All right, guys; today’s Pokémon is Alomomola, the evolved form of Luvdisc, the heart-fish Pokémon from Ruby and Sapphire, and-
…what do you mean she’s not the evolved form of Luvdisc?
No, look; she obviously is. They’re similar colours and shapes, they both have a heart motif, they’re the same type, they’re both fish, they-
All right. Whatever. I’ll go fire up the old Pokémadex; back in five.
…okay, fine. Today’s Pokémon is Alomomola, who, to practically everyone’s disappointment and against all logic, is not the evolved form of Luvdisc. You can see why everyone thought she was, of course, when she was revealed some months before the release of Black and White. Quite aside from the readily apparent physical similarities, the simple fact is that Luvdisc needed an evolution. Once in a while, you see, Game Freak produces a Pokémon so blitheringly incompetent that one begins to wonder whether the designers even understood the game system into which they intended to toss the poor thing, and Luvdisc is one such Pokémon. For perspective, I don’t think there’s anything in Black and White – at all – that even compares to how bad Luvdisc is, not even Watchog. He can’t take hits, he has almost no useful support techniques, and he doesn’t really do any damage in the traditional sense of the word. He’s naturally fast, and he learns Agility, so if nothing else he’s very good at running away. Evolving Luvdisc into anything at all, no matter how terrible, would probably still make people laugh at him less because he’s pretty much the bottom end of the bell curve. Unsurprisingly, when Alomomola appeared in a preview video of Black and White, everyone became very excited that Game Freak had seen the light and decided to give Luvdisc some love, fuelling speculation about which other Pokémon might get new evolutions: Dunsparce? Lumineon? Xatu? Sableye? Dare we hope: Farfetch’d? The eventual answer, of course, was “none of them,” since Black and White seem to take the position that we don’t need any of the old Pokémon because the new ones are so much more awesome and you should all go out and catch a bunch of them right away. Now, just to be clear, I’m not saying that the designers were intentionally trolling their fan base when they put Alomomola in the pre-release material. I’m just heavily implying it.
Still, I suppose there is always the possibility that they genuinely didn’t realise how much they were trolling their players, so even though part of me wants to shoot Alomomola in the face right now for wasting everyone’s time, I guess I should judge her on her own merits. Alomomola’s a weird-looking Pokémon based on a weird-looking fish: the ocean sunfish, a huge fish found in tropical oceans that spends most of its time lying on its side at the surface of the water sunbathing, lays about a zillion eggs at a time, and often gets hit by boats because it’s too lazy to move out of the way (luckily for the sunfish, it’s so large and bulky that the boat normally loses). I remember complaining, when I talked about Basculin, that considering they have twenty-five thousand species of fish to choose from, they picked a really boring one to work with when they made him. Well, this is more like it; the sunfish is a pretty interesting creature to start from. Surprisingly Game Freak haven’t really done anything with the sunbathing behaviour that is their most distinctive characteristic; the Pokédex mentions that Alomomola spend most of their lives drifting around the sea, but that’s it. Instead the focus of the design is healing (so she’s like Chansey, only she’s a fish? Great.) Alomomola are covered in a film of mucus with healing properties; whenever they encounter wounded Pokémon as they drift across the ocean, they envelope them in this mucus and carry them back to the shore, just because they’re really nice. I’m actually okay with having another dedicated healer Pokémon, believe it or not, because Alomomola goes about it differently, but I wish it hadn’t eclipsed the features of the sunfish itself in the design since its base is what I really like about it. Her art is also a little boring; I honestly think a real sunfish looks weirder, more alien, more interesting than Alomomola does, which is never a good sign. I do like Alomomola, I really do, but I think she’s a little flat (well, okay, sunfish are literally flat but that’s not what I mean).
Mechanically, Alomomola is a fairly typical “bulky water” – a tough, slow Water Pokémon. There are a lot of these. In fact, there are a lot of Water Pokémon, full stop; it’s the most common element. So, does Alomomola prove that if we’re going to have one more, it may as well be her? She’s not bad at what she does, actually; she can take physical attacks extremely well and while energy attacks will hurt her a lot, she won’t go down without a fight (and like all Water-types, she has few defensive weaknesses). What’s more, she can use Calm Mind to patch up her weaker special defence and make her own special attacks stronger at the same time (word of warning: her special attack score is dismal and it’ll take a while for her to build up enough power to do meaningful damage), or throw up a Light Screen to guard your whole team against energy attacks, or just bounce your opponents’ Thunderbolts right back at them with Mirror Coat, laugh in their faces and go back to sleep. She misses out on Recover, but Wish is just as good; the healing it provides is delayed by one turn, but if you use that turn to switch, Alomomola will heal the next Pokémon you send out instead of herself – and if she desperately needs to heal, she can always use Protect to stall for a turn. Alternatively, if you want to use her in a rain team, her Hydration trait allows her to wake up immediately after healing herself with Rest during heavy rain. In short, Alomomola has wonderful defence and support options. Her problem is that her offense is virtually nonexistent. As I mentioned, her special attacks are extremely weak, which is a shame because that’s where most of her offensive movepool is (in brief: Surf, Ice Beam, Shadow Ball and Psychic). Her physical attacks have more punch (not much, but more), but she only really learns Water- and Normal-type ones. Lack of direct damage isn’t the whole of the issue, though – the real problem is that Alomomola can’t do much to inconvenience her opponents outside of direct damage either (she can’t threaten paralysis or sleep, she can’t lay down Spikes, she can’t Baton Pass to give her Calm Minds to something more dangerous, she isn’t even much good at leaflet campaigns). With almost no disruptive techniques, Alomomola might be able to help her team a lot, but she won’t be able to hurt the other team at all, and that makes her a target for Pokémon looking for a free turn or two to set themselves up for a major attack. I will emphasise again that Alomomola is a wonderful supporter, but truly succeeding as a defensive Pokémon almost requires that you be able to threaten your opponents with something, not necessarily direct damage, but something – and there are many Pokémon that she can’t harm at all.
Alomomola’s… forgettable, there’s no other word for it. She shouldn’t be; by all rights she should be a really awesome Pokémon with interesting flavour and abilities but unfortunately she’s not. She’s not a bad Pokémon either; she has no major design flaws and she is very good at what she does; it’s just a shame she’s a bit of a sitting duck while she does it. There really are so many Water-types now, though, that I have to think pretty hard about whether I want to let any more in, and Alomomola, much as I do like her, simply isn’t special.
I hereby deny this Pokémon’s right to exist! Let it be smoked and served as a delicacy in a small Indonesian village!