Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver has just been released. As with the original version of the game, your first Gym Leader is Falkner of Violet City. He has two Pokemon, a Level 9 Pidgey and a Level 13 Pidegotto. We’re going to take a look at the Pokemon you can collect before you face Falkner and how good they are not only against him, but in general in those first ten to fifteen levels.
Chikorita is the Grass Type starter you can pick. Grass Type Pokemon generally are at a disadvantage against Flying type Pokemon, but much of what you’ll be facing before Falkner are Normal, Rock, and Bug types, so it’ll actually be quite useful. Chikorita learns the awesome Razor Leaf at only level 6, which will be your main move until about level 20 when you learn Magical Leaf. Chikorita also learns two other really helpful moves against early Pokemon. The first is PoisonPowder at level 9. You can use this against Falkner in a suicide run. It might take out your Chikorita, but at least the poison will wear that Pokemon down while also taking damage from your next Pokemon. The second is Sythnesis. This is a healing move. In the original Pokemon Gold and Silver, the time of day determined the amount of healing. Now it’s the weather condition. Synthesis will be very helpful keeping your Chikorita alive against not only Falkner, but the Spearow, Hoot-Hoots and Pidgeys you will encounter in the wild.
The Fire starter Cyndaquil doesn’t have as good (or varied) a moveset as Chikorita has in these first few levels, but it also doesn’t have its weakness against Flying type moves. At level 4 it learns Smokescreen, which lowers your enemy’s accuracy, but it may come in handy against Falkner’s Pidgeotto. At level 10 Cyndaquil learns its first fire move in Ember. This should really help it against Falkner. However, it’s what Cyndaquil learns at Level 13 that may really be its best move in the early game. That’s Quick Attack. It won’t get the Same Type Attack Bonus that Ember gets, but it will always attack first and that advantage is almost priceless in the early game. He who attacks first may not have to attack twice.
Totodile is your Water starter. Where Chikorita and Cyndaquil only learn three new moves in the first fifteen levels, Totodile learns four. At Level 6, it gets Water Gun, which would be a great attack for most other Water Pokemon. Totodile however is a physical attacker, not a special attacker, so it’s a bit wasted on it. At level 8, Totodile learns Rage, which is great for it since it has such a high Attack. This move might just be its best against Falkner as Totodile attack will increase as it takes damage. However, there is actually a better move for it. At Level 13, Totodile learns Bite! Not only does this move use Totodile’s Attack instead of Special Attack, but it is also the most powerful move Totodile will learn naturally until Level 20. It’s also a Dark move, which will make Totodile very helpful against Ghost and Psychic Pokemon and the move has a 30% chance of making your opponent’s flinch! Nice! Finally, at Level 15, Totodile learns Scary Face, which prevents wild Pokemon from running away. This makes Totodile a great Pokemon for catch the Legendary Trio (or duo since Suicuine doesn’t roam in this game), Abras and the like. Overall, Totodile is probably the best of the starters in the early game, but all three have their uses.
On the way to Falkner you’ll be able to go through Routes 29, 30, 31 and 46. Along the way you’ll have a chance to pick up over half a dozen Pokemon to add to your team Let’s take a quick look at them and who is worth having on your team.
You’ll only be able get a Pidgey during the day. It’s definitely my favorite of the three Normal/Flying dual Type Pokemon you can get in the early game, if only because it has the most long term potential of the three. Pidgey learns the Flying move Gust at Level 9 and the all-important Quick Attack at Level 13. Piidget will obviously be at a disadvantage against its evolution Pidgeotto at the Violet City Gym though.
You’ll only be able to get Spearow on a side trip to route 46 in the early game, and it rarely shows up. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing. Not only does Spearow start with the Flying Move Peck, but many early wild Pokemon are bugs, which means you’ll get some easy XP. It also learns Fury Attack at Level 9. Fury Attack doesn’t have the best accuracy and it’s damage is too varied to truly be effective, but it can be amazingly powerful in the early game if you’re lucky. Spearow’s best early game move is the Dark move Pursuit. Spearow learns this at Level 13 and not only does it do a nice amount of damage, but it does extra damage if your opponent switches out a Pokemon. Spearow is a great choice to have on your team if you didn’t take Totodile, especially when you go into the Sprout Tower.
Hoothoot is your third flyer, but you’ll have to catch it at night. Hoothoot is definitely the worst of the flyers, especially here in the early game. It only has Tackle and Growl at the beginning. It learns the nearly worthless Foresight at level 5, and it doesn’t learn a second damage dealing move until Level 13, which is Peck. At least it’s a Flying type Move, but Pidget and Spearow have already learned their First Flying attack and then some by this point. The only real move of interest Hoothoot has in the early game is Hypnosis, but with only a 70% accuracy rate, it’s not enough to make Hoothoot one of your early six active Pokemon.
Caterpie is an old standby, but you’ll only be able to get it in Heart Gold at this point in the game. However neither Caterpie nor its evolution of Metapod are worth discussing here. You should get your Caterpie to level 10 ASAP so that you can have a Butterfree. At level 10 Butterfree gets the amazing early game move of Confusion and then at Level 12 it learns THREE moves: Poisonpowder, Stunpowder and Sleepowder. Although Butterfree is a Bug Pokemon and thus weak against Falkner’s birds, Any of Butterfree’s powders and Confusion allow it an actual chance to beat a Pokemon it should be weak against.
