On the surface, Pokémon looks like such a harmless and cutesy series. It’s a baby’s First RPG, where nobody dies, they just faint. There are no game overs, your guys are all instantly healed if they take an asswhupping. Sure, there’s a little light kidnapping and other organized crime on the side, and an apocalyptic event or two, but that’s hidden away in the story where Little Jimmy won’t find it and be scarred for life.
If you dig a little deeper, however, you’ll see what a sordid world this really is. Delve into competitive Pokémon, and you’ll be confronted by a cutthroat community even League of Legends couldn’t rival for a-holery (well, let’s not go nuts).
The thing about Pokémon is, there are almost a thousand different creatures in the roster now. The other thing about Pokémon is, a lot of them are kind of terrible. Smogon is generally considered to be the authority where competitive play is concerned, and they operate under a tier system. There are tiers for all ‘mon, from the very best to the very worst, in an attempt to ensure that something like Probopass doesn’t get horribly savaged by… well, just about anything decent.
This is necessary because there are many Pokémon that are just straight up outclassed by others, and serious battlers, to paraphrase the meme, ain’t got no time fo dat. Then, for those times you really want to scrape right through the bottom of the barrel into the muddy, muddy ground beneath, there are these guys. Hold your nose and settle in for the lamest Pokémon ever.
Now, I don’t have any specific beef with Lickilicky. It’s pretty darn fun to use at times, it shrugs off special hits like the damn Terminator shrugs off bullets, it’s one of very few Pokémon to get a usable STAB Explosion (just imagine scraping copious amounts of Lickilicky guts off your ceiling; that’s frightening)… what’s not to like, I hear you ask.
I’ll tell you, friend. Pokémon that evolve and barely damn well change design in the process don’t quite sit right with me. Granted, this guy stays faithful to its pre-evolved form Lickitung, but it just seems lazy to me. Lickilicky doesn’t look so much like an evolved form as Lickitung’s ugly brother/sister. Remember the Simpsons Halloween episode where Bart’s twin brother Hugo was locked in the attic? Lickilicky is Hugo.
First, let’s address the huge, chunky-ass elephant in the room: Garchomp is a fantastic Pokémon. Since Gible’s evolution line was first introduced with Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, it’s been a mainstay of competitive teams. With its stellar combination of typing, raw power, good bulk and speed, this is one of the most solid Pokémon in the game. The spangly Fairy typing brought a new threat to dragons, but Garchomp wasn’t assed. You can’t keep a good land shark down.
This is precisely my issue with the guy. Diamond and Pearl were released in 2007 in the West, meaning we’ve had a decade of this thing’s utter dominance. Our old buddy Chomp has learned very few new tricks in that time and it’s all getting pretty darn tedious if you ask me.
Personally, I’ve become convinced that somebody at Game Freak has a vendetta against the Bug type. There’s an elaborate conspiracy going on behind the scenes, that’s the only explanation for how traditionally craptacular Bug has been throughout the generations.
Every type has its more useless members, naturally, but Bug is populated by a lot of identikit butterflies and such. And then there’s this thing. Ledian is a Pokémon that not even a mama could love, a winged failure from head to the tip of those sad little boxing gloves it wishes it could hit anything bigger than a bacterium with. The saddest thing of all here is the missed opportunity; this guy gets all kinds of neat stuff (the Iron Fist ability to boost punching moves) but its stats are horrendous.
Mechanically, Garbodor isn’t all that bad. It’s relatively solid in terms of stats, being both decently tanky and somewhat powerful. You won’t see it storming official tournaments or anything, but it’s quite a good pick in the lower tiers and can crack a few heads pretty effectively.
My issue with this thing is the same one that a lot of Pokémon players have. What in the great wide world of Satan’s dirty underwear hamper is going on with that design? Its pre-evolved form, Trubbish, is literally and figuratively a sack of garbage, and Garbodor is just… well, it looks like this. A lot of the backlash for these guys is due to the fact that they arrived in the less-than-inspired era of the ice cream Pokémon Vanilluxe.
Yep, it’s this little artist a-hole. If you’ve played Pokémon competitively (and, more specifically, Nintendo’s official VGC doubles format) in the last few years, you’ll know just what a pain in the ass Smeargle can be.
Granted, it has all the attacking capability of a one-legged kitten in a coma. It’s not an offensive threat at all, ever, but it has a huge bag of tricks up its sleeves that make it an effective supporter. Thanks to its exclusive move, Sketch, Smeargle is able to learn just about any move in the game, which includes Darkrai’s otherwise exclusive Dark Void. In doubles matches, this will put both Pokémon on the opponent’s side to sleep at once, and I don’t need to tell you how much that sucks.
Before Dark Void was nerfed (its accuracy has gone way down), spamming was Smeargle’s main party trick. Super lame.
This thing. This damn thing.
