Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 18) NOTX
Welcome to the fourth Generation of Pokémon, where Fire-types were thin on the ground, the Champions and high-level Trainers were getting sexier and the action came to you across two, count ’em, two screens. Twice the screens had to mean twice the Poké Power, right? Well, below we’ll look at pretty much the same old stereotypes – the three starters, the birb, the Normal annoyer, and the bugs. But listen, don’t panic, because it won’t be all that long before we get to proper big-hitters like Chatot.
Pokémon battles can wear on for a long time, so you need to make sure you pick a few fighters with staying power. We know that tortoises can live up to 150 years, and that there are trees out there over 5,000 years old. So when you multiply 150 and 5,000 together, you get… probably an error when I’m the one using the calculator, but we can conclude that there’s no easily getting rid of Torterra. It’s not going to move for you or for anyone in a hurry, true, and in fact careless handling of your Torterra could lead to it becoming overcome by moss and living out the rest of its days as part of the geology. Still, we need more trees and not less, right? And that really is a rather fetching tree on its back.
I’m sure you will have suffered the heartbreak of having a great joke, story or bon-mot lined up, only for someone to snatch it from right under your nose before you got the chance to spit it out. Even worse still is if you say it too quietly, and then in comes well-hung Chad to repeat it at volume and steal all your laughs and glory. Infernape would have been held up as a legend in the Starter Pokémon, Fire and Fighting disciplines, if only Blaziken hadn’t got there ahead of him. But hey, I’m not writing him off – Infernape will do some serious work for you in battle. Just know that he is the Pepsi to Blaziken’s Coca-Cola. Or maybe the Heineken to Blaziken’s Carlsberg? I don’t particularly want to get into arguments over drink preferences, to be honest.
Now this is what you call Pokémon design. I don’t think I would have ever thought about making any Pokémon a penguin inspired by Napoleon, let alone as a Starter – they’re almost up there with Pikachu and Mr. Mime on the top step, you know. And it definitely was inspired by Napoleon, because they’re even the same height. I think most people know by now that Napoleon wasn’t especially short, this was just propaganda from the British. Not that they’d ever do a thing like that, right? But Napoleon was in and around average height at the time, though we have gotten taller since. Does that mean that one day, we’ll absolutely tower over Empoleon, until he looks more and more like the Piplup he came from? Take that one to bed with you tonight.
You would expect the cute little bird that lands in your garden, or two minutes away on Route 1, to be fairly useless. You know, a good little trier, a friendly companion for most of the game, and a great creature to stick the Fly HM on so that he can whisk you away anywhere you need to go. That’s enough to make him quite useful, but otherwise you wouldn’t dream of bringing that poor owl or pigeon or gull into a top-level battle. But along comes Staraptor, the terminator, the predator, even the alien of birds. He’ll still get shot down with Ice Beam of course, but you won’t believe the amount of dirty work Staraptor can do for you. He’s viable in any game you find him in, and you can use him in a proper dust-up against a foe and not worry about being laughed at. Pidgeot can move over, because there’s a new top dog bird in town.
You’re probably better off keeping him as the Bidoof he started out as – he’ll instantly have a lot more street credibility (more like meme potential) and anyway, you’re hardly likely to throw a big doof into battle unless you’re really desperate. Where Bidoof and Bibarel have historically done their best work is as what they call a HM slave, a poor sucker to stick essential moves like Surf, Strength and Rock Smash onto. Bibarel happens to be the best HM slave around, which does present some interesting ethical questions. After all, I think we’re all fine nowadays with seeking out these animals, ensnaring them, keeping them in cramped conditions, never feeding them, and raising them only to fight other animals. That’s all fine. But slavery? Isn’t that taking it a bit too far…?
Sometimes all you need is that one little selling point, that one little way of getting remembered. With his famous cry, showing off the admittedly impressive capabilities the DS had, Kricketune achieved that and then some. Certainly his lengthy bug moustache didn’t hurt either. Of course, you know that your common garden bugs are an absolute no-no in any kind of Pokémon battle – they might send the odd Lass screaming and running out of the Battle Tower, but otherwise they will be squished in very short order. Still, you won’t forget Kricketune, and even if he never wins a battle, so what? I’d rather lose a hundred battles and be remembered, than win fifty and be forgotten. Actually… what am I saying? The more I’m remembered, the more people want a piece of me, and I can’t be bothered with that.
