Something that i’ve noticed recently is that despite pikachu being technically weaker than all the other pika-clones in later generations [BST 320 as opposed to the others floating somewhere around 400-430, raichu 485 for reference] functionally it’s better due to having more toys to play with: a larger base movepool and various event moves, light orb and other unique items, eviolite, ect… and while some do have their own unique traits still get overshadowed by the original, So my question is this: what would you give the other pika-clones that would allow each to stand out in it’s own way? such as an evolution, signature move or item, higher stats, new ability?
Well… I’m not gonna design evolutions for half a dozen Pokémon right here, but maybe there are some things we can sketch out here.
I actually did put together rough ideas for evolutions for Plusle, Minun and Pachirisu as part of the “top 10 worst Pokémon ever” series I did way back in 2012; you can find that here: https://pokemaniacal.com/2012/02/06/the-top-ten-worst-pokemon-ever-6-plusle-minun/. I’m pretty lukewarm on the actual details of these now, but I think the basic ideas (other than just “evolve them to justify much higher stats”) were sound: buff the Plus and Minus abilities to emphasise Plusle and Minun’s teamwork ideal, and give Pachirisu a lot more trickery- and theft-themed moves to go with its cleverness and collection themes. I was also grudgingly convinced to do the same thing for Dedenne when I reviewed the Kalos generation: https://pokemaniacal.com/2014/07/28/dedenne-2/. Here, the main thing I wanted was for Dedenne to have a powerful signature move to make up for its lack of any decent Fairy attacks (this obviated to some extent in Sword and Shield with the addition of Dazzling Gleam to its movepool, but… well, Dedenne could still use a bit more oomph). I think the important thing is to emphasise what makes each Pokémon interesting (to the extent that there, uh… is anything interesting about them).
Plusle and Minun: The problem with Plus and Minus is you’re clearly supposed to use the abilities together in doubles, but that entails using two doubles partners who are both weak to Earthquake. The other problem is you can’t dramatically buff the abilities themselves because you might create something that’s broken on Klinklang or Ampharos. But generations VI and VII introduced moves that buff all active Pokémon with Plus or Minus: Magnetic Flux raises both defence stats by one level and Gear Up raises both attack stats. Maybe Minun and Plusle – respectively – could get moves that raise those stats by two levels, or have an extra effect like healing or setting up Electric Terrain. Maybe you even raise all your stats, like Ancientpower does. That’d be crazy strong, but hey, you’re using Plusle or Minun; you need all the help you can get.
Pachirisu: Look, Pachirisu’s won a world championship now; it’s still garbage in singles and probably always will be, but if it wants my help with that, it’s gonna have to beg for it.
Emolga: Emolga’s got some strengths, like high speed and a really strong type combination; I think its main problem is a really messy mixed movepool that doesn’t allow it to specialise in anything it might be good at, and poor defences that make it an iffy supporter. It already has Acrobatics; I think there’d be some justification in giving it the Unburden ability (heck, look at the Shield Pokédex entry; Emolga “absolutely loves sweet berries…” but sometimes “stuffs its cheeks full of so much food that it can’t fly properly”; Unburden is absolutely written into that) and some kind of bespoke physical Electric attack that gets a bonus when the user doesn’t have an item. Maybe it’s a multi-hit move that always hits 5 times, à la Skill Link, if you aren’t holding an item?
Togedemaru: Togedemaru’s type combination is maybe even better than Emolga’s because of all the Steel resistances, and Zing Zap isn’t bad. It’s got a 30% flinch chance that combos well with Togedamaru’s good speed, reliable paralysing attacks and Iron Head, it’s just not really enough on its own to be a reason to use this Pokémon. Togedemaru also has three strong abilities already. I just don’t know if there’s an interesting fix to this one. Honestly it’s probably the least bad Pikachu clone already, so maybe just leave it?
Morpeko: Morpeko’s actually pretty fun. Aura Wheel’s gimmick is a disadvantage because you can’t reliably choose for it to be an Electric or Dark attack, but the move is so powerful (same base power as Thunder, but with good accuracy and a free speed boost) that it’s a solid win for Morpeko anyway. I think the obvious gap with Morpeko is that its Hunger Switch ability doesn’t actually do anything outside of its interaction with Aura Wheel – Morpeko’s two forms are mechanically identical. If you want to buff Morpeko, I think you should do it by adding an extra effect to Hunger Switch; maybe Hangry Morpeko has a bonus to its crit rate, but switching to Full Belly Morpeko heals you each time?