Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 7)
Sometimes I get the feeling that the Marketing and Business Analyst chaps working for Nintendo and Game Freak graduated at the bottom of their class – a real ‘shame brought on the family’ effort. I suppose the zillions of yen acquired by Nintendo sort of makes that a nonsense statement, but they’re certainly prone to some crazy decisions. Still, even the most spoonfed, thicko graduate would have worked out that the Pokémon gravy train was becoming absolutely jammed with passengers.
After 3 mainline games in Red, Blue and Yellow plus spinoffs, a booming Trading Card Game and all kinds of merchandise, fans were still baying for more. Everyone and their grandmother had a Pokémon game (and if your grandmother didn’t, then have words). So what better way to exploit this market than with a whole new ‘Generation’ of Pokémon?
100 new Pokémon! And the games are in colour! Or should that be color? Pokémon can hold berries! And (in)breed with each other! There’s even a day and night system, which makes all the difference between catching a Hoothoot and catching a Rattata in any given Route! I jest: the changes brought about by Pokémon Gold, Silver and later Crystal were numerous, and the reception to these games was overwhelmingly positive.
It was a thrill to head through a whole new region with a new starter Pokémon and other different monsters picked up along the way. But that didn’t mean the old 151 were cast aside – if anything, they’d still make up the bulk of your team, especially once you traded some of your older companions from Pokémon RBY and seeing if they could still hack it, a stonking concept at the time.
It’s time to take a look at all of the fully evolved Pokémon that Generation II brought us, as well as some of those infernal baby Pokémon that didn’t seem to exist in Kanto, for whatever strange reason. Please do enjoy:
A big sort of lizard with antennas and a flower for a necklace, as you can see. Can’t you? Well it doesn’t fall into the trap of being part-Poison type like Venusaur does, which instantly gives it merit. I don’t care if Poison got a bit better in Generation 2, but I’m sorry, using Poison is still an absolute shamer. Meggy here can Swords Dance to boost its Attack (it needs it) and has some beefy defenses as well. Although it doesn’t have any impact in battle, it can apparently bring plants to life through its breath alone. Can’t they all…? I knew Poison types caused nothing but trouble.
It’s no Charizard, but if Fire-types still get your flame lit, then Typhlosion here will be your main man. I do very much enjoy its fire scarf. Or is that a muffler? A shawl? Maybe even a veil? At least Typhy managed to open his eyes, something that its pre-evolution Cyndaquil couldn’t much manage. Perhaps it starts out blind, like some sort of fire cat. Or whatever Cyndaquil is. A fire badger? We could always do with more Fire types, at least.
Quelle surprise, I’m into water starters – I seem to pick them at least 80% of the time. Saves you having to suffer the ignominy of having to catch a Tentacool and using that to Surf. As it happens, I picked Treecko instead of Mudkip in Generation III because I liked his cry – which, by the way, is a very flimsy way of picking Pokémon for a team and you shouldn’t do it. Otherwise we could have a Special Olympics teams of Jynx, Electabuzz, Flaaffy, Salamence, Chatot and Gothitelle, and I shouldn’t think they’d win many battles. Or could they? Anyway, Feraligatr. Cool name, despite them clearly running out of vowels. And consonants, and space. But I live for the day when someone tries it on Countdown. I know Countdown only goes as high as 9-letters, but some boffin will find a way.
You’ll find most Generations have their throwaway Normal types that evolve once, are found everywhere from the first Route onwards, and have stats that would have to be bumped up by a considerable amount before you could charitably call them average. Furret here is the Generation 2 variant of this particular generic cluster of binary code and Normality. At least Raticate has Super Fang. Furret has a body that’s too long, it’ll get caught in doors if it follows behind you. You’ll be forever having to unhook it, like when your coat gets caught on door handles. Release this long streak of misery.
Remember when I told you Furret was the flatterer of Raticate? Well Noctowl tries to be the equivalent to Pidgeot. And Fearow, I suppose. I always like to use the first Flying type I meet, though. You can stick the HM Fly on them, and at least their Flying moves can offer a bit of diversity and mess things up in a hurry for Fighting and Grass types. And Bug types, but everyone laughs at them anyway. Plus, the birds all titter derisively at Ground moves like Magnitude and Earthquake. Also, Noctowl is – and you’ll be amazed at this – an owl, and owls are great. The wise ones obviously, not those shrieking barn owl deathbirds you sometimes see videos of.
