There’s this rather cliché sentiment that you should never judge a book by its cover, which means that you shouldn’t judge something or someone based on their initial appearance. The reasoning behind this is that an ugly-looking book, so to speak, could be hiding a captivating story behind its tattered and broken cover. And that a spotless-looking book could be home to a boring story behind its shiny and well-groomed cover. So…how does this even relate to Pokemon Go, you may ask?
Well, there’s one Pokemon that pretty much embodies that cliché sentiment: Magikarp. To everyone who has played at least one game from the main Pokemon series, the Water-type Pokemon is usually the target of jokes, and for good reason. See, Magikarp is a pretty much useless Pokemon. It’s very weak and frail and doesn’t even possess a Water-type move to save its tail from opposing Fire-type Pokemon, which it should have a clear advantage over, type-wise. However, as many players have bitterly found out, there’s so much more to Magikarp than its dumb-looking face.
A lesson from history
Back in the original Pokemon games, Red and Blue, Magikarp can initially be acquired very early, right before the games’ very first dungeon, Mt. Moon. The pathetic Pokemon can be bought from a suspicious-looking man for a rather absurd price (remember, it’s still early-game and in-game funds were scarce). Of course, for a hefty price, most players generally assumed that the Pokemon they bought is a very powerful one which can help them slog through the first dungeon. But as soon as they send out Magikarp into battle, they would immediately realize that they’ve been scammed – the Pokemon is straight-up useless in battle.
Magikarp possessed only one non-damaging move, Splash, and it wouldn’t learn anything else for a while, which made it very difficult to level up in the beginning and relied mostly on shared EXP via switch-outs. So taking this into account, it’s typical for players to abandon Magikarp almost immediately, either by re-loading their games or, if they weren’t scammed into buying it in the first place, by shelving it in their Pokemon storage after catching it via fishing. But little did players know that they had just turned their backs on one of the most powerful non-legendary Pokemon in existence.
From dispensable to indispensable
Later in the original games, players would encounter a terrifying-looking Pokemon named Gyarados. Naturally, the first question that would pop in players’ minds is, “Where can I get that awesome Pokemon?” Gyarados’ open-mouthed appearance bears a striking similarity to Magikarp, and upon checking the Pokedex, players would learn that Magikarp and Gyarados are right next to each other. Pokemon of the same evolution line are typically next to each other in the Pokedex, which prompted players to wonder whether Gyarados is the evolution of Magikarp. And so, players would then pick up Magikarp again and actually devote more effort to give it EXP – either through switch-outs or via a Pokemon Day Care Center which converts the steps players take into EXP.
After reaching a certain level, players would find out that, yes, Magikarp indeed evolves in the much, much more powerful Gyarados. Gyarados has a very high attack stat in the main games, which made it capable of sweeping entire teams by its lonesome, either in-game or in competitive battling. It’s one of the most feared Pokemon in existence, both for its power and its permanent angry-looking face.
Nothing much has changed
In Pokemon Go, Magikarp is still useless in battle, although it’s now equipped with another damaging move to go along with its signature Splash. Magikarp is a very common encounter near areas with water, like ponds and lakes, so it can be argued that it’s the Water-type version of the similarly common Pidgey and Rattata. Evolving Magikarp to Gyarados in Pokemon Go is much easier than in the main games, thanks to the lack of traditional Pokemon levels. Magikarp can be evolved by repeatedly catching it and earning Magikarp Candies, which can be used to directly evolve it right then and there, similar to all other Pokemon with an evolution line.
Gyarados is also still a powerhouse in Pokemon Go, just like the old days. Like all other Water-type Pokemon, it can be encountered near places with water, but it’s one of the rarest encounters, quite similar to Dragonite and its evolution line. Of course, like with all other Pokemon in Pokemon Go, Gyarados is only limited to two moves, which somewhat lessens its dominance. Gyarados’ biggest weaknesses are Electric-type Pokemon, no thanks to its dual Water-Flying type – both weak to Electric. Thankfully, there aren’t many Electric-type Pokemon in the original 151, with the most powerful one not even available in-game yet. This leaves Jolteon of the Eevee line as the most dangerous threat to Gyarados. Nevertheless, Gyarados remains one of the best in Pokemon Go in wiping everything in sight.
Other similar cases?
The third-gen games, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, introduced another Pokemon in the mold of Magikarp: the similarly dumb-looking Feebas. It’s useless and frail in battle, too, and can never be counted upon to even douse a single flame. However, Feebas is much more difficult to acquire than Magikarp, appearing in only six very specific and random locations – or more accurately, tiles. But with the proper effort in catching and evolving it, Feebas, like Magikarp, will turn into a powerful Pokemon: Milotic. For comparison, Milotic is more of a defensive menace instead of an offensive powerhouse like Gyarados. Nevertheless, Feebas and Milotic are similar to Magikarp and Gyarados in proving that not everything is what it seems at first glance.
Feebas and Milotic, of course, are still on the way in Pokemon Go, similar to the other 600-plus Pokemon from the second-gen games onwards. So players that have just been recently introduced to the Pokemon games, thanks to Pokemon Go, will have to wait a bit more before they can grace upon the beauty of Milotic. Seriously, it’s considerably less terrifying than Gyarados, if you look closely at its image above. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait very long if you want to have someone catch a Gyarados for you. But while you’re waiting, why not check out League of Legends accounts, too?