11 More Amazing Tracks from Pokemon Soundtracks

At the start of the year, I counted down my favourite tracks across the entirety of the main series of Pokemon games. Except there’s a small problem. You see, I recently dived into the soundtracks again and realised that a mere ten tracks was not nearly enough to cover all the amazing music this franchise had to offer. So, I’m doing it again to create more of a top 21.

Honestly, even that may not be enough to cover everything. So who knows? Maybe there’ll be a third instalment to this series in another six month’s time. Just like last time, I am keeping it purely to the main series of Pokemon games, so no spinoffs like the Mystery Dungeon or Ranger series will be included.

Now, to the music zone.

11 – Accumula Town – Black/White/Black 2/White 2

Ok, yes, it’s the ‘Furret Walk’ song, but there’s so much more than that to love about this track, (although that is a pretty big draw).

As you’ll know if you’ve read the first instalment of this list (which, if you haven’t noticed, I’d like it if you to read), then you’ll know that I don’t usually go for the quieter or simpler tracks, it’s not my style. The reason this track stood out to me is that it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s got a smooth sweetness to it, especially in the middle section where the flute completely takes over the melody and we get a track that has a calming aura to it, despite a decent pace.

In Black/White, Accumula Town is the first town you arrive in after setting off on your journey, so I think it’s an excellent way to introduce you to the broader world if the first town you encounter has a theme that is happy and welcoming. Sandgem Town in the Sinnoh games does this well, but I’m giving the edge to Accumula Town because it makes me feel cheerier when listening to it. While it’s got a relatively fast pace, it doesn’t go too fast for its own good. It’s almost like the track is encouragingly pulling you along the first step of your journey.

I’ve always been amazed at how, even though both Sinnoh & Unova were made on the same limited hardware, they were still able to have very distinct audio styles. I’ll go into more detail with it a bit later, but Unova feels a lot more ‘urban’ with its music, and this is precisely the kind of music I’d expect to come out of a happy little suburb. It makes Accumula Town a track that never fails to get me in a good mood.

10 – Max Raid Battle – Sword/Shield

Perhaps the only thing that the larger Pokemon fanbase can agree on about Sword & Shield is that the soundtrack is incredible. There are so many tracks from those games that I wish I had room to include (and a couple that we’ll be covering shortly). I included Marnie’s battle music in my first list because it was what stood out to me the most upon playing through the game. However, truth be told, I hadn’t properly dived into the full soundtrack yet, so when I did, I found some amazing music. This track included.

Max Raid Battles were one of the key selling points for Sword & Shield, as they put the game’s main gimmick on full display and encouraged collaboration between players in a way the franchise had never tried before. As a result, the track that accompanies these battles feels like it was built from the ground up to fit the entire concept of Max Raid Battles perfectly.

It starts out with this very quiet and odd synth build-up. As the camera dramatically pans around to show who you’ll be battling alongside before finally revealing you Dynamaxed/Gigantamaxed opponent. Then things start to ramp up and get more intense as you bring your Pokemon out on to the field and, the music syncs up perfectly to kick everything off the moment the battle begins. If you’ve played Sword/Shield as I have, then you’ve done a lot of Max Raid Battles, and I’ll be honest, that moment where the music kicks into gear never gets old.

Once the battle begins, the music wastes no time throwing you into a chaotic track that is simultaneously terrifying and triumphant. All around the main melody, there are synth and drum beats that go off at an erratic pace, surrounding and immersing you in the chaos that is a Max Raid Battle. You’ve got four Pokemon against one humongous one, and there are attacks flying everywhere, from all sides as you fight desperately to take down your opponents protections and avoid disaster.

Underneath all of that chaos, you have a melody that mixes brass & synth effects to create a track that feels like this grand spectacle. It taps into that same feeling that ‘Revied Power’ from Shadow of the Colossus does, where the fact that you’re even able to hold your ground against a gargantuan monster like this is a feat worthy of celebration. Just imagine what a Max Raid Battle would be like to watch right before your eyes, I imagine it would be a spectacle like no other, which is exactly the feeling that I get from this track.

9 – Vast Poni Canyon – Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon

While Mount Lanakila is technically the true ‘Victory Road’ section of Alola, I always felt that distinction should’ve gone to Vast Poni Canyon instead. It was unquestionably my favourite area to traverse in-game. It had so many wide open caverns and canyons that had an incredible sense of scale to them, even though your camera was pointed towards the floor most of the time. It twisted and turned in interesting ways, and every little nook and cranny had ways for you to explore the area. It’s an exciting climb to the base of the Altar of the Sunne/Moone, not to mention your final (or penultimate if you’re playing Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon) trial.

Vast Poni Canyon is a track with everything an area like this needs. It’s exciting, but also intimidating. It’s threatening but also encouraging. The opening to track is easily my favourite bit. The way the synth echoes throughout the track makes it feel like it’s echoing around this gigantic and well…vast canyon that surrounds you. It gives a very real feeling of scale to the environment along with bringing in that intimidation factor I was talking about.

Then the main melody kicks in, and the tone picks up a lot. The acoustic guitar in the foreground on the track compliments the subtle electric guitar in the background to make a track that has quite a chill vibe to it, while still keeping a certain energy that you need for an area like this one. A flute then takes over the melody, and things shift to the more emotional side of the music. This is the build-up to the final section of the game, where you’ll travel through dimensions and do battle with legendary Pokemon, this makes it partly a time of reflection on your journey up until this point. However, this track knows that the climax is just around the corner and the fast-paced synth effects, combined with the rapid percussion keep a certain intensity to the track, drawing out the nerves that come with nearing the climax of an adventure like this one.

On top of that, this track SCREAMS ‘Alola’ to me. I’d argue that Alola has one of the most distinct musical styles out of any region, but this is the track where I think it stands out the most. The theme and culture of Alola have been poured into this track, and every beat brings it out. There’s no mistaking which game this track comes from.

8 – VS Team Plasma Grunt – Black/White

Team Plasma has always been quite an interesting case for me. I feel like the story they told of ideals and corruption was an interesting idea. I wish it had come from a more adult-leaning franchise so that they could’ve explored the manipulation at the centre of the organisation.

To that end, their battle theme has a bit of a duality to it. Almost like its at conflict with itself, it’s subtle, but it’s there. The main melody of the song is strong and resolute. The progression of the synth gives me these feels of strong ideals and infinite resolve. These grunts aren’t just petty criminals; they believe they’re fighting for a worthy, humanitarian (except with Pokemon…poketarian?) cause. The conflict comes with the beat that’s carrying the whole thing.

The slow, methodical percussion is there, and it feels just a little bit off. It fits the rhythm of the track, it’s ‘going along with it’ so to speak, but the tone is different. Where the main melody is strong and triumphant, the beat underneath it is dark and intimidating. Maybe I’m stretching things a bit here, but when I think about it like that, it feels like that beat is representing the dissension at the heart of Team Plasma. That fact that Ghetsis is really at the centre of it all, using their message of liberation and kindness to hide his own selfish ambitions for world domination.

Symbolism aside, this is just a really fun track. The main melody has a slightly intimidating presence while still feeling like a grand battle between skilled trainers. It’s light and bouncy in places, while still throwing in the minor keys to remind you that these are the bad guy’s that you’re fighting. Thematically, I think this is a really robust track, and it holds up against any of the great evil-team battle themes.

7 – Castelia City – Black/White/Black 2/White 2

For those who are unaware, the Unova region, in which the Generation 5 games are set, was based on New York and Castelia City is the city that most clearly resembles the state’s capital city.

While the whole track has an ‘urban’ feel to it, this where that style feels the most present. Castelia City is stuffed to the brim with tall and powerful skyscrapers, while the streets below are pouring with hordes of people rushing back and forth. One of my favourite details in the whole franchise was the little text bubbles that appeared while walking through the crowded streets of Castelia City. It felt so realistic to be overhearing the most random snippets of stranger’s conversations. It was the first time in Pokemon history that I’ve felt a city in the game world actually has a realistic population for a city that size.

I’m sure you’ve already guessed what I’m going to say next, which that this track complements that atmosphere perfectly. For one thing, the choice of instrument is so genius that I never would’ve thought of it. Saxophone was such a brilliant choice to lead the melody in this track. For one thing, Jazz music is so heavily associated with urban American environments in pop-culture that you’re already on the nose. Then, you add on the fact that it’s exactly the kind of melody you might hear being played by buskers on the street or in the subway.

It’s so simple, and yet I feel such power with the emotions it brings forth. It’s got a slightly quickened pace to it, capturing the sense of hustle-and-bustle that you get as the crowds of people rush past you. Yet, underneath it lies some more sombre emotions. The kind of longing for something more or different that can often come if you grow up in a densely populated area like that. I can’t quite describe what I mean when I say that it sounds like the concept of nostalgia, but that’s pretty much the only way I can think of to describe it.

6 – VS Gladion – Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon

When I first heard this track, I wasn’t too sure on it. I enjoyed the melody, but I didn’t understand how it fit Gladion as a character. He seemed to be a much more downtrodden personality, I would’ve expected him to have a more intense and slow track for his battle theme…but eventually, I worked it out.

It’s the downward chord progression. Unlike almost every other battle theme that progresses upward, every bar in this one goes downward. Gladion’s had a weird life. He was born into a rich family that had their fingers in some very messy pies. Eventually, he caught onto the horrors that his mother was involved in and ran away, taking nothing but the Pokemon he considered friends. He abandoned his sister and caused his mother to fall even deeper into over-protective insanity. He was taken in with a petty criminal gang that he hated, but couldn’t break free from them because where else could he go?

Then he meets you, a trainer his age, who is making their own way in the world and is great at what they do. In battling you, Gladion gets a vision of the life he could’ve had. A life where he got to go out and see the world, making friends and taking on Pokemon battles for the fun of it, not out of necessity. That’s why the track is so upbeat. Gladion finally gets the opportunity to let out those positive emotions that have been suppressed inside of him – partly through his own doing and partly through his circumstance – that’s why he still only has a Type: Null when we first meet him, only for it to have become a Silvally by the end of his adventure.

Yet there’s still that downward chord progression I was on about. That’s Gladion’s underlying tragedy. His encounters with you may have helped him understand his position in the world better, and he may be a happier and better person now, but that doesn’t erase his past. He knows that while his relationship with his mother and sister is fixable, it’s going to be a long struggle. Not just for him to find common ground with his family, but for him to find it in himself to accept them back into his life.

