Choosing a Starter Pokemon: The Sinnoh Region
In the world of Pokemon every young boy or girl starts out more or less equal -- that is to say without a Pokemon and about to set out on their great adventure. The first step on that journey is the selection of their first -- or starter -- Pokemon.
The Starter Pokemon come in three basic types -- Fire, Water, and Grass Types -- and when the new trainer receives them they are already leveled to Level 5, having one damage-dealing move, and one stat-changing move.
The trainer is offered their choice of one of the three Poke Balls by the Professor -- no matter which one they choose though, their rival will choose the other that has a type advantage against it, which slightly increases their chance, should the player make a mistake in their first battle with their rival, of them claiming an early victory.
The Starter is not simply your first Pokemon, but the Pokemon that will lead to collecting all of the other Pokemon that will eventually make up your team when you use it to capture your first wild one. So really everything begins with your Starter Pokemon.
In the Sinnoh Region -- home to the games Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum -- Professor Rowan offers the player a choice between the following three Started Pokemon:
Chimchar -- a Fire Type whose evolutionary chain consists of Chimchar > Monferno > Infernape.
Piplup -- a Water Type whose evolutionary chain consists of Piplup > Prinplup > Empoleon.
Turtwig -- a Grass Type whose evolutionary chain consists of Turtwig > Grotle > Torterra.
Trainers who also are veterans of the previous games in the series will recall that it has become somewhat usual for the Starters to begin as plain single-types of the Grass, Water, and Fire Type, but upon evolution can change to dual-type.
Usually that only applies to one or at most two of the Starters; the effect though certainly causes the typical trainer to have to consider their choice more carefully as a result. True that, but in the case of this new Region and its Starters it is even more so true because ALL of the starters eventually evolve into dual-types!
Chimchar evolves from Fire Type to Fire/Fighting Type with its first evolution to Monferno, and retains that type as Infernape.
Piplup starts as a Water Type and remains just that through the first evolution to Prinplup, however when it completes the second and final evolutionary form of Empoleon, it becomes Water/Steel Type.
Turtwig begins as Grass Type and, like Piplup retains that single type with its first evolution to Grotle, but upon achieving its second and final evolved form into Torterra it also evolves type to become Grass/Ground Type.
The traditional path for the previous games in the series has you picking the Pokemon Starter that you most desire, and your rival picking the one that has a type advantage versus the one you picked, while the third Poke Ball that was not chosen by either Trainer is left behind and never used.
In the Sinnoh Region that traditional path diverges, because after you choose your preferred Pokemon Starter and your rival picks the one that is strong against your choice, your mate Dawn (who is the third young potential Trainer from the town) picks the third Starter (the one that is actually type weak to yours.
So now that we have that bit of floss out of the way, before we work through picking the Starter it is time that we examine the Starer and its place in the game...
The Enduring Starter
For the vast majority of trainers the Pokemon that they choose as their starter has far more significance and value to them than simply being the first Pokemon that they use to capture their next Pokemon!
In fact it is estimated that around 90% of the players who are fans of the game tend to retain their Starter and use and evolve them as their main Pokemon and Team Leader for the entire adventure.
As noted above though, that first Pokemon is the key to the long chain of additional Pokemon that the player will encounter, battle, capture, and collect.
While the vast majority of the Pokemon you capture in the wild will end up residing in a Pokemon Storage Box in the Pokemon Center Network -- at least until you have become the League Champion and finally turn to the lengthy and challenging task of evolving and training them in order to complete your Pokedex -- your starter is very likely to be your best friend and preferred go-to Pokemon for the more important battles, when their type suits!
Choosing Your Starter
The first thing you need to focus upon is the following fact: There is NO wrong choices.
The additional types that are added to each of the Pokemon make the decision somewhat more complicated than it might otherwise be, particularly due to the tendency for most Trainers to view Chimchar an obvious favorite choice.
Chimchar essentially comes into his own once evolved into Infernape, though choosing it as your Starter means that facing any Water Types requires that a counter-type be included in your team and kept fully and equally leveled.
If you were thinking that Chimchar was the obvious choice due to its higher speed and attack stats, you must also consider its lower defense stat as well in judging it.
While Piplup appears to be the weaker of the three choices on its face, once you consider the manifest of effects that Piplup comes into when it makes the final evolutionary change into Empoleon it becomes a different matter entirely.
There are of course its improved defense and its special attack stats, but there is also the matter of it being particularly effective versus most of the random Trainer encounters.
Empoleon gains a varying measure of resistance to Bug, Dark, Dragon, Flying, Ghost, Ice, Normal, Psychic, Rock, Steel, Water Types, as well as immunity to Poison Type attacks.
All of this taken into consideration it should be pretty obvious that Piplup / Empoleon is a very good choice, particularly for new trainers -- and can be very effectively utilized by veteran trainers as well.
Turtwig is actually weak to Bug, Fire, Flying, and Poison Types, but its defensive capability improves dramatically upon achieving its final evolutionary form of Torterra. In fact of the trio, Torterra (like Empoleon) obtains significant resistances, well more than that of Chimchar / Infernape.
That sums up the basic strengths and weaknesses -- there is still one more factor that you must take into consideration in making your choice: Your Style.
How you battle is at least as important in making this decision as the capabilities of the Starter that you choose. To simplify this consider the following:
Chimchar is very well suited for the aggressive damage-dealer. Players who prefer to attack and keep attacking will find this to be the obvious choice.
Piplup is suited for a more defensive strategy of play, as it can take a lot of damage when it is properly leveled and given the right moves set.
Turtwig is particular suited for players whose style is a mixture of defensive and offensive battle. They can soak up damage and dish it out at about an equal level...
Knowing your battle style and having reviewed the above stats and factors, the veteran player will find that the choice is that much easier.
Having said that though, if you are new to the Pokemon games and the adventure of working your way through a Region, taking on the Gyms and their Leaders, and finally the massive battle to becoming League Champion, I maintain that Pilplup is the obvious choice for you.