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winstein's Dark-type Reviews - Celebrity Specialists

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Today is Christmas, so now is the right time to upload this review. We are almost at the end, everyone!

Our topic today revolves around the celebrities that specialise in the Dark-type. However, our list only consists of Elite Four members, as there is yet to be a Dark-type Gym Leader. You know, sometimes I wonder why having a Dark-type Gym Leader is more special than having an Elite Four member (several types are yet to have their Elite Four equivalent). I guess that it has something to do with being the only one that’s not being done before.

Still, it’s cool that these Dark-type specialists are somewhat cool in their own way. If you are ready, let’s proceed.


“I think Karen is a great character and worthy trainer to be the final member of the Johto League Elite Four.
Her team is well rounded and shows off the then-new Dark type very well, even though part of her team
was not Dark. Her approach to Pokemon is inspirational, stating that it doesn't matter how strong a
Pokemon is, what matters it the bond between Pokémon and trainer.” ~ @Enzap;

Our first Dark-type specialist happens to be the only female in the list; not that that’s an accomplishment, considering how there are only three specialists. Karen is an Elite Four member, and is the last one you will face in the gauntlet, meaning that she should be hard, right? Maybe. I don’t consider her old look impressive, considering how she could very well pass off as someone of the Beauty trainer class. Her appearance also got a makeover in the remake, like the other characters. She no longer looks generic (her blue hair was the only notable trait), and now looking more relevant to the times.

She is supposedly designed that way because she likes the wild, “bad-boy” image (or the “bad-girl” image, in her case) and the dark power they portray. In the past, she had a simple black and vertically-striped dress (the latter makes someone looks fatter), which I don’t recall seeing an official art of. Her current sense of fashion gives off that image too, I think. Clothes are not the only thing that changed over the times. Her hair was initially at shoulder-length (according to the in-game sprite), but it’s now up to the hip.

One of Karen’s quotes is one that certain people would remember. To reiterate: “Strong Pokémon. Weak Pokémon. That is only the selfish perception of people. Truly skilled Trainers should try to win with the Pokémon they love best”. It inspired what is called “Karenism”, people who believe that every Pokémon have potential to be great. This is certainly a valid philosophy, as there is more enjoyment to be had when you win with something you like, rather than something strong you don’t fully enjoy. Sometimes, team support is important if you are planning on winning with something “weak”. However, the Pokémon I like are generally pretty good in the first place (like Chandelure and Clefable), so don’t take my interests as an example.

(Here’s another instance where Murkrow lifted people, despite their size and weight.)

Because of the scarcity of Dark-types back in Generation 2, Karen understandably doesn’t have a full Dark-type team. This is a rather common practice in Sinnoh, believe it or not, because certain types are in short supply. For example: Flint, despite being an Elite Four member, only had two Fire-types in Diamond and Pearl. Even though there are only five Dark-type families introduced early on, it is strange that Karen doesn’t have a full team of them, as in those days, Elite Four members typically pack five Pokémon. The ones she lacked are Sneasel and Tyranitar. It might be possible that they might have made Karen’s team too strong, especially in the case of Tyranitar. If you are wondering, her other two Pokémon are Vileplume and Gengar, and both share the Poison-type. It’s hard to see how Vileplume is a “Dark” Pokémon other than its hue, and neither Pokémon knows any Dark-type moves. Like every Gym Leader and Elite Four member later on, her final team is, true to form, a mono-type team (obviously, her team is a Dark-type team). The new members are Weavile (which makes up for the lack of Sneasel earlier), an Absol, and a Spiritomb (possibly to have something for Fighting-types).

Her main Pokémon is Houndoom, because that’s the Pokémon with the highest level in her team. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Pokémon Adventures, considering how her first appearance shows her with an Umbreon (there’s Murkrow too, by the way). Her future appearance does provide her with a Houndoom among the main ranks, though. Her preference for Umbreon apparently extends to the Pokémon Stadium games, as there’s a lack of Houndoom, but her only Dark-types are Umbreon and Murkrow.

However, Karen appeared in the Pokémon Special manga. She is one of the six children taken care by the Masked Man, and those children are essentially divided into three pairs with different age groups. One of the pairs consists of the two new Elite Four members, her and Will. They are considered the middle age of the pairs. The oldest pair are Rocket executives, while the youngest pair includes the chosen ones for the PokéDexes (who escaped the clutches of the Masked Man at a young age), but I won’t spoil the names of those protagonists. Anyway, they didn’t have a huge appearance back in the Johto saga, only appearing near the end, as guards of the Ilex Shrine while the Masked Man attempted to get Celebi to open up a portal to the past. If I recall correctly, after that time travel plan failed, they had nowhere to go, and then joined forces with Koga and Bruno because they used to do bad stuff, so they are atoners. Of course, that means they form the Elite Four, and it’s just as planned. I heard they made an appearance later on in the HeartGold and SoulSilver chapter, but I don’t know what their roles then are.

