Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gotta Catch 'Em All

Hey ho, folks, J. K. Lantern here. Let's see what question pops out of my Movie Tavern Mug today.

"J.K., we've noticed that you seem to like Pokemon..."

Gee, ya think?

"...and we were wondering what your ideal team would be for each region."

Oh good gravy God. You just want me to keep talking until you get bored to sleep, don't you? Okay, just real quick: we're using the type effectiveness from Generation II and beyond, each Region I'm only picking Pokemon that were available when that Region was introduced (if it gets an evolution in a later generation, tough titties), and I'm not listing moves for my team because this is going to be long enough as it is. And I'm not doing this entirely by what I think would be best to take out specific trainers in the region, I'm just doing this by mons I like for one reason or another. Also, not including Legendaries because that's too cheap. Ready? Go!


The region of the first game, this is the one that people probably know the best, the one that got the ball rolling. While some of the monster designs may seem lackluster compared to the later ones, and while the original games had balance issues due to type distributions, move distributions, and blatant programming errors, the game designers were still getting their footing. And while some of the Gym Leaders may seem like sissies compared to ones in the later games (in an example I find particularly egregious, the first Gym Leader of Diamond and Pearl, Roark, has the same Pokemon PLUS ONE MORE as the first Gym Leader in Red and Blue, Brock), many of them still remain favorites among players to this day. So, let's take a look at what my team would be for this region.

Jolteon (Electric): I sort of have a love-hate relationship with Eevee's extended family. I have no real reason to dislike the Eeveelutions, except that EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER LOVES THEM AND WANTS THEM ALL. Why should this bother me? Well, I was running a Pokemon RPG at one point, and it swiftly became very annoying.

But, of the original three Eeveelutions, this was the one that I liked best, and of the original three, I've been told it's the one that most resembles me (whatever the Hell that means). It's fast, it hits decently hard, and it learns one of the few moves in the original game that could take out a Psychic type.

Golduck (Water): If this one surprised you, then you're either a new reader or there's just no helping you. Psyduck and Golduck are two Pokemon that my friends happen to think I resemble in some fashion, and they have long been favorites of mine. They can learn a decent spread of moves, have a decent spread of stats, and, in case you haven't been paying attention, are ducks with psychic powers. What's not to like?

Hitmonchan (Fighting): Originally, Hitmonchan was kinda lame, simply because of the way attacks were organized. It had all these Elemental Punches that were based on the special attack stat...and a terrible special attack. Now, however, they've reformatted things and those awesome Elemental Punches are now very usable. So Hitmonchan gets the nod for having cool variations in moves.

Scyther (Bug/Flying): Bug Pokemon come in two general groups.

1. Harass, impede, poison, paralyze, and confuse.
2. Hit somebody.

Scyther comes in the second category, which tends to suit my play style better. This is the closest thing to a Ninja Pokemon (at least in Kanto), and it's one I've always liked, so it joins the team.

Ninetails: Ninetails I'm picking for two reasons. First of all, it's always been a Fire Pokemon I've liked, and since (unlike some other Fire Pokemon in this region I could name) its Special Attack is actually better than it's Attack, it can use most Fire Type moves a little better than its compatriots.

The other reason is that it's one that reminds me of a friend, and apparently I'm getting sentimental in my old age.

Muk (Poison): I'll admit, I don't use Poison Types often. They're only strong against one type (Grass), and both of their weaknesses are used fairly often. But, on the other hand, it's a giant slime monster. Unlike Hitmonchan, in the rearrangement of physical and special attacks, Muk got nerfed pretty hard, most of its moves being changed to special from physical. Still, slime monsters are fun, and Muk has been a sentimental favorite of mine for a while, even if its not the ideal team member.

Plus, it was really funny that one time my brother hacked his game to have a Muk with the move Lovely Kiss.


Johto is the region that everyone seems to love. Introduced in Gold and Silver, it was the game that brought us the Day and Night Cycle (with certain mons only available at certain times, or even certain days of the week) and Pokemon breeding. It gave us one hundred new Pokemon, introduced two new types (Dark and Steel), fixed the error that made Psychic immune to Ghost, and gave some more new moves to help fix game balance. New evolution mechanisms were added (such as happiness and by holding an item), and, as a bonus, we got to go back to Kanto once we beat the crap out of everyone in Johto.

