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Tribulations of Great Pokémon 13

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by , 21st December 2012 at 01:23 PM (576 Views)
I decided to exercise my commitment and get another Tribulations of Great Pokémon done, because I felt motivated to move on with this. The gist of this series is to look at the difficulties associated with raising the Pokémon in video games, since simulators won’t replicate the effort you need to put in raising great Pokémon. After choosing five Pokémon I decided to cover, I am ready. Are you? I hope!


It’s the third article in a row for Generation 3’s picks, and we start off with yet another starter. While Sceptile isn’t as useful as its other two starters, it still is a great Pokémon since it does have its uses. It seems that Hoenn’s starters are quite a success, because all of them have pretty good roles in battling, while still retaining their overall cool factor.

Sceptile is the fastest starter Pokémon, sitting at a Speed of Base 120, and is still the record holder (Serperior is the second fastest up to now). With this Speed, Sceptile could be a Special attacker, considering how a Leaf Storm will hurt anything that doesn’t resist it, and if Overgrow’s effect is factored, it’s even better. Other than that, Sceptile could use other Special attacks such as Focus Blast and Dragon Pulse. Sceptile’s Physical movepool is better, since it consists of a better range of moves, including its signature move, Leaf Blade. With Swords Dance, Sceptile would be quite a terror to face. If you include Unburden and Acrobatics to the mix, Sceptile would be really tough to handle! Being fast allows Sceptile to perform the Substitute and Leech Seed cycle more reliably as well.

Unfortunately for Sceptile, it is on the frail side. The biggest concern is priority attacks, especially Extremespeed and Ice Shard. If the opponent knows what Sceptile is using, it would be easier to handle it, since Sceptile is easily dealt with by any wall (though they don’t like it if Sceptile hits their weaker side). Another thing about Sceptile is how it could be stopped by certain types, since Grass is a largely-resisted type, as well as having a fair share of Sap Sippers. However, since they are not keen at taking its other coverage moves, they are not a surefire safe switch-in. Considering how half of the types that threaten Sceptile is weak to Rock, Stealth Rock support is a must, like any other Grass-type out there.

Now let’s see what Sceptile’s tribulations are. Since Sceptile is a starter, you only get to have one of three starters per game, unless you manage to receive another from trading. Another troublesome thing about Sceptile as a starter is its huge male ratio. As you have a very high chance of getting a male Treecko, you might be breeding Sceptile until you get a female one (unless you managed to receive a female one from the start). There is a reason I mentioned this. Since Sceptile only gets Leech Seed through breeding, this would be something to consider if you want SubSeed. Unlike the other Grass-type starters, Sceptile doesn’t belong to the Grass Egg Group, meaning it has to resort to its fellow starters Bulbasaur or Turtwig for this move. On a minor note, Crunch is the other notable move only obtainable through breeding, but unlike Leech Seed, a lot of stuff gets Crunch, such as Turtwig.

Sceptile’s Dream World ability is quite good too. While some would say Unburden is redundant, the fact that it allows Sceptile to sweep more reliably is a good thing (it isn’t as susceptible to Scarf users). However, like with any other starter or certain gift Pokémon, they are only available at certain events as male-only. Like Torchic and Mudkip, Treecko is only available if you buy a Japanese guidebook for Pokémon Black and White, in which you receive a code for getting one of the starters. Unfortunately, there is no way to get an Unburden Treecko anymore, since it’s expired already. Here’s hoping that there will be another way to get one in the future. This is good example on how there is a disparity between the real game and the simulator, since it’s very much difficult to get a perfect Unburden Sceptile in real life.

Now here’s the big question: is Sceptile balanced? Sceptile may be a fast Pokémon, but it is plagued by its frailty. Sceptile is pretty versatile when it comes to set flexibility, but if the secret is out, Sceptile would be handled more easily. Unburden is very good on Sceptile, but it’s not available at present. Overall, Sceptile’s pretty balanced.

Verdict: Balanced [±0]


Up next is Swellow, the fastest swallow and Normal-type there is. The thing with Swellow is that it looks so simple, yet elegant, similar to the design of a Generation 1 Pokémon. Opinion aside, Swellow has some interesting attributes worth mentioning.

Speed is one thing, as at Base 125, it could get past a lot of threats such as Tornadus and Sceptile. It also has Guts, which is very good for boosting its average Attack, so having a status Orb would make Swellow stronger, even Burn. In fact, Façade is the Normal-type attack of choice for Swellow because of this. Besides Façade, Swellow also has a pretty strong Brave Bird, so anything that doesn’t resist either attack will take a big hit. One could also use Scrappy to bypass Ghost’s Normal immunity, but it’s usually not as useful as Guts due to the lack of power, although a fast Endeavour to hit them is not a bad trait to have.

