Klink, Klang and Klinklang

b60f1-klinkPokémon, it is known, may not all be completely natural; many owe their existence to human activity in the last few centuries.  Voltorb and Electrode, whose bodies are modelled on Pokéballs, are almost certainly artificial in some way.  Grimer and Muk were born from the toxic waste of human industrialisation.  Magnemite and Magneton certainly seem artificial but their true nature is extremely mysterious.  Today’s Pokémon, Klink, Klang and Klinklang, continue the theme.  These bizarre Steel-type Pokémon seem to be entirely mechanical and evolve by adding on extra components.  The resident Professor Tree of the Unova region, Professor Juniper, investigates Klink during the course of the game and determines that they did not exist in Unova more than one hundred years ago, when they appeared suddenly in an area called the Chargestone Cave.  How she can possibly have figured this out is beyond me, but (in fairness to Aurea Juniper) she’s probably the least incompetent of the regional professors to date, so I’m inclined to take her word for it.  Klink are made up of two gears meshed together, which seem to begin life as independent beings and have to find each other.  This is complicated somewhat by the fact that Klink apparently have soulmates: every gear has one, and only one, matching partner and no other gear will fit.  Unfortunately for Klink, they need their partners to survive; it’s the rotation of the two meshed gears that produces the energy they need to survive (somehow).  So… I guess if it doesn’t find its one and only partner quickly enough… it dies?  I can see they were trying to do something interesting but I’m not sure Game Freak thought this through (not to mention, Magneton is already a mechanical Pokémon made up of smaller formerly-independent units – I’m not too upset about that one though, because the gear design is fitting and, at least, amusing).  The other interesting thing about these Pokémon is what we learn in one of Klang’s Pokédex entries: the express emotion by varying the speed and direction of their rotating gears.  On the one hand, this implies a rather stilted range of emotion, since the different gears wouldn’t be able to change direction independently… on the other hand, that’s exactly what you’d expect of a mechanical Pokémon, so it actually does make sense.  Everything else in the Pokédex boils down to “this Pokémon has energy powers” (which, incidentally, suggests they should be a lot better at using special attacks than they are), but overall Klink, Klang and Klinklang are not nearly as bad as I thought they would be.  I’m at a loss as to what they add to the game that Magneton doesn’t – the plot point about Professor Juniper studying the Klink in Chargestone Cave, for instance, would still have made perfect sense if she had been studying Magnemite – but they’re not actually badly designed per se.  I’m far less mad at them than I was at, say, Gigalith.  So, now that’s out of the way, on to the mechanics of our mechanical friends…

bc990-klankKlinklang has one absolutely wonderful blessing that other Pokémon can only dream of getting their hands on: the Shift Gear technique.  This move doubles its speed stat and boosts its physical attack stat all in one turn.  This is fantastic!  Klinklang is already strong and fast – not exceptionally so, but it can certainly compete – so after using Shift Gear it becomes frighteningly battle-ready.  It’s got a second neat little signature move to use as a powerful, if somewhat inaccurate, primary attack as well: Gear Grind, a Steel-type attack that fires two gears to strike the target one after the other (the useful thing about this is that a Pokémon protecting itself with a Substitute will be struck by the second gear if the Substitute is broken by the first one, as with, for instance, Marowak’s Bonemerang).  The question is… where do you go from there?  Steel is a wonderful defensive type but a poor offensive one, strong against only two other elements and weak against four; you can’t rely on Steel attacks alone if you want to be a sweeper, which Klinklang clearly does.  Unfortunately, aside from Gear Grind, its offensive movepool is a complete joke.  Klinklang’s other good physical attacks are Return (a powerful attack which most Pokémon can learn but few will use, since Normal is one of the only attack types that’s arguably worse than Steel) and… um…

4376e-magnets…yeah, Klinklang’s other good physical attack is Return.

This is probably the worst offensive movepool I’ve seen in any Pokémon I’ve looked at so far.  The only one I can think of that comes close is Lilligant and at least she can use Hidden Power because she’s a special attacker.  Speaking of which, Klinklang does actually get some decent special Electric attacks like Thunderbolt, but his special attack score is mediocre, so they won’t do him much good.  The exception is Volt Switch, which allows a Pokémon to switch out after doing damage and is always good for a tactical advantage – and why the hell not?  It’s not like there’s anything else you could possibly teach Klinklang!  I don’t think I’d be pushing it to say that the only reasonable moveset for Klinklang is [Shift Gear – Gear Grind – Return – Volt Switch].  Anything else is a gimmick.  I guess you could use Thunder Wave, but slowing its opponents down is quite honestly the least of Klinklang’s worries.  If you really want to revel in how awful Klinklang’s movepool is, Rock Smash gives you a Fighting-type attack which will be slightly stronger than Gear Grind against some Steel-types.  Screech will weaken your targets’ defences and maybe scare them off or kill them faster.  And heck, if you’re planning to use Klinklang on a rain team for some reason, why not try Thunder?  It won’t actually be good, but it might at least be unexpected!  Klinklang’s passive abilities – Plus and Minus – add insult to injury; these abilities are useless in a normal battle, and give you an unexciting special attack boost in a double battle if you use Klinklang alongside another Pokémon with one of the same abilities… that is, use it alongside another Pokémon that shares its lacklustre defences and vulnerability to Earthquake, which, as strategies go, is about on par with smothering yourself in honey and wading into a nest of Brazilian fire-ants.

4adb5-klinklangIt’s a shame Klinklang is so terrible because it otherwise would’ve had a real shot at making me like it.  Although its design is similar to Magneton’s, it has enough quirks and evidence of real effort on the designers’ part that I would have at least felt guilty about trashing it, and in battle it handles completely differently to Magneton (who’s a high-powered special attacker).  As is, though, Game Freak massively overestimated the advantage they were giving it with Shift Gear and consequently all the thought that went into this Pokémon (quite a lot, I suspect) goes wasted.  Such a shame.

I hereby deny this Pokémon’s right to exist!  Let it be melted down for scrap, recast into a statue of an obscure Russian emperor, looted by Bolsheviks, sold to a Parisian art gallery, put into storage for ten years, lost, found, melted down again and minted into coins for the Celadon City slot machines!

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