When designing a new Pokemon game, designers tasked with creating new creatures look to all sorts of places for inspiration. Nature and mythology are common, but many Pokémon are based on inanimate objects. Since Generation I with Voltorb and Magnamite, inanimate objects have been transformed into Pokémon for players to trade and battle.
Later generations were pushed back by fans for including too many Pokemon like this, but they’ve always been present in the franchise. That being said, not all item Pokémon are created equal. Some stand out with clever or cool riffs on their inspiration, while others are extremely dull.
ten Best: Litwick grows in power and fear
Introduced in Generation V, this Ghost/Fire Pokémon begins life as a candle before evolving into a lamp as Lampent and finally into a chandelier as Chandelure. Litwick is very cute, but his ghostly purple flame betrays his more sinister nature. His Pokemon Black The Pokédex entry states that its light “absorbs life energy from people and Pokémon, which becomes the fuel it burns.” It grows increasingly menacing as it evolves, demonstrating progression on a theme that any good Pokemon line should have.
9 Worst: Grimer and Muk have no individuality
Just because a Pokemon is from Generation I doesn’t automatically mean it’s good. Grimer and Muk are just piles of mud, which in itself isn’t necessarily bad. Slimes and oozes are common in video games, and for good reason.
But Grimer changes very little as you evolve, just becoming a bit less defined. The Grimer line simply lacks enough originality and personality to stand out, especially when it shares a generation with another more interesting purple drop in Ditto.
8 Best: Solrock and Lunatone are cosmic rocks
While not actually related, these two Rock/Psychic Pokemon are obviously closely related. They are both said to have come from outer space, as they are found at Metor Falls in the Hoenn region. Solrock and Lunatone are fun designs because they distinguish between being just rocks and being some kind of cosmic creatures resembling the sun and the moon respectively. Their psychic powers make them even more interesting, setting these two above other rock-based Pokémon.
7 Worst: Bergmite and Avalugg try to play against type
Bergmite and Avalugg Aren’t That Bad, But They’re Sabotaged With Basic Truths About Ice Grabbing Pokemon. Ice-types only resist other ice-types and are weak to fighting, rock, steel, and fire-type moves.
Unfortunately, many Ice-type Pokémon, Bergmite included, are designed to be incredibly bulky. Avalugg has a massive 184 defense, but his striking is absolutely not conducive to this build. Its special defense is atrocious, further compounding this Pokémon’s identity crisis. Hisuian Avalugg’s Rock typing improves things a bit by adding some more resistances, but also adds even more weaknesses.
6 Best: Yamask, Runerigus, and Cofagrigus are ghostly artifacts
One could argue that the primary focus of Yamask’s design is his ghost body, not the mask or stone he wears, depending on the region. However, once it evolves into Cofagrigus or Runerigus, it is very clearly an item Pokémon. Cofagrigus’ design resembles an ornate ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, while Runerigus resembles broken runestones. The ghostly elements interspersed in their designs make them strange to behold, while enhancing the objects on which they are based.
5 Worst: Rotom is better as a companion, not a fighter
Introduced in Generation IV, Rotom has become quite ubiquitous in later generations. In Sun and Moon, it has the player’s Pokédex, acting as a built-in guide and tutorial, and performs even more functions in Pokemon Sword and Shield. Rotom’s basic shape looks great, vaguely resembling a small light bulb. However, its other forms, which are meant to be various devices, bear little resemblance to the item the Rotom possesses. They get extremely rounded in design and are all the same color, for some reason. Rotom looks best when used as a background character instead of a fridge.
4 Best: Geodude is simple and expressive
One of the most iconic Pokémon, Geodude shows exactly how to use an item as inspiration while creating something interesting. He’s basically just a small rock with arms, but his expressive eyes and constantly clenched fists give him a lot of personality. There’s something lost in its evolution into Golem, which dramatically changes its appearance, but Geodude and Graveler are prime examples of what makes a Pokemon item work.
3 Worst: Castform fails to fill its vanity
The global weather system introduced in Ruby and Sapphire was groundbreaking, building on the weather moves first seen in Generation II. It makes sense that the designers would try to introduce a Pokemon to tie into this mechanic. Unfortunately, Castform isn’t a stellar choice. Its base form is a Normal type, rather than a Flying type, like a cloud should be. Castform’s design is far from exciting, and even its alternate forms all look like gel. A rain cloud, blizzard, and sun Pokémon could have been very exciting, but Castform fails to live up to it.
2 Best: Honedge is the perfect sword Pokémon
If Rotom is a bad example of a ghost-possessed item, Honedge, Doublade, and Aegislash are examples of the concept done right. These Pokemon Swords each look slightly different, with understated designs that still manage to capture exactly what they’re meant to be.
The line changes as it evolves from a single sword to a pair to a sword and shield, and Aegislash’s stance shift ability really takes advantage of the object it’s based on. .
1 Worst: Appletun fails to live
Dragon-types are some of the most impressive and intimidating types Pokemon has to offer. From Salamance to Kommo-o to the mighty Dragonite, the Dragon-type is truly exceptional. Unfortunately, Appletun doesn’t live up to the hype. Appletun begins life as Applin, who looks like an apple with a worm inside. But evolving with the use of a sweet apple, it transforms into what basically looks like a generic European dragon with an apple pie sticking out of its back. It’s an utterly poor design, and the fact that Pokemon fan wiki Bulbapedia lists five different possible origins for his design to indicate just how fuzzy he really is.
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