False Swipe Gaming is a YouTube channel focused completely on Pokemon competitive history. Most of their content deals with competitive singles using the Pokemon Showdown ladders run by Smogon University. They also occasionally cover official VGC (Video Game Championship) doubles tournaments, as well. While I greatly enjoy the weekly content of this channel, as do apparently four hundred thousand other subscribers, I wanted to go one step further and do what I do best, analyze a Pokemon in-depth within the context of the entire Pokedex. I longed for articles with a more casual bent that delved into lore and how good a Pokemon was in the context of its generation and how good it was in that generation’s adventures.
So, yes, the “How Good was X anyway” videos of FSG certainly were the biggest inspiration for my “is X a good Pokemon” articles. Instead of doing videos that would become outdated with each new generation, I’d write articles that would also talk about more than just competitive play. Interestingly, I don’t actually refer to their videos much as I should as a resource. However, despite my intention to be much more casually focused, I still mostly use Smogon University and Pikalytics as my primary research tools.
What ended up happening is that my articles became very similar, although not entirely like, those on False Swipe Gaming. The major difference is that I decided to focus on Pokemon that were having new life breathed into them with upcoming releases. My first “is X a good Pokemon” articles focused on the very beginning of the Pokedex, with Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander. The thought process was that the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl games were coming out, so it made sense to start from the beginning. I then wrote an article about Staraptor, one of my favorite Pokemon from back in the days of Diamond and Pearl.
At that time, my website was still mostly Magic the Gathering articles pulled from the several blogs I used to maintain. They did alright, but since they weren’t tied to affiliate programs as they once had, they mainly existed just to be there for those who were interested. My other articles at the time weren’t focused on SEO; they were written directly to the blogging community at large and were mostly shared on social media. By mid-2021, my website was barely getting any hits, so something needed to change.
At first, these Pokemon articles didn’t do much. They got hits, sure, but there wasn’t enough different about them to get people excited. That all changed when one day I asked myself, “Self, which Pokemon gets absolutely no love at all from anyone online?”
My ultimate answer for this was Lickilicky. (And, yes, False Swipe Gaming did a video on Lickitung and Lickilicky shortly before I wrote that article.)Seeing that there was definitely still an audience for the Licking Pokemon, I wrote up an article that delved into the history of Lickitung and its evolution, which as it turns out, is quite underrated.
As soon as I posted that article, something strange happened. “Is Lickilicky a Good Pokemon” immediately took off. But, it wasn’t by posting links on social media; these hits were driven almost exclusively by Google searches. As I remarked in my 2021 review of my website’s top posts, the Lickilicky post ended the year with twice as many views as my second top-performing article, which was a Magic card review that still does well to this day.
The huge success of this article did end up helping my other Pokemon articles, too. So, I decided to undertake a new project: write about all of the new Hisuian Form Pokemon in the upcoming Legends Arceus game. While that game did not live up to my expectations at all, it turns out the Hisuian forms proved popular – both negatively and positively. Not only did these articles do well as I wrote them, twelve of them are the most popular posts I’ve ever written on The Phoenix Desertsong, and among the best, most popular posts I’ve ever written in my entire life. Much of the early drafts were based on nothing but speculation, and some even mentioned the possibility they may end up in a late update of Sword and Shield, which of course didn’t happen.
Although these posts needed to be updated early and often, they kept getting views. On the day the Legends Arceus game released, January 28, 2022, I had a massive traffic spike. It remains the best day I’ve had on the site yet, with 2379 views. Over 1800 of those were from Google and Bing searches. Hisuian Decidueye got 1,021 views on that day alone with Hisuian Samurott right behind it at 629 views. My favorite of the three Legends Arceus starters, was in distant third with 226 views, although it’s caught up to the other two over time.
I haven’t experienced traffic like that since the days of StumbleUpon (RIP) and my extremely active Tumblr and Twitter presences. The fact that 75 percent of the traffic came from people typing things into Google meant that apparently I still knew how to do SEO. It also meant no one else wrote that content. This is why I’m so gung-ho on Scarlet and Violet, which are due to be far more popular games than Legends Arceus. I fully expect that my articles for the Generation 9 Pokemon, both brand new and returning, will greatly eclipse the Pokemon Hisuian forms.
But, I wouldn’t be here writing this article today without the inspiration of False Swipe Gaming. Sure, I probably still talk about how good X Pokemon is in competitive play more than I originally intended. However, the masses of the internet have spoken, and according to my analytics, people not only fully read these articles, they come back and see what I’ve added to them. That’s right; these articles aren’t static, because I update them every few months as new things happen.
At the moment, the future of the Pokemon franchise looks bright. Sure, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were a let down, and Legends Arceus had its fair share of flaws. But, both games sold incredibly well, and Scarlet and Violet may become the landmark of all Pokemon games ever. Even if the games themselves don’t live up to expectations – and Game Freak has been very slow in releasing new info – at least the Pokemon themselves will get plenty of attention.
I didn’t want to admit this, but had it not been for Lickilicky and its article doing so well, I would’ve abandoned writing online altogether. Because of this, Lickilicky has become my favorite Pokemon of all time. I believed in it and its mighty tongue, and apparently, so have several thousand others.
Thanks False Swipe Gaming for the inspiration, and unfortunately, as long as Pokemon persists as the biggest media franchise of all time, I’ll still be here to ask “is X a good Pokemon?”