Not only is the melody to this track catchy, fast-paced and really fun to listen to, but it tells Gladion’s story. It represents those deep, dark emotions alongside the high emotions and the joy that battling against you brings out of him.

5 – Nimbasa City – Black/White/Black 2/White 2

Unova’s got a lot of good town themes.

Castelia Cit gave us the more melancholic, emotional side of big cities. It’s the area where everything’s very tightly compact, the population is dense, and there’s not much room for anything other than business. Nimbasa City is the exact opposite.

Nimbasa City is more like Broadway. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s loud & it’s fun. Castelia City is where people do some serious work, while Nimbasa City is the flashy counterpart where all the stars come out to play. They’ve got concert halls, a carnival and two separate sports stadiums right next to each other. Even that town’s Gym Leader, Elesa, is a fashionista/celebrity in town. There are a couple of houses tucked away in the corner, but the majority of the space in the town is given over to the grandeur of the loud and colourful entertainment industry.

This is all backed up by a track that knows exactly how to have fun. The synthesised trumpets carry the track so well that it basically doesn’t need anything else to back it up, other than a simple bassline and an energetic beat. It’s quite a small loop all things considered, but it doesn’t need to be anything special when it’s so enjoyable to listen to. I talked before about how the New York environment is one heavily associated with jazz music. While Castelia City brings out the more poetic side of the genre, this track finds the fun in it. To be entirely honest, all it would need is a good guitar riff over the top, and it would practically be a ska track.

This whole track feels like it could be the opening number for a broadway musical. It pulls you in, hits you with tonnes of energy, gets you pumped and into the groove of things with a catchy hook, then sends you on your way, ready for the show. Spectacular.

4 – Sunyshore City – Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

Sunyshore City’s theme is an interesting mix of one because it has to balance a mix of emotions. On the one hand, this is the fight of your life. This is the city where you will fight for your eighth and final gym badge, overcoming the final obstacle between you and the Pokemon League. On the other hand, it’s a bright and sunny town by the beach! Kick back, relax and enjoy the nice weather!.

The intensity is covered in such a short space of time, and yet it’s SO effective at what it does. The intro to the track has such an incredible sense of intimidation. The usually cheery piano chords are undercut by the deep brass notes and sharp percussive beats. It gives you this feeling that you’re stepping into a battleground you’re not quite ready for, but you’ve got to take the fight anyway. This is your final test before you take on the Elite Four, best not mess it up.

Then it kicks in, and suddenly all that intimidation evaporates, and you’re left with an upbeat, jolly track that creates a welcoming atmosphere. As I said, this is a beach town, with a resort just down the road. The place is filled with holiday-makers and people playing around having fun. It adds to the alive feeling of the franchise’s worlds. Sure, you’re on your way to a big and tough battle, but the world doesn’t revolve around you (no matter what the time/space God you just caught thinks). This is a town where people have a wonderful time, so this track is going to make sure you do too.

It balances your place in the narrative with the overall world it’s in and creates a track with a bit of a duality to it. The harsh percussion never really goes away, almost like a pounding heartbeat, but it’s overpowered by the sun and fun that surrounds you in this town.

3 – VS Team Galactic Commander – Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

I love this track because it proves that not all villain themes have to be slow and manacing. That’s not to say slow & menacing villain themes are bad; in fact, my previous list on this topic features several of those tracks. However, I think it’s important that no music in games should get ‘stuck in their ways’ so to speak. I believe that it’s more important for your music to fit its usage than anything else. Whether it’s a location, cutscene or character, what makes a good track into an amazing one is when it embodies the feel of that thing perfectly. Which is why I think this track is so much fun to listen to.

The thing about the Team Galactic Commanders is that they’re a bit silly. Not necessarily in the way that they’re written, but just look at them. They wear bodysuits that look they’re from an 80’s film about the year 2000; their hair is done up in over the top ways with bright colours; not to mention the fact that they all named themselves after planets ‘cos Galactic’. In many ways, that’s all part of their charm, but they’re the kind of characters that you’re never really going to take seriously.

Following that theme, this track doesn’t take itself too seriously. It still throws in an overall threatening tone. The bassline especially grounds the whole thing and gives it an extra layer of intensity that would be missing otherwise. However, the synthesised main melody that carries the whole thing is noticeably different in tone. It starts off so incredibly chaotic, leaving you no time to breathe before throwing you straight into a fast-paced, fun and slightly over-the-top melody that doesn’t seem to know where it’s going. That sounds like an insult, but it’s actually the reason I enjoy listening to it so much.

Much like the commanders themselves, this track never gives you time to stop and take stock of what is going on. They just want to fight you, and it’s your job to fight back, whether you like it or not.

2 – VS Gym Leader – Sword/Shield

When I first played through Sword & Shield, I never realised the genius of this track, and I can only profusely apologise because this track is incredible.

The track has three phases, which on its own is great, but when you break each of them down, that’s when I fall in love with it.

The first phase is the simplest of the three; as you’d expect. There’s the build-up as the battle begins and each trainer brings out their first Pokemon, then things get intense. The beat is quite basic, but it’s impactful enough and backed up by a style of synth that I can’t quite describe to create quite the atmosphere. You have to remember that in Galar, these gym battles are being watched by a stadium full of thousands of people. Could you imagine what it would feel like to do battle in that environment? This first phase is like the feeling-out process of the fight. Both competitors are gauging each other’s battling styles and devising strategies to win.

Then you take down the Gym Leader’s first Pokemon, and the music moves to the second phase, ramping all the way up again before the synth comes back at a much higher octave and the melody shifts slightly. Moving away from the synth that just goes along with the beat, we move into an electronic melody that changes the atmosphere of the track. Those nerves from the start of the battle are long gone, we’re right in the thick of the battle now. Each trainer has a plan which they’re doing their best to execute it. A rapport has formed, and the crowd can feel the excitement building.

Eventually, you back the Gym Leader into a corner, all they have left is their final and strongest Pokemon. This is where it gets real. The track takes a moment to build up again, and then it repeats the intro to phase two, except this time, the crowd are chanting over it. When I first heard this, I honestly nearly teared up at how utter brilliant of an idea this was. To actually include the roaring, chanting & singing on the massive live crowd into the melody of the track itself was a stroke of musical genius and it adds everything to the exciting and intense feel of these battles.

If you’ve ever been in a large crowd for any kind of sporting event in the UK (and maybe elsewhere, I wouldn’t know), this is EXACTLY the kind of thing you hear. The composers even made sure that the voices weren’t all perfectly synched up, so it felt like real people were making these noises. The synth finally takes a back seat, just interjecting the backing to give the whole thing its sense of rhythm; then it sits back and lets the roar of the crowd wash over the track and carry you to victory.

1 – VS Eternatus ~ Phase 3 – Sword/Shield

This track is more or less the whole reason I wanted to make another one of these lists.

The climax of Sword & Shield’s story is a bit of an odd one, letting you go all the way to the champion battle before the villain finally reveals themselves and puts their plan into action. It was a weird choice of pacing, and I’m not sure it quite worked, but FUCK ME, it was worth it for this track.

After having already gone through about six quite gruelling battles across two different tournaments to get to the champion, you’re suddenly thrown through a loop and have to save the Galar region from an ancient & eternal monster. The first two phases are rough. First, you have to fight Eternatus’ regular form on your own, which is no easy task. Then it transforms into its ‘Eternamax form’ (which is a dumb name but let’s not go there), and Hop finally does something noteworthy in the story to help you. Except…you can’t actually touch it. Literally none of your attacks with even scratch it.

Then, we get what may be my favourite cutscene in all of Pokemon, where you summon Zacian and Zamazenta to help you save the day. Once they show up, this music kicks in and man…I just have to let it wash over me every time. The way the piano starts things off, for the quiet violin to tease the main melody, for the lead guitar to burst into the track and get the battle going. It even includes the dogs themselves howling over it. Genuinely, I teared up. It’s such an incredible build and fits so perfectly to the moment of these legendary dogs finally awakening to come and help you.

The rest of the track has a triumphant feel to it. It fills you with this incredible sense of confidence. Just moments ago, all seemed lost, yet now you’ve turned the tide. The legendary Pokemon have risen and are fighting alongside you; there’s no way you can lose now. It almost strays into feeling fun, but there’s something in the way the melody progresses that holds the intensity and dumps on a whole heap of emotional stakes.

In it’s simplest form, this is a track that makes me so very happy whenever I listen to it. The emotion it carries is so incredibly powerful that I never get tired of listening to it. Even when I had it on loop for 20 minutes while putting this entry together, it has a lot of complexity to it and yet what it conveys is so very simple. It’s undoubtedly one of the best tracks the composers for Pokemon have ever put together.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what music you love best from Pokemon, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back this time on Wednesday for the next instalment in my 100 Favourite Games series!

10 Powerful Pokemon That Are World Champions

While Pokemon has spent the past twenty years enveloping kids and adults alike with its bright & colourful world, exciting battles and storytelling charm, everyone’s favourite creature capturing franchise has accrued a wide range of different types of players. Some want to just play through the story and use Pokemon they like the look of; some want to follow the series’ slogan and catch ’em all, and those who like to spend countless hours resetting their game over and over to get a Mewtwo that’s green instead of pink.

Which of those groups I’m a part of isn’t important (although my green Mewtwo will wipe the floor with whatever pathetic pink monstrosity you throw my way). However, others take things a significant step further. Not content with merely defeating each game’s champion and entering the Hall of Fame, some players go out into the real world with their Pokemon to battle anyone they can find to prove that they are the very best, like…you know the rest. Eventually, these competitions between trainers were formalised, and 2009 saw the video games series (referred to as VGC) join the Trading Card Game at the official Pokemon World Championships, using a 4 v 4 double battle format.

Naturally, with almost 900 hundred different Pokemon in the franchise, not all of them are going to have the power or skill that it takes to be a part of a world champion team and as such, a select few Pokemon have risen to the top. These Pokemon rose to the top and have claimed a spot of a world championship-winning team during their lifetimes. We’ll also be looking at teams that made it to the top 8 (quarter-finals). Be it because they dominated the metagame for a short space of time, or endured through the years as a staple of the scene, these are the 10 powerful Pokemon that are world champions.

I’d like to thank smogon.com and False Swipe Gaming on YouTube, as this is where I got the majority of my research from.

