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It’s strange to think it about now, but the not-always-so-good-old-days of Generation I represent an almost unrecognizable era of the Pokémon series. Those who, quite rightly, complain about the hax that goes on in battles today can thank their lucky stars that Wrap no longer works the way it used to.
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Certain typings were completely barren in Pokémon Red & Blue too. Take Ghost, for instance. There were no Ghosts to be found save for the much-beloved Gastly line, which had nary a STAB move worth using. Times have changed a lot since then, but Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar remain as popular as ever. Let’s take a look at how to evolve Gastly, as well as some more curious trivia about this popular Pokémon.
As fans will surely know, Haunter is one of a select few Pokémon that evolves by being traded. This mechanic has existed since the very beginning of the series as a way to try and encourage the social play that is the foundation of the Pokémon concept. It was also a major pain the days of cumbersome Link Cables, but we got by.
Before that, though, Gastly’s got a middle stage evolution to achieve. This is a simple matter of raising the little critter to level 25. You could wait until level 40, so it learns the crucial Shadow Ball a bit quicker—Haunter learns it at level 48—but that’s a personal preference.
Well, maybe we’re overselling Gastly a little here. After all, base 100 isn’t exactly the highest Special Attack around. For a pokémon with two evolutions to get through, though, this is very impressive indeed.
Couple this with its base 80 Speed, and Gastly’s a top-rate glass cannon waiting to happen. Not many pokémon in its position can rival this kind of power and Speed. Sadly, though, it comes at a heavy cost.
While it’s easy to underestimate how much power this tiny pokémon actually packs, the same applies for just how fragile it really is. Its base HP and Defense are both a meager 30, while its Special Defense is an ever-so-slightly-less-hilarious base 35.
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That’s right, friends, Gastly proudly makes both our list of Pokémon with the worst Defense stat ever and Pokémon with the lowest Special Defense in series history. That’s got to be a little embarrassing.
Gastly and its evolutions are still the only Ghost/Poison Pokémon in existence. This means that, along with the usual weaknesses to Dark-types and their fellow Ghosts, they’re also vulnerable to Psychic and Ground moves.
For several generations now, Gengar has been enjoying a complete immunity to the latter, thanks to its Levitate Ability. In an indirect Generation VII nerf, though, this Ability has been replaced with Cursed Body. Only Gengar was affected by this change, which was clearly a calculated move.
As we’ve mentioned, Pokémon has come a long way since the original releases. Gastly’s Pokémon Red & Blue sprite is no longer around to scare us to the very depths of our souls, but this tiny little gaseous creature is still as frightening as it ever was.
“Its body is made of gas. Despite lacking substance, it can envelop an opponent of any size and cause suffocation,” Pokémon X’s Pokédex tells us. “Poisonous gas comprises 95% of its body. It"s said that the remaining 5% is made up of the souls of those who died from the gas,” Pokémon Ultra Moon adds. Don’t worry about it, Game Freak, we weren’t planning to sleep for the next 37 years or so, anyway.
So, there we go. This evolution line’s habit of haunting, cursing, and draining victims’ very essence from the shadows is well documented, but maybe they’re just misunderstood. After all, who hasn’t hopped right into someone’s shadow and eaten their soul once or twice? We’ve all been there.
In PokéPark Wii: Pikachu"s Adventure, Gastly’s section in the PokéPark Pad reads, “Gastly live in the Haunted Zone. They"re much kinder than they may appear.” We’re not sure we’re buying that one, but it’s nice to hear that they have some redeeming qualities. The line has been known to help spirits achieve closure and ‘miss’ trainers who have passed away, after all.
Well, we should clarify here: one specific Gastly has been shown to be able to talk in the anime. Unlike most pokémon, which tend to only be able to speak their own names—or syllables from it—there was a special Gastly in the anime which was a real chatterbox.
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In the episode “The Ghost of Maiden’s Peak,” a Gastly trickster pretended to be the spirit of a young woman who turned to stone waiting for her true love. The spectral maiden turns out to be real, as does Gastly’s surprising ability to speak.
Ken Sugimori is one of the most vital cogs in the Pokémon machine. As Art Director for the series, he’s played a crucial part in the design of all your favorite pokémon—and all your least favorite, so there’s that, too. But which is Sugimori’s own favorite?
Well, when it comes to Kanto, Siliconera reports, it’s none other than Gengar. From an artist’s standpoint, this pokémon’s less complex design makes it easier for him to draw, which is why it gets the creator’s vote.
Throughout its evolution line, it’s clear that Gastly focuses on one thing: hitting hard and fast with special attacks. Both its Ghost and Poison STAB options have improved drastically since the early days, and it’s got some excellent coverage options too. Thunderbolt, Energy Ball, Psychic, and the like are all available to cover particular threats.
That’s just the start of things, though. While its Attack is completely lacking, Gengar has an interesting suite of physical moves, including priority in Shadow Sneak, the rare Shadow Punch, Mega Kick, Drain Punch, and the elemental punches!
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Nobody’s ever actually going to use a Mega Kick Gengar, but the fact remains that this pokémon is generally seen as a straight-up offensive force. What you may not know is that it weaves a dizzying array of tricky supportive moves into the bargain.
From the deadly Destiny Bond to Encore, from Taunt to Trick Room—though its much too fast for that)—from Will-O-Wisp to Perish Song, a favorite of Mega Gengar, which could trap the opponent with its Shadow Tag Ability, this thing is every bit as malevolent and unpredictable in the games as it is in the anime or elsewhere. You never know what to expect when Gastly or its evolutions are around! Its new Gigantamax form can trap foes too, so beware!
NEXT: Ranking The 10 Scariest Ghost Pokémon
Pour One Out For Every Character Not Added To Smash Tonight Whoever gets added at the Nintendo Direct, it"s been a helluva ride