State of the Blog: 2019

sweet bird jesus christ, now what

oh, yeah, um… happy… new thing or whatever to all my readers who use the Gregorian calendar

So, we made it through 2019… seems like the world might end soon, so I’m looking forward to finding a new planet to terrorise and conquer… although frankly when I sold my soul to Dark Forces from Parts Unknown I was promised a much better return on investment than this. Still, I think it was a pretty good blog year, all things considered. We finished generation VII (…mostly… I think I actually will try to get some short pieces done on some of the major human characters I missed out – Hau, Lillie, Gladion – and I want to come back to Alolan forms when I do the Galarian ones), we saw and discussed Detective Pikachu, we started a new interactive/collaborative(?)/choose-your-own-adventure-ish story, A Pokémon Trainer Is You!, I started writing for fansite PokéJungle (and, by the way, if you don’t pay attention to my Twitter – well, first of-ly, good for you, Twitter is the path to hell, but secondwise, my latest piece there is up, looking at my favourite new Pokédex entries for pre-gen VIII Pokémon in Sword and Shield), I made this extremely ridiculous cake, we endured the hype period of the new games and even survived the games themselves, and I wrote my first big article on them – a character study of Marnie, Piers and Team Yell. The next one, on Chairman Rose, is finished and awaiting editorial approval, so it should be up later this week.

I also started a Patreon page! And people actually gave me money, which is bonkers; I mean, I’m not exactly going to become a full-time Internet Pokémon Personality any time soon, but I now get more than enough donations to cover the cost of hosting this thing on WordPress, so I’m not actively losing money out of it. Thank you, as always, to my mysterious benefactors, the patrons: Don’t Call Me Bradley, Leo M.R., James Crooks, hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe. If you want to support what I do (…whatever you think that is, exactly), consider joining their ranks for as little as a dollar per month. And even if you don’t, thank you for reading, commenting and submitting questions – this blog is an objectively terrible use of my time in several ways, but I kind of love that there seem to be hundreds of people all over the world who seem to enjoy it, which is honestly a bigger audience than I’m ever likely to get for anything I publish in my real-life academic career.

As for upcoming Things, let’s see… I think my next article is going to cover Hop, and hopefully be a bit shorter and less complex than what I’ve written for Team Yell and Chairman Rose (we’ll see how that turns out…). I probably need to skip this week’s episode of A Pokémon Trainer Is You, because I’m flying back to the US this weekend and… well, things are a bit hectic. It’ll be back next week, though (with the polls running on US Eastern time again). Topics of upcoming reader questions include rebalancing types to work more like the TCG, a new take on the Grass-Water-Fire starter triangle, how I would design a Pokémon gym, and how on earth Ghost Pokémon are supposed to work. For the whole year… well, I want to try to review all the Pokémon of generation VIII this year, but given how long and detailed my reviews are these days, I’d be satisfied with getting through, like, half of them; that should leave me with plenty of time to finish the lot before those BASTARDS who CONTROL MY LIFE announce generation IX.

well… here goes nothing

happy 2020, b!tches

Larry asks:

Hey, just something that’s been, pun very intended, bugging me- Paras and Parasect. We all know their deal, their horrible, horrible deal. But it’s weird, innit?

Why would a Paras let itself evolve, let its trainer do that to it? How come the Parasect *seems* to maintain all emotional bonds? (Saying that based on friendship/affection remaining.) If the Paras’ soul really gets sucked, and it’s a known fact, why isn’t it even frowned upon to evolve Paras?

This seems like one of the more trustworthy dex entries, the damp habitat thing seems realistic, Parasect’s eyes are too barren for comfort, but I can’t quite make up my mind.

This is on my mind specifically because now I’m playing soulsilver with a Paras, and I’m not sure if I can forgive myself if I evolve him. Thoughts?

(PS: I know there’s an anime episode about a girl who wants to evolve her Paras, but I couldn’t find your review, if there is one. All I know is that in the ep there doesn’t seem to be any drama OR soulsucking?)

So, Parasect is… a tricky one.  Just to get us all on the same page, here are (by my reckoning) all the relevant examples of how the Pokédex talks about Parasect and its mushrooms:

  • The mushrooms have “taken over” the host bug.
  • Staying in dark and damp places is “the preference not of the bug, but of the big mushrooms.”
  • The mushroom “extracts” nutrients from the bug until “nothing’s left.”
  • The mushroom “controls” the bug.  Notably, Ultra Moon also says this about Paras.
  • “The bug is mostly dead, with the mushroom on its back having become the main body. If the mushroom comes off, the bug stops moving.”
  • The mushroom “appears to do all the thinking.”
Continue reading “Larry asks:”

Don't Call Me Bradley [Patreon Cultist] asks:

Which of the Gen VIII Pokemon have taken your fancy early-on? Before all the research and all the fun stuff that comes with the reviews have any peaked your interest as fascinating right out-the-gate? Have you accepted our lords and saviors Falinks into your heart yet?

Y’know, I have weird issues with Falinks that are probably specific to me in particular, because I look at Falinks and think that it was probably designed for the British region, and plonked down in an “ancient ruins” area next to the town which is clearly based on Bath, as a reference to soldiers of the Roman Empire. And that’s great and all, but I’m a classicist and Falinks’ design and English name scream to me “classical Greek hoplite phalanx,” which is not the same thing, god damn it, so now I have to read this bit from Falinks’ Bulbapedia article:

and “Spartan helmets during the period of Ancient Rome” is… kind of a phrase that hurts my soul in a way that maybe will not be immediately apparent to a non-specialist

so yeah Falinks is a “no” from me, sorry

Continue reading “Don't Call Me Bradley [Patreon Cultist] asks:”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XV: A Bug Catcher Is You!

