Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 3)
We really ought to be frank here. I’m trying to weigh up all of these Generation 1 options for a Pokémon team, and provide you with six of the best. But two of those slots are always going to be taken up by Mewtwo and Charizard, aren’t they? They automatically rank as the coolest, and you’d risk dreadful social embarrassment if you left these two out. The other starters and the legendary birds will probably get first refusal after these guys as well. And rounding it off is Mew if you’ve got a bit of flair, Snorlax if you don’t, and Gengar is there to fill in any remaining gaps. Stacked up against all of these odds, an overlarge seal and a bunch of magnets aren’t really going to register, are they?
A big bulky mother who doesn’t look happy. And why should he? He’s the one responsible for befouling the waters of many of the Pokémon regions with a seemingly infinite number of Tentacools. Hmph. Poison type indeed. Yes, it is a pity about its typing, because its stats are supposedly quite solid. But just using a Poison type is sort of like admitting you’ve lost. Tentacruel was featured in an episode of the anime in which he proceeded to start destroying buildings with his tentacles, the little rascal. After September 11th, this episode showing skyscrapers being razed was banned from being shown. Lots of episodes of Pokémon were banned for all kinds of reasons, actually. But what was strange was that, in the opening sequence of the older seasons, you could still see a brief shot of Tentacruel nonchalantly taking down a building. So the episode had to be banned, but every single episode of the Indigo League showed the offending footage anyway. If you’d never seen that episode, or saw it once and were left wondering why you never saw it again, like I was, then now you know.
With a dangerous look and menacing nature, Golem oozes cool. He’s the last form of Geodude – you remember Geodude, I’m sure? He eventually became the furious Graveler. And then, through trading, we get the incandescent Golem. Usually Pokémon lines get cooler as they evolve, but it has to be said that Geodude goes backwards somewhat before ending up as Golem, It’s a bit like when little brothers or cousins are cooler and more able than their older siblings, very strange to witness. Still, Golem sports a good Explosion… suppose that’s something.
It doesn’t do very well in battle, but Rapidash gets a pass from me. Supposedly it can run to a top speed of 150 miles per hour. And its pre-evolution, Ponyta, can jump over the Eiffel Tower. That’s in addition to having hooves supposedly ten times harder than diamonds, so I assume the same holds true for Rapidash. These kinds of Pokédex entries really do sound like kids making up stuff to make their animals appear cool, but I don’t have a problem believing it. Plus, Rapidash a literal hellhorse. These things are what the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are going to be sporting when they come to bring us the bad news.
Bro by name, bro by nature? Apparently that thing on its tail is a Shellder… well, Slowpoke evolves into Slowbro by levelling up, but lore-wise it has to catch a Shellder with its tail. But the common Shellder looks completely different to Slowbro’s shell, which… forget about it. Too many questions. The ‘Bro is slow and dopey, but it’s still a boss. The infamous Tobybro moveset of Amnesia, Surf, Rest and Thunder Wave from Gen 1 used to make Slowbro beastly back in the day. Years later, he’s still the king… or would be, if another slow king hadn’t come along.
It doesn’t matter a jot in terms of battling, but I want to start by describing Magneton as a real pain to get a picture of in Pokémon Snap. That’s really all there is to be said, even if its Special Attack is surprisingly good. People (like myself) who love to mock and scorn the later generations for having unimaginative Pokémon designs would do well to remember that Magneton is just three Magnemites cobbled together, which themselves are just a few magnets and screws anyway. They later gained a Steel type, which granted it all kinds of resistances. And even later after that, it gained a strange evolution. That’s all well and good, but these magnets always seem to repel, and never attract.
Poor old angry duck. It is a duck isn’t it? I don’t want to offend it. 22 years on, and it still hasn’t gained an evolution… or stat increases… or better moves that would make it actually viable in battle. And you could only get one of them in Red and Blue, named simply DUX, before later games gave us “wonderful” opportunities to catch them in the wild. Don’t bother, though – as terrific as the idea of an angry duck that uses a leek to batter foes with sounds, this little chap is just a muck duck all round. Maybe Gen VIII will finally give him his evolution? And possibly a Mega evolution in Gen XVII?
Famous for having three heads and therefore the ability to use Tri Attack, an interesting move that can paralyse, freeze or burn opponents, despite being Normal type. Actually, quite a few other Pokémon have three heads as well. But Dodrio resembles an ostrich, or some other flightless bird, which makes the heads far cooler – plus, this bird can fly. And it can run fast, and it always looks mean. One of the better Normal/Flying types, for sure. I must run some kind of case-study in Siamese twins one of these days. If one of them ever needs to, you know, relieve themselves, then the other twin just looks away or pretends not to notice. I can understand that, but imagine making not one but two heads turn away from you in disgust? Actually, given my past experiences, two disgusted punters is pretty minor.
