As fans will know, Pokémon has one of the most hilariously unbalanced all-round metas in gaming history. This is understandable, of course, as we’re not talking about a standard fighting game roster of about thirty characters. There are almost a thousand different Pokémon now, and keeping them all on a level playing field would be beyond impossible.
The fact of the matter is, all Pokémon are not created equal. Some are as impossibly beautiful as Jason Momoa, while others are a shuffling, slovenly Hunchback of Notre Dame in comparison. It’s not fair, but it’s the harsh reality of the Poké-world.
If you send your prized Raticate or Pidgeot into battle against a Primal Groudon, you’re going to be bringing what’s left of their shattered, blood-leaky bodies home in a matchbox. That’s just how it is around here. This is why competitive communities like Smogon divide all ‘mon into tiers, and banish the strong-as-Godzilla-with-laser-eyeballs-and-nuclear-flatulence powerhouses to the Ubers tier.
So beware, friends. We’re cruising straight on into the Ubers tier with this one, in search of the thirty strongest Pokémon ever. Because that’s just the kind of legends we are. We have zero fear, have no bedtime, and we only call out mamas eight times a day. We’ve got this. Hold on to your butts, as Samuel L. Jackson once said, and we’ll meet the strongest Pokémon ever to grace the box art of a Pokémon game.
Have you met the terrifying new Ultra Necrozma? No? You’d better stick around then.
Now, you might not think that thirtieth place is much to crow about. Only thirtieth strongest? That’s loser talk. My grandma could probably beat the thirtieth strongest. Don’t be fooled, though, as the first thirteen Pokémon on our list all share a mighty base stat total of 680. This is just slightly below Poké-god Arceus, to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here.
Straight in at the darn deep end, then, with Zekrom. This Dragon/Electric type is the mascot legendary of Pokémon White, and is primarily a physical attacker. It boasts super strong physical STAB moves in Outrage and Bolt Strike, and an Attack stat to do them the finest of justice. Zekrom is let down only by the unfortunate weaknesses of its typing and the amount of resistance to Electric moves in the Uber tier.
I’m a little conflicted with this one. Of all of the Pokémon on this list, Xerneas was one of the most difficult to place. If you remember the season that this beast of deer was allowed, you’ll probably still be scarred from its wrath. Everyone who played competitively that year got their whole hopes, dreams, and souls sent to another dimension by this thing. Several times.
My issue with Xerneas is, you usually know exactly what it’s doing. Those Geomancy/Power Herb shenanigans are lethal, true enough, but that was about all you ever saw this Fairy do. It’s an incredibly effective and popular strategy, sure, but it was also tediously predictable. Xerneas has quite a deep movepool, it’s just a shame that nobody really took the trouble to dive into it.
Another member of the 680 base stat brigade, Lugia is also a challenge to place. This thing is a defensive behemoth, sporting HP, Defense, and Special Defense comparable to Cresselia’s. If you know what a royal pain in the cheeks it can be to take the moon duck down, you’ll understand that these are stats you’ve definitely got to respect. Its Flying/Psychic typing suits the Ubers environment quite well, too.
Granted, it can shrug off bullets better than Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies (it also has the Multiscale ability, to halve the damage of the first hit coming its way), but that comes at a cost. Against bulkier teams, it suffers greatly, as its offenses are totally lacklustre. As such, Lugia can be a tough one to use effectively, despite its many strengths.
Now, don’t go running away with the false impression that I’m talking smack about Reshiram here. That would just be crazy talk. When was the last time you screwed with a ten-feet-tall dragon that’s on freaking fire? I’ll tell you when: Never, that’s when.
All I’m saying is, times are tough for Reshiram nowadays. The Ubers environment has changed a great deal since this Dragon/Fire Pokémon was introduced with Pokémon Black and White. It’s darn strong, certainly, with offenses that mirror those of Zekrom (a special rather than physical focus), but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of more recent additions to the roster. Marshadow, for instance, can perform its role better, having access to power-boosting moves and greater speed.
Dragon and Fire typing is a pretty darn shaky combination, as well.
I’m sure that many would disagree with the placement of Yveltal and Xerneas here. After all, as I say, for the period that restricted Pokémon were made available for use in VGC (Pokémon’s own official tournament format, doubles matches), Xerneas totally dominated the metagame. Yveltal made its presence felt too, of course, and claimed all kinds of souls, but there it was. We were up to our groins in Geomancy-spamming deer.