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What will you do tomorrow?
– Join up with some other trainers to explore.

You’re not the only trainer about to attempt a Viridian Forest expedition; a group of trainers from Viridian City, all friends, are also spending the night at the rest stop.  You decide to sidle over and introduce yourself while they’re all chatting before lights-out.  After all, Viridian Forest has kind of a dark reputation, and although you’ve already proven to yourself and your Pokémon that you can manage a couple of days in the wilderness on your own, it’d still be dumb to pass up company when it’s on offer.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XV: A Bug Catcher Is You!”

KalosianPorygon asks:

I have legitimate, serious problems about Poké Balls that isn’t about what’s inside or how they catch Pokémon.
In all medias the humans have Poké Balls, video games, animes, mangas, when they want to send out a Pokémon, they throw it. When they switch Pokémon (fainting, Volt Switch/U-turn, changing Pokémon, whenever), they call them back in their Ball, with the Trainer holding the Ball.
I have a couple questions about Balls:
First, why do we never see Trainers pick up their thrown Poké Balls after calling their Pokémon? It’s not like they are one-use items.
Second, why do Trainers THROW their Poké Balls when sending a Pokémon in battle? Why can’t they keep them in their hands at all times?
Third, Pokémon Eggs are kept in Poké Balls as soon as you get them. Where do those Balls came from? Do the Pokémon Day Care have boxes of them? And why are Eggs always inside Poké Balls in the games?
Fourth, so Beast Balls are one of the only Poké Ball type that has a decent catch rate against Ultra Beasts. This would make sense, as Ultra Beasts are creatures from another dimension and not (initially) acknowledged as Pokémon. Except, the Master Ball can also catch UBs without trouble. So… how does the Master Ball keep its perfect catch rate against UBs?

Continue reading “KalosianPorygon asks:”

Lilycat asks:

Doesn’t Raihan look like Garchomp? Considering his sandstorm…weather team….do you think it was a wasted opportunity that he didn’t have a Garchomp?

I mean I suppose they’re saving him for the rumored diamond pearl remakes…but what are your thoughts?

Yeah, I guess I can see it?  Like, those particular shades of navy blue and scarlet, together with the white “spikes” on his hoodie… seems like it could be a deliberate stylistic reference.  I can think of reasons not to give him a Garchomp, but not fantastic reasons.  Like, as you said, if they were planning to release Pokémon: Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl or whatever in 2020 or 2021, then those games would definitely have Garchomp, so there’s a decent argument for leaving it out of Sword and Shield, but I think you are allowed to put it in both; there are several Sinnoh-native Pokémon in Sword and Shield, including the iconic Rotom and Lucario, so there is going to be overlap anyway.  You could also argue that gym leaders almost always have a signature Pokémon that’s new in their own generation – in Raihan’s case, Duraludon – and putting a “pseudo-legendary” Pokémon like Garchomp on his gym team would overshadow his star player, which is clearly undesirable.  However, his Champion Cup team actually does include a pseudo-legendary Dragon, namely Goodra.  I don’t think it was necessarily a mistake to leave Garchomp out of the Galar Pokédex and thus deny Raihan the opportunity to use it, but I do think it was a weird choice to do that and then lean into what seems like a Garchomp-inspired character design, rather than picking one of the many other Dragon Pokémon that do exist in Galar, like Haxorus or Noivern.

Then again, I can see an argument for that being kind of the point.  The Pokémon that are missing from Galar aren’t gone for good, and they even have fans in Galar; maybe Raihan loves Garchomp but has never had the opportunity to catch one.  Arguably his costume would look… well, over-the-top if it matched a Pokémon he actually used, but comes across a bit more subtle as a reference to a foreign Pokémon that he likes but doesn’t have.

Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

You know how you can’t freeze a Pokémon during intense sunlight? What if we did the reverse and have it so that you can’t burn a Pokémon when it’s hailing (which I think makes quite a bit of sense); do you reckon that’ll make hail a more competitively-viable weather condition, considering many Pokémon rely on either burning others or being burned themselves? Happy holidays, btdubs!

Hmm.  I like it as a subtle buff to hail. I am wary because Sun and Moon already nerfed burn significantly by reducing its damage from 1/8 per turn to 1/16, to balance it with poison (which does 1/8 per turn but doesn’t reduce the victim’s stats), but hail is probably still niche enough that this is fine.  More importantly to me, it feels weird for hail to have this effect without rain also getting it, since it’s usually rain that weakens Fire attacks and thematically it makes just as much sense (if not more) for rain to soothe burns.  I think the issues with hail hint at a broader problem of the Ice type struggling to find an identity distinct from Water, which kinda goes back to generation I.  In a way, it’s actually of a piece with my old complaint that “Grass-types Don’t Get Nice Things” – the type’s identity has always been defined in such a rigid way that flavour considerations rule out a lot of good mechanical possibilities for rebalancing it, particularly in the case of buffing the hail weather condition.

Also, happy thing and stuff to you too, and to everyone else reading!