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POTW: Pokémon of the Week #13: Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar

Driving You Batty
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In the World of Pokémon, there lives a vast number and variety of amazing creatures to befriend and collect. Every week, we will be focusing on a single one of these Pokémon or evolutionary line and talking about what makes it special. This week's Pokémon of choice is Gengar!


Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar are the first ever Ghost-type Pokemon pioneering the elements of shadows, incorporeality, mischievousness, and sinister actions within the type. These Pokémon are renown for engulfing beings in gases, lurking in the darkness and shadows, and draining the lifeforce of a living things. They are usually seen in old or decrepit buildings, thick forests, and spooky caves. They choose these places to stalk daring visitors, lure in potential victims, or just play to pranks on passing travelers. Gengar is stated by Ken Sugimori to be his favorite Pokémon which is easy to understand looking at all the interesting ideas and concepts that are contained in their relatively simple design. Seemingly from being the only line of their type created in the franchise’s earliest days when it wasn’t certain it would become a worldwide phenomenon these Pokemon encompass so much in their being. They resemble will-o’-the-wisps in both their glimmer in the darkness and swamp gas incarnations. They take on both the little known Philippine Dila which can lick people to death and the lifeforce stealing shadow everyone knows as the Doppelganger. Don’t even get me started on the oh so many Japanese yokai like floating heads or ethereal soul balls. Such simple designs have also enabled people to notice and discuss many other possible inspirations such as the Cheshire Cat, the life cycle of frogs, and even their Gen I pal Clefable!
When it comes to battle Gengar is and has always been top tier. Great Speed, amazing Special Attack even as a Gastly, immunity to three types and one status, and a vast movepool with so many usable options has contributed to Gengar’s success over these twenty years. Even in Gen I-III where its stats were misaligned with its typing Gengar still had a great time shooting Thunderbolts and cursing opponents to be dragged down with it when it faints. Gen VI saw the release of Mega Gengar and the terror of its third eye. Now an earthbound spirit Mega Gengar unleashes an automatic Mean Look on its foes forcing them to be battered by very powerful Shadow Balls and Focus Blasts. Mega Gengar became so terrifying with its immense power and debilitating status that it has been banned in certain places and formats. In the realm of fighting games Gengar has entered the scene along other prominent and popular Pokémon with Pokken Tournament. A Technique style fighter Gengar confounds its opponents with deceptive attacks and elusive tactics before going Mega and devastating the foe with its all engulfing being!

Here are some questions to consider to get conversation rolling. You don't have to answer all of them or any of them in your post as long as you're staying on topic and within global forum rules.
-Do you like or dislike this Pokémon? Why?
-How is this Pokémon in-game?
-How is this Pokémon in competitive play? Are there any interesting strategies you like to use for them?
-Do you like this Pokémon's representation in the anime? Are there any moments or qualities in particular you enjoy/dislike?
-How do you think this Pokémon would interact with our world?
-If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?
-Do you yourself have any other theories for what went into this Pokémon’s design?
-As the first of its type do you think this Pokémon did a good job laying the groundwork?
-As the only one of it’s type for years how do you think this Pokémon fared?
-What are your thoughts about the fact that this Pokémon was once the only one of its type?
If you have any suggestions for Pokémon you'd like to discuss in the future just leave your ideas at the bottom of your post. Make sure you give your thoughts about the current Pokémon first!

Thanks to @Gengarzilla for suggesting this Pokémon of the Week!

Previous Pokémon of the Week:
 
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"What do you mean, my Gengarite is contraband?!"
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You're welcome. And on Week 13 too, how lovely~

-Do you like or dislike this Pokémon? Why?
Love it. Don't quite know why, there's plenty of reasons.

-How is this Pokémon in-game?
The trade evolution aspect from Haunter could understandably be annoying if you have nobody to trade with, but I'd call Gengar a good payoff.

-How is this Pokémon in competitive play? Are there any interesting strategies you like to use for them?
It's still the only Pokémon to have been OU in Smogon's tiers since Gen I, that alone shows how consistently good Gengar is.
Three attacks (Shadow Ball, Sludge Bomb/Wave, Focus Blast) and something to work around Sucker Punch (Destiny Bond, Disable, Substitute, Reflect Type, even Torment if I'm feeling ballsy). For the Mega, there's Perish Trapping. When it isn't Mega, I most often use Mega Houndoom for a dance partner. Whenever I want some more out of the box options, there's Hex, Dazzling Gleam, and Icy Wind. There's one reason I like it, the versatility is awesome.

