I was conflicted between Falcomon and Muchomon. Not really sure why I like Muchomon so much recently (or bird Digimon in general, for that mattter), but he's the one I ended up picking. I hope they end up showing the results for every Digimon instead of just the top ten. I'd be really interested to see how many people picked the more obscure Digimon.
I wish they’d given the Xros Wars Digimon levels because Shoutmon, Ballistamon, Cutemon, Monitamon, Sparrowmon, Dondokomon, Gaossmon, Spardamon, Starmons, and Gumdramon really deserved to be available for this.
So a nice new official poll...
I do not think that the result will be especially interesting but the topic itself is fascinating to think about in terms of practicality.
First of all it's important to figure out what is actually being asked.
There's talk of an adventure, probably through the digital world.
And I assume it's not a "walk into the neighbor's backyard past the scary dog" kind of Adventure, but an actual one, usually consisting in crossing vast distances through various biomes, wilderness, the odd town, with daily peril and lots of tricky situations, maybe with the goal of retrieving some legendary trinket or whatnot.
For everyday people that’s quite dangerous, and I’m not even talking about Digimon fights but basic survival in the wilderness like getting lost in a desert, getting stuck in a cave in the mountains, getting immobilized after a fall or basically any other situation where supplies could run out followed by dehydration, starvation and death.
Most modern city dwellers including myself wouldn’t have good survival chances with or without monsters, so the main role of any accompanying child Digimon would be first and foremost to raise those chances.
I’d just really prefer to have the sort of Adventure I could survive because it doesn't really matter how cool, cute or funny the Digimon with you is if you're dead.
Plus, since the question focuses only on the child Digimon and nothing about the wording implies that you'd be any sort of special chosen in this scenario, the chance of evolution happening would be unlikely at best.
This in turn makes a choice based on any potential Evolutions of a Digimon… questionable.
One of the most important factors on an adventure would be mobility. You don't want to get stuck in front of a body of water, a cliff or a gorge and then your adventure is over when you have someone like Plotmon with you who's not going to help you get past any of those things.
Anything species that can fly is of course a premium choice for this category, but very few child level would be able to carry a fully grown adult, many of them are after all described at having only very limited capabilities of just lifting themselves from the ground. But flying is useful even without much carrying capacity, as they’d still be able to scout out the area much more effectively and make navigating in general much easier.
In case any sort of task requiring dexterity, any sort of crafting and building comes up it would be nice to have someone with you with opposable thumbs, although not exactly critical.
But this can't be the sole focus, because what makes a Digimon special is not just their generic physical capabilities but their array of useful special techniques that can be leveraged for various advantages.
Of course when it comes to this sort of versatility most popular (meaning mostly Adventure) Digimon have a big edge because through having appeared in a such a disproportionate amount of media, all of them have dozens of very specific and varied skills, when most other species are lucky if they have about four.
Strangely enough, this first choice doesn’t seem to bring much to the table in terms of mobility.
Gomamon isn’t exactly the deadliest fighter either, but having appeared in his fair share of games including fighting games, he still has a better repertoire of various close quarters attacks than about 90% of other child level Digimon, and also an all around defense technique with “Bubble Barrier”, which is not very common for Child level Digimon and considering that without evolution most fights would be fought from a disadvantageous position with less of a focus on winning than staying alive long enough to escape, a defensive bubble that absorbs and deflects damage would be very helpful in that situation; Even more if he can cast the shield around his partner as well, or if it could also absorb damage from falls (since there’s no canonical confirmation about this, I wouldn’t stake too much on that).
But let’s not beat around the bush: The big advantage is Marching Fishes. Obviously it’s useful for crossing water, maybe not for super long distances but it’s more than most other child Digimon can provide, but that’s only scraping the surface.
We know he can summon those fish from pretty much anywhere, we have seen those fish fly (and pretty fast at that), we’ve seen them pick up objects, carry multiple people and they have enough strength to burst through a net. Putting all this together makes Marching Fishes one of the most insanely versatile abilities of any child Digimon.