On the other hand, though, let’s not forget that Yveltal is the Destruction Pokémon. Let’s not forget that, according to the Pokédex, ‘When its life comes to an end, it absorbs the life energy of every living thing and turns into a cocoon once more.’ Damn, Yveltal, calm down dude.
We’re also talking about the most powerful priority in the entire game here, thanks to Dark Aura further boosting the power of its STAB Sucker Punch.
Now, I can dig Palkia. I totally, totally can. Water/Dragon is probably my favourite type combination of all. Kingdra, the only Pokémon that shares it, was one of my signature party members back in the day for that very reason. The two types just complement each other perfectly, canceling out each other’s weaknesses. That’s reason enough to appreciate Palkia, in my book.
As befits a mascot legendary Pokémon, Palkia’s stats are all above average, and it has a super strong Special Attack of 150 to boot. It is also slightly faster than a lot of Ubers, who all share the 90-speed tier. This is a huge boon for it. These days, you’ll often see this thing sporting a fancy new Z-Heal Block set, which allows it to boost its special power yet further, while preventing walls from healing for a time.
When the whole Mega Evolution mechanic was announced, I thought that this could only be a good thing for the franchise. There are so many neglected Pokémon that could benefit from getting a new form, and this seemed like just the way to make these obscure ‘mon viable again.
To a certain extent, this was the case. We all remember the wrath of Mega Kangaskhan, a Pokémon that had previously been seen about as often as unicorns and the abominable snowman. Mawile, too.
But Rayquaza? Who thought that this dude needed a more powerful form? It’s kind of a glass cannon, but it’s always been a terrifying offensive threat, hitting super strongly from both sides of the spectrum. It was totally good as it was, thanks very much.
As a general rule, I’m not the biggest fan of al the different ‘formes’ that Game Freak like to shoehorn in. Megas were a neat idea, in my view, and I guess Alolan forms get the thumbs up from me too (primarily because Alolan Ninetales is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and instantly softened my dry, crusty heart when I first saw it), but individual, exclusive forms for a particular Pokémon only, for no real reason? I don’t really get it.
Despite my cynicism, I am quite fond of Giratina and its Origin Forme. The original Giratina is, like Lugia, notorious for its defensive capabilities. It was a little passive, though, which is where its Origin Forme comes in. This variant takes a more offensive approach, and using it totally nets you a few style points into the bargain.
If you’re mostly a competitive, standard format sort of player, you’ve probably not seen much of Solgaleo or Lunala in action. The duo are the mascot legendaries of Pokémon Sun and Moon respectively, and as ever, they’re way too powerful to see the light of day in standard play.
A curious pair they are too. Taking a step back from the usual big-old-scary-slavering-Yu-Gi-Oh-style-dragons route that a lot of legendaries take, Solgaleo is Psychic/Steel. This unusual typing is a mixed blessing, allowing the Pokémon to neatly counter some Ubers threats while leaving it open to others. Still, all Pokémon have weaknesses, and they don’t negate Solgaleo’s strong STAB attacks and ability to nicely dismantle most passing Fairies. You’ll usually see this thing playing to its strengths, with a simple Adamant max Attack/max Speed set.
Well, that’s strictly in my opinion, you understand. That was just a snarky joke to establish the fact that Dialga has the best cry, bar none. But these are the sorts of petty things that are far too important to me. Am I the only one who’s still pissed that Moltres and Nidoking’s cries are the exact same? Probably.
With all of that behind us, let’s take a look at Dialga, and that fancy still-exclusive Dragon/Steel typing it boasts. Of its duo, and in keeping with the Steel-types-are-huge-pain-in-the-behind thing, it’s the more defensively-inclined. It packs a lot of utility into one team slot, deftly supporting the team by setting hazards while tanking hits and weakening its foes into the bargain. Those Draco Meteors are going to smart in the morning, that’s for darn sure.
Now, again, don’t go raising heckh because I’m trash-talking Solgaleo here. I have no issues with the guy. I cruised through the elite four of Pokémon Sun with it, after all, being one of those scrubs who drop a valued team member like a hot potato full of razor blades once my mascot legendary is caught. There. I confess.
Still, though, there’s usually one version and one box legendary you prefer over the other. In this case, I’m going to have to give the edge to Lunala. Competitive-wise, too, it tends to be a better pick, with its unique Psychic/Ghost typing, Shadow Shield ability to weaken the first hit it takes, and the lethal Moongeist Beam. It’s got some incredible coverage options, too. A true beast.