10 – Tyranitar

One of the most fragile Pokemon on this list, Tyranitar is much like any good video game boss in that it has a big glowing weak spot in the form of Fighting-type Pokemon. Not only does Tyranitar’s Rock and Dark typing give it a 4-times weakness to them, but it doesn’t possess any kind of reliable move in its arsenal to deal with them.

Tyranitar’s main strengths come from its ability. The most prominent ability for this pale green monster uses Sand Stream to kick up a sandstorm as soon as it enters the field. This boosts Tyranitar’s defences and deals some all-important chip damage to any non-Rock, Ground or Steel-type Pokemon the field. Backing this up with moves like the forceful Crunch and Rock Slide – the latter of which can deal damage to both opposing Pokemon simultaneously – was the perfect way to make use of Tyranitar’s exceptionally high attack stat. Not to mention, it was always packing a Low Kick to deal with otherwise troublesome Steel types.

Tyranitar’s standout year competitively was 2012. It featured in five of the teams to make top 8 at the world championships that year, including helping the USA’s Ray Rizzo claim his third world championship. While its popularity has notably decreased since then, thanks to weather effects becoming less critical to the metagame, Tyranitar has still made sporadic appearances over the years. Most recently helping Roberto Porretti reach 7th place in 2018.

Tyrantitar is an undoubtedly flawed Pokemon having a whole host of weaknesses to common types. Still, it makes up for it with a fantastic ability and a whole truckload of powerful attacks that make this Pokemon one that can never be underestimated.

9 – Bronzong

From a Pokemon who has popped up on a few teams every year, to one that absolutely dominated a single year of VGC.

After a few sporadic appearances in the early days of VGC, Bronzong disappeared in the background and was very rarely, if ever, featured in high-placing teams as it was outclassed in its support role by incredible Pokemon like Cresselia. This begs the question, in 2016, why on Earth did it feature on 7 out of the top 8 teams, including world champion Wolfe Glick’s?

It was quite simply a beneficiary of the other Pokemon that ended up being featured heavily in the 2016 metagame. This was the first season since 2010 where “restricted Pokemon” like the cover-legendaries were allowed to feature on competitive teams. One of the most popular of these Pokemon was Xerneas, which had the ever-resilient Fairy type and an incredible buffing move in the form of Geomancy. Luckily for Bronzong, it was an almost perfect counter to the legendary of life. It’s rare Steel & Psychic typing made it quite the tough Pokemon to crack, especially against opposing Fairy types, which it could absolutely wreck with a well-placed Gyro Ball.

That wasn’t all it did though, as its primary role on the team was to set up Trick Room, which is a move that turns the speed-calculations on its head and allows the slowest Pokemon on the field to move first. This was a crucial factor to victory in a metagame littered with fast Pokemon like Salamence, Gengar and even Rayquaza. It could even run a move like Hypnosis, to prevent those Pokemon from moving entirely, or use Skill Swap on it’s allied Primal Groudon/Kyogre to keep the beneficial weather effects in play while the Primals make the switch out of battle.

Although Bronzong has seldom been seen in VGC before or since the 2016 season, during that one season, it was almost mandatory to have if you wanted to land yourself a high placement. In the long-run, it will always have Pokemon that do its job better, but it absolutely proved that all it takes is the right set of circumstances to launch any Pokemon into the forefront of the metagame.

8 – Incineroar

One thing that is abundantly clear when looking through the history of competitive VGC is that starter Pokemon do not make good competitive team members. Their relatively even stat balance often makes them perfect for running through the singleplayer game, but relatively unviable for the much harsher climate of competitive play. So what makes Incineroar different?

First of all, the Dark-type is a huge boon, as it gives it access to some fantastic competitive moves. These can include moves like Snarl that lower the opposing Pokemon’s Special Attack, or Knock Off which can rid opposing Pokemon of their held-items, which are often crucial to a Pokemon’s survival in battle. The moves that were key to any Incineroar set, however, were Fire Blast, which could deal out massive Fire-Type damage, and Fake Out, which was guaranteed to immobilise its target on that turn if it hit.

Combine this with its Intimidate ability – an ability that lowers the opposing Pokemon’s attack when Incineroar enters the field – and you’ve got yourself the perfect support Pokemon. It’s able to keep its partner in the fight by stalling out opponents and perfectly countering some of the most prominent and powerful Pokemon in the Sun & Moon metagame, including Aeigislash, Celesteela and even the all-powerful Cresselia.

As such Incineroar has seen huge usage since its Intimidate ability set was released in 2018. It featured on five of the top 8 teams in 2018 and seven in 2019, featuring in the 1st place team both times.

Incineroar was able to prove that starter Pokemon are more than just fodder for the singleplayer game and fond childhood memories, but could wreck shop on the battlefield too.

7 – Amoonguss

Another Pokemon here that has seen scattered usage throughout the years, Amoongus is one of those support Pokemon that never truly goes away.

Spore and Rage Powder are the moves that have been key to Amoonguss’ success over the years. Spore is a move with 100% accuracy and is guaranteed to put the opposing Pokemon to sleep, which is an incredibly powerful thing to have in your arsenal. Meanwhile, Rage Powder forced all attacking moves (not counting spread moves) to target Amoonguss, allowing it to easily protect it’s partner while it dealt out all of the damage.

It had options when it came to its abilities. It could run Effect Spore, which had a chance to inflict a status effect onto any Pokemon that attacked it, or Regenerator, which let it restore one-third of its health when it switched out of battle. While Effect Spore was run for its early seasons, in the years since, high-ranking Amoonguss players have almost exclusively Regenerator sets. This makes it a bulky support Pokemon that can restore its health whenever it wants to, which is a giant boon to controlling the pace of any battle.

Amoonguss’ presence in VGC is quite wide-spread, but also somewhat scattered. It featured on three of the 8 teams in 2011, 2013 & 2019, while taking a spot on a whopping six teams in the 2015 season. It also claimed the world championship in both 2013 & 2015.

Amoonguss ended up being one of those support Pokemon that competitors in VGC just keep coming back to. It has some pretty clear counters, which is why it isn’t seen every year, but when the metagame allows for Amoonguss to flourish, it will always have a noteworthy spot to fill on a team with world championship aspirations.

6 – Thundurus

Arguably one of the most versatile Pokemon this list, Thundurus can fill just about any role you need it to, depending on how you build it.

With a lightning-quick Speed stat (pun definitely intended) and a Special Attack stat to die for, Thundurus could thrive as an all-out attacker. Running Thunderbolt as a robust attacking move made it hard to contend with. It could also carry Hidden Power Flying or Hidden Power Ice to deal with several Pokemon that would otherwise threaten it. Its speed made sure it’d always get to move first, save for a Trick Room which wasn’t overly common in the seasons where Thundurus saw its most prominent usage.

That wasn’t all Thundurus could do though, as it was also an ideal support Pokemon. It couldn’t dish out healing like other great supports, but it didn’t need to. Its ability, Prankster, gave all of its non-attacking moves priority, which meant that they would always execute first, even if the opposing Pokemon was faster. Combine that with access to a move like Thunder Wave and the opposing Pokemon would be lucky if they ever even got a chance to move before they were swept away by Thundurus’ partner. It could even run Rain Dance to control the weather if the team needed it.

Thundurus’ standout year was inarguably 2011, featuring on seven of the top 8 teams at that year’s world championships, including 1st place. It was most frequently partnered up with its fellow genie Tornadus, and the fair of them wrecked shop throughout the 2011 metagame. It’s usage dropped in 2012 when the enitre National Dex was allowed to compete in VGC, instead of just the Unova Dex. However, it still managed to find a spot on four top 8 teams in 2012 and three top 8 teams in 2013.

Its last hurrah was in the 2015 season, where it won itself a second world championship thanks to Shoma Honami using it as a part of his team. It held two top 8 spots in 2016 but was mostly unable to make an impact thanks to the presence of Primal Groudon & Primal Kyogre.

Even though the Primals were banned again for 2017, it faced a significant problem as there was a new Electric-Type Special Attacker on the scene that outclassed Thundurus in just about every way and that Pokemon’s name was…

5 – Tapu Koko

I won’t lie to you, this list is most legendary Pokemon from here on out.

Dipping back into the well of Generation 7 Pokemon now, Tapu Koko has seen almost total dominance over VGC since it burst onto the scene in 2017 and it’s clear to see why. It has a stupidly high Speed stat which allowed it to totally wipe the floor with the rest of the metagame, which ended up being full of pretty slow Pokemon. It was in a bit of trouble if it came up against a Trick Room team, but even then it had a few tricks up its sleeve to protect itself.

First of which was its ability, Electric Surge. This causes the terrain to become charged with electricity immediately upon Tapu Koko entering the field. Electric Terrain was an insanely powerful tool, as it boosted the power of electric type attacks by 50%, prevented any Pokemon on the ground from falling asleep. Finally, it made the move Hidden Power (a reasonably common move on a lot of Pokemon) the chance to paralyse its target. On top of that, it always ran Thunderbolt (chosen over the more powerful Thunder due to it’s higher accuracy) as a mighty attacking move. It also was backed up by Volt Switch, which allowed it to easily switch out of battle and refresh the Electric Terrain when it rejoined the fight.

Tapu Koko featured on a world championship-winning team in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons of VGC, featuring on seven of the top 8 teams in 2017 and four top 8 teams in 2018 and 2019. It had a great variety of allies over the years, although it was most commonly seen alongside Incineroar for an overwhelming display of attacking prowess.

4 – Garchomp

There are no frills on Garchomp, it’s just a big nasty bastard with more power than most Pokemon can handle. With an absolutely monstrous Attack stat, even the bulkiest of Pokemon have trouble standing up to Garchomp when it gets going. There’s nothing complicated about its moveset either. Garchomps main attacking moves are the devastating Earthquake, which damages every other Pokemon on the field that isn’t flying. It also packs Dragon Claw to cover anything that resists or is immune Earthquake, and even if a Pokemon resists both of those moves, Garchomp can also carry Rock Slide to deal with it.

It even has some defensive prowess too. Dragon and Ground is an incredible defensive type combination and while it’s HP and Defense stats don’t quite match up to its Attack, they’re certainly nothing to be sniffed at. It can even work its defensive capabilities into its moveset, as Substitute could be used instead of Rock Slide, to keep itself around on the field even longer than usual.

