Tribulations of Great Pokémon 1
by, 27th April 2011 at 12:15 PM (616 Views)
And now I am going to start a series of articles dedicated to seeing the competitively-lauded Pokémon of any drawbacks they have that makes them hard to find or raise with the prospect that you have a rewarding Pokémon to battle with. Basically, if you use simulators for your battling needs, you will never have experienced the hardships of getting a certain strong Pokémon, as the simulator basically generates the Pokémon you needed. In light of this, some would scoff at certain players for getting a certain Pokémon very easily (speaking of legendaries), like through hacking. What players can consider to be some of the weaker Pokémon might also be some of the easiest to raise, like Rattata and Pidgey, because of their availability. So basically, this article is talking about the difficulties on raising said strong Pokémon to contrast any article that prefers to talk about why easy-to-raise Pokémon can’t hold a candle to those big names.
Each of these entries will contain 5 fully-evolved Pokémon that is great in competitive battling, by the way. To kick-start this, I will look at only Generation 1 Pokémon. In there, I will explain what’s great about them, their possible drawbacks and what kind of possible external drawbacks these Pokémon possibly may have that balances their abilities out. It will end with whether I think the Pokémon is well-designed in balanced or not. Do keep in mind that these articles are more sporadic in appearance, so don't expect the next one so soon. With that, let’s begin!
Let’s start with one of the best Pokémon in Generation 1. What made Alakazam great at that time? First of all, Alakazam is a Psychic-type, and what makes that a noteworthy trait? Psychic was a very domineering type in those days, because there isn’t much to resist Psychic attacks (only Psychics can do that), and their weaknesses are ill-defined, because the only Ghost attack that is worth mentioning is Lick (not to mention not being effective initially), and Bug has weak attacks. Talk about type imbalance! Anyway, there were also other Psychic-types at that time, but the question is: what makes Alakazam stood out? Well, first of all, Alakazam has a very high Special stat, and that stat worked differently in those days. It functions as both offence and defence on the Special side, so Pokémon with low Special is not going to stand up well against Alakazam, like Golem. Alakazam is also a very fast Pokémon, and this is itself an advantage too. It’s because besides going first, there’s a greater chance to get a critical hit the slower the foe is.
While Generation 2 split the Special stat and introduced Dark-types, making it harder for Psychics to be overbearing, Alakazam was still powerful, because of the powerful moves he has in his disposal. Generation 4 was a bit of a nerf for him, as Dark-types were made Physical, which is always bad news to him, so Alakazam is made susceptible to some dangerous moves like Pursuit and Sucker Punch, but he is still powerful all the same. In Generation 5, Alakazam got Magic Guard as a Hidden Ability, which is always an awesome thing to him, and it shows because Life Orb will give a free boost, making Alakazam an offensive terror once again. If you are concerned with his safety, you can give him a Focus Sash, and the good thing is that residual damage won't break its effect, meaning that you will be sure to have the effect. Alakazam’s drawback is mainly his weaker Physical side, since he cannot fully make use of Physical attacks, hence the main reason he indirectly lost the elemental punches in Generation 4.
Alright, now we get to the external drawbacks of raising an Alakazam. We will start from the beginning of Alakazam’s lifecycle, and that is his pre-pre-evolution Abra. I am not entirely sure whether players remember this, but if you meet an Abra, what’s the first thing you think it will do? If you guessed “attack”, I am sure a lot of people will be in disagreement. Actually, the correct answer is...wait for it...Teleport! Yes, Abra only has one move to use, and it will always use it. The worst part? Abra is considered fast, so you have to be quick with getting Abra. There are ways to circumvent this, like Taunt or even trapping moves and abilities, but back in the day, you have to essentially catch Abra with a ball immediately. Of course, after you catch it, there’s the issue of levelling it up, because Abra doesn’t come with any attacks. This is a job for...TMs! That’s right, Abra can learn TMs despite the limited level-up moveset, and in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, there’s a free Hidden Power near the beginning of your journey, so that’s a nice way of allowing Abra to fend itself. In any way, if you evolve it into a Kadabra, you get your first true attack: Confusion.
Kadabra’s movepool is quite decent at that point (especially support), but you can always evolve it into Alakazam, who has a similar movepool but better, so you essentially have no drawbacks by evolving (except perhaps that Eviolite boost). However, Kadabra isn’t like a conventional Pokémon that evolves by levelling up, because you need to trade! Kadabra is one of the Pokémon that evolves by trade, which is a troublesome process, because if you want to keep the Pokémon, you have to trade twice: one to the other device and one back to you. If the other player wants to have trade evolutions, then at least the trades can be mutual. Of course, there’s always using your own second device to achieve the same goal.
