winstein's Dark-type Reviews - Generation 4 (Part 2)
by, 8th January 2012 at 08:10 AM (5163 Views)
Continuing on in Part 2 of Generation 4’s Dark-types, we have a couple of Pokémon who are evolutions of Generation 2’s Dark-types, along with our first and so far only Dark-type legendary. These Pokémon are simply the better half of Generation 4’s Dark-types (not saying that the first half is bad), so if you want to know why that is the case, read on to find out. Before that, I have to thank ghaskan for proofreading these reviews, which I somehow didn't remember to mention previously (so I say it now before I forget).
“With Team Rocket essentially being based on a mafia/yakuza syndicate, it’s a wonder it
took until Gen IV for us to get a Pokémon version of it. The Godfather fan in me was
certainly happy. Being the unoriginal nicknamer that I am, the first one I ever
evolved was dubbed ‘Corleone.’” ~ @Kakuna Matata
Generation 4, like Generation 2, gave numerous Pokémon new evolutions, thereby making those Pokémon more useful in a way. Murkrow just happens to be one of those, along with its counterpart Misdreavus. Both of them need the Dusk Stone to evolve into the stronger versions of themselves. It seems that Pokémon that evolve with a Dusk Stone are considered evil, as Mismagius and Chandelure have shown. As I have implied in Mismagius’ review, the new evolution Mismagius looks better than the original Misdreavus. Likewise, I believe Honchkrow looks miles better than Murkrow, whom I think is bland by the standards of design today. By incorporating a gangster-based design into this Pokémon, it turns from bland to interesting. Come to think of it, Honchkrow could be the mascot of the Mafia boards of these forums.
In terms of colouration, Honchkrow’s is not quite close to a real crow, but more like a hooded crow, which is relatively more colourful than an ordinary one. Unlike Murkrow, Honchkrow has black legs similar to crows. Murkrow’s witch-like crest (those feathers on the bird’s head) turns into a fedora hat-like crest, which, along with the white plumage on its chest, very much resembles a mobster, in the vein of those seen in Godfather. Honchkrow’s unique appearance allows it to stand out among the flock, similar to how a crime boss needs to stand out among the gang with a different dress code.
Honchkrow don’t normally flock together. In fact, it’s never shown that two or more Honchkrow are within a flock, although it’s entirely possible if the two are male and female, like how certain animal groups have an alpha male and an alpha female. When it utters a deep cry, many Murkrow will gather quickly, giving Honchkrow the nickname of “Summoner of the Night”. This is appropriate, because like Murkrow, Honchkrow is a nocturnal Pokémon. However, real life crows are not nocturnal, so the association that these Pokémon are nocturnal are their colours. One of Honchkrow’s cards in the TCG shows that it has a Poké-Power (an ability that requires activation to use) to revive a Basic Pokémon. Such a strange thing to see, I have to admit, because I never thought Honchkrow had reviving powers.
Anyway, the sole Honchkrow takes advantage of its strength to bully its Murkrow members by making them do its dirty work, like gathering food, while it idles away by doing vain stuff. Looking at this fact, it reminds me of the army, since all soldiers are supposed to gather quickly when the leader gives the gathering call. Of course, the mobsters have less forgiving punishments. It’s a good thing Dusk Stones are hard to come by, since too many Honchkrow are bad for the environment. That doesn’t make Honchkrow a bad leader. After all, besides being a powerhouse, a Honchkrow card in the TCG has the PokéBody (a Pokémon’s intrinsic ability) of allowing all its Murkrow to use Honchkrow’s attack if it has enough Energy for the attack even when the Murkrow themselves don’t have enough Energy for it. This attack is decent, so I can see how this card can be useful, although I can’t say for certain.
The ones who are in ownership of this Pokémon are typically adversaries, as Paul in the anime, who has one when it is shown that it evolved from Murkrow. Cyrus also has one, but unlike Paul, we never see it as a Murkrow. The other proud owner of a Honchkrow is Silver (more of a rival), whose Murkrow evolved in the manga in the HeartGold and SoulSilver chapter. What does these three have in common? Each of them also has a Weavile, which is another Dark-type Pokémon who gets a late evolution.