Want to create a distraction? Summon some fish in a nearby area.
Want to steal something small? Send a fish to get it.
Want to do something in a room/area you can’t get to? Just summon some fish there.
The sky is the limit.
Now let’s talk about fights again. Since, like stated above, you won’t be able to win any fight against 90% of Digimon you’ll run into anyway, and are mostly concerned with inconveniencing your opponent long enough to get away, something summing fish offers some wonderful possibilities for:
Use fish to block the way.
Use a wall of fish as a shield to absorb attacks.
Hide under a pile of fish.
Make the opponent slip on fish.
Summon fish around an opponent’s head to blind him, jam his weapons up with fish, hurl some fish down his throat and escape while he’s choking.
...And most of that should work on higher level Digimon as well since it’s not really about dealing damage.
The biggest plus is that the fish could double as food source. No need to worry about getting stuck in a desert or cave and starving to death, just summon a portion of seafood.
And even more importantly, thanks to All-Star Rumble (a very rare statement) we know Gomamon has techniques to produce water as well, and in quite large amounts!
So there we have it: Gomamon offers an unlimited supply of food and water. Some of the main problems of survival in the wild will never be an issue and that is not something any other Child level Digimon can offer, some are capable of providing one or the other (discounting the possibility of just eating the Digimon itself which would only work once) but Gomamon is just the ultimate insurance for your basic needs.
And if you need money at some point in your adventure, why not open a fish stand and keep selling and summoning fish until you have enough bit (or whatever currency) you need?
But getting back to more specific applications of Marching fishes, I would like to remind you again that those fish can fly and carry multiple humans and Digimon. Could they be capable of doing both of those things at the same time? If yes, this would completely offset Gomamon’s mobility problems and you could basically have’s Goku’s cloud from Dragonball but made out of fish. But that’s just speculation, the fish might just not be strong enough for that. You could still have a group of fish flying above your head in the desert for a nice portable spot of shade.
Or imagine you are climbing a mountain and a ledge is a bit too high up. Summon a whole bunch of fish, plop them on the ground and use them as a stepping stone.
The way I’d see a Gomamon scaling a cliff would basically involve him using his claws to smash away a bit of the rock until a tiny step is created (the profile notes the strength of his claws, if he can break ice “easily”, he might be able to break rocks with some effort), then lift himself up by stacking fish beneath him (maybe have some additional fish push against him for support) and break another step a little bit higher, repeat until the top (with the partner following up the same way except without needing to break anything). Probably not very efficient, but still a cut above other child Digimon with claws but without fish.
So overall, especially with the guarantee of nutrition, Gomamon would be a great pick all around to ensure survival.
If you think conflict with Digimon is just completely inevitable, then yeah you probably want something that can murder pretty much any opponent without needing to evolve. We have also seen Arkadimon's tentacles grow very long, depending on how exactly they can be manipulated, in terms of wrapping around objects, they could easily be just as useful as opposable thumbs in dexterity related tasks as well as offering efficient methods of locomotion across forests, or climbing mountains (side note: Pretty sure the sickles could also be used as tools for digging).
It wouldn't help with crossing bodies of water, but with a pretty unstoppable killing machine at your side it shouldn't be much of a problem to just make some random maritime Digimon give you a ride.
(unsophisticated, I know. Digimon with more nuanced ways of manipulating and hypnotizing others like Dracumon and Hagurumon would be useful companions as well, but that would mean relying on the presence of enough capable victims).
There is also the fact that we've seen that his tentacles can move and even fly when not attached to his arms, which could be used in all sorts of versatile ways, like Gomamon’s marching fishes, but with less volume (more useful in terms of offense though).
If you see yourself advancing through your adventure as a merciless conqueror, there’s lots to love here, I’m just not sure if it would be my style.