Alakazam's ability Magic Guard is a very good one, so you will definitely want to go to the Dream World to claim one, where there's a Spooky Manor to get it. The thing is, Abra is only available if you have at least 10,000 points in the account, so a bit of grinding is involved. If you are done, you have to play a minigame there and hope that you wind up with an Abra, because you don't always get the Pokemon you want, and you want one which is a female because that way, you can breed it to get some Egg Moves.
While it’s not a direct drawback, this is also another challenge to raising Alakazam. Maybe you want to get good Egg Moves like Encore and Barrier. Here’s the thing: Alakazam is a dominantly male Pokémon, meaning finding a female is less common, so chances of getting an Abra generator is low, but it’s not as bad as the starters or fossil Pokémon. It’s even harder to find female versions of them!
The challenges in raising an Alakazam may not be very hard to overcome based on those characteristics, but at least there are some setbacks to raising this great Pokémon. It at least makes the whole raising process worthwhile. Overall, I would say that Alakazam is an all-around balanced Pokémon.
Gengar is up next. Like Alakazam, Gengar had a very high Special stat. However, unlike Alakazam, Gengar have to resort in non-STAB attacks because both of its types were Physical. But that didn’t make Gengar any worse, because as the first Ghost Pokémon, Gengar has a significant role. As a Ghost-type, Gengar has two immunities, which are always welcomed. It’s a good thing that Gengar has Levitate in Generation 3 and beyond, as that’s an extra immunity in addition to one less weakness. Gengar’s not bad offensively either, as it has some good attacks to use even before Generation 4, despite not have STAB moves at that time, Thunderbolt and Ice Punch being the main examples. Sometimes, Explosion can be used to be able to deal with Pokémon who are very defensive on the Special side (not in Generation 5, though; Explosion is less powerful there). As the Generations went by, so is Gengar’s movepool of good moves. It got Will-O-Wisp, Taunt, Disable, Pain Split and Trick as some of the moves, and in Generation 5, Gengar is still a good Pokémon because it’s not only fast, but a fast Ghost-type. Gengar is frail, however, so care should be taken in the face of a powerful attacker.
One of the setbacks of raising a Gastly to a Gengar is trade evolution, like Alakazam. As I have mentioned before, you need another device to fully unlock the potential that is Gengar, as Haunter cannot evolve in any other way. Like Alakazam, there are no drawbacks for Haunter to evolve into Gengar, because you won’t lose out on any moves or have any stat reductions. In fact, Gengar learns some better moves that Haunter simply didn’t get the chance to learn, like Focus Blast and Thunder, so unless you want to preserve looks (or use Eviolite), evolving is the better decision, only if you have the technology in hand. This is mostly in context with in-game, since it’s not always an attractive option to trade. However, you can catch a Gengar in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, if you have any Generation 3 carts inserted in your DS (Lite).
Gengar’s family is powerful, I can give you that, but one look at Gastly’s movepool tells us that we won’t be making use of their power in the beginning. If you do not take advantage of Egg Moves or TMs (or catch one with a high level), you have to level up for some time to get your first Special move (Night Shade is not based on power, so that’s not counted). This makes having Gastly around very tedious, because you cannot dish out that power, but at least you can annoy your opponent in the meantime, like through Confuse Ray and Hypnosis. Or, you can always teach Gastly Hidden Power in the mean time. That works too. This is a real doozy in the first three Generations because in its movepool, Dream Eater is the only move that is considered Special amongst the Physical Ghost attacks. Here’s a tip: if you want Dream Eater or Nightmare, keep Hypnosis.
Another of Gengar’s setback is the movepool. Most of the moves that are best on Gengar are obtained through external sources. In the past, TMs were limited, and some of Gengar’s best moves come from TMs. This means that you have to pay up for TMs and Move Tutors for most of Gengar’s moves, because most of the great moves come from those areas. Of course, TMs are not limited anymore, so you can use them as many times as you wish. Some of the good moves that you have to pay a cost to get are Substitute, Pain Split and Trick, and you need to get Disable as an Egg Move.
I think Gengar’s a balanced Pokémon, since the best Gengars can require some effort to get. However, Gengar’s a great Pokémon, so if you exert that effort, it will usually pay off. At least that’s what I think, anyway.
Machamp is a Pokémon that wasn’t truly great until Generation 4, because it indirectly gained the elemental punches. Not only that, Machamp gained a new ability called No Guard, making it even more threatening because now there is no penalty in using some less accurate moves like Stone Edge and DynamicPunch. Machamp also has a reasonable bulk that allows it to be able to survive some of the weaker attacks, which means that it is able to be an offensive threat to a lot of Pokémon. However, Machamp also attract some nasty moves its way, like Will-O-Wisp or Hypnosis, so the ability is not always nice. However, Machamp still has Guts, so it may not be a good to give Machamp the burns. Still, Machamp is on the slow side, so something that can handily take out Machamp is alright, like speedy Psychic or Flying attackers. Ghosts might also give Machamp trouble, especially because they are immune to Fighting and can do some nasty things like confusion or burning.