Unfortunately for Swellow, it does not have a strong attack for any Rock- or Steel-type out there, making them reliable counters. Considering how Swellow has rather sparse type coverage, this could prevent Swellow from sweeping. That’s not going into Swellow’s defences. It is appropriately frail for a fast Pokémon like Swellow. Since there are priority attacks ready to pick it off, Swellow needs to be careful of that too. If under status, Swellow’s longevity is shortened due to the nature of the status’ health drain. That longevity is shortened if Stealth Rock is around, since Swellow is sometimes used as a hit-and-run Pokémon.

Now, let’s delve into Swellow’s tribulations. Considering how Swellow (Taillow, more of) is an early-game Pokémon, you could be sure that there aren’t many tribulations associated to it. After all, it is found early (albeit a bit rare for an early-game Pokémon), has a low hatching time, evolves quite early and has a decent level-up rate. Still, that’s not to say it doesn’t have certain hurdles to cross.

The first thing about Swellow is that in order to obtain Brave Bird, you need to breed for it. However, since there are a lot of learners (such as Starly), you have plenty of choices. It helps that Taillow hatches in a short time, and Guts is the only natural ability, meaning that unless you choose Dream World’s Scrappy, it’s largely not much of a hassle beyond this. Other than this, Swellow is a bit difficult to catch, which is befitting for a fast Pokémon. Taillow, on the other hand, is much easier to catch, but it is not available in the wild these days (except in Cherrygrove’s trees), unlike Swellow.

By virtue of being an early-game Pokémon, Swellow isn’t really as strong as the other big guys out there, due to its simple strengths and weaknesses that is easy to take advantage of. Fortunately, it isn’t too much trouble to raise Swellow either. Without a doubt, Swellow is easily a balanced Pokémon.

Verdict: Balanced [±0]


Moving on, is Shiftry. I find it interesting that Shiftry is identified as a tengu, yet Ludicolo is rarely identified as a kappa (the common description is a “Mexican pineapple”, for some reason). In any case, both of them are made to take advantage of both weather and abilities, since they come with abilities that benefit in their preferred weather. For Shiftry, it’s the Sun.

One of Shiftry’s perks is its ability to become a force in the Sun with Chlorophyll. Offensively, Shiftry is no slouch. It learns enough moves to be powerful on both Physical and Special sides, including Leaf Storm, Dark Pulse, Sucker Punch, Hidden Power, Rock Slide, Nature Power (Earthquake), Low Kick, Focus Blast and even Explosion. With Fake Out, it could do a bit of flinching damage in Doubles as well. If that’s not all, Shiftry have the option to boost its offensive stats. It could either be Attack (Swords Dance), Special Attack (Nasty Plot) or even both (Growth). Basically, Shiftry is a simple sweeper in the Sun.

Surely enough, Shiftry has some problems too. Shiftry suffers from being fragile, as well as having type susceptibilities, 'specially Bug, Ice and Fighting attacks. Sure, Shiftry has some nice resistances, but its frailty won't completely patch its survivability. Shiftry is also dependent on Sun, so if there isn’t Sun, it won’t be very fast, and the only good priority attack it has is Sucker Punch, so if the opponent is not weak to Dark, Shiftry is likely to be in trouble in the face of a faster foe. It is also to be noted that Shiftry isn’t the most powerful thing out there if it didn’t get a power boost, and that combined with its frailty, is something to be wary of.

Like the other two Pokémon I reviewed, Shiftry is obtained early and it is easy to raise, since it evolves early (Level 14), has a low hatch time and is easy to catch. Seedot was also a version exclusive Pokémon, and is rare in Emerald (Lotad is more common). While Seedot is easy to catch, it’s not really widespread.

If you want to evolve further, you need to sacrifice a Leaf Stone. This is because Shiftry evolves only through this method, but you shouldn’t be in a hurry to do this, since Nuzleaf could learn moves Shiftry didn’t already learn. If you are eyeing on Extrasensory, you need to make Nuzleaf reach at a higher level first. Fake Out is another move that Nuzleaf learns too, although it’s not as late as Extrasensory. Faint Attack is worth mentioning, as you don't need to use a Heart Scale later on if you do learn it naturally. If you don’t need any moves, you could go and evolve immediately. Shiftry’s moves are actually quite good. It packs Nasty Plot and Leaf Storm, although a Heart Scale is needed for Nasty Plot.

Shiftry doesn’t have any Egg Moves worth mentioning (Nasty Plot is only if you want this move on Seedot or Nuzleaf), but Move Tutors are another story. Shiftry actually appreciate Giga Drain, Seed Bomb, Sucker Punch, Low Kick and Dark Pulse. Collecting those moves would take some shards to give up, so make up your mind. Aside that, the other moves are nicely available as TMs, them being Hidden Power, Focus Blast, Rock Slide, Swords Dance and Explosion (if you don’t want to learn it as Seedot).

