Today I would like to talk to you about crabs: specifically, Crabrawler and the delightfully named Crabominable (seriously, can we just take a minute to appreciate the wonderful tumbling rhythm of that name?). In the process of writing this piece, I have learned (because learning obscure and not particularly useful zoological trivia is just part of what I do here) that evolution just really likes crabs for some reason, and consequently keeps trying to turn other random animals into crabs with mixed results, a process known as carcinisation. Crabs have apparently evolved at least five separate times, from a variety of starting points (giving rise, surprisingly, to only two Pokémon before now: Kingler and Crustle, Crawdaunt being a lobster). On the basis of this vague half-substantiated piece of pseudo-knowledge, I have decided that crabs are the ultimate form of life, to which all other species aspire. Of course, Crabrawler and Crabominable have the advantage of already being there – so let’s see what the apex of all biological life has to offer the Alola region.
There’s a character in Sun and Moon, I think near the geothermal plant on Ula’ula Island, who utters the mildly perplexing line “I want to do business with Pokémon. For example, I could use the pincers of Crabrawler, which grow back constantly.” Use them for what, exactly, he doesn’t specify at the time, and I was briefly horrified that this ostensibly sane individual might be planning to torture Pokémon in order to produce an endless supply of crab meat (BAN CRABS). Even in the real world, crab claws do regenerate, and crabs can chop off their own claws to distract predators like lizards shedding their tails, which is the basis of a real technique for sustainable crab fishing – catch a crab, snap off its claws, and then release it, still alive. It’s not clear whether this amounts to torture because there’s some debate over whether crustaceans can even experience pain, but some experimental results kind of suggest that maybe they can, so… we can probably call this slightly awkward. The Pokédex, though, gives us a… slightly more pleasant view? Crabrawler, it turns out, are known for punching things so hard that they literally tear their own fists off. These claw-fists contain “little meat,” but it is “rich and delicious,” so for anyone counting, that is another Pokémon that we definitely eat, but at least we only go for the parts that it’s finished using. Crabominable advances the same theme and also jettisons his claws from time to time, but graduates to a ROCKET PUNCH. We currently have no information on whether this destroys the meat in his ballistic pincers, or cooks it to perfection. More research is clearly needed.
Crabrawler seems to be inspired by at least one real type of crab found in the Pacific, and is possibly a mash-up of two. In the games, these Pokémon are found lurking amongst the piles of assorted berries that can be found at the bottom of Alola’s ubiquitous magical, cornucopious coconut palms. This gives away that part of Crabrawler’s identity is the coconut crab: a crab of what could fairly be called monstrous size, which lives primarily on fruit and nuts and is found on islands throughout the South Pacific and Indian oceans. They are the largest land-dwelling invertebrates in the world, and are much more committed to life on land than any other crab – adult coconut crabs can even drown in water. Thus, although Crabrawler learns a few Water attacks, he isn’t actually a Water-type, and spends little time in the water. Although coconut crabs are as huge and terrifying as Crabrawler is surly and cross-eyed, they are also equally delicious, and are consequently hunted extensively. Unfortunately for our enterprising Alolan businessman, all attempts to breed them in captivity have ended in failure. Crabrawler’s second element is the boxing-inspired combat style that gives him his Fighting type, and… well, be honest, would it really surprise you to be told that there exists a real animal known as the “Hawaiian boxing crab”? This crab doesn’t have as much of an influence on Crabrawler’s design as the coconut crab, but in some ways it’s actually kind of weirder, and in a very Pokémon-esque way: it gets its name from its habit of carrying around a pair of live sea anemones, which it waves threateningly at enemies’ faces in order, presumably, to make them seek out less flamboyantly insane prey. I’m not sure Game Freak actually had this particular species in mind, because if they did, I’m honestly kind of disappointed by how much more silly they could have made it. Pokémon already has elemental punches, but a sea anemone punch? Now that would be worth seeing.
