The very first Pokemon generation was the one that felt like a classic RPG the most. You went on adventuring with barren movesets and a handful of decent attacks for each type, sometimes making the likes of Twin Needle look like an exceptional ability. To make this scarcity of moves even more dire you also had each type divided on Attack based or Special based, effectively narrowing the viability of your critters even more. TMs were one time only features and just a handful could be bought: even at the end game you had to reset your game and trade a few times to complete the moveset of a single Pokemon team.
Nevertheless, Defense worked mostly the way it is right now, barring minor type shifts. Except that every move, even Healing ones like Recover, had a chance to miss. The importance of each type was mostly their defensive capabilities and their respective move-sets, types that had better tools were superior pretty much in every way. Which kind of explains why my favorite types from this generation were those that had (in my opinion) the best moves in the game.
Also my starter was Bulbasaur while each of my brothers got the remaining starters. I loved how reliable Bulba was with many utility moves that helped you capture critters and weaken enemies. Sleep Powder? A total powerhouse, Leech Seed? Downright mean. Sure, the purely offensive moves kind of sucked, neither Mega Drain nor Solar Beam were anything to write about. But that were end-game worries and as I said, it was pretty hard to settle on an endgame team to begin with. Exploring on the back of a Grass type starter opened my horizons and helped me to discover the subtelties of beating sheer power through guile and cheap Powder spam.
My love for Grass types was enhanced by the fact that the other lines also carried many of the same advantages that Venusaur had: Vileplume and Victreebel were variations of the same molds, each one of them available in a different game just in case you choose the other starters, so you could enjoy the reliable power of Grass/Poison goodness. Tangela was pretty similar to these three, though it lacked the Poison weakness to Psychic (which was pretty present back in the day) and had an inferior offensive movepool. Exeggutor was a monstruously bulky pokemon backed with the amazing Psychic type, which had no weaknesses or so to speak. Parasect was an odd ball but carried the amazing Spore and could Slash people with that amazing Critical chance. This was pretty much the best roster you could wish for back in the day, there were no weak links at all. Of course, I also played all of these Pokemon to some degree.
Bug types were also among my favorites for similar reasons: fast status moves, a variety of tricks, decent coverage (access to Psychic moves) and good availability. Obviously Pinsir and Scyther were exceptions to these advantages and I found them underwhelming (though I appreciated Pinsir’s access to Submission to punish Normal types). Beedrill at least had access to the ultra rare Twin Needle, but it was a cute novelty more than anything else. Really, Venomoth, Parasect and Butterfree where the neat ones of the bunch, but they were fragile critters and more cute than practical. This is why Bug never really had the chance to be my favorite type, but it had a lot of heart and I loved it for that.
Normal though was a decent runner up. Snorlax was your almost-Mewtwo level threat, able to deal heavy amounts of damage with Body Slam and to take attacks as if it was nothing. Great Special made it hard to punch through and flavorwise his design was just lovely. Other Normal types such as Clefairy, Chansey and Wigglytuff became excellent choices when you could assign them TMs and increase their coverage. They also had flexibility, which was something I always appreciated (even lesser Normal types had access to Quick Attack!). Normal had very good Pokes and rather mediocre ones, but it was certainly interesting to pick up, even if pokes like Porygon weren’t as awesome as they’d become given time. A lot of what I loved even here was what would become later the basis for the Fairy type.
Psychic types were also pretty cool and flexible for reasons similar to Normal types. Hypnosis was useful in-game, Amnesia was a Deadly move to sweep and any Poke that managed to be a Psychic hybrid pretty much had a free boost when it came to power level. It could’ve been one of my favorite types if I had used the like of Starmie and Slowpoke back in the day, coming to think of it I never really played with Alakazam all that much either. Mewtwo, Exeggutor and Hypno were my main uses of this type, but I still came to respect it deeply (it would take time before it fully flourished into one of my all time favorites).
Ice type moves were the best, but I did not really use any of the Ice type Pokemon much. Lapras was supposed to be one of my Pokes, but it came into the team quite late and it was rather slow and dependant on it’s bulk. Most Ice types were also Water types, so they were weak to Grass types which they couldn’t check properly. All of them were bulky and not overly offensive despite the fact their typing wasn’t blessed with great resistances. Often you were better off opting for a bulky Water or Normal type wall. You could not defrost, so in my mind Blizzard and Ice Beam were the two best moves in the game, the Pokes that could use them always seemed like powerhouses (Mewtwo, Starmie). Sadly I mostly liked the moves and not the critters, also I did not really played with Starmie/Slowbro so my Ice users weren’t all that amazing to begin with.
The three other types that deserve mention are Fighting, Flying and Rock. Flying always had fun moves and interesting Pokes, even if they were underpowered, having an inmunity against Earthquake was also pretty fun. I liked the fact that Rock opted for bulk and powerful offensive capabilities, though to be truthful I only played a bit with Rhydon and Golem (in my mind Rock Slide was the third more powerful move in the game). I was never very attached to the fossil pokes, but I loved the fact that Aerodactyl was lightning fast. Fighting had Machamp and the Hitmon brothers, I was mostly attached to the first one and it’s ability to throw a powerful Submission, but even back then I knew this was barebones (and I never quite managed to give my Machamp proper coverage).
So well, to sum it up, back then this was my top 5:
- Ice (because of the moves, otherwise, Fighting)
I did train a few critters to level 100 back in the day and in some cases it made me grow bored out of them. Ditto and Chansey lost their luster in my eyes, Vileplume would suffer from being compared to Venusaur (who had Leech Seed), my team of Magmar/Lapras/Electabuzz that was supposed to be a themed anti-Ash team was dropped hard and Eeveelutions felt a bit old already despite my affection for fast critters like Jolteon and Electrode. Little did I know that the electric-type that was to become my favorite was just some slow critter I never played and that was about to change quite a lot in the upcoming generation.