I was reading your eeveelutions reviews. You mention the whole “adaptations” thing isn’t really done that well, since most of them don’t really match their environments all that well.
Theoretically, how would you design an octet of eeveelutions to go with different environments from scratch? I have my own but I wanna hear what you’d do first.
The other thing you mention is that they go for many different aesthetics, such as cute (flareon/sylveon), cool (jolteon), beautiful (vaporeon/glaceon), and mysterious, but kind of leave off a brutish aesthetic. I would also add they leave off the under-appreciated weird aesthetic- the dunsparces and exeggcutes of the world that end up in “top 20 worst pokemon” lists but a small number of us keep close to our hearts.
What catastrophically awful person puts Dunsparce on a Top 20 Worst Anything list?
So, some of the eeveelutions I actually am totally fine with; I’d just associate them with different environments to their canonical ones. For instance, although the core games don’t say much about Flareon’s habitat, spinoffs tend to put her in volcanic or lava areas with all the other Fire Pokémon, but if we’re thinking of eeveelutions in terms of being adaptations of Eevee to a specific type of environment, well, Flareon kinda looks to me like a cold-adapted form. Thick fluffy fur is useful in a cold place, and fire powers are useful if most of the other local Pokémon are Ice-types. Alternatively, and this is what I said when I discussed Flareon for my eeveelutions series years ago, I could buy that Flareon belongs in a temperate grassland habitat, using her fire abilities to scorch areas of dry vegetation and drive out prey. Whether Pokémon in general are actually suited to the kinds of biomes the games tend to put them in… is kind of a big and complicated question and not worth getting into at the moment, but I think if you’re going to do it, Eevee is the place to start, because her lore draws attention to the concept of adaptation and (arguably) to the problems with the way Pokémon portrays adaptation.
Which is my long-winded way of saying “this is too damn complicated to get right with a short post that I wrote in like an hour,” but fµ¢& it, let’s give it a whirl
I think what we’ve gotta do is start by listing biomes, and then assign elements and design styles to those in whatever way seems to make sense. If we’re aiming for eight, we probably want, like… a tropical form, a desert/scrubland form… I like the idea of Eevee herself being the temperate forest or grassland form, so let’s skip those… a wetland/swamp form, an alpine form, a tundra form, a riverine form, a coastal form… and let’s have one that’s specifically adapted to living with humans.
Tropical – Make it poisonous, with bright colours and distinctive patterns like a poison arrow frog. Poison deters predators, and big complex ecosystems like tropical rainforests probably support some crazy predator Pokémon. If it can use poison offensively as well, that’s useful for preying on Grass-types.
Desert – It’s hard to be a medium-sized mammal in the desert… we could have a burrowing Ground-type Eevee here that escapes the heat and dryness underground; Jim the Editor wants a blind and hairless one inspired by the naked mole rat, which would be an interesting opportunity for weirdness.
Swamp – I like the idea of this one being a Grass-type predator that targets terrestrial and amphibious Water Pokémon. Give it a moss-covered coat that lets it blend into its surroundings and make it an ambush hunter. Maybe give it some amphibious adaptations like a beaver tail or, hell, make it a platypus; that’d be fun.
Alpine – Steady feet to climb the crags, a thick coat against the cold… maybe even add mountain goat horns? Or give it a long neck like a llama? I want this to be able to fend off Rock and Steel Pokémon that live in the mountains, so… maybe a Fighting-type with a vicious kick?
Tundra – As I suggested before, this is where I want to see a Fire-type, with thick fur and an internal furnace to ward off the cold, and powerful flame attacks to melt away Ice Pokémon. Take Flareon as a base, but go bigger and bulkier.
Riverine – We’ll make the Electric one an amphibious riverside hunter, otter-like, using pulses of electricity to stun fish/Water Pokémon like an electric eel. Maybe big powerful front claws like a bear’s, just for fun.
Coastal – Vaporeon is honestly probably fine for this as-is, but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s go in a weirder direction and have this be our Dragon-type Eevee, that mimics a marine iguana. Untrained Water-types don’t fight Dragons well; it can bask on the seaside and dive to hunt for fish, and be a powerful contender in both realms.
Domestic – I think this one would develop Psychic abilities to read human emotions, but would have a glamorous, attractive appearance closer to Sylveon than Espeon. Everything about it is meant to appeal to humans and make it a more attentive and desirable partner Pokémon.