The Pokémon franchise is frequently snarked on for resting on its laurels. For being afraid to change up the formula. Speaking as a huge fan myself, there’s denying that this is totally valid. After all, everybody knows how your typical Pokémon game goes. You set out to be the very best, you tackle the gyms, a nefarious and fairly incompetent ‘Villainous Team’ gets in your way throughout… it’s pretty standard stuff.
The experience is much more than the sum of its parts, sure, but when you boil it right down, very little has changed since the original games released twenty years ago. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your perspective, but there it is. As the series has gone on, Game Freak have thrown in a number of gimmicks to mix things up a little. Pokémon Sun and Moon, for instance, did away with HMs, gym battles and the like, while staying true to what it means to be a Pokémon game. On a smaller scale, the battle mechanics have seen new additions like Mega Evolution.
The jury’s still out on this one. When we first heard of Mega forms of Pokémon, it seemed like a great way to bring otherwise-irrelevant ‘mon into the limelight a little. Mega Druddigon, for instance? I’d have been all over that. Sadly, this wasn’t quite how it worked out. As is always the case with the series, the balance ended up way off. We saw some monstrous powerhouses like Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Rayquaza, and some questionable ones (Mega Garchomp, for instance, is outshined by its own regular form for the most part). Let’s dive into the shonky world of Mega Evolution.
Charizard is a Pokémon that’s always been a fan favourite. Along with Mewtwo, it’s the only Pokémon to have received two distinct Mega forms, which says a lot about their popularity.
At the same time, though, its vanilla form’s stats are nothing stellar, and it’s been a real pain to use ever since our old friend Stealth Rock came along.
The flaming lizard was tossed a huge lifeline in the form of Mega Charizard Y, though. Its speed remains the same, but it gets a huge boost in Special Attack. On top of which, it gains the auto-sun ability Drought, which boosts the power of its Fire-type attacks to astronomic proportions.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. Mega Alakazam isn’t weak in the conventional sense. You wouldn’t want to make disparaging remarks about the weight this guy’s been putting on lately, that’s for darn sure. With a base Special Attack of 175 and a base Speed of 150, it’s built to be a darn fast and fearsome special sweeper.
Which is all well and good, but Mega Alakazam is held back by the simple fact that it needs to hold its Mega Stone. Generally, Alakazam wants a Focus Sash, so it’s not knocked into the year 3065 by a slight breeze. Priority is everywhere, and Speed alone isn’t enough.
Ah, yes. Here she is, friends, Mega Kangaskhan herself. If you’ve been playing competitive Pokémon for a few years now, you’ll remember Mega Kangaskhan’s reign of terror. I still wake up some nights howling NOT FAKE OUT! NOOOOO! Seriously. My wife’s sent me to sleep on the couch about twenty times for this.
I never thought I’d be so afraid of/sick of the sight of Kangaskhan, of all Pokémon, but there it is. With its dreaded Power-Up Punch shenanigans (yep, it got two boosts from the one attack), this darn thing was everywhere.
Fortunately, its Parental Bond ability has been nerfed as of generation eight, with the second hit now only dealing a quarter of the damage of the first.
If it was surprising to see the humble Kangaskhan emerging as a powerhouse, it was downright gobsmacking to see Mawile doing the same. This sub-par Steel-type was a complete nonentity, the sort of Pokémon you wouldn’t even notice if its toupee suddenly caught fire on the subway. Suddenly, Mega Mawile appeared, and the world took notice.
It has decently bulky stats to take hits, as well as one of the highest raw Attack stats in the game (when Huge Power is taken into account). Its Steel and Fairy typing is very nice, too. An all-around excellent pick for a team.
As a huge Final Fantasy fan, I can totally appreciate the design of Mega Audino. It’s got a bizarre White-Mage-crossed-with-a-rabbit vibe going on, and heck, what’s not to like about that?
