I was in high school when Pokemania swept the country back in the 90s. I first learned about it when I was walking through my hometown’s shopping mall and Nintendo had a massive expo setup to promote the new movie Pokemon 2000: The Power of One. You got a free Pokemon card just for stopping by, and that was where I received my first Pokemon ever:

I fell into buying the playing cards and watching the TV show like every other kid, but I wasn’t allowed to play the games so it wasn’t until college that I finally got to play FireRed, a remake of the first Pokemon game that told the most famous iteration of the Pokemon narrative, with Professor Oak, player character Red and the original 151 Pokemon.

My very first catch was a level 4 Rattata on Route 1, who I named Brenna after the mouse I had as a pet in grade school. Brenna sat on my team, not doing anything particularly memorable, until I staggered out of Mt. Moon with my team crippled from endless assaults of Zubats and self-destructing Geodudes. Of course my asshole rival Blue shows up and challenges me to a Pokemon battle before I can go heal.

If I lose, I’d get sent all the way back to the Pewter City Pokecenter, and have to traverse Mt. Moon all over again!

After his Pidgeotto swept the rest of my team, I’d already given up hope but then my last-ditch Rattata busts out three critical hits in a row, leaving only Blue’s Charmander. The Charmander uses ember, burning Brenna, but thanks to her ability (Guts) she deals 50% more damage while burnt and wins the fight for me. That was pretty much the moment that she became my favorite Pokemon, and I carried her with me all the way through the Elite Four.

I haven’t leveled her to 100 because I’m holding out hope for a third evolutionary stage. It could happen!

Brenna has had an extremely colored career since then, mainly as I ported her through the various games to get to the present. She cut open the Dotted Door in FireRed, won every contest ribbon in Ruby, toured the Orre region in Gale of Darkness, broke Pokeathlon records and earned a Leaf Crown in SoulSilver, toured my old neighborhood in a Pokewalkerbred a shiny offspring via Matsuda method in Platinum, explored the Dream World in Black, super-trained in OmegaRuby and was spoiled rotten in OmegaRuby‘s Pokemon Amie, not to mention defeating the Elite Four in every one of these games just to get the respective medals.

On a team, Brenna counters specific cheese builds. Super Fang whittles down damage sponges, Shock Wave can bypass evasion stacks, and Attract causes male attackers to miss half of their attacks. 

So why do I like Rattata so much? Honestly, there’s no real answer, the species doesn’t actually have anything going for it beyond notable individuals like Yellow’s Ratty, Jay LenoYoungster Joey‘s and the starter in Pokemon Rumble. In particular Bidoof is almost a perfect upgrade, having better HP values and evolving into the only Water-Normal Pokemon in the entire franchise. Rattata’s other claim to fame, the infamous FEAR strategy which bears its initial, has since gone to other Pokemon that can perform it better, most notably Pokemon with the Sturdy ability. But at this point I’m pretty invested. Not only do I have Rattatas filling boxes in every game, I’ve also got this adorable plush a friend sewed for me:

Also named Brenna. I’m a simple man, I see a rat I name it Brenna.

And the cherry on top happened this Christmas, when I finally managed to catch a Rattata with perfect stats in Pokemon GO!

Top percentage!

Right now I’m playing Pokemon Moon, and I can’t adequately state how much I love Alola Rattata. They are the cutest little rodents, and with their new Dark type it’s even easier to fit one into a team since they’re the first and most frequent Dark-type Pokemon found in the early game.

Thanks to Pokemon GO turning them and Pidgey into household names, there’s never been a better time to be a Rattata fan!