Litwick, Lampent and Chandelure

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.

706be-litwickMeet 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”

Darumaka and Darmanitan

ac58f-darumakaFor 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”

Tepig, Pignite and Emboar

e61f9-tepigYes, I’ve finally gotten around to the second of Unova’s three starters, the Fire-type Tepig… and so far it doesn’t look so bad.  Tepig is pretty cute, I have to admit, and while it’s not the first time we’ve had a pig Pokémon, it is very different from the previous one – Grumpig is a manipulative Psychic-type that specialises in soaking up elemental attacks, while Tepig is intended as a physically-inclined heavy hitter with a bit of survivability.  The only major gripe I have with Tepig is that his name is a little bit daft.  I don’t know whether Tepig had a fan nickname before the English release of Black and White came out like Snivy and Oshawott (a.k.a. Smugleaf and Wotter) did, but if he had one it has to have been better than Tepig.  I understand Game Freak must be running out of fire puns by now – they’ve already used char, magma, flare, molten, cinder, lava, explosion, torch, combust, blaze, erupt, coal and heat – but was tepid really the best word they had left?  It makes me think of warm water – not even hot or boiling water, because tepid is basically a synonym for lukewarm.  I’ll let Tepig pass on that, though, because he’s cute, generally nicely put together, and actually almost convinced me, for the first time ever, not to pick the Grass-type starter for my first play-through.  So, let’s see what he evolves int-

…wait, what? Continue reading “Tepig, Pignite and Emboar”

Larvesta and Volcarona

e2b1c-larvestaVisit an island near Nuvema Town, the starting location in Black and White, and you might meet a Pokémon Ranger with a mysterious egg to give away.  This mysterious egg will hatch into a fascinating insect, which will probably set you on fire.  With any luck this, like that regrettable incident between Ash and Pikachu, will signify the beginning of a lifelong friendship.  Unless you just decide to squash it.  Meet Larvesta, the torch Pokémon!

Personally I think Larvesta is cute but I could understand if she had her dissenters.  I don’t think there’s any question, though, that it’s a fun design.  The solar image created by her horns stands out nicely, and the idea of a larval insect that lives around volcanoes is just cool.  Combining the Bug and Fire elements is something Pokémon hasn’t done before and frankly I think it would have been a difficult idea to screw up, which illustrates something that I don’t think Game Freak have cottoned onto yet – there’s still a bunch of type combinations they haven’t tried yet, and just picking one at random is almost certain to suggest some interesting flavour as well as creating a mechanically unique Pokémon.  Continue reading “Larvesta and Volcarona”

Reshiram and Zekrom

8706b-reshiramSeeing as I just finished talking about the story of Black and White, I may as well take the opportunity to look a little more closely at the two Pokémon that are central to that story: the dragons of truth and idealism, Reshiram and Zekrom.  The design for these two has its roots in the Taoist concept of yin-yang, which I believe states (forgive me; I’m a little hazy on exactly how Taoism works) that the world and everything in it come into being through the interaction and harmonisation of opposites.  In much the same way, Unova, the region in which Pokémon Black and White are set, is said to have been created by Reshiram and Zekrom working in harmony, as a single being (and then devastated when the two split apart and fought).  To play into this theme of dualism, Reshiram is graceful, avian and feminine, with a soft-sounding name, while Zekrom is dynamic, saurian and masculine, with a hard-sounding name.  This is all wonderful and I love the way the designs complement each other and develop the theme and all that, and it’s very nicely done… but there’s one thing nagging at me.  They’re the wrong way around.  Continue reading “Reshiram and Zekrom”

Pansage, Pansear, Panpour, Simisage, Simisear and Simipour

Six Pokémon all at once!?  What could be happening?  Well, just sit still for a minute and allow me to introduce you to the three elemental monkeys of Black and White.  I’ve decided to do these Pokémon as a group, for three reasons: first, they’re strongly associated as a group, second, my major grievances against them are shared by the whole trio, and third, they’re just so unforgivably bland I don’t think I could possibly come up with enough material if I took on each one separately.  So, without further ado: the elemental monkey Pokémon!

24fdc-pansageandsimisageI appreciate the thought behind these Pokémon; I really do.  For a bit of context, let’s all think back to Red and Blue.  A big chunk of a Pokémon game’s storyline is, and always has been, travelling the countryside to obtain shiny bits of metal from trainers who have far more self esteem than you do in order to make yourself feel better about the fact that you are, in essence, an extremely violent prepubescent hobo.  Continue reading “Pansage, Pansear, Panpour, Simisage, Simisear and Simipour”