Pre-evolve of the Week #7 (10/23/2012)
Misdreavus, the Screech Pokemon. It loves playing mischievous tricks at night such as screaming and wailing to startle people, or biting and yanking people's hair from behind without warning. The Pok้mon apparently uses its red spheres to absorb the fearful feelings of foes and turn them into nutrition. In daytime, it sleeps in darkness.
Misdreavus' design certainly is rather bare-bones, but I still feel it's executed well enough. However, I like Mismagius' appearance more. As for the lore behind it, good ol' Japanese Mythology and the expected absurdity are responsible for this flyin' ghost-head wearin' a necklace. Misdreavus is almost assuredly based on the Nukekubi, monsters that detach their heads at night t' go find some human dinner. Y'all probably know I'm a sucker for Middle-Eastern mythology at this point, so yeah, I moderately like Misdreavus in both design and lore.
Anyways, there're four clear qualities Misdreavus and the Nukekubi have in common; firstly, they're flyin' heads. Secondly, they both scream at people in preparation to feed: Misdreavus by devouring their emotions, the Nukekubi usin' the scream to startle and make their prey helpless. Third, both the Pokemon and monster bite their targets for different reasons. Lastly, that characterized necklace-like line of orbs on Misdreavus' neck(???) may be a reference to how the Nukekubi, disguised as a normal human during daytime, may cover up a line of symbols on it's neck with jewelry or other such apparal, as said symbols distinguish it as being the monster it is from a normal human.
Competitively, Misdreavus always had stiff competition from every genwunner's favorite Ghost-type Gengar since the very beginning. It had notably worse stats and just one sole niche Gengar couldn't mimic: perish-trapping, a topic I covered in Jynx's PotW article. Unlike Jynx and even Gengar however, Misdreavus had Pain Split for recovery, as well as a more tolerable Defense stat. This niche allowed it to actively function in OU's metagame alongside Gengar, despite the huge gap in stats. Unfortunately this success was short lived since Misdreavus dropped a tier every new generation with the advent of new and potent Ghosts like Dusclops; and it's evolution in Diamond and Pearl, of course.
Pre-evolves of the Week #9 (10/23/2012)
Zubat, the Bat Pokemon. It has neither eyes nor a nose. While living in pitch-black caverns, their eyes gradually grew shut and deprived them of vision. It emits ultrasonic cries that bounce back to its large ears, enabling it to fly safely via echolocation. They form colonies in perpetually dark places. Zubat remains quietly unmoving in a dark spot during the bright daylight hours, sleeping while hanging upside down. It does so because prolonged exposure to the sun causes its body to become slightly burned, causing it to become unhealthy.
Bats are cool, sure. Grand example of Darwin 'n evolution doin' amazin' things. Zubat however, is not. Nobody loves these god damned things which plague your every other step inside caves, 'less you've a bag full'a repels. Not t' mention it and it's evolved form Golbat is terrible. It's essentially the Rattata of caves 'n Poison types.
... Typical complaints aside, it's design might be lacking but that is indeed intentional. It's based off of a bat and nothin' more, it ain't meant to have some extravagant flourish in it's design. The same applies for it's lore; t'is simple and doesn't try to be somethin' it isn't. Aside from my anger towards them bein' an untiring plague on spelunkers across EVERY generation of Pokemon, I'm quite indifferent to it. It's certainly "meh".
Golbat, the omfgkillitwithfireBat Pokemon. It is particularly active in the pitch black of night. It attacks in a stealthy manner, without warning. It clamps down on its prey with four needle-sharp fangs, puncturing its victim's hide however hard it may be. When it plunges its fangs into its prey, it instantly draws and gulps down more than ten ounces of blood. Once it strikes, it will not stop draining blood from the victim even if it gets too heavy to fly. Its own blood type changes to that of its victim. It loves the blood of both humans and Pok้mon.
Unlike Zubat, Golbat actually has a, uh... "inspired" design anyone who's played Gen 1 should still remember. It's clearly meant to be more sinister lookin' that Zubat, so despite the fact it's design hasn't changed all-that much in one evolution, it certainly pulls off what it's goin' for. Golbat's design doesn't appeal t' my personal taste, but it's design is still definitely good... in a way. It's also not as ****in' annoyin' as it's pre-evolution. I also like the fact how Zubat evolves from a eye-less, foot-less bat into one that has said bodily features yet still retains it's ability to echolocate. Though it doesn't need visual input nor feet as it's pre-evolve has proven, this gives it more tools for survival. T'is the definition of evolution.
Competitively, t'was completely useless. There's a reason Golbat got a new evolution in the next generation; t'was utter shit in battle. Low stats, garbage movepool, poor typing. Considerin' Crobat's never been all-that great, you can certainly visualize how poor Golbat really is.