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February 3, 2017

Worst 12 Gimmick Pokémon

Alright, let’s stay on the topic of Pokémon. It is one of the easiest franchises to make lists about, after all. I have countless times in the past declared that I love this franchise, and I do. There has, however, always been something that bugged me with Pokémon and every new generation: Gimmick Pokémon.

Shuckle's gimmick is that it has some of the highest
numbers in both defense stats, but abysmal attack
stats and HP, making it very difficult to use. Many
strategies aroundit involve switching its stats
around or making complex combos to make it
more viable.
Okay, so let’s be clear: Most Pokémon have gimmicks, or grew and changed throughout the Generations to gain a gimmick. Some have special moves, some have special abilities since the third Generation. It’s like some were meant to suck and started sub-par compared to the others, and never really improved. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I get that not every Pokémon can be a tournament-worthy killing machine. It hasn’t stopped some gimmick Pokémon from having a gimmick that made them perfectly deadly and destructive in their own right. Not all gimmick Pokémon have this chance. There are various types of gimmick: Plot-based, appearance-based, form-based, ability-based, moveset-based, myth-based... I have examples of all of those.

Some Pokémon were given a gimmick that lasted all of one Generation, only to be forgotten by the next. Some simply have horrible stats that wouldn’t make them viable for serious matches. Others are more viable in combat but there’s still that gimmick that follows them around, that annoys some players about the very existence of these Pokémon. Here, I am listing the 12 gimmicky Pokémon that I consider the worst. I will probably make a Top 12 list to counterbalance this someday… just not right now, enough discussing Pokémon for a bit after this list. As a note, I am also not including Pokémon that are weak and have nothing to help them, unless it’s tied into the gimmick. Okay, we’re counting down! (P.S. This list may contain spoilers from the newest games)

12. Slaking
Type of gimmick: Ability-based
Note how this is the only ability that this
Pokémon can ever have at the moment.
Starting off with a Pokémon whose gimmick still makes it a little viable, if you’re lucky. Slakoth and Slaking are Gen 3 Pokémon with their sole ability being Truant. This ability makes them attack one turn and do nothing the next. You’ll notice that this list contains a few Pokémon whose Ability is what makes them gimmicky, often without good reason. To compensate, Slaking has stats that rival most Legendary Pokémon, a whopping 670 base stats total (just 10 below version mascots)! As a result, Slaking is a beast on the field, as long as you can accept that it takes some time off between attacks. Christ, even Snorlax isn’t that lazy. Oh, it’s possible to set up some strategies to bypass that, but it’s probably too much work for a Pokémon that isn’t all that worth it. Same could be said for Regigigas and its ability Slow Start, which halve its Attack and Speed for its first five turns on the field. As if having the same Pokémon for five turns on the field, that’s a common thing to happen in competitive battling…

11. Durant
Type of gimmick: Concept-based
Looks all menacing, but its reason to
exist is to get its ass whooped by
Some Pokémon seem to exist solely for plot, or because the team at Game Freak wanted to make a point about the Pokémon universe. One of them is Durant, a Bug/Steel ant from Gen 5. It’s actually okay on paper (if you forget that you can catch one with its Hidden Ability… Truant, what the fuck). However, it exists for one reason only: To get beat up by Heatmor, the previous Pokémon in the Dex, a Fire-type anteater. Durant has a 4X weakness to Fire-type attacks. Seldom-seen used by Trainers who’ll prefer better Bug/Steel Pokémon (such as Scizor), ignored for other reasons as well… Yeah. Hell, Gen 5 had a better Bug/Steel Pokémon in Escavalier. Thus is the Durant’s life. It would be seen in Gen ‘s Horde Battles, usually as four Durant against one Heatmor, explaining the Pokédex descriptions that state that this Pokémon attacks in groups. That still makes it a victim of its plot-based gimmick, since its entire point is to be Heatmor food.

10. Kecleon
Type of gimmick: Ability-based
It was also a gimmick in Gen 3 as an
invisible barrier, for some reason.
Here’s another that can be viable if used correctly. Kecleon is the only Pokémon to possess the Ability Color Change, which changes its current type to that of the last move it was hit by. Like a lot of things in life, this is a blessing and a curse. Human opponents tend to be smarter than AI opponents, so they can use this to their advantage. First by changing the Keckleon to a type, then using a move that is super effective against that type (Ghost and Dragon work well, since they’re also weak to themselves). Some Kecleon may have the Hidden Ability Protean, which changes their type to the type of the last attack they used – which is a little better but not necessarily by much, especially because of Kecleon’s very sub-par stats. At least you get more control on which type you want your Kecleon to be – but it’s still not always enough.