Crabrawler likes climbing things, because as well as wanting to be metaphorically “on top” of its competition, it wants to be physically on top of as many things as possible – after all, as Star Wars taught us, the battle is over once you have the high ground. Rocks, trees, hills, Alolan Exeggutor, road signs, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, whatever: Crabrawler just wants to get high as fμ¢&. Eventually, Crabrawler can find themselves drawn to climb so high that they sort of… accidentally get stuck on top of mountains and have to evolve into yetis so they don’t freeze to death. No, that is what the Pokédex actually says. Crabrawler evolve into Crabominable when they climb snowy mountains and adapt to their new environment, Eevee-style. In the games, this means that Crabrawler, who is available almost from the start of the game, will only evolve when you take him up Mount Lanakila, which – and this is true – is at the very end. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon let you poke around the base of the mountain before you can actually climb it, which is enough to satisfy Crabrawler, but if you’re wanting to use this Pokémon on a playthrough of the original Sun and Moon, as with Charjabug you should be prepared to languish in mediocrity for a long time. Crabominable’s yeti theme is owed to yet another type of crab, this time the so-called yeti crab of the Southern Ocean, a bristly beast that clusters around hydrothermal vents for warmth and food. The designers don’t seem to have taken much from the crab itself, other than as an excuse to splice yeti-like features onto a crab – which I’m sort of fine with, because as weird as the Pokédex’s explanation for Crabrawler’s evolution is, it does sort of fit with the way Pokémon generally does adaptation, as well as with Crabrawler’s combative, competitive temperament and the coconut crab’s climbing skills. The overall result… well, okay, even if you like Crabominable you have to admit it’s incredibly derpy, but this design is weirdly growing on me. His oddly-shaped body with its tuft of yellow hair seems like it’s meant to be coconut-shaped, which is a nice call-back to the coconut crab. The huge “fists” with their odd foot-shaped markings would allow Crabominable to leave “Bigfoot” footprints in the snow to confuse human mountaineers. And honestly, if Pokémon was going to do a yeti, I’d kind of prefer it be a buck-toothed giant coconut crab that accidentally climbed a mountain and got stuck than just a big shaggy humanoid Ice-type.
Crabominable is another one of those seventh-generation Pokémon with a fairly straightforward “sledgehammer” combat style – he’s built like the proverbial brick $#!thouse, but also moves like one. Good HP and passable physical defence are overshadowed to some extent by mediocre special defence and a type combination (Fighting/Ice) which, while unique, carries only three resistances and a host of weaknesses. Offensively it’s pretty solid, since Ice and Fighting attacks between them hit nine different types super-effectively, the best you can do with just two attacks. The first of those attacks is likely to be Crabominable’s signature move, Ice Hammer, which is close to the strongest Ice-type physical attack in the game. It also benefits from Crabominable’s ability, Iron Fist, which gives a passive +20% damage bonus to punching attacks. Like Hammer Arm, it drops your speed when you use it, but again, Crabominable is a major proponent of brick $#!thouse tactics, so this is either irrelevant anyway, or can actually be turned to your advantage on a Trick Room team. Since Crabominable is tied with Mega Abomasnow for the second-highest attack stat of all Ice-types (after the absurd Black Kyurem), this hits very hard. Unfortunately, Crabominable’s best Fighting attacks don’t work with Iron Fist, but they’re still very powerful; you can choose from Close Combat (weakens both your defences), Superpower (weakens both your physical stats), or Dynamic Punch (as strong as the other two after Iron Fist, confuses the target, but only 50% accurate). His strongest attack is technically Focus Punch, which will flatten damn near anything, but fails if the user takes any damage in the same turn – I don’t recommend it, but Crabrawler is scary enough to force switches that will give him an opportunity to use Focus Punch unhindered, and you could always try protecting him with Substitute. Outside of Ice and Fighting, Crabominable’s best move is probably Earthquake, which adds another four types to his list of super-effective targets. If you want a fourth attack, Stone Edge and (on Ultra Sun and Moon) Thunderpunch are both on offer; Stone Edge is slightly stronger, has a high critical hit rate, and hits more additional types, but has that nagging 80% accuracy. Crabhammer (which you have to pick up as Crabrawler before evolving) has Stone Edge’s power and critical rate with higher accuracy, but Water has almost completely redundant type coverage with Crabominable’s other attacks.
