The leap from GBA to DS felt like a substantial one, thanks to the enhanced graphics, dual screens, a touch screen, and even a microphone! The DS was the hot handheld of the time, and no game made its features clearer to me than Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
Suddenly, we could control gadgets on the screen, the world felt more alive than ever, and even the Pokémon were more animated than in any previous title. So to match this evolution, Game Freak delivered a stonking selection of new creatures that are still celebrated to this day. But our guide to the best gen 4 Pokémon is here to whittle this motley crew down to the greatest of them all.
The selection from Sinnoh is as weird as it is wide, featuring the most evolutions of previous Pokémon that any gen has seen before or since. Fan favourite lines finally got some power thanks to plenty of evolution stones and new methods. Meanwhile, even the completely new Pokémon have seen nothing but love since. This is going to be tough… Also, we won’t be covering either starter Pokémon or legendary Pokémon here as they appear in different lists.
Let’s dive into our guide to the best gen 4 Pokémon.
The best gen 4 pokémon
The ancient dragonfly Pokémon Yanmega takes on the appearance of some of the prehistoric bugs that actually inhabited the earth many millennia ago. To drive this fact home, Yanma can only evolve into this ‘mon when it knows the ancient power move. It’s one of many Pokémon in Diamond and Pearl that are evolutions of ‘mon from previous gens, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it because I just didn’t think that many people were rooting for Yanma.
Yanmega wields the dual bug/flying type combination, which sadly gives it a bunch of weaknesses. It’s four times weak to rock and two times weak to flying, fire, electric, and ice. However, it balances this with an immunity to ground, helping it cause some problems for popular threat Garchomp. It might not be the best competitively, but the mixture of the prehistoric design and interesting lore has always made it a winner in my eyes.
Lets get this one out the way. Garchomp rules. Its top tier Pokémon design has yet to be beaten before or since, every inch of that Pokémon looks absolutely incredible, and I have never met a single Pokémon fan that had a bad word to say about it. It looks like a cross between a dragon, a crocodile, a jet, and a submarine. You don’t have to worry about making sense when you look that cool.
If you were around during the original Pokémon Diamond and Pearl days back when the series was making its first steps into online battles, you likely remember that Garchomp was an absolute menace. This powerhouse was on every single team ready to spam earthquake and take down almost every other Pokémon in the meta. It’s still a fearsome foe with an insane speed stat and an impressive attack, but over the years it’s four times ice weakness has found more Pokémon to exploit it, not to mention it’s weak to dragon and fairy. It’s not quite the beast it once was, but it hasn’t fallen far from grace.
This is more of a personal pick because something about the big lug known as Rhyperior has always just worked for me. I’ve always loved Rhyhorn and Rhydon, and Rhydon in particular already feels like a Pokémon pushed as far as it can go. So how did Game Freak take the concept further? Well, they just made Rhyperior even larger. Fantastic stuff honestly.
While it may be a slow one, Rhyperior also learns the ice move avalanche, which does double damage if it’s used after the Pokémon has already taken damage. This means if Rhyperior can withstand an earthquake, then it’s got a good shot of bringing down a Garchomp. And in fact, its second ability solid rock reduces damage from super effective attacks! Overall, Rhyperior is just an absolute tank, and it has the looks to match.
It’s hard to choose between Drifloon and Drifblim, but the evolution just pips it for me. Something about a floating ghost balloon is particularly creepy, and the Pokedex entries don’t do anything to dissuade this notion. Drifloon and Drifblim are known for stealing children and carrying them off in the breeze, which is actually a terrifying thing to read as a kid.
It has a mixture of ghost and flying types, giving it three different immunities in normal, fighting, and ground. However, a slew of weaknesses and some limp stats have always kept Drifblim out of the competitive scene, which is a shame because of its unique typing. At the very least, it looks really cool, and has some of the creepiest lore the Pokémon world has ever seen.
Let me tell you, when I first saw Lucario I lost my mind. While over the years the saturation of bipedal Pokémon has soured the bunch a little, Lucario has always had a stoic and legendary nature to him that I just love. In fact, when it was first announced many people thought it was a legendary as it was starring in the next Pokémon movie. It doesn’t help that Lucario is based on the Egyptian god Anubis, only making its claim to the legendary status more solid.
But no, Lucario is just a regular Pokémon, and yet is still treated with the sort of reverence and mysticism within Diamond and Pearl that I wish so many legendary Pokémon had. Getting to Iron Island to nab a Roilu egg is really tough, and it builds up so much excitement for when you eventually discover the fighting/steel type and its awesome evolution. Lucario also has the rare honour of having a mega evolution that looks good. Honestly, this ‘mon can do no wrong.
I shouldn’t have to explain why Bidoof is so great, but just in case you are some sort of alien from a faraway planet and your first introduction to the planet earth is reading this article, let me break it down. Bidoof absolutely rips. This little fella? Adorable, an angel, just the best. Unlike some of the other rodents or low-power Pokémon you meet in the initial roots of your adventure, Bidoof has somehow garnered a huge fan base thanks to its impeccable design and countless memes. Sorry Sentret, you’re basic.
It feels mean talking about Bidoof in any competitive sense because it’s not really meant for that. Back in Diamond and Pearl Bidoof and its evolution Bibarrel became known as the HM pack mule, being made to shoulder the burden of several of the moves, letting players free up move slots for other Pokémon while still traversing the world. Luckily, there’s little need for this anymore, and the games have been much kinder to our little friend, especially in its appearance in Pokémon Legends: Arceus where the beaver Pokémon just looked to be having a great time.
Pokémon loves to get deep with its lore, but you might not realise just how deep the Spiritomb lore well goes. This dual ghost/dark Pokémon originally had zero weaknesses and three immunities, making it a really tough opponent to hit. Sadly the addition of fairy has changed things, but having a single weakness is still nothing to sniff at.
If you played the original Diamond and Pearl back on the DS you may remember that Spiritomb’s quest involved an item called the odd keystone, and players interacting with 108 players over the GTS. This is actually a nod to an ancient Chinese book called Water Margin, about an outlaw called Song Jiang and his 108 bandit companions. The spirits of the 108 bandits were originally trapped in an ancient artefact, only to be released, causing havoc for the nearby villages. So if you’ve ever wondered why everything around involves the number 108, now you know.
That’s it for today folks, though we reserve the right to come back and add even more Pokémon to this list because there are too many great ones to choose from. If you want to see our other articles, check out our guide to the best gen 1 Pokémon next.