Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl: Best Starter to Choose

Should you pick Turtwig, Chimchar, or Piplup in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl? Here’s what you need to know.


Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are bringing trainers new and old into the Sinnoh region for the first time on Nintendo Switch. Whether this is your first visit or you’re reliving the nostalgia of the past, the first major decision you’ll be faced with is which starter to choose.

There are three to choose from in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and they’ve all got their own individual strengths and weaknesses. While many players will simply go with the Pokémon that they feel drawn to or stick to a favorite type, your journey will be affected by this initial decision.


So, here’re the pros and cons of each starter in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, tips for Pokémon to pair with your choice, and how to get all three starters.

How much does your starter choice affect the story in Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl?

While you’ll mostly be seeing the differences in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s starter picks in how you build the rest of your team, there is one specific piece of the game that will change significantly based on your decision.

Your rival, the one you named that is by your side when you choose a starter, will have a different team as the game progresses depending on the starter Pokémon that you choose.

As the game continues, your rival will always end up with a Staraptor, Heracross, and Snorlax, but the other three Pokémon on their team can vary. They’ll always have two of the following three: Rapidash, Roserade, and Floatzel.


If you select Turtwig, your rival’s Rapidash is replaced with Infernape. If you choose Chimchar, your rival’s Floatzel is replaced with Empoleon. If you pick Piplup, your rival’s Roserade is replaced with Torterra.

Turtwig, Grass-Type Starter

First up, it’s the number one entry in the Sinnoh Pokédex: Turtwig. While there’s more to the equation than Base Stats, it’s worth noting that Turtwig starts with the highest Total Base Stats of the three starters.

Turtwig has a Base Stats Total of 318, slightly above that of Chimchar and Piplup, but things shift after evolving. Once reaching its final form, you’ll have a Base Stats Total of 525, which lands a bit below the counterpart starter evolutions.


Turtwig’s stronger starter stats are likely to balance out the speed, or lack thereof, in which it evolves. Turtwig doesn’t evolve into Grotle until Level 18, the latest evolution point of the starters. Still, it evolves into Torterra at just Level 32, which is faster than the other starters reach their final form.

Once fully evolved, Torterra brings excellent defense to the table and a solid type combo by being both grass-type and ground-type. However, be extra careful against ice-type Pokémon as those moves deal four-times the normal amount of damage to Torterra. While it doesn’t have status-effect moves like Sleep Powder or Stun Spore, Torterra is often a beast that can prolong a battle with combinations like Synthesis, Leech Seed, and Giga Drain.

If you choose Turtwig, try to snag a Ponyta and Magikarp early on. These two will evolve into Rapidash and Gyarados, and they’ll help to balance your final team.

Chimchar, Fire-Type Starter

Next up, we have fire-type starter Chimchar and its low-end Base Stats Total of 309, but don’t let those early numbers fool you into thinking Chimchar isn’t worth his salt. Right out of the gate, you’ll have the advantage that Chimchar is the earliest to evolve by becoming Monferno at just Level 14.

After you’ve reached Level 36, you’ll finally have Infernape along with a Base Stats Total of 534, which happens to be the most among the three final starter evolutions in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Once fully evolved, Infernape also brings a very strong offensive type-combo by being both fire-type and fighting-type, and you can craft a deadly moveset. Balanced base stats for Attack and Special Attack make Chimchar’s offensive options extra varied, with Close Combat, Flare Blitz, and U-Turn being extra powerful moves learned as you level up.

You’ll want to be the most careful against flying-type, ground-type, water-type, and psychic-type Pokémon as those will have the edge in type matchups against Infernape. Fortunately, U-Turn and a few TM moves like Rock Slide or Solar Beam can counter these weaknesses.

If you choose Chimchar, look to catch Magikarp and Budew early on. These two will evolve into Gyarados and Roserade, and they’ll help to balance your final team.

