In the Pokémon series' 20-year history, it's safe to say that the designs of new beasties have been patchy at best since the Ruby/Sapphire days. Look at the series' roster of legendary Pokémon and things have been even worse. Or at least, they were until Pokémon X and Y in 2013, and now Sun and Moon. Xerneas was the cover star of Pokémon X, and it's one of the strongest legendary designs produced to date.
4. Lugia (Pokémon Silver)
Lugia and Ho-Oh, the cover stars of Silver and Gold respectively, were among the first new Pokémon people saw from the sequels following the enormous popularity of the original games, and they made a good first impression. Lugia in particular always struck as something different and more otherworldly than first generation legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.
5. Suicune (Pokémon Crystal)
Gold and Silver also had a trio of legendary dogs, one of which became the cover star of Pokémon Crystal - the third generational release (see also: Yellow, Emerald, Platinum). Suicune did so because it's easily the best of the lot. We're still not sure what Game Freak were thinking with Raikou.
6. Solgaleo (Pokémon Sun)
The two newbies both feature in our top 10, with Solgaleo coming in higher up thanks to its powerful stance, wondrous mane and its ability to HARNASS THE POWER OF THE SUN. Pikachu can't do that.
7. Rayquaza (Pokémon Emerald)
Game Freak can get lazy with their dragon designs (we're looking at you Druddigon) but Rayquaza is a classic. It's one of the great legendarys too, and much better than either of its fellow third generation cover 'mon, Groudon and Kyogre.
8. Pikachu (Pokémon Yellow)
Too mainstream to be any higher on this list. Props though, for it being chubby Pikachu on the cover art rather than the liposuction-ed mascot we see everywhere today.
9. Yveltal (Pokémon Y)
Yvetal is a dark and flying type, and its design certainly suits that descriptor. It's unlike most Pokémon, and that freshness is a tough target to hit 20 years into a series. Also, get this, it looks like a Y. Get it?
10. Lunala (Pokémon Moon)
The best bat* Pokémon there's ever been, which admittedly is quite an easy feat because everyone, everywhere was well-conditioned by Pokémon Red and Blue to despise Zubats and all those in the Zubat family tree.
*it's basically a bat.
11. Venusaur (Pokémon Green)
12. Ho-Oh (Pokémon Gold)
13. Kyogre (Pokémon Sapphire)
14. Giratina (Pokémon Platinum)
15. Dialga (Pokémon Diamond)
16. Zekrom (Pokémon White)
17. Reshiram (Pokémon Black)
18. Groudon (Pokémon Ruby)
19. Kyurem (Pokémon Black 2)
20. Palkia (Pokémon Pearl)