Despite all this, Johto is NOT my favorite region. The fact that nearly HALF the Gym Leaders didn't have new Pokemon introduced to this region always bothered me. And I know it's just because you go back to Kanto later in the game, but something about the comparatively low levels of the Gym Leaders and the Elite Four always struck me as wrong. And it didn't help that, in the original Gold and Silver versions, you beat the Elite Four, and then fight the Kanto Gym Leaders who are a good deal lower in level: it takes away some of the challenge of that portion of the game. I think they've done some tweaking of the levels in HeartGold and SoulSilver though, so I guess that's something. Anyway, onto the team.

Ampharos (Electric): So, when I first played Silver, I got my Starter (Totodile, the alligator), and went on my way, excited to find my new Pokemon. I was immediately disappointed that, in the early parts of the game, there just weren't that many new ones, and the ones available were kinda similar to the early ones in Red and Blue (I'm looking at you, Sentret). And while it was possible to get some old faves like Bellsprout, Geodude, and Gastly earlier than you could in previous versions, it just wasn't the same as finding nifty new ones.

And then came an Electric Sheep. Yes, Mareep was the first of the new Pokemon (aside from my starter) that I was excited to find in Pokemon Silver. Thus, it makes the cut.

Houndoom (Dark/Fire): Yes, I know this one wasn't technically available in Johto. It was introduced in Gold and Silver, I'm counting it, so shut up.

So, as I mentioned, in order to tweak the game balance a little, two new types were added in this Generation: Dark, and Steel. Of the two, Dark was the one I was originally more excited about, until I came to an unpleasant revelation: most of the Dark Pokemon weren't actually available until you beat the Elite Four and traveled to Kanto. How utterly infuriating, showing us these new toys and not letting us use them. It's not like they gave us that many, either. And of the Dark types introduced in this Generation, I'd have to say this one was my favorite. Something about having a loyal Hellhound appeals to me. Probably not a good sign.

Kingdra (Water/Dragon): This was the first Dragon Pokemon added outside of the Dratini family. It's also one of those dreaded Pokemon that only evolve when traded with a certain item. Not having people to trade with regularly (either due to a lack of a link cable or a lack of interest), it's always very difficult for me to get one of these. But, I do like it. It's has a certain level of class about it, and really good typing.

Piloswine (Ice/Ground) : Ahem. Mammoth Pig. Do I have to say much more than that? While it's not ideal as an Ice Type, due to low special stats, it's funny looking, and has decent physical attack for most of its Ground Type moves. And did I mention MAMMOTH PIG?

Heracross (Bug/Fighting): Yet another Bug I'm inordinately fond of. This one is fairly straightforward, its main function being to hit things. Hard. Plus there's the fact that you frequently find it hiding in trees. It learns some powerful Bug and Fighting moves, and it has a big freakin' horn coming out the top of its head. It's a pretty popular Pokemon among players, which does lose it some points with me (it gets tiring when everyone uses the same thing), but not enough to get it knocked off the team.

Sudowoodo (Rock): The second generation's equivalent to Snorlax, only funnier. At some point, early in the game, there is a "tree" in your way. When you try to talk to it, it dances. So, you go around a different way, make a roundabout loop, eventually get a squirt bottle, and attempt to water said "tree." Turns out that acting like a tree is a defense mechanism. Which is hilarious, because, being a Rock Type, this thing hates water.

It doesn't have the power behind it that Snorlax does, but it's a fun Pokemon, and one that I enjoy having on my teams.

This region, the setting of Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, catches a lot of flak among Pokemon fans. First of all, these were the first games that weren't compatible with a previous generation, which cheesed a lot of people off. As a result of this lack of compatibility, many of the monsters (especially in the earlier parts of the game) seemed to the players like rehashes of old Pokemon. Also, since this is the set of games that introduced double battling, it introduced a bunch of Pokemon that only seemed to work well (or at all) in a double battle scenario, which is just a little annoying.

That being said, for some reason this tropical region is my favorite in the games. It introduced a bunch of new type combinations, and expanded previously narrow types such as Dark, Steel, Ghost, and Dragon. It also introduced to us Pokemon Abilities, passive things that change how the Pokemon functions under certain conditions. While not all of the abilities are terribly useful or easy to work, there were plenty that I still think are ingenious conceptually. And also, there were one or two unique evolutions introduced in Ruby and Sapphire that I thought were brilliant. And while the Gym Leaders aren't quite as cool as some of the ones in other generations in my opinion, I still enjoyed them, and the Elite four more than makes up for it. Furthermore, this is the game with my favorite Legendaries in them: they were relevant to the plot, had cool effects, and didn't get QUITE as silly as they did in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.