As we’ve already said, Ubers are usually Pokémon that are totally stacked in all the right places, where stats are concerned. Even so, most of the time, they’re geared towards a certain role. Lugia, for instance, is one of the greatest walls in Pokémon history, so you wouldn’t max its Special Attack and Speed and send it out to sweep. Not usually, anyhow.
Ho-Oh, however, is here to take a giant pigeon-dump all over these preconceived notions. Its stat distribution allows it to be a potent and fearsome physical attacker or go the defensive route, with its titanic Special Defense to back it up. I’ve had great success running both these variants, and can attest to the great phoenix’s versatility and power. One of the original Ubers (it arrived with Lugia in Pokémon Gold and Silver), and still one you don’t ever want to underestimate.
Naturally, this formidable Psychic type needs no introduction. Absolutely zero. If you’re a lifelong Pokémon player like myself, you’ll have not-so-fond memories of this thing back in Pokémon Red and Blue. There Mewtwo was, lurking in its cave post-game, giving zero no care in the world about you and your hopes and dreams. Your buddy Paul was totally convinced that hammering Up and B made it easier to catch, but did it? Heck no. Mewtwo just sat there, breaking out eighteen thousand times in a row, laughing as your will to live eroded.
Mewtwo is an a-hole, is what I’m getting at here. We all know it. We all know what a powerhouse it is. Even in its vanilla, Mega-less form, It’s right up there with the most powerful Pokémon ever. A true fan favourite, and rightly so.
Another Poké-duo I’d definitely file away in the No Freaking Need For A Mega Evolution drawer would be the Eon Twins, Latios and Latias. These two Dragon/Psychic legendary Pokémon have been menaces since they were first introduced in Ruby and Sapphire. They even came with their own exclusive overpowered item in Soul Dew, which gave them a free boost to both special stats and was not a fun time for anyone concerned.
However, Game Freak are the sorts of crazy guys and gals who thought that pre-nerf Mega Kangaskhan was totally cool. So why not give these guys a Mega Evolution too? As with their vanilla forms, Mega Latias is the bulky booster of the pair, taking great pleasure in getting Calm Minds out the wazzoo and then destroying your home, your family, your earthly soul and your grandma’s budgerigar Mr. Wiggles.
And now, of course, you can’t have one without the other. Here comes the Ren to Latias’s Stimpy.
Frankly, it’s tough to tell one from the other. Mega Latios, like Mega Latias, is a kind of shonky-looking freakish purple kite-thing, pretty well identical to the untrained eye. It’s really only the eye colors and a minor size difference that sets the pair apart.
It’s a little lazy, in my eyes, and darn ridiculous looking to boot. Still, let’s not get hung up on these things. The fact remains that Mega Latios, like its original form, is a speedy and super strong special attacker that you really don’t want to screw with. It may look like something that Elton John might fly between his summer homes in, but you’d never dare tell Latios that to its face.
I’ve always thought that Metagross gets scandalously slept on. Its concept is awesome, its design doubly so. Like Gyarados, it’s a Pokémon that can be a huge pain in the cheeks to raise, but is totally worth it. With Gyarados, you’ve got to switch train a worthless failure of a Magikarp, and with Metagross, you’ve got to do the same with a weird disembodied floating leg-thing that can only use Take Down. Who do you think you’re taking down, leggy? Nobody, that’s who, because you’re just a leg.
Metagross has always been a good Pokémon, but its Mega Evolution dialled all of that up to eleven. Its speed is greatly increased, which was one of its main drawbacks, and its powerful physical STAB Moves (boosted by the Tough Claws ability) combine with its neat typing to make a real beast of a ‘mon.
Tyranitar, yet again, is a Pokémon that was really completely fine as it was. This thing’s been feared since way back in the day, having been released with Pokémon Gold and Silver, the second generation of the games. It’s one of an elite group of Pokémon with horrific glaring weaknesses that just gives zero cares, and remains a popular pick in spite of them.
The Dark/Rock combination is awful really, having the most weaknesses of any dual type (tied with equally bad ones like Grass/Ice). Most notably, it’s so weak to Fighting types that you can’t even whisper Bruce Lee’s name in its ear without it instantly keeling over and dying.
Nevertheless, Tyranitar is one of the most popular pseudo-legendary Pokémon of all, and its Mega Evolution’s stat distribution is just crazy good.
