Litten, Torracat and Incineroar

I have a little personal conjecture about how Incineroar was designed.

Litten
Litten

Game Freak deeply, sincerely, earnestly didn’t mean to make a fourth Fire/Fighting starter Pokémon.  They were just going to sit down and come up with some unique, entertaining and vaguely Hawaiian-inspired Fire-type.  But then Incineroar just rose up, unbidden, out of the primal mists of Game Freak’s collective id, embedded himself in their tortured psyches, and refused to leave.  Aware that they were making another Fire/Fighting starter Pokémon, but horrified by their inability to stop, they desperately called on Yveltal for help, and the vicious and cunning death god answered their prayers by corrupting Incineroar into a brutal Dark-type.

I mean, obviously some of that is speculative, but I think the general outline is close. Continue reading “Litten, Torracat and Incineroar”

Zorua and Zoroark

I should probably begin this entry with a disclaimer: for various reasons, I don’t actually have a Zorua or a Zoroark.  In theory I know everything about them I need to know to write the entry, but their powers are rather complicated, as I’ll explain later, and I’m not sure I can really do justice to their impacts on the flow of battle.  Then again, I’ll probably just do exactly the same thing as I always do: stare at their numbers for a while, research what everyone else says about them on the internet and then make dozens of wildly unsubstantiated assertions laced with bizarre and confusing metaphors before declaring victory and passing out on the sofa.

What, you mean you didn’t know

Anyway.  Zorua and Zoroark are clever and elusive fox Pokémon, not actually malicious but fond of deception and mischief.  Their main power is their ability to create flawless illusions; they normally use their powers to disguise themselves as other Pokémon, but they can also take human form or even create false images of landscapes.  So far, this is giving me flashbacks to Ninetales – another highly intelligent fox Pokémon with magical abilities related to trickery – probably because she shares a common inspiration with Zorua and Zoroark: the kitsune fox spirits of Japanese legend.  Continue reading “Zorua and Zoroark”

Deino, Zweilous and Hydreigon

af143-deinoRemember Dragonite?  I liked Dragonite; Dragonite was nice and enjoyed helping people.  Not all Dragon Pokémon are nice, of course; Flygon, Haxorus and Altaria are, but Kingdra and Druddigon are basically crazy old men shouting at the kids to get off their lawns, Garchomp is ill-tempered though not malicious, and Salamence is just slightly insane and prone to extremes of anger and joy.

Hydreigon, on the other hand, is utterly, completely, irredeemably, certifiably, three-eggs-short-of-an-Exeggcute WHACKO.

Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon, whose names come from the German ein, zwei, drei, in reference to the number of heads they each have, are the only Dark/Dragon dual-type Pokémon.  Dragon-types are (Druddigon and Altaria notwithstanding) among the strongest of all Pokémon, while Dark-types tend to be pathological liars, brooding loners, manipulative jerks, creepy stalkers or outright psychopaths.  This is a recipe for disaster.  I love recipes for disaster.  Continue reading “Deino, Zweilous and Hydreigon”

Vullaby and Mandibuzz

7ca81-vullabyI think I’m just about through the Pokémon that are genuinely bad now.  A lot of what’s left is, for want of a better term, so-so – like the female counterparts to Rufflet and Braviary, the vulture Pokémon Vullaby and Mandibuzz.  I see some initial sensible choices here.  Vultures are a nice choice for a starting point; their associations are specific and evocative, and Dark/Flying makes sense and isn’t overdone; there’s only one other Pokémon of that type, Honchkrow, who’s sufficiently different from Mandibuzz that it doesn’t bother me.  Honchkrow is into plots and schemes, while Mandibuzz is a far more straightforward opportunistic predator.  She also has a macabre fashion sense: Vullaby and Mandibuzz ornament themselves with bones and even build their nests out of bones.  This was Cubone and Marowak’s thing, of course, but that’s not such a problem; they wore skulls as (I think) some kind of creepy honour thing, whereas for Vullaby and Mandibuzz it’s mostly about protection and decoration.  No, the thing that bothers me about Vullaby and Mandibuzz is how silly their bones make them look.  Vullaby is known as the “diapered” Pokémon, so yes, that eggshell-shape around her lower body (which is actually made of plates of bone) is indeed meant to look like a nappy.  I don’t know whether Mandibuzz is supposed to look like she’s wearing an apron but that’s certainly what I think of, and the domestic imagery of Vullaby’s nappy makes me think this is exactly what’s meant to be conveyed here.  Continue reading “Vullaby and Mandibuzz”

Pawniard and Bisharp

397a8-pawniardIt was, of course, a statistical inevitability that we would eventually get a set of chess-themed Pokémon – and here they are, the sword-wielding Dark/Steel Pokémon, Pawniard and Bisharp.  In fact, not content with merely using bladed weapons, these Pokémon are literally made of interlocking blades, just to make absolutely sure that they can cut you to ribbons just by running into you.  As always, the first question is: what were Game Freak thinking here?  I don’t mean that rhetorically or sarcastically, I’m genuinely curious.  This design seems to be going in a couple of different directions and I’m not sure which one they started from or where they’re trying to take them or how they’re supposed to fit together.  Their vicious and aggressive personalities seem to follow sensibly from the blade theme, which seems to be Pawniard’s main schtick (or alternatively, simply from the fact that he’s a Dark-type; the vast majority of them are born to be jerks).  Then, on a completely different tack, we have the chess idea, with their names referencing the pawns and bishops of European chess.  Continue reading “Pawniard and Bisharp”

Scraggy and Scrafty

There’s gross… and then there’s gross.

By which I mean, some things are disgusting and others are just nasty.

On the one hand, you have Pokémon like Muk, who is literally made of toxic waste, Weezing, who can cause lung cancer at fifty paces, Gloom, who is constantly surrounded by the stench of rotting meat, and Lickitung, who… well, I think we can all agree; the less said about Lickitung, the better.

On the other hand, you have Pokémon that wear their own cast-off skin as trousers and hoodies.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Scraggy and Scrafty. Continue reading “Scraggy and Scrafty”

Sandile, Krokorok and Krookodile

I could go either way on this one, really.  Let’s see.

ac199-sandileToday I’ll be talking about the desert crocodile Pokémon, Sandile, Krokorok and Krookodile.  They are… well… crocodiles that live in the desert.  That’s a good start, but it does seem to me like the designers have been reusing a formula again – and I’m not talking about the older crocodile Pokémon, Totodile, Croconaw and Feraligatr.  What Game Freak have done is take a North African river animal, shift it a few hundred kilometres west, turn it into a Ground-type with a wave of their magic wand and said “eh; good enough.”  Sound familiar?

(This is the point at which I remember that this blog is supposed to be readable for people who stopped playing Pokémon years ago) Continue reading “Sandile, Krokorok and Krookodile”