Monday, 21 November 2011

Deino, Zweilous and Hydreigon

Remember Dragonite?  I liked Dragonite; Dragonite was nice and enjoyed helping people.  Not all Dragon Pokémon are nice, of course; Flygon, Haxorus and Altaria are, but Kingdra and Druddigon are basically crazy old men shouting at the kids to get off their lawns, Garchomp is ill-tempered though not malicious, and Salamence is just slightly insane and prone to extremes of anger and joy.

Hydreigon, on the other hand, is utterly, completely, irredeemably, certifiably, three-eggs-short-of-an-Exeggcute WHACKO.

Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon, whose names come from the German ein, zwei, drei, in reference to the number of heads they each have, are the only Dark/Dragon dual-type Pokémon.  Dragon-types are (Druddigon and Altaria notwithstanding) among the strongest of all Pokémon, while Dark-types tend to be pathological liars, brooding loners, manipulative jerks, creepy stalkers or outright psychopaths.  This is a recipe for disaster.  I love recipes for disaster.  Being cave Pokémon, Deino and Zweilous are blind, and use their sense of touch to explore the world around them.  How do they do this without hands or long tails or other suitable appendages?  Simple: they bite everything.  Then, whenever something doesn’t bite them back (and often even if it does) they eat it.  Then they move on to find something else to bite, because these Pokémon are always hungry and eat voraciously.  In Zweilous’ case, both heads are always hungry and squabble constantly over food – and, for that matter, over just about everything.  Hydreigon doesn’t actually have this problem because two of Hydreigon’s heads aren’t really ‘heads’ at all; they don’t have brains and I think they’re really decoys to draw attention away from his central head during fights.  However, consider this for a moment.  Zweilous has two heads, with independent minds and personalities, which hate each other and are always hungry.  Zweilous evolves into Hydreigon, who has only one true head.


Hydreigon is even more aggressive than Deino and Zweilous.  He actually has eyes, so presumably he isn’t blind like them (the eyes on his side ‘heads’ have no pupils, so it’s possible that those are just markings that look like eyes).  He doesn’t need to bite everything he meets to figure out what it is, but he’s very angry all the time and will blast literally anything that moves, regarding pretty much any other living thing as his enemy.  He also retains Zweilous’ insatiable appetite, scaled up to match his larger size, and will eat absolutely anything he can get his hands (or rather, his heads) on.  In short, Hydreigon is a loud, angry, hungry wild animal with incredible supernatural powers: not so much a Pokémon as a living natural disaster.  All things considered, it’s probably a good thing that Zweilous evolves later than any other Pokémon in existence, at level 64.  The artwork fits the part too; this thing looks vicious and cruel.  There are a lot of Dark- and Ghost-type Pokémon around that are kind of evil, but I can think of only two Pokémon that embody destruction in the way Hydreigon does: Gyarados and Tyranitar... so, with Hydreigon, we finally have the complete set of land, sea and sky, meaning that NOWHERE is safe!  MUWHAHAHAHA!  It’s the existence of Pokémon like Hydreigon that reminds us just how different this world is from our own and why human industry and culture seem to revolve around Pokémon they way they do – these things can’t just be ignored, and you can’t beat them, so it’s probably best to join them.  Just giving a moment of thought to what must happen when Gyarados, Tyranitar and Hydreigon actually arise in the wild suggests some fun stories (look at the Lake of Rage storyline in Gold and Silver for starters); they may not have the kind of world-changing effects that legendary Pokémon like Groudon and Kyogre do, but they’d certainly have the potential to cause a major shake-up of any ecosystem.

