Dedenne

STOP MOCKING ME

I’m going to close my eyes and count to three.  When I open them, I will be reviewing a Pokémon who is not Dedenne.

One… two… three.

F@#%nuggets.

Look.  I’ve written all kinds of bull$#!t about how Game Freak’s self-imposed requirement for a new Electric-type rodent Pokémon every goddamn generation is uninspired, serves no purpose, and is just generally the most egregious example by far of their Pokémon ‘templates’ – especially given that all of the other previous Electric-type rodent Pokémon are endemic to Kalos anyway.  It’s not even that the designs are bad in themselves; it’s simply aggravating to see the same idea reused over and over again for, apparently, no other reason than that it worked so surprisingly well the first time, when we could instead have something that’s… you know… not Pikachu version 5.0.  Small Electric-type Pokémon?  Check.  Based on a rodent?  Check (in this case, a hamster).  Cheek pouches that store electricity?  Check.  Raichu’s colour scheme?  Check.  Adorable?  Check.  Bad at just about everything?  Check.  I feel like I’ve said my piece on all that.  Let’s just… try to… accentuate the… positives… yes…

Probably the coolest thing about Dedenne is that her namesake antennae-like whiskers allow her to emit and receive electromagnetic waves for long-distance communication with others of her species (and presumably with certain other Electric Pokémon as well).  I feel like it’s well-established anyway that many Electric-types can communicate this way, but Dedenne does seem to be specifically called out as having especially great range, which I suppose is nice.  No word on whether she can pick up HBO or check Facebook, but I suddenly have an irrational burning desire for fan art of Bonnie in a forest in the middle of nowhere, scrolling through Tumblr on a laptop with Dedenne’s tail plugged into it, while Clemont looks on and shakes his head in exasperation.

STOP JUDGING ME

Dedenne’s other trick is that, similarly to Joltik, she can leech electricity from man-made sources through her extension-cord tail.  This habit probably does make Dedenne a pest, I should point out – homeowners may not think wild Dedenne are so cute anymore after seeing what they do to the electricity bill, and power plants would almost certainly have to devote considerable effort to keeping them out – and I’m not sure whether this is something Game Freak thought through; on the one hand, wild hamsters are often considered pests by farmers for eating and hoarding crops so it does make a certain amount of sense, but on the other, it seems like a surprisingly negative trait to assign to one of Pikachu’s oh-so-adorable heirs.  Still, maybe there’s something we can make out of that.  Anyway, the thing that’s supposed to set Dedenne apart from her predecessors appears to be that she’s a Fairy-type.  While this is absolutely fine in principle, I can’t find any reason for her to be a Fairy-type.  She’s not overtly ‘magical’ in the sense that many of them are; she doesn’t have any ‘fairy-tale’ features; she’s not based on any kind of fey being; she doesn’t have any of the abstract links with qualities like sweetness, beauty or joy that characterise many other Fairy Pokémon; she doesn’t even learn many Fairy-type attacks.  The best I can come up with is that she’s a Fairy-type because of the implied mischievousness of her electricity-thieving lifestyle, but again I’m not sure whether Game Freak thought that one all the way through.  Other than that, probably the only reason is because she’s cute, which a) leaves us with no explanatory logic for excluding Pikachu, Plusle, Minun and Pachirisu from the Fairy type (not that Dedenne is the only Pokémon you can make this complaint about, admittedly – see e.g. Wigglytuff/Blissey, Gardevoir/Gallade), and b) is just a terrible reason for including something in a type anyway since it reduces the meaning of that type to a set of aesthetic qualities.  Now, of course I’m not saying that making Dedenne a Fairy-type was nothing but a poorly thought-out gimmick to make her superficially different from the other electric rodents.  I’m just heavily implying it.

Are we really sure Dedenne doesn’t evolve into Raichu? ’cause I still think there’s a chance she’s the game’s first branched pre-evolution.

As for what Dedenne will do for you in a fight, she’s… not Plusle-and-Minun-terrible; put it that way.  Pros?  Very good speed, solid special attack, and the fact that Fairy goes well with just about anything; Dedenne has five resistances and an immunity, and only two weaknesses.  Cons?  Well… everything else.  Poor defences, no physical attacking capability, mediocre abilities, few useful techniques, and of course an evolution in a future generation is almost certainly too much to ask for.  She has something close to a signature move, Parabolic Charge – she actually shares it with Helioptile and Heliolisk, but hey, close enough – which is an Electric-type energy-drain attack.  It’s depressingly weak, much like Dedenne’s defensive skills, which means that the healing it provides won’t count for much, but since Dedenne is extremely short on both powerful attacks and useful support moves, you may as well stick it on there anyway (the advantage is that in a double battle, which as we’ll see is probably where Dedenne does best, Parabolic Charge hits everything around her, for more healing).  A set with Substitute and Parabolic Charge could keep her from dying for a while; hell, slap Toxic on there and you might even cause meaningful harm to your opponent in the process.  She has several other Electric attacks to choose from: Thunderbolt is her best shot at doing significant damage, Discharge lets her paralyse things, Volt Switch takes her out of battle (which, let’s be honest, is probably the best thing you can possibly do with Dedenne), and Charge Beam allows you to act suicidally overconfident about her life expectancy.  You can probably fit in more than one of these, because her only other worthwhile special attack is Grass Knot.  Fairy attacks?  Don’t be silly; if Game Freak had given her Fairy attacks she might have been able to do something useful.  The only one she has is Play Rough, which is the type’s lone physical attack and, by virtue of Dedenne’s abysmal attack stat, is practically unusable.  Other options include Thunder Wave and…

…and…

…that’s… that’s really all she’s got, isn’t it?  I guess Charm and Eerie Impulse are cute, and if you’re doing a rain team anyway you may as well teach her Thunder, but other than that I think I may actually have just listed every viable option in Dedenne’s movepool.

