Solosis, Duosion and Reuniclus

This must be the weirdest concept for a Pokémon ever.

Well, okay, Deoxys is a shapeshifting psychic virus from space, that’s pretty weird.  And Mawile is some kind of metallic rabbit-thing with a huge pair of jaws growing out of the back of its head.  And Breloom is an overgrown mushroom that punches things.  And Garchomp is a shark with arms, legs, claws and armour spikes.  That flies.

…what the hell kind of game am I playing here anyway?

Even so, Solosis is an odd idea.  He’s… well, a cell.  Some kind of nucleus-type structure, suspended in a mysterious green fluid that shields his delicate body from the elements, with almost no discernable anatomical features.  Although young, Solosis possess formidable psychic powers which they use to move around and defend themselves against enemies.  When they evolve into Duosion, Solosis apparently start to divide in two, but stop partway; they’re still single organisms but they have two brains which sometimes work at cross-purposes, occasionally causing them to take seemingly random actions.  Their psychic abilities are greatest when their two minds are working in unison.  One would expect them to finish dividing when they evolve once more, but the final evolution’s name – Reuniclus – seems to suggest that the two halves actually fuse again, and the Pokédex says nothing either way, which is a tad confusing.  Reuniclus is… I don’t know… he’s clearly supposed to be cute and I know there are people who think he’s cute, but Reuniclus makes me cringe.  The empty black eyes and the split down the middle of his head don’t bother me so much in Solosis and Duosion because their anatomy is simpler, but Reuniclus looks more like an animal than a single cell, and at that stage the eyes start to disturb me and the split head looks worryingly wrong.  He seems creepy and alien, and I don’t think that’s what the designers were going for at all (although I’ve been wrong before).  Reuniclus supposedly has tremendous physical strength, which… is a lie, although I’ll let him off on that one because he can learn a number  of forceful attacks that Duosion can’t, like Rock Smash and Strength (they’re not attacks you should ever actually teach Reuniclus, understand, but they’re evidence at least that the designers were thinking).  What makes me curious about Reuniclus is that his body is in several parts: he has two floating “ears,” and his “arms” are each made up of a number of separate balls.  Given the basis of his design, these floating body parts make me think Reuniclus might well reproduce by “budding” – one of those “ears” could just drop off one day and become a new Solosis.  Of course, that would imply that Reuniclus are asexual, which they aren’t – there are male and female Reuniclus.  Then again, we’re told that their brains form a link when they hold hands; it’s not out of the question that they could exchange genetic material in the same way.  There’s a lot you could do with this concept, which Game Freak haven’t done yet, but I’m satisfied that it’s creative at least (if bizarre).

Solosis’ psychic powers are formidable, and they just get stronger as they evolve.  Anyone who’s played Red and Blue will remember how crazily strong Psychic-types were back then: the only Pokémon that resisted Psychic attacks were other Psychic-types, and there were no halfway-decent attacks that did super-effective damage to them.  The fact that only two elements (Fighting and Poison) were weak against Psychic attacks didn’t seem to matter.  Since then, however, Game Freak have been atoning for their sins by repeatedly punishing Psychic Pokémon for existing.  Gold and Silver introduced new elements that resist Psychic attacks, Ghost- and Bug-type attacks that actually do damage, and Pursuit, a Dark-type attack that can hit Pokémon before they switch out, something that has had a profound influence on tactics ever since.  Diamond and Pearl were when the hammer really fell, because that was when Pursuit became a physical attack (prior to that, all attacks were physical or special according to element, and all Dark attacks were special).  Most Pokémon that learn Pursuit are better at using physical attacks, and most Psychic-types are better at defending against special attacks.  All that’s happened slants the game against single-typed Psychic Pokémon to the extent that Alakazam is now scared to show his face in serious battles (he’s still good, just very difficult to use) and Psychic attacks tend to be relatively ineffective in the long run.  I say all of this so that you will fully understand the implications when I say that Reuniclus, a single-typed Psychic Pokémon, is still crazily good.  His attacks don’t pack as much of a punch as Alakazam’s, but they come close.  Like many Psychic-types, Reuniclus’ offensive movepool consists primarily of Psychic backed up by Shadow Ball, Energy Ball and Focus Blast – Focus Blast is horribly inaccurate but you need the source of Fighting-type damage to murder Dark-types (who, after all, would not hesitate to murder Reuniclus if given the opportunity).  If you’re using a rain team, Thunder will be nicely accurate but I wouldn’t bother with it otherwise.  A pretty nice spread, but even though power is his strongest point, his attacks aren’t what make Reuniclus good.

What makes Reuniclus good is that he’s as tough as old boots.  If you can hit him before he explodes your brain, Alakazam will go down to a gentle shove, but there is precious little that can one-shot Reuniclus.  He’s not remarkably resilient to plain old damage, although compared to other Pokémon that can hit as hard as he does, he’s definitely near the front of the pack.  The truly wonderful thing about Reuniclus is the Magic Guard trait, which renders him utterly immune to indirect damage: poison, burns, Leech Seeds, weather damage, Stealth Rocks, recoil, you name it – only direct attacks can actually hurt him (this same ability is what makes Clefable usable; don’t underestimate it) – and when you can’t rely on Toxic to wither him, Reuniclus is extremely difficult to squash.  And he can heal himself with Recover.  And he can use Calm Mind to grow steadily stronger and stronger while he refuses to die; before long even Blissey, whose job is to soak up energy attacks like they’re nothing, will be scared to take a Focus Blast.  Reuniclus’ weakness is that he’s horribly, horribly slow; almost everything in the game outruns him.  Luckily, he has a solution: like many Psychic Pokémon, Reuniclus can distort space with Trick Room to allow slow Pokémon to move before faster ones for a short time (this was supposed to be Beheeyem’s niche; unfortunately Beheeyem is basically Reuniclus, only worse at everything).  Since a Pokémon can only learn four moves, it’s not really possible to cram all of these tricks onto a single Reuniclus, which is where it all falls down, of course, but he can easily afford to choose between Trick Room and Calm Mind and still be effective – and until your opponent knows which one you’re using, it’s very difficult to come up with an answer to Reuniclus.  For flavour, you can also add on the standard Psychic-type support powers like Light Screen and Thunder Wave, but unlike many Psychic Pokémon this is not really where Reuniclus’ potential is greatest; stick to nuking things unless you desperately need a particular kind of support.

I’m actually almost worried Reuniclus is too strong – a few Pokémon are; most people agree that Garchomp was a bit over-the-top, I am convinced that Game Freak did not think things through when they gave Blaziken Speed Boost as her Dream World ability, and a few Pokémon from Black and White are so powerful I worry that they eclipse older Pokémon completely (notably Excadrill and Ferrothorn).  What’s more, I have an instinctive aversion to whatever it is about Reuniclus that is supposed to be cute (Solosis and Duosion are fine).  Still… I can’t deny it’s a creative design, even if it doesn’t do it for me, and just being a Psychic-type carries enough disadvantages that Reuniclus will never be an instant “I Win” button (although, as always, I would prefer giving the existing Psychic Pokémon more love to creating all-new, superior ones).  On balance…

I hereby affirm this Pokémon’s right to exist!

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