9. Phione
Type of gimmick: Myth-based
The not-so-legendary baby...
...the proud, Legendary mommy.
Manaphy is the only Legendary Pokémon capable of breeding. Whether you like it or not, that counts as a gimmick. However, like most Legendary Pokémon, Manaphy has great stats. Its baby Phione, however, it’s another story. Being the only possible baby of a Legendary Pokémon, whether you like it or not, Phione is also a gimmick Pokémon. How gimmicky that may be in regard to gameplay, that’s up for discussion. Phione has 80 in all stats, which makes it just okay across the board, with 480 as base stats total. That makes it viable in combat, but not as good as many others. Its ability, Hydration, is okay, but nothing more. In the end, it’s another of those Pokémon that would be unceremoniously called “filler” by completionists… much like most other baby Pokémon introduced in Generations 2 to 4, all Pokémon with weak stats evolving through friendship or similar means, often obtainable only through breeding. Phione is the pinnacle of those.

8. Chatot
Type of gimmick: Moveset-based
Polly wants a mirophone -
It was taken away from him!
Some Pokémon have a signature ability that makes them special. Others have one or two signature moves that no other Pokémon has – or these moves are learned by very few other Pokémon. Some Pokémon have gimmicks that do weird things, often breaking the fourth wall. Inkay evolves into Malamar on Level 30 and only if the Nintendo 3DS is flipped upside down; good luck getting THAT to work if that Pokémon ever has to evolve in a non-portable console that can’t be flipped. Generation 4’s Chatot is another example. For a single-stage Pokémon, it has barely correct stats – which, alright, equipped with the right moves, it can still become a threat. Let’s be honest here, even gimmick Pokémon are at least usable on a casual, non-competitive level, as long as you can get them the best stuff they can use. Chatot’s gimmick is the signature move Chatter. In Generations 4 and 5, you were able to record your own voice clip into the Nintendo DS, and Chatot would distort and yell that clip, possibly confusing the target opponent Pokémon. However, if there’s one thing humans are good for, it’s ruining things with vulgarity. Nintendo made the mistake of allowing players to customize vehicles in Mario Kart DS by drawing a picture in a square of pixels – and, lo and behold, the game was soon invaded by pixelated genitalia. It must have been awesome to have a Pokémon yell “Motherfucker!” at the opponent… but Pokémon’s general E rating tends to disagree, so the feature was taken out... removing most of Chatot’s gimmick. See, that’s the problem with gimmicks on Pokémon. When they’re removed, a Pokémon loses the one reason for which it was created.

7. Farfetch’d
Type of gimmick: Concept-based
It's a shame this Pok.mon was in Gen 1,
if it was from a later Gen it might
have been revealed by Game Freak...
Through a leak.
Leak, leek, geddit?
Let’s all agree that creating Pokémon that suck “because why not” is a terrible idea. Game Freak, when building each new Generation, grabs inspiration from real-life animals – especially weird or unexpected ones – but also folk tales, legends, myths… and expressions. Spoink’s Pearls before swine, anyone? Even Magikarp was based on the legend of carps turning into dragons, were they to leap over the Dragon Gate. Farfetch’d isn’t so lucky. Its existence is based on the Japanese proverb “A duck comes bearing green onions”, meaning a strange coincidence. In Gen 1, it could only be received through trading. Starting with Gen 2, it could now be found in the wild, albeit with its same poor stats. Gen 6 applied the “coincidence” aspect a little more, having Farfetch’d as a Pokémon you can again receive through a trade, one that is super effective against the next Gym, which featured Bug-type Pokémon. It has lately become a Pokémon centered on scoring critical hits frequently through a combination of moves and held items, but its stats are still poor and every other fully-evolved Normal/Flying Pokémon out there is better than this guy. Even Chatot. And it appears that Game Freak doesn’t want to give the little guy an evolution or anything. Oh well.

