Fossil Pokémon are certainly a mysterious bunch. Fossils of ancient Pokémon can be found through excavation, and through somewhat vague processes can be brought back to life in a new form. They often take inspiration from real-life prehistoric creatures big and small. They also can be found to be jabs at botched real-life palaeontology, as with Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s bizarre Fossil family (some of Generation VIII’s strangest designs). Regardless, they’re often fascinating Pokémon that can help spice up a team later into a playthrough.
However, since Red and Blue, there’s been a debate between the quality of the original fossils: the Helix Fossil’s Omanyte versus the Dome Fossil’s Kabuto. Both of these evolutionary lines may have the same typing in Rock and Water, but they function quite differently in battle. So, which Fossil is ultimately better to bring along?
Update by Chris Littlechild, January 14th 2021 The arrival of Pokémon Sword & Shield’s second expansion, The Isle of Armor, really shook things up. Not only did it introduce curious new critters like Regieleki and Regidrago, but it gave some Fossil Pokémon a new lease of life.
Dracovish, Dracozolt, Arctovish and Arctozolt now have access to their Hidden Abilities (via the new Ability Patch item), while previous generation Fossils like Amaura are roaming the Tundra, available in the wild for the very first time. With all of this in mind, it’s a great time to revisit and expand this comparison between two of the most iconic Fossil Pokémon in series history: Generation I’s Kabuto/Kabutops (Dome Fossil) and Omanyte/Omastar (Helix Fossil).
15 Dome: Most Intimidating Design
While both of these Pokémon are underrated Water-type battlers capable of outputting tremendous damage on evolution (especially as they both have access to great boosting moves), it’s arguable that Kabutops simply looks the most ‘powerful’ of the two.
Omastar perhaps retains just a little too much of its pre-evolution’s cute design, while Kabutops has ruthlessly left every morsel of its former cuteness behind. It may only be 4’04” tall, but those vicious claws are about 2’02” themselves. It looks every inch a formidable creature not to be trifled with, and the overall aesthetic matters a lot in Pokémon.
14 Helix: Gets The Popularity Vote
From a competitive standpoint, Kabutops has always struggled to make much of a splash. It shares a 4x weakness to those deadly Grass-type moves with Omastar (both being Rock/Water Pokémon), as well as the other shortcomings of that typing. Its respectable base 115 Attack also isn’t quite enough to let it compete with the best.
Kabutops sees occasional use on rain teams (thanks to its Swift Swim Ability, another asset the pair share), but even with its availability in the Crown Tundra, the likes of Barraskewda generally outshine it in that offensive role. In terms of overall popularity, Omanyte and Omastar have enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years, perhaps leaving this clawed menace behind.
13 Dome: A Deeper Movepool
By virtue of being Water- and Rock-types, both Pokémon have some nice STAB options that play to their strengths. Omastar has the ever-excellent Scald, Surf and other options, but the lack of special Rock moves lets it down a lot. Ancient Power is weaker and unreliable, while new Isle of Armor tutor move Meteor Beam is a two-turn attack.
Other than that, Ice Beam is very nice, but it struggles for coverage elsewhere. In contrast, Kabutops gets access to powerful physical Water moves (Waterfall, Liquidation, Razor Shell), as well as Rock Slide (especially deadly in doubles battles with its flinch chance) and the ever-powerful Stone Edge on the Rock side of things. Leech Life, Cross Poison, Low Kick and Knock Off are among its other very strong options, depending on its teams’ needs.
12 Helix: A Little Too One-Dimensional
Both Pokémon are in an unfortunate situation. They have the potential to sweep their way through teams if carefully played, but it’s very hard for a trainer to get themselves in that position. For Omastar, it tends to be even harder.
Kabutops, with base 80 Speed and powerful priority in Aqua Jet, can often deal some major damage even without its preferred weather on the field or a boost. Omastar is much slower at base 55 Speed, and its common weaknesses (Grass, Electric, Ground and Fighting) leave it vulnerable to being taken down before it can get any momentum (especially with Shell Smash’s harsh downside). It’s not easy being a Rock Pokémon.
11 Dome: Physical Combat Beast
Kabuto and its evolution Kabutops are both aggressive, predatory Pokémon and their stat-line confirms this. Kabutops especially highlights what the species is good at: physical attacks. Although that special trait wasn’t as valuable when Water-type moves were special-based, it helps the Dome Fossil carve a niche for itself.
Kabutops has access to a number of solid physical attacking moves. It has strong STAB attacks like Liquidation and Stone Edge, while also having wide coverage through secondary moves. It isn’t the best of physical attackers, but on a team that needs a strong member, Kabutops isn’t a bad option.
10 Helix: Torrent Of Special Attacks
As opposed to its sibling in Kabutops, Omanyte and Omastar specialize in high Special Attack and solid bulk. While both have similar Defense stats, Omastar is slightly more specialized as a defensive option. Additionally, its high Special Attack means it can use the strongest Water-type attacks like Hydro Pump with ease (so can a lot of surprising Pokémon, incidentally) although it doesn’t have very much Rock-type power.
As an added bonus, Omanyte itself also is no slouch. Unlike its sibling Kabuto, Omanyte has a wide range of uses through its high Special Attack stat. It isn’t nearly as limited in the Little Cup meta as a result. So for those needing a better special attacker, the Helix Fossil is the way to go.
