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.
There’s an interesting parallel in Gen I between Eevee’s three original evolutions and the three Legendary Birds in terms of typing. Fire, ice, and lightning are common elemental distinctions in RPGs with magic/energy/psionics/whathaveyou, so it makes sense that Pokemon would draw from this tradition for inspiration, though it’s a little odd that there is a discrepancy between Vaporeon (Water Type) and Articuno (Ice Type). Any thoughts on why that is? Furthermore, why didn’t Game Freak apply this logic to the starters, who are halfway there anyway? For something more varied/interesting? For a better justification of type balance?
Type balance isn’t exactly right, because I
don’t think it’s about fairness, or at least not entirely, but it’s something like that. Grass/Fire/Water has this nice
rock/paper/scissors relationship that serves as an easy and intuitive
introduction to one of Pokémon’s core mechanics, which is a pretty valuable
thing for new players. It doesn’t really
work if you try to shoehorn Electric in there, because thematically there just
isn’t an obvious relationship between Electric and Fire. Other games that use Fire/Ice/Lightning don’t
usually have “type advantages” in the same way as Pokémon does; several
iterations of Final Fantasy, for
example, have Fire and Ice being strong against each other, with Lightning doing its own thing (often being strong
against mechanical enemies); Final
Fantasy X adds Water as a fourth element to form another opposed pair with
Lightning. Pokémon just has different
needs to those games.
You like baking right? How do you feel about the various ‘food’ pokemon? What food do you think deserves a Pokemon adaptation?
Well, how many even are there? Vanillite, Vanillish and Vanilluxe, Swirlix and Slurpuff… I think that’s kind of it, unless you count Grass Pokémon based on fruit and mushrooms and the like, which personally I’d class as a separate thing. I have kind of mixed feelings about them, because I’m not fundamentally opposed to the idea of food-based Pokémon like some people are, but actually developing that idea in any moderately interesting way is something Game Freak would probably be uncomfortable with. That’s why Vanillite isn’t really an ice cream Pokémon at all, just a fairly generic ice-and-snow Pokémon that happens to be shaped like an ice cream for obscure reasons of its own. Swirlix does better, but still runs up hard against the awkward question – “do we eat Pokémon?” – that the Pokémon games have no intention of ever firmly answering. So Slurpuff end up working for human pastry chefs, constructing grotesque effigies of themselves, whose flavours are inspired by the taste of their own sugary flesh, for human consumption. And then you also run up against another problem that I tend to have with Pokémon based on modern culture generally, which is “are we supposed to believe that the Pokémon inspired the cultural phenomenon, and what on earth is the timeline with that?” It’s easy to make that work with Pokémon based on myths and folklore because you can just push everything back into the misty past of “thousands of years ago” but if you have, say, a hamburger Pokémon or something, we eventually have to ask: what kind of colossally fµ¢&ed up soylent-green-ass cultural moment caused people to suddenly decide, in the last couple of generations, to start modelling meat sandwiches after these intelligent creatures that they’ve been living and working alongside since time immemorial? Who does that?
So there are octopus, squid, and ammonite Pokemon. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a cuttlefish to complete the bunch? Maybe a vampyroteuthis as well? Perhaps even a nautilus if Omanyte is too divergent. Come to think of it, the blanket octopus is so strange it could deserve its own Pokemon (maybe one with some of that extreme sexual dimorphism). There could even be an alternate version of Omanyte based on nipponites for some real bizarreness.
Well, as luck would have it, you have – purely by coincidence and the alignment of the planets – come to the right place, because when I got my readers to collectively design a Pokémon one time aaaaaaaaages ago, they came up with a lava lamp squid that attacks with boiling oil, which we named Krakentoa. To put it another way – yeah, I’m kind of a fan of this. Cephalopods are just inherently fun to play with, thanks to their alien intelligence and highly unusual abilities. Although Omastar, Octillery and Malamar are all pretty cool and interesting Pokémon, there’s still a lot of unexplored creative space there, so even if we arguably don’t need more of them, I think there would be room for an eccentric designer to find some way of making additional cephalopod Pokémon conceptually distinct from their predecessors. Camouflage, shape-changing, deep-sea adaptations, “vampire” traits for the Vampyroteuthis… I think it might be fun to have a nautilus Pokémon that somehow referenced the Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s submarine from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Not sure of the best way to go about that, though.
we’re almost at the end now, technically – today’s Pokémon are the last
“ordinary” Pokémon of Alola. On the
other hand, we’re sort of not near the end at all, because we’ve got not only
legendary Pokémon to do after this, but also Ultra Beasts, and I think I
promised to write something about the
Alolan forms as well, and… oh, let’s just get on with it. Here’s Jangmo-o, Hakamo-o and Kommo-o: the
Steven stone’s mega Metagross hits like a truck doesn’t he?
do. No Earthquake, though, unlike in the
original Ruby and Sapphire, which makes him substantially easier to
outmanoeuvre in terms of type coverage.
Giga Impact also creates a lot of openings for your Pokémon to come in
and hit him hard before he can recover.
I have memories of much greater difficulty with the old non-mega
Metagross, but that’s partly because on my first playthrough of Sapphire I had
no idea what type the damn thing was, and pre-generation VI Steel-types resist
pretty much everything (also I had a Sableye in my party because I didn’t
understand the game very well yet).
Am I useful now that I finally can learn Flare Blitz?
Well, I’d say
you’re arguably no longer the worst of your siblings, which is… something, right? Your offensive movepool is still really bad,
and that’s a problem that pretty much your entire family struggles with. The best moves you all share are support
techniques, so it’s your toughest siblings – Vaporeon, Umbreon and Sylveon –
who are the most consistently useful.
Espeon gets a leg up from her ludicrous hidden ability, and Jolteon
kinda gets by on his good offensive stat distribution and strong attack
type. Leafeon is pretty bad, but
arguably still better than you because Swords Dance and Chlorophyll give him
sweeping potential. Now that you have
Flare Blitz though, you can claim to
be at least as good as Glaceon, who
has a similar offensive power level but a very weak defensive type and
generally poor abilities. The problem
with being you, Flareon, is you’ve got one hell of a Flare Blitz, but you’re
lacklustre in both speed and defence, which makes you really easy to kill, and all
of Fire’s weaknesses are to really common attack types (Water, Ground and Rock –
including Stealth Rock). In comparison
with other physically-oriented single-type Fire Pokémon, well… Darmanitan is
somehow faster, tougher and stronger,
and has a better selection of physical attacks plus the ridiculousness that is
Sheer Force; while Arcanine is faster, surprisingly tough, has Intimidate, is
flexible enough for a physical/special mix, and can heal with Morning Sun. Hell, even Rapidash is faster and has
arguably a better physical movepool than you, but at least she has the decency to
have bad abilities, average defences and a weaker attack stat. You could go hang out with Rapidash, I guess?