winstein's Dark-type Reviews - Introduction / Overview
by, 27th September 2011 at 11:43 AM (519 Views)
After a week of voting from long ago (I am sure five months is long for some of you), it had been discovered that there is a popular vote for the Dark-type. Therefore, we will be looking at the Dark-type! For those who waited very long for this, I apologise for that long wait. However, before we look at the Pokémon themselves, we will instead start with an introductory entry that talks about the type, what the type stands for, its uses in the world and some more, ending with my opinion. Since the reviews are more popular than I thought it will be, I should be formal this time by starting things off with an introduction, because I feel it’s more appropriate to talk about the type itself based on a few suggestions. So, without further ado...
The Dark-type is a later addition in the Pokémon series. However, if you got into the franchise in Generation 2 and beyond, you may not have known this, as the Dark-type had settled comfortably within the universe, and I am sure you wouldn’t mind it if you knew it was new, because you will already have been used to it by now anyway. Besides, its addition is pretty much a very awesome thing to have happened, because it opens up new possibilities for new Pokémon, and it’s also pretty much a necessity.
So, why was the Dark-type a necessity? Basically, Psychics were a dominant force that practically forced others to carry them, or else they will be dominated themselves, considering how little can stand up against Psychic attacks. The Dark-type essentially dissuades the Psychics from being a dominant force, as the Dark-type got a Psychic immunity, mitigating their dominance. You can read more in the Competitive section below.
The Dark-type also increases the type roster, meaning that there is another layer of fans who love this type because of various reasons (for example, the dark side of things is awesome, right?). I mean, there’s a reason this type is chosen a lot for my next type review, right?
In Japanese, the Dark-type is called the “Evil”-type. Basically, if the Pokémon is a Dark-type, they can be considered an inherently evil Pokémon. Of course, you cannot really generalise, because it’s been established in the anime and manga that Dark Pokémon aren’t all that evil. The prime examples of this concept are Darkrai and Absol, as in the movies, what seems like a bad situation aren’t of their doing.
You can easily tell if a Pokémon is a Fire-type because they are either red or have fire burning out from some part of their body, or Grass-type because they have parts of their bodies that resemble flora or fungi. Similarly, there are certain characteristics common for Dark-types. One of them is that they possess a black tone in colouration, which is supposed to make them look evil because black things connote evil in the stuff we watch. But then, not every Dark-type Pokémon has dark colours! To be honest, if a Dark-type doesn’t have dark colours, it’s hard to tell if they are the Dark-type, because they do not have a common ground for other characteristics. I would imagine that a newbie’s first impression on Scraggy, Tyranitar and Crawdaunt weren’t their Dark-types, because nothing they have connotes this, especially their colours.
In one of my observations, I thought that the Dark-type is characterised with their pronounced jaws to crunch things with, because both Bite and Crunch are Dark-type attacks. You can say that this is a weak argument to say something is of a Dark-type since there are others with big jaws who are not Dark-types (Granbull comes to mind), but through this observation, I correctly guessed that Carvanha and Sharpedo are Dark-types, despite their lack of dark colouration.
In another of my observation, the behaviour of the Dark-types is also attributed by instinctive ruthlessness (Tyranitar, Krookodile), willing disposal of the weak (Cacturne, Mandibuzz), mischief (Murkrow, Purrloin, Nuzleaf) or darkness (Umbreon, Darkrai). Absol is the only one that doesn’t seem to fall under all the behaviour I mentioned, making Absol stand out from the group. In fact, besides colouration, I don’t see any other defining characteristic for Absol’s Dark-type.
Speaking of that, Dark-type moves are usually more on the pragmatic approach, and most of them so far have certain effects that will either disrupt a foe or benefit the user in a sinister way. In this category, there is a move that raises its power for every stat boost the opponent has, a move that makes that hurts the target even if they escape and a move that gets the first strike if the foe wants to attack. With moves like these, it seems like Dark-type moves are made to make things harder for the opponent.
There are even Dark-types that function as a group, making the fact that they are “evil” by fighting in higher numbers justified, and there are quite a number of Pokémon evolutionary families that function this way, like Honchkrow’s, Mightyena’s, Bisharp’s, Scrafty’s and Houndoom’s. It seems that they are characterised by their strengths, where the leader is determined by either the strongest of the group or having the largest crest in Scrafty’s case. Any kind of loss within the group will not be tolerated, whether it’s the leader or their members. The strength-driven behaviour does give the Pokémon a motivation to live and do their best, but it may also incite fear of losing. They can even be vicious at anything not in their group or edible! Perhaps these two characteristics define their Dark-type quite well.
