Major Update 12/22/2019: The article now includes additional analysis from Pokemon SWSH as well as a brand new Monotype Chart!!! Check it out, and let me know what you think. Thanks as always for reading!
Self-made video game challenges and runs have been a staple in recent gaming and can create exciting and new ways to replay your favorite games. There are a whole variety of them ranging from a no-kill run in Metal Gear Solid to only using your knife as a weapon in Resident Evil 4. Pokémon is no exception to this rule as one of the most famous video game challenges of all time is the Nuzlocke Run which actually makes the Pokémon games exceedingly difficult. Today, I offer you a different sort of run, one that although is not as challenging as a Nuzlocke Run, is still very enjoyable. I give you, a Monotype Run/Challenge.
Simply put, a Monotype Run (or Single Type Run) is where you catch Pokémon who only belong to a certain type whether it is Water, Bug, Dark, or Dragon. If a Pokémon does not have a type in that category then it’s out. This is a great challenge I think because you can form a team around your favorite type(s) and not have to worry much about picking your favorites. Your team’s weaknesses are what make this challenging as you have to look out for moves or Pokémon that may defeat you. And to be fair, this isn’t exactly a brand new, exciting concept; many people have done this Run for a long time. That is why today, I’m going in depth and telling you what Pokémon games and types are the best for a Monotype Run. Let’s take a look!
If you want to cut right to the chase, just click the image below that will explain everything to you concisely. Below the chart I have written my methods in approaching this monumental task and the overall best games and types for a Monotype Run.
Before I analyzed a whole bunch of different pokedexes, I had to design a series of rules to make sure I kept my analysis consistent which are as follows.
- A type must be selected before starting the game. Upon playing the game the player must make all attempts to capture a Pokémon of that type as soon as possible. Once captured, the previous Pokémon of the party must be disregarded if they are not of that type.
- Pokémon that have yet to evolve into that type (e.g., Nidoran in a Ground type Run or Caterpie in a Flying type Run) may be caught but must be evolved as soon as possible.
- Trading is not allowed
- Only Pokemon caught before Elite Four are applicable for your team.
- Mega Evolutions that changes a Pokémon to your type are allowed provided you mega evolve the Pokémon as soon as their battle begins.
Of course, everyone has their own version of the rules and that’s totally fine! This is just how I approached the analysis.
In order to determine which Pokémon games are the best for a Monotype Run I had to design a categorizing system that was nonsubjective. What’s more, I had to find a simple but effective rating system that can satisfy all 516 possible combinations between typing and the games. This was solved by a dual grading system using numbers and letters. Every typing and video game combination has a letter (S-F) and number grade for how beneficial a Monotype Run would be. Numbers indicate a game’s type diversity by the amount of unique Pokémon of that type you can catch. Letters indicate how early you can catch a Pokémon: S=Your first Pokémon is your starter; A=First Pokémon you can catch is before the 1st gym; B=Between the 1st-2nd gym; C=Between the 2nd-3rd gym; D=Between the 3rd-4th gym; F=After the 4th gym. For the Sun and Moon games I used the trials in place of gyms since they acted as similar milestones. Finally, the asterisk symbol, “*”, represents a team that neutralizes all the weaknesses. For example, if you were to do a Ground type run in Pokémon Red, you would have a 6A rating (i.e., you can catch at least six, fully-evolved Ground type Pokémon and the first Pokémon you can catch, the Nidorans, is before the first gym but you are exposed to your Ice and Water weaknesses).
As such, teams with a rating of *6A or higher are the Runs you are looking for. You can catch a Pokémon fairly early on and you can get a diversified team that has all of its weaknesses covered. A *6S rating is the best because you will have your Starter right from the getgo! Surprisingly, given all the strict guidelines, we see a huge amount of teams that can match these strict standards, especially in the later games.
For the purpose of saving a lot of headaches, trading was not included in the Monotype Run Chart. Trading defeats the purpose of the Run as it’s much easier to get a team of six Pokémon (especially in the later generations) that has all of its weaknesses covered. This is why a lot of games on the Chart (such as Generation One for Bug types) won’t have the full team even if they have the diversity needed (Scyther and Pinsir are version-exclusive Pokémon). Also, Pokémon catchable after the Elite Four were not included as, in my opinion, you’re at the end of the game. I imagine you win the challenge once you beat the Elite Four. True, some games have a lot of content after the Elite Four (such as the Johto games), but this is only after hours and hours of playing the games. Tyranitar in Gold/Silver is a great example as you can catch Larvitar at Mount Silver but that’s only after you acquired 16 badges (and by then, what’s the point?).
The Best and Worst Pokémon Games for a Monotype Run
By far, the best Pokémon games for a Monotype Run are Pokemon Sword and Shield, followed by Generation 6 and 7. These later generations are fantastic as the amount of Pokemon you can catch in them is staggering. SWSH wins out in the end though because of the Wild Area which is available after Route 2 and just hits you with a tsunami of Pokemon. No joke, every type can be caught before the first gym. No other game can claim that title. If you have a Switch, go for SWSH and if not, there’s nothing wrong with either generation 6 or 7.
