Once upon the time I made the infamous claim that the White/Black games were the worse games that ever appeared in the Pokemon series. At that time I had finished the games and had a bittersweet taste left in my mouth… But since those days my appreciation of the Unova pokemon has been raising steadily, to the point in which it’s a fair question to ask if it has become my favorite pokedex of them all.
Historically my favorite roster of Pokemon comes from Hoenn: Gardevoir, Metagross, Aggron, Roselia (though she kind of sucked back then…), Milotic and arguably the best roster of legendary pokemon since Gen I. Mid-ranged pokes like Crawdaunt, Wiscash, Sableye and Medicham are just awesome. It was the generation that streamlined Dark types and relaunched Psychic types into a better and more interesting direction.
Gen I, of course, has one of the best pokedexes in the series. Arguably the best set of starters of them all, great legendaries and a good set of fossils. The overall coolness of the roster is upset by the heavy dominance from a small number of type combinations that got overused (Grass/Poison, Water, Flying/Normal, Ice/Water) in rather similar fashions (Grass/Poison are slow semi-offensive, Water have average stats, Flying/Normal are fragile, Ice Water are bulky). I rank it as my second-to-third favorite roster consistently, but Hoenn has had the edge over it since launch.
Gen IV has several great ideas that did not work very well in practice (Wormadan, Vespiqueen, Cherrim) and has way too many evolutions, depending on how you rate those it will be a better or worse generation in your eyes. I like most Sinnoh evolutions, some of them were well deserved and useful, but even after most of them I’m not terribly warm to most of the pokemon updated. Gen II has a pretty fair roster that did not push the envelope as far as broken pokemon go, introduced good Pokemon and also some middling and forgettable ones. For me these two generations are the epitome of average, living mostly off outstanding individual designs (Hippowdon, Abomasnow, Tyranitar) instead of general Pokedex Genius.
Enter Gen V.
Something that really sets Unova out of the ordinary is its use of uncommon typings. We are introduced to Ghost combinations never touched upon before (Ghost/Water, Ghost/Fire, Ghost/Ground), we are given a variety of iteration for mono Ice types (Beartic, Vanilluxe, Cryogonal) which used to be rather scarce up to that point and Dragons were introduced earlier in the game for the first time and several of those also appeared in the game (Hoenn achieved this too). Gen V walked into the tricky territory of upgrading classic Pokemon archtypes, not only the most recurring ones (early critter, early bird, fossil) but also some that weren’t updated as such like the three stage evolution Pokes (Alakazam, Golem, Gengar and Machamp) in an effort that produced Pokemon that quickly imposed their competitive presence. The effort came precisely from a new kind of stat redistribution that was unheard of up to this point, we got our first bulky Normal/Flying attacker in Braviary, a quick Bug/Steel in Durant and a fast offensive Bug/Grass on Leavanny. Interesting Pokemon were introduced in the mid-power range like Whimsicott, Alomomola, Scrafty or Electross. Pokemon conceived as powerhouses like Volcarona, Ferrothorn and Hydreigon had truly innovative typings. The legendaries were just stupid broken though.
Since their original introduction some of the good pokes from Gen V have been getting a number of upgrades that translated their prowess into a higher competitive potential. Scolipede was given Speed Boost in Gen VI and Whimsicott got a Fairy typing to go with its quirkiness, Galvantula and Leaveany got Sticky Web and powerful steel types such as Ferrothorn, Excadrill and Bisharp became even better as their STAB could hit Fairies now. Now that Gen VII has rolled around more Unova natives gained raw stat boosts and new abilities to compliment them even further (Beartic now has Slush Rush and more attack, Gigalith and Vanilluxe became weather settlers) making the roster intrinsically better than it already was. The fact remains that these were already rather appealing Pokemon that only got even more interesting and that Unova was already a solid foundation to build upon.