There’s gross… and then there’s gross.
By which I mean, some things are disgusting and others are just nasty.
On the one hand, you have Pokémon like Muk, who is literally made of toxic waste, Weezing, who can cause lung cancer at fifty paces, Gloom, who is constantly surrounded by the stench of rotting meat, and Lickitung, who… well, I think we can all agree; the less said about Lickitung, the better.
On the other hand, you have Pokémon that wear their own cast-off skin as trousers and hoodies.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Scraggy and Scrafty.
Scraggy and Scrafty are lizards, and as lizards they shed their skin, which is absolutely fine. I just wish they didn’t have to pick it back up afterwards and dress themselves in it. Unfortunately it’s a major part of their defence because their skin goes rubbery and elastic after it’s been shed, and their “clothes” absorb some of the force of attacks, which is why the blasted things are so hard to squash. I guess that’s… interesting? Sort of? I really can’t get over how much the idea makes me cringe – but I can’t keep talking about that forever because I have other, better reasons to hate Scraggy and Scrafty. Remember how much I hated Gothitelle when I did her entry a little while ago? Well, Scraggy and Scrafty get on my nerves for the same reason. Like Gothitelle’s, their design is basically centred around a human subculture from modern times – in this case, we’re looking at stereotypical juvenile delinquents of the last twenty or thirty years. These Pokémon run around in gangs, beating up anyone they find on their turf, vandalising things at random and just being generally unpleasant (they also spit acid, although I don’t think many juvenile delinquents can do that) – which, to be fair, is something a lot of Pokémon do, but these particular ones do it in baggy pants and hoodies. Scrafty even have mohawks (and Scrafty is called the “Hoodlum Pokémon”). Something about the idea of a Pokémon based on a modern stereotype is incredibly jarring to me. Well, no, several things, actually. On the simplest level, I just don’t think this design is all that clever. More generally, I find the references a grating contrast to the more dignified influences from historical cultures and traditions, or to the more interesting and realistic ideas drawn from nature. They feel like dated caricatures. Finally, my beleaguered suspension of disbelief is suffering terribly from having to accept Pokémon that have apparently adopted elements of modern human culture. Pokémon are not human, and having Pokémon mimic humans in irritating and superficial ways is an exception to the norm that needs to have some kind of justification if it’s going to be anything but pointless – justification the designers aren’t always prepared to offer. Why are Scraggy and Scrafty the way they are? Do they feel disenfranchised by the modern political system? Do they get hooked on drugs at an early age? Do they just have a desperate, burning need to disappoint their parents, because mum and dad don’t understand them and nobody understands them and I hate you!? Happily, we may never know.
Much as I dislike Scrafty’s flavour, I can’t deny that he has a lot going for him. Scraggy and Scrafty are Dark/Fighting dual-types, which is an amazing offensive combination. As far as I can work out, there are currently only two Pokémon that resist both: Heracross (Bug/Fighting) and Toxicroak (Fighting/Poison), which is so close to perfect that, unless you want a really offensive Scrafty, he can get by just fine with only two attacks – say, Drain Punch and Payback – and use his other two move slots for support techniques. This is great because Scrafty is a heavily defence-focussed Pokémon. He hits pretty hard with physical attacks, but his best quality is his toughness – so it helps that defensively Dark/Fighting is fairly strong as well, with three resistances (Rock, Ghost and Dark) and an immunity (Psychic) to only two weaknesses (Fighting and Flying). With these qualities, Scrafty is perfect for using Bulk Up (a technique from Ruby and Sapphire that bolsters physical attack and physical defence), sitting there smugly boosting up in your opponent’s face and then smashing things once he feels strong enough. Scrafty doesn’t have a reliable healing technique, which is why I suggested Drain Punch earlier to take the edge off damage he receives while getting ready, but if you’re confident he doesn’t need it, you could use Hi Jump Kick instead for the sheer face-smashing power. Scrafty can also learn Rock attacks, as well as Fire Punch, Thunderpunch and Ice Punch, which are all worth consideration if there are specific Pokémon you want to score super-effective hits on (or if you’re really frightened of Heracross – and heck, it’s Heracross; you should be). Scrafty also possesses the wonderful Shed Skin ability, which allows him to recover from poison, paralysis, and such, and gives him a chance to wake up sooner than he normally would after using Rest, if the healing provided by Drain Punch isn’t enough or you want a stronger attack in its place.
Those are Scrafty’s obvious options, but he has plenty or other interesting choices to work with. Dragon Claw I mention only to say that it’s probably not worth it (Dragon attacks generally aren’t except on Dragon Pokémon) but Dragon Tail might be a lot of fun – it’s a new technique that does some damage and forces a Pokémon to switch out, which can help catch an opponent off-guard, and if you’ve had some other Pokémon lay down Stealth Rock or Spikes, the new Pokémon coming in will take some damage too. A slow, tough Pokémon like Scrafty is ideal for this attack. Zen Headbutt is a poor choice for most Pokémon because Psychic just isn’t the type it used to be, but since Heracross and Toxicroak are both royally screwed if they run into a Psychic attack it might be worth consideration for completing Scrafty’s perfect coverage. Toxic and Amnesia are potential options for a very defence-focussed Scrafty. Finally, there’s Dragon Dance and Counter, which I have my doubts about but which are certainly interesting. Dragon Dance simultaneously increases a Pokémon’s attack and speed, making it a wonderful tool for offensive Pokémon, but Scrafty is so slow to begin with that even with Dragon Dance he’s not that fast. Still, it could be worth a go. Counter hits an opponent with double the damage you just took from a physical attack and is the quintessential nasty surprise of Pokémon, and Scrafty’s tough enough that he can survive some pretty strong attacks (in order to use Counter you have to still be alive). The reason for my doubts is that Scrafty’s toughness stems mainly from his excellent defence and special defence scores – he doesn’t have a lot of hit points, but his high defences mean he doesn’t normally take a lot of damage either. Since Counter works based on the damage you actually take, Scrafty’s defensive profile is really the opposite of what you want for using it. Like many of Scrafty’s other options, it’s not the best choice, but it’s still workable, and diversity of options is a very important factor in how ‘good’ a Pokémon can be overall.
Mechanically Scrafty is a strong Pokémon and definitely worth consideration for a team; he’s got a lot of potential as a tank-style fighter, and possibly in a number of other similar roles too. I still think he’s terribly designed though. I often complain bitterly about Game Freak wasting awesome designs by matching them to lacklustre typings, narrow movepools, and dreadful stats – well, today they get equal censure for wasting a brilliant typing, strong stats and a good movepool on the load of drivel that is Scraggy and Scrafty. Occasionally I make suggestions about how I would have improved a Pokémon… today I’m just going to say that they should have kept the combination of powers and abilities but thrown the design out the window and started over.
I hereby deny this Pokémon’s right to exist! Give ‘em a few weeks in juvey; that should straighten them out…