Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 5)
If you haven’t already put your best six Kanto hardnuts together, a team tough enough to take the region by storm and literally impress the knickers off Lorelei from the Elite Four, then you’re quickly running out of options. The below list of Pokémon awaiting judgment and possible selection for your team takes us through the eons, quite literally in fact. This week’s list features Magikarps, Magmars and mantises. And it’s book-ended by a mime and a… dodecahedron. Only in Pokémon.
- Mr. Mime
Well thank God – it’s Mr. Mime Time. Would you believe that there’s an even split between male and female Mr. Mimes? And no, they’re not called Mrs. Mimes. Or even Mistress Mimes, but you can look for one of those on Instagram if you want. For some reason, it’s become popular to hate mimes. Why’s that? I think they’re fairly interesting. Mimey here isn’t good at battling, of course, but he puts up a mean Barrier. Later, a Mr. Mime (this one actually named Mimey for real) came to live with Ash’s mother, Delia Ketchum. So he may not be adept at battling, but at least he’s a dab hand with the housework… I’m just looking forward to the sinister looking Mr. Mime that looks set to appear in the Detective Pikachu film. How many drugs did it take to come up with his uncanny design?!
A little bit like Onix in that it looks pretty fearsome but gets blown to pieces by a poor type and worse moves, a real pity for such a vicious looking creature. Later it gains the very useful Technician ability, boosting its power. And, when all is said and done, it’s still a massive praying mantis with two mean blades to do serious work with. Any schoolkid would be happy having this beast under their control. But then, it crucially and infamously lacks the ability to fly… and what good is a terrifying giant mantis with razor blades for arms if you can’t fly around on it and saw aeroplane wings off?
Is comparing this thing to Nicki Minaj a bit of a dated reference by now? It doesn’t exactly look like a high-rent Pokémon, that’s for sure. And that’s before we even get to the fact that having a blackface performer as a design for a Pokémon is just a little bit of a faux-pas. But at least Game Freak, or Nintendo or the Japanese Censorship Board (as if that exists) eventually did change Jynx’s face from black to purple. Which doesn’t really alter the fact that Jynx’s ‘Humanshape’ design is bloody creepy. Not to mention its cry in the games, two mind-warping seconds of pure, nasty static. At least it has Lovely Kiss and can follow up with a bitterly cold Ice Punch. Well, at least Jynx is nicer about it than some of the women I’ve known.
Score another victory for the Pokémon Red owners. Being honest, Electabuzz isn’t actually terrific in battle but he does at least have some varied moves like Psychic and Fire Punch. Later he gained not only a pre-evolution but a proper evolution, meaning he’s now part of an evolutionary trio. Middle child syndrome? Maybe, but his cry in the anime series sounds like someone furiously motorboating a nice big pair, possibly even belonging to that same Jynx above. And believe me, that’s all a Pokémon needs in their arsenal in order to get a pass here.
But it’s not all bad for Pokémon Blue owners, even if Fire types were never really that great. Really, it’s best looking at Magmar outside of battle: first of all, one of its Abilities halves the amount of time it takes for Eggs to hatch, an important concern for sperglords who invest the thousands of hours necessary in producing the perfect or near-perfect Pokémon. I just use cheats. Because I’m dishonest? Or because I’m practical enough to save time? Also, seeing Magmar kick ass and take names for Blaine in the anime was incredible, until Charizard stepped forward and sorted the slag out. I still have to question that result, though, WWE style. There’s no way Magmar lost that one. No gaddam way.
At least Scyther had an option to bail itself out with an evolution. Pinsir was poor starting off in RBY and has been dragged along through the Generations on its arse ever since, until it finally got a Mega Evolution. Too little, too late. It’s a pity, because Pinsir looks a fierce contender otherwise. A proper evolution, some sort of horrible Human Centipede cross-jobby with Heracross perhaps, would have sorted it right out. Then it could guillotine your ghoulies off at a thousand paces.
Well, I would like this Pokémon, wouldn’t I, me being a Taurus under the zodiac. The horoscopes look good for Tauros: it’s always been a powerhouse in terms of stats, although it has slipped through the competitive tiers rapidly throughout the years. It’s a Normal type attacker that hits hard and fast with Body Slam, Return and Earthquake. A pity to see Tauros decline, but with its stats and moves, it can always perform. He’s a bit like that retiring old pro, who turns it on just one last time to send the fans home singing his name. Then it’s away on home to bunk up with Miltank, and produce offspring that goes in your burger. That is, unless you’re living in UK and Ireland. Then it’s Ponyta burgers.
It was a pleasant surprise for all concerned when worthless little Magikarp turned into this behemoth. Known as the ‘Atrocious’ Pokémon, rest assured: this is not an indictment of its battling abilities. Rather, it’s a succinct description of Gyarados’ ability to raze cities in a matter of seconds. Actually, not that it matters, but the evolution from lowly Magikarp to the mighty Gyarados stems from a Chinese legend in which carps strong enough to swim upstream and leap over a waterfall through the ‘Dragon’s Gate’ would turn into a dragon. Funnily enough, Gyarados here is not a Dragon type and never has been. Instead, it’s Water and Flying, for some odd reason, and this means any Electric attack blows it out of the sky like some technologically underdeveloped Iraqi missile getting swatted down by a scarily accurate United States SAM Site. But Gyarados has the stats to overcome this deficiency. Plus, the Red Gyarados of the Lake of Rage was probably the first Shiny Pokémon most players saw, and caught. And the last.
