Roggenrola, Boldore and Gigalith

544a6-roggenrolaOkay, I’m not going to beat about the bush: we are in the presence of Geodude, Graveler and Golem, version 2.0.  They are great big bulky living rocks, and their distinguishing feature is that they are great big bulky living rocks.  Nintendo even seems to have hinted that they knew that and just didn’t care by giving them an identical evolutionary path: both Geodude and Roggenrola evolve once upon reaching 25th level, and then once more when traded.  It’s going to take a lot to convince me of these ones… here I go.

f05bc-boldoreRight, so, the designers have decided that the major distinction between Roggenrola, Boldore and Gigalith and their predecessors is that, while Geodude, Graveler and Golem are mountain Pokémon that hang out on the surface, these things are born very deep in the Earth, close to the mantle where the temperature and pressure are high, and sometimes make their way into shallower caves by way of fissures.  That… is actually pretty cool, I admit.  Roggenrola specifically seems a bit off, though.  The Pokédex tells us that the hexagonal depression on its face is an ear, not an eye; that, along with the name, seems to suggest that we’re looking at a Pokémon with sonic abilities, but if that was ever the plan, it seems to have been dropped when Boldore was designed.  That’s easily forgiveable, I suppose; the problem is that it’s not the only inconsistency with the design.  A big part of this Pokémon’s flavour is that it has some kind of internal power core that allows it to make devastating energy-based attacks.  The energy overflowing from this core is what brings about the growth of the crystals on Boldore’s body (I don’t know; just go with it).  Gigalith’s Pokédex entry states very insistently that it can use the crystals to gather and amplify solar energy, using it to create destructive blasts capable of knocking holes in mountains.  Basically, everything here seems to indicate that Solarbeam ought to be Gigalith’s signature move.  There are two problems here.  First: although Gigalith can be taught Solarbeam, it will not learn it of its own accord.  Second: no one should ever teach Gigalith Solarbeam because its special attack stat is dreadful.  This annoys me a great deal.  Gigalith’s Pokédex entries for both Black and White make a big deal of its prowess at using energy attacks.  There is an outrageously easy and obvious way written right into Gigalith’s design of making it distinct from not just Golem but also nearly every other Rock-type in existence (only one of them, Omastar, is actually good at using special attacks, and only five others are even competent), and Nintendo chose to ignore it completely, at one and the same moment making Gigalith functionally identical to Golem and creating a glaring disconnect between its flavour and mechanics.  This… this cannot be mere incompetence.  Someone in this company is actively trolling me.  It is working.

67a55-gigalithOkay, so I’m making a lot of my claim that Gigalith and Golem are basically the same thing, so I suppose I should compare them properly.  There is, I guess, one big, obvious difference: Roggenrola and its evolutions are single-typed Rock Pokémon, while Geodude and its adult forms are Rock/Ground dual-types.  This is a mixed blessing for Gigalith.  Rock/Ground is almost universally hailed as an awful defensive typing because, despite coming with immunity to Electric attacks, it includes crippling double-weaknesses to both Water and Grass attacks, as well as weaknesses to Ground, Fighting and Ice attacks.  With the exception of Grass, these are some of the most popular attack types in the game, and Gigalith is definitely better off for shedding its Ice weakness and lessening its Grass and Water weaknesses.  On the other hand, Rock/Ground does happen to be one of the better offensive combinations out there, doing super-effective damage to a total of seven types, and not being resisted by any single type (though there are many dual-type combinations that will resist both).  Gigalith can learn Ground attacks like Earthquake, of course, but all attacks are more powerful when used by Pokémon of the same type, making Golem’s Earthquakes stronger.  Gigalith’s significantly higher attack stat goes some way towards compensating for that, though, and makes his other attacks better as well.  Advantage: Gigalith.  This significantly higher attack stat is also the only major difference between their numbers.  Gigalith is slightly tougher and quite a bit slower, but both of them are so slow that it’s hard to really care.  Again, advantage: Gigalith.  That just leaves their move-pools.  Golem can learn quite a few attacks that Gigalith can’t, but most of them are irrelevant and distracting.  The important part is that Golem can learn some strong Fighting-type attacks like Hammer Arm, which is the first big advantage on his side.  I normally ignore moves available to older Pokémon through TMs and move tutors exclusive to the older games, since I suspect the new Pokémon are going to gain access to many of them eventually and I don’t think it’s quite fair to include them in my judgements, but I have to admit it is pretty important that, on Platinum, Golem can learn Fire Punch and Thunderpunch to nail more Pokémon with super-effective attacks.  Some cross-bred Gigalith have one trick that Golem is missing, though, and it’s a big one: the power to bring flying and levitating Pokémon crashing to the ground with the Gravity technique, thus rendering great swathes of normally-immune Pokémon vulnerable to Earthquake.  Gravity also makes all attacks harder to dodge, so you can even design a team around it by loading your Pokémon with powerful but inaccurate attacks like Blizzard and Thunder, and since very few Pokémon can use it, it’s quite a nice trick to have.

94e83-geodude252cgravelerandgolemIn brief: if we allow Golem to use the attacks that it could learn on older games but can’t on Black and White, his wider move-pool probably clinches it for him; Gigalith has very little outside of Rock- and Ground-type attacks.  If not, Gigalith’s greater power is the deciding factor.  The thing is, though, I’m not here to judge which Pokémon is better; I’m trying to give an overall assessment of whether or not these new Pokémon really ought to exist.  Compared to Golem, Gigalith has fewer options and bigger numbers.  Mechanically, it’s a more boring version of Golem.  This is extraordinarily disappointing because it would have been so easy to make Roggenrola, Boldore and Gigalith interesting not by doing anything outlandish but simply by being consistent with their established flavour.  The correct course with this Pokémon would have been either to toss it and replace it with its 1st-generation equivalent, or to make it do something new.  Nintendo did neither, and thus I am annoyed with them.

I hereby deny this Pokémon’s right to exist!  Let it be sledge-hammered into tiny fragments and sold in crystal shops for exorbitant prices by elderly hippies!

 

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