I don’t want to review these Pokémon. I really don’t. Sadly, they’re sitting there in the Pokédex, right after Timburr, Gurdurr and Conkeldurr, and I don’t exactly have much of an excuse not to. So… with as little ado as possible, let’s get started on the vibration Pokémon, Tympole, Palpitoad and Seismitoad.
Understand that I do not think these are terrible Pokémon. They are not… badly designed, as such. I think Tympole and, yes, even Palpitoad are kind of cute. Seismitoad may be ungainly, but as he’s a toad Pokémon I think that’s intentional. No, the crux of my problem is that they are just rather dull. They’re not even interesting enough for me to hate properly, which makes this business of writing a blog post about them rather a trial. Nonetheless, I shall persevere. Tympole, Palpitoad and Seismitoad are tadpole and frog Pokémon, obviously. “Tadpole and frog Pokémon,” unfortunately, is an idea that was already done way back in Red and Blue by Poliwag, Poliwhirl and Poliwrath (Poliwhirl, incidentally, is the favourite Pokémon of Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of the franchise, which is something of a difficult legacy to live up to when you think about it). The Pokédex continues to classify Poliwhirl and Poliwrath as “tadpole Pokémon,” but let’s face it, they’re clearly fully-grown and looking more like frogs than tadpoles, and there’s really no question about Politoed, the alternate final evolution for Poliwhirl added in Gold and Silver. I suppose you could make the argument that Palpitoad and Seismitoad are toad Pokémon, not frog Pokémon, what with the bumps that are meant to represent a toad’s “warts,” but since the only thing that really makes a toad a toad and not a frog is that they can live happily out of water, and Seismitoad is still a Water-type, I think that’s splitting hairs a bit (yes, all right, he’s a Water/Ground dual-type; big deal). So Tympole’s thing is that he has sonic powers. Y’know, because frogs and toads make loud noises. Of course, frogs and toads made loud noises ten years ago as well, which is why Politoed’s thing is also that she has sonic powers. This was clearly too much, so their sonic powers are slightly different. Politoed just croaks at you so loudly that your head explodes. Palpitoad can do that too, but he can also use sonic waves to start earthquakes… which would be great, if not for the fact that lots of Pokémon are associated with earthquakes already, most notably Whiscash, the catfish of doom. Seismitoad has something else, the ability to vibrate his fists with those sonic gland things of his (that’s what the “warts” are) and shatter things with his punches, presumably by some sort of resonance effect… which, again, would be great, if Seismitoad were any good at punching things. He’s not; he learns one attack that involves punching things (Drain Punch). I mean… on a Water-type, you wouldn’t think Ice Punch would be too out-of-place, right? How about Mega Punch? Maybe some kind of unique sonic punch attack to represent this ability of his? The only other mildly interesting thing about these Pokémon is that they’re poisonous, and the other, newer frog Pokémon, Croagunk and Toxicroak (who, by the way, were actually well-designed and quite distinct from Poliwrath, despite also being Fighting-types), already milked the “poisonous frog” thing for all it was worth. At the end of it all, I’m left wondering why I’m expected to care that these things are in this game.
Now for their actual gameplay merits… again, understand that these are not terrible Pokémon. They certainly aren’t good, but they don’t have any truly gaping inadequacies. Water/Ground is a perfectly good type combination to have; it comes with a double-weakness to Grass-type attacks, but that’s also the only weakness you’ll find to it. Seismitoad is the fifth Pokémon to inherit this particular mantle, so he has to work rather hard to make anything of it. The good news is that all four of the previous Pokémon are bulky, tanky things, the best of which is probably Swampert, who makes good use of his relative dearth of weaknesses to absorb attacks safely and hit back with very powerful Earthquakes, although Black and White have been very kind to Gastrodon by dramatically improving her formerly useless passive ability, Storm Drain, so she might actually surpass Swampert now. The other two, Whiscash and Quagsire, are similar ideas. They’re slow, they’re tough, and it’s hard to hit them in a weak spot; end of story.
Seismitoad, to my relief, is not the same thing; he’s much more rounded. Notably he’s the fastest of the five by a fair margin (although I should stress that this doesn’t mean much). He’s still pretty tough and pretty strong, but he’s nothing special on either count. Seismitoad works because of the Swift Swim ability, which allows him to move twice as fast in heavy rain and act as a sort of sweeper. This is a wonderful ability if you build your team around it; the trouble is that it’s a fairly standard one for Water Pokémon to have, so Seismitoad has a great deal of competition in using it and unfortunately it’s not competition he can really handle. Seismitoad’s offensive skills are evenly divided between physical and elemental combat, which means he doesn’t really excel at either. The idea of a physically-based Seismitoad is shot down completely by the fact that, for some ungodly reason, Seismitoad cannot learn Waterfall and thus has no physical Water-type attacks to take advantage of the power boost that they get from heavy rain, so those theoretical ‘points’ spent on making Seismitoad decent at using physical attacks are really wasted. He does, however, have just enough of a movepool to scrape together a reasonable spread of special attacks: Surf as a primary attack, Earth Power as a secondary, and Grass Knot, Focus Blast or Sludge Bomb for backup. Like I said, though, a lot of Water Pokémon get Swift Swim and many of them are very powerful. Kabutops comes to mind, being faster and stronger than Seismitoad and having access to Swords Dance. Bringing Kingdra into this comparison just wouldn’t be fair at all because Kingdra is nothing short of terrifying. For heaven’s sake, Golduck gets Swift Swim now through the Dream World and would arguably do as good a job of it as Seismitoad, and when people start comparing you to Golduck, of all things, you know you’re doing something wrong.
You might think that I am being very hard on poor Seismitoad. You would be absolutely right. Tough cookies. I probably am being harder on Seismitoad than I would have been if I had been writing this about Whiscash six years ago. Heck, I’m probably being harder on him that I would have been on Gastrodon three years ago. The fact is, I just don’t think it’s okay anymore to be adding Pokémon like this to the game. In Diamond and Pearl, we had nearly five hundred of the damn things and that, if you ask me, was plenty. That doesn’t mean there should never be a new Pokémon again; there should by all means be more Pokémon but there needs to be a reason for each one, and that reason needs to be better than “I miss Poliwrath.” If anyone were asking me, which I know they’re not, I would say that Nintendo really needs to stop focusing so much on adding more and more Pokémon and start doing more with what they have. Anyway.
I hereby deny this Pokémon’s right to exist! Let it be locked in a bunker with a hungry Frenchman and a bag of garlic!