If Crabominable can actually hit something, his huge attack stat and great type coverage ensure he can dish out the damage. The problem is that very low speed, a type combination with many defensive flaws, and dubious special defence make it fairly difficult for Crabominable to do that without taking heavy damage in return, and he doesn’t even have any priority attacks to compensate. He’s a very all-or-nothing Pokémon: if you can manoeuvre him to force a switch, or otherwise catch your opponent off guard, something’s gonna die, but in a fair fight, he can be overpowered quickly. Of course, that all assumes you’re building Crabominable in an all-offence manner and slapping on an item like a Choice Band or Life Orb. Despite his lacklustre defensive type, his physical defence stat isn’t too bad, and his massive attack stat can probably survive not being maxed, so some sort of physical tank is a plausible option, probably fuelled by Bulk Up (or maybe even Amnesia). Ultra Sun and Moon also bestow Crabominable with Drain Punch, which is a perfectly respectable Fighting attack after the Iron Fist bonus and can provide a tanky Crabominable with some healing. After putting a few points into defence and/or special defence, you could either stick with a Life Orb or switch to a more defensive or balanced item like Leftovers or an Expert Belt. To take another route entirely, four attacks plus an Assault Vest to shore up his iffy special defence might be interesting to catch out opponents who overextend to take advantage of Crabominable’s poor speed and many weaknesses. These approaches sacrifice power, which is Crabominable’s major selling point, but retain his high-powered attacks and excellent type coverage while making him a little less vulnerable to retributive strikes. Crabominable doesn’t really get any support moves worth speaking of, aside from maybe Wide Guard for doubles, should you want to predict and counter an Earthquake or something, but in any case, spending much time on support would sort of be a waste of that beautiful attack stat.
That just leaves Crabominable’s other ability choices to cover – and, well, Iron Fist seems like pretty clearly the best one to me, but we may as well talk about the other two. Hyper Cutter makes you immune to attack reductions, which basically means you ignore Intimidate – just about everything else that lowers the attack stat is very rare, either because it’s terrible or because it’s exclusive to a small number of Pokémon (ignoring the attack reduction from King’s Shield might be worth it to you to slightly improve your matchup against Aegislash, but frankly Crabominable usually loses to Aegislash anyway). Anger Point, his hidden ability, maxes out your attack stat (raises it to quadruple its normal value) when you survive a critical hit, which is nice when it happens, but so hard to control that you can’t really build around it, especially since Crabominable’s defences are only decent. In a double battle – and I can hardly believe I’m even suggesting this – you could build a partner Pokémon to do the minimum possible damage to Crabominable with an out-of-the-gate guaranteed critical hit (probably Night Slash from an Unfezant with Super Luck and a Scope Lens) in order to trigger Anger Point yourself. Even if you’re mad enough to do this, though, Crabominable is emphatically not a sweeper unless you somehow get a Trick Room set up at the same time as all this, and you’d be better off trying it with Primeape or Tauros.
Crabominable is sort of emblematic of generation VII in a couple of ways. He and Crabrawler are both steeped in the weird biological lore of the Pacific islands and their unique fauna. He’s very derpy and weirdly designed, but most of what’s weird about him does make a kind of thematic sense when you look closely enough. His somewhat one-dimensional fighting style comes with a lot of power but limited flexibility and extreme vulnerability to aggressive Pokémon with more speed (a statement that could apply to about half the Pokémon in Alola), but he has a unique type combination, a neat signature move, and powerful type coverage to help him stand out. And he is delicious (matching both Sun and Moon’s interest in Alolan cuisine and the franker tone that their Pokédex is often willing to take about Pokémon being hunted for food). I suppose my feelings on him therefore mirror my feelings about generation VII’s Pokémon designs as a whole: it’s… fine. Some of the decisions are very weird, but I at least feel I can understand them, which I often couldn’t in V, and there is a certain zaniness to it all that I appreciate, even if the resulting Pokémon are sometimes on the “meh” side in battle.