We’re back for the Normal-type reviews, and today we’re going to focus on Kecleon, a chameleon Pokémon who has the unique innate ability to change its type in battle! If you are ready with this one, please proceed.
Selected Fan Art (Artist: purplekecleon)
Along with Azurill and Wailmer, Kecleon was one of the first Generation 3 Pokémon to be revealed. It was also the first Generation 3 Pokémon to be featured in the anime, so it was basically the harbinger of the next Generation. Its abilities revolve around changing types, making it a Pokémon that isn’t always a Normal-type, but because it’s Normal by default, it will be touched on in a Normal-type review.
Hoenn, being a more tropical area, introduced a number of tropical-related Pokémon, with Kecleon being one of them. It is found in an area populated with lots of trees, much like how chameleons are found in areas with a lot of trees because they are arboreal (there are a few that are terrestrial, as in, predominantly living on land).
Chameleons are known for the colour-changing skin, so likewise, Kecleon could do this too. Changing skin colour is a very useful ability to have, mainly because it allows a chameleon to blend with its surroundings, either to avoid predators or to become invisible to the prey (and lash out its tongue to catch the unsuspecting). Similarly, Kecleon changes colour to sneak up on its snack and grab them with its tongue. The difference is that Kecleon’s zigzag pattern on its belly doesn’t change its colour, so it might be noticeable. Because of this, its shiny colouration only differs in that area. The way Kecleon changes its skin colour is to make it essentially invisible amongst its surrounding (with the exception of the belly pattern), much like how chameleons are depicted in other media. In the Hoenn games, it is even completely invisible (and impassable)!
Chameleons change colours for various reasons, such as to camouflage as mentioned above, and one of these reasons is to convey different emotions. For example, a black chameleon is an angry chameleon wanting to intimidate others. In like manner, Kecleon changes colour based on how it feels at that moment, on whether it’s happy or sad. If startled, Kecleon would change back to its original colouration. I imagine real chameleons would change to another colour when startled, since its original colour is difficult to determine.
There is another function in Kecleon’s ability to change its skin colour, which is to convert to another type. When abilities were introduced, one idea to utilise it is to closely mimic how the real animal works. One of its ability is Colour Change, which is a reactionary ability that makes Kecleon a Grass-type if struck with a Grass attack. For the most part, it becomes resistant to that attack since 9 out of 18 types resist their own types (most are Special-based, which is why it has high Special Defence), but 2 of them are weak to each other, making it counterproductive to change to that type, though it cannot change to Ghost immediately since it is immune to it originally.
Kecleon’s other ability is Protean, allowing it to change its type when it uses any move with a type, which is more flexible because Kecleon has high-priority moves. For example, if it uses Shadow Sneak, it becomes a Ghost-type, allowing it to completely evade a threatening Fighting attack. Even without using them, getting STAB on any attack is a huge boost since it gives power on every attack you use. Though it gets Nasty Plot to boost Special Attack, it has a lot more Physical attacks to choose from.
There are other things that chameleons have or do, but they’re not mentioned as something Kecleon could also do. Chameleon eyes are unique in that they can individually move in any direction to look at different things, but Kecleon seems to use regular eyes. Since Kecleon is more able to blend into its surroundings and Pokémon are generally larger than real-life insects, it probably doesn’t need to be as surreptitious in its approach. A chameleon’s tail is prehensile and is mainly used to grasp the branch, and while Kecleon also have a long tail, it isn’t seen to be grabbing branches with it. Finally, chameleons have toes that are somewhat long and suited to grab branches, owing to its arboreal nature. By comparison, Kecleon’s fingers and toes are short, but they do have claws like chameleons.
Kecleon is essentially an ordinary animal made into a Pokémon, because the features taken from a chameleon are more general rather than in-depth, and it’s even designed more simply. It is also given abilities that make it more useful, namely the ability to change its type and colour in a whim. It would have been quite cool if Kecleon actually changes colour when its type change in the games, because that would be quite a sight. All in all, Kecleon is a simple yet fantastical representation of a real chameleon.
+ Useful colour- and type-changing abilities
– Colour does not change within the games
This Kecleon is much different from other cards where it’s mainly showing off its tongue, because this one’s got some style going on for it. Smiling reptiles can look somewhat unnerving since they don’t normally have what you say expressive faces (such as crocodiles). However, Kecleon looks like as if it’s going to break up into a dance, so this comes off as something joyful.
Chameleons are known to camouflage, but instead of choosing Camouflage (which Kecleon oddly doesn’t learn normally, instead learning it as an Egg Move), Substitute is chosen because it also fits Kecleon’s concealing abilities. Besides, Substitute is much more useful and universal in battling.
The way Substitute works is that the user will sacrifice a quarter of their life to create a “doll” that takes any damage or effects the user would have taken. Because the “doll” is not alive, it is immune to a lot of effects, such as stat-reducing ones and other miscellaneous effects (Leech Seed comes to mind). However, it will still take damage. If the Pokémon requires 5 hits or more to KO, then Substitute is preferable for free turns. Since the user sacrifices their HP when using this move, they cannot sustain their survivability if they used it too often to replace destroyed “dolls”.
Perhaps the potency of Substitute’s defensive abilities is too good, as Generation 6 rectifies it by allowing opponents ways to bypass it, namely through Sound moves and Infiltrator. As such, Substitute users are not as invincible anymore. Of course, it is still very useful, but if they are weak to a sound move like Bug Buzz, they are still at risk.
Overall, Substitute is very useful for fast or bulky Pokémon who could benefit the most from their “doll” shield. It’s still a mystery on why Substitute looks like a general monster, but I guess that thing makes for more merchandising possibilities.
That’s all for today’s article. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it.
Next Article: Lickitung & Lickilicky