Garchomp’s usage in VGC has been a bit scattered throughout the years, although it is generally only missing from the metagame in years where ‘restricted Pokemon’ are allowed. It first made waves in 2012, where it features in three of the top 8 teams, including Ray Rizzo’s first-place team. Garchomp’s standout year was 2014, where it sat on five of the top 8 teams, including battling alongside Sejun Park’s legendary Pachurisu, which won him the world championship that year.

While more recently it has only seen two top 8 placements at the world championships (both in 2017), that’s not entirely representative of the force Garchomp has been on the metagame over the years. Even in the years where it didn’t reach any of the highest placements, it was still widely used amongst the community helping various competitors win regional and national championships respectively.

Garchomp is a Pokemon that needs nothing more than it’s pure power to be successful, which makes sense when you look at the absolute monster this thing presents itself as.

3 – Groudon & Kyogre

I’m giving these two the same entry because their careers in VGC have been heavily linked to each other in some way and their roles on teams are pretty similar in the grand scheme of things.

While Groudon & Kyrogre may not look like they’ve been used as much as many other Pokemon on this list, that is only because they’re classed as ‘restricted Pokemon’ which means that they have been banned from usage in all but three seasons. In 2010, which was their debut season, they were featured heavily. Their ability to control the weather upon entry into the field made them perfect for the format, as it meant they would always be switching in with an advantage.

Their solo typing combined with their substantial defensive stats made them great Pokemon to control the pace of a battle, as it was likely they’d be able to stick around in the fight for an incredibly long time. It would really put the pressure on the opposing team to find a way to handle it quickly, or risk getting swept away by the pair’s hard-hitting spread moves like Surf or Earthquake. As such both Pokemon were featured heavily at the world championships that year, with five of the top 8 teams featuring Kyrogre and six featuring Groudon. This included Ray Rizzo’s 1st place team, which made use of both of them.

Restricted Pokemon weren’t allowed again until 2016, and the metagame had shifted a lot by then. Mega-Evolutions were now running rampant, and there was plenty of brand new powerful Pokemon that threatened to put the weather duo out of a job. Then Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire came out and bestowed Groudon & Kyogre with a gift from the heavens…Primal Forms.

Primal Forms completely turned the metagame on their head and were vital for victory in the 2016 season for a couple of major reasons. Firstly, they didn’t take up a mega-slot. Under normal circumstances, there can only be one Pokemon per team that can mega-evolve in a battle. However, the Primal Forms triggered automatically upon entry, provided they were holding the right item (Blue Orb for Kyogre, Red Orb for Groudon). This meant that you could run a different Mega-Evolved Pokemon alongside them, essentially allowing you to have two Mega-Evolved Pokemon in every battle.

With them came some genuinely incredible abilities. Kyogre’s Drizzle ability became Primordial Sea, which prevented attacking Fire-Type moves from doing any damage whatsoever. Meanwhile, Groudon’s Drought ability became Desolate Land, which prevented attacking Water-Type moves from doing any damage whatsoever. As you can imagine, this led to tense battles for control over the weather, as one of those weather conditions would prevent the opposing legendary from executing their signature move (Origin Pulse for Kyogre, Precipice Blades for Groudon). This factor ended up dragging Mega-Rayquaza into the metagame, as its ability, Delta Stream, was able to remove both of these weather effects.

Both Pokemon were all over the 2016 & 2019 seasons, which were the only two that Primal Kyogre & Groudon have been allowed to compete in as of 2020. In 2016, Kyogre saw a bit more useful than Groudon, claiming five slots in that year’s top 8, including 1st. Meanwhile, Groudon only managed three, just missing out on the top slot at 2nd place. However, in 2019, the situation was flipped on its head as this time Groudon was the one to claim 1st place, while Kyogre’s highest placement was only 3rd.

The only thing holding back Kyogre and Groudon is how infrequently they’ve been allowed to take part in VGC. Although, it’s clear as to why that’s the case, as any season where they’ve been allowed to take part, they’ve absolutely dominated the competition and have become must-haves for anyone with world championship aspirations.

2 – Landourus

I wonder if Game Freak meant for the genies to be this powerful when they made them?

First of all, it’s typing is incredible. Being the odd combination of Ground and Flying-Type gives it not one but two immunities; Electric and Ground-Type attacks won’t even scratch it. While there are better defensive Pokemon, its defensive stats are still high enough to give it some staying power. Surely with access to amazing moves like Earthquake and Rock Slide, it would be a sure-fire hit for VGC right? Well…not at first.

For the first couple of years after debuting, Landourus didn’t actually make any top 8 placements at the world championships. The problem was, there were just other Pokemon than could do its job better. Between Terrakion, Krookodile and Garchomp, there wasn’t much reason to pick Landourus over any of them.

UNTIL…

In 2012, Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 released, which gave each of the genies (Thundurus, Tornadus & Landorus) brand new “Therian Forms”. While the other two genies ended up not using theirs much over the years. Landorus, on the other hand, became terrifying. It’s Attack stat got boosted to 145, which is one of the highest for any non-Mega Evolved Pokemon. At this point, Landorus dominated.

At first, in 2013 it made four of the top 8 spots at the world championship. That was nothing, however, compared to the 2015 season, where Landorus’ Therian Form featured in all eight to the top 8 teams that year; a feat that no other Pokemon has ever achieved as of 2020. That wasn’t even the end of its dominance, as it persisted into the 7th generation. It most recently featured on six of the top 8 teams at the world championships in 2018.

Landorus got off to a bit of a rocky start, but once the Therian Form came along, there were few Pokemon that stood any chance of stopping it. It has almost unrivalled attacking power and a type combination that is both unique & exceptionally useful.

1 – Cresselia

To put it simply, Cresselia is the ultimate support Pokemon.

The first point in its favour is it’s exceptionally high HP and Defence stats. The solo-Psychic typing means that it doesn’t have a great deal of weakness, and its Levitate ability grants it immunity from the ever-present and potentially devastating Earthquake. The long and short of it is that once Cresselia is out on the field in a battle, it can stay there pretty much as long as it wants to, with its opponent having to scramble to find a way to get rid of it. This is because if the opponent doesn’t find a way to remove it from the battle quickly, it could very well wreak havoc.

As for the ways it can wreak havoc, they vary. The most commonly used set is the Trick Room set. Using Trick Room to allow the slowest Pokemon the field to move first is a great asset that almost always puts Cresselia in control of the pace in the battle. From here it can be loaded up with a bunch of great support moves, and there’s honestly so many to choose from. It has its choice of Light Screen or Reflect, which reduces the power of opposing attacks and usually carries Helping Hand to boost the power of its partner’s attacks.

When Cresselia isn’t using Trick Room, Icy Wind is the move it will use to control the pace of the battle, as that move is guaranteed to lower the Speed of the opposing Pokemon. Thunder Wave is also an option, as it can inflict Paralysis. However Icy Wind is usually preferred as it does damage along with the reduction in speed. It will also carry the move Calm Mind, which raises both the Special Attack and Special Defence of Cresselia. This boosts its bulk even further, along with giving it greater ability to deal out damage for itself, instead of relying on its partner to do all the heavy lifting. It’s attacking move of choice is Psychic, although it can also carry Ice Beam to take out common threats such as Landorus or Mega Salamence.

When it comes to top 8 placements at the world championships, Cresselia is second to none. With the exception of 2019, the only years where it didn’t claim a spot were the years that it was banned. In every other year, it has claimed a spot on at least one of the top 8 teams, winning a world championship on three separate occasions; those being in 2010, 2012 & 2015.

With the sheer amount of usage it’s seen over the years, you could make an excellent case for Cresselia being the face of VGC. Every time a new generation comes along, it features a handful of useful support Pokemon. Still, none of them will ever be able to have the longevity or legacy that Cresselia has in the competitive. It’s seen a slight dip in usage in recent years, but you can bet that it will only be a matter of time before Cresselia finds yet another way to take charge of the competitive scene; probably winning another world championship in the process.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of these Pokemon, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back this time next week, as I’ll be releasing the first instalment in my summer-long series where I’ll be running down my 100 favourite games of all time! You won’t want to miss it.

10 Best Tracks From Pokemon Soundtracks

In case you haven’t noticed, I quite like video game music. I’ve covered my favourite music pieces from the wider gaming world a couple of times, along with an article entirely dedicated to the best of Octopath Traveler’s soundtrack, so now it’s Pokemon’s turn.

As a franchise that has spanned over 20 years, there’s been a lot of different styles of music, be it thanks to technical limitations or theming choices, the Pokemon franchise has just about every style of music you could possibly want in its main series games. I’ve had many of these tracks on playlists of mine for years and today’s the day that I run down my favourites.

10 – Jubilife City – Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

Listen Here (Daytime Version)
Listen Here (Nighttime Version)

Jubilife City’s theme is a very nostalgic one to me. For those unaware, my first ever Pokemon game was Platinum and Jubilife was the first big city you’d reach in that game and this music made it feel just wonderful.

Not only is it a jolly tune to welcome you into the big wide world of the Sinnoh region, but the melody finds a way to capture the sense of activity and liveliness a big city like this would have, without making it seem massive and crowded in scale. Jubilife is a big city, but it’s also a peaceful city, not like Castelia City where people in suits are marching back and forth everywhere you look.

The nighttime variation on this theme leans further into the sense of peace with a down-beat saxophone in the background of the main melody instead of the faster piano bringing an overwhelming sense of calm to the track. I can almost feel the atmosphere of a quiet city being lit only by street lamps and the lights from people’s houses and that slight sense of melancholy that I get from seeing a city at night.

9 – VS Gym Leader’s Final Pokemon – Black/White/Black 2/White 2

Listen Here

The music for Unova’s Gym Leader battles is great enough on its own, but when you battle your way down to their last Pokemon and this music kicks into gear is when things get epic.

Ramping things up in both key and tempo, this track brings the best out what Gym battles have to offer the franchise. The Gym Leaders in the Unova games are much more involved in the action than in other generations, so I think it’s appropriate that they should have such an emotionally charged track made specifically for them, hammering home how much these people care about Pokemon and their role in society as authority figures.

By the time you’ve got a Gym Leader down to their final Pokemon, it’s likely you’ve gone through a gruelling battle and their final Pokemon is usually the toughest to beat, so it’s only appropriate that things get more intense. On top of that, it gives a perfect sense as to what the Gym Leader’s emotions must be in that moment. Gym Leaders are the best of the best, very few are ever able to defeat them in battle and at the moment they unleash their final Pokemon, their backs are against the wall, but if you want their badge, they’re going to make sure you earn it.

