We’re really getting into the dregs now, folks. See… most Pokémon are good at something. It’s often something bizarrely specific that would barely make sense to most people, like how Linoone is the only Belly Drummer who’ll eat a Salac berry at 50% HP instead of 25%, or the way Smeargle can pull off really weird sets with stuff like Endeavour and Dragon Rage or Spore and Transform thanks to his ability to learn every move in the game. It’s very rare that you get a Pokémon who isn’t good at anything at all… but it does happen. One of them is Delcatty.
Delcatty and her juvenile form Skitty are cats. If you’ve ever owned a cat (which I have) then you pretty much know everything about them already. They’re cute, they like to chase things and make themselves pretty, they’re popular with female trainers, and they are completely indifferent to everything beyond their own whims. They’re different from Persian in that Persian embraces the cruel side that cats have; if you screw with Persian, the claws are coming out and your face is going to start looking a lot less pretty a few seconds from now. If you screw with Delcatty, she’s much more likely to say “eh, whatever,” and wander off. Delcatty doesn’t have a nest like most Pokémon do because she would never feel invested enough to bother defending it, doesn’t eat or sleep according to any schedule because she would never pay enough attention to bother keeping track of one (this comes from Ruby version but, incidentally, Emerald contradicts this, saying that Delcatty are nocturnal), and never fights if she can avoid it because that’s clearly too much effort. She reminds me of nothing so much as The Cat Who Walked By Himself, from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (you can find the story here http://boop.org/jan/justso/cat.htm, among other places), a fable that tells how the Cat, rather than being tamed like all the other wild creatures, instead tricked the Woman into a bargain with him so that he could do as he pleased for all time. The Cat’s catchphrase is “I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me,” which pretty much sums him up. I doubt Delcatty was directly inspired by this particular story but she’s a product of the same age-old stereotype that cats are aloof, and only ever do exactly what suits them (including being ‘tamed’ by humans). Pokémon doesn’t really do anything with the idea other than say that this is what Delcatty is like, and it only makes things worse that someone seems to have at least had this perception of cats in the back of his mind when Persian was created, even though it’s not the focus for Persian. There’s only so much variation you can squeeze out of a lithe, elegant domestic cat when you’re committed to making it a Normal-type; Delcatty’s clearly not the same as Persian since she looks more overtly pampered, even dressed-up, but I find myself asking what this design achieved that Meowth and Persian didn’t.
Although it has nothing to do with my analysis here, I would be remiss if I did not mention the internet phenomenon that is Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action, since it is easily the most interesting thing about these Pokémon, as well as one of the most egregious examples of Pokémon’s propensity to rape the science of biology on every level imaginable simultaneously. Due to the somewhat simplistic way in which Pokémon games determine reproductive compatibility, a Skitty – a two foot tall kitten – and a Wailord – a fifteen metre long whale – are capable of having children together, and presumably… y’know… doing all of the things one needs to do in order to have children. This being the internet, hilarity ensues. Perhaps fortunately, this is one mystery of the Pokémon world that Professor Oak is unlikely ever to solve… after all, the sheer logistics alone are beyond comprehension.
Like Spinda, Delcatty is afflicted with uniformly dreadful stats and, as a Normal-type, has few weaknesses but no clear strengths. Again like Spinda, she also enjoys the traditional great blessing of the Normal type: a vast movepool. Theoretically, Baton Pass allows her to bestow the benefits of Calm Mind, Work Up or Charge Beam upon her allies, Wish and Heal Bell provide her with means of keeping her team healthy, and Thunder Wave, Charm and Fake Tears offer a variety of ways to incapacitate her enemies. Of course, since Delcatty is neither fast nor tough, it’s likely she’ll have no more than one turn to do any of this. She has access to the famously effective combination of Thunderbolt and Ice Beam, and could use Calm Mind alongside those to buff herself into some kind of special tank. This won’t work either because special attack and special defence are among the weakest of her many weak points. Double-Edge, Zen Headbutt, Wild Charge and Sucker Punch present a reasonable spread of physical attacks, and with Sucker Punch she doesn’t even have to worry about her lacklustre speed so much, but at this point you’re bailing out the Titanic with a thimble. Delcatty’s signature move, Assist, is fascinating but ultimately unhelpful; it allows her to use any move known by any Pokémon on her team, chosen at random, which is a little like asking your four-year-old sister to run through the Battle Tower a couple of times for you. The crowning insult is Delcatty’s unique ability, Normalise. As far as I know, Normalise is the only ability in the game which is so poorly thought-out as to be actively detrimental to a Pokémon that possesses it (discounting those specifically designed to be, like Truant). It’s an interesting idea: all of Delcatty’s moves are treated as Normal-typed, and therefore get a damage bonus for being used by a Pokémon of the same element (the ‘same-type attack bonus,’ or STAB). The trouble is that Normalise makes it impossible for Delcatty to hit anything super-effective, since Normal isn’t strong against anything, and that’s just about the only way she can possibly hurt anything. Normalise does allow Delcatty to hit Ground-types with Thunder Wave and pick up STAB on a couple of moves with useful side-effects (Sucker Punch is the only one that jumps out at me, though). I would say that it’s unlikely to be worth it but, let’s face it, Delcatty’s offensive effectiveness is not a huge sacrifice to make. If you don’t like Normalise, her Dream World ability, Wonder Skin, is quite neat – it gives her a 50% chance to ignore most attacks that don’t cause direct damage – but the thing about Delcatty is that most Pokémon won’t need techniques like that to beat her anyway; it’s much easier just to squash her and move on.