Hydreigon may be an environmental cataclysm waiting to happen, but when he’s on your side he’s nothing short of awesome.  He’s a fully-evolved Dragon-type; awesomeness is practically his birthright.  He has some painful vulnerabilities (particularly Ice and Fighting attacks) but these are balanced by multiple useful resistances and immunity to Ground and Psychic attacks.  What I’m pleased about is that Hydreigon has a different kind of awesomeness to the other Dragon-types; other than the various legendary Dragon-types like Latias, he’s the only Dragon Pokémon that prefers special attacks to physical attacks.  It’s a little odd that he’s the first, really – back when attacks were designated physical or special according to their element rather than individually, Dragon techniques were all special, not physical, and the original Dragon Pokémon, Dragonite, has a wide selection of powerful special attacks.  Hydreigon’s, actually, isn’t nearly as varied in comparison, but it’s still plenty.  The most important weapon in Hydreigon’s arsenal is Draco Meteor, which I’ve described in the past as the tactical nuke of Pokémon.  Draco Meteor’s recoil halves a Pokémon’s special attack stat, so really you can fire it twice at most without switching out, which makes it difficult to work with, but it’s one of the strongest attacks in the game and only Steel-types resist it.  Draco Meteor was scary when Salamence had it, and Salamence is primarily a physical attacker; in Hydreigon’s hands this attack is downright terrifying and if you don’t have a Steel-type or a Blissey on hand to block it, your best course of action is probably to let out an exaggerated sigh, summon a Pokémon that’s been talking smack at you lately, and sweep up the ashes when the battle is over.  Because of the crippling recoil effect, Hydreigon can’t just fire off Draco Meteors willy-nilly; his primary source of damage should usually be Dark Pulse, or potentially Dragon Pulse if you want a more consistent source of Dragon-type damage.  With his wide selection of other special attacks – Flamethrower, Fire Blast, Earth Power (careful with this one; Earth Power and Dark Pulse are both hereditary moves for Hydreigon, so he can’t have both), Surf, Flash Cannon, Focus Blast and Hyper Voice – Hydreigon can learn ways to eradicate just about any opponent.  He’s also the only Dragon besides Flygon to learn U-Turn, making him a good skirmisher – nuke something with Draco Meteor, then bounce back to the Pokéball with U-Turn.  Finally, Hydreigon easily has a good enough physical attack stat to use physical moves like Outrage, Crunch, Earthquake and Head Smash to surprise opponents expecting a special attack.  Hydreigon’s biggest flaw is the same as Haxorus’ – namely, he’s ‘fast,’ but slightly slower than a lot of other powerful Pokémon like Salamence, Garchomp, Flygon, Mienshao, Infernape and Volcarona, all of whom have attacks that will knock Hydreigon out of the sky.  Hydreigon is, as the designers intended him to be, one of the most devastating weapons Black and White have to offer, but if you’re not careful with him then his weaknesses will be exploited.

Unique type combination – check.  Combat role that goes against the standard for his type – check.  Wide movepool with useful choices – check.  Abilities that fit his flavour – check (though I don’t understand why a Dark-type would get Flash Cannon).  General awesomeness – check.  As the heir to Dragonite, Tyranitar, Salamence, Metagross and Garchomp, Hydreigon is one of the most powerful Pokémon in the game – the biggest worry in cases like this is that the designers will go overboard and make them too powerful (see Garchomp) but I don’t think this has happened with Hydreigon; he has enough vulnerabilities to be realistically beatable.  As the most evil dragon Pokémon has given us so far, I’m also satisfied that he’s not just a carbon-copy of his predecessors, and a fitting signature Pokémon for Black and White’s main villain, Ghetsis.  Hydreigon shows, I think, that even Game Freak’s repetitive stock designs – “generic bird,” “generic rodent,” “legendary trio,” “Pikachu clone” – don’t have to be bad things in and of themselves as long as they’re taken as starting points and not complete design templates.  What I’m saying is...

I hereby affirm this Pokémon’s right to exist!

I’m going to Italy for a month to study; the place I’ll be staying in has free wireless internet so I’ll still be putting up entries, but since I’ll have a fair bit of work to do my schedule is officially changing from “every three days” to “when I feel like it” until I get home.  Since I’m so close to finishing Black and White (there’s only another eight entries to go) I’ve decided to keep working on that, rather than take a break and look at something else like I did when I went to Greece earlier in the year.  Let’s see if I can wrap this up by Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. I heard on TvTropes that they were originally supposed to be FRIGGIN' TANK DRAGONS!!!!!!!!!!! total awesomeness, but that would ruin the "sky" part.