One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
Long-time Friend of the Blog and expert spicy-take-haver Shibarianne has just finished and released her magnum opus: Pokémon Ephemerald, a ROM hack of Emerald with retyped and redesigned Sapphosian forms of every Pokémon (…minus Deoxys, Unown, Castform and Spinda, because apparently their multiple forms are coded into the gen III games in a way that makes them an absolute nightmare to do anything fun or interesting with).
Every last one of these bizarre fµ¢£ers has a new type, and apparently every possible combination of the 17 types is represented (17, not 18: Ephemerald is still gen III; it does not add the Fairy type, or import any other fundamental mechanical changes from generation IV+). Not only that, every Pokémon is obtainable; Shibarianne has found spots in the Hoenn region for all three-hundred-and-whatever, and crafted special areas and events for the legendary Pokémon that aren’t in vanilla Emerald. I believe the plot of Emerald is unchanged, but there are also several optional bonus bosses, a reworked difficulty curve and a little type rebalancing.
Also I know that at least one of my Pokémon suggestions made it into the game, so you should play it just for that.
More information and a download link can be found here. As is standard for ROM hacks, the download is a .ups file, which contains instructions for patching a standard Emerald .gba file, so you’ll also need a program that can read those instructions and apply the patch (Shibarianne recommends Tsukuyomi, Lunar IPS, or UpSet for Windows users; for Mac, I have found success with MultiPatch), as well as a vanilla Emerald ROM and an emulator that can run it; Google can help you find all of these.
I think I’m going to write some more about this, while/after playing it, but I’m not sure what exactly (if for some reason you have strong opinions, leave a comment!). Maybe short-form reviews of the redesigns for a couple of my favourite Pokémon. Maybe some commentary on how the difficulty curve feels, or some of the boss fights like gym leaders? We’ll see.
Y’know, we’ve hit the biggest, most important questions already now – whether it would be a good idea to make Pokémon real, and what Pokémon’s core themes are. Since I’ve so recklessly squandered this format’s potential by clearing up the grandest conceivable questions in the first two instalments (and, in so doing, settled those questions in perpetuity and throughout the universe), I’d like to move on, for the third One of These Things, to something much more detail-oriented.
How do all the “genderless” Pokémon work?
Pokémon that are “genderless”/“gender-unknown” presumably must reproduce, because they don’t all immediately go extinct as species. Some of them might just be functionally immortal, but I have to imagine that most of them reproduce in some way that (for whatever reason) we just don’t see in the “day-care” environments we have in the games, some way that’s different from whatever the “standard” male/female Pokémon are doing. For instance, I like to think that Magneton reproduce by fission – that at the end of its life a Magneton will break down into several Magnemite, and there is some chance of either a new Magneton forming from fewer than three Magnemite or an old Magneton breaking down into more than three, such that their population can gradually increase to make up the difference when some of them inevitably explode or get eaten by bears.
What can you come up with? What’s a “genderless” Pokémon that you think might reproduce in an interesting way? Or (related) what do you think “gender-unknown” might really mean for some of those species (3+ genders that don’t neatly map to male/female? Fluid gender? Truly genderless?)?
[EDIT: I should clarify here I’m using the word “gender” because that’s the games’ word for the property that seems to dictate which Pokémon can successfully breed with each other, which is… eh… let’s just try to overlook the obvious issues there.]
I’ve bested my own creation and conquered the Black 2 Kingslocke run, but what of our heroes? There are a lot of them, after all; the point of the Kingslocke is very much that you never know who you’re going to end up relying on. Even those Pokémon who never actually saw battle or got to contribute anything are part of this story; let’s hear from them first.
All right, we had another One of These Things, and an appropriate Arbitrary Duration has passed, so here’s what I think of what people said in response to my dumb question: what is Pokémon “about”? Part of the point of this one was I didn’t even know, necessarily, exactly how people were going to take the question; there’s several different ways you could reasonably have interpreted what I was asking, so there’s a lot in there, and I’ve almost certainly missed some good angles that came up in the comments. Still, I’ll do my best to hit most of what we came up with and what I think of it.