Sadly, Karen didn’t make an appearance in the anime. Actually, neither of the two new Elite Four members made an appearance at all. It’s possible that Elite Four members weren’t high priority back in those days, although there is space for Will (the other new member) and her to appear within the saga, as there were a lot of non-important episodes during the Johto saga. The time had already passed, so it’s futile to wish for the saga to improve. It’s too bad the second opportunity isn’t taken to feature them when HeartGold and SoulSilver were still hot, meaning that it’s unlikely for them to appear in the anime.

In the end, Karen’s influence is felt among the fans (here’s one fan’s interpretation on Karenism) with a nice philosophy, although you probably didn’t hear about this a lot, considering how HeartGold and SoulSilver’s freshness is gone for now. Beyond that though, Karen strikes me as just an average specialist, as her looks are not very impressive (to me, at least). No offense, fans.

7 Dresses out of 10!

+ Encouraging Philosophy in Karenism
+ Has a great reason to pursue Dark-types
+ Rematch team is awesome
- Generally unimpressive looks
- Lack of anime appearance
- Initial team isn’t completely Dark-type


“For fans who began with RSE, Sidney was the first Elite Four member they'd met. It's too bad he
doesn't make more of an impression -- his team is fine, and he has an unusual design, but without
any quotable lines or appearances outside of Ever Grande he suffers in the
realm of 'Forgotten Elite Four Members.” ~ @Fennel;

Our next Dark-type specialist also has a decent sense of fashion, with his trademark Mohawk hairstyle. Like Karen, he’s another Elite Four member. If you ask me, I didn’t think that Sidney is a Dark-type specialist. I do have a soft spot for this guy, because he doesn’t have any major appearances so far, making him feel a bit obscure because he’s not a major character.

Sidney is the kind of person who believes that “might is right”. This could mean that when dealing with situations, he is one to tackle it head-on and being direct in its solution. Based on how he speaks to the player when fighting, he sounds like an energetic person, and when he lost, he takes it well (which some people battling online ought to do). In the manga, Sidney possesses an electric guitar, which gives him an appearance of a rock star. Well, he does look like the kind of person who knows how to play a guitar, from the way he dresses and his hair. After all, he looks somewhat like a punk. He acknowledges this too (in the PokéNav), and prefers that people don’t underestimate him based on looks.

Sidney is one to take advantage of the increased abundance of Dark-types in Hoenn, because his team consists of different Dark-types. His team includes Cacturne, Crawdaunt or Sharpedo (depending on the version you play), Mightyena, Shiftry and Absol. He gets bonus points for having a Hoenn-only team, but then again, none of the Generation 2 Dark-types can be found in Hoenn. It’s a pity that Sidney’s team never got an update no matter how many times you faced him, unlike the Gym Leaders in Hoenn. However, his manga counterpart in Pokémon Special doesn’t really show him as a Dark-type specialist. To elaborate, his only known Pokémon is a Zangoose, a Normal-type Pokémon. It does learn a few Dark-type moves like Pursuit and Taunt, but Zangoose isn’t really a Dark-type by nature.

Speaking of the manga, Sidney has an important role, although not to the extent of other recurring characters. Basically, as an Elite Four member, Sidney is to take part in helping in fixing the disaster caused by Kyogre and Groudon fighting. He helped break the seal imbued on Regirock, and was able to awaken the Legendary Regi Pokémon, with Sapphire and Steven’s help. Sidney, together with Drake, were in charge of controlling Regirock while the two giants were in a brawl until something happened to Steven. I guess he was given Regirock because he’s a “rock”-star! (That was silly.)

(Sidney and his guitar. We never actually have an official guitarist specialist until Black 2 and White 2. Note the Zangoose, who is not a Dark-type.)

