To an outsider, the colorful and vibrant world of Pokémon can look like quite a vicious place. Pokémon are engaging in vicious battles for their Trainers’ amusement. These cruel people are even venturing into the critters’ wild habitats, beating their victims into submission and then capturing them to serve on their teams (after subjecting them to long Rocky-style training regimens to bring them up to par).
It seems wrong on multiple different levels. The thing to bear in mind, though, is that the Pokémon concerned delight in the whole experience. They’re developing close bonds with their Trainers and enjoying the thrill of combat. To reinforce this fact, some select species of Pokémon will only evolve when their happiness level (deemed Friendship in the games) is high enough. If you want to know which Pokémon will definitely want that Soothe Bell flung around their necks, let’s meet some of them.
Looking at dear, sweet little Riolu here, you wouldn’t think that it would evolve into a vicious, slathering powerhouse of pain and destruction, fuelled by the salty tears and shattered hopes and dreams of its enemies. To be frank, now that Mega Pokémon seem to have been cast aside, it doesn’t anymore. Still, base Lucario is a strong and versatile battle pick too.
Riolu has to be leveled up during the day with high happiness to evolve into Lucario. On doing so, it gains the secondary Steel typing, as well as a great buff to its offenses and Speed. Its defences are also boosted, but remain super low.
9 Type: Null
Silvally, the Synthetic Pokémon, is a curious case. Introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon, it’s essentially what Arceus would be if the deity had been nerfed down to a level where it would be acceptable in standard play. Its exclusive Ability, RKS System, sees it change type according to the variety of memory it’s holding (its move Multi-Attack also changes type accordingly, a la Arceus’s Plates and Judgment attack).
In order to obtain a Silvally, though, you need to develop a substantial bond with its pre-evolved form, Type: Null. The time of day doesn’t affect this evolution, so let it level up and watch it evolve!
When the concept of baby Pokémon was added to the series in Generation II, it was no surprise that a selection of fan-favorites from the original 151 were retconned to have adorable baby forms. Magmar, Electabuzz, Clefairy and more were given baby forms straight away (Magby, Elekid and Cleffa respectively), while other classic original Pokémon had to wait a little longer.
Munchlax, the infant form of the beloved Snorlax, arrived with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. While it’s slow enough to be outpaced by a weed growing from beneath a slab on the sidewalk, it’s surprisingly powerful and tanky for a baby Pokémon. Nevertheless, you’ll probably want to start becoming friendly with it ASAP, to get your hands on a Snorlax.
The major criticism leveled at the series, from a battling standpoint, is that so few Pokémon are competitively viable. This is inevitable with such a vast roster, but it’s still a shame. Just ask the seven people around the world in the Chimecho fan club.
The adorable Wind Chime Pokémon has access to all kinds of useful support moves, and has its place in the lower tiers. Elsewhere, it’s a complete non-entity, which is a shame. If you want to nab one for your collection, level up a very friendly Chingling during the night.
Don’t let its cute, furry face fool you. Many poor players have been destroyed by a brutal Swoobat sweep, thanks to its boosting shenanigans and Simple Ability (which doubles the effect of each stat boost).
Its quirky design and simple (or Simple) but terrifying playstyle has made this Psychic/Flying-type surprisingly popular. If you want one for yourself, develop high friendship with Woobat.
Next on our list, we present the poster child of the whole baby Pokémon concept: Togepi. Added to the roster in Pokémon Gold and Silver, this harmless-looking Normal-type (now retconned to Fairy) will be a real menace later on.
Most competitive players have felt the fury of a Serene Grace Togekiss, as it flinched their team to an unceremonious demise via the fearsome Air Slash. It may not be very sporting, but it sure gets the job done. Togetic needs a Shiny Stone to evolve into Togekiss, but first, Togepi needs high friendship.
The series has a proud tradition of offering players questionable early-game Bug Pokémon (yes, some Bug-types are terrifying, but still) which are handy for teaching the basics of levelling and evolution because they grow so quickly. The Sewaddle line is a little different (but no less questionable).
Sewaddle evolves into Swadloon at level 20, which then requires high friendship to develop into its final form, Leavanny. This Bug- and Grass-type is a little lackluster, but has the Speed and Attack it needs to function as a reasonable damage-dealer in the lower tiers.
Golbat is another of the original 151 Pokémon that waited patiently for something interesting to happen with its evolution line. Crobat also arrived in Generation II, a super-speedy glass cannon that can also mix things up and attack from the Special side to throw opponents for a loop.
Interestingly, though, its pre-evolution Golbat is sometimes preferred in battle. With an Eviolite equipped, Golbat is surprisingly effective as a wall. If you want to take a more offensive route, however, you’ll want to boost its friendship to get yourself a Crobat.
As we’ve seen, Mega Pokémon won’t feature in Pokémon Sword and Shield. As a result, certain critters that were used only because of their Mega are going to be left behind. This is bad news for Buneary.
This early-game Normal-type has always been largely forgotten. It has that familiar issue of simply being outclassed. Still, Lopunny does have its fans (every Pokémon is somebody’s favorite, after all). To get your hands on one, you need to develop a high level of friendship with a Buneary.
Well, this was inevitable. When Game Freak were originally working on the concept of baby Pokémon and deciding which would be chosen first, there was surely no question that Pikachu would get a baby form. Thus, Pichu was born.
This little rodent isn’t of much use in the games (though it’s a monstrous combo machine in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), but high friendship sees it evolve into Pikachu. That’s good enough.