It’s such a small touch on the surface, but it adds so much to the atmosphere of a gym battle and I was so glad when they re-implemented it for Sword & Shield.

8 – VS Lake Guardians – Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

Listen Here

As almost any Pokemon list I’ve ever made would tell you, I’m a big fan of Generation 4 and, trust me, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of it on this list, however one aspect of the generation I’m not a huge fan of, is the Lake Guardians. I understand the point of their design and I appreciate the lore behind them, but they’ve never really enthused me as Pokemon. However, I love battling them at any opportunity, because it means I get to hear this brilliant piece of music.

The opening fits in with Dialga & Palkia’s theme, with a slightly synthesised piano, only for one of the most exhilarating base-lines I’ve ever heard kick into gear. The drums quickly back it up to create a track that feels incredibly fast-paced, but still menacing and intimidating. The Lake Guardians are in no-way intimidating Pokemon, but I’ll be damned if this music doesn’t make it feel like they are.

It’s the little touches that make this theme great, like the three different tones & styles that carry the main melody, creating this feeling of each of the three Guardians having their own personality. There are even little hints of very quick piano sequences in the middle, creating the feel of these creatures scurrying around their caves as you battle them, doing their best to out-manoeuvre your Pokemon.

This track is great in its own right, but on top of that, it gives me very fond memories and feelings towards Pokemon that, all things considered, I’m not actually that keen on.

7 – VS Rainbow Rocket Lysandre – Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon

Listen Here

Lysandre’s original theme from X/Y is great as well, but I decided to go for this version as it turns the pace & chaos of the original up to 11.

In all honesty, I don’t think Lysandre is all that compelling of a villain. Admittedly in the anime, his character was a bit more interesting but in the games, I found him and all of Team Flare to be a bit lifeless and boring to battle against. So, when the opportunity to encounter him again in the Rainbow Rocket storyline of Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon arose, he was easily the villain I was the least interested in rematching. Then I started to battle him and realised his theme was a masterpiece.

Although it’s not made entirely obvious during his initial stint as a character in X/Y, Lysandre is truly a madman. He keeps a calm and composed demeanour at nearly all times, bottling up his raw emotional power to be let out in huge bursts and a Pokemon battle is exactly the kind of thing to trigger such an outburst.

The opening of the track is slow, grand and imposing as Lysandre readies himself for battle, throwing his Pokeball only for the track to suddenly devolve into fast-paced chaos as all of that bottled up rage and hatred come out for all to see. The choice of instruments keep that intimidation factor going underneath all that chaos and the track just keeps getting faster and faster, and I can almost feel that emotion overpowering me as I battle him. Even when the track slows down with the choir voices, it still feels fast and frantic, not even letting up for very long before diving right back into the insanity of Lysandre’s desires.

Although I don’t find Lysandre as a person interesting, listening to this track helps me to add so much to his character that I can’t help but become invested in my battles with him.

6 – VS Marnie at the Pokemon League – Sword/Shield

Listen Here

I chose this theme – and specifically this version of it – because I believe it perfectly encapsulates just about everything great from Sword & Shield’s soundtrack.

For one thing, this is the first soundtrack that I feel was able to fully utilize instruments like guitars to their fullest potential. Thanks to the limitation of software, whenever such sounds have been included in the music of Pokemon they’ve always been a bit synthesised or muted, which in some instances (which we’ve already discussed on this list) it had been used to great effect, however a lot of the complexities that the instrument can provide is lost in that. However, in this track  – and the Sword/Shield soundtrack as a whole – it’s clear the composers have finally been able to let loose with how they utilize them, in part thanks to heavy pop-punk/punk-rock that comes with the British aesthetic.

Much like Lysandre, I found it quite hard to get a firm grasp on Marnie’s character, her look and general first impressions stuck me as somewhat antagonistic, but as the game goes on, she’s actually quite a down-to-earth person that’s just kind of…there. Once again, like Lyandre, this music gives me a very clear idea of the elements from Marnie’s character. The consistency of the guitar backing track gives me the feel of someone who’s very focused and determined, while the synth melodies that play over the top tell me that she’s not taking it too seriously and is allowing herself to have fun as she battles, despite her more muted demeanour outside of battle.

The reason I specifically chose her Pokemon League battle theme, however, is because it adds a couple of brilliant elements on top of the original. Firstly, it hits those high-notes much more often and with a lot more power, the sense of emotion I get from this theme is so powerful, ESPECIALLY when combined with the other major difference, the crowd chanting along with the music. It happens in the gym battles too and it was an absolute genius addition to the tracks because it adds so much to the atmosphere of the battle. No longer are you standing in an empty room battling against your opponent, you’re being watched by thousands of people live and even more at home and it builds the epic feel of the major battles to something so special.

Aside from all fo that, the tune aligns really well with my music tastes and I think it’s a really fun track to listen to.

5 – VS Ultra Necrozma

Listen Here

Talk about a fight.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the fight against Ultra Necrozma was easily one of the hardest battles that series has had since about Generation 5 and I don’t know why I’m surprised when I listen to the music that backed it up. Nevermind how terrifying the thing actually looks when it breaks free of its prison, but the opening sting of the track almost sounds like funeral bells, like the game is tell you, “Oh…you picked a fight with THIS THING?!, You know you’re totally dead, right?”

Necrozma is a Pokemon that mixes together a lot of lore elements from previous Pokemon and turns them into something new and I get the same sort of feeling when listening to this track. There’s the element of disconnected chaos from Giratina’s theme, there’s the raw synthesised power from Xerneas’/Yveltal’s theme and even some hints of old GBA music & sounds in there.

The pace speeds and slows throughout the track to help embody this sense of chaos along with the flow of this battle, as you throw Pokemon after Pokemon its way and it barely takes a scratch, while it blasts your team away in one hit over and over again. Ultra Necrozma feels like a true monster when you battle is and its battle music is able to personify that feeling perfectly.

4 – VS Rainbow Rocket Giovanni – Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon

Listen Here

Now THIS is a menacing villain’s theme.

When the Rainbow Rocket arch came about, it felt HUGE. This was the moment where all of the villains finally come together to take on the multi-verse and Giovanni was standing at the head of it all. Not just any Giovanni though, a Giovanni that WON, as far as bad dudes go, they don’t get much badder than this guy. This was also the first time Giovanni would get his own unique battle theme, so the pressure was really on for it to be something special that captured the feel of what a man like Giovanni, at the height of his power, would be like to face off against.

Safe to say, this track NAILS it.

This track is slow and heavy, the guitar sits to underline the beat of everything, as grand drums are pounded and various brass instruments cry out, showing you just what a powerhouse this guy is. Every beat of this track feels like a direct threat on you, as you do everything in your power to cut through his Pokemon. I don’t know if I’m alone in this belief, but I thought this battle was a tough one and this music only served to unline exactly what a challenge I had before me. Yeah, I’d beaten an interstellar being into submission earlier that day, but so what? This guy’s twice as powerful as they’ll ever be and right now, I’m standing in his way.

This music creates almost an aura of indestructibility around Giovanni and it raises the stakes of the battle with him so very much, I’ve never felt like I’m fighting for my life in a Pokemon game before, even when staring down Gods, but when I saw Giovanni and this music started playing, I was scared.

3 – Ending ~ To Each Future (Black & White Credits) – Black/White

Listen Here

Black & White were incredibly story-focused games compared to the generations that preceded it. The team at Nintendo did all they could to push the limits of the Nintendo DS hardware in order to give this whole game a very cinematic feel, be that through the cutscenes themselves, or through other aspects like it’s music.

The music in Black & White is brimming with an intense sense of emotion. I’ve already discussed one such track on this list, but across the board when things get intense, the music builds right up to those high notes in order to build the scale of the moments to something you’d expect from a Hollywood drama. There were a whole bunch of tracks I could’ve picked to emphasise this, like N’s theme, Ghetsis’ theme and even the Rival battle theme (which are all honourable mentions for this list by the way) have these same ideas in there, but the track I think best exemplifies all of this is the credits theme.

Black & White’s ending is quite a sombre one. You may have just gone through three climatic and intense battles, but the cutscenes that follow them are quite introspective and emotional, as N discusses his philosophy and how it’s changed over the course of the journey, leading to an emotional goodbye. Then this music smashes in to wrap the whole thing up, leaving you to ponder the epic tale that has just happened in front of you. The transition alone is such a brilliant one that I think it may actually have increased the amount I like this track.

Once it gets going it’s definitely a track worthy of closing out a story as big as this one. It pulls in a bit from all over Black & White’s soundtrack, with the grand trumpets and spiritual choir voices mixed in with fast-paced synth beats and some grand drums. Despite both being on the DS, I’ve always thought the music styles of Gen 4 & Gen 5 sound extremely different and for a track like this to feel so squarely in the Gen 5 camp is honestly impressive given the relative limitations of the technology they had to work with.

Ending ~ To Each Future is a track that encapsulates the epic scale and the raw emotion that Black & White’s story is all about, making it the perfect way to end your adventure.

2 – VS Cynthia – Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

Listen Here

To me, Cynthia has always been my absolute favourite Champion from the Pokemon games. Not only does she look cool as heck, but she’s incredibly strong and has this general aura around her of someone untouchable in what she does. She’s easily the most competent and tough person you meet in your journey throughout the Sinnoh region and the whole atmosphere as you begin your final battle against her always gets me pumped. So when it comes to giving her a theme worthy of her status, this track does not disappoint.

Some champion battle themes are upbeat and joyous, or more grandstanding like this is the culmination of all you’ve worked for and it’s finally time to earn your victory, but this theme doesn’t want to congratulate you TOO soon. It’s intense, it’s fast and it’s threatening. Sure, there’s only one more battle standing between you and eternal glory, but have you seen who’s standing in your way? Your journey isn’t over by a long shot.

To me, this is everything a final battle theme should feel like. It encapsulates the raw power and chaos of a Pokemon battle while amping up the scale and putting the pressure on you to succeed. It still keeps that sense of fun too, although it’s in smaller doses than other champion themes. Instead of a theme like Sun & Moon’s champion battle, where it feels like it’s congratulating you on your victory already, this reminds you that you’re facing off with the best of the best and the only way you’re going to become a champion is if you’re better than the best.

It even incorporates the sense of ebb-and-flow that a Pokemon battle has, where you go all out with your biggest move to take down opponents, only for things to slow down a little as both trainers take their breath, only for that sharp beat to kick in as your Pokemon engage once again. This is everything that a champion theme should be and, in my mind, affirms Cynthia’s status as the best champion the series has to offer.