6. Spinda
Type of gimmick: Appearance- and moveset-based
♪♫You spin me right round, baby
right round, like a record baby
right round round round...♪♫
Some Pokémon have gimmicks that will never go away. It’s like a part of their design – literally so with Spinda. This red panda Pokémon is special, in that every Pokémon game uses a special algorithm to set the red spots on its head and ears – leading to over four billion possible combinations. In other words, you will likely never meet two Spinda who look exactly the same – unless you clone them, you darn cheater. It’s also constantly moving in place, in a constant state of dizziness and confusion (its entire moveset seems to be based around those), with piss-poor stats to top it all off. Yep, not content with having one gimmick, Spinda has two! It’s been worthless since Gen 3, and has mostly remained worthless since… well, don’t quote me on that, but apparently there’s something to be done with a Spinda, the move Skill Swap, its Hidden Ability Contrary (which decreases the Pokémon’s stat if it uses a stat-enhancing move, and vice-versa), and a Pokémon that should lose some points in its Attack stat after using very powerful attacks… But outside of that very particular situation, Spinda is still mostly useless.

5. Castform
Type of gimmick: Form-, Ability- and Moveset-based
It's like most of the worst things about
gimmick Pokémon, all rolled up into
Weather was introduced in the second Generation, and as with every new major gameplay element, we needed our own themed Pokémon, right? I mean, it’s not like Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza were enough when Gen 3 arrived! Thus we get Castform, a little creature whose entire idea is “Cause a weather effect, change to that weather’s type, use special attack”. Okay, so, here’s a breakdown of what’s wrong with this Pokémon.
-Using the weather effect move takes a turn, which is already difficult if you’re encountering an opponent.
-Weather effects only last 5 turns, so you’ll have to use one again soon.
-Castform’s type changes to Water under rain, Fire under harsh sunlight, Ice under hail. That’s it. First off, this means that Castform gains that type’s strengths and weaknesses. Second, it doesn’t have a form for one of the most common overworld weathers, sandstorm.
-Castform re-loses the new typing when the weather ends.
-Its attack that changes type, Weather Ball, has only 10 PP, so even if you were able to use it for a while, you would run out very quickly – even if its PP are increased to its maximum 16. If you have the three weather-changing moves in his arsenal and Weather Ball, that also makes it Castform’s only way to defend itself.
-Its ability is Forecast, the one thing that lets it transform in the first place, and it has no other, better ability (Hidden or not) that would be more useful.
-It looks like a ball with a face over a pair of the other kind of balls.
-Oh, and Castform’s stats are crap to start with.
In Pokémon Sun and Moon, Game Freak at least tried to add something interesting to the concept by having it pop up only when weather effects are used during SOS battles. However… this can also summon other weather-related Pokémon sometimes, like Poliwhirl, Goomy, Vanillite or Gabite, all of which are better than Castform in every freaking way. Big thumb-down for this Pokémon of little use.

4. Luvdisc
Type of gimmick: Plot-based
Awwwww, it's so cute! Let's kill
it and steal its treasure!
Ah, yes… That well of suckiness. You knew this was coming. Luvdisc was created in Gen 3 for a single reason: Heart scales. This new item was a revolution in the franchise, allowing some Pokémon to re-learn moves they had learned previously but lost… as long as you could give that item to a Move Relearner somewhere in the region. This turned out to be extremely interesting, and even allowed some Pokémon to learn some of the moves they can learn and forget on Level 1. We could now access those through the Move Relearner and the Heart Scales. Only downside? It’s a held item on this crappy Pokémon in the wild, a Pokémon with horrible base stats, a Pokémon that has seen no considerable improvement since its creation. In fact, heart scales became even more common starting in Gen 5, making this Pokémon even MORE useless. I’m not even sure what else to say about it, honestly. That’s an awful gimmick and an awful idea overall. But hey, guess we did need some way to explain why those damn Heart Scales exist… And yes, I am one of those “Luvdisc should evolve into Alomomola” type of guy.