I do like its cry a little, and also its black-and-red colour scheme (standard issue for a ladybug anyway I’d have thought) but that’s about all I like: Ledian is ruddy toilet in battle, to use a polite phrase. With its four gloved arms, it can actually use moves like Ice Punch and ThunderPunch – it just can’t use them well. Ledian can try them anyway, on its way to yet another mauling by even a more moderately abled opponent. Just avoid the Bugs almost completely for now. On the whole, they take a couple of decades to get good.
What? A spider with six legs?! Ariados is a Bug/Poison type, which is just swell. Actually, I’ll confess that I’ve got just the slightest bit of a soft sport for Aridaos, or rather its pre-evolution Spinarak, because I caught a Shiny version of its once. Only thing was, it was on an emulator, so it was just about worthless. And to add insult to the hefty injuries that this Spinarak went on to sustain, the Shiny version didn’t even look much different to the far more common regular version. Actually, just so we know we’re both reading from the same hymn sheet: Shiny Pokémon are palette swapped variants of Pokémon which occur very rarely – generally the odds are 8,192/1. As such, you could easily go many playthroughs and never see one. Other than the colouration, the Pokémon are just about the same; no hidden superpowers afforded by radiation poisoning or whatever. So to get favoured by the long odds in five minutes of play on a Game Boy Color emulator, giving me an exceedingly rare version of a worthless Pokémon… I’m not sure how I feel about that. What were we talking about again? Ariados? Sorry pal, never used him.
An exceptionally fast Poison and Flying type Pokémon – so fast that its speed does help it escape the mire of its awful typing. In any case, it can use Mean Look to trap an opponent, and then whack them with Toxic that deals exponentially greater damage to the opponent as the battle wears on. Sounds pretty nasty, which is strange to see from a Pokémon that evolves from Golbat via happiness: each Pokémon now has a hidden happiness value, increased by having that Pokémon first in line, walking many steps with them, getting their hair cut (even Geodude and Magneton love a good trim)… Happiness can be lowered as well, by letting your Pokémon get battered in battle, trying to release them or making them eat horrid sour food. So if you invest the time in making the ugly, frightfully ugly Golbat the happiest Pokémon in the whole wide world, this slightly less unsightly Pokémon is your reward. Ahh, isn’t that cute? Being a Goebbels to your Pokémon won’t make them devolve or anything. In fact, it might help you get the most power from the long forgotten Frustration move. I suppose you could use that as a way to look well hard by showing other Trainers that you’re a tyrant to your Pokémon.
A new Generation brought with it some interesting new type combinations. Lanturn here, a sort of dual-bulbed angler-fish monstrosity that might have occurred by a strange Sega-powered splicing of Sonic the Hedgehog and Ecco the Dolphin, is of the Electric/Water persuasion. Lanturn can use Rain Dance to make it rain, then fire off perfectly accurate Thunders for – wait for it! – massive damage. Plus he’s got a lot of HP, and possibly he’ll find favour with the girls as well. He’s not bad.
When it was announced that ‘Baby Pokémon’ were going to be included in Pokémon GSC, it seemed almost inevitable that we’d be subjected to some bastard offspring of Pikachu’s. I reckon they’d give Pikachu as many evolutions as Eevee if they could only get away with it. After all, there’s been about 50 variants of Pikachu on Pokémon Go, for a start. Pichu here even managed to go one step further than most and got the shout as a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros Melee. That wasn’t enough to tear the game down, and to be fair, he/she/it is only a joke character (though still not the worst character in the game). Smash Bros Ultimate’s amnesty towards all previous fighters means that not only does Pichu return, but it was actually well up in the top tiers of competitors and even had to be nerfed recently. Who could have imagined a world like that? Luckily, in Pokémon games, using Pichu’s electrical moves won’t hurt you in return as it does in Smash. But this guy is strictly a Pokédex filler. Which you’ll just about tolerate, until he dances all over you in Smash. Then you’ll be out for blood.
To Be Continued!