In a 14 minute game-play trailer released on October 6, 2022, Farigarif was revealed as an evolution for Girafarig. It’s kind of a lazy name, yet another palindrome of Giraffe, but a good design, with Girafarig’s tail head fused with its other head. As mentioned in Bulbapedia, Farigarif’s appearance in the Paldea region, which is based on the real-life Iberian peninsula, makes perfect sense thanks to fossil records of Decennatherium, a historic relative of the giraffe.
According to the official Pokemon website, as a result of its head and tail head becoming one, both of Farigarif’s brains are now one. With their brains connected through “thick nerves,” this Pokemon’s Psychic power is greatly increased over its first form. It can “emit psychic waves from the antennae on its head.” Farigarif is always “mindful of its surroundings,” but while it can instantly detect danger, sometimes the body can’t react as quickly as this Pokemon’s brains can think.
The official entry for Farigarif also talks about how the head from its tail is “equipped for both offense and defense.” Now able to protect the main body’s head, the tail head can further defend by closing its mouth. This seems to indicate a significant boost in defense base stats. We also learn that when Farigarif closes this outer mouth, the Long Neck Pokemon can whip its neck around “in an attack that deals brutal physical damage” with a force that supposedly can “pulverize stone and crush steel beams.”
From the lore alone, we can surmise that Farigarif is even more able as a mixed attacker (good with both physical and special attacks) than Girafarig. We can also easily extrapolate that Farigiraf will have significant increases over Girafarig’s 65 base defense and Special Defense stats, one of the aspects that made the giraffe frail even in its debut generation of Gold and Silver.
Farigarif is a much needed evolution for a Generation 2 Pokemon who probably deserved some love, even if it wasn’t at all anticipated, especially one half as decent as Girafarig. Like Stantler’s evolution released in Legends Arceus, another Gen 2 Pokemon which was lacking an evolution, Wyrdeer plays much different than its first form. But, is Girafarig good as a precursor to understanding how it’s evolution may work out?
In game, the first major addition with Farigarif is that it gets two brand new abilities never previously seen before on any Pokemon: Cud Chew and Armor Tail. On first blush, Cud Chew is basically a worse version of Harvest, while Armor Tail prevents opponents from using moves with increased priority, which includes a wide breadth of moves.
Why is Cud Chew objectively worse than Harvest? The Harvest ability has a 50 percent success rate of redeeming a Berry after it was used it battle, with a chance to reactive each turn as long as the Berry was still being used. But, in intense Sun, Harvest had a 100 percent success rate, meaning a Pokemon with Harvest could use an HP boosting berry like Sitrus Berry multiple times to stay healthy. But, Cud Chew guarantees an extra use of a berry, no matter what, just once.
So, while it’s technically a worse ability than Harvest, Cud Chew may still prove relevant depending on how it’s used; in the open world adventure, for example, Cud Chew is actually quite useful and helps reduce the number of Berries you need to have. It’s also more relevant for Berries that reduce the damage from certain super-effective hits, as well as some other niche cases that wouldn’t be considered for Pokemon with Harvest, who are all about recovering HP.
Armor Tail is probably the better ability when it comes to competitive play, however. Sure, it prevents basic priority attacks like Quick Attack, but there are many more priority moves commonly used in competitive Pokemon as of Generation 8. These include strategic offensive moves like Fake Out and Extreme Speed, defensive moves such as Protect, and status moves like Follow Me or Rage Powder. Naturally, Armor Tail is probably better on a lead Pokemon in competitive doubles, which is the primary format for VGC (Video Game Championships), the official competitive format of Pokemon. It all depends on the base stats and move pool additions for this evolution, but it seems quite likely that Armor Tail is going to be the preferred ability among the Smogon University and VGC crowd.
Interestingly, these abilities completely take the place of Girafarig’s original abilities introduced in Generation 3’s Ruby and Sapphire games. These abilities are Early Bird and Inner Focus. Early Bird cuts its time being Asleep in half, and Inner Focus prevents the Pokemon from flinching. Early Bird was the preferred ability, as Sleep was and still is a powerful status effect in Pokemon.
During the Black and White era, mid way through Generation 5, many Pokemon gained Hidden Abilities. Girafarig gained Sap Sipper. This became Girafarig’s preferred Ability, as having a Grass-type immunity and the ability to power up its physical Attack stat when being hit by one made Girafarig a surprise mid-tier pivot threat. It’s unclear if Farigarif will eventually have the ability to keep this Hidden Ability.
What made Girafarig a consistent mid-tier Pokemon in competitive singles for years was its highly varied move pool, decent base speed (85), and decent attacking stats, despite its defensive frailty. Therefore, many players would lead with Girafarig, running Calm Mind, then using Baton Pass to pass on the Special Attack boost. But, Girafarig could hold its own while packing Psychic and Thunderbolt as its damage-dealing moves. Girafarig also could be a Wish-passer, also packing Substitute, taking on a purely utility Baton Pass role.
In Diamond and Pearl, Girafarig could actually hold its own offensively thanks to the invention of the held item Life Orb. It would run the same move set, but use the Inner Focus ability to prevent the common Fake Out from keeping it from moving on the first turn; it seems Game Freak intends Farigarif to fill this sort of role. We may even see a more all-out attacker variant, with Sucker Punch taking the place of Baton Pass, and the common Hidden Power Fighting replaced with a Fighting Tera type for additional type coverage.
Unfortunately, with the power creep of Generation 5, even while gifted such a good ability in Sap Sipper, Girafarig dropped to the lowest tiers of competitive play. It went untiered in Pokemon Showdown play for X and Y and Sun and Moon, mostly thanks in part to its mediocre defenses but also being outclassed as an attacker by newer Pokemon, too.
Farigarif could finally give Girafarig a newfound lease on competitive life, packing same-type attack bonus (STAB) moves like Hyper Voice and Psychic while mixing in physical moves like Earthquake, type coverage moves like Thunderbolt, with the fourth move likely dependent on the Farigarif’s Tera type. Of all the Generation 9 Pokemon released to the point of its introduction in early October, this evolution appears to be easily the most competitive and interesting additions to Scarlet and Violet.
P.S. Apparently this Pokemon’s name is throwing a lot of people for a loop as many posts about Farigarif have its name incorrectly spelled Firagarif. The spelling is actually Farigarif.