I second that Staraptor is amazing.
This is further solidified by the fact there is a warrior who perfect-links with Staraptor early on!!
Also, Intimidate has a HUGE range. It's broken.
Are Volcarona and Garchomp somewhat easily available in the main storyline? I haven't seen Gible, Gabite, or Larvesta before Dragnor, and by then the main story is almost done.