Out of all the early game rodents – Raticate, Furret, Linoone, Bibarel, Watchog, Diggersby, Gumshoos, and maybe Alolan Raticate too – which ones do you think are the most poorly-designed, both fluff-wise and gameplay-wise, and what would you change about those worst ones if you could? (I told you it’d probably be me.)
GOD DAMN IT HUGH
okay, let’s see
Diggersby is pretty much fine on both fluff and gameplay, to my mind. Gumshoos is… fiiiiiine? I mean, it’s weird, but I will concede there is something clever going on with the noir detective/mobster aesthetic between Gumshoos and Alolan Raticate. It could do with an increase to its defences, and maybe a better priority move than Quick Attack (buffing the Stakeout ability would be nice too – maybe have it raise Gumshoos’ attack when something switches in against it?).
Bibarel is… well, Bibarel is… look, Bibarel is living its best life, and it doesn’t need us to approve of that. You could totally justify giving Bibarel Wood Hammer, because, y’know, beaver. Really though, the best thing for Bibarel is to just come up with some kind of bull$#!t excuse to give it Dragon Dance, because the Simple ability would make it utterly terrifying (there must be some mythology in the world that has a beaver dragon, right…? There’s two goddamn snail dragons; I don’t think I’m asking for much).
Watchog is a nightmare beast from one of the darkest circles of hell and I refuse on principle to have anything to do with it.
Raticate is one of, I think, like five Pokémon that just have no supernatural abilities whatsoever; it’s literally just a huge rat, but Alolan Raticate kind of provides an interesting new direction. I’d actually really like to see multiple regional forms of Raticate in the future (if regional forms continue to be a thing in Galar and beyond), as a reflection of the success that rats have had in regions all over the real world. It could be a whole new take on Eevee’s “adaptation” gimmick. In any case, beefing up Raticate’s HP and attack a bit would be boring but totally justified, and… well, its movepool is just so bad; there must be something not-too-generic that we can justify giving it…? I don’t know, will Close Combat or Flare Blitz fly? It gets Flame Wheel as an egg move already; that’s not that different. And honestly, while we’re here, we can just straight-up buff Hyper Fang; we’ll be helping out Watchog, Gumshoos and Bibarel at the same time. Give it perfect accuracy, slightly more power, and a high crit rate on top of the flinch chance. It’s a pretty exclusive move; it should be powerful.
Furret is… long? I mean… not as long as, like, Steelix, but still long enough to give you a real sense of value for money (it’s actually almost 2 metres; an average Furret, stretched out head-to-tail, is longer than I am tall). I like that Sun and Moon gave it Coil, because this is the first move it’s had that really makes good use of its fantastic longness. Furret has a surprisingly interesting support movepool, and I think it would be on the verge of being decent if only everything else about it weren’t so cr@p – buff its speed, special defence and maybe HP a bit, maybe give it a useful and thematically appropriate ability like Oblivious or even Prankster, and we might have a game on our hands. Sentret frankly has a much more striking aesthetic and a more interesting design than Furret, which is a shame, and I don’t know how we can redesign Furret to make more use of Sentret’s distinctive bullseye patterning and ability to stand on its tail.
Linoone… Linoone is tricky because it’s dull, all right, but aside from Diggersby it’s probably the strongest one, if only because Belly Drum, Gluttony with a Figy Berry, and Extremespeed is a hell of a combo. So comparatively Linoone is doing pretty well, but what is the point of it, actually? Linoone’s thing is… straight lines? Like, it can run really fast, but only in straight lines, and if it wants to turn, it has to come to a complete stop and turn 90º, and that is some straight-up weird $#!t, because straight lines and right angles are relatively rare in nature. In their native Hoenn, Linoone live primarily in dense forests, where you notoriously cannot go very far in a straight line. Aesthetically I get the zig-zag-to-straight-line progression from Zigzagoon to Linoone, but… well, actually, no; honestly I don’t, because there are lots of different directions you could take that, many of which are not inherently more stupid (Spiraloone, Trianguloone, Polkadotoone, Sinusoidalcurvoone…). But once you’ve chosen a “straight line” aesthetic, what do you do with that? Other than say that Linoone runs along leylines, veins of geomantic power that run beneath the earth connecting sacred sites, granting it supernatural speed, perception and strength, maybe even letting it phase through natural obstacles like rocks and trees, as long as it doesn’t stray from the line? And perhaps also suggesting that groups of Linoone can even create leylines by trekking back and forth between specific points, generation upon generation for aeons? And obviously giving it higher special attack and access to a lot more “beam” moves, because these are literally moves that attack in a line? I mean, other than that, what are you supposed to do with a “straight line” aesthetic?
No, I’m serious; I would not by choice take that direction with a common early-game Pokémon, but where else do you go with line-badger?
…why am I like this