The Fairy Type Sucks

I mean, not like any given fairy type sucks. Every Pokemon, big or small, is someone’s Ya Boy, and it’s not like your favourite being a fairy makes it bad or not. It’s not that I think the Pokemon that are fairy type pokemon suck, it’s that the fairy type itself sucks, and I dislike it, and how it was implemented.

The problem derives from what fairy does, and what its presence changes.

For those not familiar, Pokemon have one or two types that determine how they relate to attacks and their environment. Some Pokemon are electric, some are dragony, some are wet, you know, all the typical signifiers of a type system. Hell, at this point a lot of Gamers who understand type compatability probably learned it from Pokemon games.

Source: Wikimedia

There’s a history in this chart. Setting aside some things that were changed for balance reasons and some things that were just bugs (did you know psychics were immune to ghost attacks in G1?). Three types on this chart were added after the first game, with Dark and Steel being added in G2 (1999), and Fairy being added in G6 (2013). Now you may point out to me that this means that Fairy has been around nine years and maybe I should get over it, to which I say

nuh-uh.

If you look at that type chart and find it a bit overwhelming, here’s a simplified version of it.

Fairy type attacks do extra damage to

  • Fighting Pokemon
  • Dragon Pokemon
  • Dark Pokemon

Fairy type attacks do reduced damage to

  • Fire Pokemon
  • Poison Pokemon
  • Steel Pokemon

Fairy Pokemon take extra damage from

  • Poison attacks
  • Steel attacks

Fairy Pokemon take reduced damage from

  • Fighting attacks
  • Bug attacks
  • Dark attacks

And they take no damage from Dragon type attacks.

Now normally, in this game, the flavour of these types is used as a reminder for how their powers work. For example, fire moves do bonus damage to ice types, because, you know, melting, and water moves do bonus damage to fire types, because putting out fires. They’re not all overwhelming mechanical home-runs, okay.

My beef with the fairy type is this:

What is the idea that explains the mechanics of the fairy type?

What is the unifying element that means a Pokemon gets to be a fairy type?

What, in essence, makes a Pokemon fairy-y?

See, check out this lineup:

Left to right: Granbull, Audino, Mimikyu, Whimsicott, Mawile

Now if you look at this selection of Pokemon you can probably take some guesses at their types. Granbull is purple and aggressive looking, so I might guess fighting or poison, or both. Mimikyu is a thing under a sheet in a disguise, which makes me think of a ghost. Whimsicott is like a flying cotton puff, so it makes sense as a grass type, maybe a grass-flying type. Over on the right, Mawile is a cute little thing with samurai pants so maybe fighting, but also it’s got a ponytail that is secretly an enormous venus-flytrap style fangly mouth, so maybe grass or dark.

Now, all but one of these Pokemon is a fairy type.

Want to guess which one isn’t fairy type?

That’s right, it’s Audino, the pink one with the bright eyes and the little humanoid shape and the wings on the side of its head. It’s just a ‘normal’ type, meaning there’s nothing about it that particularly sets it apart.

If you look at all the fairy types, the thing that unifies them as a type is pretty simple set of criteria:

  • Positioned well to be powerful in competitive play
  • Probably pink

Not all Pink pokemon are like that, though. Blissey, despite being the pinkest goddamn thing, is not a fairy, despite the fact that it hides out in nature and grants people good luck. Milotic, a mysterious creature with beautiful scales and shimmering eyes that only emerges when you teach it to be beautiful, that’s not a fairy. But don’t worry, Klefki, a keyring is a fairy.

Why?

I dunno, I can’t give you a meaningful insight into why the Pokemon games are made the way they are and almost anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese who wants to tell you they do is full of it.

What frustrates me about the fairy type is that it feels like a type that exists for its mechanical importance first and foremost, and has been granted a lot of attention and power, with legendaries getting it, old powerhouse pokemon getting it, fan favourites being boosted with this almost-all-upsides type. Right now one of the strongest possible type combinations that exist is Fairy/Steel, and you know how many different Pokemon of those typings there are?

Four.

When the Fairy type was added to the game, the game explicitly says that the fairy type’s discovery represents a major shift in the metagame. Suddenly, dragon types (which tend to be overpowered powerhouses, after years of Garchomp presence) had something to try and work around. Steel types had to find a new coverage solution. Dark types were no longer able to defensively position themselves against many threats, because now the metagame had this new single type that Did It All, and look, all these great Pokemon are now Fairy types.

The Ice type, incidentally, sucks. Bug does too. These are really weak types of Pokemon. Rock’s not great, either, Rock tends to work as like, Backup Ground, a thing that gets tacked on to Pokemon that could be Ground or Rock. If you wanted to address a problem in a metagame represented by things like, say, overpowered Dragon types, you could have addressed them by doing something with the Ice type, one of the only elemental types that Dragons aren’t strong against.

Instead of these solutions, we got Fairy.

We got this incoherent, flavourless smoosh of a type, and it’s one of the most powerful types and it’s beloved and it is never going away and the ice, bug, and rock types will never be fixed because they’re not fucking pink.

Back to top