Zubat is the sole reason that the Repel item is mandatory in any Pokémon game. Without it, you’re gonna have a bad time. Sure, Repels are handy to have around for those long stretches of grass while you’re backtracking, but you do not want to go through a cave without one.
Ever since Pokémon Red and Blue’s Mount Moon back in the late nineties, this series’ cave levels have kept up a proud tradition of pissing us off. Every two steps, Zubat’s sorry butt will descend on our faces, like strangers with no understanding of personal space on the subway.
Adding insult to injury, Zubat is pretty damn bad in game too.
You know how the bully on the schoolyard is often flanked by a smaller, skinnier dude, who joins in on the action to try and hide his inferiority complex? The beta bully, if you will? That’s Whimsicott, right there.
Like Smeargle, this little cotton ball is rarely doing much attacking itself. Instead, it prefers to hang back and screw with opponents using support-oriented moves like Tailwind. Its Prankster ability (which gives it priority on status moves) ensures that Whimsicott will always be a pain in the ass whenever you see it. Its ultimate douche strategy was called ‘TerraCotta,’ which involved using Beat Up on a friendly Terrakion to boost its power to absurd levels. Whatever it’s doing, though, it’s not going to be a good time.
Sableye, too, is in a similar position. I really liked this guy when it was first revealed, for all kinds of reasons. That Ghost/Dark typing is shared only by Spiritomb, and leaves it with no weaknesses (until Fairy came along a couple of generations later to rain on its parade). So that’s cool. As a fan of all things a little macabre and off-kilter, its design appealed to me as well. When it was given its new battle animation, with the creepy twitching and the salad fingers whenever it used a move, I was totally on board with that.
Despite all of this, Sableye is super lame in my view for the way that it’s used. With such below-par stats, it’s reduced to burning a physical attacker and then stalling them out with Prankster recovery.
You’ve got to feel a little sorry for Hydreigon. It was a potent special sweeper, until it pretty well vanished off of the face of the darn earth when Fairy Pokémon were introduced. Being Dark/Dragon, it’s 4x weak to their STAB, which makes it darn difficult to operate. So imagine how the only other Dark/Dragon in Pokémon, Guzzlord, feels.
Most of Sun and Moon’s fancy new Ultra Beasts have odd stat distributions. Guzzlord is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, which sets it apart but also means that it’s outclassed in just about everything it wants to do by something more specialized. It’s not easy being as slow as a grandma’s mobility scooter when there are numerous Fairies doing the rounds, either. In short, you’ll very rarely –if ever—see this thing.
There are certain aspects of Cresselia that I really like. The whole concept of the lunar duo with Darkrai is a neat idea, and I like how Cresselia was handled in the games. Its design, too, is unique without going nuts, and that’s something that a lot of legendary Pokémon just don’t quite have a handle on. Early impressions of the reveal were pretty good is what I’m getting at here.
The issue is that battles against Cresselia are tests of patience, endurance and your blood pressure. This thing can tank just about anything, has great recovery, and a wide range of the game’s best support moves to choose from. Without super powerful Dark or Ghost moves, it can be a nightmare to break through this one, and I always dread facing it.
10 Alolan Exeggutor
When Alolan forms were revealed, and the whole concept was detailed, I wasn’t quite convinced by the whole idea. The Pokémon games have introduced all manner of funky new mechanics as the generations have gone by, from mega evolution to poffins, and this one seemed like an oddity too many for me.
It seemed a little like a gimmicky appeal to genwunners to me, as only Pokémon from among the original 150 were given new Alola forms. Despite that, I’d probably have been a little more open to the whole idea if my first sighting of an Alola ‘mon hadn’t been Exeggutor. This thing looks, let’s be frank, batcrap ridiculous, and became an instant meme when its design was first shown off. Grass/Dragon is cool and all, and I do love Exeggutor, but what the hell happened here?
While we’re snarking on some of the new Pokémon designs from Sun and Moon, how about Drampa? As I say, the franchise has been subject to a lot of snark in recent years for its monster designs. In some peoples view, Game Freak are losing their touch, running out of ideas; hence garbage bags and ice creams and all kinds of other crimes against creativity.
As such, I guess Drampa, the dragon grandpa, isn’t all that offensive. The whole thing just seems quite cheap somehow, like a poor fan-made Pokémon rather than the genuine official article. In its defense, Drampa is quite viable; super slow but it’s quite the powerhouse. The concept is cute enough, but it’s a bit too cheesy for my liking. Sorry, Drampa fans.
When the original games first arrived, I was a big fan of both Magmar and Electabuzz. There’s something timeless about their designs (I hope this isn’t the genwunner in me rearing its ugly, stuck-in-1998-with-The-Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air head), even if they were a little crappy in terms of movesets back then.
Neither Pokémon had an evolved form when the series began, but now they have a whole evolution line including baby forms. Elekid and Magby I can get on board with because they’re adorable, and I guess Electivire is kind of neat, but I don’t know what went wrong with Magmortar.
