September 30, 2022

When it comes to Pokémon design, one of the biggest factors is how it looks in the game engine. Since the initial release of Pokémon Red and Blue, the technology that housed these beloved games has changed drastically. When designing for the Gameboy, Pokémon design was made up of pixels and defined shapes. Now on the Nintendo Switch, we have 3D space and animated textures.

The national Pokédex comprises over nine hundred Pokémon across its eight, and soon-to-be nine, generations. Every single Pokémon is someone’s favorite, which makes every Pokémon special. But not all designs are created equal, and some have weathered the transition from 2D to 3D much better than others. The ten Pokémon on this list have remained the peak of non-legendary Pokémon for good reason.


10/10 Sandslash

Sandslash is a pokémon introduced in Gen I as an evolution of Sandshrew, and it has since appeared in almost every mainline game of the franchise. No one is complaining about that, as this little dude is just stinking cute. Its big claws and kind eyes have that perfect balance of danger and friendliness.

The transition to 3D did Sandslash more favors than its pre-evolution, with its defined shapes becoming more prominent with every upgrade in technology. The almond shapes of its quills are appealing but are still recognizable as a form of defense. Sandslash is a peak simplistic design.

9/10 Yamper

Move over Pikachu, it’s time for Yamper. Who wouldn’t want an electric corgi? You just want to hoist it up and swing it around. If you’re facing one in battle, could you even bring yourself to use offensive moves? Probably, but only because you know your pokémon are having a good time.

The later generation games like Sword and Shield receive a lot of flack when it comes to Pokémon design, but they really knocked it out of the park with this little buddy. It’s evolution, Boltund is just as precious, but there is something about a little pudgy puppy being able to kick your butt.

8/10 Skiddo

From the almost forgotten Kalos region comes Skiddo, the goat-like pokémon. It’s the perfect size for riding, with such a sweet face. It’s one of those pokémon you can see just existing in its environment as well as thriving in the traditional battle setting.

Skiddo and its evolution Gogoat were introduced in Pokémon X and Y, but they were also available in the Sun and Moon games and look to be making a return in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. These adorable creatures are sure to be a beloved sight as players explore the new open-world format.

7/10 Furret

Furret is the best regional rodent introduced in the Pokémon franchise. There’s nothing not to love about it with its warm colors, thick stripes, and its kind expression. It also has a body length of 5’11” which makes it one of, if not the longest Pokémon in the Pokédex.

It’s been a while since Furret was part of the main Pokédex for a region, but it is also making a return in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet so we shall soon have our perfect rodent returned to us. Fingers crossed that the to-scale Furret plush also makes a return, as it has been out of stock for far too long.

6/10 Haunter

You can’t do much better than a floating head and hands when it comes to a Ghost-type. So much of Haunter is a suggestion since that’s all it is, all in a deep, spooky purple. The roundness of its head, combined with the sharp edges makes it unsettling, but still appealing.

Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar are the poster children for Ghost-types, but of the three, Haunter has faired best in the transition to 3D animation. While Gastly’s mist can be rendered a bit strange and Gengar still isn’t fluffy enough, Haunter retains the same charm it had in its 2D sprites.

5/10 Mudkip

Mudkip is a special friend you can hold in your hands. It is the epitome of adorable Water-type starters and combines the appeal of frogs, salamanders, and kittens. You really can imagine just having a Mudkip as a pet, even if you’ve never been interested in pokémon battling.

Of all the starter pokémon aside from the original three, it is no wonder that Mudkip is perhaps the most recognizable. It is somehow both the epitome of Pokémon design, while also just being an adorable creature you could expect to find in any sci-fi or fantasy setting.

4/10 Spheal

Round. Spherical. An orb, even. Look at its little face! There are no notes on Spheal’s design. It’s a sphere, it’s a seal, it’s made of love and kindness and full of all your snacks. If you threw it into a pool, would it bounce or would it just dive in?

If you played Pokémon Legends: Arceus you know what a joy these guys are. They just roll around playfully or hop right up to you and smile. Spheal might technically be a Water and Ice-type, but truthfully they are made of serotonin. If you are feeling sad and you own Pokémon Legends: Arceus, go watch some Spheal roll around for a while.

3/10 Chandelure

Litwick, Lampent, and Chandelure are perfect examples of a cohesive evolutionary line. Each one is brilliant on its own but shines even better in combination with its brethren. Truly incandescent. The black and purple and the hint of yellow in Chandelure’s color scheme emphasizes the spookiness of its design and clearly communicate its Fire and Ghost-typing.

While Chandelure is a pokémon based on an inanimate object and that fact is clearly present in its design, it still looks very much alive without losing its cool factor. This pokémon’s ranking also isn’t hurt by the fact that its shiny version is green and it actually works.

2/10 Mimikyu

Mimikyu has been a star of the Pokémon world since its debut in Gen VII in the Sun and Moon games. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s just a spooky little friend dressed up in a poorly made Pikachu cosplay, and you can’t get any better than that when it comes to riffing off of Pikachu’s success.

One of the best parts of Mimikyu’s design is the fact that it also has a gameplay component. Sometimes a cool design gimmick is just that, but here the costume serves a purpose. When Mimikyu gets hit for the first time in a battle it doesn’t take damage, the disguise is just knocked about a bit. Pretty cool, huh?

1/10 Ampharos

Do trainers dream of electric sheep? Some do, but most dream of Ampharos, the fully evolved form of Mareep. If you played Gold or Silver or their remakes, you’ll remember the quest to get the special medicine from Cianwood City for Jasmine’s Ampharos.

Ampharos is just a sleek as well as cute design. It’s a fun yellow with black and red accents, and it pulls it off without looking like a Bug-type. In many ways, it looks like Winnie the Pooh but is built for battle. It’s adorable, but you wouldn’t want to cross it either. Its got no shortage of wattage, unless it’s for story purposes, and raising it is a reward of its own.

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