Sun, Moon, and USUM are really good. First off, the level of diversity in Sun and Moon rivals ORAS while Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have a team diversity almost on par with X and Y. This means that many types are quite feasible for a Monotype Run although I would hesitate to choose Rock or Dragon types due to their availability of the end of the first island. Ice types are actually doable in the game thanks to Crabrawler which is a welcome change of pace for them! For more information about Sun and Moon and its sequels check out my in-depth article here.
The games to avoid would definitely be the Generation 1 games and that’s not surprising given the games’ initial lack of diversity. Pokémon Blue and Yellow only have one type that’s *6A or better (Normal) while Red has that and Electric. Ironically, the Electric type only sometimes acquires a *6A rating given their low diversity. If you want to do an Electric type Run in Yellow, catch a Pikachu and later catch a Magnemite, then Jolteon, Electabuzz, Voltorb, and Zapdos. I wouldn’t recommend this though given the mentioned Pokémon have a rather low movepool (look towards B2W2, USUM, and SWSH if you want a great Electric type Run).
The Best and Worst Types for a Monotype Run
Normal, Normal, Normal, Normal! The Normal type is the only type that has a 100% excellent rating. This is thanks to Normal type having only one weakness (Fighting) which it can easily cover! Oh, and guess what! The Normal/Flying type combination is the most common type combination in the games. Every generation (except Gen 8) has introduced one and you are more than likely to run into one in the game’s first route. Boom, Normal’s commonality combined with its low weaknesses and early route availability makes it the perfect type for a Monotype Run. I recommend going old school and do a Normal type Run in Generation 1 as you can catch a plethora of iconic Pokémon like Jigglypuff, Pidgey, Tauros, Kangaskhan, and Snorlax. You will have a fun time as they are strong and can learn a variety of moves.
If you don’t want Normal I would then recommend a Water type Run (although Ground, Bug, Fighting, Fairy, and Flying are also good). Again, their commonality and low amount of weaknesses make them a great type to do a Run. Water/Ground and Water/Flying Pokémon are surprisingly common and are introduced in almost every generation. These two potent combos cover Water type’s weaknesses and more than help you have a good time. Also, the Water type has the most superb ratings, a *6S or better, out of any type! As Water type is one of the key starters in most of the games, it’s no wonder that Water teams are easy and fun to do. If I were to recommend some games they would be Pokémon Sapphire, Emerald, and Alpha Sapphire. Pick Mudkip as your starter (Water/Ground), catch a Lotad (Water/Grass) in Route 102, and Wingull (Water/Flying) in Route 104 and you are set. From there, you are given a huge range of great Water Pokémon. Some off the top of my head are Gyarados, Crawdaunt, Sharpedo, Lanturn, Tentacruel, Marill, and Relicanth.
Ice and Dragon type are the worst types for a Monotype Run and have an average D+ and C- grade respectively. This is not surprising given they are usually available fairly late in the game and their diversity is rather lack luster. Surprisingly, Ice type neutralizes its weaknesses in GSC but is severely marred by their late game status. If you want to do an Ice type run go for SWSH thanks to the extreme early availability of Ice Pokemon in the Wild Area. You can also do Pokemon SM and USUM thanks to Crabrawler’s early availability and the nice diversity of Ice types in those games. The best Dragon game is definitely SWSH thanks to, again, the Wild Area which adds a lot of Dragon Pokemon in the Raids and you can neutralize your weaknesses thanks to Duraludon.
-The worst Monotype Run is probably the Dark Type run in Pokemon LeafGreen and FireRed. You CANNNOT catch ANY Dark Type Pokemon! The game doesn’t even allow your Eevee to evolve into one which sucks. This easily makes it the worst run in the entire series.
-In general, the sequel game in a series (Crystal, Emerald, Platinum, B2W2, and USUM) will have better runs due to an increase in diversity. The only exception to this is Pokémon Yellow.
-Remakes’ (FRLG and HGSS) ratings are generally similar to their original games as Pokémon availability are usually the same. The major exception to this is ORAS which introduced the National Dex before the Elite Four and not after.
-If you want to do a Water type Run in Pokémon Yellow, your first Pokémon will be a Magikarp from the Pokecenter salesman outside of Mount Moon. Have fun!
So that’s the article! I originally published it in February 2016 and have continuously update and change it as new games are made. The amount of time I have sunk into this project is ridiculous but hopefully worth it, I consider my chart version 2.0 to be one of my best works. Additionally, there’s so much research and data in this that some mistakes may have fallen through the cracks; if you spot something that’s incorrect, let me know! Happy playing!
Link to other Monotype Run Articles (this will slowly update over time)
Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon
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