Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 2)
In building the best Pokémon, several factors have to be considered. Actually, ‘several’ is a strong word. And so too is ‘practical’, or ‘sensible’. What really matters is if they can fly, if they can breathe fire, and if they look like they mean business. Obviously Charizard fits this mould beautifully, which is why everyone in the schoolyard would have packed 6 Charizards on their team if only they could get the Pokémon Cloning glitch right. Of course, Venusaur and Blastoise had plenty of merit as well – strong, hulking, elemental creatures, they speak for themselves. Unfortunately, we have gotten past these famous starter Pokémon and quickly gotten to the realm of diva foxes, goofy moths and three little turds sticking up out of the ground. Will any of the below list of recruits make a candidate for a strong Pokémon team? Read on…
Another hard luck story for Pokémon Blue owners: while we Red men were Fire Blasting Oddishes to oblivion with our Arcanines, Blue users had to settle for the more demure and prissy Ninetales. Not only does Arcanine look far cooler (remember, it’s all about the coolness factor in schoolyard jousts), but its got better stats and better moves, like Extremespeed. In response, the far more sneaky Ninetales can apparently place a thousand year curse on any luckless fool who decides pull one of its tails. Does that spiteful behaviour apply to its own trainer as well? What if she needed a wash and clean? But the more I think about it, the more I like Ninetales. It’s got an even fancier Alolan form, and the Pokédex entry for this near-mythical creature states that it escorts people down from its mountainous home only because it just wants them to hurry up and leave. Now is that relatable or what?
It’s a pity old Jigglypuff had to evolve – it’s a popular enough Pokémon itself, with its frequent appearances early in the anime and its oddball status as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Jigglypuff probably has enough going for her to probably warrant inclusion here by herself. But let’s not disregard Wigglytuff, with its mega HP and capacity for hard-hitting STAB moves. And it can be a menacing old bugger in the Trading Card Game as well – I seem to remember getting chiefed many a time by its thrillingly named ‘Do the Wave’ attack. Adore the quiff as well.
I urge you to go and take a look at the earliest Gen 1 sprites for this thing. Apart from my mama, have you ever seen anything so ugly in all your life? Its pre-evolution Zubat gets constant stick for being ever-present in Pokémon’s many caves across most generations. But later in the games, Golbat here becomes just as bad. And there’s hardly any reason you’d want to catch one, certainly not in RBY when it comes with a poor stats, awful typing and consequently rubbish moves. From GSC on though, Golbat can evolve into Crobat, which looks cooler, fares much better in battle, and will hardly ever bother you in the wild. What makes Golbat a real swine is that it can be difficult to run away from them, given their high speed, and attempts to defeat them at minimal loss become scuppered with its capacity to poison or confuse you. It is more than just annoying; Golbat is misery, defined and expressed in the form of a single Pokémon.
It was great to see Vileplume come out of rehab – Gloom was so strung-out that it couldn’t even open its eyes. Vileplume was previously notable for being able to use Petal Dance. This won’t mean anything to you, but in the Trading Card Game, a Jungle Set Vileplume could even take out a Charizard or a Chansey in one go, although you’ll probably want to be packing a two-headed coin to be sure of this. There’s probably been about 50 different Vileplume cards since, but you can hardly expect me to remember anything past the originals, can you? ‘Plume was version exclusive to Red, with the Bellsprout family being exclusive to Blue. And Victreebel tends to be better than Vileplume in battle. So the Blueys win this round, but who would really use a Grass/Poison type in battle in this day and age?
In the beginning, Parasect was known its ability to use the move called Spore, which guaranteed to put the opposing Pokémon to sleep (a big old deal in battles). Drawbacks? A few. Most pertinently, Parasect was as slow as a week in jail and hardly resilient in the face of attacks it was certain to receive, many of which would be quite possibly Super-Effective. And anyway, the Nazis that standardise the battle rules usually promote a Sleep Clause rule, preventing you from putting more than one Pokémon to sleep. Once Smeargle and Breloom gained access to the move, Parasect was relegated to the sidelines. And on top of all that, the poor creature itself isn’t even alive. It’s just become a soulless husk controlled by parasites, but enough about Konami.
Its pre-evolution, Venonat is kind of cool – it’s just a little purple puffball with big buggy eyes. Awful in battle of course, and so too is Venomoth here, which can kind of be expected from a Bug/Poison type. Those two types have always been abysmal, and Venomoth can’t rise above it, even if it is marginally better than the likes of Beedrill. For whatever strange reason, possibly for giggles, it can use some Psychic attacks. But I can just as easily see it flying erratically and bouncing off light-bulbs in that silly way moths do. The poor little critter was looking almost entirely forgettable until it became an integral part of the initial Twitch Plays Pokémon team. Remember that madness? Well, while Venomoth had contributed absolutely diddly-squat for 99% of the adventure, it finally got its fairytale story by knocking out one of Lance’s mighty Dragonites. ‘Moth, or ATV as it was known, only managed this because of a disheartening Gen 1 glitch, but that’s not the point.
