After 20 years, six generations and 721 individual designs, you can forgive Nintendo and Game Freak for having a few duff designs for Pokémon. With the upcoming release of Pokémon Sun and Moon, the beginning of generation seven, and the inevitable cascade of new Pokémon it will bring, now seemed like a suitable juncture to go back through our Pokédex and pick out the ‘mons that probably shouldn’t have made the cut. Here are the 10 worst Pokémon designs.
Dedenne wouldn’t necessarily be a poorly designed Pokémon if it wasn’t for the prior existence of Pichu, Pikachu, Raichu, Plusle, Minun, and Emolga. All of the aforementioned Pokémon are essentially electric mammals that are all trying to emulate the mass appeal of Pikachu. It’s only understandable; Pikachu is the most enduring mascot of the series and has sold more merchandise than Steve Tyler and Gene Simmons directly competing against each other on The Apprentice. However, Game Freak only seem to have one idea on how to make a cute character; run an electric current through a gerbil. It’s a played out concept now, so please stop with the Pikaclones.
Voltorb is a pretty boring design, being just a Pokéball with eyes. When it evolves into Electrode, it merely becomes a slightly bigger ball, making it a rather bland evolution. Also, the eyes look a lot simpler, making this appear like a reversion or prevolution rather than an upgrade on Voltorb. The saving grace of this Pokémon is that it has a tendency to commit suicide with Selfdestruct, saving us all from its stupid face.
Rotom is essentially a mysterious ghost that can possess a number of electrical appliances. From a design perspective, Rotom is what would happen if Unown was sponsored by Hotpoint. Starting off as an Electric/Ghost type, Rotom’s various forms have, in more recent incarnations, been given a secondary element that replaces its Ghost typing. Since you only get one Rotom per game, only the most avid of collectors will try and get each variant, making this Pokémon a mini collect-a-thon within the larger collect-a-thon that is Pokémon itself. The most commonly used of these forms is Rotom Wash, which deserves special ire by virtue of being a haunted washing machine.
I get it; new Ghost types are hard to come up with. Without making them all into ethereal balls of nothingness or just rehashing Gengar, Game Freak have forced themselves into a corner by making most Ghost types into some sort of possessed object. From Banette (a possessed puppet) to Drifblim (a possessed blimp), and even Cofagrigus (a possessed sarcophagus), it’s a furrow that has already been dug too deep. Rotom takes that idea one step too far, but it even loses the Ghost type in later generations, presumably when Game Freak realized what a ridiculous idea it was and tried to salvage something from Rotom through some unique type pairings.
The Pokémon that caused a wave of controversy, Jynx deserves a spot on this list for being essentially a racist caricature. Looking like a minstrel with thick lips, there’s no way that Jynx should have been included in the original 151 Pokémon, or at least, certainly not for Western audiences. The developers had to give her (it?) a redesign in later generations to stay on point with Nintendo’s family-friendly branding (making her blue rather than black), but Jynx is still an unwelcome sight on any trainer’s team. Rumours suggest that Game Freak were simply not aware of any cultural sensitivity they might unearth with Jynx and, in the ’90s where video game characters were one-dimensional, literal stereotypes, this was an easy oversight to make. However, this really should have been pointed out during localization, and the game rightly caught the business end of a shit storm over it.
Okay, the pun worked with Exeggcute, despite it being a horrible Pokémon. But what exactly is Exeggutor supposed to be? A palm tree with eggs for heads? Are the faces supposed to be coconuts? Why would a bunch of eggs sprout into a tree? Shouldn’t they be seeds instead? Exeggutor is a very confusing Pokémon, which seems to be a combination of two totally different designs for the sole purpose of cramming a pun into the game.
It does have the unusual typing of Grass/Psychic going for it, but it takes a large amount of set up in competitive play to become viable, and also sports a large list of weaknesses, including Ghost, Dark, Flying, Poison, Ice, Bug and Fire. Nothing about this Pokémon’s design plays into its Psychic typing either, unless you think sentient trees can read your mind. Exeggutor is essentially Derren Brown if he was an Ent. Avoid this Pokémon.