According to the game, his strategy is all-out offence. In terms of stats, this is true to an extent, because all his Pokémon are indeed offensively-inclined. All-out offence implies that his Pokémon are to dish out as much damage as possible on the get-go, but only two of them could be classified as such (Crawdaunt and Absol) with their ability to boost their Attack. Sure, the others have at least one strong attack in their disposal, but they also have something disruptive. Mightyena has Sand-Attack (which, despite being a Ground-type move, could still hit those immune to Ground) and Intimidate, not to mention Roar. That’s not too bad, but if you plan to set-up, that’s something to take note of. Cacturne has Cotton Spore and Leech Seed, both annoying moves you could easily switch out of. Sharpedo has Swagger, which you could take advantage of if you have a Persim Berry handy. Probably the most annoying of them all is Shiftry. It possesses both Swagger and Double Team, which reduces the chances of hitting it. In Emerald, it has Torment instead of Fake Out, making it harder to manage if left unchecked. Its only attack is Extrasensory (which is presumably for Fighting-types), so you might be able to use a Dark-type to wall it. It’s a good thing that none of these Pokémon are defensively exceptional, so you should apply an all-out offence approach to take care of his team.

There is something about the Hoenn Elite Four that stood out the least amongst every other Elite Four. From what I see, they’re very unpopular, and you don’t see people talking about them as much as the others. Even in DeviantArt, when looking for Glacia, the most popular entries are related to Glaceon! It didn’t help that only Drake made an appearance in the anime. If you ask me, their choice of fashion could have something to do with it. If you noticed, the Sinnoh, Unova, Kanto (to an extent) and the updated Johto Elite Four are real stand-outs in terms of fashion, which make them more memorable, and this makes the Hoenn one rather bland in comparison. To make matters worse, none of the Elite Four members look like their outfits matches their type! Drake could pass off as a Water-type specialist, Phoebe could be a Grass-type one, Glacia (the only one that looks remotely like her specialised type) might do well as a Poison-type one, and Sidney could take up Fire-types. However, like all Hoenn Elite Four members, he does have his own Stadium card called Sidney’s Stadium, which grants any Dark-types status immunity to Sleep, Confusion and Paralysis. I think that is pretty cool, because they’re essentially acknowledging their own types by granting them some privileges.

All in all, there is something about Sidney’s obscurity that makes him likeable, and it’s a pity that the Hoenn Elite Four is rather forgettable. Here’s hoping the future Hoenn remake (in Generation 6) would do him justice.

6 Guitars out of 10!

+ Solid Dark-type team
+ Reasonable design
- Bland design makes him forgettable
- His design doesn’t imply his specialism
- Lack of anime appearance
- Team lacks updates (like other Elite Four members)


“Grimsley is a very mysterious, awesome character. He seems to have an interesting backstory, but not
much about it is actually revealed. And why, with the exception of Sharpedo/Scrafty, does he use only
female Pokémon? Grimsley has an awesome design, and excellent taste in Pokémon.” ~ @Neosquid;

Our final Dark-type specialist for now is the suave and smart-looking Grimsley. Again, like the other two specialists, he is an Elite Four member. His placement among the four is not set, so he could be your first opponent, second, third or even fourth. However, one thing for certain: his room is quite cool, like the other members. You have a haunted house room (Shauntal), a glorious bedroom (Caitlin), a fighting ring (Marshal), and what’s Grimsley’s room? To quote Bulbapedia: “The room is somewhat of an elegant ballroom, reminiscent of vampire castles and 1800s Eastern European design”.

In terms of appearance, Grimsley looks like a rather devilish person, because his hair is “horny”, similar to how Liepard’s ears are pointy and Batman’s pointy “ears”. His sinisterly appearance is actually inspired by the traditional vampire, as in the Dracula-like ones, which explains his dark garb and pointy appearance. In addition to the vampire inspiration, the red and black colours on his suit are inspired by the roulette found in casinos, which matches his gambling habit. Yes, that’s right, Grimsley is shown to have an affinity in gambling! According to develop interviews, he took this up as a result of his distinguished family falling into ruin. He is also the kind of person who believes that results matter.

(Apparently, his affinity of gambling covers the Pokémon TCG as well.)

Grimsley’s Pokémon team, like the other Elite Four members of Unova, consists of different available Pokémon found there. His team includes Liepard, Scrafty, Krookodile and Bisharp. The latter is presumably his main Pokémon, because it has the highest level, despite being underleveled (it’s at Level 50, whereas Level 52 is its evolution level). There’s a reason his Bisharp is his main Pokémon: trainer and Pokémon have the same thematic colours of red and black! It’s arguable that Liepard is his main Pokémon, and don’t worry, I thought so too because they are “pointy”, but besides some fan art, this isn’t shown to be the case.

His team’s gender is out of the norm. While other trainers opt to have Pokémon with the same gender as them (therefore making Attract easier to abuse in-game), only one of Grimsley’s Pokémon is a male. In his case, Scrafty is the male. Oddly, in his updated team, the Scrafty is female. Like his old team, only one of his members is a male, and that is his Sharpedo! Besides those five Pokémon mentioned, Drapion is his other new Dark-type. His team is generally offensive, because all his Pokémon have attacks, and they’re all Physical! This makes life easy for a Physical wall like Skarmory or Gliscor, so keep this in mind. Just watch out for Bisharp’s Guillotine if not using a Pokémon with Sturdy!

