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.)
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.)
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)
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.
|Top 3 STAB Attacks|
|Air Slash||Flying||75||S||Air Slash||Flying||75||S|
|Top 3 Non-STAB Attacks|
|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?
|Top 4 TM Moves|
|Roost||Heals up to 1/2 HP||Calm Mind||Raises Spec. Attack and Spec. Defense|
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.
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.
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.