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Revisiting Mewtwo: a Birthday Retrospective

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Back in the original Pokemon games, players encountered an abandoned building called the Pokemon Mansion; a large, crumbling manor filled with scientists and burglars that want to battle at every lonely turn. Along the way, players will find pages of a journal that tells the tale of the discovery of the mythical Pokemon Mew, and beyond that the birth of the Genetic Pokemon itself on the fateful day of February 6; Mewtwo.

No matter the game series, no matter the media, Mewtwo has always been a big part of Pokemon as a whole. It's consistently depicted as an extremely powerful and frequently ruthless legendary Pokemon that has been one of the franchises biggest and most recognizable media darlings since its initial release. It's been on clothing and toys, and has even been one of the biggest parts of the Pokemon movie franchise, starring in the very first movie that even now is set to have a remake released in the coming weeks! But what about here in Pokemon Go? Mewtwo has long been a topic of excitement in our corner of the franchise, and is always a welcomed returning face. So today, on the Genetic Pokemon's birthday, let's take a look at Mewtwo, and look at the history of this Psychic Type titan in order to better appreciate just what it's done for us over the years!

Please keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive history of Mewtwo, but rather a highlight reel of the major events that have positioned this Pokemon in such a way that it stands where it does today.

Mewtwo: The Original EX Raid Boss

Back before raids as a whole were announced, dataminers discovered evidence of them hidden within the game's code and posted their findings across the net. This was an exciting new prospect that would revitalize the entire game entirely and bring about a whole new era. Everyone was excited, and speculation began running rampant, especially after it became clear that this would be the release method for the long-requested Legendary Pokemon of the series. Fast forward a few months and the system dropped with Legendary Pokemon coming not long after, riding on the cusp of the first Go Fest! All was great, and everyone praised the new system! However, some players that remembered the initial datamine found something odd; any announcement in regards to an "invitational" raid format that had previously been found within the game data was mysteriously absent from the game at this point. This would come later, and be revealed as a system that players would soon come to know as the highly controversial EX Raid system. And with this system, players would be treated to an absolutely titanic treat....

Fast Moves

  • Confusion
  • Psycho Cut

Charge Moves

  • Shadow Ball
  • Focus Blast
  • Psychic
  • Hyper Beam

On its release, Mewtwo was a highly coveted tyrant of a Pokemon whose scarcity due to an extremely selective EX Raid system and oppressive power made it the object of desire for the majority of players. If you had a good one, it was the crown-jewel of your collection. If you had a bad one, it was still considered a worthwhile investment because of just how blasted powerful it was!

Raid Performance

Mewtwo took the raid scene by storm. In fact, it was so powerful in theory that it was the first Pokemon to receive the 9% Niantic Nerf. Some players thought that this was terrible, but they quickly realized that it was basically needed as one very powerful truth came to light: without it, mewtwo would have been downright oppressive. When Mewtwo dropped the top best Charged Moves were generally as follows for the raid scene:

  1. Shadow Ball
  2. Psychic
  3. Focus Blast

Newer players may be a bit confused by this one, but please understand  that Psychic was around half what it is today, and that it fell way behind the sheer power and versatility of Shadow Ball despite the later lacking STAB. To that end; Shadow Ball was Mewtwo's bread-and-butter. It could be used to fill in holes on most raid teams due to Ghost's wide neutral coverage, and instantly became a top choice as a specialist. Mewtwo would run Confusion/Shadow Ball against most ghosts to deal tremendous damage, while running Psycho Cut/Shadow Ball against its fellow Psychic Types in order to take advantage of the former's high energy gains and pump out Super Effective Shadow Balls earlier and more often. If a raid boss had a Ghost weakness, you could bet that Mewtwo would rise to meet it with a powerful Shadow Ball ready to go.

Psychic, on the other hand, was far more niche. Where it dealt Super Effective damage, it could out-pace the neutral damage of Shadow Ball fairly consistency. This allowed a Psychic Mewtwo to act as a niche specialist that would absolutely obliterate Psychic-weak Pokemon such as Machamp. In fact, Mewtwo's absurd attack stat allowed it to rule as the top Psychic attacker despite the middling power of its charged move. That said, we didn't have the option of a second charged move yet, so Shadow Ball was what most players TMed for.

