in anticipation of forthcoming announcements:

The February 26 “Pokémon Presents” broadcast is, for me in New Zealand, at 4 o’clock on the morning of February 27, and frankly there is no force in heaven or earth that will get me out of bed that early just to listen to an announcement from the people who have STOLEN MY LIFE AND REFUSE TO JUST LET ME DIE IN PEACE

I’ll get to it when I get to it, whether it’s Diamond and Pearl remakes, or Let’s Go Johto, or a gritty live action reboot of the TV show, or a new mobile game based on the Celadon Game Corner where you play the slot machines with real money to win a .gif of a Porygon, or just 20 solid minutes of Junichi Masuda bawling his eyes out and knocking back bottles of sake like Gatorade after a marathon because all the Dexit tweets are starting to get to him

for the record, that last one is my official prediction and I am taking no additional questions until further notice

EDIT: actually though I will be streaming Final Fantasy X with Jim the Editor on his Youtube channel as we do every week at 9am NZ time (8pm UK and… I don’t fµ¢£ing know, some other time US) and I’ll probably watch/listen to the broadcast while we’re doing that, so if you want to hear my unstructured and profanity-laden first impressions to the backdrop of an angsty bleached-blonde teenager with daddy issues killing monsters with a Welsh sword… y’know, I’m sure that’ll be in some way worth listening to. I’ll tweet when we’re live or something.

Pokémon’s Generational “Flagship Mechanics”

How you know $#!t just got real.

As part of my eternal contract of service to the Dark Council of my highest-tier Patreon supporters (to whom special thanks, and a mighty tribute of souls and magic, are as always due), I regularly solicit topics from them to discuss in longer articles – and once again, that time has come.  Today I’m supposed to be talking about the (so far) three generational flagship mechanics of the Pokémon games – X and Y’s Mega Evolution, Sun and Moon’s Z-Moves and Sword and Shield’s Dynamax – in all their aspects, both how they practically work in the game and how they influence the story and lore of their worlds.  “Flagship mechanics” is my own term for these, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else say it, but I like it better than “gimmicks” because I think it’s a better reflection of what the developers seem to want them to be, so I’m gonna keep using it, and you all just have to deal with that because… it’s my blog, so shut up.

Let’s start with a summary for people who might not be familiar with one or more of the games that introduced and featured these mechanics:

Continue reading “Pokémon’s Generational “Flagship Mechanics””

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXIV: At the Mountains of Moonness

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Who do you want to spend time with?
– Magikarp

You really need to hurry to reach your destination and get on with that… mission… thingy… or whatever.  I mean, not that I give a $#!t but it seemed important to you.  The going’s going to be much slower now that you’re climbing the mountain and trekking through caves.  Still, Mount Moon isn’t completely inhospitable.  Yeah, the cave floors are pretty uneven – lots of stalagmites and unexpected potholes – and gravel and dust keep falling on your head in a very unsettling way.  Your Pokédexes have GPS, but with so much rock over your heads they might as well be cardboard compasses.  On the other hand, you and Blue both have torches (plus the glowing tail flame of Blue’s new Charmander) and Brock’s map shows the layout of the caves on your direct route in fairly high detail.  There are even a couple of softly-glowing phosphor lanterns that must have been left by the dig team as waypoints.  You more than once trip over an unruly Geodude, but Scallion and Aura both have Grass attacks that can quickly send them packing; with Blue’s Squirtle on your flank, they’re no trouble at all.  There are also Zubat just… everywhere.  You love all Pokémon, Professor Oak groomed you to be a paragon young trainer and scientist, but if there were ever a Pokémon that could stretch your patience to breaking point, it’d be the one constantly trying to perch on your shoulder and give you a quick anaesthetic bite so it can suck your blood unnoticed while you walk onward through the dark caves.  Fortunately, Nancy the Negator isn’t having any of that bull$#!t.  On top of everything else, you have this uncanny sensation of being watched by something just outside your torchlight.  When you bring it up, the Pokémon just seem to think you’re being paranoid, but Blue bites his lip and mutters something about how it’s not paranoia if “they” really are out to get you.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXIV: At the Mountains of Moonness”

Unown asks:

There are rumors that (well by the time you answer this maybe it’ll be announced) this month will reveal diamond and pearl remakes. What would you hope to see implemented in the remakes?

So… I am on the record as not seeing any particular need for remakes of Diamond and Pearl, and I don’t think I’ve changed my mind about that.  But we’ll probably get them eventually, whether that’s this year or at some later point, so just for the sake of argument let’s talk about it.

Continue reading “Unown asks:”

[Yes, I know it’s January] asks:

Is there a Pokémon version of Christmas? Is there, like, Arceus-mas or Arce-easter where people celebrate Arceus instead of Jesus? I’m pretty sure there was a winter festival about gifts or something in the anime.

Well, the Kanto series of the anime had a literal Christmas episode – like, they met Santa Claus and everything.  So the easy answer is yes, Christmas exists, takes place during the northern hemisphere’s winter and is associated with gift-giving.  Therefore, Jesus, St. Nicholas of Myra and the Christian faith all exist, therefore the Roman Empire existed and the date of Christmas was fixed at December 25th at some point during the reign of Constantine I in the 4th century (probably by the logic of that date being nine months after Passover, which was thought to be the date of Jesus’ conception, which in turn means that both Egypt and the Jewish people exist); in addition, if the birth of Jesus was a significant event we have to assume that his death was likewise significant and that Easter therefore also exists… and so on.