It’s right down in the lowest tier of Mega Forms, though, there’s no denying. It serves perfectly well as a tank and cleric (with the Healer ability to help out your partner in doubles), but that’s not really something you want to spend your only Mega Evolution on. Typically, you want your once-per-battle Mega to crush the opposing team into sad hunks of defeated, fleshy spam, and Mega Audino really isn’t up to that task.
Now, there are a lot of inexplicable things happening in this shonky world of ours just now. Just flip on the news or scroll down a social media timeline for a second or two, you’ll soon see that.
What a bizarre time to be alive. Of all of them, though, nothing’s quite as strange as the fact that Beedrill can actually be deemed OP now. Much like Mega Alakazam, Mega Beedrill is a very fast, very feeble and very threatening attacker. Base 150 Attack with Adaptability thrown in?
If you can keep it away from priority, Beedrill can punch holes with the best of them.
Yes, I know. I hear you. I’ve seen the memes. Mega Salamence does have unfortunate, hilariously-shaped wings. That’s beside the point, though. We’re not here to judge. That is, we are, but we’re here to judge raw dang POWER, not designs.
Raw dang POWER, needless to say, is Mega Salamence’s strong suit. In its vanilla form, Salamence has lost a little ground to the likes of Garchomp, but there’s no arguing with its Mega form. It’s powerful; able to hit hard from both ends of the spectrum with high base power moves (backed by Aerilate). At base 120, it’s also got just the Speed boost it needs.
Who? Wh… oh, dang, I haven’t had that song stuck in my head for about twenty years. Good job, me. Poor Mega Houndoom. It faces that familiar Pokémon issue: it isn’t weak by any means, it’s just that there’s something else more OP that renders it largely irrelevant.
In this case, it’s Mega Charizard Y, the sun sweeper of choice for just about everybody. Mega Houndoom is faster, and boasts the ability Solar Power (which boosts the strength of its special attacks in exchange for a little HP each turn), which is super neat. The trouble is, you can only have one or the other, and the utility of Charizard Y’s Drought usually trumps that.
In my eyes, Heracross has always been a great offensive Pokémon. Bug/Fighting comes with some unfortunate flaws (read: a Pidgey could probably Gust it into oblivion, with that 4x weakness), but its high-powered twin STABs, Close Combat and Megahorn (along with good coverage moves), can obliterate a whole range of foes.
Its major drawback, for me, has always been its average Speed (Choice Scarf Moxie has been my set of choice). Mega Heracross amplifies both of these traits. With no possibility of a speed-boosting item, you’ll need speed control support, but it’s totally worth it. Mega Heracross can wreck some real havoc.
Now, see, this is too much right here. Think of all the Pokémon that were crying out for a Mega Evolution. Mega Dunsparce, say, or even Mega Mr. Mime (imagine what a horror show that could have been). All these great candidates, and what do we get? Mega Rayquaza, that’s what we get.
Already super-strong, Rayquaza was totally fine. Game Freak, however, came along and buffed it all the way to the top of Mount What-The-Heckola. Not only are its stats absurd, not only does it have an exclusive weather effect all its own (mysterious air currents, which remove the Ice, Rock and Electric weaknesses of Flying-types), but it doesn’t need a Mega Stone. Slapping a Choice Band on something with base 180 Attack is just… I need to lie down for a minute.
Irked as I am to have to put my favourite Mega Evolution on this side of the rundown, let’s be honest with ourselves here: it’s definitely not top-tier material.
Mega Sceptile is another fast and frail physical attacker, and a unique Grass- and Dragon-type (a typing shared only by Alolan Exeggutor). Base 145 Speed is among the fastest in the game, but it’s definitely not a physical attacker and its special offense is only workable. It can clean up weakened teams well, but it doesn’t have the power it needs to sweep otherwise. Plus, it’s got that hilarious holiday tree of a tail.
