I already wrote an article on Rattata, my favorite Pokemon, but I also have a favorite ‘useful Pokemon’, ie my favorite who is actually viable in combat and can slot into teams with a goal of helping beat the game. It also happens to be the Pokemon I would pick if I got to keep one in real life. It’s Rotom!
Rotom originated in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, and could only be obtained after beating the Elite Four. The Old Chateau is a haunted mansion with a dark and troubled past, and a single Rotom would attack you if you mess with the television it was inhabiting. You see, Rotom is a mischievous electric ghost who inhabits appliances in order to pull pranks on humans. There’s only one in the game and it gets legendary music during the battle (the only normal Pokemon in the series to get this treatment). Its ghost-electric typing was unique, and along with the Levitate ability Rotom boasted three immunities and five resistances. The tie-in Pokemon Platinum gave Rotom an ability to possess appliances, just like in his backstory, and take on five different forms:
Each form grants Rotom an exclusive move of a type that relates to the appliance being possessed; the lawnmower teaches him Leaf Storm, a grass-type move, for example. Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver upped the ante by changing Rotom’s Ghost secondary type to one that matched the applicance, meaning that (for example) fridge-Rotom became Ice/Electric.
This made Rotom insanely versatile, I’d argue one of the most versatile Pokemon in the series. The Electric type in general is a very comfortable offensive mainstay with balanced stats and only one weakness (Ground, to which Rotom is immune thanks to Levitate). This means that Rotom can fit into a number of team roles; Washer or Fridge Rotom can be tanky, Oven or Mower Rotom can be heavy hitters, and Fan or regular Rotom can be (admittedly underpowered) speedsters. The most popular of the forms by far is Washer Rotom, who has maintained a comfortable place in the Over-Used tier on Smogon since the Pokemon came out. Rotom also has access to many debuff moves (Will-o-Wisp, Confuse Ray, Toxic, and Thunder Wave), further opening options for crafting combat maneuvers.
My personal favorite Rotom was Zydrate, a level 1 hatchling my friend traded to me at the beginning of my playthrough of OmegaRuby. The professor’s lab had boxes in the basement I could use to change Zydrate’s form, which let me shuffle his typing before each gym so he’d be most useful.
The newest pair of games, Pokemon Sun and Moon, have added yet another form for Rotom, a noncombat one! The player receives a Pokedex inhabited by a Rotom at the beginning of the game, and he becomes your sidekick as you progress through the new region of Alola. He warns you of type effectiveness during battles, displays your location on a scrolling map, and can remind you of the current story objective. I think he’s a great companion, and it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to having a Rotom as a real friend.
Speaking of which, I’ve already mentioned that he’s my answer to the time-honored question “which Pokemon would you want to have in real life?” I just love the premise behind Rotom. Who wouldn’t want to own a cheerful little ghost that can hide in appliances? He could keep you company on the internet, or temporarily operate a broken appliance during a powerout. Rotom would be the perfect pet in a world like ours with so much technology integrated into our everyday lives.