I said that was the “easy” answer, didn’t I…?

Continue reading “[Yes, I know it’s January] asks:”

KHM asks:

Have you considered that Ribombee’s Fairy Typing might be influenced by how you can connect bee flies’ reproductive habits with the trope of the Changeling (a fairy left in the place of a kidnapped human baby)?

Mmm, I’m not sure I see it, for three reasons.  One, nothing about Ribombee really seems like a reference to parasitism; it’s not an idea that the design or the flavour text or Ribombee’s mechanical abilities seem to be evoking.  Two, Cutiefly and Ribombee’s dainty, gossamer-winged physical appearance already gives us a pretty clear reason for them to be Fairy-types; we don’t need an explanation for that.  And three… well, I think there are better animal kingdom metaphors for changelings – namely brood parasitism, like what cuckoos do; they actually slip their eggs into the nests of other birds to trick them into raising the cuckoos’ chicks.  Personally, that’s where I’d go if I wanted to play with changeling mythology.  I suppose I don’t think it’s impossible that Ribombee is doing something along these lines, but I’m not convinced.

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXIII: Unconventional Acquisition

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do?
– Follow Blue’s lead

Screw it, may as well ask what he has in mind.  You quietly gesture for Blue to continue.  He waits for the Magikarp seller to reach a crescendo of enthusiasm in describing the virtues of his “product” (his words, not mine, just to be clear).  Then, he presses something into your hand.  You glance down at it.  It’s… a plastic drinking straw?  From… the restaurant you had lunch at in Pewter City yesterday, you guess?  Has this just been in his pocket the whole time?  Why did he even keep this?
“Use that Pokémon you have,” Blue whispers to you under his breath.  “The one you used in the gym battle.”  Jane?  How-?  You look down at the straw again.  Oh.  You interrupt the Magikarp seller to cheerily ask him whether it would be all right for you to take a closer look at the merchandise.
“By all means!”  He waves a hand towards the tank.  “See for yourself how smooth and soft its scales are!” 
Blue clears his throat.  “So, uh, how exactly did you get into the Magikarp business, anyway?”
“Oh, my young friend, you shouldn’t be asking about my story, but about how you can get into the Magikarp business!  Let me explain…”

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXIII: Unconventional Acquisition”

Mr F asks:

Do you think the Pokémon games would be well-received in the Pokémon world?

Y’know, I think they would be.  The real world has plenty of very popular and successful video games that simulate real sports: soccer, American football, basketball, wrestling, golf, skateboarding.  Most people can, in principle, learn to do those things for real, but very few can learn all of them, and very few can do them at the highest levels of skill.  Even people who are top-tier professionals sometimes enjoy relaxing with a simulated version of their sport.  I think the same would probably apply to Pokémon training and Pokémon battles.  Not every Youngster Joey with a Rattata can travel the region, earn eight badges, meet legendary Pokémon, defeat Team Badguy and become a League Champion, y’know?  I think it would be a compelling experience for people who are too young to become trainers for real, or don’t have the time to give to a pro battling career, or just don’t like the idea of their Pokémon getting hurt.

Larry asks:

What are your thoughts on Pokémon evolution as a biological process instead of as a gameplay feature?

Larry has no shortage of his own thoughts so I’m gonna break this up.

Most evolutionary lines are very clearly meant to be not only progressions of power, but also of physical maturity and aging. There are outright “baby pokémon”, but it’s not like those are children and the rest are all adults. Most first stages in three stage lines, and some in two stage lines, are made to look and act like children, small and playful.

Right, but at the same time, most unevolved Pokémon are viable on their own, which is interesting.  Pidgey can survive and reproduce without evolving into Pidgeotto; you can have a whole community of Pidgey without a single Pidgeotto and they’ll probably manage.  With the exception of “baby” Pokémon, who can’t lay eggs (presumably because the designers saw them as “too young” to reproduce – it’s weird that Gold and Silver didn’t extend this restriction to a few other pre-existing Pokémon, like Caterpie), an unevolved Pokémon is a “complete” organism.  So I think in a lot of cases it’s not just maturity as such but maybe a social and/or hierarchical thing.  More evolved Pokémon might need more space and more food or other resources, so maybe it’s advantageous to the whole community if only a small number of them evolve.

Continue reading “Larry asks:”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXII: Fishy Business

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do?

  • Question the Magikarp seller

You’re a little tempted to just pay the asking price and take the damn fish.  A Pokémon is a Pokémon, no matter how proverbially useless.  Besides, you kinda feel for the stupid thing.  Even if you decide later that you can’t be bothered training it until it evolves, you can probably find a better life for it than… whatever this carnival snake-oil setup is.

On the other hand, you’re curious now.  You still don’t see any direct evidence that this Magikarp has been mistreated and you doubt Blue (who is currently on the other side of the Pokémon Centre lounge, practising his trash talk against an annoyed-looking hiker) would have anything to add on that score.  But the idea of selling Pokémon has piqued your curiosity.  Is that even a thing?  Is it actually legal?  You voice these questions to the Magikarp salesman.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXII: Fishy Business”