In competitive battling, Honchkrow is more of a powerhouse. With a great Attack and good Special Attack, Honchkrow’s different attacks allow it to be a force. The main attacks are Night Slash, Superpower, Sucker Punch, Heat Wave and of course, Brave Bird. Its abilities are also quite good too, so choose whichever you want. The best abilities are the offensive ones: Moxie and Super Luck. The former is great for grabbing a free Attack boost, which works well with Sucker Punch, as it will get harder to revenge-kill (it means you send out a Pokémon to KO the killer after that killer KO’d one of your Pokémon) Honchkrow. The latter is great to use with Night Slash, because it makes the critical hit ratio of that attack higher, and it’s a suitable ability if you intend to teach it Generation 4 move tutors, like Heat Wave and Superpower. Insomnia is an alright ability, because avoiding Sleep is always useful. You can use Nasty Plot to make its Special Attack higher to abuse its Special attacks better, although it’s hard to use if the opponent is smart, for Honchkrow is a tad frail. Still, if you let the advantage go to Honchkrow, it can very well be hard for you to survive. While Honchkrow has its share of counters, one unlikely counter for this Pokémon is the famous annoyer Stunfisk, thanks to its Electric-type and great bulk, and the threat of being shocked (it also gives me a reason to mention Stunfisk somewhere along the lines).
Honchkrow is undoubtedly a very huge improvement from Murkrow in many ways, ranging from looks to sheer power. However, when old Pokémon received new abilities, Murkrow got an undoubtedly better one (Prankster), so now both of these Pokémon have their uses. Now I can see how those tiny Murkrow can be a lot of help to the Honchkrow leader, since they are so much better at causing trouble than Honchkrow! It is certainly debatable when it comes to a Pokémon receiving a new look, but Honchkrow is believed to be an improvement from what I hear from others I know.
10 Donkarasus out of 10!
+ A huge improvement over Murkrow
+ The gangster-based appearance is great
+ Ruthlessness and pack-based behaviour fits its Dark-type
+ Ownership of this Pokémon makes trainers appear tough
- Certain losses from Murkrow, particularly ability and Speed
“I've loved Weavile from the second its Sugimori art was released; it's that slasher smile that
sealed the deal. He builds on the mischievous and cunning aspects of his pre-evolution by being
able to back that up with sheer force and ruthlessness. The fact that he's a premier psychic-killer,
ghostbuster and dragonslayer in one is just the icing on the cake.” ~ @Winterdaze
Weavile, like Honchkrow, is an evolution of an existing Generation 2 Dark-type. It evolves from Sneasel if you let it hold a Razor Claw and level it up at night. It sounds like you should do this immediately, but Sneasel has a few moves that Weavile is unable to learn. Anyway, Weavile was one of the first Pokémon to be revealed before Diamond and Pearl’s release, and it showed up as a cameo in the anime opening in Advanced Battle called “Unbeatable”. I do not know what fans at that time expected Weavile to be, but I guess they expected Weavile to be a stronger Sneasel since it is an evolved Pokémon. Like Mismagius, Weavile’s colour is darker than its previous form’s, and, from this, I think that the original should have had the darker colour in the first place.
In addition to being based on the kamaitachi, which I explained in more detail when I reviewed Sneasel, Weavile appears to also have Egyptian-based looks. Basically, a kamaitachi is a weasel demon with sickles for its front legs and who rides the wind. This origin is quirky, so I liked it. Anyway, Weavile has those red coverings on its head and around its neck, and together with the red ears, make it look like it is dressed in Egyptian clothes. This gives Weavile a sort of deity visage, because some Egyptian deities have animal heads or look like animals, and that include cats (which Weavile resembles). However, Egypt is a warm country, and Weavile is an Ice-type, so this is either contradictory or Weavile is kind of an “ice god” (though I doubt it; I don’t think ancient Egypt even know what ice looks like).