You know, come to think of it, I think that you can insert the Dark-type to any Pokémon and their design doesn’t need to have an overhaul to make them look like a Dark-type. Hey, if it works for Tyranitar (I believe this Pokémon’s Dark-type is a late addition to promote the Dark-type), I rest my case. However, as I have said, the main characteristic of the Dark-type is their evilness. Scrafty, Liepard, Honchkrow, Spiritomb and many more are basically characterised by how evil they are, although there is the minority like Absol and Umbreon, whose Dark-type is more on their colouration.
Uses of the Dark-type
It’s easy to define the purpose of certain types in the universe because their uses are immediately obvious and easily applicable. Take Water and Electric for example: basically, Water-types can be used as nautical transport, underwater retrieval, or even dousing fires, while Electric-types can be used to charge electronics or even give someone a needed shock to stay alive (I believe the anime does this from time to time, hm?). Even in battling, each of those types has their own purpose, so they cannot be disregarded within the type chart. For the Dark-type, it’s trickier because its real world application may not be obvious. Not only that, but as of now, I have not seen any use for Dark-types in any manga or anime I seen, so I cannot give examples to the media. Therefore, all of these are essentially examples that are thought-of.
Ghost-types are depicted as very threatening in the Pokémon universe, where there are those that suck out the life force out of its victims (Litwick in the anime) or even possessing anybody outright (Mismagius in Phantom Thief 7 and Yamask in the anime). Because of this, Dark-types can act as a foil to them for their ability to really hurt them because they have attacks that can really hurt them badly, so you can say that Dark-types are “Ghostbusters”.
Let’s see some of the moves the Dark-type has in order to see what kind of job they offer. Let’s take five moves out of the list for now, so the moves I randomly chose are Embargo, Punishment, Snatch, Thief and Fake Tears. It looks like all of these moves are “evil”, so they can’t possibly have uses that are for the good of humanity, right? However, like every move out there, they have their uses for the force of good too. Embargo is a move that prevents any items from taking effect or being used, which is a handy way to handle troublesome Pokémon from using their items, or perhaps people from even using theirs to escape. While it’s not really seen anyway, I believe that Embargo can be used to stop smoke bombs from hindering vision or even allow harmful substances to Pokémon from reaching them. For Punishment, it is basically a move that hurts the target even more if they have a lot of boosts.
Well, what do these Dark-type moves have in common? Well, think about it: they prevent the opposition from harming the user, so they can be used as survival skills. By deceiving the opponent, they can be a much-needed tool to prevent something more dangerous that results from what the opponent may use, like possibly Toxic and Thunder Wave.
Even the moves can be used for predatory purposes. In fact, some of the Dark-types are actually predators in nature, like Sharpedo and Liepard. The Dark moves in this case are then to make sure the prey doesn’t have an opening, because to them, anything they do needs to get them to the prey. So you have Taunt to prevent them from using moves that can save themselves (like Whirlwind and Iron Defence) and allow them to succumb to them with a powerful Sucker Punch (if the predator has it). However, the Pokémon universe has no casualties, so it’s hard to say if my theory is right because even these perceived predators diet on the universal Pokémon food.
As such, these moves are quite compatible with Prankster, which offers a massive advantage to the one with it, because the ability to move first is priceless, especially if it is needed to prevent the one in second from executing the strategies.
And there you have it. My educated guesses on the real life purpose of the Dark-type. If you have any other use for the Dark-type that I didn’t mention here, feel free to voice out in the comments below!
Competitive (Video Game)
In Generation 1, being a Psychic-type was everything, and by “everything” I meant it’s a huge advantage to be a Psychic. This is because nothing resists Psychic except themselves, and most of them possess high Special (there were no Special Attack and Special Defence at that time), allowing their assaults to be harmful. They essentially have no weaknesses, as Bug was a weak attacking type (possessing no useful attacks), while Ghost was an underdeveloped offensive type. With that, it’s little wonder Alakazam, Mewtwo and Mew were some of the terrors at that time. Needless to say, Psychic was a broken type because it essentially dominated the metagame at that time. This is where the Dark-type comes into play: to discourage the dominance of Psychic-types.
