This isn’t fair.
I already did these ones. I did them while I was talking about Emolga. It isn’t FAIR, damnit!
…ladies and gentlemen; Plusle, Minun and Pachirisu.
Just for clarification, these three aren’t part of an evolutionary family. Plusle and Minun seem to be different forms of one species, and Pachirisu is completely separate and wasn’t even introduced in the same game. Plusle and Minun probably deserve to be a bit lower on the list and Pachirisu probably deserves to be a bit higher, but I’ve lumped them together because I hate all of them for the same reasons, namely: a) they’re increasingly annoying rehashes of Pikachu, and b) they suck.
What, you need more?
Pikachu’s pudgy yellow face is the emblem of the absurdly successful Pokémon franchise and is widely recognised even by people who barely know what a Pokémon is. He has almost certainly made Nintendo more money than any other single Pokémon, and he can be summed up as “cute rodent with electrical cheek pouches,” so the obvious thing to do was make more cute rodents with electrical cheek pouches, right? So obvious, in fact, that Plusle and Minun barely seem to be a different species from Pikachu at all. I think they’re supposed to be based on rabbits, while Pikachu is traditionally described as a mouse, but all three are depicted so stylistically that that they ‘meet in the middle,’ so to speak. Plusle and Minun are distinct from Pikachu in that they are frightfully unsuited to combat; instead they dedicate themselves to encouraging their partners (Plusle and Minun were released in Ruby and Sapphire, the generation that introduced the concept of double battles, and are shamelessly dedicated to promoting the new battle format). There’s no word on how this would work outside of the context of a team of Pokémon under the command of a trainer – what do Plusle and Minun do in the wild when they’re attacked? Pair up and cheer for each other? In fact this is exactly what happens when you face pairs of trainers with Plusle and Minun in Ruby and Sapphire – they stand there and cast Helping Hand on each other, but neither of them actually does anything. As for Pachirisu… her squirrel design, I think, represents at least an effort to distance her from the older Pokémon, and her habit of gathering loose fur into electrically-charged balls and keeping them amongst the berries she stores in her nest (presumably as a deterrent to thieves like Rattata) is, admittedly, a clever way of linking the squirrel concept to her Electric element. As admirable as the attempt is, though, it’s missing the point; Pachirisu still isn’t a new idea, but an old one that they’ve dressed up.
As far as battle goes, Plusle and Minun can be treated as exactly the same Pokémon. Minun is slightly tougher and Plusle slightly more powerful, but the differences are small and their movepools are almost identical. You can actually attack with Plusle and Minun, using the decent coverage provided by Electric attacks alongside Grass Knot and the power boost offered by Nasty Plot, but they’re so comprehensively outclassed by Raichu, who has Focus Blast and superior stats in every area, that it just stops being funny. What Raichu can’t do is use Baton Pass. Plusle and Minun can’t make very effective use of Nasty Plot (or, for that matter, Agility) but I’m sure there’s another Pokémon on your team that would love to have one of those effects passed to it. Again, if you really want to set up another Pokémon in this way, it’s hard to understand why you wouldn’t use a Pokémon that’s independently competent, like Ambipom or Mr. Mime (yes, I just called Mr. Mime “competent;” that’s what happens when you spend a couple of weeks thinking about the worst Pokémon in the game). Their passive abilities, Plus and Minus, are just painful. Pokémon with Plus and Minus give each other special attack bonuses in double battles, which was incredibly awkward when Plusle and Minun were the only Pokémon who had them. In Black and White, many additional Pokémon gain these abilities through the Dream World and you can get the bonuses by using two Pokémon with the same ability; it no longer has to be one of each. However, all of them are weak to Earthquake, which is popular in double battles because it can hit both opponents at once. Any doubles strategy that relies on using two Pokémon together who are both weak to Ground attacks is… inadvisable.
Plusle and Minun are bad, but Pachirisu is a whole new level of stupidity. She’s quite fast and has decent special defence, but the good news ends there. Although Pachirisu does, strictly speaking, learn attacks, you are likely to do more damage by simply picking her up and throwing her, so I would not advise actually using them, with two exceptions. The first is Super Fang, which slices a Pokémon’s remaining HP in half, no questions asked, and was once exclusive to Raticate, Pachirisu and Bibarel. Watching Pachirisu go for an unsuspecting Pokémon’s throat with Super Fang was amusing until Heart Gold and Soul Silver handed out the attack to all and sundry via a move tutor. Now it’s just sad, but she should keep using it anyway because it’s the best she’s got. The other exception is Volt Switch, and you should use that not because Pachirisu is likely to hurt anything with it but because it will let her switch out after doing damage. With careful use of this technique, you may be able to get through a match without Pachirisu suffering a horrendously painful death, and that, let’s be fair here, is the best you can hope for. The other moves Pachirisu should use are Thunder Wave and Light Screen. These moves are not particularly useful to her, but they are comparatively unlikely to get her killed.
