Aw, look at the cute widdle…
Today’s Pokémon is Audino, a cute, pink-and-white, vaguely mammalian, fuzzy, Normal-type Pokémon. Sound familiar? Yes, of course it does. Now, just to be clear, I have nothing against cute Pokémon; I love cute Pokémon. I don’t even have anything against this kind of cute Pokémon, taken in isolation. Clefairy? I’m a huge fan. Jigglypuff? Not a favourite, but those eyes just melt your heart. Chansey? Adorable. But like so much else, it’s been done. Repeatedly, and well. Each of those three Pokémon has a nice little theme to give it a bit of (much-needed, I might add) uniqueness. Jigglypuff has her proverbial song. Clefairy and Clefable are From SpaceTM and have mysterious powers represented by their Metronome spell. Chansey, finally, is the doctor of the Pokémon world and can heal most any injury. Audino… well, I guess Audino has the hearing thing. Audino has extraordinarily sensitive hearing and perceives her surroundings as though using a sort of radar; none of her in-game powers really tie into this, but it’s a nice bit of flavour. The trouble is, it just becomes part of a healer persona like Chansey’s; Audino uses those feelers on her ears like a doctor’s stethoscope to listen to a Pokémon’s heartbeat and assess its physical and mental state. She also has powers related to healing. In fact, Unovan doctors and nurses in the TV show use Audino instead of Chansey and they apparently work just as well, so clearly Nintendo knew that they had a replacement for Chansey and likely even intended it that way, because… I guess because one cute, pink, fluffy Pokémon with healing powers just wasn’t enough? Basically, I do like Audino’s design; there’s nothing wrong with her in and of herself, but it’s another one of those cases where Game Freak could have just put an old Pokémon in Black and White (specifically, Chansey) and no one would have been bothered in the least.
You might hope that Audino would redeem herself by being powerful and having unique abilities. She’s got a lot of competition. It’s hard to beat Blissey, Chansey’s evolved form, who is far and away the best special wall in the game; with excellent special defence and quite unreasonable HP, Blissey ordinarily just doesn’t care about energy attacks, not even super-effective ones – Porygon-Z’s Hyper Beam, Lucario’s Focus Blast and maybe Aura Spheres from some legendary Pokémon like Mewtwo are just about the only things that’ll faze her. Almost any physical attack will knock her on her fat ass in an instant, but the wonderful thing about Blissey is that you can very easily train her to care a lot less about physical attacks; they’ll still hurt all right, but a properly-built Blissey should be able to take one or two, with a bit of luck, and then heal herself with Softboiled. Audino isn’t like that. Audino actually feels special attacks. The good news is, she’s actually just as good at taking physical attacks; the bad news is, although she’s pretty tough, “pretty tough” can only go so far when you’re a Normal-type and so have no resistances to speak of. Normal is generally a pretty bad type; it’s one of the worst in the game offensively and so-so defensively; as a result most of the Normal-types that are worth using manage it by having a couple of absurdly high stats – the big ones (no pun intended) being Blissey and Snorlax. Because Audino only has moderately high defences, she’ll need some kind of mysterious X-factor, so let’s see what there is… For some strange reason she learns just about every powerful special attack under the sun (seriously; she gets Ice Beam, Flamethrower, Thunderbolt, Surf, Psychic, Shadow Ball, Focus Blast and Solarbeam) but she doesn’t really have the stats to back them up (no, not even if you give her Calm Mind). She does, however, have a very nice selection of support moves, as one might expect: Wish, Light Screen, Reflect, Heal Bell, Encore, Yawn, Thunder Wave and Trick Room are the standouts. Notably, except for Heal Bell, Thunder Wave and Light Screen, most of these are actually things that Blissey can’t do. I suspect that, for any given combination of attacks, you could probably find something that’d do it better than Audino but she learns so many damn moves I’m honestly not sure anymore.
If you really want to use Audino (and I guess I can’t blame you) you’d better get used to double battles because she can pull off a couple of vaguely interesting tactics if she has a partner to work with. Trick Room is the most important move here; this is a technique introduced in Diamond and Pearl that warps space to make slow Pokémon move before fast Pokémon, turning a lot of strategies on their heads. It’s slightly gimmicky in a traditional battle but can be done very well in a double battle, and most importantly it’s something Audino can do that Blissey can’t. Audino can’t really heal herself because she doesn’t learn Softboiled (she can fake it with Wish, but that can get tricky) but her Heal Pulse technique does allow her to heal her partner, so can be a valuable asset. You also might be able to get some mileage out of Simple Beam, a rare and extremely odd attack that changes the target’s passive ability to Simple, causing it to experience doubled effects from stat boosts (e.g. Swords Dance) and penalties (e.g. Screech). Use that on a partner with a set-up move and suddenly we’re in business. As in single battles, I’m sure you could find a better doubles supporter, but if Audino is ever going to get a chance to shine, it’ll be here.
I shall repeat this once more to drive my point home: Audino has a pretty nice design. If Chansey didn’t exist, I would be quite happy to accept Audino into the fold (although I would still find myself wishing she had been less mediocre; what she really needs is an evolution). I’m not sure what I would have done with Audino to make her worth keeping in a world that already had Chansey; if the designers were dead set on having another doctor Pokémon I would probably have tried to partner her with Chansey somehow… the best I can think of off the top of my head is placing more focus on Audino’s ability to hear emotions and having her care for patients’ mental wellbeing while Chansey looked after their physical ailments (maybe making her a Normal/Psychic dual-type in the process, though I’m not wild about that). Anyway, I’ve put this off long enough… sorry, Audino:
I hereby deny this Pokémon’s right to exist! Let it be tossed into the rubber room and prodded repeatedly by men in white coats holding clipboards!