Typically, powerful Pokémon tend to fall into one of two groups: they’re either frail and fast or slow and tanky. You can’t have everything, and that’s usually the price you pay. Mega Swampert, however, doesn’t give a single rat’s toenail about that. Thanks to its Swift Swim ability, it’s one of the fastest and sturdiest threats around.
Weather has had a bit of nerf lately (it’s always turn-limited), so you’ve got to work around that, but if you can? It’s a bad time for your opponent.
See those absurd biceps? Imagine them barrelling towards your face at about 300 mph. that’s what Mega Swampert is capable of.
Mega Venusaur, for me, is probably one of the more ‘appropriate’ Mega Evolutions. It’s taken everything that Venusaur is supposed to be and dialled it up several notches. That’s what this whole process was always supposed to be about, after all.
What we’re looking at here is a Venusaur that’s clearly living its very best life. One that’s tanking hits and dishing back some healthy damage of its own, while also distributing a few status shenanigans and Leech Seeds along the way. Mega Venusaur is defensively beastly, particularly with the Thick Fat ability negating two of its biggest weaknesses (Fire and Ice).
Our poor old buddy Mega Aerodactyl is another Pokémon that suffers from that familiar issue: it really wants its item. Aerodactyl likes to do its usual Aerodactyl things: setting up Stealth Rocks, surviving on its Focus Sash, dishing out a quick Rock-type attack here and there. It’s not a big offensive threat, most of the time, and it isn’t trying to be.
Mega Aerodactyl, with its buffed Attack power and Tough Claws ability (which isn’t really compatible with its main moves), is trying to be. Is falls a little short in those stakes, compared to other offensive Megas, and that’s the problem. It’s not especially bad, but it’s heavily outclassed.
Yet another frail special sweeper, Gengar’s general role has been defined for years. It’s all about Shadow Balls, Sludge Bombs and the occasional Destiny Bond trickery.
Mega Gengar is faster with more special attack, for sure, but it doesn’t tend to take the straight-out offense role. With its handy ability Shadow Tag (which prevents the opponent from switching), it’s a truly fearsome Perish Song trapper.
It’s brutally effective and absolutely zero fun for the opponent, just the kind of strategy that a Gengar would choose to employ in the real world. That doesn’t make it okay, though, because it totally isn’t.
Generally speaking, Fairy-type Pokémon have one trait in common: they’re super-cute. It’s a shame nobody told Granbull, but then it’s supposed to look like a bulldog that’s run headfirst into a brick wall, so I suppose it’s fine.
Fairies also tend to be very viable, thanks to their solid stats and the usefulness of their typing. Of them all, though, I’d have to plump for Mega Diancie as the most formidable. It may not look like much, but its all-round solid stats, great mixed offenses and powerful STABs make it one heckola of a tough customer. Not a fairy princess to mess with.
Ice has always been my favourite type, but it’s not an easy one to support. My childhood dream of being an Ice-type Gym Leader in the Pokémon World was shattered when I later realised what a difficult life that would be.
Not just because the Pokémon world isn’t real (a bit of a logistical hurdle for any potential career aspiration, that), but because Ice-types are weak to absolutely everything ever.
As such, defensive Ice-types just don’t function very well. The super-slow Mega Abomasnow has decent bulk to compensate for its lack of Speed, but can’t really use it. it needs Trick Room support to function well, and even then, it doesn’t quite have the brute force for the job.
With its great all-round stats and typing, the spidery supercomputer that is Metagross has always been a solid pick for a team. Like its fellow Steel/Psychic types (Jirachi and Bronzong), it took a hit with the Steel nerf, but is it going to let a newfound weakness to Dark and Ghost bring it down? Oh, heck no.
To compensate, it was given a Mega Evolution, and what a Mega Evolution it is. Metagross 2.0 has very competitive Speed at base 110, buffed power and defences, and the perfect ability to complement its physical STABs: Tough Claws. It’s even got some nice powerful priority in Bullet Punch, should you choose to run it.