The Dark-type is one of the more balanced types in competitive battling. One of the reasons is that its strengths and weaknesses are balanced. Its ability to counter most Psychic and Ghost-types is very good, because of not only resistances to both those types, but both of those types don’t have any universal Bug or Fighting-type attacks, so not every Pokémon have a good chance of threatening them back. Although there’s Hidden Power, it’s not very strong and it’s only reserved for Special-oriented Pokémon. Some do have Focus Blast, but do note that that move is slightly inaccurate to be a consistent foil against them. This is unlike the Grass-type, who despite the one-sided advantage against Water-types, cannot really counter them because the Waters have the ability to learn Ice attacks except Seismitoad and Keldeo, defeating the purpose of threatening them (I might add that this movepool privilege is a bad move on GameFreak’s part). Of course, just as there are unorthodox Pokémon that can comfortably counter enemy types, there are Psychics and Ghosts that Dark-types still need to watch out for, like Medicham and Golurk.
Another reason for their balanced status is their weaknesses. Although Dark-types have two weaknesses, both of them are not particularly attractive types to be weak to, especially Fighting (Bug was mentioned because of U-turn, a great move). With that, we have an interesting elemental triangle between Psychic, Fighting and Dark, where one is dominant over one other, but have trouble against the remaining one.
Dark is also predominantly Physical as an offensive type as opposed to Ghost, the more Special attacking type. This is brought up because in terms of offensive coverage, Ghost and Dark are very similar (only difference is Normal immune to Ghost and Fighting resists Dark), and this difference makes each worth its consideration. Usually, you don’t carry a Ghost attack on a Dark-type and vice versa, unless that Pokémon has both. Just an interesting thought: Sneasel had to carry Shadow Ball before Generation 4 because it has a very low Special Attack (and Bite was the best Dark move it had), so was forced to use Shadow Ball instead.
Many Dark-types are strong Physical attackers, so that’s another reason Dark is a Physical type. It’s worth noting that because of the Physical treatment of Dark-types, Counter is effective against them. This is said because in Generation 1 to 3 (a pun!), Dark was a Special type, and Mirror Coat wasn’t effective against them because of that immunity. Still, if the Dark-type is more of a Special Attacker, then you don’t have to worry about either move, which some special ones like Darkrai and Houndoom agree with.
There are several Dark-type moves that disrupt the opponent, and some of these effects can only be found here, so it can be said that the Dark-type is a disruptive type. For example, there’s Taunt that prevents non-attacking moves to be used, hindering Pokémon that specialises on using status moves for support or hindrance, Torment that will make a “Truant” out of Choice users and prevent consecutive super effective attacks, Pursuit which prevents Pokémon from escaping unharmed and Thief which robs the opponent of the item (though there’s Covet that does the same). This is actually a contrast to the Psychic moves, as their Status moves are usually supportive in nature, so there’s another example that Dark-types are a foil to Psychic-types.
There are quite a few Dark-types that are very effective in competitive battling, which goes a long way in ensuring type diversity, and in turn a balanced metagame. The major one is Tyranitar, who is essentially destined to be great in the first place, as it possess a lot of bulk and is powerful to take out most Ghosts and Psychics. Another on the list is Darkrai, who is very fast, can put opponents to sleep and is very powerful too (and has Nasty Plot!). Let’s not forget Scrafty, a bulky attacker with great STAB coverage. Of course, there are others great examples I didn’t mention, but let’s not lengthen this paragraph for the sake of your favourites, alright? (None of the Pokémon I mentioned is my favourites)
If it weren’t for the Dark-type, we will have seen Psychics and Ghosts dominating the metagame as they can freely fire off attacks here and there and not worry about something threatening stopping them. This is very evident in the Middle Cup metagame (essentially all Pokémon in the middle stage are only allowed) in Generation 4, because Nuzleaf was the only Dark-type middle-stager, and he/she’s not really the best to hold up against Ghosts and Psychics. In Generation 5, though, we have two new Dark-type middle-stagers (Krokorok and Zweilous), which I guess balances things a bit.
All in all, the Dark-type is a fairly necessary and great addition to the realm of competitive battling, because its addition had given a positive impact to the grand scheme of things.
Along with the Dark-type’s introduction in the video games, the Trading Card Game also introduced the Dark-type in the same Generation. While the correct term used in the TCG is “Darkness”, for simplicity, I will call it the Dark-type here. The basic characteristics of a Dark-type are weakness to Fighting and resistance to Psychic, so you can say that there’s another elemental triangle here. They will also hit certain Psychic-type Pokémon for more damage than usual if they have the Dark weakness.