Since Sun is important, you need a Drought user. Ninetales is the only legal one, so it needs to be there. Still, it has its own difficulties in raising, such as being difficult to acquire, considering how elusive Drought is. Ninetales has its only problems as well, such as being a Fire-type and not being a born-survivor. If you don’t want to user Ninetales, or can’t due to a prohibition in the rules, you could hire a Sunny Day user to set up the Sun, considering how Shiftry is not suited for setting its own Sun.

To summarise, Shiftry’s difficulties lie in its need of a Leaf Stone to evolve, the Move Tutors and requiring a Drought or Sunny Day user to be a threat. In return, it provides a great offensive presence in the Sun, so it’s a fair trade. Shiftry is easily balanced.

Verdict: Balanced [±0]


Early on, Sableye’s claim to fame is its unique type combination, giving it no weaknesses. Unfortunately, this novelty is hampered by its low stats, although Sableye is useful against Brawly. Generation 4 gave Sableye Stall, an ability that is exclusive to it. Let’s just say that this ability is more suitable for a Pokémon with high stats. It didn’t help that Spiritomb, who is superior to Sableye is almost any way, was introduced. However, Generation 5 finally gave Sableye a way out of its obscurity: Prankster.

With Prankster, Sableye is able to use its pretty good status movepool to good use. The three moves it usually use are Will-O-Wisp, Taunt and Recover. Basically, Taunt is for avoiding any status move the opponent might use, Will-O-Wisp is to ensure Sableye’s survival on the Physical side, and Recover for instant recovery. This is sure to annoy the opponent, especially if they have no way out of the predicament. As for other moves, there are a few options. Trick would potentially give the opponent a hindering item (preferably a Speed-reducing one), Confuse Ray for instant confusion, Calm Mind to boost its Special stats, Sunny Day or Rain Dance (or Gravity) for setting up the field, and Night Shade or Foul Play as a choice of attack. Funnily, Sableye could learn Pain Split before it got Prankster, meaning it couldn’t use Pain Split with Prankster. It doesn’t matter anyway, because Recover is generally more useful.

Prankster may be good and all, but unfortunately, Sableye is susceptible to Taunt. Unless Sableye could out-Taunt the target, it usually can’t stand a chance. Still, there is a chance that it is reflected back to it as long as the opponent has Magic Coat or Magic Bounce. A powerful attacker that isn’t hindered by Burn is a good choice for taking on Sableye, since they are impervious to that Attack drop. Sableye also couldn't reduce the opponent’s Special Attack, so a powerful Special attack will do it in. It may be able to avoid status through Taunt, but if it caught one, that won’t be good because Sableye can’t recover from status. It doesn’t help that Sableye’s not exactly an offensive Pokémon in the direct sense.

Because Prankster is very important to Sableye, you need to find one in Dream World. Found in Spooky Manor through Black 1 and White 1, Sableye requires a lot of points to be found. Considering how the female or the male are found in the same minigame (Blow Out Candles), it’s not going to be certain if you will have a female one. You have another option at getting Sableye with Prankster, which is to trade for one in-game with Curtis in Black 2 and White 2. It is very important that you get a female Sableye, because not only do you get to breed for more, there is another reason...

If you look at the list of moves obtainable only through breeding, you might see one standout: Recover. This elusive move cannot be obtained elsewhere, so you need to find a parent. Only three families of parents are available: Kadabra, Elgyem and Meditite. The easiest is probably Kadabra, since it is usually male, and it learns this move the earliest (36). Trick is an Egg Move as well, therefore it’s all the more reason to use Kadabra as a parent. Keep in mind that the hatching time for Sableye is a little bit longer than normal (26 cycles).

All in all, Sableye is an effective annoyer when used right (such as against Stall or Baton Pass teams), but it is not insurmountable under common conditions. Considering how Sableye is set up to be difficult to acquire to match the usefulness of Prankster, it’s not much of a wonder that Sableye is a balanced Pokémon.

Verdict: Balanced [±0]


Finally, our last subject is Sharpedo. Did you see a pattern here? If you realise that all the Pokémon I had chosen begins with the letter “S”, then you are great at recoginising patterns. Also known as Sharking’s favourite, he would probably be proud that Sharpedo is reviewed today. Initially Sharpedo wasn’t anything special. It was a decently speedy Pokémon with a lot of power, hampered by frailty. However, the blessing of Dream World gave Sharpedo Speed Boost, one of the best abilities on an offensive Pokémon, which Sharpedo is.

