Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 25)
Every Generation starts off with a bit of juice. You’ve got the Starters, some quickly evolving Bugs, and even the common birds have been taking level ups in coolness. Pidgeot and Fearow, classic though they may be, were hardly far removed from real-life birds. But Staraptor and Talonflame? Now we’re talking. Unfortunately, you do eventually have to get to the cave dwellers and fishing fodder. Bottom of the barrel merchants, these guys. You won’t find Zubat in Unova, you’ll be happy to hear. Instead, it’s… Woobat and Swoobat. So that’s tedious and uninspired, then.
It’s a landslide come to life, ready to hunt you down and spoil your day by hurling jagged rocks at your face. I know it would probably be worse to be boiled alive by a Fire-type Pokémon, or drowned like an unfortunate kitten by a Water-type Pokémon. But is it just me, or would the worst fate be getting thrown against a pebble-dash wall at high speed? I imagine that’s what Gigalith would do to you, if it ever sped itself up enough to get hold of you. This thing looks the part, though I must admit I almost find its pre-evolution Roggenrola cute, almost.
I don’t think even a bat mother could love this thing’s face. I should probably err on the side of caution, in case this thing is ‘differently abled’. But you won’t have much sympathy for this evolutionary line anyway because little Woobat, the pre-evolution, has taken up the mantle of being the Zubat, the annoyer who accosts you at every turn in the dark caves, and never seems to go down in one hit. That’s a positive nod towards its durability and availability, if you’re an optimistic sort. But negative Nellies like me can only ever look at the likes of Swoobat as some kind of weird kid that you’d rather not be around.
I understand Excadrill made a real impact in the old competitive Pokémon metagame back then, and I can see why. I don’t speak from any sort of authority, my main competitive battling insight coming from my days of having two Mewtwos on one team in Red and Blue. Nonetheless, when you’re an Earthquake-firing, steel-clawed mole who just never says die, Smogon nerds are going to sit up and take notice. It looks intimidating, yet at the same time it might even score some cute points in the right light, kind of like a meaner Sonic the Hedgehog. Excadrill has everything going for it, and if you give it a spot on your team, it will have thoroughly earned it. Just don’t give your Excadrill a hug – I tried that once with my Scyther, and now I’m half the man I used to be.
Nothing beats getting something for nothing, and better still when it’s a rotund gentleman dishing out the prize. Audino here seems to be that portly fellow, a pink punching bag that abounds almost all of Pokémon Black & White’s routes (not that there are very many) entices you with a gentle shake of the long grass, and then gives you a heap of Experience Points after an easy fight. I’m quite thankful to Audino for his or her services – Pokémon grinding is some of the worst grinding around, possibly even worse than Dragon Quest grinding – but that doesn’t augur well for Audino’s battling image, either. As if for a laugh, Audino was later bestowed with a Mega Evolution, but I think the damage had already been done. So that’s an absolute no for using Audino in battle, but he’s performing a public service, so props to him for that. After all, you wouldn’t put the bingo caller on the doors as security, would you? Keep this between us though – in life, do everything you can to avoid being an Audino.
These analyses of Pokemon tend to favour battling prowess as well as coolness factor, and if the two can be combined into one big intimidating bastion of awesomeness, then it’s usually a winner. But I’ll always reserve some merit for practical Pokémon too – after all, it’s not like we’re fighting every minute of our lives, are we? Not even the Irish do that, although itinerants I’m not sure about. Imagine having a compliant Conkeldurr about though? He could build you a nifty house extension just like that, and for nowt. Steal the materials from the local building site, perhaps with the Thief move, and you’re all set. And if any pencil-neck comes around wittering on about planning permission, Conkeldurr can respond with a fat steel girder to the face. He’s ugly as sin of course, which is the trade-off. You wouldn’t get sexy Unova Beauties squeeing and rushing over to Conkie like they might for Victini or Cinccino. Actually, you might instead get all of the local dads and Hikers coming down to observe Conkeldurr’s building work instead. Spectate, but never help out. Ugly, strong and practical then, is Conkeldurr. It all just comes down to what type of company you wish to keep.