The main problem I face in trying to ‘fix’ these three Pokémon is that I don’t honestly believe they should be fixed. Their entire concepts are flawed from the ground up and making them worthwhile seems an insurmountable task.
To start with, I’m declaring that Plusle and Minun survive in the wild by forming symbiotic relationships with larger, tougher Pokémon. They typically pair up with Pokémon that are strong physically but cannot jump or climb, often ones with poor eyesight, and use their agility and keener senses to help the larger Pokémon find food and avoid danger. In fights, they cast showers of sparks at enemies to slow them down, disrupt their attacks and make them easier to target. Plusle seek out slow, bulky partners like Sudowoodo or Donphan and use their superior senses and quick, accurate Thunderbolts to thin out groups of small predators, while Minun prefer more aggressive partners such as Breloom or Absol and focus on creating electric fields to protect them from strong attacks. When a Plusle and a Minun meet in the wild, they often encourage their partners to become friends as well, which can lead to some… unusual groups of companions. Older Plusle and Minun whose partners have no offspring often ‘adopt’ young, weak Pokémon of other species, so that they will one day grow into strong partners for their own offspring. I bring this up out of a vague terror that I have no choice to evolve these two, and in my desperation for an idea that will avoid turning them into Raichu 2.0, I am tempted to ditch the electric mouse thing (or rabbit, or whatever generic rodent they’re supposed to be) and evolve them into electric kangaroos with a nurturing, maternal streak; as long as we keep our focus on the partnership theme and make sure they stay light and agile, we should be able to avoid stepping on Kangaskhan’s toes too much. They probably need a few extra goodies in their movepools… let’s see, Minun deserves Reflect and maybe Amnesia so he can buff your defences more effectively; Plusle can have Work Up so she can help your mixed attackers shine and… let’s say Taunt so she can lock down support Pokémon. To finish off, Plus and Minus need to be… y’know, useful. In a double battle, Plus adds about 10% of Plusle’s special attack and speed to her partner’s, while Minus does the same for Minun’s defence and special defence (note to self: make sure Minun’s evolution has a physical defence score that doesn’t suck). What’s more, those same bonuses are added to any Pokémon Plusle or Minun Baton Passes to, absolutely free! They can buff their allies with Baton Pass even if they don’t have a spare turn to use Nasty Plot or something, and your team will love them for it.
There! I did it! I-
…oh, gods, Pachirisu’s still there, isn’t she?
We know she’s a hoarder; that normally implies a good memory and possibly intelligence (likewise my theory that those balls of charged fur are a trap for Pokémon trying to nick her stuff). Going with that idea, I think I want Pachirisu to evolve into a kleptomaniac squirrel, maybe an Electric/Dark dual-type: change her colour scheme, but maybe keep the general ‘cute’ aesthetic because I imagine her gazing up at you adorably when you catch her stealing things. These Pokémon have lived around humans for centuries, and although they are notorious as spies and pickpockets their presence is tolerated because they make useful errand-runners, and are highly proficient cleaners thanks to their bushy tails (historically they were best-known as chimneysweeps – I’m looking for an “1800’s English street urchin” feel, but trying to avoid being too blatant about it). They mainly steal food but have also developed a liking in modern times for portable electronics and batteries, which they hide in nests scattered all around their territory. It’s normally impossible to find all of one’s hiding places without capturing her and getting her to lead you to them. Super Fang already makes Pachirisu a nightmare for defensive Pokémon, so we may as well play to that and give her Taunt. How useful Torment, Snatch and Switcheroo would be for her is debateable, but let’s toss them in anyway (and, of course, she’ll need Thief for thematic reasons). Also, for some reason Pachirisu doesn’t get Wish; she’s heavily defence-oriented and needs to be able to heal herself, and there’s no reason she shouldn’t have it, so let’s add that. Lastly, her current abilities, Run Away and Pickup, actually have no in-battle effects at all. I can’t think of anything to do with Pickup at the moment, but it makes sense that Run Away should allow Pachirisu (and the other Pokémon that have it) to escape from trapping techniques like Mean Look or Fire Spin, instead of only allowing them to escape from wild Pokémon without fail.
There; victory is mine!
I am never looking at any of these Pokémon again.
EDIT: I must have forgotten when I wrote this that Black and White did actually add an in-battle effect to the Pickup ability: if Pachirisu’s opponent uses a consumable item like a berry, she’ll run and snatch it (or a copy of it, or something) for herself, assuming she isn’t holding an item already. Can you say “absurdly situational”?