So, what would be my team in Hoenn?

Flygon (Ground/Dragon): In the previous two Generations, you basically had two options if you wanted a Dragon Type on your team: either raise a Dratini to a Dragonite, which could take a while and would make you feel guilty for having a Pokemon with some of the highest stats in the game, or find a Seadra, find a Dragon Scale, and find someone you trusted to trade back and forth with to get a Kingdra. Ruby and Sapphire expanded the pool for Dragons significantly. While a good chunk of them are legendary, three lines of them aren't. And while one of them suffered from the same problem as Dragonite (you feel too much like a cheap bastard when using it), the Altaria and the Flygon lines are a little less unstoppable statwise. And of those two really classy looking Pokemon, Flygon is the one I like a little better.

Cradily (Rock/Grass): This game introduced two new fossils to Pokemon. Of the two fossils, I like this one a little better. First of all, I think it looks cooler, and second of all, it's an ancient plant monster. Hard not to be a fan. And while grass has a lot of weaknesses, and most of the things it does well against are easily covered by other types, it's still easy to work it into a team.

(Fire): I have no idea why I like this one, other than the fact it's a turtle. A defensive Fire Type is a weird combination, but when I used it in Sapphire, hey, it worked. Aside from the Fire starter Pokemon in Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald (FIGHTING FIRE CHICKEN!), this is my favorite of the Fire Types introduced in Generation III. Plus, what other Pokemon could you get away with nicknaming Koopa?

Walrein (Ice/Water): I had trouble picking out a Water Pokemon from this region, just because there are so many that I like. Sure, there are a couple of clunkers lurking beneath the waves, but between some old favorites and a bunch of cool new ones, I really like the Water Pokemon in this region. I ended up going with Walrein because, in addition to being a Water Type I enjoy, it's also possibly my favorite non-Legendary Ice Type.

Shedinja (Bug/Ghost): This one is an easy one to miss, and I still think the method of getting it is one of the most brilliant mechanics in the game. Outside the city with the first gym, you could catch this thing called Nincada. You stick it in your, by now, six mon party, level it up, it evolves, and you get Ninjask, a Rocket Powered Turbo Bug.

But what happens if you evolve it without having a full party? And with an extra Poke Ball in your inventory?

It turns out that, in evolving, the Nincada molts. And, this being the world of Pokemon, if you've got space for it, the exoskeleton comes to un-life and joins your team. Cool!

But wait, it gets funnier. If you take a look at its stats, you notice that it's pretty terrible, especially because it only has one measly hit point. Why would you use it? For its gimmicky ability, of course. Thanks to its Wonder Guard, Shedinja can only be hurt by a couple things:

1. Status effects such as poison and burn.
2. Certain battlefield effects, like Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Stealth Rock
3. Moves that are Super Effective against it. So, Dark, Ghost, Rock, Fire, Flying.

It's pretty much a novelty Pokemon, and most teams probably have something to take it out. But it's one I really love.

Slaking (Normal): This is another gimmicky Pokemon that I think is ingenious. So, in one of the early parts of the game, before you reach the first gym, you might run into Slakoth, a sloth Pokemon. You catch it. "Normal Type? Eh, I'll give it a shot. What the-WHY CAN IT ONLY ATTACK EVERY OTHER TURN? THIS POKEMON IS LAME!"

You then proceed to trade it for the Fighting Type in Rustboro City, the location of the first gym, and forget about it entirely.

Fast Forward a bit. You're now at the Petalburg Gym, your father's gym, fifth gym in the game, Normal Type. "Ha, Normal Type. That's easy. I got a Fighting Type earlier. What should I be worried about?"

The leader sends out this thing. And one shots your Fighting Pokemon. And laughs in your face about it. See, this is the big brother of that Slakoth you traded at the beginning of the game. And while it still can only attack every other turn, it has stats that are just a hair weaker than some Legendary Pokemon. Like Mewtwo. Be afraid.


Ah, Sinnoh, the newest region, the region everyone thinks of as the second golden age of Pokemon...and I don't like it much.