3. Cosmog and Cosmoem
Type of gimmick: Plot- and myth-based
(Nebby "Pew-Pew" ["Get-In-The-****ing-Bag"] Cosmog...
,,,The second.
The first one has already reached its final form.) 
MAJOR SPOILERS HERE. Take Magikarp Power, then turn the dial up to 11- No, wait, turn it up to 111. Cosmog has a very important role in the plot of Pokémon Sun and Moon. Its status as a creature able to open rifts towards the Ultra Beasts’ dimension, its status as a technical Ultra Beast, its cosmic appearance, and its omnipresence in the plot as Lillie’s companion (“Get in the bag Nebby!”), make it quite the notable creature. However, Cosmog learns no offensive or defensive moves whatsoever, having only Splash and Teleport to rely on (while even Magikarp learns Tackle at Level 15!). It’s also one of the lightest Pokémon of all, weighing 0.2 lbs. At Level 43, it becomes Cosmoem, which has greatly improved Defense and Special Defense, but still no way to fight at all – it gains the move Cosmic Power, which increases its defenses even more, making it basically a stone wall to put in place while you’re healing your other Pokémon. Cosmoem is also one of the two heaviest Pokémon to exist, at 2204.4 lbs., tied with Celesteela, also from Gen 7. The only saving grace is that, at Level 53, Cosmoem evolves into Solgaleo in Pokémon Sun, and into Lunala in Pokémon Moon, the mascot Legendaries of the generation and formidable beasts – more formidable than Gyarados, Milotic or even School Form Wishiwashi. All it took was ultra-long, painful EXP farming!
Never mind the fact that Lillie was perfectly able to carry
around in her bag officially one of the two heaviest
Pokémon in existence. That it floats in place is not
good enough of an explanation.
I consider them gimmick Pokémon for two reasons:
-They are the first to evolve into a Legendary Pokémon, which was never seen before;
-And they evolve differently depending on the version, which was also never seen before Gen 7, a gimmick also used by Rockruff when it becomes Midday or Midnight Lycanroc. I take issue with that one in particular because it doesn’t explain how, exactly, any of these Pokémon will evolve when the next games come in and they’re not Pokémon Sun or Moon. Will they evolve based on the time of day? Will they be given arbitrarily one version of the new games in which they’ll evolve into one or the other? Long story short, I am not a fan of version-exclusive evolution.
-Hell, to some extent, the change from being among the lightest Pokémon to turning into one of the heaviest Pokémon may as well be a gimmick too.
These two are a burden until they reach Level 53, with nothing to save them until their evolution into Solgaleo or Lunala. In the seventh Generation, which had tons of gimmick Pokémon, those are among the worst. Good thing they are Legendaries in disguise, huh?

2. Delibird
Type of gimmick: Moveset- and concept-based
It does feel like this Pokémon was created while
the developers were drunk. And look at that, like
a particularly bad mistake made while drunk,
they're now living every Generation with the
terrible consequences.
I like to imagine a few Game Freak employees during their Holiday party, after a couple drinks, going, “You know what would be funny? Creating the worst Pokémon ever.”
“We already have plans for it, they’re called Unown.”
“No- *hips!* I mean, the worst. Like, worst of the worst. Not even the mythos of the Pokémon world could save it. See what I mean?”
“I would love to pull that sort of prank on the enormous fanbase of our most famous series, but we’re gonna be stuck with that decision for a long time! We need something smart!”
“No worries. I got that idea of a Pokémon based on Santa… sorta… *hips!*”
Thus Delibird was born. One of the biggest jokes in Gen 2, where all it could learn was Present, an attack that dealt varying damage at random (40, 80 or 120 base damage)… and, 1/5th of the time, would actually HEAL the opponent. The only way to make it even slightly viable was through TMs and HMs, at a time where TMs had only one use, and most of them couldn’t be bought again once gone. Nowadays, since TMs don’t disappear, you can actually give Delibird many good Ice- and Flying-type moves, and it can also learn more good moves through breeding. However, its base stat total is still 330, thus still utterly awful. Don’t expect this guy to be seen anywhere in the teams of serious players… Thanks, Game Freak, for the second most useless Pokémon of all… Only surpassed by…

