Yep, this is still going. We’re still giving letter grades to every Pokémon from number 1 to 720. In addition, from here on out we’ll be listing the type(s) of each Pokémon (as of the sixth generation) according to the National Pokédex. Today, we’re taking notes from the underground.
Best Name: Nosferapti (French)
Zubat. Zubat Zubat Zubat Zubat Zubat. Expect Zubat to consume your life when you dare to pass through any cave. Suddenly, your schedule is booked solid with 90% Zubat sightings. I’ll usually battle anything and everything for the experience, but Zubat is one of the few Pokémon that can make me run out and plunk down hard-earned cash for a bag full of Repels. Anyone else want to take on some of the heavy cave-battle lifting? Geodude? Clefairy? Don’t think I don’t see you hiding in the corner there, Paras! I give Zubat a few bonus points for the slight nod to Brock’s ownership of one that the gym leader expansions of the card game gave it, but Zubat is so ubiquitous that you can hardly blame a person for not pursuing further evolutions. C+
Best Name: Nosferalto (French)
Legitimately frightening. Looking at Golbat makes me profoundly uncomfortable. It looks like it is simultaneously melting and unhinging its jaw like a python preparing to eat a pig. Part of me wants a full index of all the Pokémon it would be able to swallow without chewing. Its design got more rounded as they sanded off some of the rough edges over the years, but in general, the worse the artwork, the scarier it looks, meaning the Gen 1 battle sprite takes top honors. Look at this thing and tell me you won’t wake up in the middle of the night tonight in a cold sweat:
I made it nice and big for you. You know I wouldn’t maximize your nightmare potential if I didn’t love you. B+
Oh, what the heck. One more. I’m just going to leave this right here:
Best Name: Myrapla (German)
I would bet just about anything that Oddish was one of the first Pokémon ever designed. Legend has it the original 151 Pokémon were inspired by the creatures and objects series creator Satoshi Tajiri encountered in the woods behind his house as a child. If that’s the case, he barely had to walk past the flower bed to come up with Oddish. Ultra-simple design: round body, round feet, beady eyes, a few leaves on top. Boom, done, break for lunch, who ordered the chicken Caesar wrap. I find it interesting that Ash had an Oddish in the manga but not the show. I guess Oddish didn’t focus-test as well as Bulbasaur. Tough break, bro, but when a five-year-old can accurately draw you in one minute, you need a little more oomph. You know, like, more than zero. C
Best Name: Ortide (French)
What’s the big idea here? How come every other Pokémon gets a really cool, XTREME-SOUNDING made-up name, and this guy gets a plain old real word that you can find in the dictionary? What a rip-off. I’d raise hell about it if I was Gloom. Especially since it also seems like a bit of a misnomer; it doesn’t appear sad or gloomy so much as lazy. Wipe that drool off the corner of your mouth and open your eyes, slacker! How are you going to get into anyone’s main party of six carrying yourself like that? I’ve got just the thing: a self-help tape to get you on your feet.
I bet Gloom smells like rotting onions. I’m going to cut it a bit of a break since I feel like most of its problems aren’t of its own making. B
Best Name: Ruffresia (Japanese)
Gloom may have drawn the short straw in the cool name sweepstakes, but you can at least kind of see what might have inspired it. With Vileplume, however, there is nothing remotely vile about that face, unless you consider vacant stares and perfect smiles inherently threatening. Even though the Pokédex lists it at 3 feet, 11 inches, it always looks absolutely gigantic in the games, even in X + Y, where you’d think with 3D models and perspective and whatnot they’d have that kind of thing sorted out by now. That perceived imposing size is a sneaky contributor to Vileplume’s menacing-ness. I confess, because I usually don’t mess around with fire types in Red + Blue, I usually have at least a bit of a tough time fighting Erica’s Vileplume. If I took Charmander at the beginning, it would be different, but I don’t usually steamroll her like I do with other gym leaders. Even though Mega Evolution has only been a thing for slightly less than two years (as of this writing), I feel like Vileplume is due for a Mega Evolution. Solid work all around. A-
Best Name: Basically the same everywhere.
The name makes me think “Paris”, and while goodness knows I can’t resist the opportunity to make even the most tortured pun, it irritates me here. Not sure why there’s a theme emerging of which Pokémon I suspect smell like crap and/or why this is an important quality to me, but add Paras to the list. Unlike Zubat, Paras knows that moderation is key, and to always leave the audience wanting more. When you find a Paras in Mt. Moon, you always get a little excited, even though he’s a wimpy bug/grass loser, because it’s a welcome respite from seeing 40 Zubats in a row. If Mt. Moon was the 2014 World Series, Paras would be the Kansas City Royals to Zubat’s San Francisco Giants. You know who’s going to dominate, but who are you happier to see there? That’s what I thought. B-
Best Name: Also pretty much the same globally.
Not quite on Golbat’s level as a surprisingly frightening creature, but definitely a non-negligible presence. If you ate a Parasect, your next memory would be waking up a month later on top of an arid desert plateau with no clothes on and a condom full of cocaine up your butt. Winner of Gen I class in the category of “Most Likely to Make You Scream If You Saw One in Your House Late at Night in the Dark, Non-Ghost/Psychic Division”. It’s the eyes, man. How about turnin’ down the brights, yo? B
Best Name: Bluzuk (German)
Venonat is surprisingly cute for a bug Pokémon. If it knocked over something in my house and broke it, I would probably have a difficult time getting too angry at it. Venonat is what you would expect a little boy to have as his first Pokémon, and that feels right. Just as long as it doesn’t set him down the path to becoming a Bug Catcher. B-
Best Name: Morphon (Japanese), Aéromite (French) (tie)
Venomoth hails from a proud tradition of Japanese monsters based on moths, such as Mothra and … uh … well okay, really just Mothra. Scratch everything I said about Venonat being cute, because speaking of monsters, this thing definitely looks like one. I have no doubt just looking at this thing that it would chew holes through all my winter clothes without a moment’s thought. Also, points off for being the main ‘mon of my least favorite Gen I gym leader, Koga. In my older age I’ve come to appreciate the pros of the Poison type, but in Gen I you could just go PSYCHIC PSYCHIC PSYCHIC PSYCHIC all up in his face and be like, “LAME. NEXT.” Wait, how did this get to be about Koga? Still scary, though. If Misty was going to freak out over a bug, it should have been over one like this, with its big empty eyes and twitching mouth pincers, and not cute little innocent Caterpie. Misty’s priorities are in the wrong place. B-
Best Name: Digda (Japanese, German)
I love Diglett. I have way too much of a personal attachment to Diglett. I was extremely upset when I couldn’t find a rational excuse to work him into my party in X + Y because there were so many better options. But in that first game, man alive. Diglett was such a BAMF that it got a whole cave that was chock-full of them named after it, and you could catch one and level it up right before taking it to Lt. Surge’s gym and grinding his face into a fine powder with it. I never have a Gen I party without one. Bonus points: When my hair is long enough, I can brush the front of it straight down, put a Mr. Potato Head nose and some black eyes on it, and ¡bam! instant Diglett costume. Always a hit. A
Next time: Dugtrio to Poliwag