Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 4)
We’re through the looking-glass now. The original 151 Pokémon are considered iconic, but there’s a few monsters on here that you won’t have remembered until pointed out to you. Seaking, I’m talking about Seaking here. Maybe Seadra too, since it’s been overshadowed by its evolution. You couldn’t move for the Normal, Water and Poison types in Gen 1, you know. But if you wanted a Ghost or a Dragon type? A viable Bug type? A Rock type that could stand up to Water Gun? Stop fooling around.
Look out, it’s Electrode! Still one of the fastest Pokémon there is, meaning it can fire off Thunder Waves like the wind. That’s pretty barbaric isn’t it, being able to paralyse its foes at max speed? I mean, paralysis in Pokémon seems to be a pretty light-hearted matter, but it’s hardly a fun prospect when you’re in the back of a car hurtling through the air after a cataclysmic smash. Of course, if you come up against an Electrode, or any Electric type, the first thing you do is to switch to a Ground-type in order to scare it off. But still, at least it has something going for it. ‘Trode can be a pain in the neck when out in the wild though, especially when they resemble Pokéball items. I don’t know how your player character sees them as a small Pokéball, considering Electrode is white on top and seemingly massive in comparison to the piddly Voltorb. But hey, I’m not the graphic designer, am I? If I was, Flannery would be wearing even less clothes.
That’s actually an amazing name for a Pokémon. I would have said ‘eggcellent name’, of course, but I’m trying to make you cringe as little as possible – a difficult task as it is when I’m discussing Pokémon as avidly as this. Exeggutor is a bulky annoyer with mega stats, a messed up appearance and some even more messed up, fairly unique moves, like Egg Bomb and Barrage. It can even use Explosion if someone disses it enough. Exeggutor is far too unfashionable for a cosmopolitan player like me to use, obviously, but it does get the job done wonderfully. Later, it gained an Alolan form, or rather an Alolan neck, and looked patently ridiculous. I have about 50 of the giraffe-necked buggers still in my repository from Pokémon Go, since they began to show up everywhere. It was like a C-movie horror, Revenge of the Necks or somesuch.
In the early days it was a fairly uninspired Ground type. It did have a bit of a back story though: remember the Pokémon Tower of the creepy Lavender Town? And remember those still eerie looking ghosts that you needed the Silph Scope to see properly? Well one of the Ghosts right at the top of the tower was a dead Marowak, who apparently was killed by Team Rocket. Christ, mature stuff, and a million miles away from the bumbling Team Rocket of the anime. Then in GSC it gained a hold item called the Thick Club, which increases its utility considerably. I reckon it slipped into obscurity quickly after that, until it was picked seemingly out of nowhere and given a ghostly Alolan form. So I’d say this guy is pretty well equipped for a team by now, and is an underrated choice. And another fun fact: the skull that its pre-evolution, Cubone, wears on its head is the skull of its dead Marowak mother. This applies to every single Cubone, for whatever morbid reason.
The first of the Hitmon duo, this one is named after Bruce Lee and probably doesn’t deserve that name. They used to have to slow down the Bruce Lee films because the madman was moving so quickly. Lee doesn’t quite hit that height, but at least he’ll live past age 32. It’s actually a weird looking Pokémon, a sort of vaguely human shaped blob on legs, with angry eyes… or are they holes through which its pupils glare? It has gotten better with time, thanks to better Special Defence and more moves, even if other Fighting Pokémon outshine it completely. And it does have Hi Jump Kick, although that seems to have gotten worse over time. It’s limited, but at least it changes with the metagame instead of being left behind. The only question is, how many cinder blocks can it slice through with one kick? Film your Hitmonlee doing 4 blocks at once and you’ve got yourself a viral YouTube hit.
Named after Jackie Chan, which is sort of already admitting that he isn’t as good as Hitmonlee. Why Jackie Chan anyway? Why not Hitmontyson? Hitmonali? Hitman Foreman? Hitmonchan was noted for being able to learn Ice Punch, Fire Punch and ThunderPunch. Back in the old days, its Special (and later its Special Attack) was far too low to even consider trying to get away with those moves. Things improved for it when Gen 4 brought about the split between physical and special moves, regardless of type. But Hitmonchan’s prime has come and gone, and now it’s hit Skid Row. It wasn’t all a terrible run, though – at least one particular Hitmonchan knocked seven shades out of Pikachu in the anime. And in the TCG, he was one of the founding fathers of the Haymaker deck. He’s just finished, that’s all. Happens all the time. One day you’re top of the world, the next you’re some schmuck working in a box factory.
A big pink Normal type with moreorless the same cry as Hitmonchan, prompting some silly talk that Hitmonchan would eventually evolve into Lickitung somehow, based on Pokédex number. If you’re going to use a Normal type in Gen 1, or Gen 7 for that matter, you’d be better off using Snorlax or Chansey/Blissey, wouldn’t you? Or Bouffalant or something. Lickitung later got an evolution. Did it really need one? How long can a tongue get? Not long enough for Team Rocket’s Jessie, evidently. Let’s put two-and-two together here: Lickitung’s main selling point is his long, stretchable, malleable tongue which he can probably do all sorts with. However, Jessie still eventually got rid of Licki, ostensibly for its poor performance. Its poor performance in what, exactly? Consider that James isn’t exactly her type, to say the least, and Meowth probably has a sandpaper tongue like all cats. Then it all starts to make sense.
