After yesterday’s mammoth task that was Generation IV, today will be just a little more relaxed as we look at Generation V and the region of Unova. Only two sets of games to look at here and a far more manageable 31 trainers to rank. Usual stuff applies: trainers are ranked on their initial difficulty, personality, how they look, their full set of rosters and the creativity they employ during battles in general. They can also get bonus points, and lose points for anything I find personally offensive.
Here’s a quick list of all the lists in this project!
- Ranking the Gen I trainers
- Ranking the Gen II trainers
- Ranking the Gen III trainers
- Ranking the Gen IV trainers
- Ranking the Gen VI trainers
- Ranking the Gen VII trainers
- Ranking the Gen VIII trainers
Minor housekeeping: I will be counting the Pokémon World Tournament teams and strategies in my appraisals, but all the non-Unova trainers who appear there will not be ranked. I don’t have that sort of willpower.
Also, note the massive amount of score inflation. Yeesh. Unova went hard in making these trainers well-rounded characters with actual relevance to the story – possibly more than in any other game. This is part of the reason that for me, Unova feels more self-contained than other generations. It feels like a whole different type of game.
It’s all arbitrary, all the time. Let’s goooooooooooooo-
#31 – Zinzolin
Following on from the bulk of the Generation IV admins, the Team Plasma sages are similarly handicapped by their generic ‘evil’ personas, quick battles that pose little threat and lighter involvement in the narrative.
Zinzolin is notable for his attachment to Cryogonal and his constant role as an exposition dump. There is not much else to say about Zinzolin, at least he’s a sage you can actually fight. He starts the list off at 11/30, which is the highest start we’ve had yet at least.
#30 – Rood
Rood is a neat example of an ‘admin’-type enemy trainer who manages to capture a bit of personality and development while still being largely inconsequential overall. While his design is nothing to write home about and his Pokémon are easily trounced, Rood manages to show us some versatility over both games as a devoted supporter of N, a caretaker for N’s Pokémon and even gets a neat part in the three musketeer Pokémon sidequest. He even gives the player a Zorua, that’s cool. I don’t hate Rood, he’s just… there. 11.5/30 saves him from the bottom of the heap.
#29 – Cilan
Cilan is the lowest scorer of the Striaton City triplets. While he looks pleasant enough and has a very pretty-looking team during the PWT, he’s kind of a lacklustre personality and much like his brothers he suffers only so slightly for not being present at the Seven Sages vs. Gym Leaders of Unova standoff, which is one of the coolest sights in the game.
This is not to say I dislike Cilan, but he (and the other two triplets for that matter) score lowly as they really don’t stand out all that much, have less story relevance than basically any other gym leader and they’re also quite an easy foe to beat for your first badge. Not terrible, just not great: 14.5/30.
#27 – Chili
Like his brother before him, Chili suffers from his association with his triplets. If you’re wondering about the nitty gritty, Chili is ahead of Cilan despite scoring lower in look – he just has a great deal of personality that he gets to show off both in his sprite and in his sparse dialogue. Isn’t it ironic that the brother who ended up becoming a main character in the anime is the most boring one in the games?
I do like the Striaton Leaders, but they’re also just easy to conquer regardless of your starter. The fact that the game hands you a type advantage before the gym is a whole other problem for them. I find gyms to be more effective when you have to work out what their weakness is, and it’s why Brock and Roxanne are among the most effective initial Gym Challenges. Chili got 15/30, which ties him with …
#27 – The Shadow Triad
Remember the days in between BW and B2W2 when everyone thought the Striaton triplets were the Shadow Triad? That would have been a neat reveal. Instead, they’re just elite grunts working for Team Plasma who manage to look really cool and do a few story-relevant things, such as returning Hugh’s sister’s purloined Purrloin.
In battle they are generic strategists who use powerful moves but with little thought to team makeup instead of a theming of ‘dark and cool ninja-type monsters’ which honestly, I can appreciate that. 15/30 is not a bad score for trainers with no names.