Sneasel wasn’t conceived as a Pokémon that lived in icy areas, since it was only put in one in Crystal. Also, Sneasel was initially conceived as a Pokémon who is active at night like two other Dark-types in Johto. In Sinnoh, Sneasel can be seen to reside in the snowy portions of Route 216 and can also be found during the day. However, Weavile is nowhere to be found, which is natural for Pokémon who evolves by unconventional means. That doesn’t stop the PokéDex from stating that Weavile lives in cold regions. Like Sneasel and the kamaitachi, Weavile hunt in numbers with the superpower of teamwork. To demonstrate more of this “Weavile teamwork”, they carve some patterns on trees, ice and even rocks, so that others of their kin will get the message. This sounds like a great idea for a filler episode, which sadly doesn’t exist. One more thing that’s said in one of the PokéDex entries is that “evolution made it even more devious”, which leads to it being skilful with its claws (to be able to carve those patterns).
Weavile appeared in the first pair of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, which are considered Generation 3 games due to the Pokémon available. In those games, you receive a Weavile statue as a reward for completing a tough optional mission. In the second batch of games (Time, Darkness and Sky), Weavile is part of Team AWD (Arbok, Weavile and Drapion). This Weavile is the leader of the team, and is given the title of “Lady” and held with high respect by the other two members.
Weavile is one of the stars in competitive battling. In addition to the improved strength and Speed from its predecessor, it gained quite a few new tricks as well. Ice Shard, while a Sneasel-only move, is a better fit on Weavile as it has a higher Attack. It gains Night Slash as well, which is a stronger Dark-type STAB, and is capable of giving those weak to that attack something to fear (for some reason, Sneasel can’t learn Night Slash. Don’t believe me? Check for yourself). A move tutor granted Weavile Low Kick, rounding up coverage for some of the heavier and nastier Pokémon like Aggron and Registeel. The biggest blessing for Weavile is that now its STABs are not considered Special attacks, so it has a chance to show its worth. You can even use Swords Dance which improves its great Attack even further, should the opportunity arise. Weavile is faster than any Ghost-type and Dragon-type, unless they have a Choice Scarf, which allows Weavile to handily hurt them with Pursuit or Ice Shard (or Ice Punch), especially if they are currently not using a strong attack.
Sad thing is, Ice is a cursed defensive type, and together with Dark, make Weavile weak to critical types, especially Fighting and Steel (because Mach Punch and Bullet Punch exist). Weavile’s abilities are not that impressive, because neither Pickpocket nor Pressure is useful based on what Weavile does. Weavile is one of the best candidates for the ability Technician, since it has a lot of low Base Powered moves that could use a boost, like Bite or Faint Attack, Ice Shard, Beat Up, Fake Out, Pursuit, Low Sweep and Aerial Ace.
Similar to Honchkrow, Weavile is pretty much an improvement over its pre-evolution. Unlike Honchkrow, Weavile is an almost better choice than Sneasel. I said “almost” because I once saw a video on Youtube where the player used Sneasel and its Inner Focus proved to save his or her bacon, since Weavile lost this ability in favour of another. Anyway, like Honchkrow, Weavile is a great Dark-type, and I also have a liking for this Pokémon.
10 Dimorets out of 10!
+ A huge improvement over Sneasel
+ Interesting origin and fascinating design choices
+ Great social network among its kin
- Abilities it can’t take advantage of
“Darkrai, to me, is the 4th generation Mewtwo. He can be a good guy, he can be a bad guy,
but he's always effing awesome.” ~ @jcogginsa
Darkrai’s gloomy and ghostly getup makes it reminiscent of the essence of nightmares. Indeed, Darkrai seems to generate nightmares for those who sleep. One of the possible origins stated on Bulbapedia listed Morpheus, and that is indeed a possibility. If you don’t know, Morpheus is a Greek god that is responsible for shaping dreams. Because it looks like a shadow, it can be scary since a living shadow is very otherworldly, especially if it can do something to you but you can’t do anything back to it. With Darkrai’s shadowy appearance, one would expect it to be a Ghost-type, but nope (Darkrai can learn Will-O-Wisp like the common Ghost-type, by the way), it’s a Dark-type. Ladies and gentlemen, this is our first Dark-type legendary Pokémon.