Not only does this thing sort of sound like your mobile phone vibrating against a hard surface, but it also looks like the old Nokia 3220 with its light-up rubber impact sides. As if a regular Nokia shell wasn’t indestructible, now you had something that would probably crack the floor if you threw it, but would bounce straight back up into your hand like a rubber ball. If Seismitoad can have even half of that durability – and I think he does – he’ll do well on your team. He does look a little dweeby though so maybe don’t send him out until last?
They were always trying to get me into karate when I was a kid. I was a chubby little wetty of course (careful now) so I never bothered with it, but I distinctly remember looking down on karate and taekwondo, and to an extent I still do. Defensive martial arts? What good is that? The Irish are boxers through and through, which means I’d much rather be Hitmonchan than Hitmonthroh. I’m talking about bare knuckle straighteners here now, the types you used to see Lenny McLean doing, stamping on an opponent’s head, the same head that would have just stitched Lenny a loaf. That’s proper fighting – all of the blood and none of the honour. And I doubt Throh could hack it.
Fair enough though, if Throh can’t cut it in a no-holds barred, biting encouraged type of fight, that’s no shame. What Throh needs to be able to do is to take out its blue counterpart, Sawk here. These two are Ken and Ryu, but implicit in that comparison is the fact that one of them is Player 1, the main character, the posterboy, while the other is Player 2, the cast-off. And I rather think Sawk may be the Player 1 here, the leader of the duo, just because he appears leaner, faster, fitter, and more capable of issuing a clinical beatdown. But before you go gambling your savings on Sawk, just know that I never, ever pick winners. They couldn’t have me at Madison Square Garden on Fight Night, I’d be the kiss of death, and the losing fighter would want to stomp on me in the carpark.
Leavanny here would look very nice as an origami project I agree, but to actually use it in your team, you must be joking. I bet you didn’t need me to tell you that this thing is doubly weak to Fire, and what 10-year-old kid isn’t cutting about with a completely impractical Fire-type? I’m not inherently biased against the Grass types either, you know (the Bug type, maybe), if they look mean and wild, I can get behind them. I’m all about Venusaur and Tropius, for example. But even Leavanny’s blankly smiling face annoys me. Kill it – yes – with fire.
The idea of a centipede with its one hundred little sockies and booties does sound quite cute, but if you’ve never seen one, I can tell you that centipedes are absolutely horrendous to witness in real life. Some of them are so fast too, never mind a hundred legs, they must got a hundred horsepower. Not really the type of insect you’d see much of in Ireland, thank God, and I’d probably be too squeamish to have a big, fat, merely four legged one like Scolipede on my team. I do like the idea of a bulky Bug though, so if you want to use one, go right ahead – just keep it well away from me.
Oh good God in heaven. Look, I do understand that Whimsicott has a niche. Little girls and, I suppose, girls whose hearts aren’t completely stone cold would have a real fondness for an effervescent Grass type (and later the Fairy type) like Whimsicott. But, and there’s no way to say this without sounding like a massive sexist, we don’t want to be looking like a little girl in battle. Or heaven forbid, a pansy. Take this one home to your mother or something, if you’re not gonna have kids. She’ll still be disappointed in you but at least you’ll soften the blow.
Certainly there has to come a point when Pokémon names and designs start becoming forgettable to you. We do have over a thousand of them across all Dexes now, after all. And I have to be honest with you, it’s this mass clump of Grass types in the Unova Dex that has me utterly stumped. You could tell me Lilligant was the name of an intensely strong anti-depression drug, and I’d believe you. One Pokémon I didn’t forget is Tsareena, a long-legged Grass type that seems to be a better model than Lilligant in almost every way. Lilligant’s thighs are fat, sure, but I think they’d struggle to crush windpipes, unlike Tsareena’s. Wow, was that a non-sequitur or what?
Every Generation and region has its ugly, useless fish, and Basculin is Unova’s. It did later become a rideable fish called Basculegion in the genuinely quite good Pokémon Legends: Arceus game. And I suppose a small selling point is the fact that there are red-striped, blue-striped and white-striped variants of Basculin. Wonderful news, that. It means you’ve got to catch three of them. Look, this is just a Dex filler that’s somehow able to hit you with a Zen Headbutt. Like many latter day Pokémon ideas, that sounds like it should be badass, but it’s just not.
To Be Continued!