After a particularly trolling trailer released by the Pokemon Company on October 12, 2022, the marketing department surely received a flood of inflammatory comments “canceling” the Electric Gym leader Iono for both being annoying and teasing us to wait an entire week to learn about her partner Pokemon. Fortunately for the Pokemon fandom, the Pokemon Company only waited two more days to reveal Iono’s partner, Bellibolt, the EleFrog Pokemon.
While its design is a bit unorthodox, it actually greatly resembles an early concept for Politoed, all the way back from Gold and Silver’s beta stages. What appear to be eyeballs on either side of its head are actually not so; they are instead how Bellibolt releases its electric attacks. Its actual eyes are tiny and right above its little mouth. I’m not sure I’d call Bellibolt cute, but it’s not a bad design. Even more fortunate is that Bellibolt may in fact be a good Pokemon in battle, too.
According to the official Pokemon website, Bellibolt stands roughly three-foot eleven-inches and weighs about 249 lbs. The EleFrog “expands and contracts its elastic body to generate electricity in an organ that looks like a belly button.” The enormous amounts of electrical energy generated in this way can then be discharged from the “eyeballs” on either side of its head. Because its actual eyes are tiny, these bumps make it look more intimidating to opponents. It’s a clever design, probably one of the more innovative among the early Generation 9 Pokemon reveals.
There’s also likely real-life inspiration behind Bellibolt, as Bulbapedia notes, which has “false eyes” much like the Cuyaba dwarf frog and are similar to the tympanum which can be found on toads and frogs. There’s also a scientific connection between frogs and electricity in early galvanism research – the generation of electric current created by chemical action. For all of the rather uninspired designs that Generation 9 seems to have, this is certainly one of the better ones.
One of the things we did learn from Iono’s first trailer is that Bellibolt has an “easygoing vibe.” This is backed up by the Pokedex entry which states that it’s “difficult to train Bellibolt to initiate a battle without it being attacked first.” As we’ll discover momentarily from its signature ability, it seems you’ll want Bellibolt to tank a hit first anyway.
Also, after sunset, strange noises can be heard coming from Bellibolt’s habitat, but its not Bellibolt’s cries; rather, these sounds emit from their stomachs indicating they are hungry. This is a bit of flavor, but perhaps also a hint that Bellibolt is as bulky a Pokemon as its vital stats would suggest, meaning you’ll likely want to equip it with a Berry to keep it healthy for counter-attacks.
Speaking of counterattacks, Bellibolt has two different abilities. One of them is Static, one of the older abilities in Pokemon, which gives Bellibolt a 30 percent chance to paralyze an opponent who makes contact with them. While this isn’t bad, Bellibolt’s signature ability in Electromorphosis is what makes Bellibolt an intriguing team member. Any time that Bellibolt is hit by an attack, it boosts the power of the next Electric-type move it uses.
While this isn’t a direct stat boost like with the Lightning Rod ability, which boosts that Pokemon’s Special Attack whenever an opponent uses an Electric-type move, Electromorphosis may actually be quite better. Whereas Lighting Rod is more of a defensive ability with an offensive upside, Electromorphosis is all upside. The type of move used against Bellibolt doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a damaging move. This suggests investing in bulk and equipping a HP restoring berry like Sitrus Berry is likely a good plan. It also means you actually want your opponent to hit first.
Also, in double battles, it would seem Electromorphosis would be activated if one of its teammates uses a damaging attack on it. Perhaps in place of a Berry in competitive double battles, you would give Bellibolt a Weakness Policy, then using a weak Ground-type attack to not only activate Electromorphosis but also the Weakness Policy, boosting both its attack and special attack. The Weakness Policy tactic has worked well in Sword and Shield doubles, and Bellibolt seems the perfect candidate for that type of strategy.
