DID SOMEONE SAY MORE DINOSAURS OH BY THE GODS I HOPE THEY DID
…where were we?
As I mentioned briefly last time, we have a sort-of-Tyrannosaurus Pokémon already – Tyranitar, whose English name is something of a tip-off – but in many respects he seems to be more Tyrannosaurus-by-way-of-Godzilla, the classic Japanese movie monster. The spikes on Tyranitar’s neck and shoulders recall the stegosaur-like plates that run down Godzilla’s spine, and he is persistently described as almost a destructive force of nature, flattening mountains in his rage, not unlike some depictions of the King of Monsters. To me, maybe the most obvious resemblance is actually the way they hold their bodies. Tyrannosaurus, like many other dinosaurs, was believed until the mid-20th century to have walked upright (and was depicted that way in most popular media until the 1990s), with its tail dragging along the ground to steady it, almost like a third leg. Today, palaeontologists believe that tyrannosaurs actually walked with their bodies parallel to the ground, their tails sticking straight out behind them for balance. Japanese depictions of Godzilla, who made his debut in the 1950s, followed the old interpretation. 1998 Roland Emmerich Godzilla, the first American version, who was slammed by fans for his lack of resemblance to the original, often adopts a more anatomically correct tyrannosaur posture (influenced, I dare to speculate, by the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, whose cultural reach far exceeds that of her puny arms), while 2014 Gareth Edwards Godzilla reverts to something more like the ‘traditional’ upright stance (based on the pictures I’ve been able to find online at least; I haven’t seen the movie). Tyranitar, of course, is upright just like most versions of Godzilla, while Tyrunt follows real tyrannosaurs in his horizontal posture. Tyrantrum’s body seems to do a weird sort of sine-wave thing, but the tail held out stiffly behind him definitely has more in common with the modern understanding of tyrannosaur anatomy. Other things Tyrunt and Tyrantrum share with Tyrannosaurus are their distinctive adorable tiny two-fingered arms and enormous definitely-not-adorable crushy-death-jaws filled with hyper-murder-knives, appropriately enough for a Pokémon based on a creature that may have had the greatest bite force of any land animal ever to exist (as far as such things can be estimated from fossil evidence, at any rate). Tyrantrum adds a golden ‘crown’ of horns and a ruff of white… spines? Bristles? Feathers? Let’s go with feathers; we like theropods with feathers now. I don’t think anyone’s ever actually found solid evidence for feathers on Tyrannosaurus specifically, but given the rarity of that level of preservation, and the fact that we know of similar related genera with feathers, like Yutyrannus, I’m happy to run with it (they’re also particularly auspicious this week, given the recent discovery of the ‘four-winged’ Changyuraptor, the largest known dinosaur believed to have been capable of flight).
DID I MENTION I LIKE DINOSAURS YET BECAUSE I DO
The other half to what’s going on with Tyrunt and Tyrantrum comes, of course, from the English meaning of the species name Tyrannosaurus rex – “tyrant lizard king.” ‘Tyrant’ comes from the ancient Greek word τύραννος, which means- well… it’s complicated, but basically a sole ruler whose power is established and sustained by the support of the merchant and soldier classes, often in opposition to a preexisting landowning aristocracy or warrior elite. The word doesn’t appear to have inherent pejorative force in early Greek, but picks up some decidedly negative connotations in the hyper-democratic atmosphere of Classical Athens and has kept them ever since, so that calling someone a ‘tyrant’ today evokes a slew of adjectives you could probably supply for yourselves – ‘oppressive,’ ‘self-centred,’ ‘capricious’ and ‘cruel’ all come to mind. Tyrantrum’s species designation, the ‘Despot Pokémon,’ has a similar effect (in combination with more generically ‘royal’ features, like his ‘crown,’ ruffed ‘collar’ and white ‘beard’) – and this is what they’re like. Tyrunt and Tyrantrum react with violence to any sort of disagreement or obstruction. I would say that their arrogance and selfishness represent the worst excesses of the Dragon-type, except that it’s a little difficult to beat Hydreigon. Still, their attitude reminds me more than a little of Clair’s tantrum after losing to the player in Gold and Silver, refusing to hand over her Rising Badge. A lot of iconic Dragon Pokémon are characterised by an excess of vitality and a propensity to extreme emotions of one kind or another, and Tyrantrum fits that to a T. One last thing I entirely forgot to talk about when doing Aurorus, which strikes my attention now, is that Tyrantrum and Aurorus seem to be set up in a day/night duality in the same way as Espeon and Umbreon – both of them have evolutionary paths sensitive to the time of day. I’m not entirely sure why this is; for Aurorus there is a kind of sense to it, since auroras are normally visible only at night. Tyrantrum’s royal ‘crown’ could be interpreted as a solar symbol, I suppose. Either that, or day and night are stand-ins for yang (bright, active, masculine, dominating, like Tyrantrum) and yin (dark, restful, feminine, passive, like Aurorus), or some similar concept. Certainly Tyrantrum has no sun- or light-related powers that would make sense of it. Anyway, powers; let’s talk about those.