#26 – Marshal
Elite 4 members really get the short end of the stick in terms of character development. Unless you manage to be a compelling character in a few lines of dialogue or have a truly outstanding presentation you are a forgettable character without much going for you. Marshal is one of those trainers for me.
While I really love his outfit and his strict usage of humanoid Fighting-type Pokémon, he sorely lacks any modicum of challenge and his battle strategy amounts to ‘attack a weak spot, or just attack if you cannot’ which is less than ideal for such a high-ranking opponent. He improves slightly in B2W2 thanks to a more diverse team but there’s not much they could do to save Marshal from a 15.5/30.
#24 – Roxie
The first new face you’ll encounter in B2W2 (after the inevitable new rival), Roxie is a Poison-type Gym Leader who is totally themed around teenage angst, rebellion, and toxicity. Her Gym Challenge is extremely easy to breeze past but she manages to show off a ton of personality in her small appearance in the game which carries over to her unique PWT choices where she sports an Amoonguss and a Garbodor. Roxie is alright, she just pales in comparison to some other trainers of Unova – 16/30 isn’t a terrible score.
#24 – Emmet
Emmet is the first of two Subway Bosses who run the Battle Subway. This facility lies in Nimbasa City alongside Elesa’s gym and is Unova’s answer to the Battle Tower. Along with Ingo, Emmet serves as a periodic boss battle who can challenge the player as they make their way through the hordes of trainers populating the subway.
Unlike the random trainers who pull their roster choices from a pool, Emmet and Ingo have set teams that help to characterise them somewhat. Emmet is a Double Battle trainer who uses quite powerful and bulky Pokémon like Garbodor, Chandelure and Eelektross. Where Emmet sort of struggles is his strategy – his sets are often not tailored for Double Battles. He has multiple Earthquake users, but also a Klinklang who has to spend a Protect just to survive, and a Excadrill who is just as susceptible. Overall though, Emmet displays a wide variety of strong Pokémon and looks pretty cool in his conductor’s uniform – everything nets him a cool 16/30.
#21 – Ingo
Like Emmet, Ingo suffers from being ‘just a subway boss’ who doesn’t have all that much of a personality. Despite this, Ingo also has a wide range of Pokémon and focuses on Single Battles unless he’s teaming up with Emmet on the Multi-Battle line. Many of his Pokémon are the exact same species as Emmet’s, but with some variation in movesets to suit him more for Single Battles – for example his Klinklang has Volt Switch and Emmet’s does not.
You’ll notice that Ingo has rated higher than Emmet despite them being two halves of one overall character. While they do vary in their scores overall slightly, Ingo’s lead is mainly due to black being a better colour for the sprite than white – it’s a nicer uniform. And that’s what gets him 16.5/30.
#21 – Skyla
I’ll say it right now: Skyla would score much higher if she didn’t look so effin’ stupid. Between the random ribbons all over her body that seem to try (yet fail) to emulate the look of a parachute pack and the random blob of hair just protruding from her head like an inflatable punching bag, Skyla’s design baffles me.
Skyla is also very easy to beat and while I absolutely adore both the Flying-type and specifically her Swanna, one decent Electric-type Pokémon is going to eviscerate her. She does better in the PWT, however, where she uses a mixed strategy – she has a bulky Toxic user, a mixed sweeper, some set-up sets and she’s cleverly outfitted her Swanna with a Tailwind/Scald set, allowing it to support the rest of its team with both positive and negative status effects. She forms a trio with Ingo and Cress on 16.5/30.
#21 – Cress
Why is Cress so much higher up than his brothers you ask? Ah, that is simple. A) I love Water-type Pokémon, and B) I love emo haircuts. Cress speaks clearly to my sensibilities. He’s prevented from reaching the highest heights due to many of the same reasons as his brothers, but aesthetically and in roster choice he is my superior pick.
Cress even manages to use some cool strategies in the PWT. He has a nasty Nasty Plot Slowking in his Type Expert team and his Unova Leaders team is full of brutal set up Pokémon, including a cool Bulk Up Floatzel. I like his team choices and that bumps Cress up to 16.5/30.