Also, being that it’s purely Electric type it has just that one defensive weakness, with three resistances in Flying, Steel, and Electric. This means Bellibolt isn’t just a good tank, but also has significant defensive utility. Switch into a Flying, Steel, or Electric type move and Bellibolt gets a free powered up Electric attack on the next turn. In fact, because Bellibolt is likely extremely slow, it may get a second activation of Electromorphosis. Sheesh, this could be stupidly strong! Unfortunately, we don’t know if this ability activates more than once per turn, but even with double power and Electric Tera Type, that’s a heck of an offensive force. Then again, they can switch to a Ground-type and blank your attack entirely, so there’s that.
Once we learned more about Bellibolt and its base stats and move pool, there would be a lot more to breakdown. With Tera Types in Scarlet and Violet, you could have even more options for offensive and defensive plays. Unfortunately, Bellibolt’s move pool isn’t all that great. The best Electric type move it learns by level up is Discharge, and while Weather Ball can be good on Terrain, it’s inconsistent and most of the time much weaker than Discharge. Fortunately, TMs help out a lot, as Bellibolt can learn Thunderbolt and Volt Switch. Unfortunately, the only coverage moves it gets are Water and Dark, the latter a single physical move in Sucker Punch. It can gain Muddy Water as an Egg move, which is pretty inaccurate, but still the most powerful Water move it can learn
So, while it seemed there would be plenty to do with this electric frog Pokemon, it’s actually pretty limited. Its stats aren’t bad either: 109 HP, 64 Attack, 91 Defense, 103 Special Attack, 83 Special Defense, 45 Speed. In fact, it would probably be better off a bit slower, as what the heck is it out speeding at this rate? You need to invest entirely in Special Attack and HP anyway. But, yes, the stats are there, and yet, the move pool is not.
You could, of course, use a Water Tera Type to take advantage of its Water moves, but the best one it ostensibly gets is Chilling Water by TM. Water Pulse is OK by TM too, but Water Gun isn’t competitive at all. It also doesn’t help that it evolves from a very weak Pokemon in Tadbulb by Thunder Stone. Plus, it doesn’t get any stat boosting moves outside of Charge Beam.
From a purely on paper standpoint, it seems like your best bet with this Pokemon is one of two things: use a “Resto Chesto” strategy which uses an equipped Chesto Berry along with Rest for instant recovery without the cost of sleep. This isn’t a great strategy to use outside of the Battle Stadium, though, or you’ll be eating up Chesto Berries left and right. But, the Resto-Chesto set can then run three attacks, probably Thunderbolt, Muddy Water, and Sucker Punch, just for the type coverage, Tera Blast depending on which Tera Type you choose,, or Sleep Talk, and ditch the Chesto Berry altogether and just whack them with Thunderbolt, Muddy Water, or even Hyper Voice if you have a Normal Tera Type.
Electric is already such a great type on defense that an Air Balloon seems like the best item for Bellibolt. This is the second way you can go with Bellibolt, play it defensively with Substitute, Chilling Water, Volt Switch, and a Ground Tera Type Tera Blast. With the Electromorphosis ability requires taking actual physical damage, it may not get hit that much, but when it does, that Volt Switch becomes a base 140 power move. That’s a pretty sweet hit. This would be my preferred Bellibolt set in-game, and it may even have some competitive connotations. You could run Static and still get pretty good results, of course; I can’t tell you how many times Static on my Ampharos has saved my butt, but Electromorphosis giving you a huge crack back with Volt Switch seems too satisfying to pass up.
So, Bellibolt is a good Pokemon, but it’s kind of limited in what it can do outside of the two strategies I mentioned. Thankfully, Tera Blast opens up some type coverage possibilities for both offense and defense. In the early days of Scarlet and Violet, players competitive and casual alike have discovered that Terastallizing is a fantastic way to power up moves or add a third same-type attack bonus move, but it’s even more versatile on Defense. Bellibolt may not be getting early attention from the Smogon and Pokemon Showdown types, but I still really like Bellibolt, and you should, too!
Photo credits: The Pokemon Company
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