Pokémon Face-Off: Xatu vs. Oricorio

It’s been a while since our last face-off, but with Pokémon hype back on the rise with the announcement of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon (as well as the eventual Switch title), I think it’s time to revisit the series and continue comparing the 7th generation Pokémon to the pocket monsters of yore.

Since Pokémon Gold and Silver have been announced as upcoming Virtual Console titles, I decided to investigate one of my favorite Pokémon from this generation, the future-seeing psychic bird Xatu. It’s never been much of a player on the Pokémon competitive circuit (Smogon has it in the NU tier), but it’s got a really cool design and has some built-in defenses against the pesky bugs that are forever tossed against Psychic types.

As it turns out, Alola has its own Xatu: Oricorio, the type-shifting dancing bird that can take on the Psychic type by sipping the Pink Nectar of Akala Island. Can it temporary psychic bird hold its own against a permanent one? The answer lies in…a face-off!

(As always, the data in the following analysis comes from the good folks at Serebii.net.)

The Types

Since we’ll be focusing on the Psychic/Flying version of Oricorio for this battle, the two combatants have the same type and thus have the same type strengths and weaknesses. (For what it’s worth, Oricorio’s overall type flexibility might give it an advantage if you know you’re opponent’s teams ahead of time, but switching its type is not a terribly convenient process.)

Advantage: Draw

The Stats

Statistic Xatu Oricorio
HP 65 75
Attack 75 70
Defense 70 70
Spec. Attack 95 98
Spec. Defense 70 70
Speed 95 93
Total 470 476

Wow, these two are basically the same bird, huh? Oricorio has a slight advantage in its overall stat count, but it’s the Pokémon’s stat distribution that really gives it the edge:

  • With matching mediocre 70/70 defense spreads, both birds need all the help they can get to stay alive, so Oricorio’s +10 HP advantage is much appreciated.
  • Xatu’s +5 attack advantage is essentially useless, since both birds will be leaning on their higher Spec. Attack for damage.
  • The Spec. Attack and Speed differences are basically a wash: Xatu is barely faster, while Oricorio deals a smidge more damage.

While I usually say that Speed is the most important thing for “squishier” Pokémon, the difference here is so small that the HP gap takes precedence.

Advantage: Oricorio (slightly)

The Abilities

Xatu Oricorio
Synchronize Dancer
Early Bird
Magic Bounce

Dancer is an interesting ability, but it’s hamstrung by the limited number of moves that affect it, as well as by Oricorio’s inability to use these moves effectively. (For example, Oricorio’s middling Attack isn’t going to scare a Dragonite out of using Dragon Dance and setting up a sweep.) Xatu, on the other hand, has several abilities that discourage attackers from using status-affecting moves or setting up entry hazards, as Synchronize will pass any burn/poison/paralysis Xatu receives onto its opponent, and Magic Bounce will reflect a ton of moves (moves that lower stats, moves that induce a status, entry hazards, even junk like Taunt) back onto their use. It’s best to go after Xatu’s meager HP, because its abilities mean that you go after anything else at your own peril.

Advantage: Xatu

The Moves

Xatu Oricorio
Top 3 STAB Attacks
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Future Sight Psychic 120 S Hurricane Flying 110 S
Psychic Psychic 90 S Revelation Dance Psychic* 90 S
Air Slash Flying 75 S Air Slash Flying 75 S
Top 3 Non-STAB Attacks
Ominous Wind Ghost 60 S Pound Normal 40 P
Night Shade Ghost Level S Double Slap Normal 15 P
Other Notable Moves
Wish Heals 1/2 HP after next turn Roost Heals up to 1/2 HP
Me First Uses opponent’s move if used before opponent Mirror Move Copies opponent’s last move
Confuse Ray Confuses opponent Teeter Dance Confuses nearby Pokémon

*Revelation Dance takes its type from the primary type of its user. For Psychic/Flying Oricorio, it becomes a Psychic move.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to shallow end of the move pool.

While both Pokémon take advantage of their respectable Spec. Attack stats, they don’t do it very effectively. Hurricane is annoyingly inaccurate, Future Sight takes two turns to kick in, and Air Slash is not terribly strong. Neither Pokémon has any much coverage to speak of, but Xatu’s mediocre Ghost-type moves are better than Oricorio’s laughable Normal-type ones. On the flip side, Oricorio’s “other” moves are a bit stronger, as Roost heals it immediately and Mirror Move is not dependent on outrunning its opponent.

To be honest, I can’t see much of an advantage either way in this category. In fact, the sheer similarity between the movesets of these Pokémon is a little eerie. Are we absolutely sure Oricorio isn’t just Xatu’s Alolan form?

Advantage: Draw

The TMs

Xatu Oricorio
Top 4 TM Moves
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Name Type Power Phys./
Spec.
Roost Heals up to 1/2 HP Calm Mind Raises Spec. Attack and Spec. Defense
Shadow Ball Ghost 80 S U-Turn Bug 70 P
U-Turn Bug 70 P Steel Wing Steel 70 P
Dazzling Gleam Fairy 80 S Round Normal 60 S

Okay, this category has a clear winner. While both Pokémon share a lot of important TM moves (Calm Mind, Roost, Return, Fly) Xatu gains a lot of useful type coverage (on top of the moves above, it gets Grass Knot and Steel Wing) while Oricorio is left with mostly non-STAB, non-special moves. The G2 bird wins this round in a blowout.

Advantage: Xatu

 The Results

If there’s one conclusion we keep circling back to, it’s that these two are exactly the same bird: Same type, same stat distribution, same types of moves, etc. There can only be one winner in a face-off, however, and when push comes to shove, Oricorio’s ever-so-slight stat advantage can’t compete with Xatu’s superior abilities and TM pool, and the G2 bird flies away with the victory.

Winner: Xatu

Of course, Xatu’s well-deserved victory only comes over 1/4 of Oricorio: While the Alolan bird’s stats and moveset cannot change, its type certainly can, and the ability to transform into Fire, Electric, and Ghost versions of itself can be very useful when you’re taking on the variety of Pokémon you see in the main game. Additionally, every trainer and their mother runs Ice Beam on the competitive circuit to deal with dragons, and being able to, say, switch to a Fire-type and counter that weakness might be more important than being able to learn Dazzling Gleam. In short, your success running either bird will likely come down to individual matchups rather than raw strength and move availability.

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