Okay! Final hurdle! Can we beat the postgame Unova Elite Four with… uh… female Pokémon from different generations whose nicknames contain the letter A, with only physical attacks, and also we have to use Pokémon from the Vessel or the Twist Mountain Justice League if we can, but also Pokémon who are exactly level 69 (nice) can ignore all of that and do whatever they want, and also Gliscor is here.
…I truly cannot express how proud I am of how fµ¢£ing stupid this challenge run is. It is everything I ever dreamed it would be.
Okay! Let’s see if we can clean up everything else today! We just need to check out the area around Accumula Town and Nuvema Town, there’s like two or three more end-game bosses to fight, then we can head straight back to the Elite Four and hopefully leverage the mystical power of the number 69 (nice) to overcome all these confusing bull$#!t rules I’ve forced on myself to defeat them once and for all!
First of all, we’re done with Striaton City and moving on to the south.
Five – Guys: You cannot use your female Pokémon (unless you have no male or genderless Pokémon). This rule is overwritten by drawing a Six/Chicks, and ends if you draw another Five. You may catch the first male wild Pokémon you see in this area.
Well. Whoops. I guess we’re not smashing the Patratriarchy after all. Time to figure all this out again…
welcome to a This another This one of the Thing another one of These Things. Yes. Two weeks ago I asked you all a dumb question and for some reason many of you saw fit to humour me with well-thought-out and reasoned answers to my dumb question, so I see no reason not to abuse this frankly outrageous goodwill by doing it again. Here is my second dumb question:
What do you think Pokémon is “about”?
And, by this, I mean not “it’s about fighting monsters who are your friends” but what it’s “about” in terms of themes and messages. There are a lot of one-word answers I think I could justify for this question: discovery, adventure, childhood, friendship, ambition, nature, hope. I think probably most people would agree with all of those to some extent, but certainly wouldn’t place the same weight on each of them as I would, and would have their own additions to the list. We probably also have different thoughts from Pokémon’s creators, and yet more different ideas on what Pokémon should be about. So… yeah, tell me what you think!
Be as broad or as restricted in the scope of your answer as you feel is appropriate: you may think that the themes of the Pokémon TV show (or individual series thereof) are different enough from the themes of the “core” games’ stories that it’s not worth trying to bring them together; you might even be a TCG player or a Masters player or, gods forbid, a Trozei! player who takes some personal meaning from your experiences with those games that has nothing to do with any of the stuff I usually talk about. Or you might be interested in trying to describe some fundamental theme that you think is present across all Pokémon media. I’m interested in the variety of answers that might be out there, is the point.
I think the rough consensus of the comment section is a qualified, reluctant “no,” which isn’t terribly surprising. Even if we make a lot of nice assumptions in our own favour (Pokémon are able to slot relatively cleanly into existing ecosystems without causing a mass extinction; our nerd-knowledge of Pokémon allows us to help smooth the transition; many people can learn fairly quickly to be competent trainers), I think it’s pretty clear that this scenario would be a major global disruption. I also think it’s probably fair to say that my particular style of bull$#!t probably attracts a fairly analytically inclined type of person who would (like me) find it interesting to think about the ways a more “realistic” setting would break down a lot of Pokémon’s utopian assumptions. It is, at the very least, an obviously risky proposal. That being the case, it seems only fair that I attempt to argue the case for “yes.”
I’d say there’s roughly two main categories of objections, with some overlap between the two:
Real Pokémon would be dangerously destructive to both humans and the environment.
Real Pokémon would be exploited by humans, for nefarious ends or simply out of greed.
If we want to say yes, I think we have to make the argument that either these things wouldn’t happen (or at least that we’d be able to mitigate them), or that, to the extent they did happen, the benefits (smol frens who are magic) would outweigh them.