As I’ve touched on before, we’re rating the most powerful Pokémon of all time literally here. Base stat totals are the name of the game, which is why there’s no place for Pokémon that would otherwise have been shoo-ins for this. It also explains why Mega Garchomp has been invited to the party, rather than staying home, shunned, thinking about what it’s done and why it’s let itself go.
Now, Mega Garchomp isn’t a bad Pokémon per se. Those titanic stats speak for themselves. It’s just that it’s a totally different beast to vanilla Garchomp. The land shark’s main asset is its speed, and losing those ten base points in the stat really hurt it. This is one of the more rarely-seen Megas, purely because there isn’t really a place for it.
Oh, crapola. Hold onto your undercrackers, now we’re really getting into the deep end. Mega Salamence wasn’t added in the original round of Pokémon X and Y Mega Evolutions, instead appearing with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. I guess they wanted to ease us into the whole concept gently (as ‘gently’ as you can consider Mega Kangaskhan and Mawile), before hitting us with the real monsters.
For a little while now, you could say that Salamence has been kind of overshadowed by the newer awesome Dragon on the block, Garchomp. On getting its Mega Evolution, however, Salamence has definitely regained the lead. The mighty offensive stats, the considerable bulk, the raw power of a Aerilate-boosted Double Edge coming straight at your face… this is quite a thing to behold right here.
Kyurem is a Pokémon that has always intrigued me. For a long time, since Game Freak were starting to get more creative with their dual typings, there was one in particular that I was eager to see: Dragon and Ice. That combination just had super cool written all over it (pun most certainly intended), and the announcement of Kyurem sent waves of happiness straight through my happy parts.
As far as box legendaries go, though, the thing was totally underwhelming. As of Sun and Moon’s release, competitive community Smogon have vanilla Kyurem languishing in the UU tier. Black and White Kyurem are different stories entirely though. The former is a physical powerhouse, and one of standard play’s greatest and most doom-inducing wallbreakers. Man, is this thing frightening to face.
While Kyurem Black is the result of Kyurem splicing its DNA with Zekrom, Kyurem White is the lovechild of Kyurem and Reshiram. Both formes have the same base stat total, but the points are distributed differently.
Kyurem Black is primarily a physical attacker, while this Kyurem focuses instead on special attacking. Unlike the former, old Whitey here has been banished to the Ubers tier by Smogon, which proves that its abilities in battle go far beyond mere stats.
With super strong STAB like Draco Meteor, this thing can two-shot most opponents with a Choice Specs equipped. It may not have quite the speed to sweep, at base 95, but when it comes to wallbreaking, this guy’s one of the best in the business. Just look at those white fluffy bits protruding from its body; you know this thing isn’t screwing around.
If you’re anything like me, you weren’t particularly impressed by Diancie when it was first announced. For all intents and purposes, it’s just a more effeminate-looking Carbink. The Rock/Fairy typing is quite interesting, but beyond that, I thought this thing was one of the most forgettable Pokémon of the X and Y generation.
Diancie did have a little more all-round use than Carbink, with its boosted offenses, but its Mega form is where the action really is. This fairy princess is not waiting for her prince to come and rescue her, like some Disney chump. She’s out here tearing crap up with her formidable mixed attacking capabilities, great exclusive move in Diamond Storm and quality coverage. Despite its cutesy appearance, this isn’t an opponent to ever take lightly.
When I first played through Pokémon X and Y, I was a little mystified by Zygarde. There it was, lurking in that cave, looking for all the world like a tough-as-nails miniboss or something. It may have looked the part, but when it got right down to it, it was sorely lacking. As Dragon and Ground types go, this thing was Garchomp’s much less attractive/talented brother. The Homer to Garchomp’s Herb Simpson, if you remember that episode.
Still, like all be careful who you call ugly in middle school type stories, Zygarde got the last laugh. Pokémon Sun and Moon saw a whole collectathon minigame based around Zygarde, and multiple different forms. All of which culminated in Zygarde Complete, a hulking beast with an HP stat as high as the Chrysler Building.
Now, I’m sure Arceus needs no introduction. This behemoth is the ultimate. The GOAT. The standard by which all Pokémon amazingness is measured. Except that it isn’t, because, as you can see, we’ve still got half a dozen entries left to go here. Still, let’s not get pernickety about that. This is the god of all Pokémon we’re talking about, and that’s not something to understate.
