Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 12)
The third Generation of Pokémon announced itself onto the Game Boy Advance with triumphant trumpet blasts. No really, 40% of the games is the trumpety soundtrack, and the other 60% is water if IGN are to be believed. When it came to adding new Pokémon, Gen 3 didn’t take the same timid approach of barely tipping its toes into the water like Gen 2 did, with all of its Gen 1 babies and evolutions. No, the new guys in Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald are present right the way through, with plenty of Legendaries, but even more water Pokémon. There’s also Tropius, and I can’t wait until we get on to that thing. As always though, we must start with the starters.
I surprised even myself by going with the Grass starter on my first runthrough of Generation III. But I’d been told that Sceptile was the best trumpet player of the three, and that it looked great in the Contests, so it was destined for Gen 3 greatness. How’s that? Not believable? OK, I decided to change it up because I liked little Treecko’s cry. Sceptile did OK, but Gardevoir did a lot better. As if cementing my bad decision, it turns out that Sceptile gained a little bit of fame as one of the Pokémon under Ash’s tutelage. It even became the subject of now debunked rumours that he’d have an outside chance at being included in Smash Bros. If anything condemns a Pokémon to loserdom, it’s Ash capturing one. I know the little twerp had Charizard and Squirtle too, but Charizard never listened and Squirtle dropped him like a hot snot at the first opportunity. I’m afraid that doesn’t bode well for Sceppy here.
However, I redeemed myself by the time Omega Ruby came out. Blaziken started out life by kicking behind, and it just kept on kicking. You’d think a fighting firechicken would probably be the most ridiculous creation to make an appearance in a Pokémon battle, and you’d be right if not for Dunsparce. As it is, Blaziken has fought in the top tiers of competitive Pokémon battles for many years, with all of the Smogon dorks drooling over it. My verdict? If you left the Gen 6 Exp Share on, your team were so vastly powered up that all encounters were a joke anyway, and then when Blaziken Mega-Evolved the joke got twice as side-splitting. Blazy is the kind of guy (that is, chicken) you want covering your back. He gets things done. You’d even ask him to put the lotto numbers on – that’s just how dependable he is.
When it comes down to it, the Swampert line have only been particularly notable for two reasons – one, the fact that its Mega evolution becomes swole beyond belief, and two, the saturation of Mudkip in the very early days of online memes. Sceptile, though uncool, has the Ash Ketchum guarantee which means it never loses in the anime. Blaziken has the right stats, moves, typing, and a fire scarf which ensures it never loses in the games. So I don’t know if Swampert has any invincible cards in the TCG or if he holds a gym like nobody’s business in Pokémon Go, but it’s sort of looking bad for him down this avenue. You could utilise him as a water Pokémon if you’re stuck for one, except you won’t be because the Hoenn region is infamously half-submerged. Quite honestly, I never thought the water levels in Hoenn were too grating, but the legions of Pokémon fans say so and they probably outnumber several enlisted armies so I’d better not risk annoying them.
It’s common as muck, easy to train, and is saddled with the Dark type. As a result, when you inevitably run into the villainous team of this particular Generation, you’re going to see an awful lot of Poochyenas and Mightyenas. And Numels as well, they love those lads. Actually, this time around there’s two different teams – Team Aqua and Team Magma. Team Aqua wants to drown the world, not really giving any thought to what the next step after that would be, whereas Team Magma are probably flat-earthers and want to make it permanently sunny or something. The motivations for these teams will get worse as the Gens go on, I assure you. As it is, at least fighting a million Mightyenas isn’t as annoying to deal with as a million Golbats. However, and you won’t need me to tell you this, any Pokémon routinely used by the bottom feeders of the villain organisation get an automatic rejection.
Stick to the boring option instead. Or rather, don’t. Girls will squee at the sight of little Zigzagoon, and tightwads like me will squee louder still when they discover Ziggy’s Pickup Ability. This Ability got a bit downgraded as time went on, but it works pretty much the same: after battles, Zigzagoon will randomly pick up and hold an item. In later Generations these items get a bit naff, the chances involved become too small and you have to level it up to Level 8000 before getting anything good, but if you’re on the original Ruby and Sapphire then you can go ham. And if you decide to play the thinking man’s team – that is, one Gardevoir and the rest of the slots empty – you might enlist five farmer Zigzagoons to help supplement it with moves, potions, Rare Candies etc. They may or may not eventually evolve into Linoone, which is sort of plain looking by comparison. In fact, I’d argue that you should just leave Ziggy unevolved.