#19 – Burgh
Good lord I hate that ugly colour combination what is Burgh thinking. And that hair? Eesh.
Burgh is not my favourite design, he really bugs me. But he manages to not totally suck thanks to neat Pokémon choices and an effective strategic mind. In the PWT Burgh uses some very nice sets, such as Shell Smash Crustle (gosh, remember Shell Smash being everywhere?) and Swords Dance Escavalier. I also just really like the makeup of his teams – Gen V had some great Bug designs. Burgh ends up on a nice 17/30.
#19 – Clay
Oh look! It’s Doug Dimmadome, owner of the- don’t worry I won’t do the whole thing. Clay is a Texan stereotype, obnoxious accent to boot. While I appreciate including such a caricature in a region based on the US, Clay is just extremely obnoxious to me. His design silhouette annoys me, his accent is stupider than Fantina’s broken French, and why does he bring a briefcase to his battles?
There are things I like about Clay though – the fact that he’s a Ground-type trainer tickles me. I’m taking it as a reference to oil-hungry Texan magnates and no one can convince me otherwise. Secondly, he has a great bunch of Pokémon that I really appreciate. Excadrill was notorious for its power during Gen V and he also uses nice powerhouses like Mammoswine, Krookodile and Flygon during his PWT showings. His strategy is predictably to go for all-out offensive coverage, but meh, it suits his character. Clay ends up with 17/30.
#18 – Caitlin
Caitlin is a bit of a mixed bag for me. She’s a powerful trainer in the Elite 4 who is a reference to the Battle Frontiers of Generation IV where she was the patron of the Battle Castle and made her butler battle for her. The issue is that I think her outfit is silly (I hate that hat) and she’s not really what we thought she’d be judging by her Gen IV appearance.
In the Battle Castle she seems to be a stuffy and demanding lady who barks orders and is implied to be so temperamental so as to be barred from battling. In Gen V however she’s just another generic powerful trainer who appreciates the player. She’s a missed opportunity to make another Whitney, in my opinion.
Saying that, she’s got a great taste in Pokémon and her ace’s aesthetics seem a direct opposite to her own which is nice. Despite her looks she definitely seems to prefer raw power over aesthetics as she manages to fit a Bronzong, Sigilyph and Metagross into her rosters which aren’t what you’d expect from a trainer who looks like Caitlin. Never judge a book, I suppose. 18.5/30.
#17 – Shauntal
The spooky Velma-esque member of the Elite 4, Shauntal is pretty good. Like the other Elite 4 members of Unova she does suffer a bit from not being a Gym Leader – they just got so much development in this generation while the Elite 4 were rather left behind. Saying that, Shauntal manages to show off her way with words through her dialogue, dictating her prose out loud – I like that a lot. Definitely adds to her character, even if it is one-note.
She also has a great roster, full of powerful-yet-cool Pokémon. Unova has some fantastic Ghost Pokémon that Shauntal takes advantage of, like Cofagrigus, Chandelure, Jellicent and Golurk. Her strategies using these ghosts tend to fall on the rather generic ‘offence with coverage’ side so if you have good moveset knowledge you should be very safe. She gets a decent 19/30.
#14 – Brycen
The second Ice-type trainer who abides the ‘must… wear… icy blue…” rule that I really do not like. Brycen is a pretty cool trainer who gets a bit of a spotlight in B2W2 thanks to the Pokéstar Studios – Brycen is an actor and here we can see him act! He takes part in the mini-games that have you facing off in special Pokémon battles against greats feats of SFX and Brycen himself as ‘Brycen Man’.
Brycen has a bit of a weird time of it as an actual Gym Leader in BW though. He’s an Ice-type specialist who seems to try to employ a defensive strategy. While Ice is a fantastic offensive type it is sorely hampered by awful defensive matchups and no amount of Acid Armour and Reflect will make up for those weaknesses. As it is, his most effective set belongs to his final Pokémon, Beartic, which utilises a Swagger set.
