Put your hamburger-based SpongeBob jokes away, kids, this fella had the name first. Not an exciting name, though, nor an especially descriptive one. She’s very recognizable as a stylized crab, but not a particularly crabby one – if anything, she looks pretty dazed. The underbite is a cute touch – I like the visual that her whole torso is one big ol’ maw – and I’ll take this space to appreciate that the first generation really focuses on having a diverse lineup of Water-types where only 3 of 34 fit the traditional gills-and-fins image of a fish. She’s another one in the Seel camp of “uninventive, but still charming”.
She’s a whole-design pun on “King Crab” and I love it. She’s bigger, spinier, and has bulging, mischievous eyes that just invite you to pick a fight with her, punk. The best feature, though, is that her claws are dramatically different in size, common to a bunch of land-based crabs like the Fiddler, but made chunky and threatening here. Simultaneously goofier and meaner, she’s a fine evolution for Krabby.
Kingler’s got great defense and especially attack, and has access to a very useful range of attack options including the rare and excellent Crabhammer – plus Swords Dance to boost its attack even higher or Agility to cover for its iffy speed. Not exciting, but a fantastic choice if you’re only worried about bowling over the main game (which, let’s face it, the vast vast majority of us are).
Krabby and Kingler are pretty prevalent, considering. They show up a fair bit to set beach and ocean scenes, are dead common in the first two sets of games, and get a natural visibility boost from being first-generation Pokémon. The buck stopped for her pretty quick, though – its says something that Ash caught one very early in the series, but it’s still easily one of his least-used Pokémon.
Krabby is yet another case where the Pokédex pulls in some great real-world biology that the series shies away from showing on-screen. Most real shellfish will grow through periods of molting and regeneration, so naturally Krabby and Kingler can do the same. In a fighting-monsters context, this translates to them being absolutely reckless in a scrap, to the point where they’ll destroy their own pincers or let them get torn off in the process, then walk way and just grow them right back.
This is one of those ideas that could translate really well to a unique passive ability with some brainstorming – perhaps boosted attack power for its first hit of a match, but reduced attack power the following turn while it regenerates? It’s the kind of thing that was beyond GameBoy technology to implement for the games and could come across as really gruesome for a children’s cartoon, though, so we don’t really get a depiction of this anywhere, which is a shame.
While there’s obviously mention of the powerful crushing force of its pincers – that’s kind of the whole point of a crab, after all – Kingler’s signature move being Crabhammer has a fun insinuation that it prefers to use its heavy, regenerating claw as a giant club instead. It does make some sense as a way to smash its prey’s shells apart after they’ve been cracked open (naturally, it hunts Shellder, much like real crabs’ diet includes lots of mollusks).
It’s also noted that the one claw being so disproportionately large leads to a lot of balance problems when traveling about, and even issues lifting its own limbs properly – not a lot of muscle in those spindly lil’ crab-arms. I love the juxtaposition we get in these monster designs between “it’ll tear your knees off” and “it regularly trips over its own body”.
Total Detour: In Pokémon 2000, a.k.a. the best Pokémon movie, one scene cuts in on the tail end of a joke: “…and she says: no, but I have Krabbies.” If anybody can give be an all-ages-appropriate lead-in to that punchline, I will personally mail you five whole Internet Dollars.
Anyway, Krabby and Kingler aren’t revolutionary, but they’re neat, inoffensive designs that fill a relatively underpopulated niche in she series. Into Reserve they go.
Any and all appreciation for Krabby and Kingler is welcome in the comments!