1 – VS Cyrus – Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

Listen Here

From my previous post: My Favourite Music From Video Games

Never have I ever heard a piece of music that better embodies a character from a video game.

Cyrus is a man with no emotions, he believes the human spirit is a weakness that should be destroyed and you hear it in this theme. The whole way through the track that baseline is there, staying unchanged and unmoved the whole time, it’s intimidating, it’s imposing, and it’s completely unemotional.

Then there’s the main melody of the track that plays over that baseline, which is the emotion of a Pokemon battle, the bond that exists between a trainer and their Pokemon, as Cyrus battles you he feels it coming through, and at certain points you can even sense this struggle between the baseline and the main melody, as if Cyrus is trying to ward off these emotions he’s beginning to feel.

At that point the main melody disappears, the drums begin to build up before a moment of silence…before everything comes back in a higher gear. You’ve made Cyrus mad, and he’s going to punish you for making him feel again.

As well as perfectly encapsulating who Cyrus is as a character, this track also stands as an extremely menacing villain theme in its own right. The way that baseline carries through the whole track, unrelenting, like a monster that just keeps stomping its way towards you, no matter what you do to try and stop it. At the time of Diamond & Pearl’s release, Cyrus’ plan was most definitely the biggest in terms of scale and this track made him feel like he was truly unstoppable as you battled against him.

The menace, the intensity, the emotion, this track really does have it all and that’s why I feel it stands out as the best track from any main-series Pokemon game.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please let me know what some of your favourite tracks are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back next weekend, where I’ll be covering NXT Takeover: Portland!

My 10 Favourite Generation 8 Pokemon

It’s been just over two weeks now since Pokemon Sword & Shield were released to the world and to put it simply, I had a lot of fun with these games. I want to give it a bit more time before I make any judgement calls on how it fits into my ranking of the generations, but having played through the game twice now I can confidently say that these games were what I wanted them to be and I really like them.

Naturally, when it comes to a new generation of Pokemon, one of the biggest factors that contribute to how much I get out of the game, is the Pokemon themselves. Not counting regional variants, Generation 8 has (so far) given us 81 new Pokemon and there’s a huge variety in all of these new creatures. Naturally, there are going to be a handful of Pokemon that rise to the top and stand out to me as the best of what this generation has to offer, and that’s what I’m discussing today.

SPOILER WARNING

This list will contain story spoilers for Pokemon Sword & Shield and also contains Pokemon that have not been officially revealed or referenced anywhere outside of the games themselves, so if you wish to remain unspoiled then maybe give this one a miss for the time being.

10 – Orbeetle

Maybe it’s because of the altered visual style, but almost every Pokemon Galar has to offer feels very different from that of the previous seven generations. That’s something which isn’t always for the better (see the abominations that are the fossil Pokemon) but Orbeetle is a case where it works to its benefit.

For the longest time, the regional bugs have been lame. Don’t get me wrong, I like Butterfree & Vivilon as much as the next guy, but when it comes to viable team members for the whole game they don’t ever make the cut. Vikavolt from Alola had the chance to turn that around, but it was unfortunately hampered by the fact that it couldn’t evolve until one of the final areas of the game. Orbeetle is a Pokemon that takes the usefulness, strength and cool design of Vikavolt and removes the stupid restriction on its evolution.

The first thing that struck me about Orbeetle is how sleek it looks. Psychic typing isn’t what I would’ve initially guessed for this one, but I think it works with the design. It’s a Pokemon that feels a little off in its design, but kind of in a good way, the fullness of the red is very striking and draws your eyes away from its body, which makes for quite the surprise when you notice it. I personally would’ve liked its body to be a little fuller, but the sharpness of its limbs and intimidation factor on its face is brilliant.

When I first caught Blipbug on Route 2, I wasn’t expecting it to remain in my team for very long, but sure enough, it proved me wrong and Orbeetle stood proudly alongside me when I entered the Hall of Fame.

9 – Runerigious

Sword & Shield played around with the idea of adding evolutions to already existing Pokemon and I love the stuff that came out. Instead of doing what Generation 4 did and adding unnecessary third stages onto Pokemon like Rhydon, it combined the concept of regional variants and new evolutions in fun way that I thought added a new layer to how the world of Pokemon works.

Unlike all of the other Pokemon on this list, I’m yet to have a chance to use Runerigious in any capacity, I just think it’s a really cool looking Pokemon. The way it’s body looks like a series of puzzle pieces is such a cool concept and the simplistic art on its body adds loads to that effect. Something about the red, white & black colour scheme really brings the whole design together to create a creepy feeling Pokemon, which is exactly what you’d expect from any evolution of Yamask.

8 – Dragapult

I mean come on, it fires it’s pre-evolution out of cannons it’s head, how can you not love this thing.

Whenever a new generation of Pokemon comes about, I always worry that the region’s pseudo-legendary is going to be ridiculously over-designed. Hydreigon and Kommo-o are examples of Pokemon that, while cool looking, are a bit much in terms of the elements in their design, so I was very pleased to see that Galar’s pseudo-legendary took a much more minimalist design.

I love the concept of a lizard-like Pokemon with something extra to it and the choice to make it a ghost type and have it hover was probably the best decision the design team could’ve made. Its body seems like that of a normal lizard Pokemon but then you get to the head and realise that it looks more like a glider than a creature, which I know sounds stupid, but it’s something that absolutely works for this design.

The colour choice is perfect too, there aren’t many Pokemon that have a gradient running through its body and there are even fewer that pull it off well, but Dragpult manages it, the darkness of it’s upper-body and head give these creeping feeling of danger and add that important intimidation factor, while the slow lightening of the tone down its tail creates this ghostly presence that makes it an all-round very threatening Pokemon.

7 – Eternatus

When I saw how similar Zacian & Zamazenta were in regards to the basic elements of their design, I was very interested to see what kind of Pokemon would round out the trio, because surely it had to be something wildly different right? Well, I was right, but I didn’t realise just how different it would end up being.

I liked how it kept the red & blue colour scheme of the main duo, but instead cranked the saturation all the way up on the colours, as it’s colour scheme feels very fully. I also really like the very jagged design, the way it looks almost like a skeleton or fossil goes along with its theme of being a creature that’s lived on the earth for 10’s of thousands of years and potentially even longer out in space.

It has this incredible sense of presence about it, despite not actually being all that big and even though it is a little on-the-nose, I enjoy the concept of it being the mighty dragon for the sword and shield to slay. It’s not the perfect legendary by any means, but I think it works as the third member of this trio.

6 – Boltund

Look at that face, that is the face of a good boy.

When Yamper was first revealed, I liked it, but I had no intention to ever put it on my team and for my first playthrough, I didn’t, but when I realised it had an evolution, and that’s evolution look like THIS, I knew I had to have it with me for my second go-round and sure enough, Boltund is best boy.

Yellow and Dark Green aren’t colours that I would’ve thought could work well together, but the placement of them on Boltund’s body makes the yellow more of a framing device for the green that covers the majority of its body, so I think it works.

The design of its face is the exact traditional representation of dogs when it comes to animation and the wideness of its eyes makes it seem like such a happy Pokemon all the time. I can imagine it running around happily, doing all the things you’d expect any other dog to do, only with lightning powers, which is an instant improvement.

5 – Zacian

Ok, I know that screenshot doesn’t have it’s “crowned” stuff, but that’s Pokemon Camp for you.

Even though I’ve ragged on Zacian & Zamazenta for being very similar before, when it came to putting this list together, I realised there were a whole bunch fo key reasons I preferred Zacian over its counterpart.

Firstly, I’m a sucker for swords, especially ones that look like ancient artefacts like the one Zacian holds in its mouth during battle, then you look at the other crowned features like that around its head,  and the “wings” sticking out of it’s back and it creates an extremely regal-looking Pokemon, aided by its general expression & posture. On top of that, I think Zacian’s body as a whole looks nice and sleek compared to its counterpart, the ribbons and tail add a nice sense of flow to the design, and the light blue & light red pairs up better than the fuller blue & red on Zamazenta.

As a whole, I would say Zacian fits in more with a trio like the legendary beasts than as a cover legendary, but that doesn’t stop it from being a design that I love the look of.

4 – Thievul

Wow, the Route 1 Pokemon really were something else in this generation.

Before anyone says it, I’m well aware that one of the reasons I probably like this Pokemon so much is how it’s design elements resemble that of Absol’s, but let’s put that to one side. When I found out that this generation was going to be based on the UK, I was sure there would be some sort of urban fox design for a Pokemon, but I didn’t know they’d do this great of a job with it.

What I love most about this design is the colours, the shade of orangy brown is just right to keep the feeling of a fox, without having to go with a brighter orange while the white of it’s chest makes everything around it stand out, all framed nicely by the sparing use of black. I also love the idea of it being a thief, since urban foxes in the UK are known to go rummaging through bins and steal just about anything left out on the streets at night. The “mask” around its eyes is a great indication of this. I would argue the little “cartoon thief” moustache was a bit much, but I still find it cute in a way.

3 – Grookey

One of the things that I was most disappointed about in this generation was the evolutions of the starter Pokemon. I like all three of the basic forms, but when it comes to the 1st and 2nd stages, I can only honestly say that I like one of them and even that one I’m not a massive fan of. I get what they were going for, but I think keeping the final evolutions restricted to a single type was a bad call and put unnecessary restrictions on their designs.

That said, I love Grookey.

It’s just an adorable little monkey that likes to hit things with sticks and in a way, deep down, I think we can all relate to that. Its body is just the right shade of green to give the impression of a cheerful Pokemon, while the brown and yellow are there to break up what is a fairly basic colour scheme and highlight aspects like the tail and ears.

I don’t really have much more to articulate as to why I love this Pokemon, I just think it’s adorable, I can imagine sitting around, playing with it as it cheerfully jumps about the place.

2 – Corviknight

If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written on Pokemon then you’ll know I love the regional birds of each generation (except Pidove, which knows what it did) and I generally hold these Pokemon up to a pretty high standard. So, when this generation’s regional bird was revealed to be a jet-black armoured raven of death with glowing red eyes, it’s safe to say I was pretty satisfied.

