After a tense build up to Pokémon Day 2018, a stunning trailer was released for a new Pokémon movie. It features a lot of early generation Pokémon, including Ash and Pikachu, along with other familiar faces such as Chansey, Sudowoodo and Togepi. One of the first characters we see in the trailer has an Eevee as her partner.
The jewel in the trailer’s crown, though, was the appearance of Lugia that caught the attention of the entire town, including our heroes.
It’s a simple, brief trailer that doesn’t give a lot away. But fans are already theorising about what this film could herald when it comes to the extended Pokémon universe. It makes sense that this movie will be the first time we see Zeraora following its reveal in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. But there could be a lot more behind it.
In particular, it could have some significance for early generation Pokémon who haven’t had a lot of love recently. Some people are predicting new Eeveelutions. Others are talking about the possibility of a new form or ability for Lugia, given its prominence. The appearance of many first and second generation Pokémon suggests that some old favourites will be brought back to the centre of the story.
If this translates into the games, it could mean see a revival for some early generation Pokémon in the competitive battling scene. A lot Pokémon that were considered incredibly powerful in their earliest incarnations have fallen out of favour with top trainers.
In Pokémon Sun and Moon, a number of early generation Pokémon were given a new lease on life. Between new backstories and the typings, abilities and moves that with come with them, new ways to play with old favourites revived them. With its cool new design and Psychic typing, Raichu became more popular than ever.
A new boost in Generation VIII could see some classics reclaim their place in competitive place.
Despite once being considered pseudo-legendary among early generation Pokémon, Arcanine hasn’t had much of a competitive career. When it only had the first generation to compete against, its fearsome reputation was fairly well deserved. But even then, it would still be easily side-stepped by commonly used Rock types.
In later generations, Arcanine gained a broader move pool and advantages over newly introduced types. But the extra benefits were paralleled by drawbacks from new Pokémon that outshone it. When new generations gifted Arcanine its best advantages, they also brought new Fire types that outclassed it.
It finally saw a bit of competitive action in Generation VI doubles and has remained there in Generation VII. But for almost all of its life it hasn’t been anyone’s first choice for their team.
A boost in Generation VIII could be just what Arcanine needs to revive its legendary status.
Technically, Wigglytuff was not considered a fierce fighter among early generation Pokémon. But the adorable Jigglypuff in the first season of the anime had enough character to make it a franchise mascot. After appearing in multiple Super Smash Bros titles, it remains one of the most memorable early generation Pokémon. Affection for it was enough to make its evolution popular on some competitive teams.
Despite mediocre stats, Wigglytuff had a decent move pool and STAB on powerful moves like Double Edge and Hyper Beam. In became more of a support Pokémon in later generations. Although its move pool was strong, its stats were easily outclassed by other Pokémon like Lickitung.
The addition of its Fairy typing and a boosted Special Attack gave it a bit of a revival in Generation VI. Again its move pool was valuable thanks to the inclusion of moves like Stealth Rock and Wish. It was proved that Wigglytuff could be a crucial part of a team in 2014 when Ray Rizzo used one as part of his team to win the Massachusetts Regionals.
But it has never been hugely popular in competitive battling. An upgrade in Generation VIII could be what it needs to make a more resounding competitive mark.
In the first generation, Dragonite was tied with Mew for the second highest base stats in the game. Despite having a couple of exploitable weaknesses, it was one of the most terrifying Pokémon many trainers would face. It was what made Lance’s team so formidable. But, competitively, Dragonite had its problems.
It had a strong move pool but not a lot of good STAB moves. It had the potential to be unpredictable as it could be used in a lot of different ways. Its main advantage was that trainers could select a move set for it that really complemented the rest of their team.
In later generations, Dragonite was quickly outclassed by stronger Dragon types like Salamence and Garchomp.
It gained a boost in the form of the Multiscale ability in Generation V. But it was knocked back again just a generation later with the introduction of Fairy types. Given the opportunity to properly set it up, Dragonite can still be a formidable foe. But it has weaknesses that can easily exploited that hold it back.
Perhaps some aspect of Generation VIII might renew its fierce history.
A muscle mountain of an early generation Pokémon, some enormous claims are made in Machamp’s Pokédex entries. In Pokémon Yellow, it is claimed that “one arm alone can move mountains”. Despite this, it hasn’t seen much competitive popularity.
It started out with decent stats, but it struggled against popular Psychic types. Even Pokémon it should have had advantages over, such as the Normal type Tauros, could out-speed it.
It gained power as the generations progressed. Despite picking up good new abilities and moves, its low stat continued to let it down. It didn’t help that some of its most powerful moves had very low PP. Generally, it was considered a risky addition to a team.
In Generation IV and V, it saw some competitive use thanks to its good move coverage and high attack stat. But between the wealth of Psychic Pokémon introduced from Generation VI onward and the emergence of Fairy types, Machamp fell back into obscurity.
It has done alright for itself, but a boost in Generation VIII could see Machamp live up to its early generation reputation.
A spine-chilling opponent on Giovanni’s first generation team, veteran trainers have memories of Nidoking as being brutally strong. Its huge move pool included some of the most powerful attacks in the game, such as Blizzard, Earthquake and Thunder.
But, competitively, it was let down by its average stats and unfortunate dual typing.
It performed well in Generation II, but couldn’t keep up with new or boosted Pokémon come Generation III. It was particularly threatened by bulky Water types popular around that time, such as Suicune and Milotic.
Sheer Force as an ability made it more powerful than ever. Its weaknesses were exploitable enough to push it down to Under Used, but it was genuinely impressive there.
It gained a decent edge in Generation VI thanks to its type advantage over Fairy types. But its existing weaknesses didn’t go away, restricting just how powerful it could be.
Something new in Generation VIII could give Nidoking an opportunity to reclaim its crown.
Images from Bulbapedia and Newsweek.