I’ll always be indebted to the beleaguered Weezing: it saved my skin on Event 51 of Super Smash Bros. Melee – the one where you have to beat Ganondorf, Mewtwo, and Super Giga Jurassic Bowser. There was me as Jigglypuff, a harlot’s eyelash away from death, when up popped a gleaming Pokéball for me to use. Feeling sure that a useless Goldeen would come out, but also equally optimistic that a very useful Snorlax would, I got a middle-of-the-road result with Weezing. He was able to damage Mewtwo and Ganondorf quite enough that I was able to pick them off from afar and win the game (Giga Bowser having already jumped off the side three times in a row). That was the day I was crowned as the best Smash Bros player in the world. As for Weezing in the actual game of Pokémon? Well, it’s a fairly useless Poison type that can use Explosion, so best of luck catching a Shiny one. It’s completely unfashionable, which rules it out of the running for any type of credible team, and that’s compounded by the fact that it’s a Team Rocket mon – a big no-no. You wouldn’t bring Weezing onto the S.S. Anne party, put it that way. Worse still, did you know that Koffing and Weezing were originally going to be called Ny and La, after New York and Los Angeles? Ouch.
It’s the first Pokémon ever created, so there’s genuine history here. This is perhaps the reason why the Substitute move and various Pokémon statues found throughout the regions seem to bear a slight resemblance to Rhydon. It’s a Ground/Rock Pokémon that can hit ferociously hard but gets torn to shreds by Water, Grass and Ice moves in particular. A bit of a glass cannon, then. Pikachu battled Blaine’s Rhydon in the anime and somehow won because Ash told his Pokémon to “aim for the horn”, because the horn served as a lightning conductor. It’s a moment that became infamous, if only because it actually worked out. I never questioned it at the time, but that is some of the most hare-brained stuff imaginable. Has the anime ever topped that?
Nurse Joy’s ever-present Pokémon helper is actually the spawn of Satan. It held the highest amount of HP in the game until it was given a damn evolution, which just makes things even more crazy. A potential Hit Point total of over 700 when many are in the mid 300s. It’s maximum Attack and Defence of just under 120 apiece is quite a bit less impressive, when everyone else who matters is around the 300-400 mark. But with healing moves and fixed-damage attacking moves, plus the ability to inflict statuses as well, Chansey can get away with it. It even has high enough Special Defence to soak up punishment from that side of the spectrum. If you come up against one (or these days, its evolution) then try to blow it away with Fighting moves. Otherwise, expect a long, arduous struggle. And just when you think you have it made, it eats its own eggs via the Softboiled move and heals itself. You then snap your console in half and resolve never to underestimate this hateful pink munchkin again.
Everybody wants to know what’s under Cubone’s bone helmet. But what about Tangela? Doesn’t anybody want to see what’s under all the vines? Personally, I reckon it’s a landlubber version of Shellder. I simply remember Tangela as a pure Grass type Pokémon who can use the move Constrict – a 10 power Normal type move. To put that into perspective, taking the basic moves of the RBY starters, Tackle has 35 power, and Scratch and Pound both have 40. One can conclude that Constrict is one of the worst moves in Pokémon’s entire catalogue, certainly among moves that deal damage. It’s probably even worse than the dreaded Razor Wind, for God’s sake. But Tangela himself, not bad, a bit wild, certainly not the worst, but in need of a stat boost of some sort. Which he eventually got through evolution in Gen 4, but the design was so poor that nobody wanted to know anymore.
I don’t care about the theories: Cubone is not the child contained in Kangaskhan’s pouch. Nor does Missingno. have anything to do with that evolution story. Although it is a little strange how the Dizzy Punching, Mongol-leader-inspired Kangaskhan has that young in its pouch even when newly hatched from an egg. Although we’ve seen new baby Pokémon come into the fold, we still haven’t seen the baby Kangaskhan out on its own yet, unless you count its Mega Evolution. Strange things are afoot with this poor man’s Tauros, so don’t break your neck trying to capture it in the Safari Zone – treat it as a flighty woman, and ask yourself if you could well do without.
A Water type seahorse, almost entirely forgettable until GSC brought it a much-needed , mean-looking evolution and the Dragon type, which stood to it immensely. Its pre-evolution Horsea was also notable for being one of Misty’s Pokémon in the anime, and not much else. The luckiest Horsea in the world, that thing was, especially when Misty held it close. Is it particularly unacceptable for me and my pals, all in our late twenties, to still fancy 10-year-old Misty? Is that so wrong of us? Well, I’ll leave that one there. It was probably best for the irritable Seadra here that he gained an evolution and better moves quickly. Next!
There are great memes, bad memes, and Seaking meemes. And it’s probably well that Seaking gained a little bit of notoriety via these short-lived, forgettable memes, because he has almost no other redeeming features. It’s not even as belle as its pre-evolution Goldeen. It was the only Pokémon to learn Waterfall in RBY. Irrelevant really, when you consider that Surf is more powerful, can be learned at any time and has the same perfect accuracy (or at least, 99.6% accuracy). Too bad Seaking is no longer the exclusive user of the move. And when a product is stripped of its USP, it quickly becomes relegated to the status of also-ran. There are about a zillion other Water Pokémon you could use and not get yourself laughed at, so why not just do that instead?
Oh boy. We all know Starmie. If Chansey was the spawn of Satan, this… thing, is Lucifer himself. Even your trusty Ivysaur had cause for concern when taking on Misty’s Starmie in the Cerulean City Gym. The fearsome shrill noise of it using STAB Bubblebeam in those heady RBY days were enough to cause shivers and squirms, as it tore apart your entire team in one breath. Even when you did manage to take a swipe at it, it barely registered, and Misty was always waiting in the wings with a crafty Super Potion. But Starmie wasn’t finished there: even outside of that dreaded battle with Misty, Starmie has always been a Pokémon in the upper echelons of battling, thanks to two useful types (Water/Psychic), Recover, Rapid Spin and massive Speed. Fear the DeathStar.
To Be Continued!