Archen and Archeops

9b6b7-archen…hang on, didn’t we do this already?  Like, way back in Generation One?  There was this prehistoric aerial predator, and it was a Rock/Flying-type, and it was really fast, and- oh, wait, no, that was Aerodactyl.  Aerodactyl is a pterosaur and Archeops is, well, an archaeopteryx, so there you have it.  Personally, as something of a dinosaurs-and-other-Mesozoic-beasties buff, I think that there’s quite enough of a distinction between an archaeopteryx and a pterodactyl to warrant having separate Pokémon, but that’s just me.  I suspect many (read: normal) people might disagree.  So, anyway, if we fire up the old Pokémadex, we learn that Archeops is the “First Bird” Pokémon from which all modern bird Pokémon supposedly descend.  This… raises more questions than it answers, actually.  Like, how come all prehistoric Pokémon were Rock-types?  We’ve been resurrecting these things from fossilized remains since Red and Blue, and they’re all Rock Pokémon: Kabuto, Aerodactyl, Omanyte, Lileep, Anorith, Cranidos, Shieldon, and now this angry-looking thing.  Did all modern Pokémon evolve from Rock-types?  Heck, do Pokémon evolve?  Well, I mean, yes, obviously they evolve, but do they evolve like real animals do?  Were all ancient Pokémon Rock-types because Pokémon originally evolved from rocks?  Because… that… actually, that would explain rather a lot, but it also RAISES MORE QUESTIONS, DAMNIT!  I’m going to go with the simplest explanation I can think of, which is that Rock Pokémon are vastly overrepresented in the fossil record because their remains preserve better.  Take it or leave it; the scientists in the Pokémon world are unlikely to come up with a better answer since they’re all a bunch of lunatics who prefer to conduct comparative zoology by giving expensive scientific equipment to random ten-year-olds and sending them off into the wilderness.

Anyway.  Archeops.

e6dce-archeopsI think that Archeops is pretty badass, although Archen looks… kind of mangy.  Like someone’s put the poor thing through a washing machine by mistake.  As I’ve said, I can easily put up with the design similarities between Archeops and Aerodactyl because as far as I’m concerned we’re dealing with two very different creatures, but unfortunately the similarity doesn’t end here; both of them are very fast high-powered physical attackers with the Rock and Flying types.  There is a difference; it’s a shift of focus. Aerodactyl wasn’t exactly obscenely powerful, but there’s precious little in all the world that can outrun him.  Archeops swaps that around; he’s fast, but there are still quite a few Pokémon that are faster.  In terms of raw power, though, he outstrips the likes of Tyranitar and Dragonite.  The rather odd thing is that he’s also quite adept at using special attacks, but can only learn three that are of any use and even those (Dragon Pulse, Focus Blast and Earth Power) are somewhat dubious for him, so it’s probably best to just forget about it.  Archeops also gets one very nice thing that Aerodactyl doesn’t: U-Turn, a Bug-type attack that has been called, not without some justification, the best move in the game.  U-Turn does decent but not overwhelming damage and then switches out the Pokémon using it, allowing you to switch without wasting a turn.  This in itself is good, but the truly wonderful thing is that if your opponent decides to switch at the same time, you get to see what you’re up against before choosing what to use yourself.  Honestly, this alone is a major selling point and possibly even enough to make up for the fact that Aerodactyl also gets some things Archeops doesn’t, notably Stealth Rock.  All up, Archeops is theoretically capable of absolutely tremendous destruction.  Notice I say “theoretically.”

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Where Archeops falls down as a Pokémon is the ability he’s been given.  Nintendo seem to have felt that Archeops’s destructive potential was just too great, so they decided to hobble him with a passive effect called Defeatist.  Essentially, when Archeops loses more than half of his health, he just plain gives up and stops trying, causing all of his attacks to do only half damage.  This is a concept Nintendo have been playing with for a while now – making a Pokémon with ridiculously awesome stats and then crippling it with some kind of awful drawback.  So far, it hasn’t worked.  Slaking, back in Ruby and Sapphire, not only had an attack stat so far beyond absurd that calling it that would be an insult to absurdity itself but was also as tough as old boots – only problem was, he was also appallingly lazy and would only move once every two turns.  Diamond and Pearl then gave us Regigigas, master of the legendary golems – a phenomenally bad excuse for a legendary Pokémon that was just as fast and strong as Slaking and could move every turn, but spent his first five turns with his attack and speed halved as he slowly warmed up.  This countdown reset itself if you ever switched Regigigas out, and he had no source of healing – no, not even Rest – to help him wait it out.  As a result, no-one ever uses Regigigas.  Slaking does turn up occasionally, because even if he is a lazy jerk at least you have access to his full power immediately, which is enough to make most Pokémon soil themselves with sheer terror.  So, this concept has so far given us a niche Pokémon which is extraordinarily difficult to use correctly but possibly worth the payoff and an unmitigated disaster which is probably the weakest legendary Pokémon ever (with the possible exception of Phione, who doesn’t really count).  That’s great odds.  Having used Archeops for a reasonable length of time now, I feel he will fall into the former category rather than the latter.  It will be difficult to avoid losing him uselessly in any given battle, but getting it right will result in unimaginable carnage.  I predict that some people will be happy to risk it, because, like I always say, there’s no kill like overkill.

Time to pass judgement.  Hmm.  This is a tricky one.  Is Archeops too much the same thing as Aerodactyl to deserve a spot in the Pokédex?  Same type combination, although it’s not exactly an overdone one, similar but distinct flavour, similar focus… when all’s said and done, though, Archeops is a lot better than Aerodactyl at one specific thing (utterly wiping things from existence), while lacking the ability to do other, cleverer things and being much harder to use right, which is enough of a difference for me.  Nice concept, interesting execution, could’ve maybe gotten away from the idea that all fossil Pokémon must be Rock-types, but hey, if the design is badass and the mechanics back it up…

I hereby affirm this Pokémon’s right to exist!

 

 

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