A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLI: Perchance to Dream

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you dream about?

  • Your Pokémon
  • Blue

As the mountain cave fades away and the Clefairy’s strange song fills your head with fog, you come to realise, all of a sudden, that you’re back home, in Pallet Town.  You’re at school, on your lunch break – and so is Blue, who is mid-sentence saying something about why studying Pokémon scientifically is dumb.

You were never close with Blue, back in Pallet Town.  Obviously you knew him – you were at school together and he’s related to the Professor, so it would have been hard not to – you just didn’t feel like he had the qualities you wanted in a friendship.  And, I mean, fair play to you; he’s a piece of $#!t.  But you remember this day.  Your Pokémon Studies teacher had asked the class why people become trainers, and you and Blue had gotten into a fairly spirited argument about how much trainers should value strength and power, which spilled over into lunchtime.  You think it was about six months before you both left home.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLI: Perchance to Dream”

I’m probably not dead yet

Just a quick note to say that I have been sick for over a week and also simultaneously dealing with remote teaching as New Zealand entered a lockdown in response to the arrival of COVID Delta. Those two things are not related – I had a COVID test on the first day of lockdown and it came back negative; I think it’s a nasty strep infection (which… would not normally be cause for celebration, but I guess under the circumstances kind of is? Hooray for strep infections!). It’s a really fun level of sick, where I’m not so unwell that I can’t actually do anything, but I do definitely feel like $#!t most of the time. So anyway that’s why there hasn’t been a new “A Pokémon Trainer Is You” episode or much other stuff lately. Don’t worry about me; I think I’m getting better and should be functioning properly again in a few days.

wtf is the “Main Series” of Pokémon Games, Anyway?

I read an interesting Twitter conversation this morning between two major figures of the Pokémon community: Joe Merrick, who runs serebii.net, one of the most important (if not the most important) English-language Pokémon fan reference sites, and Pokémon YouTuber Tama Hero.  The topic at issue: what exactly is a “main series” Pokémon game?  Because I firmly believe that no human of Earth should use Twitter, I reproduce the conversation here in full:

Continue reading “wtf is the “Main Series” of Pokémon Games, Anyway?”

okay let’s talk about the- fµ¢£- what are we talking about

apparently there’s a thing we should talk about

I am of course infuriated at being awoken from my deathless slumber to talk about whatever the hell this is, and moreover I am, as always, personally offended that this broadcast was not scheduled with my specific time zone in mind (it was at 2 am NZT). Naturally, I will be seeking spiritual retribution against Nintendo, the Pokémon Company and Game Freak by The Usual Channels in due course. In the meantime… let’s see what secret intelligence has just landed on our doorsteps.

Continue reading “okay let’s talk about the- fµ¢£- what are we talking about”

Veteran Shaun asks:

By the way, what’s your opinion of Eusine?

Eusine and Morty have this… “the magic has gone out of the world, and I can bring it back” vibe.  Generation II was still kinda working through exactly what legendary Pokémon were and meant, and how they were going to fit into the world, because the original games didn’t really lock that down very clearly.  A lot of that work happens with Suicune, Entei, Raikou and the way their story is tied into the history and atmosphere of Johto.  Something was lost, the towers burned, a miracle was witnessed, but the Pokémon vanished and were never seen again, and the world is a little less magical for their absence.  But they still have these… well, for lack of a better word, these prophecies, and Morty’s visions, that tell them someone will bring the legendary Pokémon back.  Eusine’s attitude varies a bit between portrayals – original games, remakes, anime, his Generations short – sometimes he’s arguably just chasing personal glory, other times it seems like he has more of a “mission” in mind, something he wants to do for the world.  I think the common thread is that he’s thrilled by the idea of finding and experiencing something that exists on the outermost edge of human knowledge… which, ultimately, is what legendary Pokémon are, I think.

I dunno if that constitutes an “opinion of Eusine” but that’s what you’re getting.

Chronos asks:

So, do you have any thoughts on some of the more “loose” interpretations of moves in the new Pokemon Unite? For example Defense Curl, Hex and the three different Surfs?

I haven’t actually looked at Unite.  I don’t really enjoy MOBAs as a genre; I kinda find the design of character abilities interesting from an abstract perspective and I can see why people like them, but the fast-paced team combat just doesn’t play to the things I enjoy about games or have any aptitude with.  So, yeah, I haven’t looked at it.  I was thinking maybe I should, specifically so I can talk about this kind of thing with reference to the portrayals of specific Pokémon across different media, but I doubt I’m going to get really into it.

The other thing on my mind at the moment is that I’m hearing Pokémon Unite is extremely microtransaction-heavy, even more so than Pokémon Go or anything else in the franchise.  Which… well, given that Pokémon (even though it now has a lot of adult fans) has always consciously marketed itself as being for preteen children and still makes a lot of major decisions from that perspective… seems a little bit on the evil side, and maybe represents something that I shouldn’t be giving oxygen to?  I dunno; I am willing to be guided by my readers on this.

