Larry asks:

What are your thoughts on Pokémon evolution as a biological process instead of as a gameplay feature?

Larry has no shortage of his own thoughts so I’m gonna break this up.

Most evolutionary lines are very clearly meant to be not only progressions of power, but also of physical maturity and aging. There are outright “baby pokémon”, but it’s not like those are children and the rest are all adults. Most first stages in three stage lines, and some in two stage lines, are made to look and act like children, small and playful.

Right, but at the same time, most unevolved Pokémon are viable on their own, which is interesting.  Pidgey can survive and reproduce without evolving into Pidgeotto; you can have a whole community of Pidgey without a single Pidgeotto and they’ll probably manage.  With the exception of “baby” Pokémon, who can’t lay eggs (presumably because the designers saw them as “too young” to reproduce – it’s weird that Gold and Silver didn’t extend this restriction to a few other pre-existing Pokémon, like Caterpie), an unevolved Pokémon is a “complete” organism.  So I think in a lot of cases it’s not just maturity as such but maybe a social and/or hierarchical thing.  More evolved Pokémon might need more space and more food or other resources, so maybe it’s advantageous to the whole community if only a small number of them evolve.

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A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXII: Fishy Business

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do?

  • Question the Magikarp seller

You’re a little tempted to just pay the asking price and take the damn fish.  A Pokémon is a Pokémon, no matter how proverbially useless.  Besides, you kinda feel for the stupid thing.  Even if you decide later that you can’t be bothered training it until it evolves, you can probably find a better life for it than… whatever this carnival snake-oil setup is.

On the other hand, you’re curious now.  You still don’t see any direct evidence that this Magikarp has been mistreated and you doubt Blue (who is currently on the other side of the Pokémon Centre lounge, practising his trash talk against an annoyed-looking hiker) would have anything to add on that score.  But the idea of selling Pokémon has piqued your curiosity.  Is that even a thing?  Is it actually legal?  You voice these questions to the Magikarp salesman.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXII: Fishy Business”

TooMuchTime asks:

Knowing what we do of Pokémon and Trainer culture in setting do you really think modern armies like what Lt. Surge seemed to be apart of would actually make sense in the Pokémon world? I figure any kind of military they’d develop would be more warrior-like than soldier-like given the strength a single skilled trainer can wield with their team.

This has sort of come up a little bit before, and the short answer is that my take on it is… very different.  Mostly, I don’t think we should underestimate the degree to which one powerful Pokémon could be fµ¢£ed up by many weaker Pokémon with intelligent leadership and strategy.  It seems to me like warfare is basically a thing of the past in the utopian setting of the Pokémon world (except in Ransei, the setting of Pokémon Conquest, which is, like… somehow canonically contemporary with all the other Pokémon games, even though Ransei is clearly based on sengoku-era Japan and uses mediaeval technology; look, I don’t fµ¢£in’ know), and I honestly doubt they’ve ever had a large-scale war with truly “modern” technology (i.e. post-World War II, because Lt. Surge is definitely a WWII veteran and definitely came to Kanto during the post-war American occupation of Japan, which is another whole… thing).  I also truly don’t know how Pokémon would stack up against, like, modern firearms and explosives.  I think you probably could persuasively argue, depending on which sources and portrayals you look at, either that humans with modern weapons are more reliably lethal than Pokémon and would just shoot them, or that Pokémon would render all human weaponry obsolete.  Like, can Psychic Pokémon use telekinesis to block sustained machine gun fire?  Will a Steel Pokémon’s skin stand up to a bazooka? (If they could, would those weapons even be used?)  I have genuinely no idea, but honestly… my instinct is “probably not.”  What’s more, I think if you really pressed Game Freak on it, they’d probably say that it hasn’t come up in a long time because their world is now peaceful (like modern Japan is), and that modern trainers wouldn’t put their Pokémon in harm’s way like that anyway.  The point is, I don’t think we’ve ever had a good look at what mass combat involving Pokémon trainers is actually like (again, except Ransei, which honestly seems more like Pokémon trainers LARPing warfare than an actual war – I think deliberately), so anything we say is going to be extrapolation. But let’s assume we’re thinking about war being fought mainly between Pokémon trainers, using Pokémon attacks rather than human weapons.  I think the actual rules of the games probably give us reason to be fairly pessimistic about the odds of super-elite Pokémon trainers taking on large numbers of mid-level chumps.