Now from a combat oriented perspective I would still give Arkadimon the edge, Grand Cross might surpass Seven Heavens but Arkadimon was able to survive the latter twice in V-tamer so he'd probably come out on top against an improved version as well, but that's all combat. What Lucemon's Grand Cross does that Arkadimon doesn't is that it creates a nice big explosion, something you could use to smash apart obstacles. Why bother climbing a cliff when you can just blast it apart with holy lasers? Arkadimon's tentacles, even if they might be deadlier in a duel wouldn't nearly work as well for demolition purposes.
Now generally I would prefer something official like the profile pointing it out, but I feel it's reasonable to assume that a Digimon with pretty much god-like power overall should be able to generate enough lift with its wings to carry a human without problems. The catch is that the thought of either holding onto Lucemon or being carried by Lucemon seems extremely creepy to me is not something I'd consider except in very pressing life or death situations.
Very much another "brute force" option and a very good one but Lucemon is also somewhat of a troublemaker so I can see adventures with him going to hell eventually.
...But he has opposable thumbs, that’s always worth considering.
As a human you are the helpless and squishy part of the partnership even when paired with a child level Digimon. If anyone's going to suffer a sprained ankle, a concussion after a fall, a collapse from exhaustion, or anything like that... it's much more likely to happen to you first, potentially even out of combat as pointed out before. The point being, if you are immobilized it would have to be the Digimon that needs to take care of you, scavenge on its own and make smart decisions. So it would be really useful to be partnered with a species that is smart (this is one of the parts where I wouldn’t count on Arkadimon being helpful, he’d probably just run off and murder things).
Goburimon's profile states that "its intelligence is a little higher than other Child Digimon". This is important because most other child Digimon are not that dumb and we also have species like Agumon Hakase who raises the bar a lot. So a Goburimon guarantees you an intelligent partner.
Shamamon is identified as a “Goburimon” in his profile so it would make sense if it applied to him as well, so basically you get a Goburimon… but with Precognition! What could be more useful in avoiding the dangers during an Adventure than getting insight about the future via prophecies? Even if the line about intelligence doesn't apply to Shamamon, that alone would probably make him the better choice anyway (if the prophecies are strictly self fulfilling, it would lower his usefulness a lot but it would still be somewhat valuable).
Countless stories and novels have been written about the ways knowledge of future events can be exploited to great effect, so I don’t think there is a need to list all the possible ways it can be useful given enough planning.
Now reading about the special techniques of Goburimon and Shamamon it seems that there is kind of a trade-off. Goburimon knows a technique called "Living Shield" a magical defense. As a squishy human I'm once again all for defensive techniques to avoid getting hurt in the crossfire during Digimon battles. Shamamon's most "unique" attack is... "Dancing Bone" where he throws a bone. Doesn’t sound as impressive.
But there’s another angle to the situation which favors Shamamon:
You know what bones are that magical shields are (presumably) not? Edible. Bone marrow is actually nutritious. Bone broth is a thing. Now I probably wouldn't base my diet in general on that but hey, worst case you are stuck in a cave without food for days… anyone would suck bone marrow. So he’s basically half a Gomamon in the survival resources department and foretelling the future itself should take care of avoiding most dangerous situations in the first place
And on the defensive side, Shamamon retains the ability to summon a really big boulder which should also offer pretty good cover (And do I need to mention that it could be used as construction material or makeshift climbing aid.)
Also notable is the fact that he wears clothes, which could be fashioned into bandages when the need arises for example.
So overall another solid choice if you are banking on brains over firepower.
Overall since I would want to avoid getting mixed up in fights, I am gravitating away from the unreliable murder machines (Lucemon and Arkadimon) and more towards the species with exploitable abilities. The question is what would be more fun to abuse, precognitive abilities or fish summoning?
Given how little we know about how Shamamon’s prophecies work exactly, I still think that there’s slightly more value in Gomamon, so I guess that’s my final vote.
Do I think I this would guarantee me getting through a digital world adventure alive? No, there’s a decent chance I still wouldn’t make it, but at least I’d have stacked the deck in my favor.