Darkrai’s main feature is its ability of causing nightmares to anybody and anything that sleeps, especially when it is the one putting them to sleep. It is shown that causing nightmares to others is a kind of a defensive mechanism, like how every animal has a kind of defensive mechanism that is for their safety instead of being outright malicious. Not only is it a nightmare generator, but also it is attracted to nightmares, which makes it sounds like Darkrai feeds on them too, as, if it’s not for reproduction, animals are attracted to certain things because it has food, or just like them for some reason. Darkrai certainly has an affinity of circling around objects it takes an interest in, as shown in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. Darkrai is also shown to be able to turn into a shadow to escape, although it is still vulnerable to Special attacks. Despite this, Darkrai doesn’t learn Shadow Sneak.
It doesn’t seem like this at first sight, but Darkrai is an event legendary. It is obtained in Newmoon Island, which is a Sinnoh setting. You may think that since you can get it in Sinnoh, it doesn’t count as an event legendary, but that’s not necessarily true. In order to legally get there, you need an event item called the Member Card, although this item is obtained much later after the airing of Darkrai’s feature movie “The Rise of Darkrai”. With this Card, you can access the Harbour Inn, where the player will meet an old man, who had a nightmare and travelled to said location. It’s there that you are able to capture Darkrai. You will be able to re-battle Darkrai if you somehow KO’d it, but if you do capture it, you will wake up from your “nightmare” with Darkrai captured. If you have great control of your bicycle, you can use a method known as “tweaking”, in which you ride your bike so fast the game doesn’t load the data in time for walls to take place, so that you can get to Newmoon Island without the Member Card. Besides this, Darkrai is largely available as a limited-time giveaway Pokémon, although there are some exceptions, like a limited-time mission for Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia.
Darkrai is a sort of counterpart to Cressilia, making them a “legendary duo”, a term very much unheard of because we don’t have many. Both of them have an association with dreams, but Darkrai causes nightmares, while Cresselia dispels the troubles that Darkrai causes. Cresselia is obtained in the Fullmoon Island, which is a sort of opposite place from Newmoon Island, as they are opposite phases of the moon. Darkrai’s event cannot be executed without meeting Cresselia on Fullmoon Island first (she’s a roaming Pokémon after that; luckily you don’t need to catch her!), and you need to get the Lunar Wing she left behind in order to dispel Darkrai’s nightmares on Sailor Eldritch’s son. The two Pokémon can be seen duking it out in the episode “Sleepless in Pre-Battle”. Also, While Darkrai is more offensive, Cresselia is more defensive. There are two Triumphant cards in the TCG that have both Pokémon, albeit you need both of them to construct a complete Pokémon. The “two cards for one Pokémon” appears to be hard to play because you need both pieces, in addition to the Energy to execute an attack.
To me, Darkrai appears to be wearing a black cloak and a scarf, making it resemble one of those London legends or one of those English gentlemen who wear black all over. In fact, I associate Darkrai with one of those Destiny Heroes from Yu-gi-oh (mainly Destiny HERO - Double Dude) or perhaps Spring-Heeled Jack, because there’s some British flair with Darkrai. Darkrai also has a feature that you never actually see normally: a pair of legs. Those legs are some very slender and black ones, and if you can see Darkrai with them, the association with a formally clad gentleman becomes a lot clearer because its “skirt” now looks like the overhanging of a coat. I think Darkrai might feel at home in the London streets, it just needs a top hat to complete the picture. Long story short, Darkrai looks like a British criminal (or anti-hero) with superpowers.
In a way, Darkrai seems to be a Pokémon who can do something to you, with you being unable to do anything back. This happens because Darkrai has a largely accurate Sleep move called Dark Void. It is its signature move, and this can put more than one opponent to sleep! Darkrai is also very fast, so once your Pokémon sleeps, it gets even worse. Darkrai also has Bad Dreams, an ability that slowly drains any Pokémon’s HP if they are sleeping, which is miles better than the move Nightmare since it is automatic. Because of how efficacious this move is, it is rightfully banned in future tournaments. It seems strange to ban this move even if Darkrai is banned, but this move will live on with Smeargle, who’s just as effective an abuser as Darkrai, thanks to its endless moveset and general utility.