Skitty’s evolution to Delcatty is triggered by a Moon Stone, which makes it unlikely that Game Freak will ever evolve Delcatty further – so, if possible, I need to think of a way to make Delcatty useful without evolving her. I would love to work with Assist, but Assist is problematic because a number of Pokémon besides Delcatty can get it as a hereditary move (including Weavile and Infernape, who would gleefully take anything powerful enough to make Delcatty effective and use it to break the game forever). Instead I’m going to start by making Normalise more effective. Normalise, if you ask me, does exactly what it should, but is the wrong way around: instead of making Delcatty treat all her own attacks as Normal, it should make her treat all attacks that hit her as Normal. This will cause the vast majority of Pokémon to lose their STAB against Delcatty, making it much less easy to steamroll her with one solid attack. That’s extremely useful, but it’s not enough, so I’m going to turn to Delcatty’s flavour and hope that what I come up with there will inform me further. Delcatty doesn’t fight for anything; she’ll abandon resources and territory without a second thought. A Pokémon like this would never survive unless it could afford to abandon these things so lightly, which implies that Delcatty is resilient, adaptable and capable of surviving pretty much anywhere (which, incidentally, fits quite nicely with my version of Normalise) – she is the Cat who walks by herself, and all places are alike to her. She can tolerate thirst, hunger and extremes of temperature, identify nutritious plants by instinct having never seen them before, and move unseen and unheard by predators. All cat Pokémon are said to have nine lives, but the superstition is thought to have begun with Delcatty’s proverbial ability to miraculously come out of anything smelling of roses. In fact-
That’s it! Nine is clearly too many, but that could actually work.
Okay, bear with me here. What I have in mind would probably make more sense as an ability, but it synergises well with either Wonder Skin or Normalise and I don’t want to lose that, so it’ll have to be a custom item that only works for Skitty and Delcatty instead: a silver collar called a Life Band. When Skitty and Delcatty are in a very relaxed state, especially while they are grooming, they give off excess life energy, which is stored in their collars until they need it. In a battle, a Life Band will release its energy to cure any status ailment (poison, sleep, and so on) that affects Delcatty, heal her by 25% of her health if she ever drops below 50%, restore the PP of any of her attacks if she runs out so she can keep using them, or negate any stat penalties she takes from moves like Growl. The collar can only produce one effect per turn and will only work a certain number of times (like I said, nine is probably too many… then again, this is Delcatty we’re dealing with; the ability to deny STAB will do a lot for her, but her defences are still awful). It recharges whenever the Pokémon wearing it rests at a Pokémon Centre, or whenever she gets time to chill, if she’s wild – so it’s in Delcatty’s best interests to spend as much time relaxing and preening as possible!
I’d like to do more with Delcatty. I’m acutely conscious that I’ve made a wild Pokémon rather reliant on an item which sounds like it should be man-made, and that the item itself is rather more fiddly than any effect that currently exists, as well as extremely powerful. Assuming evolution is off the table, though, providing Delcatty with the support she needs necessitates… a fair bit of creativity, to say the least, because few Pokémon indeed are as impossibly bad as Delcatty.