Another piece of hell on earth, Lapras has terrific stats bar its speed and she’s a devil with hard-hitting Ice moves. Taking a look at Smogon, where Pokémon really is serious business, it seems that since Diamond and Pearl, Lapras’s stock has fallen considerably. Probably for the best, because I’ve always hated going up against this mother. They just revel in either freezing you or paralysing you via Body Slam, parafusing you with Confuse Ray and healing with Rest. Ash temporarily had one as well, for transportation use during his quest around the Orange Island Archipelago. Remember that? Why haven’t they been in the games? The answer is simple: because then you’d have to include that wet wipe Tracey. We’re all out there battling Pokémon for our lives and this dolt is off drawing them. What good is that for the war effort?!
Notable for being able to Transform into the opponent and do little else beyond that. Even the design is just a messy blob of goo. Transforming into your opponent gives you their moves (except with only 5 PP each, so you lose) and also all of the opponent’s stats bar HP, which Ditto keeps (so you lose again). You now have no surprises or tricks whatsoever to play on the opponent, so you’ve just about lost this “mirror match” already. So Ditto is no good at all for battling. Buuuut, from GSC onwards he has become invaluable for breeding purposes. Want to mass-produce incestuous copies of your high IV starter? Ditto is your main…blob. Or you could clone yourself and cause murder, before blaming it on Ditto. Let the pile of goo see the electric chair, while you continue gallivanting. Sounds peachy.
The water variant of what’s been dubbed the Eeveelutions. The Eeveelutions all have the same base stat total, but the stats are dispersed differently. For Vaporeon, the numbers were pumped into his HP, Special Attack and Special Defense stats, giving it bulk – it’s more menacing than it looks. But there’s never a point in just having one Eeveelution, is there? Why not make a whole team of them instead? Or six Jolteons, just pick six Jolteons.
Jolteon relies on its Speed first and foremost, and paralyses you like the dickens. But where I think Jolteon wins out over its foxy cousins (sorry, that doesn’t sound right. Doggy cousins…?) is that it’s spiky. That’s it really. It’s spikier, so it looks a lot cooler, a lot more menacing. I don’t care if Espeon is a psychic puppy, Umbreon is a dark doggy, or Leafeon is a leery lurcher. Jolteon looks like the daddy of them all.
Every litter must have a runt, and unfortunately for now, the runt of the Eeveelutions is Flareon. Pretty infamously, Flareon has a mega high attack, but even now, it hasn’t got the adequate moves to use this with. Well, I say ‘even now’, but I haven’t played a new Pokémon game since probably Pokémon X and Y, and indeed most of my knowledge of competitive Pokémon battling comes from Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow, which wasn’t competitive at all. Alls I can say is, Flareon is a fiery foxhound that still doesn’t look like Jolteon, and that’s where it lets itself down the most.
What on earth is this pile of angles? Brace yourself – this’ll be a long one. Well, Porygon actually has quite a few notable aspects. Firstly, back in the RBY days there was only one way of getting him: saving up 9999 Coins at the Game Corner. That was the Red price anyway; Blue got a hefty 4000 coin discount. Talk about your false economies. Of course, trying to actually beat the heavily rigged slots to earn this amount of dough was unfeasible. So any player with brains just resorted to buying the coins in bulk instead. Guess what? The game would only allow you to buy 50 Coins at a time, and even that meant scrolling through a few lines of dialogue each time. If you didn’t use the toxic Missingno glitch to farm Nuggets or other high-selling items, then you had to beat the Elite Four many, many times to stump up the cash. Having done either of those, you then finally purchase Porygon. And he turns out to be a pile of rubbish, despite some interesting moves. He later gained not one but two evolutions, and became a viable choice. But foolhardy players trying to get use out of Porygon in RBY might as well have been picking their bums clean. The second and even more depressing reason that Porygon is well-known is due to a banned episode of the early days of the anime. In this episode, titled ‘Electric Soldier Porygon’, Ash and co literally enter cyberspace to sort out a computer virus that’s messing up Pokémon trades (predictably, it’s a virus created by Team Rocket). To sort out the virus a ‘vaccine’ is put into the system – while ‘our heroes’ are still within it. ‘But how can a vaccine destroy a virus, that’s not how it works!’ you cry. Exactly, I murmur. Well, assisted by a Porygon, Ash and friends defeat the virus and try to evade the vaccine, which is firing missiles and all kinds of shrapnel all over the place. This particular Porygon, who is bloody fat and dead slow, starts tiring out and he’s nearly toast thanks to these missiles. Pikachu steps in to destroy these oncoming projectiles with an electric attack, causing a massive light show with blue and red flickering lights. And then, near to 700 Japanese children suffered seizures, vomiting, nausea and other symptoms. According to the excellent Bulbapedia, the episode was banned by the Japanese government and never shown again, but if you’re feeling brave you can watch the offending scene for yourself, test the might of your brain and stomach. To add insult to injury, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded the record of “Most Photosensitive Epileptic Seizures Caused by a Television Show” to Pokémon. A bit spiteful of them to create that category, don’t you think? They might as well have given an award to Harold Shipman: “Most Cases of Murderous Malpractice in One Lifetime”. But it’s poor Porygon and his evolutions who got the worst of it: they’ve hardly had a look-in in the anime since – this despite the fact that it was the mascot, Pikachu, who initiated the attack that caused the seizures, even if it was to save the useless article that is Porygon. But Pikachu’s the talisman – you can’t get rid of him, now can you?! Unbelievable, how untouchable the talent can be. I bet Pikachu still thinks his business is made of gold. Ever wondered where that stereotype of Japanese cartoons causing mega-seizures ever came from? Now you know.
To Be Continued!