Starter Pokémon are selectable Pokémon that players will start off with as their initial Pokémon when embarking on a region.
Each starter-Pokémon subset comprises a traditional tri-elemental paradigm: one Grass-type option, one Fire-type option, and one Water-type option. The only extension is Kanto's subset wherein the Electric-type Pikachu can be selected as a quaternary option.
Starter Pokémon selected from the lab do not have a shiny chance; the only way to obtain a shiny counterpart of one is by an adventitious encounter of one in the wild, as all starter Pokémon are wild-huntable—predominantly at a tier-9 rarity.
Due to the regional linearity of storyline progression, players will start afresh each time they visit a new region while their previous-region Pokémon are temporarily PC-locked; as such, those who advance through all the currently available regions will obtain a Pokémon from each regional subset in regional succession, as they will need to start off with a new Pokémon thereupon landing in the region.
Kanto comprises the only regional starter-Pokémon subset with more than three optional selectees—the fourth one being Pikachu.
In order for Pikachu to be selectable, you must first interact with and decline all-three starter-Pokémon options on the table; thereafter, the lightning-bolt Pokéball—a nod to the same next Pokéball that Ash's Pikachu was cooped-up in during Professor Oak's possessorship of it in the anime—that is next to the Pokédex-claimable desk will be selectable.
Should one select Pikachu, they'll unlock access to a plot line of Team Rocket Trio encounters throughout Kanto, in addition to tuteeship for the Surf move. Victor on Route 19 will teach Surf to any Pikachu under your OT registry if you chose Pikachu; it is not limited to the starter-selected Pikachu itself, but the Pikachu must have been originatively acquired by you for it to be a teachable tutee.
By antecedence of Hoenn's introductory plot, it technically is possible to obtain a Poochyena as your first Pokémon; you can do so while battling the Pokémon during its assault on Professor Birch in Littleroot Town's lab, since it is catchable.
Regardless of whether or not you obtain Poochyena as your first Pokémon, however, Hoenn's starter-Pokémon subset will still remain compulsory selectable, as you'll need to obtain one of them before you can advance out of Littleroot Town.
Since many of these tend to be highly coveted Pokémon, they have been made obtainable beyond the one-off starter-Pokémon selection; read below for more information.
- Main article: Professor Oak (boss)
The Professor Oak-boss NPC randomly rewards a multitude of prizes upon defeating him, including Kanto's starter Pokémon as eventualities—Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle.
- Main article: Professor Elm (boss)
Akin to Professor Oak, the Professor Elm-boss NPC randomly rewards a multitude of prizes upon defeating him, including Johto's starter-Pokémon subset as eventualities—Chikorita, Totodile, and Cyndaquil.
- Main article: Professor Birch (boss)
Homologous to the other professorial bosses, the Professor Birch-boss NPC randomly rewards a multitude of prizes upon defeating him, including Hoenn's starter-Pokémon subset as eventualities—Treecko, Torchic, and Mudkip.
- Main article: Naero (boss)
Pichu—Pikachu's baby-stage pre-evolution—is one of out 10 potential baby-stage Pokémon that are rewardable for defeating Naero, thereby allowing a more roundabout avenue of obtaining the Electric-type starter Pokémon should one choose to evolve it.