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The best Pokemon team for beating Red in Pokemon Gold and Silver

The year was 1999. Former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura was sworn in as governor of Minnesota. President Bill Clinton was acquitted on both articles of impeachment. The Space Shuttle Discovery became the first vessel to ever dock with the International Space Station. And most importantly, one of the greatest video game endings ever took place in Pokemon Gold and Silver.

After collecting all the badges and defeating the Elite Four in Kanto, players could actually go back to Johto, the map from the previous Pokemon games, Red and Blue, defeat all the trainers there (essentially replaying the first game in the second game) and then take on the Elite Four and become champion in Johto as well.

That wasn’t all though.

Once that was done, Professor Oak granted players access to the enigmatic Mount Silver, where a certain somebody stood waiting at its zenith. That somebody was Red, or you from the first Pokemon game. And his team was absolutely stacked. Talk about the ultimate mind fornification for a young, teenaged, Pokemon-obsessed lad like myself.

I’ll admit, the first time I faced Red, I was not prepared. For whatever reason, I underestimated him and went into the fight with an underleveled team that had been good enough to procure sixteen trainer badges, defeat two sets of Elite Four trainers and traverse its way to the very summit of Mount Silver – but not defeat him. This was no perpetually inept Ash Ketchum. This was Red. His high-level team of Pikachu, Snorlax, Espeon, Charizard, Venusaur and Blastoise stomped me into the unforgiving metamorphic rock floor of the mountain.

I was defeated, embarrassed – but in my humiliation had been forged a brand-new, overriding, raison d être: beat Red. And beat him so badly he never reared his stinking, baseball cap-tipping face in Johto ever again. For that however, I’d need to put together a team – the best team for defeating Red in Pokemon Gold and Silver in fact. Here’s what I came up with.


I originally wanted to put Nidoking here as the team’s Ground-type but ultimately went with Steelix on account of his Ground-typing negating Pikachu and his Steel-typing hampering Snorlax’s hard-hitting Body Slam, a move which Nidoking doesn’t like switching into repeatedly.

Steelix will have to hightail it out of there with a Blastoise switch-in but can chip away with Body Slam and deal significant damage to Charizard with Rock Slide.

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If all else fails, Steelix should be able to take out a weakened Blastoise or whatever Red switches in against it with an Explosion after a few sequences.

Suggested moveset:

– Earthquake
– Explosion
– Rock Slide
– Body Slam


Houndoom is an absolute problem for Red, particularly his Espeon. You can switch Houndoom in on an Espeon Psychic attack, use Pursuit if Red decides to switch it out or absolutely decimate it with Crunch if for some reason he’s foolish enough to leave it in.

Houndoom is also a finely-honed Venusaur killing machine; because Red’s Venusaur runs Sunny Day, Houndoom can easily switch in, shrug off the incoming Solar Beam or Giga Drain and then wreak havoc with boosted Flamethrowers.

As for when Red switches in Blastoise to take out your Houndoom, you can counter that with our next entry.

Suggested moveset:

– Flamethrower
– Crunch
– Pursuit
– Roar/Counter


Exeggutor likes switching in on Blastoise and either Giga Draining back the damage from Blizzard or hitting the incoming Charizard with Stun Spore, Psychic or even an Explosion if you’re feeling particularly nasty.

Suggested moveset:

– Stun Spore
– Psychic
– Giga Drain
– Explosion


Yes, Starmie is the second Psychic-type Pokemon on this team, but because Red doesn’t have any Dark-types on his team, that’s okay.

Starmie is also, to put it simply, an, ahem, absolute star when it comes to offensive attacks. Between Surf, Thunderbolt and Ice Beam, there are few options Red has for switching into Starmie without taking super-effective damage. Charizard, Blastoise and even Venusaur won’t be able to switch in on Starmie without careful planning.

Red can switch Espeon into Starmie’s Psychic attack to hinder your attack, but the other three attacks will still whittle away at it.

Starmie’s biggest fear on Red’s team is Snorlax, who becomes a corpulent wall after one Amnesia that’ll belly laugh at any of Starmie’s attacks.

Suggested moveset:

– Surf
– Psychic
– Thunderbolt
– Ice Beam

Which is exactly where the next teammate comes into play.


Because Snorlax is such an integral member of Red’s team, it’s a good idea to bring along Machamp with you to counter Snorlax in addition to Steelix. After one Curse, Machamp should be able to OHKO (one-hit KO) Snorlax.

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Red may switch to Charizard to negate the Cross Chop with its Flying-type, but a Rock Slide will do heavy damage on the switch – and even still, even a “not very effective” Cross Chop after one Curse will do noticeable damage to anything on the switch.

Suggested moveset:

– Cross Chop
– Rock Slide
– Vital Throw
– Curse


If you’re having trouble finishing the job against Blastoise with Exeggutor, that’s where Ampharos comes in. A STAB Thunderbolt from Ampharos will send Blastoise packing and zap Charizard due to his Flying-type as well. Ampharos can also lend support by spreading paralysis with Thunder Wave and bolstering defenses with Reflect or Light Screen (whichever you find more useful for the fight). It can also tag Venusaur on the switch in Fire Punch.

Suggested moveset:

– Thunderbolt
– Light Screen/Reflect
– Fire Punch
– Thunder Wave


If you don’t want to use Steelix, Nidoking or Golem will do the trick. Nidoking has Ground-typing and Earthquake to deal with Pikachu and can Thunderbolt Charizard or Blastoise on the switch.

Golem can be played very similarly to Steelix although it has the benefit of its Rock Slide attack having STAB; Blastoise also won’t like switching into repeated Earthquakes and Rock Slides, as an Explosion can quickly take it out even in the slightest of weakened states.

Hitmonlee and Heracross are viable Fighting-type alternatives that can be used in Machamp’s stead, particularly if you haven’t been able to fully evolve Machoke into Machamp.

Suicune is an obvious replacement for Starmie, along with Vaporeon, Kingdra and Cloyster.

What do you think is the best Pokemon team for defeating Red in Pokemon Gold and Silver? Do you have any Pokemon that you’d want to see added or taken away from my list? Sound off in the comments.

Want to reminisce more about Pokemon? Check out my treatise on one of my fondest gaming memories of all time, leveling a Magikarp to Level 20 for the first time.

Or check out my favorite character designs from Pokemon Red and Blue.

Written By

Ninja Gaiden was my rite of passage at an early age. After finally beating that game (and narrowly dodging carpal tunnel) I decided to write about my gaming exploits. These days I enjoy roguelikes and anything Pokemon but I'll always dust off Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country and StarFox 64 from time to time to bask in their glory.

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