Not exactly beautiful, is it? It’s a lot better looking than its ugly sister Dustox, at least. Most Pokémon games give you a quickly evolving Bug Pokémon right off the bat, and although they can sometimes be interesting, in terms of battling and more importantly in terms of looking cool, they are catalogue awful. Using Beautifly isn’t going to score you any hipster points, it’ll just attract mirthless laughter and mocking tones from your assembled peers. “Why aren’t you just using Butterfree instead?!?” they cry. So you use Butterfree and then they still laugh at you, so you’re damned either way. Spare yourself damnation and leave Beautifly well alone. It probably dies in one day anyway.
It looks mean, I’ll give it that. But look here, when you’re putting together a Pokémon team, it’s all about looking cool. If you look cool, you can get girls, making the whole endeavour worthwhile. Do you think the girl of your dreams would be into seeing a massive poisonous moth look at you with affection? Well, they could very well be one of those girls who defy all expectations and are into all kinds of offbeat interests, like moths and outdoor suspension. But do you think you’re that lucky? And if you’re a female wouldbe Pokémon trainer reading this, tell me: would you really be comfortable giving this guy a big hug after he sunk Clefairy lamely to her knees, choking and gasping desperately for air with a horrifying grimace as your killer moth expels yet more deathly clouds of Sarin gas dust down her clenched, vomit-soaked throat? Actually, take back what I said – this thing sounds great.
Hang on, is this not a bit racist? Look, I’m not the kind of prissy little boob that’d queue up to be offended on other people’s behalves by stereotypical send-ups in games or other media – we’ve already lost Apu from The Simpsons. And I’d personally love to see a Leprechaun Pokémon crop up in Generation VIII. Take that mascot for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, turn it into a Grass/Fighting Pokémon and we’d love it. And I love the Mexicans as well. But Game Freak can’t do this, can they?! I suppose Nintendo were able to get away with Mexican Mario in Super Mario Odyssey, so maybe the Mexicans are considered an acceptable target? Either way, Ludicolo has good stats and moves, and he’d be great company on a night-out you can tell. But I’m sorry, I just can’t take his face and his appearance seriously enough.
No such reservations about this lad – Shiftry is all business. He strikes me as looking like a boss who you might meet in Battletoads, assuming you can get through the level of course. Having leaves for hands mightn’t seem so threatening, but imagine they were actually stinging nettles? I fell into a cliff of nettles once, and you could hear the cries and screams out of me all around Glendalough’s valleys. I’d have sooner fallen off the cliff entirely – certain death, but probably nicer than two legs stung to bits. Imagine getting a slap off a load of nettles? That’s what Shiftry will dish out to you, if you try chopping down his house.
An absolute tank. Not quite as mean a mother as Generation IV’s Staraptor, but this guy’s massive Speed and good Attack (bolstered by Guts once you betray him utterly and let him get poisoned or paralysed) combine well to pick on Fighters and, I don’t know, Bugs. Cool colour scheme and a fierce look complete the package – even little Taillow’s got that intimidating sort of bullet head. Taillow and Swellow are the kinds of guys that’d make you think twice about visiting the shop if you saw a gaggle of them loitering outside. It grows fast too, and it’s pretty big in size, so there’s definitely the intimidation factor about Swellow. Plus it can fly you wherever you need to go. When making a team, don’t be afraid to say hello to Swellow.
Typically little more than a utility man to stick Fly and Surf on, but this big-chinned wonder gets a pass from me. You will get sick of slaughtering these poor lads on the high seas in the latter routes of Hoenn, it’s true, but a pelican Pokémon was well overdue. I think pelicans are cool, although I’m sure in actuality they’re probably fierce, horribly violent creatures like geese and they just trade off a reputation of looking funny. Maybe, as you fly through the open seas and high winds, you could sit inside Pelipper’s beak Finding Nemo-style rather than being sat on his back. That’s quite a bit more disgusting, but it’d be a lot warmer and more comfortable, right? Who’d win in a fight, a pelican or a flamingo? Has there ever been a flamingo Pokémon?
To Be Continued!