Poison types of Generation 1 (Part 3) - winstein's Review
by, 10th December 2010 at 10:24 AM (957 Views)
I am actually starting to become busy in real-life, but I found time to finish up this one, which I started before that busy phase, so that there's something to read for all of you in the meantime. Anyway, we come to the 3rd part of the Poison-types, and only two families will be covered this time.
Ekans and Arbok
In terms of anagrams, I am sure by now that every Pokémon fan knows where their names come from. In case you *still* have no idea, Ekans is backwards for "snake" and Arbok is backwards for "kobra" (because "K" is a kool letter). Not to mention, their names from other languages also got the backwards name treatment for their equivalent of the word snake, even Japan! Chinese ones are an exception, where it’s a transliteration. These names might be criticised for the lack of creativity, but Generation 1 Pokémon are immune to the effects of fan criticism (naturally), so they can get away with their seemingly uninspired names.
As the first serpentine Pokémon, they went for the venomous aspect of snakes. In the PokéDex entries, the bite of Ekans is said to be harmless, but only just-born ones. Ekans also mirror certain behaviour from snakes, like eating eggs that belongs to birds (even though I think any Pokémon egg can be a meal too), sneaks quietly in grass to ambush prey (thus the ability to learn Sucker Punch/Surprise Attack makes sense), and their tongue also acts as his/her olfactory sensory (to sense prey or danger). Arbok, on the other hand, is more deadly, due to the more poisonous bites he/she has, and his/her stronger "embrace", and not to mention relentless determination. There are two lesser-known qualities Arbok possess: the ability to detect vibrations and regeneration. The games don’t demonstrate this, but instead, it's the anime and manga that demonstrates them respectively. In the Pokémon Adventures manga, Arbok's body pattern also determines his/her ability, like attack-boosting and the aforementioned regeneration. This would have been a very good in-game gimmick, where abilities determine hood pattern, but since Arbok was created earlier than the concept of in-game abilities, it probably will never happen.
While Ekans didn't look very intimidating due to the round head, scattered eyes and toothless jaws, Arbok is actually more intimidating. Borrowing elements from a real life cobra, Arbok's hood and its pattern displays a tool of intimidation. Ekans also has a round tongue, which is not how a snake's real tongue looks, which makes Ekans even less scary. To Ekans’ consolation, he/she does have the rattle, so with it, Ekans can be threatening too! Seriously, Ekans hardly looks scary. Therefore, Intimidate and Tension are logical abilities. It would be interesting to see how shed Ekans and Arbok skin looks like, though, regarding their other ability Shed Skin.
Both were popular to an extent, due to their participation in the anime as Jessie’s first Pokémon. Her Pokémon started as an Ekans, and has an amazing losing record. Although the Pokémon doesn't seem like a good fit for Jessie (to me at least), it seems that they shared a strong bond, and was even Jessie's first Pokémon. For example, in Diglett's first episode, when Jessie wanted her Ekans to evolve, then her Ekans evolved into Arbok. In another scenario, when Arbok wasn't chosen to participate in a film, he/she was daunted, but Jessie cheered him/her up through motivation. Finally, Jessie left her Arbok in the Hoenn arc in order to protect a group of Ekans, and how does the Arbok feel? Sad, of course! Sadly, no matter which other Ekanses or Arboks appears, none can take over the memorability of Jessie's first Pokémon.
In competitive battling, Arbok mainly uses his/her higher Attack stat to be offensive, and utilise Glare, a paralysis move that can even affect Ground-types. Basically, Arbok is often a physical attacker that uses some of his/her decent offensive moves like Earthquake and Physical Poison attacks (and in Generation 4 onwards, Crunch). In Generation 5, Arbok appreciates certain improvements. Glare’s accuracy shoots up to 90%, making it a better move than it already was. Disable becomes 100%, and more important, Arbok could learn Coil Around, which is a serpentine move that raises Attack, Defence and Accuracy, which means that Gunk Shot is better to use, since it can become more accurate on the target. While the improvements are nice, it might not be enough to make Arbok stand out.
Oh, and there's one thing I think every will find funny. I will ask you a question: does Arbok evolve into Seviper? Any savvy Pokémon fan knows that this is ridiculous, but the anime managed to make that blunder that still fuels the fire for 4Kids hatred for many fans (note the alliteration). Isn't that disastrous! Still, Ekans and Arbok are cool, but ordinary kind of cool. Sure, both of them are based on poisonous snakes that you can command, which is the cool part, but since snakes like that exist in real life, and the fact that there are other kinds of Pokémon that seems cooler to possess like living sludge, pitcher plants, or even the ones below, I feel that both of them paled in comparison to those I described in terms of cool factor. Don't get me wrong, they are still great, but they probably could be better, like maybe a more draconian evolution.
7 toxins out of 10!
Nidoran♀, Nidorina and Nidoqueen;
Nidoran♂, Nidorino and Nidoking
These are Pokémon who existed with a concept before its time. In the 1st Generation, none of the Pokémon displays information of their gender, meaning that any information on gender is unknown until you import your Pokémon to the 2nd Generation of games. However, these Pokémon are special. What makes them special? They already have a gender in the time when a Pokémon's gender isn't revealed. Even when the concept of genders was introduced, Nidoran♀ and Nidoran♂ still have their own individual PokéDex entry.
While the future Pokémon games designates Pokémon with gender differences into the same PokéDex entry for both genders, this family is one of the few to have separate PokéDex entries for each gender. This comes with certain advantages, actually. For one, they are allowed to have a different name. They are also privileged to have different Base Stats and movepool, in addition to several visual gender differences like horn size and breastplates. Those are qualities future Pokémon with gender differences cannot boast. My point is: they are the first Pokémon to have true sexual dimorphism.