Focus Blast was the most niche choice of all. It gave Mewtwo performance just below Machamp as a pseudo-fighting type. The issue here was the fact that Machamp existed. Why raise a Pokemon with such high cost to use a move that makes it a bit worse than a boss that most players would see in raids at least once or twice a day on average? The opportunity cost was too high, and most players TMed Focus Blast away.

Hyper Beam.... never had a use. It fell quite a bit behind other moves and was the designated TM-use move.

Gym Performance

Mewtwo has never been able to defend, but it's always been one of the strongest gym attackers! A Mewtwo with Shadow Ball could run through most gym defenders with ease, and paired fantastically well with Machamp as a gym-cleaning core. Some players would also run Focus Blast in order to help mow down opposing Blissey, though this wasn't extremely common. Overall, anyone invested in gym defense had a handful of Pokemon that they needed to put answers to in gyms, and Mewtwo was one of those Pokemon from the day of its release.

Mewtwo's Release to the World

After a long stint as the de-facto EX Raid boss, a portion of the player-base was getting a bit upset. EX Raid invites seemed arbitrary at best, and biased at worst, meaning many players still didn't get their shot at the Genetic Pokemon, which was a real problem given just how powerful a tool it was for those who had it at this point. Complaints rose more and more with each new wave of EX passes, and eventually Niantic did something about it. As a reward for the second Go Fest, Mewtwo would see its first release to the public as a general raid boss! And with new moves too! ...wait what?

Fast Moves

  • Confusion
  • Psycho Cut

Charge Moves

  • Psychic
  • Focus Blast
  • Ice Beam
  • Thunderbolt
  • Flamethrower

This was a shock to most players, but the highly coveted Mewtwo released to the public was basically an entirely different Pokemon. In this release, it lost Hyper Beam (no great loss), and its all-important pseudo-signature move: Shadow Ball. On top of this, players quickly noticed that the raid boss CP totals were higher than expected by a fair margin. Niantic hadn't just released it as a normal Tier 5 boss, they'd quietly made a new tier and disguised it as a Tier 5: the controversial Tier 6.

What Changed

This new moveset was both a blessing and a curse for Mewtwo. On the one hand, it lost its main claim to fame: Shadow Ball. Shadow Ball was still its strongest neutral charged move and its crux as a Ghost and Psychic killer. Many players didn't like this change, and opted to save newly earned candy or spend it on existing Shadow Ball Mewtwo that they may own. On the other hand, many other players saw this as a huge opportunity, as it gave Mewtwo the ability to act as an attacker for many, many types, especially in the then under-represented Ice Type.

Overall, this change shifted Mewtwo more towards a quasi-generalist role, where it could be slotted in to great effect depending on its moveset, and saw utility in many, many raids. It provided great role-compression and value, as if outclassed in one type a player could just TM it to another Charged Move, and even if they didn't need any of the new elemental moves or Focus Blast, it could still stand above the competition with Psychic. Overall, this was a transitional role for Mewtwo that made it more appealing to less-hardcore players, and less appealing to more-hardcore players, but in the end it did serve to make Mewtwo a stronger overall force in the game as a whole.

Armored Mewtwo: Not your Average Attacker

We wouldn't see any major Mewtwo-related developments for a while, but the next one would shake up what we would expect from Pokemon Go moving forward. With the announcement of a remake of the original Pokemon Movie and the discovery of an unnamed alternate Mewtwo form in the code, players started speculating wildly. The main thought was that it was just a "party hat" variant or some other cosmetic change. But many players already suspected what was to come next, and soon it would hit the raid scene hard:

Armored Mewtwo had come.

Fast Moves

  • Confusion
  • Iron Tail

Charge Moves

  • Rock Slide
  • Dynamic Punch
  • Earthquake
  • Future Sight

Armored mewtwo was an interesting anomaly of a Pokemon for one primary reason: it had no analog in the main series of games. Up till now, every Pokemon had its stats tied to its main-series counterpart, but Armored Mewtwo had never been in the main series, and it had a very, very different stat-distribution from normal Mewtwo, with stats skewed more towards defense when compared to its oppressively hard-hitting alternate self.

