Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 15)
I’ll say this for Generation 3, they sure gave us a whole heap of new Pokémon, over 130 new boys and girls and Claydols to get acquainted with. And unlike Generation 2, which barely even showed you a nipslip of its new Pokémon, Hoenn invited you backstage to a strip show with everything on display.
Everywhere you looked it was bouncing Spoinks and smooth Lunatones and horny Solrocks and thick Wailords. It threw its Pokémon in your face until you couldn’t breathe, and the Gen 1 Pokémon waiting for you at home suddenly looked so bookish and librarian and frumpy in comparison. You know what I mean?
Woe betide the poor Skitty that finds itself having to mate with big bad Wailord here. If I wasn’t so desperately lazy, I’d check this out to make sure, but I’m pretty sure that Wailord’s the largest Pokémon around. Herman Melville wrote an entire book about hunting a whale, and in between the several unnecessary pages of the properties of whale blubber and dentistry, we were left to deduce that tracking down whales is a pretty difficult and dangerous thing to spend your time doing. So how is it that a 10-year-old kid can catch multiples so easily? There’s not much point in pondering, but what you can do in the middle of a Pokémon battle is to throw your Poké Ball just that bit too close to the opposition’s half of the field, so that Wailord flies out of the impossibly small Poké Ball and lands straight on the enemy Teddiursa, maybe even the opposition trainer as well. You get the win by default, if you survive the ensuing earthquake.
As stated before, any Pokémon used by that respective generation’s evil organisation is simply a no-go for your team. I’m sorry, but they are bottom-feeders, not at all acceptable in the right circles. Now, I have to caveat that by saying that you’ll be seeing a whole lot more Numels, Camerupt’s pre-evolution, than you’ll see this thing, but come on. If you’re going to mix flare with flair, and you don’t want to pick the boring choice in Charizard (Nirvana), then you’ve got Arcanine (Pearl Jam), Ninetales (Soundgarden), even Houndoom (Slayer). It’s supposed to be a hump-backed camel, but this thing puts me far more in the mind of a turtle – maybe even the Mock Turtles. So it’s a case of pick your poison – a camel that spits fireballs at you, or a fire turtle that lands on its back and erupts from its back volcanoes all over your carpet. Not great options, are they?
And speaking of turtles, tortoises, fire and bottom-feeders. It looks like Torkoal can’t get enough of its own smoke here. I’m telling you, the first time I saw this creature, I wanted to stop the game right there and then. Call time-out and come in and help this creature, make sure it’s okay. It looks absolutely stricken, and that doesn’t inspire much confidence when you’re looking for a lead Pokémon to kick off a successful battle with. He might look good in your gardens though, or if you’re Finnish and have a home sauna. I can see Torkoal playing well in Icelandic country estates and as a mascot for the local geyser. Beyond that, maybe put this poor tortoise back in the water and see how it gets on.
Why couldn’t Spoink have just stayed Spoink? Stick him on a Forgotten Team, alongside Swalot, Granbull, Lumineon, Kingler and Wormadam. Actually there’s probably more suitable candidates, but would you believe it, I’ve forgotten them. No, but if we delve back into the Pokédex lore, it was a ruddy good thing that Spoink evolved – as a bouncing little pig head, if it should stop bouncing for even a second, that’s it. Its heart is kaput and it’s game over. I don’t know, then, how Spoink can survive being encased in a block of ice, unless it’s a Han Solo-style carbonite freeze. Anyway, it doesn’t look like Grumpig has any such limitations to his mobility. But I’d feel bad putting it into battle, being aware of the difficult start it got in life. Let the poor pig roam free.
Obviously you would never consider Spinda for a fighting spot in your team, much the same way as you’d never entertain the prospect of letting your little brother join in your game of street football, but the dizzy bear may yet have a role to play. Just about every Spinda you catch will be unique, one of over 4 billion variations, based on where the spots are on its head. Of course, put Spinda in battle and more likely its spots will get knocked clean off. But I can definitely see Spinda dizzily shaking pom-poms on the side of the battle, anime comic relief style, before falling over in an exaggerated fashion when your Dragonite gets taken down. Not every Pokémon has to be a combatant, you know.
I was pretty disappointed with Flygon, all round. First of all, I didn’t know how on earth to even get him, where in the Pokédex he fit into. How was I to know that little Trapinch would eventually turn into this? Introducing Abilities was the worst thing the Pokémon series ever did. Well, I imagine most competitive gamers will tell you the complete opposite to that. But if you encounter the derpy Trapinch in the desert, its Arena Trap Ability won’t let you run away, no matter what your Pokémon’s level is. So you have to Hyper Beam it to death instead. But I’d heard a lot about Trapinch’s final evolution, Flygon, that he’d be a worldbeater at the end of the tunnel, so why not? I trained up Trapinch, got my Flygon, and the predictable happened: Flygon was shot down again and again, swatted out of the sky like a noisy… fly. Fly dragon. We’re over 300 Pokémon in, so I won’t have to remind you of this, but never ever use a bug Pokémon (even if it isn’t expressly Bug-type) on your team unless it’s Scyther, Scizor or Mothra.