Darkrai is not only effective as a sleeper, but it also excels as an offensive threat. That’s right, in competitive battling, Darkrai makes use of its very high Special Attack and Speed, and certainly, it has the selection of Special attacks (Dark Pulse, Focus Blast, Thunderbolt, Ice Beam and Psychic) to be a threat. After putting a foe to sleep, you can proceed to use a Substitute for protection or use Nasty Plot to sharply boost that very high Special Attack further. You may also teach Darkrai Trick if you would like, and together with either Choice Specs or Choice Scarf, you might be able to get firsthand advantage offensively or maim something defensive. You can even make Darkrai go Physical, as it learns Swords Dance too. This works as a nasty surprise for any Special defensive Pokémon, as Sucker Punch can be real pain, but it’s not recommended because if others discover this, you will be easily stopped.
As mentioned, Darkrai’s main appearance is in the movie “The Rise of Darkrai”. This movie is actually part of a trilogy of Pokémon movies, which is a new concept that makes DP a memorable time for anime fans. However, because the starring Pokémon for the trilogy is not Darkrai, it is only featured in this movie. Anyway, the Darkrai in this movie is mistaken for the troublemaker of the events in the movie, but it is actually a good guy, always concerning for the safety of the heroes. Another notable Darkrai appearance in the anime is in the close-to-last episode of the Diamond and Pearl run of the anime, in which Tobias, a legendary trainer, used Darkrai, who allowed him to plow through different trainers, leading to his championship. Although Ash did a better job than most of Tobias’ opponents (he defeated two of his Pokémon, the other being Latios), fans were generally displeased to see Ash, who was, up to that point, a veteran trainer, lose to him. Some said that the writers cheated on this one because Ash was then a very skilled trainer, so they had to give him an opponent with legendary Pokémon so that he could not become the champion. In the Pokémon Special manga, Darkrai didn’t have a star appearance. Instead, it is assigned as an already captured Pokémon by Sird (my least favourite character), and is responsible for turning five chosen PokéDex holders into stone when its power clashed with Mewtwo (what’s up with Mewtwo’s clashing power with another strong Pokémon, turning people into stone? The first Pokémon movie does this too!).
While Darkrai has been portrayed in a more benevolent light in the anime, it doesn’t mean that’s the case elsewhere. In fact, Darkrai can be an evil villain too! Yep, in the duo of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorer games, Darkrai is shown to be the main villain who wants to cover the world in the darkness, even if it means distorting the fabrics of time and space. Its interference is also the reason the player was separated from Grovyle and turned into a Pokémon. Still, a companion such as Darkrai is a very powerful asset, as it is shown to be quite loyal to those it cares about.
Darkrai is just a wonderful Dark-type. Being a legendary is one thing, however, it has a great design that makes it look villainous and tragic. Of course, it helps that it is a very powerful Pokémon in battling, because a very useful Pokémon is also reputable. It also has several characteristics that fit the Dark-type, like being able to disrupt the opponent, causing misery with its own powers (nightmares) and of course, having a dark appearance. There is definitely a reason many people love this Pokémon, and you can count me in as one of those people who think this is a great Pokémon.
11 Dark Rays out of 10!
+ First Dark-type legendary
+ Wicked design
+ Has many characteristics of a Dark-type
+ Flexible role in any plot
+ Great in competitive battling
- Obtained only on opportune occasions
And so, we concluded the Dark-types of Generation 4. It has its share of great Dark-types, so it’s not such a bad run for the Dark-types at that time. Next up is my favourite Generation for Dark-types, and our next batch will cover four different families who have something in common. I am not asking you to guess what they have in common, but it doesn’t hurt to guess even if you don’t know who they are. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.
Thanks for reading.
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