Was Whitney OP, Or Were The Rest Of The Johto Gym Leaders Just Pathetic?
If Pokemon Gold & Silver’s Whitney still haunts your nightmares, you’re not alone. The Goldenrod City Gym Leader is famous for nigh-unstoppable Milktank, whose Rollout ability can quickly wipe an unprepared team. Even if you manage to survive the attack, it takes a lot to knock out this pink cow (sidenote: there’s strawberry milk in there, right?). It has tons of health, few weaknesses, and can heal itself with Milk Drink when it gets low. Whitney is often considered one of the hardest fights in all of Pokemon, but was she? We’re talking about a level 18 Clefairy and a level 20 Milktank – not exactly an all-star team. Whitney poses a decent challenge, but compared to the rest of the leaders in her region, she might as well be the Muhamed Ali of Johto. She’s only good when you put her next to the rest of these schmucks, and I’m going to prove it.
We’ll work our way across the region, starting with Violet City’s Falkner. I’m tempted to give the first leader a pass since they’re basically part of the tutorial, but I can’t. Falkner has two Pokemon: a Pidgey and a Pidgeotto. Not only are they two Pokemon from the same line, but neither of them is even from Johto. Why not have a new Normal/Flying-type like Hoothoot, Noctowl, or Togetic? He could have had Ledyba, Natu, or Hoppip. This guy’s running the gym and he can’t even evolve a Pidgeotto? I don’t think so.
Next is Bugsy, and this is where things start to get really embarrassing. Bugsy has a Scyther that knows Fury Cutter, which I respect, but his other two Pokemon? Metapod and Kakuna. Metapod AND Kakuna. Two more useless Kanto Pokemon in a Johto League Gym. I assume you’re seeing a pattern emerge here. Pineco was right there! There’s also Ledyba (again), Spinarak, Yanma, and Shuckle. Bugsy literally throws two Pokemon that use Harden at you. No wonder Whitney seems like such a monster.
Morty has a Gastly, two Haunter, and a Gengar. Did a bunch of dorks who couldn’t cut it in Kanto get together and decide to start their own Johto League? How does Morty have four Ghost/Poison-types that don’t know a single Poison move? I’ve got a lot of questions about these gym leaders, and things don’t get much better from here.
Chuck has just two Pokemon, Primeape and Poliwrath. What I like about Chuck is that he’s got evolved Pokemon and a little bit of type diversity. Obviously he’s still a huge pushover though, because any random team of six can handle a Primeape that uses Leer and a Poliwrath with Mind Reader. Chuck almost gets a pass on having Kanto Pokemon because his only Gen 2 options are Tyrogue and Hitmontop, but I have to wonder why he doesn’t.
Jasmine is the first Gym Leader after Whitney to feature a Johto Pokemon, but considering she’s the first Steel-type Gym Leader, she kind of has to. Steelix has a pretty underwhelming moveset (Sunny Day? Are you suicidal?) and she rounds out her team with two Magnemite. Not Skarmory, Scizor, or Forretress – two Magnemite. I understand these games are for children, but these teams just feel lazy.
Pryce… I like Pryce. I’ve stood up for Pryce. Maybe I was wrong about Pryce. The seventh gym leader in Johto has a Seel, and that’s just inexcusable. His team is Seel, Dewgong, and Piloswine. He could have had a Delibird or a Sneasel. Heck, I wouldn’t even be complaining if he had a Lapras. This is not the team of a late-game Gym Leader.
The final Gym Leader is Clair, Lance’s cousin and the true Johto League Champion, if it were up to me. Clair has four powerful Dragon-type Pokemon – the only problem is that three of them are Dragonair. Still, give it up for Clair for at least putting up a fight. One Dragonite is all it would take to make this the only Johto team that isn’t a total embarrassment.
The difference between Whitney and the rest of the Johto League Gym Leaders is that you can’t just bring whatever Pokemon you feel like bringing and win on the first try. To beat Whitney you have to go find that Machop, or at least figure out how to paralyze the Milktank. It’s barely a challenge, but it being a challenge at all sets itself apart from the rest of the league.
You can tell the Johto League is meant to be a bit of a joke as soon as you get to Kanto, because every one of those Gym Leaders has a full team of murderers. Even Brock has stepped up his game with Graveler, Rhyhorn, Omastar, Kabutops, and Onix. No wonder the Johto jokers got ran out of town. Sorry Whitney, you’re the queen of the losers.
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