Armored Mewtwo was definitely an interesting beast, but sadly not an effective one. It fell far behind normal Mewtwo in raids, where it couldn't even be saved by the vastly superior STAB move Future Sight. In the still-young PvP scene, Armored Mewtwo saw some utility. Its more defensive stats made it arguably better than normal Mewtwo in the Ultra League in particular, though this was a league dominated by Giratina, meaning it would always have a ceiling to just how well it could do. In the Master League the story was much the same, though normal Mewtwo was a stronger candidate here due to its higher attack power not translating into a burden and its huge versatility (focused around the ever-in-demand Shadow Ball) allowing it to step up as a definite threat in the league. Overall, the best choice for Mewtwo was to just shed its armor, as the most interesting part of this Pokemon was the allusion that normal Mewtwo with Future Sight was possible, which was thought by many to be potentially overpowered. Ah, if only we'd known then....

In the end, the strongest contribution that Armored Mewtwo made to the game was a statement; that Niantic was now willing to make special variants moving forward, and that theorycrafting became a bit more interesting. This is a statement that we're still waiting to hear more of to this day.

Mewtwo Unleashed: the Fabled Psystrike

Not long after Mewtwo's initial release, dataminers found another interesting tidbit; data for Mewtwo's signature move from the main series. This attack was Psystrike; a Psychic Type charge move that was stronger than Psychic, yet still nothing outstanding objectively. This move sat quietly in the data for years, until at last Mewtwo was the focus of yet another major reward for a Go Fest: Psystrike Mewtwo was announced! And it would be available in Shiny Forme!

The player-base scrambled to figure out just how important this change was. Despite some argument on the matter, the general consensus was that Psystrike Mewtwo would be a bit stronger than Psychic Mewtwo as expected, so we waited for a fun new bonus!

...and then Niantic changed it directly before release. No longer was Psystrike a slight upgrade to the old Psychic, it was now a huge upgrade! The sheer power of this attack launched Psystrike Mewtwo past its old Shadow Ball incarnation and into a league all its own. Psystrike Mewtwo went from a recommended capture to a must-have Pokemon, and one of the most important upgrades that we'd seen in a very long time. On top of this, at about the same time the charged move Psychic also saw an upgrade; no longer would it be a mediocre attack on a great Pokemon, now it was a great attack on a fantastic Pokemon! Nearly doubling its old power in practice, our old Psychic Mewtwo would be outclassed by the new Psystrike incarnation, but not to the point of being useless! Regardless of when or how it was captured, Mewtwo suddenly went from a very good generalist to the ultimate Psychic Type specialist. Mewtwo had taken its rightful place on the throne, and it sits there to this very day as a remnant of the past that still rules its position with an iron fist.

EX Raid Revenge: Return of Shadow Ball

It wouldn't take long after the release of Psystrike for Mewtwo to take its EX-Raid throne back from the various formes of Deoxys, and with it we'd see the return of its once-and-former crown-jewel: Shadow Ball

For the first time in a very long time, players were given the chance to capture the fabled Shadow Ball Mewtwo for themselves; a Pokemon that was then considered to be one of the most coveted Legacy Pokemon in the entire game. However, by this point in the game, a bit of Mewtwo's thunder had ironically been stolen from itself by itself. The ability to trade had been introduced, making it a bit less rare than it once had been. It had more competition from powerful Dark- and Ghost-Type Pokemon that had risen over the years and threatened its niche with similar or in some cases superior coverage. And to top it all off, it was (and still is) impossible to have Psystrike and Shadow Ball on the same Mewtwo, meaning this incarnation of the Genetic Pokemon had far less value than it had ever had before.

That said, it wasn't all bad for the legacy of legend; Mewtwo in the aforementioned Master League of PVP basically needed Shadow Ball in order to be worthwhile, and it generally didn't care about Psystrike as a second move, meaning this was a second chance for this relic of a lost age. On top of this, it was also possible to find a Shiny Shadow Ball Mewtwo for the first time, which was an exciting novelty to say the least!

