As the second-most popular of the three starter Pokemon in the original Red and Blue Game Boy games, Squirtle has become a fan favorite over the years. Despite how powerful it appears to be in the anime, though, his base stats aren’t all that impressive. Still, for an undeniably cute Pokemon, Squirtle enjoys a fairly impressive move pool and OK defenses.
Of course, to get the most out of your Squirtle, you’ll usually want to evolve him fairly quickly. But, for purposes of this article, let’s see if Squirtle is a good Pokemon on its own merits, without the benefit of its two further stages of evolution.
Outside of battles, Squirtle is also a popular choice among Pokémon trainers for its cute and lovable appearance. The little blue turtle with a red shell has a charming personality and is often depicted as being mischievous and playful. In the Pokémon anime and manga, Squirtle is a beloved character, often seen as a leader among other Pokémon.
Unlike its starter brethren Bulbasaur and Charmander, though, Squirtle doesn’t really hold up in competitive low level formats. However, as I’ll discuss when I write about Wartortle, this is an important Pokemon as it evolves, as it can serve both a utility role and a sweeper role. Also, in the video games, Squirtle is a solid starter that’s a bit tougher to kill, although it fails miserably against electric and grass attacks.
Like with the other original Red and Blue starters, Squirtle learns all of the moves of its later evolutions at earlier levels, but with one exception. Only the final stage evolution of Blastoise could eventually learn the Steel type move Flash Cannon, which can be worth it in competitive Pokemon. Unlike with the Bulbasaur line, Squirtle and its evolution line are mixed attackers, with nearly equal physical and special attack base stats. It doesn’t have quite the Special Attacking prowess of Charmander and its line, but it’s more than adequate to dish out reasonable damage.
Also, unlike Bulbasaur and Charmander, Squirtle has access to a couple of very powerful TMs, even in Red and Blue. In particular, Ice Beam and Dig are both extremely powerful Gen 1 moves that Squirtle can learn. Of course, it also learns Surf by HM, meaning you don’t have to catch any other Water Pokemon to reach the parts of the game that require the use of that Hidden technique.
In Generation 1, Squirtle could actually hold its own as an unevolved Pokemon. In Generation 2, if you trade it over to Gold and Silver from either Red, Blue, or Yellow, Squirtle gains access to a some new moves, including Rapid Spin and Hidden Power. But, for some reason, Squirtle lost access to Ice Beam, although it will still have it if that Squirtle has that move in its set already.
Fortunately, in Generation 3, Squirtle gained access to a whole host of useful moves, including Brick Break, Iron Tail, and Secret Power, while also regaining Ice Beam. Also, with the Natures and EV’s being introduced, you could build your Squirtle more to your liking. Generally, you might prefer to stay with investing Effort Values in Special Attack, which a nature which boosts that Special Attack stat further.
However, Squirtle is very versatile and can go with physical, mixed, or special move sets, depending on how you’re setting up your team. Of course, once Generation 6 came around, most people wanted to get Mega Blastoise, itself a Special Attack tank with its Mega Launcher ability. Still, Squirtle has had its fans in competitive Pokemon, particularly in Little Cup, with first stage Pokemon limited to level 5.
But, in Generation 8 with Sword and Shield, Squirtle and its evolution line gained a powerful new stat boosting move that changed how you’d play it, Wartortle, and Blastoise. Squirtle now learned Shell Smash at level 27, a move that boosts Attack, Special Attack, and Speed at the cost of Defense and Special Defense. It’s likely that Game Freak added Shell Smash to give Dynamax Blastoise extra power with its Max attacks.
So, if you’re a competitive Pokemon player, you want to evolve your Squirtle once it learns Shell Smash. But if you want it to learn Hydro Pump, you’ll want to level into learning that, too. Notably, Hydro Pump is a one use TR move to teach in Sword and Shield. Still, I always prefer the higher accuracy and more Power Points of Surf. Most competitive players prefer the raw power of Hydro Cannon, even if it requires a recharge turn; this didn’t matter if you used Max Geyser of course. Then again, Hydro Cannon isn’t teachable to Squirtle or Wartortle, but only Blastoise.
While I prefer Squirtle to Wartortle from a looks perspective, Bulbasaur and Charmander in their first forms are much better in the competitive scene of Little Cup. But, in the games proper, Squirtle more than can hold its own. Nonetheless, Squirtle’s popularity among fans and its charming personality make it a beloved choice among trainers. Ultimately, whether Squirtle is a good Pokémon or not is a matter of personal opinion, but there is no denying its enduring popularity among fans of the Pokémon franchise.
What are your thoughts on Squirtle as an unevolved Pokemon?
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Related: Is Blastoise a Good Pokemon? | Is Wartortle Better than Blastoise?