Piplup, Water-Type Starter

Last but certainly not least, we have the lovable little water-type starter Piplup. When it comes to Total Base Stats, both Piplup and its final evolutionary form, Empoleon, sit in the middle ground when compared to the other starter Pokémon.

Piplup has a Base Stats Total of 314, and the final form Empoleon has a Base Stats Total of 530. The real strength that you’ll find in Empoleon is the lack of weaknesses that the water-type and steel-type combination have in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Once fully evolved, Empoleon has the least type weaknesses of the final evolutions with just three: fighting-type, electric-type, and ground-type. Fortunately, TM moves like Earthquake and Empoleon’s own water-type arsenal can effectively nullify two of those.

On top of that, Empoleon is resistant to normal-type, flying-type, rock-type, bug-type, water-type, psychic-type, dragon-type, and fairy-type moves, while being double resistant to steel-type and ice-type moves. By comparison, Torterra only has two resistances and Infernape has just six – Empoleon has ten resistances.

If you choose Piplup, look to catch Ponyta and Budew early on. These two will evolve into Rapidash and Roserade, and they’ll help to balance your final team.

Which Pokémon is the best starter in Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl?

While some might find themselves called to the defensive strengths of Empoleon or the grassy charm of Turtwig, the true best starter in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is Chimchar. Much of the game was updated in this remake, but the best starter choice has remained constant with these new versions.

When it gets the most challenging, Pokémon is ultimately a game of numbers. Infernape has the highest Base Stats Total of the three final starter evolutions, but it’s also got the most competitive moveset and already shows up amongst the best Pokémon in all of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. As you start the story, it will also make the earliest challenges much more manageable.

Chimchar can effectively sweep both the first and second gym battles against Roark and Gardenia. As you get further into the game, it also becomes a solid counter to multiple steel-type Pokémon and ice-type Pokémon that you face in a few of the main gym battles.

Even as you progress all the way to the Elite Four and take on the Champion, a strong Infernape will likely be able to handle at least two of their Pokémon in that monumental battle. While you can find success with any starter, Chimchar is the definitive best pick in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

How do you get all of the starter Pokémon in Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl?

If you’d rather not deal with a decision and want to snag all of the starter Pokémon in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, that’s actually a possibility on the table, but it comes with a few catches. Thanks to the redesigned Grand Underground, you can catch all three of the starter Pokémon in the wild. However, they won’t spawn until after you’ve become Pokémon League Champion, acquired the National Dex, and essentially beat the game.

In order to acquire the National Dex, you’ll have to at least see all 151 Pokémon in the Sinnoh Dex, but you won’t have to catch all of them. However, you may need to trade or battle with others online to get a glimpse of the few version exclusives.

Once you have the National Dex, there are multiple locations in the Grand Underground where each of the Sinnoh starter Pokémon will spawn as well as their counterparts from other generations of Pokémon.

Alternatively, you can also trade with a friend or borrow their console and game, as you would then be able to trade away your starter and reset the game, repeating this process until you have all three on a single save file.

There is one final option that isn’t available yet but will be down the line: Pokémon Home. The Pokémon storage app on Nintendo Switch and mobile devices allows you to transfer Pokémon from any profile on the console, and as a result, there is a method to create extra profiles on your console and transfer between those save files.

Unfortunately, the Pokémon Home method isn’t yet available as Pokémon Home hasn’t been updated to link with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. We’re hoping to see these features added in 2022, but there’s little official word about when it will happen or the logistics of how those transfers will work between different titles.

So, Chimchar is the best starter Pokémon in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, but if you don’t want to have just one of the three, you can get them all by using the methods above.


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Patches Chance

Hey yo, I'm Patches Chance. Everything started with my red Game Boy Pocket and a copy of Pokémon Red. A few decades, two BioShock tattoos, and one Pokémon tattoo later, I ended up here. I've also been an editor with RealSport and Daily DDT covering professional wrestling, and I've written for App Trigger and Dork Side Of The Force. You can find me basically everywhere @patcheschance.

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