Arecus is a Normal-type Pokémon with base 120 stats across the board. While it doesn’t excel in any one stat, it is overall ridiculously powerful, as you would expect. Its other great asset is its ability, which allows it to change its typing to that of the Plate it’s currently holding. One of the most versatile and beastly ‘mon out there, that’s for sure.
When Pokémon Sun and Moon arrived, the post-game gave me some real déjà vu. We just spoke about Zygarde’s position as a forgotten also-ran, and Necrozma gave me that exact same vibe in this game. It was squirreled away in such an obscure location, with slim-to-bupkuss clues as to how to find it, that it seemed like a total afterthought. Like someone at Game Freak had been absently doodling in a pad, liked the result, and had to hide it away in the game somewhere.
Still, as with Zygarde, it would eventually find its place. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon made this Pokémon pivotal to the story, and gave it some new forms tied into ‘fusing’ with other legendaries. Dawn Wings and Dusk Mane Necrozma utilize Lunala and Solgaleo respectively, and then there’s Ultra Necrozma. Now that’s some power right there.
For me, Kyogre and Groudon are pretty well the ultimate when it comes to box art legendaries. The lore, the rivalry, the land/sea thing, the fire/water thing… these two just fit together like a huge, hulking, terrifying pair of gloves. This is a shining example of how legendary duos should be done, in my view.
Their vanilla forms were considered far too powerful for standard play, and were swiftly shunted into the Ubers tier. Apparently, though, that just wasn’t enough for Game Freak. With Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire came Primal Reversion, a spangly new kind of Mega Evolution unique to these two Pokémon.
The result? Well, if you were playing competitively that year, you’ll still have PTSD from the wrath of Primal Groudon. This Fire/Ground type just tore everyone several new bodily orifices, without so much as a hey, buddy, do you fancy a couple new bodily orifices?
Again, what’s one without the other? Stand back, because here comes the splash-tastic Yin to Primal Groudon’s scorching Yang. The first five rows may get wet; you have been warned.
Of the two, I’ve always preferred Kyogre. I’m not sure quite what it is, other than my favourite team archetype being hyper offense in rain. Previously, this thing was totally content wearing a Choice Scarf around its fishy torso and spamming Water Spout, but times have changed. That just doesn’t cut it anymore.
With its mysterious new Blue Orb clutched in its flipper, Kyogre transforms into Primal Kyogre. As with its counterpart, the hilariously unnecessary stat buffs that result is a thing to behold.
Speaking of hilariously unnecessary stat buffs, I don’t quite get what the reasoning was here. Who exactly looked at Rayquaza and thought, “hey, you know what this guy needs? More power. I just don’t have the power, captain, as Scotty would say.” I have zero clue, but that’s a thought process I’d be super interested in looking at.
Still, it’s all immaterial now. Mega Rayquaza is here, it’s now, it’s a thing. It’s got just about the highest base stat total of anything ever, and it doesn’t even require a Mega Stone to Mega Evolve. If it’s packing the move Dragon Ascent (which it is, because it’s amazing), you’re good to go. The neat thing about this guy is the unique weather condition it sets, strong winds. While this is in play, the weaknesses of Flying types are removed (to wit: Rock, Electric, and Ice attacks deal halved damage).
As we saw way back when, Mewtwo is the original Uber Pokémon. Back in generation one, its only competition was the legendary bird trio, and that’s really nothing at all. Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres? Nuts to them. Mewtwo would eat them for breakfast, and still have room for a couple of croissants and a pain au chocolat.
I don’t know why Mewtwo has a preference for continental breakfasts, but I can tell you that it is one of only two Pokémon (Charizard being the other) that was graced with two different Mega forms. Both are tied for the highest base stat total in the entire franchise, with Mega Mewtwo X being an absolute monster on the physical side. Base 190 Attack? That’s all kinds of a nope.
If I’m totally frank here, I’m a little dubious about both forms of Mega Mewtwo. Firstly because they’re a little funky looking. Mega X being a oddly muscular Psychic/Fighting type never quite sat right with me. Neither did the teeny Mega Y, with that bizarre tail situation it’s got going on. Secondly, it’s tough to find a specific role for them to fill, preventing them from being outclassed by other things.
When restricted Pokémon were permitted in official tournament teams, we saw very little of Mewtwo. Any kind. It took a precious restricted slot and mega slot in one. Despite all of that, though, the numbers don’t lie, and both share the highest current base stat total, 780, with Mega Rayquaza. That’s something you’ve got to respect.