I don’t massively care what people think of me when they meet me, but I’m always hoping that they say something along the lines of “Say what you want about Burkey, but at least he has a lot of time for stern-looking cacti.” And do you know what, I do, because Cacturne here is definitely a fellow who I’d follow into battle. We have a cactus at home, and I tell you this, the thing takes to sunlight like a fat boy takes to cake – the thing looks like it’s ready to collapse under its own weight. Cacturne is a lot leaner, meaner and looks like it ought to have a fag hanging out of its mouth at all times. You wouldn’t like to ‘have a quiet word’ with this fellow in the back-alley outside the local gangster’s money laundering front, that’s for certain.
A dragonbird with a penchant for cotton wool. Doesn’t sound like the best of starts, but Altaria is one of those Pokémon that just exudes regency and therefore power. Mind you, and I think I speak for all Pokémon Go players here – why exactly does a blue chicken need 400 while candies to evolve? I could walk from Malin Head to Mizen head and still not have the necessary kilometres walked, and that’s even if the pedometer on the app worked properly.
It’s easy to just take Zanny here as a mongoose mixed with David Bowie, but there’s one more thing to consider: its long-standing feud with Seviper below. It’s a strange way to conceive of version-exclusive Pokémon, that much is certain. But if it’s a choice between just those two, then you’d have to pick Zangoose, wouldn’t you? After all, he’s got limbs. He might help you move house or punch any charity muggers that come your way or something. He never, ever smiles, but that’s OK, because it’s all about understated professionalism, innit? But having beaten out Seviper, I doubt Zangoose will be considered for a serious team. Although I do admire his aesthetic, and that’s no homo.
Ask any mouthy young girl and she’ll agree – there’s too many snakes around. Seviper may have lost the duel with Zangoose in this crucial writeup, but he can still score points for you. House burglaries seem to be rampant in my area lately, or should I say rampant in all areas in case you find out where I live and realise it’s a house-breaking blackspot. Well here’s the bad news: when it comes to defending your home, a dog – even a big Doberman – will do sod all for you. If the housebreaker gives Ripper a tasty treat, then he’ll immediately stop barking and fall in line with the enemy. So I’m thinking, imagine having a huge, poisonous snake roaming around your downstairs floor, and using that as a deterrent to ward off thieves? I’d sooner take my chances with a Houndoom or a Herdier than mix it up with a sssinisssterly sssmiling sssnake, wouldn’t you?
I’ll say this, I had to rub my eyes a little and do a double-take when I saw that a wild moon had popped out of the grass to fight me. One of the more esoteric examples of version exclusive Pokémon, Lunatone and its brother Solrock eventually went on to be mascot Pokémon for Pokémon Sun and Moon. Actually, they didn’t, the poor blighters, and I doubt if you could even catch either in those games. But look, though I could never hope to pull off using Lunatone in battle, in much the same way as I could never pull off a leather jacket, I admit I’m very much enthused by the prospect of dropping the moon on your hapless enemies. Try Song of Time-ing your way out of that one, chump.
Or if dropping the moon won’t work, then why not incinerate them instead? A lot of people tend to agree that it was around Generation 3 that the amount of Legendary Pokémon available to the child protagonist was getting a little excessive. Can you imagine your snotty 10-year-old cousin, the one who comes to your house at the worst possible times and absolutely runs amuck with all of your games and other possessions, could you imagine that cousin having a Pokémon with the ability to distort time, or change the weather or create and destroy life as we know it? But never mind the Legendaries – improper use of Solrock could very well result in solar flares destroying half the country. I know it’s only a rocky facsimile of the sun, but take no chances – we’ve already had Pokémon that can suck your soul out through your eyes. Melting a continent or two should be easy work for Solrock. Get one for your team and nobody will bother you again.
I was all ready to dismiss Whishy here, saying that you’d get laughed at for using Seaking even, so what chance does a derpy fish have. But then Whiscash shuts me right up with the powerful Earthquake move running off its Ground typing, and then slaps me about a bit with its whiskers. I’m not exactly a fisherman, or even a man o’ sea, so I’m never to be found using fishies in my team – I’d rather eat ‘em. But Whiscash has a little bit of flair, a little bit about him, that might make him worth considering. I say might.
There is something about Crawdaunt’s bulky, non-aerodynamic body and messy design that puts me right off. Don’t get me wrong, I’d scream and run a mile if I was out on the beach, getting buried or building sandcastles or making little rivers and moats and then suddenly it’s a giant enemy crab in front of my face. Something similar to that happened to me in Spain, where I was building a massive sandcastle and dune complex, only to suddenly become aware that I was surrounded by a smattering of cockroaches, maybe ten in all, in various compass directions around me. I barely escaped with my life. If you’re battling someone on the beach and you reckon you can put the frighteners on somebody with Crawdaunt, then go right ahead. Otherwise, he’s probably not worth it.
As unsettling as it is unrelenting, Claydol looks like it might be some sort of ancient civilisation’s answer to nuclear weaponry. I saw a drone the other day that looked just like the Millenium Falcon, but in general, I’d have to say that drone aesthetics are currently very boring. If I’m dropping bombs remotely on top of Syrian non-combatants, I’d want to look good doing it. Putting an entire papier mache mould of an F-14 Tomcat over such a drone sounds like just the ticket, and I don’t care if it becomes a lot less airworthy as a result. But I’m thinking Claydol would make an even better candidate for such bombings. It looks like something that your old Jewish grandmother would have kept in an old dining room, containing the local rabbi’s ashes. Then woosh! It unleashes fire and fury across the land. Your Claydol in the Pokémon games can’t do that, of course. But it intimidates me, and that’s enough.
To Be Continued!