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In Defense Of Pokemon’s Magikarp Guys

There are several things that almost every mainline Pokemon game has in common with the rest. This might seem obvious, but they’re fewer and further between than you might expect – not every Pokemon game has gyms, for example, or even a proper Pokemon League. Each region also has its own unique Pokedex, fundamentally distinguishing them from one another. Overall, the differences between Pokemon games are far easier to pick out than the similarities.

One thing that nearly every Pokemon game does have, however, is some completely misguided fisherman who somehow managed to get his hands on an Old Rod and reckons he’s going to become the regional champ. Seriously, mate – you can’t beat the Elite Four by repeatedly spamming Splash. I mean, I’m sure there’s someone out there who uses a Struggle strategy to beat Lance with six Magikarp, but you’re not them, Fisherman Andrew on Sinnoh Route 205. Get a grip and catch yourself something else.

I feel sorry for these fishermen, but I also adore them. While the battles give basically no experience and are therefore pretty pointless, I love the fact that almost every single Pokemon game has a trainer like this. For example, there’s a fisherman in Pokemon Red & Blue with a party of six Magikarp, who also appears in Yellow. Nobody has a full six in Gold & Silver, but two trainers have four Magikarp and no other Pokemon – it’s the same in Crystal. Ruby & Sapphire’s Magikarp trainer only has three Pokemon, but these games also feature an amazing meme trainer – this lad has six Pokemon, right, and the first one he sends out is Magikarp, so naturally you’re thinking, “Oh, this is the six Magikarp guy of this Gen.” Except no, it isn’t – his other five Pokemon are all Gyarados. Incredible. It’s the same in Emerald.

LeafGreen and FireRed’s Fisherman Wade has six Magikarp – when you give him a rematch later, after he’s trained up all of his Pokemon, these are all level 47 and still unevolved. Wade, pal. Stop pressing B every time the evolution screen comes up. I already mentioned Diamond & Pearl’s Andrew, who also appears in Platinum. HeartGold and SoulSilver include Fisherman Kyler, who has three Magikarp when you first encounter him and adds another one to his team for every rematch, giving him a full six when you challenge him for the fourth time. Black & White’s Fisherman Mick has six Magikarp, and get this – they’re all level 60. 60! Black and White 2’s Mack has six, too, although they’re a bit weaker at level 58.

X & Y’s Fisherman Murray keeps the trend going with his six Magikarp, although, somewhat upsettingly, OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire remove the five Gyarados meme trainer, meaning their only Magikarp guy is Ivan, who only has three Pokemon. This gets worse in Sun & Moon, where Fisherman Carl only has two Magikarp – I wanted to scream “I object!” at my 3DS the first time I realized this. Fortunately, Carl gets a third Magikarp in Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, saving Gen 7 from the embarrassment of having the Magikarp guy with the lowest number of, you know, Magikarp. That title goes to Pokemon Sword & Shield. 

I remember playing through Gen 8 and thinking, “Hey, where’s the Magikarp guy?” As it turns out, Sword & Shield are the first mainline Pokemon games in history to not have a single trainer with just Magikarp on their team. I mean, come on – even Pokemon Let’s Go saw the return of Fisherman Wade, who, all these years later, still had six level 42 Magikarp who he refused to evolve.

This is why Sword & Shield are the worst Pokemon games in my eyes. No Magikarp guy? No problem – I’ll just fish out a different Pokemon game with my trusty Old Rod, thanks.

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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

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