At the time of writing this article there are approximately 40,000 Pokémon, most of which are next to useless from a competitive standpoint. That isn’t to say these Pokémon aren’t good in, other way, it’s just that if you want to get your Ash on and become a Pokémon master, you probably don’t want to be using a Pidgey. Likewise you’d be unable to use a Chatot, not because it’s overpowered or anything, but because it’s racist. Or at least, it can be.
To avoid having to dip our nutsacks too deeply into the arbok’s nest that is the world of competitive Pokémon the short version is that not all Pokémon are created equally. In fact, even within the same species, some Pokémon will naturally outperform their kin even if everything about them is exactly the same. Why? Well the simplest answer is that some Pokémon are quite literally born different.
Specifically all Pokémons have something known as EVS (Effort Values) and IVS (Individual Values), the former of which can be influences through gameplay and the latter of which is distinct to a given Pokémon and can’t be changed. Okay so technically it can, but doing so requires a convoluted method that’s slower than just getting a new one or having the shitty Pokémon endlessly breed with a Ditto that does have decent IVS and until they have a genetically perfect offspring.
Anyway, the difference between a Pokémon with complimentary EVS and perfect IVS can be staggering and result in a given Pokémon being orders of magnitude more powerful, versatile or harder to kill.
The important thing to note though is that some Pokémon are just better than others, even discounting stats and the like, by sheer virtue of the amount of Pokémon that exist some are wholly redundant or outclassed by Pokémon that can do everything they can, but like, better.
This has resulted in a comprehensive tier list being invented by fans, which they of course argue about incessantly, out of basic necessity to prevent players from just using the absolute strongest Pokémon in organised competition. It’s worth noting that the Pokémon company itself doesn’t do this, so the finals of official tournaments very often end up looking like this.
This said Pokémon have officially banned one Pocket Monster from taking part in even casual battles between like, kids and shit. Not for being overpowered mind you, but because it’s racist.
To explain, for a couple of generations Chatot’s signature move was chatter, an unassuming move that mostly existed to take advantage of a gimmick of the console on which it made it’s debut – the Nintendo D – the microphone.
So the way the move worked is that it’s potential utility could be influenced by the player by simply screaming into the microphone the very first time it was used in the game’s overworld. In short, the louder you screamed the more chance it had to confuse the opponent when used. You can probably see where this is going.
The problem is that when the move would be used in battle, say against an opponent online, whatever sound you made would be played back at max volume on their console. This led to enterprising gamers doing something that’s normally very out of character for such a well adjusted group, harassing minorities with the feature by screaming racial slurs into their Gameboy and sending it out to battle. There are even reports of players mass capturing Chatots, teaching them to be racist and then Wonder Trading them to players. You know, just to be a dick.
Unsurprisingly Chatot was quickly banned from online play in some games before the move’s effect was changed.