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Generation Three: Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald

Absol

Absol As usual with Pokémon, the first thing that strikes me about Absol is its appearance. It resembles some sort of carnivorous mammal, though it does not take after any one family of animal, as it has traits of both cats and dogs. It is an elegant and beautiful Pokémon, though much like a real life wild canid or big cat, its calm demeanor hides its ferocity. Unlike a wolf or a panther, though, these Dark types possesses the ability to foresee disasters. They then go and warn humans, though they've been historically misunderstood as being bringers of disaster Absol are great in-game battlers, possessing a very high Attack stat and being able to learn a variety of move types, such as Fighting, Ghost, Psychic, Rock, and of course Dark. This wide coverage as well as its graceful appearance and dignified nature make Absol one of my most favorite Dark types and favorite overall Pokémon. Unfortunately, their weak defenses and average speed mean that they fair poorly in competitions and even in the Battle Tower (or generation equivalent). Even with its new, strangely angelic-looking Mega form, it still pales in comparison to many other Pokémon. Of course, that has not stopped me from raising many Absol over the years. — Cassandra Ramos

Linoone

Linoone is my favourite third generation Pokémon for one simple reason: move depth. Linoone is the perfect TM and HM slave, being able to learn Dig, Secret Power, Rock Smash, Cut, Strength, and Surf. Yes, it really can learn Surf. Normal-type Pokémon have only one defensive boost, making Ghost moves ineffective, but also only have one weakness in Fighting moves. It’s also got decent stats for a straight up Normal type with a special focus on speed, and thanks to STAB (same-type attack bonuses), Cut and Strength are surprisingly useful in situations where you don’t have a super effective counter to your opponent’s Pokémon. — Anna Marie Privitere

Ludicolo

Ludicolo is ridiculous. This is the pińata duck you want on your team when you want to make it rain. Many Pokémon are relegated to the role of simple, sad guests on this dark earth. Ludicolo is not one of them. Those eyes! That face! The protective sweep of that hat-like appendage. Even the musicians of the world, a gang with honed aesthetic sense, know to honor and cherish this musical pineapple dandy. Truly, to be Ludicolo is to be best in life. Clearly, I'm one who picks my Pokémon by the sort of buddies with whom I would want to go on camping trips and save the world. However, even discounting Ludicolo's personal pan pizzazz, there's a lot going for Dr. Funtimes. One may ask, "Why is this galloping galoofus smiling? There are razor-beaked deathbirds and soul-snatching apparitions in the world, some of whom have been trained by children for violence games." Ludicolo is the sort who's only happy when it rains--and when you're Ludicolo, it's always raining. This swift-swimming juggernaut is faster than a greased clambake in a rainstorm, and twice as spicy. A high special defense keeps attacks rolling off like water on a duck's back, while double time Grass Knot or Surf stab away. Even a Ludicolo at Rest can be dangerous, Sleep Talk and Toxic-ing as long as the day is long, collecting HP in the conveniently placed Rain Dish. — Zach Welhouse

Metagross

I really like Steel types and Metagross is near the top of the pile. It looks kind of funny, sure, but it smashes things into teeny tiny bits and then smashes those bits into pulp. I'm pretty sure I've used one in every game where you can get it. — Robert Sinclair

Swablu

Japanese culture has a thing for 19th century fairy tales, and some of them are read more widely in the East than they ever were in their home countries. One of these is L'Oiseau bleu, a 1908 play that is well enough known that at least a dozen anime and manga series have referenced it directly over the years. Pokémon, of course, is high up on that list. The play is about a pair of children, Mytyl and Tyltyl, who chase after the legendary Blue Bird of Happiness by using a magic hat. So how does this lead into Pokémon?

In Gen 3, we were introduced to Swablu — or to use his Japanese name, Tylutto. A bright blue bird that likes to sit on people's heads like a hat; there's really no better match between the pocket monsters and the fairy tale. It even has a name based on the main character from the play. He's a happy little neat freak who loves cleanliness and good living, and he certainly seems glad enough to bring happiness into other people's lives. Best of all, for those who take the time to work with him, he eventually evolves into Altaria, an actual dragon-type Pokémon. It's the quickest dragon-type to level up, and its mega-evolved form is crossed with fairy-type, making it even more useful. Still, no matter where the chase ends, it all starts with a cute little blue bird of happiness sitting on someone's head. — Michael Baker

Spoink

Spoink. Just try saying that without it bringing a smile to your face. And if you succeed at that then try it again while watching the thing joyously bouncing. Pokémon aren't just about going around, which is probably just as well as this thing isn't likely to best a lot of others mentioned here in a straight fight; it's also about finding companions that will help you journey around and get through tougher times, and it's incredibly hard to be sad around around a Spoink. — Alex Fuller

Torchic

Confession: I don't normally start with Fire Pokémon. In fact, I almost always choose Grass. There was just something different about Torchic though. Not only did I love the idea of starting with a Flying-type Pokémon, but the way Torchic was handled by the developers was kind of unique. You may have missed this, but Torchic bears the special honor of being the only starter Pokémon ever to have visible gender differences. In fact, all members in Torchic's evolutionary line have visible gender identifiers. This is a good thing, as gender identifiers are mostly represented in the Pokémon games through a male or female symbol next to the health bar. Making a starter Pokémon look slightly different dependent on gender is a touch that the developers didn't have to put in, but I'm glad they did. Also, Torchic is just damn cute. — Trent Seely

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