While the Dark-type was late for the party, that didn’t stop a brand of cards from being published. These Pokémon has “Dark” in their name, but they are not inherently a Dark-type. It’s usually flavour text (because these cards first emerged in the Team Rocket expansion pack), but the fact that they are able to be used with the Darkness Energy cards or have attacks treated as Dark make them more flexible to play. There is also another brand of Pokémon called the Light Pokémon (they have “Light” in their names) which is the opposite of the Dark Pokémon, but they don’t have the benefits the Dark Pokémon had, so naturally they fade into obscurity.
One type of well-known deck involving the Dark-type is the Sablelock deck. It centres on the use of Sableye (Stormfront) to get first-hand advantage against the opponent, because its power allows it to go first. Taking advantage of this, you can use a Supporter card from your deck as an attack like as if you use it, which is an advantage because you can choose what card you want to use, and are essentially allowed to use a second Supporter (normally, only one Supporter can be used a turn). By using the right Supporters, you get to control the match. Or, if you are feeling confident, you can use Sableye’s other attack (does a lot of damage if opponent’s remaining HP is less) with a Special Darkness energy (increases attack in addition to providing energy) to win the game quickly.
Another type of Dark-type deck that was popular is the DragTrode deck. You may be wondering: “both Dragonite and Electrode aren’t Dark-types!”, but with “Dark” in their names, they are now! I just mentioned how some Pokémon with “Dark” in their names can function with Darkness Energy cards. Here’s how the deck works: Dark Dragonite’s Poké-Power allows Dark Energy cards to be shuffled around, and Dark Electrode’s Poké-Power allows a Dark Energy card to come from the deck if it didn’t have a Dark Energy card in the first place. The main attacker is actually a Dark-type, and it’s Rocket’s Sneasel ex. It has a powerful attack called Dark Ring, which gains a power boost for every Dark Pokémon in play, including the aforementioned Dragonite and Electrode, making Sneasel quite a powerhouse. There are a number of Energy cards to choose from here: R Energy gives two Darkness energies, Special Darkness Energy gives a power boost, Dark Metal Energy and Rainbow Energy provide more Dark energies. Why is this mentioned? Because in those days, Darkness Energy cards were considered special cards, so there can only be up to four in a deck, meaning that alternative cards are needed to provide fuel (currently, there exists a Basic Darkness Energy card).
That’s all I can write about the TCG regarding the Dark-types, and I think this is sufficient information to the average Pokémon fan. It would be great if somebody else can fill me in the TCG’s history and background on Dark-types, because my background in the TCG is rather slim.
My favourite type is the Ghost-type, so I felt the Dark-type is interfering with the success of the Ghost-type, so I didn’t really like it that much. However, upon closer inspection, I realised that without them, the Ghost-type will not have much in the way of stopping them. Therefore, I am able to appreciate the Dark-type better because it is a necessity in balance. In actuality, the Ghost-type has some weapons to deal with the Dark-type, like having Fighting coverage (Hidden Power) and using Will-o-Wisp to halve the Attack of the Physical attackers. I say it is fair game. I am also satisfied that the Dark-type is well-treated in terms of type balance, because it’s a balance done right. This is especially true compared to other types, with some overall worse than most (Grass and Ice) and some overall better than most (Water and Steel).
To be honest, I am not particularly impressed with the current selection of Dark-types. It’s likely because they don’t strike to me as interesting. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like everyone. I do enjoy some of the Dark-types too, like Scrafty, Mightyena, Absol, Sableye, Bisharp and Spiritomb. Maybe in the future you can see if I end up liking the Pokémon, but remember that there is a difference between praise and preference, so if a Pokémon family is ranked high, it doesn’t mean I like them!
In terms of moves, they are more interesting. I am a fan of moves with lateral effects, because it makes the Pokémon battle more strategic. Like the Grass-type, the Dark-type has a host of moves with unique effects. Concerning favourites, I like Dark moves more than the Dark Pokémon. Some of the creative effects can only be found by the Dark-type (Pursuit, Taunt and Hone Claws), which makes the Dark-type unique for that reason.
I am about to get to a more unfamiliar territory here. Dark-types are not my favourite, so I do not learn more about them as much as the Grass-type, but that doesn’t stop me from doing some research on the Pokémon, so don’t worry about the quality because I will do my best as usual. I am willing to say that when I am going to work on writing about the Dark-types in the future, I would have gained some appreciation for them, especially on those who I didn’t in the first place. After all, knowing the qualities of someone or something better is one of the ways to better value them.
If you think you've got something to say about this article, feel free to convey them. With that done, I will ceremoniously declare the inauguration of the type reviews on the Dark-type that ensues. With your support, the experience should be more enjoyable this time around. Now you shall excuse me as I make my preparations for what’s to come from here on. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing them.
Thanks for reading.
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