Today’s Pokémon are the latest addition to the stable of Electric Pokémon: Tynamo, Eelektrik and Eelektross. These ugly-looking things are the misbegotten spawn of two similar-looking but very distinct creatures: the electric eel (which isn’t really an eel at all, phylogenetically speaking) and the lamprey (which isn’t an eel either but looks like it should be). Tynamo are about as close as you get to Magikarp in Black and White: they’re distinctly based on larval eels and they’re extremely weak on their own (but can co-operate to produce more powerful attacks). This is aptly reflected in their total inability to learn any attacks aside from the ones they start with: Tackle, Thunder Wave, Charge Beam and Spark. It also smoothes over the sharp change of Tynamo’s evolution to Eelektrik; this is when it becomes a proper adult. Now, I think Eelektrik and Eelektross are very well-done. Eelektrik looks a bit vacant; Eelektross has much more personality, but both recognize that an electric eel on its own is a bit boring in a world where electricity manipulation is not especially unusual and mitigate the situation by taking on characteristics of lampreys, leech-like cartilaginous fish with mouths like plungers lined with circular rows of teeth, as well as some features of bioluminescent deep ocean eels. They fight with a combination of their electrical powers and muscle that nicely reflects the different influences in the design, and I think Eelektross even has a certain goofy charm about him. That said, I do have a couple of specific grievances against these Pokémon. The first is against their names. Now, Pokémon have been given some fairly silly names in the past and these are not really bad names in that respect. My problem with them is that they’re simply not that easy to say; the long ‘e’ sound in ‘eel’ messes with the natural stress of the word ‘electric,’ which normally has almost no stress on the first syllable, making it sound forced and awkward (and I write this after consulting a friend who studies phonetics and speech therapy). They don’t roll off the tongue as Tynamo (by way of example) does. I don’t often talk about names much and I’ll concede this is a minor point, but it’s not a good thing when people refer to a Pokémon as “the electric eel” because Eelektross just doesn’t sound right.
The other thing that bugs me is their levitation. In the games, Tynamo, Eelektrik and Eelektross can levitate and are thus immune to Ground-type attacks, which is absolutely fine… the problem is that it seems to be completely missing from their flavour, which is bizarre because normally the Pokédex very clearly calls out Pokémon with the Levitate ability. It says quite explicitly that Eelektross lives in the ocean and can crawl onto the shore using his arms to attack prey, both of which seem at odds with any suggestion that he can fly. What’s more, their art and sprites (with the exception of Tynamo’s) depict them as though they normally move by slithering along the ground. A lot of Electric Pokémon can be taught to fly by manipulating magnetic fields with the Magnet Rise attack, but only Magnemite moves that way normally (ironically Magnemite doesn’t actually have the in-game Levitate ability that Eelektross has), so I’d still expect some kind of explanation if this is something their entire species can do, especially since it isn’t obvious how they’re doing it or why it was thought to fit the concept. It’s almost as though the designers decided that they were going to make an Electric-type with Levitate, started to make one, forgot what the original plan was, finished the design and then remembered why they started in the first place and slapped the ability on at the last minute without changing the flavour aspects to accommodate it, which… well, it’s more or less the same degree of incompetence I’ve come to expect from them but it’s a very different kind, which is odd because Game Freak’s incompetence is normally very predictable. Maybe they had a new designer working on this one. Hmm. Anyway, in spite of all the time I’ve spent complaining about this I still think Eelektrik and Eelektross are a very cool design; it’s just a shame that one of their most important abilities was neglected completely since it wouldn’t have been very difficult at all to tweak them to address it.
So why would you begin designing a Pokémon from the concept “an Electric-type with Levitate” anyway? Answer: believe it or not, it’s one of the most sensible ideas Game Freak have ever had from a competitive standpoint. Electric Pokémon only have one defensive weakness, and that’s Ground-type attacks – this is why Electric/Flying is such a powerful combination – and Levitate lets a Pokémon shed that weakness without picking up the vulnerabilities to Rock and Ice attacks associated with the Flying type. The practical upshot of this is that Eelektross has no weaknesses. None. Only two other Pokémon, Spiritomb and Sableye, can make that boast. This property makes Eelektross significantly tougher than his defensive scores, which are only average, would suggest. Since Eelektross is very slow, that’s important; he needs to be able to take a hit or two. It also allows him to make a decent tank-style Pokémon even with no recovery techniques aside from Rest as he can actually afford to spend a couple of turns asleep if you’re careful. Eelektross’ main asset, though, is his ability to hit like a sledgehammer on both sides of Pokémon’s offensive coin – physical and special. Many Pokémon can only make effective use of one of the two attack types and can be thwarted relatively easily by a Pokémon with enough defensive power on one side (Blissey, for instance, stops many special attackers completely barring an especially potent Focus Blast, while few physical attackers can break Ferrothorn or Skarmory without a super-effective attack). It’s impossible to mount such a reliable defence against Eelektross, who has a number of strong attacks on both sides, such as Thunderbolt, Wild Charge, Flamethrower, Rock Slide, Grass Knot, Acrobatics, U-Turn and Volt Switch to make use of his good stats. With access to the very exclusive Coil attack, he can pump up his physical attack and defence stats to make himself even more dangerous, or alternatively he can blast targets with a preliminary Acid Spray to make them more vulnerable to his special attacks. Being so painfully slow does neuter him to an extent, since it makes it much easier to chip away at him with strong neutral attacks, but he remains a powerful and unpredictable threat with offensive versatility matched by very few Electric-types.
Eelektric and Eelektross have certain blemishes that annoy me greatly (Tynamo, for his part, doesn’t; if I were a Game Freak designer I would be perfectly happy to sign my name to Tynamo), which I think I’ve harped on quite enough. The idea is a cool one though, which was executed with a fair degree of competence and created a Pokémon with an interesting and powerful but not excessively strong combination of abilities. In short, this one’s a keeper for sure.
I hereby affirm this Pokémon’s right to exist!