Lizardman Lizardman asks:

Fun fact: one of the most feared Pokemon in Anything Goes is not Mega Rayquaza, or some Arceus forme… It’s Vivillon. Just thought you’d like to know.

Well “one of the most feared” is a bit of an exaggeration; she’s a bit niche and very high-risk/high-reward, but even that much is a hell of an achievement for a cookie-cutter early-game butterfly.  Honestly I think this says less about Vivillon than about how heinously overpowered sleep is in Pokémon, even after being nerfed in four out of six generations, and how completely we all tend to forget about that most of the time.  Smogon has a rule (and I think other communities use this as well) that you can only put one Pokémon to sleep at a time, and their influence on the competitive Pokémon community is so great that even in contexts where their rules don’t apply (like most official tournaments) people kind of act as if they did – partly, I think, because the strategies banned by rules like this are just incredibly dickish and make the game a lot less fun for everyone.  Of course, in Smogon’s “anything goes” tier… well, anything goes.  Vivillon is faster than Butterfree and gets Compoundeyes Hurricane, and Sun and Moon nerfed the cr@p out of Darkrai’s Dark Void, so if you want to spam a very high-accuracy sleep technique, she’s the one to do it with.  I mean, yes, Quiver Dance is part of it, because without it Vivillon would be outrun and one-shot by practically everything, but when you have all the legendary Pokémon in the game to work with, the offensive presence of a Quiver Dance Vivillon, while significant, isn’t that big a deal – which is why we would never have this conversation in the “uber” tier, where the sleep rules still apply.  Sleep really is just that good.  This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t automatically defer to the competitive zeitgeist when choosing Pokémon and movesets for single-player, not even in end-game battle facilities – it’s not actually the same game.

Tony the Tiger asks:

You like old stuff, right? What are your thoughts on fossil pokemon?

In general archaeologists take pains to point out that we do not study fossils (it’s a surprisingly common mistake).  Not all “old stuff” is similarly old (unless you listen to certain ill-advised religious sects); I deal in the hundreds/thousands of years range, not millions/tens of millions.  Fossils are about as much my professional area of expertise as the moons of Jupiter are an airline pilot’s.

…as it happens, though, I am independently a layman dinosaur nerd with a basic knowledge of evolutionary biology, and I was a sufficiently weird kid that, when I started school, I wanted to be not a fireman or an astronaut but a palaeontologist.  So LET’S TALK FOSSILS.

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Albert Einstein asks:

You were right about Meltan…

I am as unsurprised to be proven right as I am unconcerned with the result either way, and equally so, I am pessimistic enough to point out that I was totally wrong (at least, given what we know so far) in predicting that Meltan would need to combine with different Pokémon representing other construction parts like washers, screws and bolts.

Honestly I think it’s sort of a shame Melmetal is just a big pile of hex nuts soldered together; there might have been some interesting “mechanical” (in multiple senses of the word) possibilities to be had with a modular Pokémon.  Melmetal might have several different possible stat profiles or movepool options unlocked by different combinations of “component” Meltan forms.  Of course, I suppose it’s possible that additional secrets will be unlocked in the generation VIII games.

Hyper Beam asks:

How would you…in glorious detail…imagine kyurem, zekrom, and reshiram finally combined?

(Disclaimer first: I’m not a designer or an artist, and a Google image search would give you multiple answers to this question that are better than anything you’ll get from me)

The thing is, I actually like that Game Freak never gave us a final realisation of this concept.  Whatever they came up with, it would not have lived up to our expectations or done justice to the idea.  The original primordial dragon represents the totality of all truths and the realisation of all ideals, the reconciliation of every pair of opposites and the resolution of every conflict.  I suggest, though I obviously cannot prove, that the reason it never appears in the games is because Game Freak realised that there is no satisfying way to depict that, and decided it was better left as a mysterious background presence in the lore.  Sometimes it’s more effective to leave things to the imagination; there’s a reason some horror movies never show the monster.  A big mass of black and white wings and scales and $#!t is not as evocative or meaningful as the vague suggestion, buried in layers of mythology, of a primordial being who symbolises the impossible unity of all divisions.  Frankly I think Pokémon could do with more of that kind of restraint, not less.

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jeffthelinguist asks:

Clownfish are all born male but in a group of male adult clownfish, one becomes bigger, meaner, and female. I’ve always thought clownfish would be a great fish Pokémon. (Granted we have a lot of fish Pokémon already but do we really need Basculim?) It could have an evolution method matching the gender changing and an anemone counterpart that it could mesh with in doubles. What do you think about this idea? How would you implement it?

First of all, an apology to this and dozen-odd other questions I have received over the past… month and a half, ish… which I will endeavour to answer over the course of the next week.

Now. I know one thing, and that is that we definitely do not need Basculin because Basculin is dumb.

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Turtonator

Turtonator

Right.  Where were we?  Almost done!  I mean, perhaps not almost, because on top of the standard legendary Pokémon there’s a dozen Ultra Beasts in this generation, and then I think at some point I promised I would talk about all the older Pokémon with Alolan forms, and I need to talk about a bunch of the human characters too, and eventually those BASTARDS who DID THIS TO ME in the first place are going to announce generation VIII, which means people are going to want me to TALK about it, and I’m going to need to save up for a bloody Nintendo Switch, and-
Y’know what, let’s just do Turtonator; I feel like blowing something up.

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