-Do you like this Pokémon's representation in the anime? Are there any moments or qualities in particular you enjoy/dislike?
I'll admit to enjoying the sight of Agatha's Gengar beating Ash's Pikachu, and that first PMD special did well to show Gengar of Team Meanies being a jerk (why they didn't follow this up with using Team Skull's trio in the next special is beyond me) but I might possibly remember Jarvis's Gengar most despite not seeing the full movie yet because it's Shiny (I like Shiny Gengar even more) and owned by the movie's antagonist.

-How do you think this Pokémon would interact with our world?
Malicious trickster, but I can't picture them being an outright threat to life as we know it. Those in warmer locations might like its heat stealing capabilities.

-If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?
The only definite one would be to give it access to Sludge Wave from the move's TM for once instead of making it event exclusive. I could also give it Calm Mind, Nasty Plot, Psyshock, and Aura Sphere, but that's verging into wishlist territory.

-Do you yourself have any other theories for what went into this Pokémon’s design?
Not really, but I theorise that Gengar may be a cold blooded creature. That would explain why it steals the warmth from its surroundings. I also got an uproarious laugh out of this. Don't worry about the math, just think of the implications.

-As the first of its type do you think this Pokémon did a good job laying the groundwork?
Yeah, definitely. Gengar showed us the Ghost type's preference towards special attacks and speed. Later Pokémon of that type would break the mold (Dusknoir and Golurk families come to mind) but Gengar's stat spread is still what I imagine when thinking about the Ghost type.

-As the only one of it’s type for years how do you think this Pokémon fared?
As the only one of it's type for years, it was also the only Pokémon immune to Body Slam and Hyper Beam for years, a massive deal in competitive Gen I. I'm almost convinced that having Levitate at this time would have gotten Gengar the same treatment its Mega Evolution gets today. Then again, there's that one anomaly with a certain type...

-What are your thoughts about the fact that this Pokémon was once the only one of its type?
It was quite interesting. Outside of the Normal and Fighting immunities, the Ghost type didn't have much to speak of initially despite nothing resisting it. Lick was painfully weak and Psychic was without a doubt erroneously immune to Ghost at the time. Despite these flaws, Gengar's still held up for 20 years and counting.
 
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Fire Chicken
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-Do you like or dislike this Pokémon? Why?
Yes. In Generation 1, it was the only Ghost-type in the game, looked strong, and needed an entire event at Rocket Hideout to be completed just to make it available to catch. Generation 2 introduced another Ghost-type but Gengar stayed a favourite. Gen 3 didn't have it but it was back for FRLG. And then in Gen 4 you could catch it in its final form (thus bypassing the trading) using dual-slot mode. And just when I felt like it's been falling behind with all the new Ghost-types introduced, it got a Mega. And it was awesome.
-How is this Pokémon in-game?
I've only used it in Platinum postgame as it was available without trading. It was a really nice Pokemon, although the Poison typing is kinda counterproductive to its ability to defeat Psychic-types.
-How is this Pokémon in competitive play? Are there any interesting strategies you like to use for them?
Mega Gengar is now in Ubers, enough said. I prefer the sweeper variants (because that's just how I like playing). Will-O-Wisp and maybe Hypnosis can also work.
-Do you like this Pokémon's representation in the anime? Are there any moments or qualities in particular you enjoy/dislike?
The only one I remember right now is the Lavender Tower episode from the anime series. I liked it there, although the episode never felt scary, just extremely funny.
-How do you think this Pokémon would interact with our world?
If people still wouldn't accept that Ghosts (as in Ghost-type Pokemon) are real, there might've been lots of debate over whether it exists or not, people claiming they have footage of it that proves it exists/does not. But on the other hand I feel like it'll be obvious it exists. In that case, some people may like it because it is strong. Others may be afraid of its hypnotic powers and ability to lurk in your shadow.
-If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?
Change the Poison typing to Dark. Which is a change I actually prefer even if it would make it a worse matchup against Fairy-types.
-Do you yourself have any other theories for what went into this Pokémon’s design?
Not really.
-As the first of its type do you think this Pokémon did a good job laying the groundwork?
How does a floating ghost lay the groundwork? :p credit for this joke isn't mine
But yes, I think it did.
-As the only one of it’s type for years how do you think this Pokémon fared?
Well it might have not been that good in the actual Gen I metagame because Psychic ran rampant... but I still liked it in-game and I think it was somewhat useful for blocking the attacks of powerhouses like Snorlax/Tauros and inflicting some status.
-What are your thoughts about the fact that this Pokémon was once the only one of its type?
They could've introduced some more Ghost-types right off, in my opinion. And the aforementioned Poison type which I didn't like. Oh well.
 
