All 720 Pokémon, Graded. Part 2 — Nos. 11-20 (Metapod to Raticate)

 Continuing our assessment of the wide world of Pokémon. Today, we examine the birds and the bees.

011. Metapod
Best Name: Trancell (Japanese)
Metapod has long confused me, because the part of it that I think should be the back is apparently supposed to be the front, and vice versa. This is the Pokémon that launched (from me) a thousand “Penisaur! Harden!” jokes that nobody ever laughed at but totally should have. In the old days, the frustrating part was putting it out front at the beginning of a battle only to switch it out for someone who could attack just so it could get the experience points, but modern conveniences have eliminated the need for this. B

012. Butterfree
Best Name: Smettbo (German)
Another one I’m betting people remember largely from the early days of the anime, in which Ash released his Butterfree. LEGITIMATE EMOTIONAL MOMENT. MAJOR POINTS. I remember seeing that for the first time and pushing my tear back in Earl Devereaux-style and telling myself, “For God’s sake, man, get it together, this is Pokémon we’re talking about here.” If you took Charmander at the start in Red/Blue, it was nice to have Butterfree around so you could do more than “not very effective…” chipping damage to Brock’s rock types. A

013. Weedle
Best Name: Aspicot (French)
Weedle and Caterpie represent one of those Star Wars/Star Trek dichotomies that aren’t terribly similar beyond a few of their superficial qualities, yet seem to invite comparison nonetheless. Weedle does have a bit more of an edge to its demeanor, and I don’t mean the horn on its head. As a poisoner, it’s naturally going to be more aggressive than Caterpie, and poisoning people is a lot sexier than slowing them down with String Shot, since doing raw damage is always more appealing that stat debuffing. (I will now commit ritual seppuku for using “sexy” in this context.) B

014. Kakuna
Best Name: Sorry, other countries with cool exotic languages, English takes this one.
Definitely the superior of the two original cocoon types. For one thing, you can easily tell which side is supposed to be the front, and for another, if you look closely enough at him, he looks like he’s wearing a necktie. CONSUMMATE BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL. Kakuna: business in the front, and in the back. Let’s all put forth a concerted effort to make a few more “Kakuna Matata” jokes in future. B+

015. Beedrill
Best Name: Dardagnan (French)[1]
Poison types got the short end of the straw in the first generation. They were an easy target for disrespect; they were weak against almost literally half the other types, and Beedrill’s biggest moment was when one of the Bug Catchers pulled his straw hat out of his butt long enough to actually evolve his bugs, and you still OHKO’d it with a halfway decent flying or fire attack. And, as already stated, you were better off optimizing for raw damage than you were fine-tuning your stat buffs and debuffs in those early glitch-ridden salad days of yore. Now that in the current generation they’re one of the few weaknesses of the brand-new fairy type, they’ve got greatly enhanced utility and rock-star cachet. I took my Beedrill all the way to the Elite Four and the champion, and gained a new appreciation for it in the process. Plus, Mega Beedrill looks like a robotic Asimov-bypassing murder machine, and I’m all about that bass.
Beedrill: A-
Bug Catchers: F

016. Pidgey
Best Name: Bōbō (Chinese)
Pidgeys are the cockroaches of the Pokémon universe. Kill them all, no mercy, I say. I get irrationally angry when I encounter a Pidgey in the wild. When I started playing Pokémon X and the very first wild Pokémon I ran into was a Pidgey, I very nearly threw my 3DS at the wall across the room. My blood boils even more on those occasions when I actually deign to fight a Pidgey and it just SAND-ATTACKs me into oblivion. Pidgey is the worst. F

017. Pidgeotto
Best Name: English
Just because Pidgey gets up my dander doesn’t mean I can’t be fair to its evolutions. Pidgeotto is like when you haven’t seen an ugly annoying person you knew during your childhood in a while, and when you see them they’ve filled out and become less obnoxious. I guess I don’t mind Pidgeotto as much because you don’t run into it in the wild every two steps, and usually when you do see one, it belongs to your rival and you can punch its face through its butthole with a well-placed Thunderbolt and off it in one hit. B-

018. Pidgeot
Best Name: Roucarnage (French)
Very regal, dignity out the wazoo, cool hair. I always thought it was baloney that they didn’t include Pidgeot in the base set of trading and waited until Jungle (or was it Fossil?) to release it. That wasn’t cool. Not my flying type of choice, but a respectable one for people who, unlike me, have enough patience not to punt their Pidgey into the ocean. Mega Pidgeot gains some added splashes of color and some near-Judge Doom-level psycho eyes, which greatly improve both its overall look and intimidation factor. B+

019. Rattata
Best Name: Rattfratz (German)
You would think a purple rat would look stupid, but Rattata carries it off with élan. Also, it’s fun to say “Rattata” because it sounds like the onomatopoeia for a machine gun. You do get tired of seeing them in the wild though, and it’s always disappointing when Team Rocket grunts bring them out because it’s like, “Really, guys? You couldn’t STEAL a better Pokémon than that?” They must be mugging Youngsters, which is like, pick on someone your own size, bro. Better than robbing Bug Catchers, though, I guess. B-

020. Raticate
Best Name: Reteura (Korean)
Rattata looks cute and spunky and something you might not mind taking home as a pet even though it’s a rat. Raticate is the exact opposite. Despite being a rat, it has a very possum-like appearance and demeanor, which adds to its visceral scariness. You somehow feel like you would contract head lice if it bit you. My favorite is the Gen 1 Red/Blue Raticate that looks like it’s re-enacting that scene where Squidward finally tastes a Krabby Patty. When I think of Raticate I think of how you’ll sometimes run into a Team Rocket grunt with a level-18 Raticate and you’ll throw down the red flag and be like, “NO. THAT IS BULLCRAP. RATTATA EVOLVES AT LEVEL 20. WHAT SORCERY IS THIS.” The level-18 Raticate is an abomination against God and nature. B+

Next time: Spearow to Nidorina

[1] Honorable mention for the Japanese name, which is brutal in its simplicity: “Spear”.

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