Stop Making Every Good Pokemon A Boring Dragon

If you’ve read about any of my recent endeavors in Pokemon – like when I used Ash Ketchum’s Pokemon League-winning lineup in competitive, or hand-picked his best ‘mons ever to build a dream team – you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Dragonite. Most of the PvE squads I’ve entered the Hall of Fame with over the last two decades have included the iconic orange dragon in some shape or form – I even bred Dratinis back in Gen 3 so I could blackmail my mates with them. Still never got a Shiny one, mind.

Most Pokemon fans probably already know that Dragonite’s power is tied to its identity as a pseudo-Legendary. This term refers to immensely strong ‘mons who aren’t quite Legendary or Mythical, but can give anything that is a real run for its money. For example, Dragonite’s base stats add up to a whopping 600 – that’s the same as Mythicals like Mew and Celebi, and it’s higher than all of the Legendary Birds and Legendary Dogs. All pseudo-Legendaries have the same stat total as Dragonite, and are similarly part of a three-stage evolutionary line that requires 1,250,000 experience points to reach level 100.

Since Dragonite’s debut back in Gen 1, every subsequent generation has introduced its own unique pseudo-Legendary – except for Gen 3, which added two new ‘mons that fit the bill. This means we now have a total of nine pseudo-Legendary Pokemon in existence. Here’s the list:

  • Dragonite
  • Tyranitar
  • Salamence
  • Metagross
  • Garchomp
  • Hydreigon
  • Goodra
  • Kommo-o
  • Dragapult

As you can see, seven of the nine Pokemon listed above are Dragon-types. The only ones who aren’t are Tyranitar and Metagross, and Metagross was introduced in the same generation as Salamence, meaning that Gen 2 featured the only games in the entire series to launch without a Dragon-type pseudo-Legendary. While some of the type combinations are intriguing – Sword & Shield’s Dragapult is a hybrid Dragon/Ghost-type – it’s still fairly disappointing to see what basically boils down to, “This Pokemon is strong? OK, let’s add wings and make it a Dragon.”

It’s also worth noting that, to this day, Tyranitar is universally beloved and consistently in the competitive meta. So, why not try some other unique type combos like Rock/Dark, as opposed to making everything and your granny half-Dragon?

For what it’s worth, I’m not saying that I dislike Dragon-types, or that they’re inherently bad designs. Four of the Dragons listed above are currently listed in Smogon’s meta for OU, the most popular tier of competitive Pokemon battling. Tyranitar is there as well, meaning that over half of the existing pseudo-Legendaries fit the meta at this particular moment in time.

What I’m saying is that it’s quite boring seeing a new overpowered Dragon-type every single generation instead of something different. I think it’s important to remember that Tyranitar and Kommo-o are the only two pseudo-Legendaries with unique typings. At present, there are still 17 type combinations that have yet to be used in Pokemon – if anything, these should be what pseudo-Legendaries are modeled on in future, affording them their own unique type effectiveness chart and combat viability. Here’s every type that still hasn’t appeared in a Pokemon game:

  • Bug/Dragon
  • Bug/Dark
  • Electric/Fighting
  • Fighting/Fairy
  • Fighting/Ground
  • Fire/Fairy
  • Fire/Grass
  • Ground/Fairy
  • Ice/Poison
  • Normal/Bug
  • Normal/Ghost
  • Normal/Ice
  • Normal/Poison
  • Normal/Rock
  • Normal/Steel
  • Poison/Steel
  • Rock/Ghost

Not all of the above types would necessarily be good – Normal/Ice… not great – although I’d love to see a design for a Poison/Steel Fairy-killing machine, or what a Fire/Grass ‘mon could look like. I also think an Ice/Poison Pokemon could make for an amazing glass cannon, while a Bug/Dark combination has the potential to lean into the most intriguing aesthetic properties of both of its types. There’s so much room for experimentation here, so it seems weird that the best Pokemon in every generation – excluding some Legendaries – are still just yet another reskinned Dragon.

We probably won’t see Gen 9 until late 2022, but when it finally comes out, I hope we don’t just get another Dragon pseudo-Legendary. And if we do, please make it Bug/Dragon. Flygon was deprived of that typing 19 years ago, so it’s only fair to do right by it now by making a devastatingly powerful draconic insect with spider legs and fire breath.

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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

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