…moves are depressing; let’s talk about abilities.

Pickup is not useful.  That is all.  Cheek Pouch, the new ability she shares with Diggersby, gives her extra healing from eating any sort of berry.  This will help her to delay the inevitable with a Sitrus Berry on one of those Parabolic Charge sets; make that a Petaya berry and she might even do meaningful damage.  This isn’t really a great ability either but in a single battle it’s the best she can do (as well as one of her most unusual skills), so work with it.  Her hidden ability, available from the Friend Safari, is the double battle combo ability Plus, which boosts your special attack when your partner either also has Plus or has its twin ability, Minus.  The problem with these abilities is that taking advantage of them invariably means using two Pokémon in a double battle who are both weak to Earthquake, which can hit both of them at once and is just about the most popular physical attack in the game.  This is a bad idea.  Even accepting that you want to plan a battle strategy around such a vulnerable position, almost anything you can do with Dedenne would be done better with Manectric.  Having said that, Magnet Rise is a thing – I mean, Dedenne can’t learn it so she’s screwed anyway, but maybe she at least won’t take her partner down with her if you plan it right.  Being in a double or triple battle also adds Round to the list of special attacks Dedenne can ‘use,’ and Plus is easily her best chance at hurting any kind of opposition.

Anyway, yeah, that’s Dedenne.

Right.  Well.  Unfortunately for me, I’ve been called upon to perform one of my old tricks and attempt to redeem Dedenne by evolving her into something powerful and interesting.

It’s not going to be pretty, but let’s give it a try.

First things first: let’s give that “Fairy” label some actual meaning.  I have tried and failed to elicit ‘fey’ creatures associated specifically with thunder and lightning from Google, so we’ll just have to go about it another way.  Dedenne can communicate with others of her species, as well as other Electric-types, over long distances, and can probably sense Electric Pokémon and other sources of electricity within a similar range.  She lives closely with humans, paying for her energy-leeching ways by being extremely adorable.  She steals electricity… lots of fairies steal, but Fairy Pokémon tend to be more sweetness-and-light, in general.  Of course, good guys can steal too…

…hang on…

Well, that’s not quite what I… oh, who am I kidding; this is exactly what I meant.

You know what?  It’s not quite ‘fairytale’ but I’m calling ‘close enough.’  I’m evolving Dedenne into the Robin Hood Pokémon.  Make her a bit leaner, taller, more weasel-like; give her a sort of tuft of hair on the head reminiscent of the peaked cap that you see in a lot of depictions of Robin Hood.  Her tail gets much longer – because she now uses it as a bowstring.  This Dedenne carries a curved stick with her, and curls her tail around both ends to make a bow from which she fires projectile energy attacks like Thunderbolt (I went back and forth on this because I’m worried giving her a literal bow is too much, but I would want what I’m doing to be clear in the art; other than the bow, the clearest identifying feature of Robin Hood is the particular shade of green he wears, and I don’t think abandoning Dedenne’s colour scheme is within my mandate here).  Her in-game animation for special attacks would show her stringing her ‘bow’ and aiming.  While unstrung, her tail continues to be the conduit through which she siphons electricity.  She spends her time stealing electricity from human buildings, particularly power plants, to nourish weak Electric-type Pokémon in the wild and heal their injuries.  Her antennae serve to find both Pokémon in need of help and juicy targets, as well as to coordinate groups of Dedenne to help her siphon large amounts of energy.  As for making her decent at fighting… well, the basic shape of her stat line is fine; she just needs more of everything.  Her movepool could certainly do with a boost – I feel like Focus Blast is now justified (she’s based on a legendary warrior; of course she should have a Fighting attack – besides, Raichu gets it), and we can probably get away with Flash Cannon and Nature Power… maybe even Flamethrower too – flaming arrows are a thing – but that might be pushing it.  Might as well make Parabolic Charge equal in power to Giga Drain while we’re here (or boost its healing factor, like Draining Kiss), but I really want to give her a real signature move, and her current dearth of Fairy attacks makes this one a no-brainer: Magic Arrow, a Fairy-type special attack that does physical damage like Psyshock.  A tricky character like this needs support skills too, so let’s throw in Taunt, Wish, Trick, and Nasty Plot, maybe Yawn too (it’s a mystery to me why Dedenne doesn’t already get this; her level-up list implies that she’s a sleepy Pokémon, and the anime emphasises that), and then maybe add Me First and Assist just for fun.  And hey, maybe Quiver Dance?   …yeah, okay, never mind; that was terrible.  Keeping the abilities is probably the way to go on this one; I feel like Cheek Pouch could be interesting on something that’s actually competent, Pickup is thematically appropriate, and Plus serves a nice teamwork theme.

There.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Game Freak!

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