It’s time for another disclaimer: I’m not snarking on Mega Pidgeot for the sake of it. I think it’s another great example of Mega Evolution done right. Anything that make freaking Pidgeot a little viable deserves credit, after all.
That’s the trouble, though, it’s only a little viable. Its big selling point (along with its heightened Speed and Special Attack) is its No Guard ability, which works well with its movepool. STAB 100% accurate Hurricane is quite an asset, after all, and it’s handy with Heat Wave too (for those darn Steel-types that resist Flying).
Yet again, though, it just doesn’t quite have as much raw power as it would like, and is usually left in the dust in favour of stronger Megas.
As we’ve already seen, Charizard was blessed with two separate Mega Evolutions. Competitively, Mega Charizard Y has proven to be a much more popular pick. This isn’t to say that you can count Charizard X out. Underestimate this thing for a second, and it’ll tear you several new bodily orifices.
Mega Charizard X is a Dragon- and Fire-type, a predominantly physical attacker. It has two hugely powerful STAB moves, Outrage and Flare Blitz, both of which are further boosted by Tough Claws. If you let it get a Dragon Dance up because you thought it was Charizard Y (which happens pretty darn frequently to me), you’re in for a world of pain.
Now, I’ve got to admit, I’m a little conflicted about this one. I just don’t know how to feel about Mega Sharpedo. I’ve always been a fan of this Pokémon in its base form, but it’s such a tough one to use. It’s strong, but not enough to make up for its truly woeful defences.
The same’s true of Mega Sharpedo. You don’t see it very often, as it isn’t on par with other offensive behemoths. It can be effective if you play to its strengths, for sure, but it’s much more difficult to fit into a team than other Pokémon.
Now, see, this is why we can’t have nice things. The trouble with Mega Evolutions (and with Pokémon in general, come to that) is that they’re just not created equal. They can’t be, of course, owing to the sheer amount of them.
Competitive Pokémon is all about picking the very best choices for the job, and in lower tier play, those choices will be vastly different. In standard play, though, you very rarely see Mega Medicham, simply because it’s outclassed. It’s not bad, per se (as with Mega Mawile, it has a silly Attack stat with Pure Power), but isn’t very fast and its defences and typing are only average.
Ah, yes. The early days of Pokémon X and Y were a wild time, weren’t they? This was when Mega Kangaskhan was everywhere, Talonflame was considered OP and Fairies were the cool new novelty toy everybody wanted to play with.
Of Fairy-types, I’d say that Mega Gardevoir is right up there among the most feared. This was largely due to its Pixilate ability, which allowed to it to spam super-powerful Hyper Voices. That’s what the metagame is often about: simple but darn effective strategies, and Mega Gardevoir defines that whole concept neatly.
There’s also a little variety in how it can be built, whether purely offensively or utilising its considerable special bulk.
Over the course of the main story, Lucario is the first Pokémon we see achieve Mega Evolution. It’s our trial Mega, in that sense, the one that teaches us how the mechanic works. We’re even given that ‘practise’ Lucario to keep as part of the storyline.
It stands to reason, then, that Game Freak would want our first experience with the system to leave an impression. Mega Lucario is a very impressive Pokémon, sporting high offenses on both sides of the spectrum, good speed and Adaptability to further bolster its power.
This is a Close Combat you don’t want to mess with, right here.
Again, weak isn’t quite the word here. With a formidable base 165 Attack, Mega Banette is certainly capable of crushing hopes, dreams and Earthly souls into dust when it wants to.
In terms of all-around viability, though, it leaves a fair amount to be desired. After all, physical Ghost moves are very limited, so there’s only so much it can do with all that strength. Outside of that, its only real selling point is its Prankster ability.
Prankster is always nice on something that often rocks status moves, but most importantly, it gives Mega Banette a priority Destiny Bond, which is a powerful (if predictable, once you’ve seen it) weapon.