Continue reading “TooMuchTime asks:”

Kyle the Dragon asks:

If you were a dragon, what would you hoard?

To be honest, I’m not really a hoard-y person; maybe it’s because I spent most of the last 7 years living in a foreign country not wanting to collect too much excess stuff I’d eventually have to pack up and ship a long distance, then had to come home at short notice and left behind most of the things I did own.  Maybe books… but books are heavy and take up a lot of space, y’know, and who doesn’t have an e-reader these days, even as a dragon?  Actually, I think dragon-Chris might hoard maps.  Maps of real places and imagined ones; maps that lead to buried treasure; maps of the body, mind and spirit; maps that are scrupulously accurate and maps that are half-dream; maps that help people conceive of the shape of their world and their own place within it.

Bi guy asks:

If there was one Pokemon character (aside from Milo) that you could go out on a date with, who would it be?

I suppose it probably doesn’t count if I say Team Skull Grunt B from my dramatised playthrough of Moon Version, does it?  Besides, I already dated him.

So… hmm.  I like N a lot but he’s been through some $#!t and probably needs friends more than anything else.  I like people who are into fun science or esoteric history, like Roark or Morty, and those common interests might be a nice foundation for a relationship.  Cilan is a baker, which is a nice shared hobby, but I think the constant food puns would make me want to kill myself.  Honestly, Norman… like, he would never leave his family so there’s almost no point even bringing him up, but you ever hear the expression “DILF”?  Look, being a good dad is attractive; I’m only human, what do you want from me?

Gsgdgd asks:

If there were one show you wanted your entire audience to watch, what would it be?

I’m not sure there is one; I don’t watch a lot of TV.  Um, I’m watching Schitt’s Creek right now and enjoying that; a little while ago I watched Bojack Horseman, which I thought was fantastic.  I watched the first season of Bridgerton with my mum; that was fun.  I don’t think any of those amount to “my entire audience should watch this.”  Jim the Editor and my brother both want me to watch One Punch Man, but I have yet to start it.  None of this answers your question.  Um.  I dunno, probably Black Books, honestly.  It’s a British sitcom about a misanthropic Irish drunkard who owns a bookshop in London (3 seasons of 6 20-minute episodes each).  It’s all on Netflix, or here on Youtube if you don’t have Netflix (whoever owns the rights, they don’t seem to care about getting it taken down).  The humour is… very 90s/early 00s British, in a way that has not seemed to resonate with Americans I’ve attempted to share the series with in the past, so I wouldn’t guarantee that everyone will like it, but… y’know, give it a go.

Galarian Stunfisk

Galarian Stunfisk

Well, it’s a bear trap.

I don’t think it’s more than that.

…I have to talk about it anyway, don’t I?

Stunfisk was… a Pokémon I had very mixed feelings about in 2011, then promptly forgot about for most of the next 8 years.  But now it’s back with a shiny new Galarian regional form, and I suppose I just have to deal with that.  Original recipe Stunfisk’s angle was that it’s a flatfish that hangs out on beaches and mud flats and zaps you if you step on it.  It’s like a flounder or plaice mixed with an electric eel – or like a stonefish, that kills you with horrifically painful venom if you step on it – or like a stargazer, which is a fat ugly fish with eyes on the top of its head that isn’t flat like Stunfisk but does bury itself in sand and can produce electric shocks – or like a torpedo ray, which is flat and lives on the sea floor and can zap you but doesn’t really look like a fish-fish – or like a mudskipper that can survive on land because it can breathe air through its skin.  It’s a rich tapestry of derpy fish that all come together to produce one supremely derpy derpfish, is the point.

New Stunfisk… is also still a fish, but in addition to being a fish, is a bear trap.  So, I guess, let’s talk about bear traps.