Diglett-dig! Diglett-dig! Trio-trio-trio! Yes, if you’ve heard that little chant even once in your life, you’ll take it with you to the grave. Dugtrio is a mean looking mother (or is that three mean looking mothers?) with very high speed, very low Hit Points, and mediocre attacking abilities. Not really up to it in battles, then, except for using One Hit KOs in Gen 1. He’s a little bit better in the TCG, but Dugtrio is the type to ask more questions than he’ll answer. One question we still haven’t got answered: what is Dugtrio hiding underground? We know that there are feet down there, but what else? And just whose idea was it to give Alolan Dugtrio ridiculous blonde surfer haircuts?!
Described in the Pokédex as the Classy Cat Pokémon, Persian is exactly the kind of irked looking white cat that every stereotypical Blofeld knock-off needs. If it’s good enough for Giovanni, it’s good enough for you. I always wanted to see Team Rocket’s snarky Meowth evolve into a smooth talking Persian, but on hindsight maybe it’s better that he stayed the way he was. There was once a brawl between Team Rocket Meowth and a low-level mafioso Persian, in a fight for Meowsy the female Meowth’s honour. It was a lot more emotional than I’m making it out to be. Anyway, Persian lost that one, but still got the girl, so the winner was pretty clear. In the games, Persian’s got the speed to make some noise in battle, even if its glory days of RBY are behind it.
Its pre-evolution, Psyduck, is a great bunch of lads, even if it isn’t Psychic type at all. Golduck may be an angry looking kind of guy, and it has some decent moves, but its decidedly average stats leave it as a generic Water Pokémon, best left behind. It’s apparently based on the Japanese mythical creature, the Kappa. Aren’t they all? Do young Japanese girls dream of someday marrying the green Kappa, as you can do in Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town? I’m reliably informed that they do. Golduck is neither a kappa nor is it green, but maybe its ability to use Hyper Beam in the early TCG will do it for you.
Described in the Pokédex as the Angry Balls Pokémon… wait, it isn’t? Well it should be. It’s not nearly the best choice for a Fighting Pokémon, which is already quite damning, but there is something very likeable about perma-furious little fuzzy monkeys that specialise in karate. Ash captured one in the anime after its pre-evolution, Mankey, stole Ash’s beloved cap. This was after Mankey ran after Ash in a frenzy and knocked lumps out of him. Tough love? Tougher love still when Ash just left poor Primeape in the care of some no-mark trainer. As Ash didn’t say: “There you are, loser. Train that!” He sure knows how to weed them out.
A massive dog covered in embers, of course Arcanine was going to be popular. Fire types aren’t the best anyway, in my opinion, but Arcanine holds his own. He and Growlithe can be some of the most difficult to find Pokémon in Pokémon Snap, and he can hit pretty hard in the TCG. I’m fairly sure I used to have a Promo Arcanine card as well. Actually, wasn’t Arcanine intended to be a legendary Pokémon? At least, that’s what the Pokédex calls it. It might accidentally burn down your house or start a wild forest-fire, but Arcanine is a good boy through and through.
A bigger, angrier Poliwhirl that throws its weight about a bit. What? That’s what it is. Well, it gains a Fighting type, which probably doesn’t help it much. Chuck the Gym Leader in Gen 2 uses a Poliwrath, whose DynamicPunch and Surf can mess things up for you in a hurry if you’re not careful. Even after Poliwag evolves twice, Poliwrath here is still classified as a tadpole. Still, GSC brings us Politoed, if you need to use a frog Pokémon that badly. I like to imagine that Poliwrath lures its opponents into a drowsy state by having them look at its spiral chest pattern, and then he smashes them one right up the derby.
A bad man, a very very bad man. Scintillating in Gen 1, and still of some use in subsequent Gens if you can get around its fragility, Alakazam is what the Psychic type is all about. Once you manage to catch a ruddy Abra before it teleports away, that is. In the TCG, Alakazam’s Damage Swap Pokémon Power was legendary, especially when used with Chanseys, Kangaskhans, Snorlaxs, even Lickitungs. It and its pre-evolution, Kadabra (and that’s the naming scheme: Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam, very imaginative) are send-ups of the spoon-bending Uri Geller as well, which brought with it a lovely lawsuit from the man himself. There hasn’t been many trading cards or anime appearances from Kadabra in particular since.
Machamp is a hulking Fighting Pokémon with 4 arms. “Like Goro from Mortal Kombat?” Yes, my child, and like Goro, it can look after itself. Along with many other Pokémon, Machamp needs to be traded to evolve, in this case as a Machoke. That’s pesky Nintendo for you, always promoting the social aspect of their games, and not at all fussed about making twice the amount of money for essentially one game. What about us anti-social players, eh? If you were into the TCG from the start, you probably bought the Starter Deck when it first came out. If you did, then you’ll remember Machamp’s card. Perhaps yours was labelled as a First Edition! Probably still worth nowt these days, I imagine.
Notable for not much, besides being the Pokémon that always tried to swallow the effeminate James’s head immediately after being released from its Pokéball. It was accompanied by a most shrill cry as well. In the games, it’s just another Grass/Poison annoyer that dies in flames rather easily. Which is a shame, because I think a big floating sort of venus fly trap Pokémon is a great idea. I remember seeing a venus fly trap on a video in school, and witnessing it trap kill a fly. Immediately I became terrified of them, of the possibility of getting my finger caught in one or something. Yes, I became frightened of a plant.
To Be Continued!