So far, Grimsley haven’t appeared in the anime, which is also the case with the Elite Four. Then again, none of the Dark-type specialists appeared before. Hopefully, if Ash finally being able to obtain a Dark-type Pokémon is of any indication, there shouldn’t be a problem with a Dark-type specialist appearing in the show on one occasion.

(He’s the hooded person, in case you didn’t notice.)

He appeared in the Pokémon Special manga, though. On his first appearance at Route 4, he was in disguise and played a game of Card Flip (that Johto Game Corner game) with the workers there, for them to do something during their breaks. He quickly got acquainted with Black while there, and challenged him to guess where the local Drilbur will pop up. When a worker fell into a Drilbur-made hole, he realised that that worker is an impostor, since that worker didn’t follow the instruction to not go to the side where they were playing the game. This impostor turns out to be a Plasma Grunt (revealed later), whom Grimsley defeated handily with his main Pokémon Bisharp. After that, he revealed more of himself to Black and had a battle, in which the loser had to give up something precious. On Black’s side, those precious things are his Gym badges so far (at this point, he has three), because he needed that to compete at the League, of course. Eventually, he collapses at the dilemma. Grimsley saw that and understood why he fainted (he believed that he could have chosen something else to bet), so he left him unawake or Black might go back to worrying again, deciding that personally battling him at the League is a better idea.

Since Grimsley is the most recent Dark-type specialist, starting this Generation, there’s not much else to say about him at this point. Despite this, Grimsley strikes me as the best Dark-type specialist of the bunch, thanks to his great design, wonderful Pokémon choice and generally being a cool guy.

10 Roulettes out of 10!

+ Great design that suggests his specialism
+ Choice of Pokémon is great
+ An intriguing personality
- Haven’t appeared in the anime yet

That’s all for our Dark-type specialists, folks. We have covered pretty much all the essentials of the Dark-type, from the Pokémon to the specialists, but there is one more entry that I am cooking up regarding the Dark-types, so it’s not over. What will it be about? It will be the Award Ceremony! To be honest, that was going to be a surprise, but considering how I already presented you the Grass- and Poison-type versions of it, it probably won’t be a surprise anymore. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. Envoy's Avatar
    The Gen III Elite really is under appreciated with the fans. I wonder why that is. You say their fashion sense has something to do with it, but I dunno. Maybe it's the fact that they're the most bland of the Elites? We don't really get to learn much about them at all. For the Kanto and Johto Elites, we had FrLg and HgSs to develop them further, The Sinnoh group at least had Flint, which you met outside the League a couple of times, and the Unova Elite is unique in that they don't have a set order of encountering them; plus their insanely cool rooms.

    Maybe the Hoenn Elite just didn't bring anything new to the table. Either in terms of character or novelty value. They don't really show up outside Ever Grande, they don't have much personality (Sidney: Hi...I do stuff. Phoebe: I look and act nothing like the type I'm supposed to represent. Glacia: I'm foreign. Drake: Fear my old guy abs.) They don't have any novel mechanic like the Unova Elite; they're not composed of characters from past games like the Johto Elite. They're just...there.

    Maybe it's the seemingly random choices for character designs. Since when does hula dancer=Ghosts? Or shirtless ship captain=dragons? Since when does Swedish (because in my mind, she's Swedish) foreigner=Ice types? And as far as punks and rockers go, Sidney's as vanilla as it gets. Seriously, he wears a vest. What self-respecting punk wears a vest?

    Or maybe it's that they act a lot more friendly toward the player than other Elite Four members. It gave what were essentially the final bosses of Hoenn an air of "Let's have fun with Pokemon" over a tough, final hurdle the player was supposed to overcome; inadvertently making them feel less threatening than they should have been.

    I dunno. It just feels like Game Freak didn't put as much time and effort into these guys as they did the others. Sort of like they only put them there because it was a requirement (a tradition, if you will,) not because they actually wanted to. It's one of the reasons I was initially disappointed with Ruby and Sapphire. Defeating the Elite 4 felt kind of...I dunno...hollow, maybe? It just didn't have as much impact as defeating either of the Indigo leagues.
    Updated 24th December 2012 at 06:28 PM by Envoy
  2. PhilosophyPhlare's Avatar
    Good read not a big fan of Karenism IV's, Nature's, Egg moves, hidden abilities and all but still a good read.
  3. Enzap's Avatar
    Gen III is probably my favorite, but I do admit that the E4 are pretty boring overall. The only one with a really interesting character design is Phoebe, in my opinion. Also the repeat Pokemon on almost all of their teams makes them a bit boring to battle.
  4. Winterdaze's Avatar
    Also the repeat Pokemon on almost all of their teams makes them a bit boring to battle.
    Pretty much this. I always found them a chore to battle because of the insane number of repeats, Glacia's team consists of only two evolutionary families! Sidney was always the most memorable of that bunch to me, but that's not really saying much.