I'll admit, the Gym Leaders have a lot of personality, and we get to see them outside of the Gym environment. And in Diamond and Pearl, one of the Gym Leaders and one of the Elite Four (who are coincidentally best friends) actually have team line ups that seem like they could have been wandering trainers who became Gym Leaders, due to having Pokemon outside of their type specialties in their line-ups. And yes, you can get your Mons from Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen onto your copies of Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. And YES, they brought back Day and Night and day of the week effects.

BUT, I felt that most of the entirely new Pokemon designs were kind of lackluster. Most of the cool designs were evolutions of Pokemon from earlier games, and most of those weren't available until you beat the Elite Four, and most of THOSE required you to do some pain in the butt things to track them down (use a special item and hope you get lucky, or wait for a swarm to arrive).

Additionally, I felt that the Legendary Pokemon got a little bit silly. Among other things, you could catch embodiments of Time, Space, Antimatter, and a Mon that's stated to be the creator of the universe. Isn't that a little extreme, folks? I mean, I know in the last game we had something said to create land, and something said to create water, but we're kinda leaving the nice elemental sphere of things for absurd levels of power, here.

Another beef I have with this region is that, until you beat the game, there are only two families of Fire Pokemon available to you: the Fire Starter Pokemon, or the Ponyta line. That's just a little bit obnoxious, don't you think? They fixed this in Platinum, but still, pretty big thing to overlook when ONE OF YOUR ELITE FOUR MEMBER'S SPECIALTY TYPES IS FIRE. I mean, yes, it's cool that it makes him plausibly a former wandering trainer, but MY GOD, there is such a thing as too far, people!

So, all bitching aside, here's my ideal team.

Magmortar (Fire): Okay, I'll admit it. I thought this thing looked cooler as Magmar.

This is an obnoxiously hard one to get, actually. First of all, in Diamond and Pearl, in order to get it you have to have LeafGreen inserted into the GBA slot of your DS. Then, you go to a certain location after defeating the Elite Four. Because LeafGreen is in, wild Magby will be wandering around. You have to catch one, and hope it's holding a certain item. Then, you have to raise it to a Magmar. And THEN, you have to trade it to someone while it's holding that item to get it to evolve into Magmortar.

Still, Lava Monster? With flame cannons for arms? Sounds cool to me.

Luxray (Electric): Luxray is kind of an odd pick, because, while its physical stats are higher than its special, it is incapable of learning the decent physical Electric attack (Thunder Punch). Still, there's a certain nobility about this Pokemon that I like. And it's not like its special attack stat is so bad that you can't use the better special Electric Type moves on it (say, Thunderbolt, for example). After Ampharos, this might be my favorite Electric Type Pokemon.

Toxicroak (Poison/Fighting): I love Frogs. And what could be better than a frog? A MUAY THAI FROG! This was one of the new designs I was actually excited about. While Poison and Fighting do give you a major weakness to Psychic (along with weaknesses to Ground and Flying), it also gives a good spread of resistances. And with the right ability, Toxicroak even gets an immunity to water type moves. But mostly, I thought this thing looked cool.

Bastiodon (Rock/Steel): Once again, this generation introduce some new fossil Pokemon (along with a novel way of getting them, you actually dig around underground). But wait! What's this? They actually look like dinosaurs! And while Rock/Steel is not great typing, since its three weaknesses (Fighting, Ground, Water) are fairly common, it brings a boatload of resistances with it. Despite its pretty big Achilles' heels, there's still an aura of invincibility about it that appeals to me, between those armored plates and its gigantic head.

Carnivine (Grass): This one comes solely from my love of Swamp Thing. Alan Moore has single handedly engendered a love of monstrous carnivorous plants in me. While Grass isn't a great type, having a lot of weaknesses, and having a relatively narrow band of things it's super effective against, I have a soft spot for this one (and a couple others who didn't happen to make the cut this time around). Carnivine is in.

(Ice/Ghost): Most of you were probably expecting a Water Type here, but I'm going to be honest: I don't like most of the Water Types introduced in this Generation. They aren't necessarily bad, it's just that (aside from the Water starter), none of the new Water Pokemon from this region really strike me as cool. I usually end up having Golduck as my Water Type in Sinnoh as well.

But a winter ghost? A siren in the snow? I can totally work with that.


Holy crap that was a long one. Is anyone still actually awake? Well, if you are, this is J. K. Lantern, signing off for now!

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