With Speed Boost, Sharpedo’s Speed won’t stop increasing. This is very advantageous for a Pokémon who couldn’t take a neutral hit well, as this makes Sharpedo increasingly difficult to out-speed. Having Protect is good insurance, so it’s generally a good idea to pack it. It could use its powerful attacks to threaten the opponent, such as its STAB moves, Ice Beam, Ice Fang, Hidden Power and Earthquake (yes, Sharpedo could learn this move). Sharpedo is generally better at cleaning late-game, which is when the opponent’s Pokémon are weakened.

Sharpedo is not necessarily dangerous if the opponent has a healthy wall or resistor. Milotic and Suicune, for example, are able to stall out Sharpedo. Unfortunately, Sharpedo can’t boost its offensive stats, so this makes it hard for Sharpedo to become stronger. Even with the power of super-speed, Sharpedo is still very frail. Sharpedo fears the power of Mach Punch, but any attacker that could take a hit and retaliate would also do. The frailty issue exacerbates if Sharpedo got Life Orb, because that whittles it down even further, so be mindful of the attacks you use, lest you lose life for not enough power.

Sharpedo needs Speed Boost to be relevant, but the very ability is only obtained in Dream World. Of course, the designers won’t make it easy for you, for you need at least 7,500 points in the Sparking Sea to find Speed Boost Carvanha through playing the Pokémon Seek minigame. For the normal ones, they are found in Unova’s Village Bridge, and could only be fished. This would mean that it’s a bad idea for swimmers to go there (just joking). Anyway, this is the opposite of what happened in Hoenn: Carvanha and Sharpedo are common, especially when being fished with the Super Rod, in Sharpedo’s case. It is a good idea to get a female Carvanha, since Hydro Pump is obtained through breeding. When you found one, you may not find it convenient to level-up Sharpedo, since its level curve is such that it level-ups slow.

I have a feeling that GameFreak generally knows their stuff when it comes to distributing abilities to balance the Pokémon because Sharpedo happens to be another balanced Pokémon, given the right ability (a useful one at that). Sure it is very powerful, but since it is really fragile and does not have a move to boost its offences, Sharpedo is balanced on the battling side. Besides, Sharpedo’s got its fair share of difficulties too, such as searching one from Dream World and its level-up rate. Overall, Sharpedo is balanced.

Verdict: Balanced [±0]

This concludes today’s Tribulations of Great Pokémon with another perfect score of "Balanced" for today's subjects. It’s also the last article for this year, since I don’t see myself doing another one so soon. Hope you have your happy holidays too around these times! In any case, you should vote for up to five great competitive Pokémon from Generation 4, and you could include a legendary too, as long as it isn’t Arceus. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.

Thanks for reading.

Chosen Pokémon that were done (meaning, they can't be picked):

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  1. Infinity Mk-II's Avatar
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    Aw, no Latis in the end. Maybe next time.

    I unfortunately don't have many comments here. I guess mentioning Sceptile didn't take the generational transition too well in one hand while (obviously) it became harder to get.
    It's still pretty good and balanced though. There is room for improvement, but still fine.
    Shiftry... When I played Emerald I didn't catch one along the way but I really wanted to train one for the postgame, so I went specifically looking for it. When you train a pokémon like this, it's always harder, and then the payoff wasn't that great. But again, still not bad.

    I'm simply upset these two aren't better, but oh well. They are alright.

    Suggestions for gen IV... Torterra is pretty obvious.
    You mentioned Spiritomb, and in fact, there are plenty of things to say about it, specially with its incredibly unique method of encountering it.

    Another legendary I felt could be covered outside legendaries is Heatran. Just one in the games, but not a "major legendary" like say, Dialga. For what I know, Heatran has made quite an impact in the metagame, blocking plenty of extremely popular pokémon.
  2. winstein's Avatar
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    @Infinity Mk-II; Sorry for not taking the Latis this time! When I check the list of Pokemon to use (I also check votes in the previous ToGP too), I saw how a lot of suggestions begin with the letter "S", so I decided to run with it. Yeah, if Gen 3 will be covered next time, I promise they will get covered.

    One thing about Sceptile is how its Physical movepool is pretty good compared to its Special one yet its Special Attack is higher, although it's not too bad since Sceptile at least knows Swords Dance to boost it. This is better than Typhlosion at least, since Typhlosion has an overall better Physical choices to choose from, yet the Physical-boosting move is not very fast (there's Howl).

    You know, I felt that Lotad should have been the rarer one in Emerald, not Seedot, simply because Ludicolo has a lot more use in-game, considering how it is a Water-type (meaning, it learns the necessary HMs to be useful in-game).

    Also, Heatran's a great choice, since it's one of those impactful legendaries. If the time comes, I would also love to evaluate Regigigas. I imagine that Regigigas will have a huge bias in tribulation because of several factors.

    Thanks for reading.
  3. Yato's Avatar
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    Rampardos (no, seriously - this guy is EPIC for me)


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