In the PWT however Brycen shows a bit more variety in his strategy. He uses the predictable Hail sets backed up by liberal use of priority STAB moves, effective set-up sets and a smattering of status effects like sleep and confusion. It’s in PWT that we can see that while Beartic is his highest-level Pokémon in the first games, he in fact prefers Cryogonal as his signature as it’s present in his matches no matter what. So that’s a plus for the PWT, I guess. Brycen heads up a trio of ties at 20/30.
#14 – Elesa
Can we take a moment to appreciate the reveal? Yeah? Done? Awesome. Elesa is cool – she’s a Gym Leader/Model and if she were real she would no doubt be an Instagram influencer too. She also manages to have great heart, as she displays when she convinces Bianca’s dad to let her be a Pokémon trainer. She also looks great too, I mean you can’t argue with the effort that must have gone into making such a dynamic entrance animation.
Elesa has it all in fact, as she’s another notable difficulty spike in Unova thanks to her very cool strategy of abusing Volt Switch, which is a move that will ultimately keep you on the back foot and lead to you making mistakes. Try to use a Ground-type move on her Zebrastrika? Oh no, now you’ve just missed her Emolga. Try again. Disappointingly, she almost entirely abandons this strategy in the PWT, but does manage to threaten the player with rather a lot of attack moves that inflict status effects. With this trio of trainers we’ve hit the half-way point of the list, with Elesa modelling a very round 20/30.
#14 – Grimsley
Grimsley is a Dark-type trainer who looks like a Dark-type trainer. And he looks damn cool, too. As one of the Elite 4, Grimsley can be quite a threat if you aren’t prepared to deal with his team and he manages to offset his weaknesses quite well with both secondary typing and coverage moves.
He’s probably much more of a threat in the rematches, where he gains picks like a powerful Sharpedo and a disruptive Honchkrow that can ruin your day if you let them. Overall though, Grimsley is a little bit lacking in the personality department, but his roster and fashion sense compensate for that a little. He’s another 14/20.
#12 – Benga
Benga is the grandson of Alder and appears in B2W2 as a post-game addition, encountering the player a few times through either the Black Tower or White Treehollow, eventually fighting the trainer as the final boss of the area. What’s really cool is that if you speak to Benga after beating him he will give you either a Gible or Dratini depending on which game you’re playing – Gible in B2 and Dratini W2. Oh, and they are guaranteed shiny.
Benga’s roster though is quite uh… fun. He’s got three level 80s and boy are they tough. In both games he has a Volcarona and the fully-evolved form of whichever shiny dragon he can give you once you beat him, and also one of the Lati twins with White Herb and Draco Meteor. Latios in B2 and Latias in W2, Benga is an absolute threat and you will be wishing the Fairy-type existed one generation earlier facing him. 20.5/30 is a fitting score for a brutal yet optional trainer, I think.
#12 – Hugh
At first glance, Hugh fits the template of a ‘generic rival’ type and if you look at his Pokémon choices you might be right: Hugh is the third rival in Gen V to utilise Starter + Elemental Monkey + Coverage and he even has a Normal/Flying bird like Blue and Barry.
Underneath that though, Hugh is a great example of the games’ themes of conviction and determination. Hugh spends the game utterly antagonistic towards Team Plasma and even its past members, to the point of distraction. Hugh’s character development comes from his gradual realisation that sometimes people can change and by the end of the game he is working with the ex-Plasma members to reunite trainers with their lost Pokémon – a reflection of his quest to retrieve the Pokémon that was stolen from his sister.
His personality and dialogue are not all that stellar in giving him a full characterisation, but it’s his journey that makes Hugh an interesting and compelling addition to Unova. Alongside Cheren and Bianca, this generation has a very strong set of rivals who all manage to feel like distinct and distinguished ideas. Hugh gets a 20.5/30.