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Do you like or dislike this Pokemon? Why?
Yes, people will kill me if I say no.
How is this Pokemon in-game?
Never got it cuz you need to trade to get it;;;
How is this Pokémon in competitive play? Are there any interesting strategies you like to use for them?
Very very good pokemon especially the mega one. Shadow tag is an extremely good abilit and allows it to trap and kill things like xerneas and lugia. It can run a offensive set, a subsitute hex spam set and a perish trapping set. Regular gengar is also pretty good. It's a pretty good stallbreaker and sometimes revenge killer in OU. It doesn't have too much competition regarding type. It's the only offensive ghost type viable in OU, and the only vialbe offensive poison type that's not BL or UU.
Do you like this Pokémon's representation in the anime? Are there any moments or qualities in particular you enjoy/dislike?
Felt like any ghost in the anime. So sure :^)
How do you think this Pokémon would interact with our world?
Too scary for most people :^)
If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?
Not much really. I like it's style. It's not a perfect pokemon but it's good at what it does.
Do you yourself have any other theories for what went into this Pokémon’s design?
Nein.
As the first of its type do you think this Pokémon did a good job laying the groundwork?
It is a ghost so yes XD
As the only one of it’s type for years how do you think this Pokémon fared?
Both good ghost and poison type are rare. So it fills these niche pretty easily. Fairy is so dominant that almost every team needs a fairy counter. Gengar is a good option if you don't want to use any steel types.
What are your thoughts about the fact that this Pokémon was once the only one of its type?
it made gengar very unique. Though it probably would have been better if there's another ghost type.
 
PinkIceTales!
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-Do you like or dislike this Pokémon? Why?
I like them. They're purple. They're poison. They're neat.
-How is this Pokémon in-game?
The only time I ever used this line in my memory is back in gen1 where Psychic types were broken and therefore did not get hurt by ghosts... plus the Gengar family is poison too so... for me they did not do very well. >>; Beyond that I can't even get Gengar in my games really... what with that stupid trade-to-evolve mechanic Gamefreak is oh so fond of giving pokemon at times.
-Do you like this Pokémon's representation in the anime? Are there any moments or qualities in particular you enjoy/dislike?
I loved the trio in the episode involving Lavender Town. I loved Ghastly in The Ghost of Maiden's peak. I miss episodes like that.
-How do you think this Pokémon would interact with our world?
They would upset so many people who think ghosts don't exist. Lots of pranks.
-If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?
Probably wouldn't have made them Poison types in the first generation what with that whole weakness to psychic types... that and beyond Ghastly's smokey fog around them, there's nothing really poisonous about their appearance. Dark type suits them just about as well in my opinion. I'd also change their shiny forms to make them actually look different from their regular forms. Shiny Mega Gengar is the only one you can tell apart immediately for the most part. They get less obvious as they evolve and once you're at gengar you can barely tell until it mega evolves.
-Do you yourself have any other theories for what went into this Pokémon’s design?
Not really. To me they're just a ghost taking on a more realistic form as it evolves. Starting as a wisp, then a semi-complete ghost, then finishing as a full body.
-As the first of its type do you think this Pokémon did a good job laying the groundwork?
As much as I like them, I have to say no. They couldn't hurt psychic types in gen 1 (something the anime made many children believe it'd be good for) and as poison types that was also a REALLY BAD IDEA to use them against Sabrina. They were only super effective against other ghosts because of that ghost typing and, since they were also they only ghost family in the games, they really didn't stand out as useful against ghosts either. Better off using a Kadabra or another psychic pokemon to handle Agatha and her ghosts (especially since two of her pokemon are also poison types and not ghosts anyway).
-As the only one of it’s type for years how do you think this Pokémon fared?
I don't know about most people but for me I didn't like them outside of their appearance or in the anime for the longest time. I preferred using pokemon based on type advantages. I still haven't personally found a use for Ghost type pokemon on my team. I should really look into that at some point, actually. o.o
-What are your thoughts about the fact that this Pokémon was once the only one of its type?
Eh, it's a gen1 pokemon. A lot of them had that honor at the time. :p
 
steel solid soul
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-Do you like or dislike this Pokémon? Why?

h8 gengar. It has to do with how it's the most popular ghost-type, and yet, it's the weakest designed of literally all of them save giratina-a and its fugly ass. Yes, even spiritomb, I admit it. This wouldn't bother me so much if it wasn't for the fact that ghost is my favorite type and it irks me to see this overrated fatso sap attention away from all those vastly cooler ghosts

-How is this Pokémon in-game?

good

-How is this Pokémon in competitive play? Are there any interesting strategies you like to use for them?

regular gengar is good, if you ask me it might be a tad overrated, tho I'll admit I don't have the most experience with it. Mega gengar is stupid for being able to trap and kill whatever it wants with ease, it's like dugtrio on roids.