9 Dome: Cleans Up Traps
In a world filled with rocks, spikes, and webs all over the battlefield, some Pokémon have the capabilities to effectively clean up the mess. One of those Pokémon is Kabutops. Both forms of the Shellfish Pokémon have access to Rapid Spin, a move that clears out traps on the user’s side of the field. This gives it an edge over Defoggers, since Defog clears all hazards on both sides of the field. Plus, Kabutops’ high attack means Rapid Spin might actually deal solid chip damage.
Plus, although it cleans up traps well, it also sets them up decently. It has access to Stealth Rock which, although it isn’t always useful on Kabutops, Kabuto’s niche is entirely defined by being able to both set up and clear traps.
8 Helix: Sets Up Traps
Speaking of setting up traps, the best supportive Pokémon are ones that can set up multiple layers of traps. Any Pokémon that can double-dip, like Roserade or Ferrothorn, can build a moveset around ability. And while Omastar isn’t always going to be a trap setter, it is an option for it. Omastar has access to Spikes and Stealth Rock, along with the bulk necessary to set those traps up.
The only real downside is that there are better sets for Omastar than trap-setting. It can be a supportive Pokémon, but it can also deal damage just as effectively. Still, having more options is always better than being defined by one single, predictable moveset.
7 Dome: Dancing With Swords
To go along with its high base Attack, Kabutops also has access to the status move Swords Dance. Swords Dance is a move that increases attack by two stages with each use. Most of the time, one use of Swords Dance is enough to greatly enhance a Pokémon’s power to make it a serious threat. On a rain team, taking Swords Dance can allow Kabutops to sweep efficiently.
There are disadvantages to this, though. Outside of the rain, Kabutops isn’t that fast and needs a Choice Scarf to compete. Using a Scarf locks it out of Swords Dance as a buffing option. Regardless, dancing with swords will always be cool, and its sharp claws make it that much cooler.
6 Helix: Shell Smash Goodness
What’s better than enhancing one stat? How about enhancing three of them? Shell Smash is an incredible move, with some drawbacks in that it lowers the Defense and Special Defense of the user. The trade-off is almost always worth it, though, especially for Pokémon that are already strong defensively. Of course, Omastar makes great use of this move.
There are plenty of options for Shell Smashers. They can opt for a White Herb to negate the initial drawbacks of the first Shell Smash. Alternatively, they can focus on all-out offense with an offensive item. Either way, Shell Smash keeps Omastar from being locked down into one playstyle, even if its speed still isn’t great.
5 Dome: Used By Red
Pokémon Trainer Red is iconic to the series as a whole. From reappearing as a boss in Pokémon Gold and Silver to making cameos in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Red is a core part of the series. He’s widely considered one of the strongest Trainers in canon, and beating Red is considered a serious accomplishment.
Red’s Pokémon are obviously going to a major part of his wins. In Pokémon Origins, a series based on the events of Red and Blue, Red uses a Kabutops to take down Giovanni. That makes Kabutops a core component of taking down a crime syndicate. Who wouldn’t want that kind of power?
4 Helix: Used By Yellow
While not necessarily canon in the games, Pokémon Trainer Yellow appears as a protagonist in the manga series Pokémon Adventures. Now, Yellow is hardly as revered of a Trainer as Red, but considering how intense the Adventures manga can get, she’s still admirable. She’s a skilled healer and truly cares about Pokémon.
Unlike Red, Yellow’s team is fairly limited. However, one of her main Pokémon was a gift from Misty: an Omanyte. Yellow ends up defeating Lance and Lugia at the end of the series centered around her character, and she went on to challenge other mythical Pokémon in future. Her Omastar, Omny, was with her during those events, so it’s fair to say that Omastar is good, too.
3 Dome: The Creepypasta Buff
Skeletal Pokémon are kind of terrifying. This includes the Fossils of Pokémon included at any point in the games and anime. One of the most iconic instances of this is a form of the glitch Pokémon MissingNo. that uses Kabutops’ skeletal sprite. Finding a skeletal Pokémon in the wild leads to fantastical stories.
These fantastical stories include creepypasta, a brand of Internet ghost stories that vary wildly in quality. Kabutops’ skeleton certain is definitely creepy, so it makes sense that it could find itself in horror stories. For those interested in the scare factor, Kabutops has a slight edge.
2 Helix: Ascended To Godhood
The Helix Fossil may have a better fanon story than anything the Dome Fossil could produce. During the initial run of Twitch Plays Pokémon, the “player” ended up selecting the Helix Fossil at the end of Mt. Moon. Through the duration of the chaotic playthrough, the Twitch chatters ended up attempting to use the Helix Fossil in combat dozens of times. It became legendary and following victories that included consulting the Fossil, it was considered a holy relic. For a short period in time, Omanyte, one of many Generation I Pokémon that were underappreciated, became a god.
Granted, this is old news at this point. Twitch Plays Pokémon is over six years old now, but the Helix Fossil still remains infamous in online circles. The Dome Fossil may be scary, but the Helix Fossil can provide divine protection.
1 *Dome: Overall Winner*
Both of these evolutionary families are rather niche Pokémon. In serious battles, the setup they tend to require to perform well leaves them forgotten in favor of more ‘practical’ picks. For the main game and non-competitive battles, however, they have solid raw stats and a range of useful moves with which to utilize them.
They have their strengths, weaknesses and advantages over each other, but ultimately, Kabutops probably wins out in terms of viability. Lord Helix is certainly the more popular of the two, but a lot of this popularity amounts to its meme-worthy nature. This doesn’t count for much in terms of battling prowess.