Their innate behaviour is also shown to be different, too. Usually, males are more aggressive, and females are gentler, and the Nidorans are no different. Nidorina and Nidoqueen are rather motherly, and Nidorino and Nidoking are rather fierce as well. All of them are spiky, which means touching them must be dangerous, and it is: it’s poisonous to touch them! Nidoqueen and Nidoking’s PokéDex entries also compliments on their thick hide, which is a trait found on rhinos and elephants. Speaking of rhinos, their rivalry for their like-gendered kin also matches the real animal.
Here's an oddity: on the female side, Nidoran♀ is the only member that can breed, but the other two are incapable of doing so. Technically, this doesn't make any difference, because female Pokémon cannot pass Egg Moves, so no harm done. But still, you have to keep this in mind, so you won't foolishly try to breed Nidorina or Nidoqueen and expect children. Even though both of the families possess a single gender each, Nidoran♀ is capable of producing Nidorans♂ as offspring even when the parent isn’t a member of the male Nidoran family. They are not able to boast this signature specialty now, because there is another pair of Pokémon who can do the same.
It’s hard to pinpoint their animal origins, because they seem like hybrids to the point that they don’t look like any particular animal. Nidorans of the 1st stage look more like rabbits, due to their long ears and buckteeth. Their 2nd stage, on the other hand, started deviating from this characteristic, where they are more rabid. For some reason, their 3rd stage requires a Moon Stone to work, but I doubt it had something to do with the term "honeymoon". Anyway, they look more like monstrous rhinocerous at this stage, and because of their progressively monstrous evolution, they are quite popular with the crowd who like things that look strong and beastly (and mutated).
In the anime, four of the Nidoran members appeared in the episode "Wherefore Art Thou, Pokémon", an Orange Archipelago episode. In that episode, a couple kids were not in good terms with each other, but their respective Nidorans were, and of course, love is always the answer, because when the Nidorans battled Team Rocket through cooperation, it got their trainers to settle their differences. After the battle, the Nidorans kissed and they evolved into their respective evolutions (Tracey wondered if the battling or the kiss triggered the evolution, triggering a violent reaction from Misty).
Even in competitive battling, they have different competitive styles: Nidoqueen is the more defensive one, and Nidoking is the more offensive member. Therefore, Nidoqueen is better as a supporter and Nidoking is better as an attacker. They possess similar moves, but in the end, Nidoking is the more offensive, and the horn on his head let him use more reckless attacks like Megahorn, Skull Bash or even Head Smash, and Nidoqueen pulls off the supporting role better with moves like Charm or possibly Pursuit.
In terms of abilities, both male and female lines have the same ones for each stage of evolution, which no doubt makes sense because they are basically the same species. Their 1st one, Poison Point, stem from their spiky body and overall poisonous nature. While it's an annoying in-game ability, it's not a likely ability you will take advantage of in competitive battling. Their 2nd one was a then-new ability Rivalry. Yes, the power boost is a great thing, but power reduction is not. Since nobody uses Attract + strong attacks in case either gender shows up, that must be an uninteresting strategy then. Usually, many would go for Poison Point because it seems like the reliable choice...until now. The 3rd ability (Dream World) is different between the first two and the last one of each evolutionary line. The first two members have Hustle, while the final evolutions have Brute Force, a much needed boost. It's actually the most useful ability of them all, because its power boost is more reliable and easier to take advantage of. Just an interesting bit of trivia: Darumakka and Hihidaruma have similar inherited abilities as their Dream World abilities.
In Generation 1, they were just decent offensive Pokémon with great offensive moves. Generation 2 had an interesting addition to their movepool: Lovely Kiss. This is an event move, but it’s a very welcomed addition. For those who don’t know, that move puts the target Pokémon to sleep 75% of the time. That made them more troublesome to deal with, indeed. But because anything from Generation 2 stays in Generation 2, they didn’t retain the move in Generation 3. All is not lost thankfully. While there were some worthwhile additions in Generation 3 like Choice Band and Focus Punch, Generation 4 benefitted them because of the Physical and Special split. Not to mention, they are able to learn Toxic Spikes, in addition to Stealth Rock, not to mention their ability to absorb those Toxic Spikes. Nidoqueen is easily the better practitioner of those moves, actually, due to her better defences.
Introduced in Generation 5, Brute Force allows both Nidoqueen and Nidoking to utilise their Special movepool better, because many of the moves they have there have secondary effects that get a damage boost. Due to Nidoking’s better overall offences, he is the better Pokémon to use the strategy of Life Orb and Special attacks. In case you don’t know, the game works in such a way that when a move is boosted by Brute Force, the penalty of Life Orb is negated, so with that item, both Nidoqueen and Nidoking can inflict a lot of damage with moves like Flamethrower or Thunderbolt, or even Earth Power.
Here’s something to digest: Nidorino is the first of the first Pokémon to be made and shown, where he can be seen in the Capsule Monsters manga that appears much different from the one now, and not to mention Nidorino is on the intro animation of the 1st Generation of games. I am guessing that Nidorino was very notable to the designer (I think it's cool too, I must admit) that he decided to make a female counterpart to him. For some reason, in Pokémon Red and Blue, Nidorino cries like a Nidorina in Professor Oak’s introduction. Glitch or effemination? You decide.
They are one of the best representatives for the Poison-type in general and the Pokémon of Generation 1, because their designs are one of the most interesting at that time, due to their monstrous life cycle and overall cool factor. If there’s one thing I would like future generations to do, it’s to make a Pokémon that has sexual dimorphism that goes beyond aesthetic flavour, like them.
10 toxins out of 10!
And...we're not done with Generation 1 yet! Yes, there are still three more families left before we're done, and they have something in common, besides their Poison-type. Can you guess what is it? I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing them.
Thanks for reading.
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