-If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?

make it a gen two or three pokemon so people wouldn't worship it as much as they unfortunately do

-Do you yourself have any other theories for what went into this Pokémon’s design?

I don't know, I guess mega gengar's third eye thing is kinda neat...

-As the first of its type do you think this Pokémon did a good job laying the groundwork?

besides the fact that it sucks, I suppose a simple design is a good way to start

-As the only one of it’s type for years how do you think this Pokémon fared?

what

-What are your thoughts about the fact that this Pokémon was once the only one of its type?

gen one was stupid in that it thought it was a cool idea to keep two typings 100% exclusive to two really lame mons. I can understand the desire to keep it rare but that's overkill right there. Or is it underkill? Whatever.
 
Beep Boop
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Do you like or dislike this Pokémon? Why?
Always loved Gastly and Haunter, but never been much of a fan of Gengar's design. I don't hate it, I just don't really care for it. It probably also doesn't help that for years I've never been able to own a Gengar due to it needing to be traded to evolve :/ And definitely not a fan of M-Gengar's design, it just looks weird.

Do you like this Pokémon's representation in the anime? Are there any moments or qualities in particular you enjoy/dislike?

I love these Pokémon in the anime, The Tower of Terror and The Ghost of Maiden's Peak are definitely two of my favourite episodes.

How do you think this Pokémon would interact with our world?

I think they would live in abandoned buildings and scare people for fun.

If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?

To make it evolve without trading and to give it a Mega with a better design (or just no Mega at all).

What are your thoughts about the fact that this Pokémon was once the only one of its type?

Almost every other type (except for Dragon) had at least two Pokémon to choose from, I really think there should have at least been one other Ghost Pokémon to give people some choice if they wanted to use the type. Didn't play the games until Diamond though, so don't really have anything else to say about it.
 
Driving You Batty
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So a little thing I noticed a long time ago was that Gengar comes right after Grimer in the Gen I index number order. That made me wonder if there was ever the possibility that Grimer was meant to evolve into Gengar. There are a few details and design elements that they both share such as being Poison-types. Grimer's sludge and slime aesthetic could also be reminiscent of ectoplasm which is a viscous material that ghosts in fiction are known to be composed of or exude. Granted the index number order doesn't really imply evolutionary lines, especially early in the order where Gengar and Grimer are located, but it's a neat idea to give some thought.
 
Call of Fate
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Gastly looks creepy, but Haunter and Gengar are pretty cool, even though I do find them overrated. Gengar also has a great movepool, with moves like Shadow Ball, Sludge Bomb, Thunderbolt, Energy Ball, and Dazzling Gleam, although it couldn't use its STAB attacks effectively prior to the introduction of the physical/special split. I really disliked the trade in Snowpoint City back in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, since attaching an Everstone to a Haunter was an incredibly nasty trick, which they hopefully fix in the remakes, should they be made. The change in Gengar's ability also irked me quite a lot, since the only good thing about it is that now Gengar can absorb Toxic Spikes.
I liked the Gengar in the Lavender Town episode of the anime, it was funny.
 
Sell a Flareon
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I can find Gastly line being funny and creepy at times, but they, especially Gengar, are really good Pokémon at times depending on where do you use them.

For designs, the whole line would be a take on pollution, with Gastly being based on poisonous, polluted gases like those from smokers and industrial areas. Haunter could be acidic, polluting clouds and possibly acid rain clouds that can damage the items once in contact. For Gengar... I have some design theories:

Gengar can be found in some areas like wastelands, chemical labs, or in urban areas, and looks like slime or balloons in appearance. Sine it's poison-type, multiple Gengar can be encountered in dirty environments, like wastelands. And can be toxic enough to make some people sick. If you get toxicated by a Mega Gengar, you're hospitalized at best since its toxins can be worse than Nihilego's.
 
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