Continue reading “Galarian Stunfisk”

hugh_donnetono asks:

What’s your opinion on the Beta Sinnoh Pokemon? (especially arceus)

I’m not sure I have an opinion on them, or feel I need to.  I mean, a lot of them are placeholders, right?  Many of the leaked sprites are just… clearly unfinished; that’s what a beta is.  Arceus especially; people meme on beta Arceus, but it seems pretty clear to me that no one ever planned for it to go into the finished game looking anything like that (likewise Rotom).  They knew they wanted Arceus to exist, and they had a rough idea what they wanted it to look like, but they hadn’t finalised the design or done proper sprites yet.  The only Pokémon that seem to me like they had a genuinely different design in the leaked beta materials – not just unfinished art – are Rampardos, maybe Hippowdon, Lumineon, Lickilicky (back sprite only), Togekiss and the Garchomp line, and most of them… well, yeah, they just kinda look like first drafts of the Pokémon that they are.  Beta Rampardos seems a bit less naturalistic, maybe a touch more manic?  Beta Togekiss has shades of Latias and Latios, and I do think it looks pretty cool, but I’m not sure it works as an evolution from Togepi and Togetic.  Beta Gible, Gabite and Garchomp have different colour palettes and are… I guess my instinct is maybe a bit simpler, a bit more gen I-II-like?  They’re fine, I suppose; I think the final designs are more visually interesting. 

The one thing I do think is kind of interesting is the mystery Pokémon, Kimairan, that seems to have occupied Giratina’s slot, whose sprite is clearly a draft but looks like a kind of six-legged griffin thing.  My guess is, Game Freak knew they were going to have another legendary Pokémon in that slot, but hadn’t quite figured out what the third piece of Space/Time/??? ought to be, or what role they wanted this Pokémon to have in the mythology of Sinnoh.  Even the final release of Diamond and Pearl is, in my opinion, pretty noncommittal about what Giratina actually represents (compared to, say, Rayquaza in Ruby and Sapphire or Kyurem in Black and White), so I honestly wonder how much, if any, of Giratina’s role in Platinum was sketched out in advance.  Kimairan might have represented… dreams, maybe, or the world, or life, or a fixed point of reference within space-time.  Maybe at this stage of the beta they didn’t even know they wanted this mystery Pokémon to be part of a trio with Dialga and Palkia yet, and it was just something completely different.  The point is, I think they probably ditched Kimairan and created Giratina because something clicked about the way they wanted to tell the story of generation IV, and they realised that the Pokémon they’d made wasn’t right for the role they needed.

[This question was promoted to the front of the queue because the submitter is supporting me on Patreon!  If you enjoy my writing and like getting my answers to cosmic dilemmas like this one – or just think I deserve something nice for my work – consider visiting https://www.patreon.com/pokemaniacal and signing up!]

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXI: Firestarter

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Try to remember the other guy’s name?

  • You already know his name; the Narrator’s being a jerk

Excuse you, I am a fµ¢£ing delight.  But whatever, if it’s that important to you I guess I’ll put in an effort.  What’d you say his name was?  “Blue”?  God that’s so fµ¢£ing dumb.  Blue is, like, at best a passable name for a small predatory dinosaur.  Kids got no damn business being named Blue.  Who gave him that, his dumb parents?  Probably named him that so he’d be, like, “calm” and “sensible” or some bull$#!t?  Ugh, no wonder he’s such a basket case.  We gotta see about changing it.

Yeah, yeah, whatever, I heard you, get off my ass already.

Which Pokémon do you try to catch?

  • Try to find the source of the fires [you might not catch anything]

Aren’t you supposed to be, like… doing… something?  Eh, whatever, not like it’s any of my business.  Scallion and your other Pokémon have a pretty vague and subjective concept of time, and Blue has no sense of responsibility or commitment.  Besides, you’ve made surprisingly good time this far, so if you want to spend a couple of hours clambering up and down dry dirt hillsides looking for an unknown Fire Pokémon, no one’s going to stop you.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXI: Firestarter”