Character Concept Creator
- Mar 23, 2012
- St. Louis, MO
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#745 - Lycanroc
Lycanroc is a wolflike Rock-type Pokémon from the series' 7th generation, debuting in Pokémon Sun and Moon. The species bears the unique trait of having three different possible forms depending on the conditions it evolves in: the pacifistic Midday, the battle-thirsty Midnight, or the rare Dusk form that combines attributes of both. Despite a slow start at first, Lycanroc has risen rapidly in prominence and popularity since Sun and Moon first launched, growing into its generation's counterpart to Lucario and Zoroark and becoming a prime candidate for Super Smash Bros.
If you're looking for someone who is not only is fresh and interesting, but combines many unique traits into something no other potential newcomer can match, then you're in the right place.
First, and most obvious, is Lycanroc's nature as a Rock type--basically, it means earth-elemental powers. Earth as a whole is almost completely untouched by Smash so far, its only appearances being in Charizard's Rock Smash and the occasional move with a burying effect. This mastery over a yet-untapped element makes Lycanroc inherently unique and compelling when measured up to the current roster, and Sakurai has been very upfront about how important that is when deciding who will join the fight.
Not only that, but Midday and Dusk Lycanroc offer even further uniqueness due to their quadrupedal builds. While Pikachu and Duck Hunt run on all fours, the former usually stands upright and the latter is practically a walking cartoon character. We've never had a fully feral playable fighter in Smash before, and it makes Lycanroc stand out even more compared to its potential peers.
And beyond even that, Lycanroc has all the moveset potential you'd come to expect from a Pokémon character, thanks to a long list of attacks they can learn in their home series that can transfer right over into Smash. From basic fare like Tackle, Bite, and Rock Throw to stronger moves in Stone Edge and Thrash to signature move Accelerock to the dreaded Stealth Rock, there's plenty to build a moveset around no matter how unconventional. There's even a tailor-made Final Smash in the form of their signature Z-Move Splintered Stormshards!
But that's not all, this character in particular even has the potential for more dynamic elements! Perhaps Dusk Lycanroc could take after the anime with a powered up berserk mode triggered by special circumstances? Or what if Sakurai and the Smash team created a concept that allowed shifting between all three forms, with the same attacks but different stats and hitboxes, as a sort-of stance system? The further you dig, the more potential there is to find.
Q: Hold up, is Lycanroc really a big enough deal to get considered for Smash?
Actually, yes! This character may not have made waves when Sun and Moon first launched, but has become more and more prominent in the time since. Dusk Lycanroc in particular was the first major reveal of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, has had a lot of attention on the marketing and merchandise side of things (including a few announced mere hours after its unveiling), and has been pushed as hard as even the starters in the time since.
To give you an idea of how big a deal we're talking here: While playable Pokémon in Smash are ostensibly based on the games, they always draw inspiration from the anime, and Ash having a Greninja be his signature 'mon for the Kalos region probably influenced the decision to add Greninja to Smash. This is worth noting...because Ash's signature 'mon for Alola is a Lycanroc. And since such a major production would've been planned out far in advance by its very nature, The Pokémon Company would have had Lycanroc singled out to be this important as far back as mid-2016 or so when Sakurai came knocking and asked what newcomer options there were from Gen 7.
In short, Lycanroc is every bit important enough to have been on the short list to be considered for Smash. It just took a while to hit all of those criteria, long enough that everyone outside the Pokémon fandom had stopped paying attention.
Q: But could Lycanroc even beat out Decidueye or any other potential competiton?
Here's where it gets interesting: Every box that Decidueye checks is one that Lycanroc also checks. Both are relevant and among the most prominent 'mons of their generation, one as a starter, the other as its gen's biggest non-starter. Both have unique, standout abilities, one through plant-based powers and archery, the other through earth-based powers, a quadrupedal build, and the potential for dynamic elements. Both even have high moveset potential just due to their nature as RPG characters!
The reason one is considered a shoo-in for Smash by speculators, with the other an afterthought? One was a big deal right at the release of Gen 7 when people were watching, while the other didn't reach that point until a year later...yet is now the bigger deal in some very important parts of the franchise.
At this point, Decidueye and Lycanroc may well be neck-and-neck as the two most likely Pokémon newcomers...yet surrounding circumstances may push Lycanroc on top. As Sakurai's stated, his team considers which Pokémon will be important going forward...and the way things are shaping up, Lycanroc may well end up the more important one in the long run. Or what if they take into account that they'll probably make downloadable content for this game? Knowing that they'll have the option for a Gen 8 newcomer later next year, what if they choose the 'mon with the rarer elemental niche to add now? After all, every generation has a Grass starter, but this is the most prominent Rock type the series has ever seen, and there's no telling when there'll be another chance to add something as unique as an earthbender to Smash!
...Well, not unless Golden Sun rises from the ashes, but I don't think we can afford to bank on that.
But despite all these comparisons, Lycanroc may not even be competing with Decidueye or other Gen 7 'mons to begin with! Considering past Smash games and just how massive Pokémon is as a franchise, there's a very real chance we could see two newcomers!
Q: Wait, how would the Midday or Dusk forms wield items? That's kind of important!
Not as much of a problem as you'd think, actually; they could just carry and wield items with their mouths. Sure, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense operating a blaster or Super Scope with their teeth, but the Smash devs don't seem to care about depicting those weapons realistically anyway. Seriously, Wario, your hand isn't anywhere near the trigger!