This thing looks like an absolute killer and I love it. The armour covers most of the body, but it’s still applied in a way that makes sense, still allowing it’s limbs to be shown, revealing they’re the exact same colour as the armour itself. It was a tad worrying when these games were initially revealed as it seemed like the entire region was going to be based very heavily on Arthurian legend, however it turned out that this was pretty much the only Pokemon that conforms to it, which makes it awesome; even if I did nickname mine “Gisborne” which is the wrong English myth entirely.

1 – Nickit

Take everything I’ve said I love about Thievul and turn the cuteness up to eleven.

When I encountered Nickit on Route 1 during the first few moments of proper gameplay, my heart melted at the sight of this thing and I knew it was staying with me until the end. Everything from its expression to its shape, to its colours, is brilliant and it makes this Pokemon a real work of art as far as I’m concerned.

The more I look at this more detail I notice, like the little tear marks around its eyes and an adorable timid smile that it likely uses to trick the victims of its theft. Then there’s the way that the black highlights on its feet look like little boots to make sure its prints can’t be tracked, alongside the smokelike imprint on the base of its tail from where it’s been dragging it along the ground; not to mention that the tail itself looks like a lovely little pillow.

It’s a Pokemon that ticks pretty much all my boxes of what I love from a Pokemon design: Quadruped; Mostly dark colours with light contrasts; Perfectly fits its theme and just the right mixture of cute and cool, this Pokemon was always going to end up topping this list.

So there you have it! Those are my favourite Pokemon from Generation 8 so far. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this list, please let me know what your favourite new Pokemon are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back next week as we’re going to be looking back at the best and worst parts of WWE from the past decade!

Every Cover Legnedary Pokemon Ranked

With Pokemon Sword & Pokemon Shield just 6 days away from release, it’s fair to say that I’m pretty damn excited. Thanks to Game Freak keeping their cards relatively close to their chest this year and my painstaking effort to avoid any and all leaks like the plague, I’m going into the game this year not really knowing what to expect outside of what I’ve already seen (which is all stuff I like).

One of the main draws for new Pokemon games is the Pokemon that are designed to literally sell the games to you, the cover legendaries. These Pokemon are the ones that sit on the cover of the game (usually the feature legendary of the game) and will often have a pretty heavy hand in the marketing of the game and deciding which version people buy; unless you’re a nerd like me who always buys both.

However, in a franchise with coming up on 1000 different creatures, some were never going to capture my attention in the same way others were, so here’s my ranking of every cover legendary Pokemon.

NOTE: A couple of caveats before we begin. Firstly, the Kanto starters aren’t on this list because, although they have been on game covers, they’re not legendary Pokemon and secondly, Zyguard isn’t on this list because, although it is part of the main Kalos trio, it never made it onto a game cover for whatever reason. Finally – and this one is important – as I mentioned above, I haven’t seen any of the leaks that have come out in the past week or so, so if I say something speculative about Sword & Shield that one of these leaks has already confirmed PLEASE DON’T TELL ME because I want to go into these games as blind as possible.

Finally, if you want more Pokemon content from me, then check out my rankings of every Pokemon generation so far!

With that out of the way, onto the list.

17 – Kyurem

So there’s a couple of things that contribute to Kyurem coming in last, first is the design. Visually, I don’t think Kyurem is anything interesting to look at. There are cool elements with the jagged icicle shaped body, but that is pretty overwhelmed by the copious amount of grey that covers its whole body. I understand that it’s thematically appropriate but that doesn’t stop it being a boring colour.

Then there are the hybrid forms which admittedly improve Kyurem’s look and I like the idea of it mechanically, unfortunately, I think that both alternate forms look worse than Reshiram and Zekrom respectively so I can’t see it as much of a positive. Then there’s the fact that, for many years, Black 2 & White 2 were the only main-series games that I hadn’t played (I only bought and played a copy for the first time a month ago) so I’ve not had much of a chance to have any real experiences with Kyurem outside of Black & White’s post-game.

Kyurem has some cool points, but ultimately whenever I look at it, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed.

16 – Reshiram

Ok, I should probably mention at this point that I like Gen 5, I honestly do, but the cover legendaries were really weak.

The colour scheme can fit the theme all they like, but the fact of the matter is, one matted colour is boring, especially when it’s just white. Reshiram’s general look has a nice majestic streak to it, I think the wings could be a bit smoother but I like the overall look and I especially like the tuft of…is it hair? on the back on its head that looks like a trail of smoke. Unfortunately, the colouring pulls it down a lot for me.

On top of that, there are the feet which really don’t seem like they fit in with the rest of the design. The point of the gen 5 legendary duo is that they’re supposed to be opposed to each other, with Reshiram having a smoother, more elegant design, but the feet really jagged and seem out of place compared the rest of the Pokemon.

There’s a lot to like about Reshiram, but I just can’t get past the boring colour scheme and general lack of cohesion in the style on its body, it would only take a few minor tweaks and I really think this could’ve been a great design.

15 – Necrozma

Necrosma suffers from many of the same problems that I’ve mentioned already in the previous two entries, but there’s a couple of features that go a long way to redeeming Necrozma in my eyes.

First of all, there’s the fact of just how unbelievably different Necrozma looks compared to every other legendary Pokemon. The whole point of Necrozma is that it’s quite literally from another plane of existence, it was sealed away in Ultra Space for so long that looking at it is so very alien without being overbearing about it. Then there’s it’s Ultra form, which looks like an absolute monster, honestly, if I’d ranked Ultra Necrozma separately, it’d be near the top I can tell you that.

That said, it still suffers largely from the single colour problem that I’ve already expressed my distaste for and I’m not the biggest fan of its hybrid forms with Lunala & Solgaleo as, much like with Kyurem, I think they look worse than their original forms. I didn’t think these problems would drag it down as much as it did because I still really like Necrozma, but when I compared it to all the other legendaries, it just didn’t hold up.

14 – Zekrom

I promise this is the last time I’m going to talk about boring colours.

For my problems with Zekrom, you can pretty much just parrot what I said about both Kyurem & Reshiram, except Zekrom has a couple of nice features that those two don’t. For one thing, although it is entirely black, there’s at least more than one shade of black on its body, which is nice, then there’s this seemingly pure evil look it seems to have with the shape and expression of its face which I think looks cool.

Its hands and feet look a bit weird, but the hands at least fit in with the design of its wings, which also fit really well with the jagged design to go with its electric typing. The tail is another thing I really like, as it looks a lot like a battery where it stores most of its power and I especially like the neon blue colour it glows when it’s charging up an attack.

Ultimately, Zekrom suffers from the same issues as it’s Gen 5 brethren, but its cool factor is significantly higher in my eyes, which brings it above the pack just a little.

13 – Kyogre

This is where the order of this list gets a little iffy because I don’t have much in the way of negative things to say about Kyogre, so putting it below a few other Pokemon on this list comes down to minor elements and gut feelings more than anything else.

What drags Kyogre down for me is the relative simplicity in its design. The colours are much more favourable to that of the Pokemon I’ve discussed so far, but its body is still almost entirely a single colour, having its massive blue body broken up only by the occasional red line. That said, the colours that were chosen for this design still make Kyogre somewhat interesting to look at and it feels like there’s a lot more character behind the design than in previous entries.

Kyogre is also helped out by its Primal form, which adds a whole new layer of detail into the design and boosted it up significantly in my estimations. I really love the much deeper blue of the primal form, along with the glowing lines on its body that make it look exactly like what a creature from the beginning of the Earth’s lifespan would look like. Even without the extra form though, Kyogre succeeds at being a good looking Pokemon while staying true to its themes and origins.

12 – Lunala

One thing I really liked about the Generation 7 cover legendaries is how strikingly different they looked. In all other generations (including Gen 8) the legendaries always had the same sort of feel to them even when they’re colours were quite different, Lunala however, feels worlds away from its counterpart which is something I love.

In terms of intricacy in the visuals, this ticks the boxes. The way the gold frames its whole body while the glorious purple wings are detailed by the occasional white mark makes it look exactly like I’d imagine an embodiment of the night sky would look like. Once again, the problems I have are fairly minor. For one thing, I’m not a big fan of the shape of its body, I know it’s the Moon Pokemon, but there’s something a bit off-putting to me about how…well…round it is; silly I know, but I can’t quite get past it. Also, I don’t think the look of its face quite fits with the calmness and elegance of its design, the eyes and teeth seem a bit too sharp and evil-looking, which is something I don’t think fits the rest of the design.

11 – Groudon

Groudon suffers from almost the exact opposite problem as it’s counterpart Kyogre, as where Kyogre borders on too little detail, Groudon borders on too much.

Groudon is a very intense feeling Pokemon, everything about it is sharp and vicious, from the lines of spikes on it’s head to the very same lines of spikes on its tail, Groudon is a Pokemon that is extremely intimidating to face down. The colours help add loads to this feeling, with the red jumping out at you, being cut up by the black lines and eyes that are filled with menace. The problem I have with Groudon is that all of this detail becomes a bit much after a certain point, there are a lot of the black lines to the point of overkill and its whole body is covered in spikes everywhere you look, again, to the point of overkill.

Groudon’s Primal form is slightly different to Kyogres as instead of adding depth and detail, Groundon’s Primal form simply serves to add more boldness to everything that’s already there, ramping the intimidation factor up to 11, making Primal Groudon look like a monster to end all monsters. Groudon’s design can be a bit much, but at the end of the day, I’d rather have an over-designed Pokemon than an under-designed one.

10 – Lugia

This is where things get difficult because, from this entry onwards, I honestly adore all of these designs.

Up until now, I’ve criticised the more simplistic designs, but Lugia is the exception to this rule as I think it’s the lack of detail in Lugia that makes it so beautiful. Whoever coloured this thing knew exactly what they were doing because even though there are only three colours on its body all three are the perfect shade and in the perfect places. The white paired with the pale blue on its stomach gives this calming and majestic vibe, which goes along with how Lugia has always been presented in the Pokemon world as a fairly chill Pokemon. Then there’s the dark blue around its eyes and along it’s back that add just the right amount of sharpness to it that you still get the vibe of an all-powerful Pokemon.

The only real criticism I could level at it is that the “wings” essentially being giant hands is a tad goofy, but I find even this facet of its design somewhat endearing. Lugia proves to me that just because a legendary Pokemon has a simpler design, doesn’t mean it can’t fit the bill of a legendary Pokemon.

9 – Suicune

Suicune is a Pokemon that always feels a little out of place amongst the cover legendary group, as it’s technically a member of the secondary trio of the Johto region instead of a main-feature legendary. However, it’s on the cover of Crystal so that makes it a cover legendary.