1. Unown
Type of gimmick: Myth- and concept-based
Well, I foreshadowed them in the previous entry. There’s 28 different Unown. All they ever learn is Hidden Power, an attack with a secret type which, until recently, you couldn’t learn about until you battled enough Pokémon in the wild. They can’t be taught any other moves through TMs, HMs, or any other method. Unown have a base stat total of 336, barely better than Delibird. The only ability they can ever learn is Levitate, which just protects them from Ground-type attacks. That’s something, I guess, but they have nothing more useful. They are an intricate part of the Pokémon mythos, involved in the Arceus’s ritual when he creates another Dialga, Palkia or Giratina, and they are also implied to have ties with other legends of that world. They are the true villains in the most memorable (and, in my opinion, best) Pokémon movie, where they were frequently shown as all-CGI to highlight their eldritch nature. But they’re shit. Only good for the collection and nothing else. Oh yeah, sure, they can hold their own for a very short time, but let’s say I wouldn’t cash in on beating the Elite 4 with a full team of those. These are the worst Pokémon to exist. In my wildest dreams, I could imagine them having some bonus in-battle based on how many Unown are in your team, and a full team of Unown could be more viable – in stats, at least – but like Farfetch’d or Delibird, these were never meant to be viable, so we’ll never see those awesome possibilities.

There's nothing to be scared of!
It only had Hidden Power and crappy stats!
Just whack it with the closest blunt object, you'll be fine!

This concludes my list! I would like to say that, despite what I’ve said in the article so far, I have nothing against gimmick Pokémon. I am however sad when a Pokémon loses its gimmick when we move to a new Generation, or when a Pokémon’s gimmick is a hindrance to its usefulness or turns it into a joke. To end on a more positive note, here are some other Pokémon with gimmicks that are either appreciated by the community, actually useful in a team, or with something that greatly helps them.
Waa-bah-bah! Wobuffet spoke
Rabbid before the Rabbids existed.
-Wynaut and Wobbuffet: The masters of the counterstrike, a pain in the ass to fight against, which just proves how powerful they are. All they need is their four best moves.
-Smeargle: One of the Pokémon with the poorest stats overall, but able to learn practically any attack through its Sketch attack. If it learns a set of powerful attacks, it can pass them on, and help the rest of the team.
-Shedinja: Immune to all but 5 types thanks to Wonder Guard, against the right opponents Shedinja can attack at will and never be defeated. Its stats are poor, and it takes some time learning to use strategies that benefit its 1HP status, but it has the potential to become incredible.
Christ, this thing is ugly.
You can fish out a Magikarp
almost anywhere - this thing
is mighty rare.
-Feebas: The only Pokémon that ever had to evolve through max beauty, which is extremely annoying. Unfortunately (or fortunately) lost its gimmick in later Gens, where it could then evolve by being traded with a Prism Scale; but it becomes Milotic, so it isn’t all that bad. I wished it wasn’t that friggin’ rare though.
-Rotom: An awesome gimmick that changes it Ghost-type to one of 5 different types. The one annoying thing about it is that, now, every main series game needs a room with the appliances Rotom uses to transform.
-Deerling and Sawsbuck: Correct Pokémon, but they were created for the seasonal gimmick of Gen 5, which was dropped in Gen 6. To have all 4 versions of Deerling and Sawsbuck, you need to catch one of each in Gen 5 and transfer them to the new games. Another Pokémon that lost its reason to exist when its gimmick stopped being used…
-Zoroark: One of the most special abilities, and a very good Pokémon to use it. Not much else to say, Zoroark is awesome.
So much pink - so much
-Sylveon: The only Pokémon to evolve through Pokémon-Amie, and thankfully, that’s one feature that will likely come back in every next Generation, so we’re likely never gonna lose our ticket from a cute Eevee to an even cuter Sylveon.
-Oricorio: Stats that are merely correct, but its transformation between four different sets of types is what makes this bird interesting. You can carry one in your team and adapt it to the next opponent you’ll encounter!
-Wishiwashi: That’s Magikarp Power turned to 11. Starts off with the official lowest base stat total at 175, but at Level 20 becomes, through its ability, a monstrous beast with a base stat total of 620 as long as its Hit Points are over 25%. It’s a good Pokémon that probably takes some strategy to use correctly, but it’s much better than many Pokémon on this Worst 12 list, due to the low base stats totals, weak concepts, shallow movepools or weakening abilities some of those happened to have.

You can disagree with me on any of those, but some of them are better than the ones on this list, that’s for sure.

Okay, this was a very long list, but I’m happy with the end result. I hope you enjoyed reading this. Is there a gimmick Pokémon that you believe should have been discussed here? Feel free to comment!

Next week… Hm… Probably a film or a TV show.