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”
…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”
Today we look at three pretty cute-looking and generally appealing Pokémon… who will suck out your soul.
No, I’m serious, that’s actually what the Pokédex says.
Meet Litwick, Lampent and Chandelure, the candle Pokémon. These guys are Ghost/Fire-types: another new combination, which is practically a guarantee that what we’re going to get will at least be interesting even if it’s not strong. The fact that they’re Ghost Pokémon is also, oddly, a good omen in itself because Ghost Pokémon are inherently fascinating; I for one am still trying to figure out what exactly they are. In the Pokémon world, Ghost-types are generally feared and seen as malevolent spirits, but in many cases this is actually unjustified – Gastly, Haunter and Gengar, famously, are not actually evil but have a very disturbing sense of humour that can easily cause playfulness to be misinterpreted as aggression; Sableye’s predicament is similar. Some, notably Mismagius, Dusknoir and Drifblim, have mysterious powers that could be used for good or evil, and where they fall on that axis is extremely ambiguous. Continue reading “Litwick, Lampent and Chandelure”
For reasons I’ll get to later, this one’s a bit of an odd duck (I mean this figuratively, of course, in contrast to Psyduck, who actually is an odd duck). Allow me to introduce the Zen Charm Pokémon, Darumaka, and his evolved form Darmanitan… two Pokémon that I personally find tremendously annoying, because if you fail to deal with them promptly they can and will leave huge smoking holes in your team. Most Fire Pokémon are very active but these guys are turned up to eleven, their internal fires producing enormous quantities of energy that they will burn up by any means necessary – and I do mean any; they even use their droppings as a way of offloading excess heat; I know this because the Pokédex tells us that people used to carry Darumaka droppings in their pockets to keep themselves warm (Pokémon: it’s kind of like that). Heaven help you if you get into a fight with a Darumaka while it’s fired up, so to speak – but, that said, they’re not by nature aggressive Pokémon, just overwhelmingly energetic. Continue reading “Darumaka and Darmanitan”