As with both Alakazam and Gengar, Machamp is a trade evolution. Instead of repeating the points, I will just make it short: basically two devices are required to fully realise the potential of Machamp, and doing this has no drawbacks (unless you want Eviolite to take effect), but trade evolutions are rather troublesome. There is an interesting in-game trade that lets you immediately get Machamp because of the trade, though.
Most of Machamp’s type coverage comes from TMs, Egg Moves and Move Tutors. This may perhaps not be worth mention since other Pokémon usually do the same, but I feel it’s worth mentioning here. Machamp’s level-up list contains mostly Fighting-type moves, so you need other ways to get your type coverage. TMs needed to be obtained first before you can use them, but it’s usually not an issue since you will eventually get them. Three notable moves obtained through TMs are Earthquake, Stone Edge and Payback (plus Focus Punch from Generation 4 if you care). The elemental punches are actually a by-product of Egg Moves and Move Tutors, though. Both of these methods mean that you have to plan your moveset beforehand, because Egg Moves are gone once deleted, while Move Tutors require alternate currency, which are more often than not troublesome to accumulate.
Machamp is also another male-dominant Pokémon, meaning like Alakazam, finding a Machop generator is a slight challenge. Still, it’s not hard as the starters, but you will surely need one because some of the more interesting Egg Moves are from other Pokémon, particularly the elemental punches or Encore.
No Guard is, in essence, a new alternate ability in Generation 4. If you imported Machamp from Generation 3, then you will have some trouble on whether Machamp will have the right ability, because if you want a No Guard one, you have to either hope Machop or Machoke evolve to have it, or you can always check the data to see if it will wind up with the right ability. The latter is not very conducive to the average player, though. Speaking of alternate abilities, having two abilities means that you have less chance of getting the right Pokémon in breeding.
Is Machamp balanced? I seem to think so, because Machamp is quite strong, but you need some maintenance to get the one you want, and the fact that you have to trade to evolve means that it’s not always used in the game story by anyone.
It’s probably hard to believe when I said it, but Cloyster had a huge Base Stat Total in Generation 1, rivalling Gyarados and nearing those of the legendary Pokémon themselves. Anyway, this is one of the reasons Cloyster was great: the stats were awesome. However, Generation 2 gave Cloyster low Special Defence, which is a pity. However, Generation 2 gave Cloyster Spikes and Rapid Spin, Generation 3 gave Icicle Spear, Generation 4 provided Skill Link (ability), Toxic Spikes, Rock Blast, and Ice Shard, and Generation 5 gave it a stronger Rock Blast and Icicle Spear, Shell Smash, Icicle Crash, and Razor Shell. Not bad additions! They definitely make Cloyster a very good Pokémon to use, so you have to watch out for it if it did appear, as it can be a supporter that places lots of entry hazards and spin them away, or it can be an offensive one and shoot lots of rocks or icicles on foes. However, Cloyster, being an Ice-type, has some nasty weaknesses, along with a very low Special Defence, which are crucial drawbacks for this Pokémon.
Anyway, Cloyster has the privilege of using a Water Stone to evolve. If a Pokémon uses a Stone to evolve, their level-up movepool becomes limited as well, in most cases (Eeveelutions come off as some of the exceptions). Cloyster can only learn a few moves it otherwise cannot learn as a Shellder, so you have to learn the Shellder-exclusive moves beforehand, and that requires planning on the player’s part. For example, Shell Smash and Razor Shell are Shellder-only moves, so you must decide if you want an offensive Cloyster, because once you forget those moves, you cannot turn back. This is a very severe setback, so keep that in mind if you want a Cloyster.
Cloyster also requires lots and lots of experience to level-up, with 1,250,000 at level 100. It sounds trivial I am sure, but if you actually play the game, you will realise that reaching that point can take quite a long time. Remember that Cloyster requires the Water Stone to evolve, so if you have a move that you want to learn as a Shellder, you have to keep Shellder in its form to be able to learn the moves you want first, and some of those moves can take some time to get to, so in a way, Cloyster evolves late.
Like Machamp, Cloyster has a new alternate ability in Generation 4. Therefore, if you imported a Shellder, you have to hope that it will get Skill Link after evolution if you want it. Due to two abilities, you have half the time to get the right ability through breeding, which is pretty crucial if you are going to get a Shellder with Rock Blast, as that move works best with Skill Link.
