I really like the Sinnoh starters, how their typings countered each other and how they all have mythological influences behind them! It helps set the atmosphere of D/P/Pt and shows that a lot of thought really go into the starters. Do you think Game Freak should do more of that kind of thing?
The Sinnoh starters are definitely my favourite trio, and the way Game Freak chose to play with their type combinations is certainly part of that. It’s nice to have a bit of variety mixed in with the Grass/Water/Fire standard, and the way Torterra can beat Infernape with Ground attacks, Infernape can beat Empoleon with Fighting attacks, and Empoleon can beat Torterra with Ice attacks gives it all a pleasing symmetry. As long as we have to keep Grass/Water/Fire, I’m glad there’s some scope to play with it.
I’m a little more on the fence about your thoughts on the myth thing. I mean, I’m very fond of mythological designs in general, and I love the way Torterra in particular draws on mythological inspiration, but I’m not sure there’s necessarily any particular unity of theme to them, or that they are especially important to the atmosphere of the games. Like, Infernape, we all pretty much agree, is an homage to a specific mythical hero (Sun Wukong), Torterra is a reference to a very generic mythical type (the world turtle), and Empoleon has a trident in his design but I think you’d be hard pressed to argue that he’s based on Poseidon in any meaningful sense. I don’t know that it particularly sets the atmosphere of Diamond and Pearl either; I think what you’re getting at is that these are games where the plot revolves around Pokémon with cosmic powers, and that mythically inspired starters are particularly appropriate to that theme, but I sort of think you can characterise pretty much every set of games from Ruby and Sapphire onward in that way. If anything, a Pokémon based on a heroic figure like Sun Wukong fits more closely with the themes of Black and White, whereas a cosmic being like the world turtle is fine where he is in Diamond and Pearl, where the main conflict is about Pokémon whose abilities underpin reality itself. So yeah. Dunno. Definitely something to think more about, though.