#10 – Colress
Storming into the Top 10 by a tied technicality, Colress surprises everyone by being a scientist with a personality and an arc. I really like Colress. His villainy is never with malice and he eventually quits that risky life to pursue a life of pure science – and I can’t hold his villainous past against him. Colress sports a neat high-techno outfit and a fantastically themed roster boasting machinery, an alien and a ghost-possessed washing machine. Perfection, there. And they end up being a threatening team with great moves. You cannot ask for more.
There really isn’t much to say about Colress – he manages to exhibit a satisfying arc, remain important to the narrative and be a challenging yet fun trainer to battle without being boring or generic. I like him and his 21/30 score.
#10 – Bianca
Rivals always tend to do quite well in these lists thanks to how prevalent they are in the story and this is true even when that role is split between Bianca and Cheren equally (and N, depending on your feelings regarding him). What’s done well in this game that is decidedly not done well in, for example, X and Y, is that Bianca is given her own development arc that is separate from the other rivals of the region.
Bianca has conflict with her family, makes friends on her own and comes to important resolutions about her goals and place in the world without blunt prompting from generic side characters. She makes a resolute decision to go into Pokémon research and by B2W2 we find her assisting Professor Sycamore, showing that she followed through. It’s a nice moment.
Roster-wise, Bianca is quite similar to Cheren in BW. She uses a starter and an elemental monkey, and rounds out the rest of her team with neat type coverage. I do give her extra credit for using Mienshao, which is one of my favourites. She’s not exactly tough to beat but it’s nice to face a team full of diverse Pokémon in a game that for the most part severely limits how many Pokémon they are willing to give Gym Leaders and even the Elite 4. Thanks to her great usage in the story and decent battles, Bianca gets a well-deserved 10th place with 21/30.
#9 – Lenora
I really like Lenora. When I first played BW I did not like her. Back then, I found myself walled so brutally by her violent Watchog which led to me grinding on weak Audino just to stand a chance. Early Normal-type trainers with powerful STAB-attacks are consistently difficult bosses to take down, and Lenora is no different.
Lenora also shines in her personality. She is shown to be a very intelligent and curious woman who has a passion for the museum she works in – and fights in. She takes the time to introduce you to Burgh in BW and in B2W2 she can help you revive fossils, too! Between all that and the discussed relationship with her husband, and Lenora is a well-rounded character who gets to show off a lot more than Gym Leaders of generations past.
Pokémon-wise, Lenora is very obviously competent. Both of her PWT teams utilise the Normal-type’s great coverage potential to their fullest and she even throws in some wildcards such a very disruptive, Coil/Glare/Roost Dunsparce and an ace Watchog using Hypnosis, Confuse Ray and Super Fang. She’s quite the threat, and stands alone with 21.5/30.
#8 – Drayden
Elephant in the room: yes. Drayden is hot. Does he maybe get preferential treatment because of that? I resent the implication. Good day.
Drayden is cool. He’s a kind older man who trains dragons, has a huge giving heart and manages to be quite crucial to the Box Legendary storyline along with his charge Iris. And he’s also said to train by wrestling with his Pokémon – and that’s just badass. Why you ask? Let’s take a look at his rosters. Not only does he consistently use Druddigon, a monster with Rough Skin, his ace is Haxorus. A bloody brute. His Gym Challenge features Dragon Dance strats, which are quite devastating behind such huge stat totals, and he also totes a nasty Flygon coverage set in B2W2 which can trip up the unsuspecting trainer.
There’s just more of this level of challenge in the PWT where Drayden never seems to stick to one strategy, requiring adaptability to take down his dragons. Of note are an Altaria who will Cotton Guard and Roost while it counts down the turns until Perish Song fires, a brutal Dragon Dance Haxorus with Outrage, and a neat Glare/Dragon Tail Druddigon who will spread paralysis throughout your whole team if you let it. He looks scary, has the chops to back it up, and he’s hot to boot? Easy 22.5/30, cementing his place in the Top 10.
