Today, for… some reason… I have decided to try to bridge the gap between Alola and Galar by reviewing all four of the Ice-type regional variant Pokémon: Alolan Sandslash, Alolan Ninetales, Galarian Mr. Mime and Galarian Darmanitan. This obviously took far too much time and the article is far too long, but I’ve written it now, and if I had to write it, then you all have to sit down and read it; that was the deal, that’s how this works. The Ice type is an interesting choice for regional variations, because real animals also kind of have Ice-type regional forms: as animals move into more extreme latitudes, they have to deal with longer and colder winters, and tend to adapt accordingly. Cold-adapted animals tend to be bulkier than their relatives living in temperate climates, with more compact limbs, thicker fur or feathers and often a white colour scheme to blend in with snow. Adaptation to different climates in Pokémon can be a mixed bag as far as realism goes, and we’ll see multiple different takes on that with today’s four Pokémon. Let’s get started.Continue reading “Regional Variant Pokémon: Alolan Sandslash and Ninetales; Galarian Mr. Mime and Darmanitan”
The regional variant Pokémon we’re looking at today all evolve from Pokémon that do not have regional variant forms of their own – a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched in Alola will look much the same as a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched anywhere else. In fact, they don’t just look the same, they are the same; an Alolan Pikachu that is sent to Galar will evolve into a standard Raichu (even though Sword and Shield do know what an Alolan Raichu is, and Pokémon games do track each individual Pokémon’s region of origin), while a Pikachu that arrives in Alola from anywhere else will evolve into an Alolan Raichu. That’s weird, because other regional forms don’t work this way (with the exception of two Galarian forms, Weezing and Mr. Mime); you can take an Alolan Rattata to any region of the world and keep it there for as long as you like, it’ll still evolve into an Alolan Raticate. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on here.Continue reading “Alolan Raichu, Marowak and Exeggutor”
Today’s Pokémon is Blacephalon, whose special skill is to blow up its own head.
And… well, you know, call me crazy, but I would have thought that would be the end of it. Nonetheless, here we are. This is the last Ultra Beast, and I just have to deal with it.
Like Stakataka, Blacephalon doesn’t appear in the original Sun and Moon, and its homeworld doesn’t appear in the sequels. It doesn’t even have a very big anime role, since it co-stars in an episode with Xurkitree and doesn’t get the spotlight to itself, although the dynamic between the two is at least somewhat interesting. Blacephalon is just… a bit of a weird non sequitur of a Pokémon. It appears, it blows up its own head…
…profit???Continue reading “Blacephalon”
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.
I think it’s time to explore some of the more hostile reaches of Alola, with the volcano-dwelling salamander Pokémon, Salandit and Salazzle. Salandit and Salazzle could be based on any of several things, or a mix of all of them, or none of them. Physically they resemble fire belly newts (genus Cynops), a group of newt species native to Japan and southern and eastern China (in the strictest scientific sense, newts are a branch of the salamander family and, compared to other salamanders, remain more aquatic even after leaving their tadpole stage; the words are often used interchangeably though). Fire belly newts are so called for their black colouring with bright red or yellow flame-like markings, which warn predators that they are poisonous and unsafe to eat – so we have a ready-made fusion of the Fire and Poison elements right there. Salamanders also have a very long history of being associated with fire, with stories that they bathe in flames going back at least as far as Aristotle. We could almost stop at that – Salandit and Salazzle are fire salamanders that breathe fire, and they’d hardly be the first Pokémon to come out of “real animal + appropriate-sounding elemental powers” (*cough*Beartic*cough*). But no; there’s more to these crafty amphibians, and as so often in Alola, we can look for answers in the real archipelago of Hawai’i. Continue reading “Salandit and Salazzle”
I do not have a good record with anything capable of earning the title of “gimmick” Pokémon – Pokémon whose schtick is some unique move, ability or game mechanic that was so clever Game Freak felt they could stop there, and didn’t need to have the Pokémon be any good or the design make any sense. Today we decide whether Oricorio, the dancing honeycreeper Pokémon, fits that description. Four interchangeable and mostly cosmetic forms, a weird signature move, a weirder ability… the phrase “walks like a duck, quacks like a duck” comes to mind, but let’s take a closer look. Continue reading “Oricorio”
I have a little personal conjecture about how Incineroar was designed.
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”
Last one! Let’s do this! Booyeah! Volcanion!
I’ve wanted to see a Water/Fire Pokémon for a long time (and indeed my readers were kind enough to give me one early last year), mostly because I’m interested in the relationship between the two elements. They’re often considered opposites, and Water is Fire’s greatest and best-known weakness, but the combination of the two produces something that’s incredibly powerful in its own way – steam, which drove many of the machines of the industrial revolution and is still an important component of multiple ways of generating electricity today. The fact that we even deal with steam on a regular basis is pretty amazing in itself, because there’s actually no other compound besides water that naturally exists on Earth as a solid (ice), a liquid, and a gas, which is one of the many things that make water a bizarre and incredible compound. Volcanion commands this stuff, the most dynamic and potentially destructive form of the substance all life on Earth depends on – not a bad gig for a legendary Pokémon, if you ask me.Continue reading “Volcanion”
…oh, Victini, what did you do to deserve this? I know there are people who like Victini; I know they exist. Those people would be best served by turning around, sticking their fingers in their ears and chanting “la la la, I can’t hear you” for the duration of this entry.
Let’s have some background. Victini is the latest in a long line of “cute” legendary Pokémon. The Psychic cat Pokémon Mew is the fabled ancestor of all Pokémon. Celebi is a forest spirit who exists beyond time. Jirachi is a celestial fairy Pokémon who is only awake for one week in every thousand years, but can supposedly grant any wish in that time. Manaphy, the so-called prince of the sea, possesses unmatched empathic abilities and can touch the heart of any living thing. Last but not least, Shaymin, the guardian of meadows, is the personification of gratitude and has the power to harmlessly absorb any poison. Victini, the newest addition to the group, is the embodiment of victory. Victini is said to be a source of boundless energy, which he can share with anyone who touches his body. As such, possessing Victini is supposedly an absolute guarantee of victory. I don’t just mean victory in battle either; Victini is victory itself and can bring success in any kind of situation with any possible outcome that might be considered ‘winning’. Continue reading “Victini”
Okay, you remember how I said last time that I thought I was just about done with all the genuinely bad Pokémon?
I was lying.
I’m doing Heatmor and Durant together because, although they aren’t part of a single evolutionary family, they do in a sense ‘go together.’ Heatmor is a bloody great anteater that some delightfully mad person has decided to splice together with a blast furnace or something, and Durant is an angry giant ant plated from head to abdomen in steel, and Heatmor’s favourite food. Durant, the Pokédex insists, covers itself in steel plating specifically to protect itself from Heatmor, which makes absolutely no sense in a world of elemental ‘types’ with distinct strengths and weaknesses relative to one another. Why does this make no sense? Because Heatmor is a Fire Pokémon, and relying on metal armour to protect yourself from a Fire-type is tantamount to suicide according to everything we have ever seen about the way this world works. Now, evolution (in the real-world biological sense, not the Poké-world pseudozoological whacko sense) is an insanely complicated phenomenon, this I will grant you, but no-one and nothing is going to convince me that natural selection would actually push a species to become more vulnerable to its own major natural predator. Continue reading “Heatmor and Durant”