Weedle is your Soul Silver exclusive until you get to a bug catching content later in the game. The same strategy we used for Butterfree applies to it. Just get it to Beedrill quickly. It’s not as helpful as Butterfree in the early stages or the first gym, but Focus Energy and Fury Attack (learned at Level 13 and 10 respectively) can be a nice combo attack. Just don’t try it against Falkner or it’ll be knocked out.
Spinarak is another Heart Gold Exclusive Bug. It’s not as good as Butterfree, but it learns a few good early game moves such as Scary Face at Level 5, Leech Life at Level 12, and Night Shade at Level 15. Spinarak DOES get better later on, as does its evolution of Ariados. However if you need a Bug for Heart Gold in the early stages up to the first Gym, stick with Butterfree.
Ledyba is the Soul Silver exclusive and it’s a neat Bug/Flying dual Type. It learns Supersonic at Level 6, but that only has a 55% accuracy. It does learn Comet Punch at level 9, which is basically Fury Attack. Again, this is too unreliable to depend on, but it’s better than nothing. At level 14, Ledyba learns three defensive moves: Safeguard, Reflect and Light Screen. Unfortunately, all the defense moves in the world can’t help it against Pidgeotto in the first gym.
Rattata is definitely a Pokemon you want in your early team. It hits hard and hits fast. It has three amazing moves before Level 15: Quick Attack (Level 4!), Bite (at Level 10) and Pursuit (at Level 13). All three of these moves are must haves for your Ratatta and you’ll see it quickly dominate against nearly everything else in the early game. GET ONE.
Sentret is a fun Pokemon. Like Bidoof, it can kearn a ton of HM’s but unlike Bidoof, it has decent stats and moves it can learn. Even better, since we’re only looking at the first 15 levels, you’ll be happy to know Sentret evolves into Furrett at Level 15. It doesn’t learn anything truly great aside from Quick Attack at Level 7 though, so Ratatta is the better choice if you have to go with one or the other.
If you sneak up to Route 46 or enter Dark Cave in Route 31, you’ll have a chance at catching what is easily the best Pokemon in the early game besides your starter: Geodude. As a Rock/Ground Pokemon, Geodude is strong against everything you will face besides Bellsprouts and can single handedly destroy the Violet City Gym. It has very high Attack and Defense stats for this stage of the game and although it’s only attack for the first ten levels of the game is Tackle, at Level 11 it learns Rock Throw and at Level 15 it learns Magnitude. Much like Ratatta, Geodude it a Pokemon you want to get as quickly as you can to make the early game a cakewalk.
In Violet City, you can get an Onix by trading someone where a Bellsprout. I’m not a fan of traded Pokemon due to the inability to control them unless you have a certain number of badges and the potential seems to go down when not with their original Trainer, but if you can’t get a Geodude, Onix is a decent replacement. It’s only decent attack is learned at Level 9, and that’s Rock Throw. Really, it’s only worth getting this particular Onix to fill your Pokedex or if someone has given you a steel coat this early in the game. Otherwise I’d suggest waiting until you catch a wild one.
You can find two other Pokemon in the Dark Cave: Zubat and Dunsparce. Zubat is especially worth it for its eventually evolution of Crobat, which was amazing in the original Heart Gold and Soul Silver. Even here in the early stages, it’s an amazing Pokemon. It learns the Ghost move Astonish at Level 9, and the Dark move Bite at Level 13. Both will be very helpful and it can stand up to Pidgeotto pretty easily.
Dunsparce however, is awful and only worth getting for your Pokedex. It’s going to be exceedingly rare unless a swarm is occurring, so it may take hours to get one to show up. Even then it only has one damage dealing attack until Level 17, and that’s Rage. Just leave Dunsparce in the box.
Bellsprout is a Grass-Poison Pokemon you can find right before Violet City, although you may want to catch two to trade one for Onix. If you have Chikorita, you won’t need to bother with Bellsprout but otherwise it may be worth a go. Bellsprout starts with Vine Whip, which is a fine move but it’s the only direct damage dealing move it will learn until Level 23. It can learn Sleeppowder and Poisonpowder at Levels 13 and 15 respectively, but so can Butterfree and it learns better over all attacks.
Finally, if you go into Violet City’s Sprout Tower at night, you can find a Ghastly. Ghastly is an awesome Pokemon in any Pokemon game and to get one this early is a real treat. It starts off with Hypnosis and Lick which are helpful. It also doesn’t hurt that Falkner’s Pokemon use mostly Normal attacks, which Ghastly is immune to. It learns Mean Look at Level 8 which is nice for catch other Pokemon and Night Shade at Level 15. It won’t be a truly good attacker until Level 19 when it gets Confuse Ray and then Level 26 when it gets Shadow Ball, so you’ll probably want to give it a TM before then to supplement its damage. Still, it’s a great Pokemon and worth having on your main team.
Overall the best five Pokemon to compliment your starter on the road to your first badge are probably Geodude, Ratatta, Zubat, Ghastly and then either Pidgey or Spearow. You do have 15 choices, not counting evolutions, so you can really make whatever team you want in order to get that first badge. Now that you know what’s waiting for you on the way to Violet City, you can decide what Pokemon you want to be your early active team.
Now that you’ve seen your path to the first badge, feel free to look over our guides for all the Gym Leaders, both Kanto AND Johto, as well as our guide for the Elite Four and the Pokemon Champion. Just click on one of the links below.
Johto Gym Leader Lineups
Johto Elite Four and Pokemon Champion Lineups
Kanto Gym Leader Lineups