"Under a full moon, this Pokémon likes to mimic
the shadows of people and laugh at their fright".
Gengar has long been my favourite Pokemon, and is thus something of a minor mascot for FireChao.com. Being #094 on the National Pokedex, he has been around since the first generation and available in every Pokemon Game.
His appeal stems naturally from his impressive base stats, wide movepool and effective design. He is a fun pokemon to use both when playing through the handheld games and when battling competitively: by the conclusion of this article, I hope that you will understand why!
As you can see, Gengar's design has evolved
through its many sprite iterations.
Gengar is now classified "purple", along with 52 other pokemon, though, as can be plainly seen to the right, it was previously much darker in colour. Nearly humanoid in shape, it boasts 4 limbs but its face is central, with no neck. Now at the third stage of its evoloutionary chain, Gengar has red eyes, a sinister toothy grin and a spiked back.
In the recent introduction of gender differences, Gengar did not receive any gender-dependent modifications.
Gengar's "shiny" counterpart has always been darker than the standard: now, it is a dark grey shade with peach coloured eyes.
The design seems to be influenced by the shadow people of popular paranormal culture. This theory is particularly convincing considering pokedex descriptions such as "Sometimes, on a dark night, your shadow thrown by a streetlight will suddenly and startlingly overtake you. It is actually a Gengar running past you, pretending to be your shadow". from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire.
Perhaps a straight tail is the shadow of a curled tail?
Gengar was added by the developers to the original Pokémon games shortly after Clefable, who was originally intended to be the series' mascot instead of Pikachu. It has been suggested that Gengar, "The Shadow Pokémon", is actually Clefable's shadow. This is supported by their similar designs you see to the right.
Due to their typings (Ghost and Normal, respectively, though Clefairy has much later been given an additional type), neither can damage the other with moves of their own type, the closest way Game Freak could incorporate the idea of the impossibility of fighting your own shadow (as seen in The Duchess of Malfi and Peter Pan). While Clefable served a more prominent role, it would make sense for such a nemesis to be designed.
The name Gengar, originally intended to be "Phantom" in the west, may have had any of a plethora of influences. Here are some of the more likely ideas:
- The japanese symbol "kanji", often prnounced "gen", can mean "phantom" or "illusion". In case you were not aware: Game Freak, the pokemon developers, are based in Tokyo.
- Also, the name Gengar is very much like the Danish word "genganger", simply meaning a ghost (could be literally translated "again-walker").
| At Lv. 50
|| At Lv. 100
|| 120 - 167
|| 230 - 324
|| 63 - 128
|| 121 - 251
|| 58 - 123
|| 112 - 240
|| 121 - 200
|| 238 - 394
|| 72 - 139
|| 139 - 273
|| 103 - 178
|| 202 - 350
Gengar has the highest stat for both speed and special attack of any ghost type in the game, often encouraging battlers to use it as a fragile special sweeper. The roles in which I prefer to see it are, however, more complicated than that:
Perhaps The Most Interesting Gengar Moveset: Substitute and Pain Split End-Game Sweeper and Wall Breaker
Gengar certainly packs a powerful punch
in competitive battling, despite his frailty.
- Life Orb
- Timid (raises speed at the expense of attack)
- 252 EVs
- Special Attack:
- 252 EVs
- 4 EVs
- The Moveset:
- Shadow Ball
- Focus Blast
- Pain Split
The most interesting thing about this Gengar moveset is its use of the new move that came within Gengar's reach on the recent release of Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver. Using this move to recover health, Gengar avoids being fazed by the combination of substitute and life orb, even in a sandstorm!
Against Blissey, usually a surefire Gengar counter, this set fares remarkably well. Blissey's humongous HP stat works against it when Gengar can steal a significant proportion of these hit points with Pain Split. Similar tactics work on other common walls such as Gliscor, leading me to find this Gengar moveset invaluable in my OU team.
Gengar's base stats are impressive, to say the least. As a sweeper, his proficiency is obvious. Maximum EV investment in Special Attack and Speed, along with a Speed-enhancing nature, take full advantage of this natural ability. Nonetheless, he is very fragile, and can therefore be hard to switch in - the incredibly common scizor can one-hit-KO Gengar with Bullet Punch and threaten to Pursuit him if he flees. Substitute goes some way in protecting Gengar from pursuit, and his three immunites (to types Normal, Fighting and Ground) are always convenient for getting him out, into the battle.
Offensively, as Gengar is more commonly used, this set often finds opportunities to shine. The life orb allows it to pack enough of a punch to do some serious damage with its combination of Focus Blast and Shadow Ball (a type combination which is, as yet, unresisted), even if Focus Blast's accuracy is occasinally frustrating at 70%.
This Gengar is very useful in almost any team, as it is perfectly capable of causing problems for both defensive and offensive opposing teams: the combination of Pain Split and Substitute allows Gengar to break through a plethora of walls and the high speed and special attacking power allows gengar to threaten offensive pokemon with comparable effectiveness. This moveset shows Gengar at his best.
Below, click the tumbnails to see yet more gengar art, the first of which is exclusive to FireChao.com courtesy of Ymo.