Unsurprisingly, Tyrantrum is a bruiser, with excellent physical attack and defence. He’s not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but nor is he catastrophically slow, and he will outrun many defensive Pokémon who haven’t had speed training. Rock/Dragon isn’t exactly good as a type combination, especially now that Pokémon is no longer instant-awesome-just-add-dragons, but it certainly beats Aurorus’ Rock/Ice any day; it also helps that only two Fairy Pokémon (Klefki and Mawile) resist Rock attacks, and that almost none of them have really good physical defences. He probably wants some kind of speed boost to deal with stuff that actually cares about moving fast; that could be a Choice Scarf but more likely will be Dragon Dance or Rock Polish, both of which you can breed onto him – or you could just say “screw it” and go with Curse, banking on his defensive strength to help carry the day, though I wouldn’t really advise it since his special defence is really quite bad. Stone Edge, Dragon Claw (pity he doesn’t get Outrage, which would make perfect sense given his temper, but oh well) and Earthquake are your basic options for killing stuff, but the interesting parts come from Tyrantrum’s Strong Jaw ability, which – again, appropriately for a Tyrannosaurus – increases the strength of all biting attacks by 50%. Strong Jaw makes Thunder Fang, Fire Fang and Ice Fang, which are normally too weak to bother with except in the most desperate situations (i.e. your name is pre-generation VI Flareon and you haven’t already killed yourself), into solid choices for filling out Tyrantrum’s moveset. Dragon and Fire remain a nice combination, although not nearly as powerful now that Fairy Pokémon have made Dragon attacks a much less secure choice and added Azumarill to the list of Pokémon who resist both types. Fire Fang is even readily available in combination with Dragon Dance, both inherited moves, thanks to Tyranitar (likewise Thunder Fang and Ice Fang). Tyrantrum’s Crunch is extremely strong thanks to the ability boost, and gives him good option for most Steel-types, who resist his primary attacks (Fairy-types are again unfortunate, though). Finally, Poison Fang is there, but it’s still a bit weak even with the Strong Jaw bonus and fails to exceed Stone Edge’s damage output against most Fairy-types (or Grass-types, for that matter), so unless you really like poisoning things, you should probably just leave that one alone.
Unfortunately for Strong Jaw, Tyrantrum (like Aurorus) has a hidden ability which, when and if it is made available, will pretty much make his more unique and interesting ability obsolete: Rock Head. Rock Head grants immunity to recoil damage, and Tyrantrum happens to learn the most catastrophic recoil attack in the game, Rampardos’ signature move Head Smash, and unlike Relicanth, who gets the same combination, Tyrantrum has the wherewithal to really abuse it. Get a Dragon Dance off and that $#!t maims damn near anything, resistance or no. Or… y’know. It will. If Game Freak gets around to it. Using Rock Head means you don’t have the elemental fang attacks as viable options, while Crunch is more of a side-show, but Dragon Claw and Earthquake still leave you with plenty to fill out a moveset with fairly strong coverage. Of course, even Head Smash and a Dragon Dance boost would still leave Tyrantrum with unfortunate weaknesses to Fighting, Ground and Fairy attacks, all common and all dangerous. He’s very much an Ursaring-Druddigon-Golurk style Pokémon: seriously brutal physical attacks, but not a whole lot else going for him (well, you could try Stealth Rock and Dragon Tail as a support Tyrantrum, but the words ‘support Tyrantrum’ just sound so weird in my mouth that they make me uneasy). In particular, he’s too slow to survive without speed bonuses, but unlike those three he’s also too fast to function particularly well in a Trick Room. The key word here is ‘sledgehammer,’ and there are, unfortunately, better sledgehammers available in this game who aren’t quite as vulnerable to a wide variety of common attack types. Still, you really could do worse than this thing; his damage output is frightening, if nothing else.
Tyrunt and Tyrantrum are pretty straightforward Pokémon, really. It’s hard not to see the appeal in a Tyrannosaurus Pokémon, and the royalty aesthetic is a nice touch that adds character while being subtle enough to avoid what could have been obvious stupidity. They’re not complicated or deep designs, but then a Tyrannosaurus isn’t really a complicated or deep animal: it bites things; they die. Like Aurorus, Tyrantrum has severe limitations, and it’s particularly unfortunate that a Rock/Dragon-type happened to come along now, with Steel attacks on the rise and Dragon Pokémon weaker than they’ve ever been before. Ultimately, it’s hard not to return to the Tyranitar comparisons and, unsurprisingly for a Pokémon based on a mutated movie-monster version of Tyrannosaurus, he mostly does the same things as Tyrantrum but better. It’s a shame most biting attacks are so weak to begin with; all Strong Jaw really does is bring them up to par. Still, Tyrantrum is hardly unusable – and we can always pray for the day his Rock Head becomes available.