Although Cloyster may not have seen a lot of play in simulators because of a Stealth Rock weakness, it cannot be denied that Cloyster is still a force to reckon or a tank to consider. Therefore, it’s easy to say that Cloyster is quite a balanced Pokémon, because Cloyster has the advantage of defence, ability to place entry hazards and deceptively powerful offence, but setbacks include patience because Shellder only learns some of the better moves Cloyster is not able to learn. In other words, the amount of effort in raising a Cloyster is fair and just.
Finally, the aquatic terror that is known as Gyarados, or the initial name Skullkraken. Gyarados is essentially made to be a great Pokémon, and it’s purposely made to have a very weak pre-evolution to compensate for its power. With those stats, you can even say that Gyarados is already destined to be a great Pokémon! Gyarados had a good Special stat, which means that at that time, Gyarados can even make use of the Special attacks that it learns to be even more of a terror. However, Gyarados wound up with a weaker Special Attack stat, meaning the days of special attacking is over. Gyarados became better in Generation 3, though, because Dragon Dance and Intimidate are added in its movepool, which are traits that will have made Gyarados a very good Pokémon. Generation 4 had essentially given it a more usable Physical movepool, which would have made Gyarados very dangerous. The notable moves that Gyarados got are Stone Edge, Waterfall and possibly Ice Fang. Of course, Gyarados still needs to be wary of Electric attacks, or else it will be shocked to death, which sounds like a reasonable weakness if you ask me.
I am sure that by now, you know you have to train the weak Magikarp in order to get a strong Gyarados, right? Of course you do. But for the sake of this article, I will elaborate on this setback anyway. Getting a Magikarp is very easy, because you can even catch them with the Old Rod, and in any convenient water area also. Or, you can just grab a Magikarp from a Magikarp salesman, which works too. These versions of Magikarps are low-levelled, so you will need to train them up to that stage. However, there is one problem: Magikarp has a barren movepool. Magikarp only has three moves within level-up range, and a move tutor move that it’s not worth using unless you want it on your Gyarados. You also cannot resort the TMs or Egg Moves for help, unlike Abra, so you need other Pokémon’s help to give the experience to Magikarp. What’s more: Magikarp is a slow leveller, so you have to dedicate a bit more levelling attention to this Pokémon to get your strong Gyarados. Even as a Gyarados, you need to dedicate a lot of experience in getting some of the better moves like Dragon Dance.
Another setback is that Magikarp cannot learn Egg Moves. If your pre-evolution is not able to gain Egg Moves, then you know your strong Pokémon cannot gain Egg Moves as well. My point is: Gyarados is unable to start with strong moves because Magikarp just cannot learn them! This would mean that Gyarados is denied Egg Moves for eternity, which can be a good thing, because this means that it cannot possibly earn even better moves.
Having your very own Gyarados from Magikarp is nice and dandy and all, but there is really another problem with this. You see, if you evolve Magikarp to Gyarados at Level 20, you should have two moves plus one you just learnt as a Gyarados. The moves are Splash, Tackle and Bite. These moves are not very strong, so you cannot immediately take advantage of Gyarados’ terrific power, because your next best Physical move doesn’t come until much later. Hyper Beam, Aqua Tail or even Ice Fang are some of the future moves that you will get, though. This is why there’s an advantage in getting a Gyarados first: Gyarados comes with Thrash, which is very powerful compared with Tackle that Magikarp will come with, so raising one Magikarp from young does have its other difficulties. Of course, Gyarados is harder to find and capture, so getting one has its own difficulties too! Again, TMs to the rescue if you really needed a strong move that badly.
Eh...it’s hard to say whether Gyarados is balanced or not. I am inclined to say it is, because you are forced to train a Magikarp to get a Gyarados, especially if you want to breed one with good IVs and Nature. Gyarados is, on the other hand a terror in its own right, but a terror like this needs a lot of experience to become its strongest. It’s a good thing that Gyarados is not part Dragon, though, because that would mean that Gyarados may be overpowered, seeing as how there won’t be any notable weaknesses already. Being part-Flying has its quirks (like avoiding entry hazards), and the weakness to Electric and Rock are both reasonable drawbacks, so it’s not all that bad.
It’s hard to say whether I am doing a good job here, since I am not even a competitive battler, but I wanted to do these type of articles because it’s an idea that came to me to justify that great Pokémon has their own challenges in raising them, just as great people has their own challenges to overcome. Maybe I missed out some things, so if I do, feel free to point them out! Anyway, I think it’s a good start, so I may be doing more of these in the future. In the comments, you can suggest five more (different fully-evolved) Pokémon I should look at, but those Pokémon must have good competitive viability. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing them.
Thanks for reading.
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