Seronimo asks:

Since Gen 7, the Pokedex has been getting more liberal in talking about predator/prey relationships between Pokemon. However, they’ve stopped making sure these relationships are reflected in type effectiveness. Before, you had Heatmor being 4x effective against Durant, and Zangoose with its two poison-related abilities. But now, we’ve got Talonflame preying on Wingull, both Gabite and Sableye chasing wild Carbink, and the Poison-type Mareanie devouring the Rock-type Corsola. Idk, how do you explain that?

I’d imagine that – much like predators in the real world – predatory Pokémon go out of their way to make sure that any fights they get into with prey are deeply unfair.  Just like Pokémon with a type disadvantage against their prey, a lot of real predators are genuinely kinda fµ¢£ed if their target manages to fight back.  Think of, for example, big cats, who go for the throat at the first opportunity, preferably from ambush, and usually back down pretty quickly if that fails because they can’t afford to expend the energy, or sharks, who famously tend to retreat if you give them a good punch in the snout or gills, because they’re just so stunned at the concept of food that tries to hurt them.  You want to stack the deck.

Continue reading “Seronimo asks:”

Leo M.R. asks:

Let’s make the most cursed concept design for a Fire starter ever! A bipedal bovine that:
– fights by getting enraged and charging at its opponents (shamelessly ripping off Tauros and Bouffalant, because we’re being as unoriginal as possible),
– is a fast physical attacker with Anger Point as its Hidden Ability, just to drive home the Tauros comparisons,
– has Fire/Fighting as its type in reference to the practice of bullfighting (a morally-questionable blood sport, and also calling back to Blaziken & cockfighting, because we’re being as unoriginal as possible),
– draws visual cues from oxen just to further reinforce the idea of Fire starters being based on the Chinese zodiac.

So, how cursed is this whole idea? Can we make it even more cursed?

oh no

so, this is a good effort, but I don’t think it’s cursed enough yet

We need to spit on the game balance somehow – make it either heinously overpowered, like Speed Boost-Blaziken overpowered, or find a way to make it really bad.  Fire/Fighting is so strong offensively that, I think, in order for a Fire/Fighting starter to be bad, it almost has to be really slow with one garbage defence stat and a signature move that does something pointless (maybe it scores more critical hits against burned targets).  Even then, though, starters have such high stats that it’s hard to make them truly awful without doing something totally obtuse, like mismatching their attack and special attack stats with their movepools.  If you want to go in the other direction, just make its hidden ability Huge Power and give it access to Agility.

On the zodiac angle… well, for me personally, to make it as cursed as possible, you have to make it like Cyndaquil or Fennekin, where it’s not actually based on an animal from the Chinese zodiac, but it’s close enough to make people keep repeating the theory anyway.  Not sure what the best direction for that is – maybe a bison?

The trouble with the cockfighting/bullfighting analogy is that it feels almost clever.  I think if you want to make it as cursed as possible you should just make it an angry wrestler.  With tights, except that the Pokédex makes it clear that they’re only skin/fur markings that look like tights for no obvious reason.

Oh, and… obviously it has to learn Curse.

Updates to ongoing minor endeavours

I’ve just made some updates to two pages where I keep ongoing projects that accumulate gradually over time on other platforms – my dinosaur reviews https://pokemaniacal.com/2018/12/03/dinosaur-reviews/, which I write on my private Facebook page for the amusement of my IRL friends, and the growing list of Pokémon I have cooked and eaten https://pokemaniacal.com/2020/08/05/pokemon-i-have-cooked-and-eaten/, which I write on Twitter as tithes to the podcast I Chews You. If you’ve seen either of these before and want more of the same, those pages now have it!

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XL: Fey Realms

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

You’re not going to pay any attention to the warnings, are you?

  • lol, no; follow Jane’s lead and keep going, quietly

yeah I figured, Larry said the same thing just before The Tangela Incident.  God, he was a piece of $#!t (rest in peace, man).

Opting for a stealthy approach, you turn off the light on your Pokédex and put your trust in Jane’s impeccable night vision.  Reaching down to touch her shoulder with one hand so she can lead you, you creep slowly forward, hearing the giggling grow incrementally louder.  You think you can see a pinkish light source around another couple of bends.  With any luck, you can peek around a corner and get a look at whoever – whatever – is hiding here without revealing your own presence.  These caves are full of weird rock formations formed by the slow dripping of water and accretion of limestone; with Jane’s help, you move from one to the next as the light slowly gets better and you find yourself able to see properly.  Finally, you crouch behind a big stalagmite right next to a bend in the tunnel, the strange pink light around the corner now almost as bright as torchlight.  You slowly crane your head around the bend, and see… just a floating ball of soft pink light, hovering in a dead end.  Puzzled, you stand and walk up to the light.  There’s no heat coming off it, it’s just… light.  Reminds you of the light that Pokémon glow with when they evolve, or when they channel energy for some of their more powerful techniques.  You vaguely recall that some Psychic, Ghost and Fairy Pokémon can create spiritual light sources, a minor application of their abilities that doesn’t even rise to the level of a real battle technique like Flash.

And then you hear, somewhere behind you-

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XL: Fey Realms”