Named after a dugong, a large underwater mammal. I had never heard of dugongs until Pokémon taught me about them, you know. More testament to the educational powers of video games, wouldn’t you say? Maybe, if you’re a spanner. Dewgong is a Water/Ice type who almost immediately found itself playing second fiddle to Lapras or Cloyster. Too bad, but Dewgong can do a job for you in the early days of the TCG. The types of card decks that Dewgong would have shone in are probably now rare/banned/silly/stupid expensive, but what do you expect from me? There is probably someone out there in the world who has one of every Pokémon card ever. You won’t ever see his or her name in the Rich List either, the rate these cards come out at.
Noted for being part of a deliciously childish joke (“if Ekans spells snake backwards, what does Muk spell? Chortle chortle”). Noted also for giving you the middle finger in his poses, most notably in Pokémon Snap – half the time he does it without even looking at you, for double the dismissiveness. I swear to God he does it. I don’t know how it got past the radar. And finally, Muk is notable for being capable of delivering the strongest Poison attack in Gen 1. As if you needed further proof as to how terrible the Poison type was, Muk’s Sludge attack defeats precisely one Pokémon in one hit: the Parasect who we previously concluded was very fragile. Amazing stuff. He later got an Alolan form, although you wouldn’t really call it a form, more of a funky paint job. If anyone ever goes on about the uninspired designs of future Pokémon (and why wouldn’t you, one of them is a set of keys for God’s sake), just remember that the infallible Gen 1 brought us a little pile of purple goo that changed into a big pile of purple goo.
Shellder took a bit of a step backwards evolving into this, but at least Cloyster’s meatier Defence and access to stronger versions of Clamp and damaging Ice moves made the evolution worthwhile. Despite being given a large Defence, its HP isn’t great, something reflected in its Fossil Trading Card – only 50 HP! Come along. It’s still a popular Pokémon today. And because Gastly came afterwards in the Pokédex, people assumed that the pearl became a Gastly when it ‘died’. That’s schoolyard rumours for you. One other thing to note – Gen 4 had a double Trainer battle between a young couple, one with an Onix and another with a Cloyster. Now these being Japanese games, those kinds of things are not coincidences.
We’ve got plenty of Ghost-types now, but for a while, Gengar was out on its own. And then after that came only Misdreavus, who at least dropped the Psychic weakness. It was almost farcical how Ghosts were supposed to be able to stand up to Psychic types in Gen 1, but found themselves scuppered for three reasons: firstly, of the 3 (three) Ghost moves back then, one just confused the opponent, one did fixed damage based on level, and the other had a whopping Power of 20. Secondly, these Ghost moves, instead of being super-effective on Psychic types (as they later were) actually did no damage at all, thanks to a glitch. And thirdly, Gengar for some strange reason is part Poison-type, which left it exposed to super-effective blasts of Psychic at the time. And yet Gengar has tough enough stats, clever tricks to play and an absolute immunity to Normal and Fighting type attacks that it was still a force. To this day, it’s held on to its fame, it’s still viable in battle, it’s fearsome to encounter (one later Pokédex entry simply tells you “There is no escape. Give up” if you chance across it), and it’s got an even scarier Mega Evolution nowadays. What a pro!
Your perception of Onix probably depends on whether you saw it first in the anime or in the games. The games came first of course, but let’s look at the anime: Onix belonged to the marvellous Brock, who seems to have been gotten rid of by Ash like so many of his Pokémon, more’s the shame. But do you remember when Ash and Pikachu took on the Pewter City Gym, and Brock’s Onix towered over Pikachu and squeezed the life out of him? What a fearsome rockbeast he looked, it was incredible to watch. And then we turn to the games, where Onix has high Defence but HP and Special Defence so low that even the less powerful Water and Grass moves blow it away without a sweat. It is almost laughable how completely non-threatening Onix ended up being. Even people who started with Charmander were easily able to get past Onix, eventually. Things did get better for Onix later however, with an incredible evolution.
Probably the closest we’ve got to a child molester Pokémon. Honestly, one Pokédex entry tells us this: “It carries a pendulum-like device. There once was an incident in which it took away a child it hypnotized.” And apparently it eats the dreams of those it has hypnotised (hence the move Dream Eater). Is eating a child’s dreams a metaphor for something nastier? In Japan, you just never know.
I remember catching Kingler in Pokémon Yellow and reading its Pokédex entry: “It has 10,000-HP strength”. 10,000 Hit Points! Holy bananas! Of course, it meant 10,000 horsepower. While this may mean that Kingler is somehow more suited to car battles than Pokémon battles, it does at least have high attack power anyway. And I never knew that Kingler’s left claw is always far bigger than its right, even if the in-game sprites sometimes completely fail to convey this. Finally, when Ash randomly caught a Krabby in the anime, it used to cry “cookie!” instead of “Krabby!” And Kingler did likewise, with a contrived, deep, tougher voice. That’s not even its Japanese name either, so what was going on there? Was the little crab just hungry for cookies? As Kingler now lies destitute, starving and homeless, being yet another one of Ash’s cast-offs, we may never know the answer.
To Be Continued!