#6 – Cynthia
Cynthia, the champion of Sinnoh, is mostly just an optional boss fight in this game. She stays at one of Caitlin’s villas and you can challenge her to a battle. She also gets to interact with the Gym Leaders and Elite 4 of the region which does mean she gets to show off her personality a bit more – I do like that.
Otherwise though, Cynthia remains as she always has been. Impossibly cool, very tough to beat, and a charming reference to the past. Her team has been updated with a Glaceon which is neat, and her PWT is terrifying levels of competence featuring her signature bulky Spiritomb that now comes with Will-O-Wisp, and the Garchomp that everyone is scared of.
So yeah, despite being of absolutely no plot important in Generation V, Cynthia manages to rank in the Top 10 thanks to being the catalyst for a lot of nice worldbuilding, her expert team construction and shock value merely for being present. She ties for 6th at 23/30.
#6 – Marlon
Marlon is a pretty chill dude who makes for a neat new final Gym Leader in the Unova region for B2W2. There is a potential for him actually posing quite a challenge, which is rare for an 8th leader – Shell Smash Carracosta can be scary, Wailord is bulky as anything and Jellicent has the potential to survive for ages with Recover and boost itself to terrifying heights with Ominous Wind.
His showing in the PWT is nothing to sniff at either. His Jellicent is often the star of the show but he manages to show off some other dazzlers such as a truly bulky Wailord, a rare defensive Starmie set, Shell Smash Cloyster and my love, my dear, my adorably Mantine. Marlon notably loves the stall strategy, employing lots of recovery, defence boosts and uses his team to whittle down your HP piece by piece before finishing everyone off with a clean sweeper like Carracosta or Quagsire. It’s effective, and impressive.
Also, like, Marlon is a pretty dude who enjoys surfing and after the quite serious narratives of both BW and B2W2 it’s nice to take a break for a while and spend a chill afternoon working your way through Humilau Gym. He gets a radical 23/30.
#4 – Ghetsis
Generic? Awesome? You decide. No, wait, I decide.
Ghetsis is probably the flashiest of villains that we have ever had over the history of Pokémon. He’s a master of 4 dimensional chess and can manipulate those around him rather easily, including the very important N. His plan is to dominate Unova by making himself the most powerful trainer, unopposed. To do this, Ghetsis tries to use the legendary Pokémon to his advantage – Zekrom, Reshiram and Kyurem. Which Pokémon he uses and/or fuses is based on which game you play and honestly it is a chore trying to keep track of them.
Long-story short, you will eventually manage to subvert his plans and defeat Ghetsis not once, but twice. But until then, Ghetsis shows off a flair for the dramatic, a spark of true villainy as he orders Kyruem to actually kill the player character, and a relentless drive for his evil plan for power. And backing him up is a powerful team of Pokémon pulled from the best of Unova – including an illegal Hydreigon who can really ruin your day. He’s an effective villain, though he would have scored a bit higher had he not looked so stupid. As it stands, he ends up with a neat 23.5/30.
#4 – Alder
Champion in BW and an optional boss in B2W2, Alder is a foe to be reckoned with. Ostensibly a Bug-type trainer, Alder is fairly challenging thanks to some sorely-needed team variety. The thing is, I am not really much of a fan of his rosters thanks to some Pokémon that I personally dislike such as Conkeldurr, Accelgor and Vanilluxe. Saying that, Alder is a generic high-challenge trainer thanks to great move selection and a focus on hard offence.
As a character, Alder gets a compelling character arc. Over the generation Alder decides to go into retirement and hands the reigns of the League to a challenger who defeated him, which is a detail I really like. He also gets some deep backstory development, where the player learns about the death of his starter Pokémon and his worldly travels – moments like this highlight that we don’t often get to learn about many trainers.
He also looks damn cool. That chain of Poké Balls is awesome and he has an aura of power about him that cannot be denied. Maybe it’s the hair, which seems styled to match his ace – a detail that I love when it’s subtle as it is in this case. Alder is a neat character who I would like to see travel to other generations, and he gets a 23.5/30 from me.