    Something new the Hoenn Elites did bring to the table was Elite Four battle music, which is something I guess.
  5. Envoy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Winterdaze

    Something new the Hoenn Elites did bring to the table was Elite Four battle music, which is something I guess.
    True, but not enough.

    I will never understand why they chose to have an Ice type specialist in a region with only two Ice type families. Wouldn't a Grass or, hell, even a Bug type specialist have made more sense?
  6. Kyriaki's Avatar
    @Grass Type Trainer;
    I fully agree with that part. Hoenn introduced a lot of Grass and Bug pokemon, so either of them would've been fine. But to have an Ice-type specialist with the lack of Ice types...

    That goes for Phoebe as well. She also has two or three Dusclops, though her main pokemon was Sableye (which was the only cool thing about her).

    Anyways, I found this blog really interesting to read. Since Best Wishes isn't over, I guess we can hope for Grimsley to appear.
  7. zakisrage's Avatar
    I hope Grimsley gets to be in the anime. And I hope he's not portrayed as an arrogant jerk or a criminal. We don't need another rich jerk with the personality of a William Zabka villain.
  8. winstein's Avatar
    @Grass Type Trainer; Your guesses about how Hoenn's Elite Four are rather unexceptional are a lot better than how I could explain it. Indeed that is the weakest aspect of Hoenn, not the watery portions of the region like some people thought. Bug or Grass sounds better as Elite Four members, since they are more abundant than either Ghost or Ice (a Dark-type Elite Four made sense, because there are a good chunk of them in Hoenn).

    Thanks for reading.
  9. Enzap's Avatar
    I've always thought that the Hoenn dex begged for a Grass type specialist, whether a gym or E4 member. We had the Shroomish, Seedot, Lotad, Roselia, Tropius, Lileep, and Cacnea families to work with. Plus the extremely common Oddish line.

    Jumping to a different subject, I never really payed much attention to Grimsley until reading this analysis. But I totally agree that he is probably be best representative of the Dark type so far. I like how you pointed out that his hair resembles a Liepard's ears (I've noticed a recurring theme of Gym leaders and E4 members sharing traits with certain Pokemon).

    I'm really wanting a Dark gym leader next gen. I'm not sure why we haven't had one yet.
  10. winstein's Avatar
    @Enzap; Yeah, that's true. Grass-type is one of the more abundant types every Generation, along with Water, Flying and Normal. It's good that the next two regions gave us Grass-type specialists. Still, I think we need a break for Water-type specialists. In my opinion, we have too many at this point.

    Dark is one of the types that could be an early gym, because it doesn't have type conflicts with any starter types, unlike Rock. It's the reason I think Normal is an ideal first Gym (B2W2).

    Thanks for reading.
  11. Owain's Avatar
    Great read overall, as always, but I do have one complaint this time.

    You praised Sidney's looks and then said they were a minus because they made him forgettable, I guess I do understand what you were trying to say, but maybe if it was worded a little better.

    Also, IIRC, Vileplume is on Karen's team because the flower that it is based on is nocturnal.
  12. Shiny Staraptor's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by winstein
    ...and when he lost, he takes it well (which some people battling online ought to do).
    Best line in the whole article.
    But yeah, I think the Hoenn Elite Four are very underrated and forgotten. I've played through Emerald once or twice, and I liked all their designs. As always, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable. :)
  13. Envoy's Avatar
    @winstein If we count Misty twice (once for RGBY and once for GSC,) we've literally had at least one Water specialist every generation.
    Gen I-Misty.
    Gen II-Misty (again.)
    Gen III-Juan. Wallace. Archie.
    Gen IV-Crasher Wake.
    Gen V-Cress. Marlon.
  14. winstein's Avatar
    @Serperior; Yeah, I did say his design is reasonable, but not to the point of standing out, considering how Hoenn E4's not very famous (something I wasn't quite able to explain properly). I think Grass Type Trainer puts it best on why the Hoenn Elite Four are under-appreciated (the first comment in this blog).

    Thanks for reading.
    Updated 26th December 2012 at 12:37 AM by winstein


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