You see, this is the kind of design we’re simply missing these days – a bit, dark electric cat, or I suppose you’d have to call it a lion. Again, little Shinx is a ‘Mon that can be had easily and early on, and with a versatile combination of Electric and Dark moves, it’ll take you right the way through the game, so long as you remember your type match-up chart. You already know that lions are the king of the jungle – can you imagine crossbreeding a lion with an electric eel? Yes, you’ve got an electro-lion, an even more terrifying apex predator. Dress that Godforsaken creature up in goth clothing and you have Luxray. I highly recommend making use of any and all electro-lions you may find for your personal army, though you don’t need me to tell you that.
As if Roselia wasn’t small, weak and insignificant enough, along comes Budew. You’d want to have some amount of bottle to actually use this thing in battle. But really the question that nobody at all is asking is: what is Budew good for? It’ll eventually grow up to be a couple of roses, and roses are always a winner on Valentine’s Day. They’re a winner every day of the year actually, so try them next time you’re looking for a bit of favour. But who the hell grows their own? Not me, I’ve got an unblemished record of killing every plant I’ve ever been charged with maintaining. I’ll give you a further tip here, two for one: don’t get your flowers from an actual florist, because they’ll already be at death’s door. Flowers from Tesco, Lidl, Aldi or whatever your local supermarket is will last for weeks without wilting, and as long as you remember to take the tags and stickers off, she’ll be none the wiser to your cheapness. You will have given her flowers with twice the durability for half the price. If you do want to support your local florist, then by all means do so. Just don’t be surprised when their flowers prove to be as fragile and flimsy as Budew.
This is a bit more like it. You know that I’m in touch with my feminine side, but I’d only bring a bouquet of flowers into battle with me if I was sure they could handle themselves, or maybe if I could present them to Sabrina in Saffron City. Roserade here is a set of strong, independent flowers who don’t need no watering. Like those hugely poisonous orchid / foxglove plants you sometimes hear about, chew on them once and you’re a goner. On top of everything else, and again going back to my feminine side, I like Roserade’s hair. You may still have some reservations about sending a medium-sized Grass type into battle, which is quite understandable. And certainly if this thing gets near any naked flames, then the best boys down at the fire station would have a hell of a job containing the blaze. But don’t write off Roserade, she’s a good old battler who looks the part. And if she’s good enough for Cynthia, she’s good enough for you.
You may be familiar with the term ‘glass cannon’. In human terms, this is similar to someone who can dish abuse out, but can’t take it. It pretty much describes me really, and probably several people you know. I’m happy to dish out personal abuse based on any weaknesses, failings or insecurities I pick up on in my opponents, but one armour-piercing comment in the other direction and I’m left in flames. A smouldering wreck really. And so it is the case for Rampardos here, who boasts all the attack strength in the world. But when he misses an attack and cops a Hydro Pump in return… well, he’s already gone extinct once, there’s nothing to say he won’t do it again.
We had the Death Star fossil in Rampardos, the creature capable of handing out destruction on a mad scale until, oops, there was a glaring weakness and he’s gone up in the biggest explosion you’ve ever seen. Well, Bastiodon is the more defensive fossil. Not so defensive that he could prevent his own extinction, or maybe he was just too toothless to properly hunt food. Either way, I always think a defensive Pokémon can do an awful lot for you. Now, some people might conflate the word “defensive” with the words “boring”, or “dull”. But how about the defensive Italian football strategy called Catenaccio? Suddenly when it’s Italian, it sounds great. I’d probably prefer to put Torterra in, if only because it looks less derpy than Bastiodon. But if looks don’t matter to you, then be my guest, and here’s my number.
Before I completely eviscerate this thing, let’s just back up a second – I can respect what Wormadam is trying to do, with the different coats it uses. I know in the game they’re called cloaks, but you put coats in a cloakroom, right? We don’t carry cloaks anymore, or mantles, or capes, and just look at how we’ve lost our way. But anyway, it’s important for a person to have several coats for different occasions. For example I have a Drinking Coat, which has a carrying capacity for cans and bottles that you simply wouldn’t believe. It’s like a suit of alcoholic armour. But then there’s my Paparazzi Coat which makes me look the biz, used for when there’s gonna be high-profile people joining me and the cameras are gonna be out. How hoity toity is that?
Definitely not a favourite of my missus, she runs for the hills whenever even the tiniest moth comes near. To be fair, I do the same with spiders, so we take care of them for each other – you could say that we are symbiotic exterminators, which’ll sound awfully like some kind of so-bad-it’s-good 1980s horror film. Really what I’m trying to say here is that, if you send Mothim Into battle, it’ll only really get a result if people are terrified of moths anyway. To big brave soldiers like me and you, this male version of Wormadam doesn’t wear the trousers, or the cloak for that matter.
To Be Continued!