Suicune isn’t actually my favourite of the legendary beast trio, but it’s definitely the one that I think works best for the cover of a game. The other two beasts look a bit rough compared to Suicune, Entei has a regal feel to it, but the colours don’t quite work for the cover a game and while I adore Raikou, it’s a bit sharp and messy. Suicune doesn’t have these issues though, it’s sleek and elegant in every aspect of its design.

Once again, the combination of white and a faded blue create an elegant and calming feel when you look at it, combining well with the diamond pattern along its body. The cape is a feature that would’ve worked in almost any colour, but the soft purple is perfect for creating this feeling of the wind flowing all around Suicune’s body, to the point where the cape almost looks to be in motion in every still image it features in. Finally, there’s the brilliant detail of its tails that act as ribbons along its sides. Suicune would’ve been a beautiful looking Pokemon without the ribbons along its side, but somehow the addition of such a simple feature takes the design to a whole other level.

Suicune is a Pokemon that had every element designed for a specific purpose and it all came together to make a Pokemon that could never be relegated to merely a secondary legendary trio, it had to make a cover.

8 – Palkia

If you’ve ever read anything Pokemon related by me before, you’ll know I love Generation 4 and it’s cover legendaries are no exception.

Palkia has this aura to it of a creature that is eternally angry about something. There’s something about the way its face is designed that makes it look like a Pokemon that’s absolutely furious at all times. The multiple sharp edges around its eyes and the way its body looks like it’s plated with some kind of space-metal give off this aura of an eternal guardian that’s really not happy about the whole situation.

The dark shade of pink that outlines every part of its body looks great too, it gives the white/grey that covers most of its body a greater sense of character and helps it to stand out in a legendary trio that is already very colourful. In fact, my main complaint about Palkia’s design is that there’s not enough pink on its body.

One of my favourite things about legendary Pokemon designs is how the designers are able to take the same design elements, apply them to 2, maybe even 3 Pokemon, and create Pokemon that all have the same feel while looking distinctly different from each other and Palkia is the perfect example of that. If I didn’t know Dialga & Palkia were part of a trio, I’d instantly group the two of them together because so many elements of their designs tie them together, even though Palkia looks nothing like Dialga at first glance.

7 – Solgaleo

I wasn’t until writing this list that I realised I tend to prefer quadruped Pokemon to biped ones. I’ve always preferred more animalistic Pokemon anyway and being a quadruped really adds to that feeling and Solgaleo is perhaps the best example of that.

On one level, you could argue Solgaleo is just a lion, however, I would argue that it’s actually a cosmic super-lion with a body of metal that would kill you as soon as look at you; and who doesn’t want that feeling from their legendary Pokemon. Solgaleo takes the animal it’s based on and takes the emotions and auras that we associate with that animal to whole other level, creating a beast that looks genuinely terrifying in the best way possible.

Tangentially, this is where I think the new Zacian & Zamamzenta fall down in their design slightly. I refrained from including them in this list because pre-release stuff is all we have on them so far, but right now all I see in their designs in that they’re slightly fancy wolves, they don’t do what Solgaleo does here which is amplify the design of the animal to create something special.

Solgaleo’s whole body looks like it’s been welded together, with marks and dents all over its legs that create a feeling of a Pokemon that gets in fights a lot. Then there’s the face, which has just the right amount of colouring on it to bring out the full effect of mane while keeping the ferocious look it has on its face. The semi-sphere for blue around its eyes only serve to highlight just how striking the rest of the facial design is, your eyes are instantly drawn to it before letting you take a look at everything that surrounds it.

If you’ve ever wondered what was the “right way” to design an animalistic Pokemon, this is the way to go about it.

6 – Ho-Oh

My love for Ho-Oh comes for many of the same reasons I love Solgaleo; it’s an animal I already know and love, but infinitely cooler looking.

What makes Ho-Oh so great of a design to me is the colouring. It’s bright and bold without being too in-your-face about it, it walks up to the line of garish, but stops just before it in order to make the second coolest looking bird Pokemon to ever exist (ain’t no-one surpassing my girl, Talonflame). The dark orange instantly makes it stand out, especially against its counterpart, Lugia, but its boldness is quickly softened by the white and light green on the tips of its wings, which are such a nice touch.

I never would’ve guessed that light green would’ve been the best colour to go with that shade of red/orange, but it grounds the design in a way that it definitely would’ve been missing with a bolder colour. Then there’s the golden highlights on its head and back that frame the whole design perfectly. Also, I don’t normally mention this, but its shiny form looks amazing.

Compared to most of the other cover legendaries, Ho-Oh is still a fairly simple design, but it has complexities in just the right places in order to make a Pokemon worthy of the “Gold” version.

5 – Yveltal

I did not expect that I would end up liking either of the generation 6 legendaries this much, but here we are.

Both gen 6 cover legendaries feel very different from all the others. I know that’s an odd thing to say since all of them are different, but Xerneas & Yveltal feel an extra step away than the rest. Maybe it was to do with this being the first generation to feature 3D models as standard, but whatever it is, I like it.

Yveltal is another bird Pokemon, but it’s a slightly wrong bird and it’s wrong in all the right ways…my head hurts. What I mean is, it has a lot of the elements you’d expect a bird Pokemon to have – tiny feet with sharp claws, massive wings and a pointed face – but it warps them slightly so they’re all a bit off. The wings aren’t made of feathers, their long strips that seem to be part of its body and giant claws on the end instead of talon feathers; it doesn’t have a mouth, only horns and very angry looking eyes and its tail looks exactly like its wings. It’s all slightly wrong, which makes for the feeling of a very warped Pokemon, which is exactly what Yveltal is supposed to be.

Red and Black is a colour scheme that I’ve always loved the look of and this is the perfect Pokemon for it, this Pokemon looks genuinely evil and I think it’s a wonderful design, I couldn’t think of anything better to embody death.

4 – Rayquaza

We need more green legendaries, I’m sick of the shade of red vs shade of blue versions we’ve got in all but two generations so far.

Rayquaza is a Pokemon that’s subtle in its complexity. Its body shape is incredibly simple, it’s literally just a straight line but the design is able to cram jus the right amount of detail onto that straight line that it’s got a great sense of beauty to it. I’m not the biggest fan of the colour green, but it really works here because it’s very striking in how different it is, both in comparison it’s trio-mates, Groudon & Kyogre, and against every cover legendary as a whole.

The green is highlighted by yellow, red and black, which on paper sounds like a horrible combination, but each of the colours is used sparing and in the right places to stop everything crashing and falling apart. The red on its talons that stick out act almost as go-faster stripes and then there are the yellow patters that stretch across its body, keeping with Kyogre & Groudon’s designs of the ancient & tribal looking patterns on their body.

In a twist from the Gen 3 trio, I actually like Mega-Rayquaza less than I like regular Rayquaza, the glowing golden ribbons that come off its head are a brilliant inclusion, but the rest of the design just seems a bit much to me. Outside of that, Rayquaza is an absolute winner of a Pokemon that deserves its status as the head of the weather trio. Wins the award for the best name too.

3 – Giratina

I’m going to be honest here, this top three was tough to order.

I talked a little while ago about how Yveltal looked like pure evil in its design and how Solgaleo looked terrifying. Well mash that sense of evil and terror together and that’s how Giratina makes me feel. The wonderful red & black colouring is back again, only this time it’s mixed in with grey & yellow highlights to bring a new level of pop to the design and somehow make it look even more menacing.

Its alternate form is undeniably great, but weaker than it’s origin form in my opinion. The alternate form still keeps the terrifying-looking face and I adore the design of its wings, but the shape of the body feels a bit off and I don’t think six legs quite work for the design. The origin form is a whole other story. The shape of its body changes to be that of something I can’t even really describe, with yellow spikes sticking out from a grey body that is covered with black & red stripes, as giant black and red spikes stick out from it’s back acting almost like terrifying shadow arms.

I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly way better than anything I could’ve imagined for Pokemon’s embodiment of the ruler of the underworld. Giratina manages to be all this, while still staying true to the design elements of the creation trio to form a Pokemon that lives exclusively in the nightmares of children.

2 – Xerneas

Xerneas is a prime example of a Pokemon that “grew on me” over time.

Maybe it’s because I was a stupid teenage boy at the time, but “life-giving rainbow deer” didn’t quite strike a chord with me when I first saw it, however over time I’ve come to love Xerneas as one of my all-time favourite Pokemon. Aside from the fact that it was the first Pokemon I ever had any real competitive success with, Xerneas’ design is the definition of a majestic looking Pokemon.

First things first, its horns are rainbows; quite frankly that should be all that’s necessary for an explanation, but I’ll go on. The shape of its face is interestingly designed in such a way so that it still keeps the sharp look of Yveltal’s face – thus keeping them on the same theme visually – but the narrow snout and rounded chin are able to make what is almost an identical face seem kind and benevolent instead of menacing. The darker shade of blue matches up nicely with the black of it’s lower body, where its tail is an adorable little puff of fur and its legs are shaped so gracefully and I absolutely love the way this thing moves.

While I would argue that other Pokemon on this list are more visually impressive, Xerneas’ design comes together with the theme and feel that the Pokemon is supposed to give off in order to elevate it into something better than just something pretty looking.

1 – Dialga

I mean, come on, have you ever seen a more bold, imposing and yet somehow graceful Pokemon?

Dialga flips the design from its counterpart, using the grey armour-looking material simply as detailing in this design, as opposed to Palkia, where it seems to be its entire body. I’ve always been fairly apathetic to the colour blue, but the particular shade they have for Dialga’s body here looks beautiful, made all the more brilliant by the light blue highlights all over its body.

The way the armour outlines its body makes it seem regal with its presence, like how a medieval king wears minimal armour just because it looks impressive; only, instead of ruling a small country, Dialga is the lord of time. I particularly love the segment on Dialga’s chest that houses its gem. Not only does it put the gem front and centre where it can look it’s best, but the shape of the plate stick out and forms around its body in just the right way to draw attention towards the centre of the chest.

When designing a Pokemon to represent time, it would’ve been easy for Game Freak to create a Pokemon with giant clocks of some description, but instead, they were able to create a Pokemon that I honestly hold up as one of my all-time favourites.

And that’s my list! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, I’m sure your rankings will look very different to mine so please let me know what cover legendaries you love, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back at the same time next week where I’ll be ranking every episode from Series 5 of Doctor Who!