Vanillish (pictured above, along with its evolutions) is bad enough to make the list on its own ‘merit’, but Vanilluxe is the worst offender and makes the list solely due to the complexity of its design. The best Pokémon are often simple, yet striking (Charmander, please stand up), but as the series goes on, most of the purest designs have already been done. So we end up with Pokémon like Vanilluxe. Despite the lame idea of having a Pokémon based on an ice cream cone, Vanilluxe could have been a simple, charming addition to the roster, but there’s a lot going on here that needs to be unpicked.
The icicle cone contains more edges than an agency consisting solely of U2 lookalikes. Then there’s the dollop of snow/ice cream with eyes peering out of it, but this also continues Pokémon’s proud tradition of smashing multiple faces onto one single Pokémon. The whole thing seems to dropping dollops of itself everywhere, which makes you wonder whether Vanilluxe is slowly dying. To top it all off, a random flake sticks out of the top, which for some reason doubles up as a steam vent.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you of Vanilluxe’s worthlessness, you have to train a Vanillish to level 47 before it will even evolve into this form; almost as much work as getting a Dragonite. Unless you absolutely have to complete your Pokédex, it really isn’t worth the effort.
If you’re going to take your inspiration from the animal kingdom, there aren’t exactly an abundance of fauna to inspire Steel types. Most metallic things are inanimate objects, so there have been some odd, clunky Steel type Pokémon down the years. Klinklang is an awful example by any objective standards, most notably because it’s one of the poorest evolutions in the entire Pokédex. Klinklang is just the previous evolution (Klang), with a pointless metal ring orbiting it. It looks terrible, is too abstract to be adorable, and has a name that sounds like someone dropping their keys. Speaking of…
Game Freak literally dangle their car keys in front of you to divert attention from one of their worst designs. Klefki gets a lot of hate, and rightly so because it’s an atrocious example of a Pokémon. It’s not even a Ghost, sporting the odd Steel/Fairy type. Fairy is already something of a wishy-washy (yet essential for game balancing) typing, and as such, a lot of Fairy types are just shorthand for “cutesy”. I’m sure if Pikachu was created in this generation, it would probably be an Electric/Fairy type. Regardless, a Steel/Fairy was always going to be something of a mess, but Klefki appears to be based off whatever items were in the artist’s pocket at the time. I’m looking forward to seeing this design trend going forward with new Pokémon such as Walleteo, and Expired-Condomie.
Urgh. There’s nothing to really say about Luvdisc, and that’s why it’s such an egregious example. It’s just a heart with eyes on it. It’s useless in battle, doesn’t evolve, and doesn’t even have an interesting typing (Water). The quintessential filler Pokemon.
1. Mr. Mime
How did Pokémon ever become the world-dominating brand that it is today, when the first generation had Mr. Mime amongst its ranks?
Mimes have been a perennial thorn in the side of society for generations; taking over town centres, following you down the street when you aren’t looking, demanding your hard-earned money for merely standing still; mimes are lower than clowns in the pecking order of performing artists, and deserve nothing but derision and scorn. What makes Mr. Mime even worse is that he looks so happy to be a mime, whereas, underneath that paper expression, we know that he secretly yearns for the sweet release of death. He looks like a broken marionette trying to infiltrate human society for nefarious purposes. He’s not a real boy. If we convince ourselves of this fact, he might just disappear for good.
Mr. Mime also has the nightmarish ability to create invisible barriers, trapping his enemies inside an inescapable box. Subject to the whims of Mr. Mime, you try to free yourself from your translucent prison, thus mimicking the panicked movements that Mr. Mime finds so agreeable. His hands jerk pleasurably alongside your own exhaustive attempts at freedom. The more you struggle, the more his glazed expression remains fixed on you, silently relishing your slow demise and suffocation. The only joy in his miserable, mimey existence is to watch you perish. If you haven’t guessed, I don’t like mimes.
And there you have it, 10 Pokémon to put you off playing Pokémon for good. But which are your least favourite ‘mons? Let us know in the comments section below.