With Voltorb receiving a new Hisuian form in the Pokemon Legends Arceus game, the overall sentiment seems to be that he’s a cute new addition to the exciting new take on Pokemon adventure games for the Nintendo Switch. From a competitive standpoint, though, a lot of top players aren’t too thrilled about Hisuian Voltorb, and thus its evolved form Hisuian Electrode, gaining a new Grass/Electric dual typing. As of this writing, only one other Pokemon has ever had this typing, Rotom’s Mow Form. There are a lot of things about Electrode that seem good for this typing, but the drawbacks of the newfound typing may hurt what could have been a good sleeper Pokemon going forward.
Voltorb and Electrode’s base statistics remain the same for their regional Hisui forms, and they are still among the fastest Pokemon in the game. Voltorb has base 100 speed, which is fantastic for a first form Pokemon, although its other stats leave a lot to be desired: 40 HP, 30 Attack, 50 Defense, 55 Special Attack, and 55 Special Defense. When it evolves, however, Electrode gains 50 speed to a whopping 150 base Speed stat, and modest gains to the other stats: 60 HP, 50 Attack, 70 Defense, 80 Special Attack, and 80 Special Defense. Notably, Electrode’s speed was actually 140 until Sun and Moon buffed several Pokemon speed stats.
In the first four generations of Pokemon, Voltorb and Electrode had one gimmick: out-speed the opponent and use Self-Destruct or Explosion. Prior to Black and White, the fifth generation of Pokemon games, both Self-Destruct and Explosion actually halved the defense of the defending Pokemon, essentially making Self-Destruct a 400 base power move and Explosion a 500 base power move. Voltorb typically packed Self-Destruct, as it learned it at level 26, when it evolves at level 30. Electrode, which saw much more common use, packed Explosion.
Once Black and White removed this strange Defense-halving mechanic from Self-Destruct and Explosion, you simply did not see Voltorb or Electrode being used that much. Voltorb really only saw play in Little Cup for Diamond and Pearl, anyway, but its gimmick was worthwhile to pack on a team. Meanwhile Electrode, even at 140 speed at the time instead of 150, was a good, if underused, Pokemon. It had many different options, including being a Rain Dance setter and could pack Taunt as a solid lead mon. Then, it could hit decently hard with Thunder before using Explosion. Other Electrodes would pack Thunder Wave and Thunderbolt for its Same-type Attack Bonus moves, then use Hidden Power Grass and Explosion. That Hidden Power Grass is notable, obviously there for Ground-type Pokemon who are immune to Electric attacks; you wonder if Game Freak took this into account when assigning this new typing to the Voltorb/Electrode reboot.
Once Explosion received its nerf, Electrode quickly fell from grace. That’s especially with Choice Scarf as a held item allowing many other Pokemon to outspeed it, despite Electrode’s blazing speed, even with its buff. It still saw play for a bit, using Reflect and Light Screen to set up dual screens and using Volt Switch instead of Explosion to pivot into a better Pokemon for the situation. It was left entirely out of Sword and Shield thanks to the Pokedex crunch; honestly, it wasn’t doing much with all the power creep of Generations seven and eight, anyway.
Is Hisuian Electrode Better Than Kantonian Electrode?
There’s good news and bad news about Hisuian Electrode. The good news is that Electrode’s relatively shallow move pool is boosted by gaining a grass-typing. This includes the very useful Energy Ball for type coverage, plus a new signature move in Chloroblast. Despite being a 120 base power, 95 percent accurate move, Chloroblast is a bit suspect as a competitive move, thanks to taking half of the user’s total HP after connecting, but with same-type attack bonus, it hits extremely hard.
Since Hidden Power was removed from the game starting with Sword and Shield, this is a welcome move. Unfortunately, three of its main moves, Volt Switch, Reflect, and Light Screen, are absent from Legends Arceus. Still, it’s likely that once the Hisuian forms are available in Sword and Shield, it could be tutored these moves. Volt Switch allows the user to switch out, and after using both screens, it could serve as a solid lead Pokemon, potentially even packing Energy Ball to punish slower opponents.
The bad news is the defensive typing is going to hurt. Originally, Electrode was weak only to Ground-type moves, which is problematic considering that Ground-type moves were and still are quite common in competitive Pokemon. But, that was its only weakness. Once you add the Grass typing, you lose the weakness to Ground, but gain a 2x weakness to Fire, Ice, Bug, and Poison. These are incredibly problematic weaknesses that Mow Rotom could overcome thanks to solid defenses (107 in both Defense stats) and significantly better Special Attack with 105. Also, Mow Rotom had Defog and Will-o-Wisp thanks to being a form of Rotom and could pack a pretty nasty Leaf Storm. So, yes, the defensive typing was a bit rough, but Mow Rotom could do quite a bit of damage or affect the board before going down.
Hisuian Electrode is miles faster than Mow Rotom, which only has 86 speed. But, even if it were to gain Leaf Storm as a powerful Same-Type Attack Bonus move, it’s not going to hit nearly as hard. Defog and Will-O-Wisp aren’t moves it can learn, and while Taunt is certainly good, Mow Rotom is still a strictly better mon even with its relatively poor defensive typing.
Without speculating too much on its move pool, Hisuian Electrode does seem better in a vacuum, just because it will be able to learn some Grass-type TM moves. Offensive type coverage is great. Looking at Generation 8 top Pokemon, it can dumpster Water-type Urshifu, Kyogre, and Blastoise, while even hitting Landorus for neutral damage with a Grass move. The problem is Hisuian Electrode gets dumpstered by Incineroar and really anything else packing a Fire, Ice, Poison, or Bug type move. U-Turn is a bug move that’s extremely common, for example. It also still doesn’t get over the Grass-types Electrode has long had issues with, such as Venusaur and now even Rillaboom.
Competitively, Hisuian Electrode will probably be nothing special, unless it gains a similar level of utility to Mow Rotom through move pool buffs. It’s not a bad Pokemon, per se, and there are players who will use it as a lead or pivot to force opponents to perhaps make a bad switch. Electrode does learn Eerie Impulse, which can really mess up dedicated Special Attackers, but dual screens still seems the way to go. There are tools to make Electrode good, but the problem is that it ends up being too situational or one dimensional for it to truly work in a top-tier competitive environment. Even with full Effort Value investment in HP, as has long been the case to make up for its relatively frailty, the new defensive typing is going to leave it vulnerable to heads-up players who plan for it after a team preview.
On the other hand, from a casual perspective, if you want to have a Hisuian Electrode for your in-game team, I’d be happy to have one. The type coverage is very useful, and while its defensive typing isn’t great, it should be a fun Pokemon to use. I’m fine with the design, as cute and a fan-service plug as it may be to us older Pokemon nerds, and I’m more interested to see how it actually plays out. As a Voltorb, it’s going to outspeed a lot of things, which really helps for catching Pokemon in the new open-world style.
Hisuian Electrode is going to be excellent in playing to its strengths, but probably not strong enough to cover for its weaknesses without an immediate switch to do so. Unfortunately, creative team building probably won’t save it competitively, and until it gets a significant buff to its move-pool, which is certainly possible, Hisuian Voltorb and Electrode will just be two more variant additions to the Pokedex.
Photo credit: The Pokemon Company
Pokémon and All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2022