In the Pokémon games, there are the villains, the Gym Leaders, the Pokémon to catch, and then there’s the player’s rival. The player’s rival is essentially the glue that fills in the main sections of the story. They normally appear at the beginning and then make further appearances sporadically, challenging the player to battles.
Rivals have varied drastically over the years, from strong to weak, nice and friendly to arrogant and overconfident. Some have had poorly constructed teams, others have even become the champion and the last opponent of their respective games.
8 Generation VIII: Hop Is Annoyingly Energetic But Not Too Difficult To Defeat
There’s the Blue kind of annoying from the Kanto games – arrogant, rude, and always testing you …and then there’s Hop from the Gen VIII games. Hop’s heart is in the right place but his fanboy nature over his big brother Leon doesn’t do him or the player any favors in terms of creating a budding rivalry.
Even at the point of the eighth Hop battle, his team, despite being fully evolved, isn’t especially difficult to defeat. Dubwool, Pincurchin, Snorlax, Corviknight, and the third evolution of whichever starter Pokémon he chose are all simple enough to prepare for.
7 Generation VI: Serena & Calem’s Team Is Decent Enough But Not Too Challenging
In X & Y, Serena and Calem are the rivals depending on which gender the player picked for their own character. The player battles them five times in total, not including rematches. Their team is pretty strong.
In the fifth battle at Victory Road, their party includes an Eeveelution and a starter Pokémon that change depending on what the player chose for own starter, a Meowstic, an Altaria, and an Absol. A Clefable is added for the rematches. The type coverage in the team is strong, but with enough planning, it is easy enough to overcome.
6 Generation IV: Barry Was The Original Hyperactive Rival Way Before Hop
Barry is essentially the original hyperactive, pestering rival before Hop recreated that dynamic in Sword & Shield. In the Gen IV games, Barry is everywhere, speeding around either with or ahead of the player. Even other characters notice this and comment on it.
The player will face Barry at least five times in Diamond & Pearl, and six in Platinum. Although the levels vary between these two variants, the team will always consist of six Pokémon – a starter, Snorlax, Staraptor, Heracross, Floatzel, Roserade, and Rapidash, ensuring that there is appropriate type coverage. These battles can be challenging, but it’s a struggle to become too invested in Barry as a character and to view this as anything more than just a battle.
5 Generation III: May & Brendan Are More Like Friends Than Rivals
Following two generations of games that introduced compelling if not annoying rivals in Blue and Silver, the Gen III games, Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald, took a different approach to the rival in more ways than one. Not only would the rival change depending on the gender the player chose, but he or she would be a friendlier rival than in previous editions.
With three rival battles with an optional fourth in Ruby & Sapphire, and four with an optional fifth in Emerald, the Gen III rivals certainly appear less than Blue and Silver, not including any rematches in the remakes. May and Brendan give the players helpful gifts and general encouragement, which is a refreshing change of pace.
4 Generation VII: Hau Is The Most Pleasant Of Rivals
Hau is another example of a rival that you will battle continuously during the game right up to the end. In Sun & Moon, the payer will battle him at least seven times followed by a title-defense match, while in Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, it is six with a Champion battle and title defense.
In both instances, the core of the team is similar, with it always being a starter Pokémon, an Eeveelution, an Alolan Raichu, and later a Crabominable. In Sun & Moon, he uses a Komala, but in the Ultra games, he uses Noivern and Tauros. Hau is a pretty pleasant rival, not possessing too much personality to make him annoying like some of the others, but just enough to give the battles a bit more substance.
3 Generation V: Cheren, Bianca & The Player Make Up The Perfect Trio Of Rivals
In Black & White, Bianca and Cheren serve as the main rivals to the player, with each of them taking the other two starter Pokémon. The player will battle Bianca at least five times, and Cheren seven.
Disregarding post-game rematches, at their strongest, Cheren will have the starter Pokémon strong against yours, the sage Pokémon the same type as your starter, Unfezant, and Liepard, while Bianca will have the starter weak to yours, the sage strong against your starter, Stoutland, and Musharna. These two feel more like friends than other rivals, with it seeming more like the trio going on a journey together.
2 Generation II: Silver Is The Closest To Being A Villain Out Of The Rivals
Officially known as Silver, but also known as ??? or any name chosen by the player, the Johto rival is not a good person. At least with Blue, his arrogance and overconfidence seemed to take the reigns, but with Silver, he just doesn’t care for Pokémon, only power and strength.
It’s an interesting dynamic shift from the Gen I rivalry, and where it was about competition and proving Blue wrong, with Silver, the rivalry is more intense and the player almost feels like they owe it to Pokémon in general to not lose to this guy. His teams aren’t too hard to beat, but he does use the Gastly and Zubat lines, both of which being the epitome of frustration.
1 Generation I: As Blue In The Games And Gary In The Anime, He Is The Original And Best Rival
Blue is the first rival of the entire Pokémon series and immediately sets the bar very high. He is annoying, arrogant, and sometimes borderline delusional. That being said, he is a good rival.
A good rival should pop up at times they aren’t wanted to annoy you into battling them, frequently testing your strength and skill for any growth and improvement, or lack thereof. Not only does Blue do this consistently, but he ends up being the final hurdle when he becomes the Champion, making it the perfect culmination of a rivalry that lasts the entire game.
NEXT: Pokémon: Every Generation, Ranked By Their Champions
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