And this all takes us to today.....

Beyond Gen 5: Mewtwo's Future

As tends to always be the case, the future looks bright for Mewtwo. It currently sits on top of its own Psychic Type mountain, it's seen the release of its Signature Move, and nothing else in the game comes close to its sheer power. That said, it's unlikely that the Genetic Pokemon will simply rest on its laurels forever. In fact, it's already moving forward again, as in the very near future its armored forme is set to return with access to Psystrike as well!

While it's great to see this move on Armored Mewtwo, it's not as exciting as it was on its normal variant. It doesn't help it much in raids, and in PvP the move doesn't add much utility, making it a fairly mediocre choice for the most part.

Mega Mewtwo: The Future

In Generation 6 of the main series (reminder: we're in Generation 5), a new feature was added called Mega Evolution. In essence, this allowed one Pokemon per battle to take on a powerful new forme with enhanced stats, etc. While we don't have any confirmation of Mega Evolution in Go, it's long been rumored to be coming, and if it does then Mewtwo will be one of the biggest winners of the system, as it has two different Mega Evolutions to choose from!

Mega Mewtwo X (Left), and Mega Mewtwo Y (Right)

If they are released, the two Mega Evolutions of Mewtwo are absolute game-changers.

Mega Mewtwo X

In this forme, Mewtwo becomes a Psychic/Fighting Type Pokemon with an increase in both offensive and defensive capabilities. It can easily become the overall strongest Fighting Type attacker in the game even with a mix of Confusion and Focus Blast, and would likely become a hugely oppressive force in PvP.

Mega Mewtwo Y

Mega Mewtwo Y is a Psychic-Type nuke, plain-and-simple. It sees a huge increase in its already amazing attack, and it instantly becomes what is likely to be the all-time king of Psychic Types. On top of that, it would likely become a potent glass-cannon in the Master League, dealing tremendous damage with its powerful attacks.

The Usurper: Ultra Necrozma

The nearest, and possibly largest threat to Mewtwo moving forward would likely be here around the year 2022: the Psychic/Dragon Type Pokemon Ultra Necrozma.

Ultra Necrozma

Ultra Necrozma has the advantage of not needing a Mega Evolution (though it does have something similar to Mega Evolution to enter this form...), meaning it COULD be available in raids in this forme. Right off the bat, Ultra Necrozma could dwarf even Psystrike Mewtwo if given a reasonable  Psychic Type moveset, and has the potential to be the catalyst for a brand-new meta-shift moving forward.

That said, in the main series Necrozma's formes are a bit complex. First it had a basic forme, then two different formes where it absorbs others legendary Pokemon (we'll have a better idea as to how this is likely to work with the upcoming Kyurem's special formes), and then either of these formes can use a special attack to become Ultra Necrozma. Its activation would likely be a bit too convoluted for Go and would require streamlining, but time will tell!

Bringing it All Together

So if we take all of the above together, it looks like this:

It just goes to show that nothing is safe forever, but that's fine! Basically, we all have at least one Pokemon in our collection that was once the top choice but has been outclassed, and Mewtwo could very well be in the same boat some day. However, it could also rise to even greater heights at some point, keeping it at the top of its niche forever. Only time will tell!

Happy Birthday Mewtwo!

Nowadays, the most up-to-date way to visit the Pokemon Mansion is in let's go Pikachu and Eevee. It's still old and crumbling, but it's kept the importance of old, as it was still the site of Mewtwo's birth on one fateful day in early February of some unknown year. Outside of the mansion, Mewtwo has had an amazing run since its initial release in Pokemon Go, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon. It's seen moveset changes, different formes, and exclusive moves change its niche over the years, but still our favorite clone Pokemon claws its way back to the top time and time again. At this point it seems that it can't be stopped, but the future has yet to be written! As we move forward, please join us in the comments below in wishing a very Happy Birthday to Mewtwo!

About the Author(s)

Gamepress writer with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization. A Pokemon player since its inception, and a Pokemon Go player since day 1.

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