What kind of bizarre clown-ish look were they going for here? For me, this is one of the lamest designs in the series. I have no words.
Firstly, in terms of aesthetics, Klefki falls into that whole Pokémon-lazily-based-on-household-objects category that so many fans of the franchise seem to take issue with. The Pokédex explains why, giving us the cheeky lore about Klefki stealing keys to add to its collection, but that’s no excuse.
My primary issue with this little guy, however, is the way that it’s played. Klefki doesn’t have the power to work as an attacker, or the defences to function as a wall. So it’s got to play to its strengths. What are those? Prankster Swagger and Foul Play, that’s what. In the early days of the Pokémon X and Y meta, this unassuming little keychain was hated by many for this cheesy tactic. If it gets luck on its side with the confusion turns, it can be devastating.
When I’m battling competitively, I’m usually using some manner of weather team. I love to go all guns blazing with hyper offense, and the swift and formidable power of rain (and sun) caters to that nicely. I was super happy to see the long-neglected hail get a bit of a buff with Sun and Moon, in the shape of Alolan Ninetales and the Slush Rush ability.
I was also thrilled when I first heard of Castform. You’re given this Pokémon by the workers at the Weather Institute and told that it adapts to any form of weather condition. Unique as this idea was (and amazing as Sun Castform looks, let’s not lie to ourselves here), it was another tragic missed opportunity. Castform is pitifully weak, and always ignored in favour of something better.
5 Alolan Dugtrio
I’ve no major qualms with Dugtrio at all. Sure, it’s an offender of the super cheap shove-three-of-the-same-thing-in-together-and-it’s-evolved tactic (see also: Magneton), and I frown upon that, but I’ve learned to make my peace. Kind of. A little.
Its pre-evolved form is pretty darn cute, and it knows its place so doesn’t hound you every damn second you’re in its cave. Dugtrio itself is fun to use, and is a great speedy attacker that can be a death sentence to opponents weak to it (its ability, Arena Trap, prevents grounded foes from switching out).
Alolan Dugtrio, on the other hand, looks like a campy eighties band. It’s just three hairy dudes in a circle, looking like they’re about to record Bohemian Rhapsody. What use is its ability Tangling Hair, anyway, when it’s fast as it is and doesn’t want to be taking hits? Lame. I don't want my Ground types dropping the hottest album of 2017 while I'm trying to battle.
Farfetch’d is proud of its position as one of the OG lamest Pokémon ever. Nuts to all of these Alolan latecomers, who took twenty years to arrive and stink the place up with their craptacular. Farfetch’d might as well have a t-shirt and matching bumper sticker that reads woefully, abysmally useless since 1998.
In its defense, this little bird is supposed to be bad. Its appearance and concept is based on a popular Japanese duck and leek dish, so it’s only appropriate that it gets utterly devoured by just about everything. It’s been given a couple of buffs over the generations, with additions to its movepool, a couple interesting abilities and its own exclusive item (Stick, which boosts its critical hit rate when held), but it’ll take much more to redeem this thing.
Now, Blissey isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. This unassuming cutesy blob is actually one of the best special walls Pokémon has ever seen. Maybe the best, when you consider its sole weakness to Fighting (there are practically zero Fighting-type special moves), its absurd HP stat, the various other pros that some ‘mon on this list would trade their left arm/flipper/weird flappy appendage for.
So what’s Blissey doing here? It’s almost too good, that’s what. Much like Cresselia, this thing just sits there and sits there. And… sits there. It has great recovery, access to status healing, can slowly but surely boost itself with Calm Mind if it fancies, or gradually whittle opponents down with Seismic Toss. This thing can stall the game right down, and it’s no fun for either player.
I hate to do this. I really do. I mean, look at Chikorita’s face. What kind of heartless monster of a man could smack talk that? Still, I’ve got to be true to myself. I speak from the heart and shoot from the hip. Sometimes, I even shoot from the heart and speak from the hip, and hip and heart alike are only saying one thing: Meganium sucks.
Well, I guess it has a job, as a bulky defensive grass type or cleric in the lower tiers. The issue is just that it’s completely generic. Grass types have a reputation as being quite one dimensional, defensive status spreaders, and Meganium is a complete cookie cutter example of that. We have so many like that and they’re basically interchangeable.
In terms of competitive use, Unown is right up there as one of the worst Pokémon of all. Its movepool consists of a single attack, Hidden Power, which sucks with all the combined power of a Dyson showroom. This gives Unown the dubious distinction of being the only ‘mon that just gets STAB on Hidden Power.
As such, Unown can conceivably be outperformed by Magikarp, which gets the mighty Tackle AND Flail. Unown’s claim to fame is that it’s a veritable alphabet spaghetti of a Pokémon, and has a lore based use in spelling out texts on cave walls. In short, this thing is of more use outside of battle than during a match, and that says a lot. Sorry Unown. You do look kind of cool though, if that’s any sort of consolation.