#3 – Cheren
Cheren scores so highly for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I’m a sucker for a success story and like Bianca he gets a bonus point for his transition from Pokémon trainer to Pokémon Gym Leader over the course of a single generation – it’s indicative of his intense determination and talent. He’s also rather important to the narrative, and that’s also an important factor in what makes a good Pokémon character.
Cheren’s roster is also a lot larger than many other trainers since he drastically changed his focus around from BW to B2W2 – from a varied trainer to a Normal-type specialist Cheren does manage to keep consistent in one way and that is in employing quite brutal strategies. As a rival he manages to be a more consistent roadblock than Bianca, and as a Gym Leader he can be quite easy to underestimate: he uses a setup strategy that can pick up steam very quickly and you’re unlikely to be packing much of a Fighting-type punch at that point in the game.
As a character Cheren shines in his personal development over the generation. He goes from his almost headstrong, overconfident boy who strives for power and more power and by B2W2 we see that he has been humbled by the events of BW, turning him into an effective teacher, guide and Gym Leader. Also, it’s hilarious that he gives out Basic Badges and it makes him sound like a judgemental gay. 24/30.
#2 – N
Full name: Natural Harmonia Gropius. For some reason. N is the false leader of Team Plasma and is something of a mixture between a rival and an enemy team trainer. You’ll fight him a few times throughout the game and he poses very little threat… up until his final confrontation. N rocks out with not only five fully evolved Pokémon with competitive-ready movesets, but he throws the Box Legendary at you – Zekrom in Black and Reshiram in White. We’ve encountered legendary-owners before but this is like Giovanni having Mewtwo or a boss fight against Archie and Maxie with Groudon and Kyogre! N is a threat.
In B2W2 N becomes an optional, repeatable battle who utilises the so-called Weather Wars to provide an extreme threat to your strategies with unique teams and weather-based strategies. These teams are fun to fight and difficult to beat, and he has one of the most diverse rosters in the whole history of Pokémon. Within the same game you can also encounter many of the Pokémon that N has released in the past, which is a neat addition.
As a character, N is a mysterious one. He has this power that lets him ‘hear the voice of your Pokémon’ and he’s set up to be quite an enigma for much of the game. His plans are learned gradually, and it’s eventually up to the player to stop him from attempting to completely separate the world of humanity from the world of Pokémon. He’s like a PETA extremist but with actual gravitas behind him.
N exemplifies the general theme of idealism that the BW games have, and he gets his hero moment during B2W2 in a thrilling display of pure character development. He becomes a more well-rounded young man who comes to appreciate the partnerships that humans and Pokémon can have, and he’s a compelling character who shows us how far Game Freak have come in their character writing. N is very deserving of a nice round 25/30.
#1 – Iris
Y’all know by now that I just adore a worldbuilding moment. Iris manages to be story relevant, pops up all over the place, and get promoted from a Gym Leader to Champion over the course of one generation. That’s the kind of shit I love.
I will say now that I vastly prefer her look in BW, but I suppose that the ostentatious fairy princess dress suits her personality – it’s exactly the kind of thing she’d wear to look important as the champion of an entire national Pokémon league. So she gets kudos for that – it’s a design that adds to the show of her childlike, bubbly personality.
As a Gym Leader, Iris matches up with Drayden in that she has an identical team. Where she gets to split off from Hot Dad a bit is in B2W2 where she gets a more varied team. Unfortunately we don’t get a PWT team from her but the Champion match is more than enough to see that she’s a threat. Rounding out her Dragon trio of Druddigon, Hydreigon and Haxorus, we get the vaguely prehistoric Archeops, Aggron and Lapras – I really love the theming of her team. And it manages to be both well-designed and a threat, which is yet more points in her favour.
Iris is a true force to be reckoned with and her youth belies a mastery of Pokémon strategy that made her an obvious replacement after Alder’s retirement. I’m often not a fan of the ‘child prodigy’ trope but in this case she’s obviously a deserving and talented individual. With 26/30, Iris is so close to a perfect score and is the second Champion to reach the #1 spot.