All that’s missing is the artist. We’re talking, of course, about Smeargle, the painter Pokémon. Where is it, why is it important and why are fans waiting for Smeargle in the first place?
Pokémon Go Update: What the heck is a Smeargle?
If you’re asking “Who the heck is Smeargle?” or getting it mixed up with Sméagol from Lord of the Rings, you’re not alone. Smeargle — pronounced SMEAR-gull — is a painter Pokémon, the pocket monster with the paint-covered tail who’s dripping orange goo on Togepi.
You might recognize Smeargle from the Pokémon anime, but it was actually introduced in the second-generation games Gold and Silver. Smeargle resided in the Ruins of Alph. Unlike in Pokémon Go, where Smeargle is impossible to find, Gold and Silver trainers had a 10% chance of finding the animal-artist, according to Bulbapedia.
So, what makes Smeargle so notable? Its signature move, known as Sketch.
Pokémon Go Update: Smeargle’s primary move is the Ditto of Pokémon attacks
The only move Smeargle has is Sketch, but it’s the only move it needs. When Smeargle faces off against an opponent, it can use Sketch to permanently learn the last attack it witnessed. If someone uses Tackle on Smeargle, for example, Smeargle can use Sketch to learn Tackle. The same goes for Hyper Beam or Hi Jump Kick or any attack except Struggle, Chatter or Shadow attacks.
Smeargle will try to learn the move Sketch every 10 levels, at levels 11, 21, 31 and so on. This gives players the chance to erase a move it may have learned in the past and potentially get a better one later in the game.
Sketch’s power is what you make of it. If played right, it can lead to some pretty OP combos.
Pokémon Go Update: How does Smeargle work?
Honestly, it’s tough to say. While the traditional games allow Smeargle to play off its enemies and then completely wreck them, Pokémon Go operates a little differently.
Catching Smeargle translates well to Pokémon Go, but a gym battle with Smeargle would need rethinking the Sketch mechanic. Would it Sketch the first attack it sees? With no way to vet which attacks a gym-residing Pokémon possesses, it could lead to Smeargle learning some unwanted moves. Would Smeargle learn Sketch once more, allowing it to learn another move? While Pokémon CP can be improved in Pokémon Go, Pokémon never learn new attacks while doing so. A Pokémon like Smeargle simply doesn’t work within the rules of the Pokémon Go world.
But this can easily be addressed. Perhaps Niantic could alter the game rules only in the case of Smeargle. For example, it could tap the Sketch attack and choose from a list of recently witnessed Pokémon moves, or even select a move from other Pokémon in your collection. For those trying to catch ’em all, we hope Niantic and the Pokémon Company draw a conclusion soon.