Goldeen is a goldfish, with a horn to make her appear a bit more monstrous. Her fins stand up in back, which kind of gives her the look of a sixteenth-century lady in a partlet, but that’s about it. Simple simple. Goldeen isn’t quite competing with Seel for the title of “most straightforward Pocket Monster”, but she’s not bringing home originality awards, either.
I don’t know how to feel about Goldeen having eyelids, though – depending on who you are, the bulging, unblinking eyes on fish are either distinctly unsettling or kind of cute. Taking that away makes her look more generic what with moving away from the specific creature that she’s based on.
There’s not much especially kingly about Seaking – in fact, this sucker is kinda ugly in my opinion, but I do appreciate that not all animals in this fantasy setting are aesthetically-pleasing. Plus, unlike Goldeen, she does have those distinct, fishy globe-eyes!
Technically these guys are based on actual goldfish, but their color patterns have always reminded me much more strongly of koi, to be honest. It being somewhere between two actual fish strikes me as a good base for a fantasy creature, if not a particularly inspiring one in this case.
Seaking unfortunately isn’t an especially strong teammate, either. All of its stats are at or below average, and just-plain-water is the least interesting type that isn’t Normal. It gets a lot of fun moves to use with its horn – Megahorn, Poison Jab, Drill Run, and so on – but it just doesn’t have the oomph to use them especially well, unfortunately.
Goldeen and Seaking rarely get front-and-center treatment, but they’re such unassuming fishies that they seem to show up everywhere when the anime needs an establishing shot of an aquatic biome. Still, they’re present, even if you tend to forget about them almost as quickly as an actual goldfish would.
(Disclaimer: Goldfish having a three-second memory is a total wives’ tale, but it makes for a good joke here, so nyeh.)
I kind of like the flavor text around Goldeen being “The Water Queen” – goldfish’s long and elegant fins always did look a bit ballroom-dress-y to me, and that carries nicely into Goldeen’s visual design and powerful, elegant movements. The theme doesn’t carry through to Seaking in any way that I can discern, though, aside from a tenuous light inspiration from a form of Vishnu.
There’s also the ugly thought of the Queen evolving into the King instead of them, y’know, being peers. I can see an alternative design here where Goldeen to lean more into the elegant, queenly goldfish and Seaking to lean more into the koi inspiration and its kingliness. Maybe make the former more based on Special-attack moves and the latter more on Physical attacks? They could even be a split evolution from some sort of Goby Pokémon. But that’s me speaking comfortably from my armchair with the benefit of hindsight, here.
Seaking and Goldeen’s in-game descriptions are all over the place, seeming to be a grab bag of “this is your standard fish”. They talk about swimming muscles (an odd choice given the wispy look of their fins), swimming upstream to spawn, protecting their eggs, digging nests with their horns… all perfectly average. They’re also internally inconsistent, with one noting that Goldeen’s cruising speed is a remarkably steady “five knots per hour”, i.e. “five nautical miles per hour per hour”.
There’s just one more thing of note for each of these mons. Goldeen apparently hate being contained to tanks, and will actively break the glass with their horns in a short-sighted attempt to escape. It makes for a fun reversal from Goldfish being the stereotypical fish to keep in a bowl.
Seaking, on the other hand, is noted to change its appearance the seasons, fattening up and turning a bright autumn-red during the autumn mating season. I wish we saw this in the games somewhere like we will with later Pokémon, because it would at least give Seaking a bit of texture that it desperately needs. On the other hand, the fattening-up aspect seems like the kind of thing that would tragically make fishing Seaking for food more common during its mating season, but that feels like something the series would never look directly in the eye nowadays.
Goldeen and Seaking feel a lot like filler to me, and they seem like the easiest Pokémon in the first generation to drop from the roster if you were going to do that. There’s not a lot to complain about here – they’re perfectly adequate – but that’s a hard sell now with hundreds upon hundreds of creatures. Realistically, they’ll probably stay in Reserve, but if we were to more ruthlessly cut monsters out of the game, they’d be among the first I’d Retire.
Any and all appreciation for Goldeen and Seaking is welcome in the comments.