One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
Pokémon is a bamboo alien, a moon rocket, and
an ancient Japanese princess.
promise it makes sense.
rocket-booster arms, long flowing hair, steel gown and tiny head make it one of
the most bizarre of all the Ultra Beasts, but once you dig through its lore and
inspiration… well, you can see where they were coming from. Let’s take a look at the Launch Pokémon.
Pokémon Sun and Moon are, as the names imply, games that always have one eye on the heavens. A lot of the time this manifests as a day/night theme, but they are interested in other celestial phenomena as well – Cosmog is a nebula that gives birth to a star, one of the games’ prominent locations is an observatory, and of course the Ultra Beasts have a certain sci-fi aesthetic to them and emerge from wormholes. A lot of Alola’s ordinary Pokémon draw on themes related to the real Hawaiian islands (or at least tropical islands in general) but today’s Pokémon is one that cares a lot more about Alola’s relationship with the sky. Meet Minior: the Meteor Pokémon. Continue reading “Minior”→
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”→
Pikipek and Trumbeak are woodpeckers, one of the broad classes of bird that Pokémon hadn’t previously gotten around to making an early-game Normal/Flying-type out of. Let’s run through the checklist… Pidgey’s a waxwing, Hoothoot’s an owl, Taillow’s a swallow, Starly’s a starling, Pidove’s a pigeon, Fletchling’s a robin, and Spearow’s not a sparrow. With the exception of Hoothoot and Pidove, they’re all based – more or less loosely – on members of the songbird family (or, well, technically they’re a sub-order or something, but who’s counting?), and most of them gain more raptor-like traits as they evolve. Which… y’know… is fine; that reflects the huge diversity of the real songbirds, but it would be nicer if they weren’t all (with the exception of Hoothoot) Normal/Flying-types with fairly generic powers and a bias towards speed and physical attacks. Continue reading “Pikipek, Trumbeak and Toucannon”→
Bloody hell, if I don’t hurry this up they’re going to announce another damn generation before I’m done with this one; we’re already expecting whatever this bull$#!t is supposed to be and I’ve got eighty whole Pokémon to evaluate in the next couple of months, as well as talking about Team Skull and the Aether Foundation, and Hau, and maybe Lillie too, and whoever I decide counts as the Champion, not to mention answering the neverending tide of ridiculous banal questions that keep pouring out of my goddamn inbox (obviously, gentle reader, I’m not talking about any questions you might have submitted, which are of course consistently insightful and thought provoking; it’s all those other bastards that are the problem).
Today I’m looking at the second of Black and White’s legendary trios, the ogre-like genies Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus. Why do these games have so many legendary Pokémon, anyway? Every set of games always introduces more of the things than the last (compare five in Red and Blue to thirteen in Black and White), and at some point you have to wonder how many we actually need… but I should judge them all on their merits, shouldn’t I? So, without further ado: the legendary genies, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus.
As their astonishingly inventive names attest, Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus are spirits of wind, lightning and earth; Landorus is a Ground/Flying dual-type, Thundurus an Electric/Flying dual-type, and Tornadus the only single-typed Flying Pokémon in the entire game. Tornadus and Thundurus are chaotic and sometimes destructive storm spirits who zip around frying people, blowing them away, playing tricks, ransacking things at random, and occasionally beating the hell out of each other and laying waste to a few neighbourhoods in the process. Landorus, in stark contrast, is a benevolent figure associated with protection and fertility, whose role is to keep the other two in line and to encourage crops to grow healthily. When Tornadus or Thundurus (or both) makes trouble for the villages of Unova, Landorus shows up to settle things. Continue reading “Tornadus, Thundurus and Landorus”→
I 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”→
Okay, guys, we’re on a roll: Haxorus, Galvantula, Reuniclus and Ferrothorn; that’s four in a row! And the next entry in the Pokédex is…
…yeah, I totally just jinxed myself, didn’t I?
My next Pokémon is Emolga, the cute electrical rodent Pokémon. Yes, you’re experiencing déjà vu for a reason. It’s a glitch in Game Freak’s design process; it happens when they change nothing. Because, yes, this is exactly what you think it is: a flying Pikachu. Continue reading “Emolga”→
Oh look. Another bird Pokémon. Whoo. I am ecstatic. Can you tell?
Luckily for him, Braviary is a huge badass eagle Pokémon that knocks the stuffing out of Pokémon like Fearow and Pidgeot. Even more luckily for him, that’s not all he is. The single feather on Rufflet’s head, and Braviary’s feather ‘headdress,’ seem to be intended to call to mind the headgear of Native American warriors of the central United States, like the Comanche and Cheyenne. As such, their personality is centred around a warrior outlook; they fight each other often for practice, but protect each other ferociously when attacked. Battle scars are a mark of prestige with them and they never back down from fear of a strong opponent. Braviary is incredibly strong and can lift small cars in flight (no, I’m sure it’s not possible but who cares?) and Rufflet can… crush berries with his claws? Am I missing something here? The Pokédex reports that as though it should sound impressive, but… what? Continue reading “Rufflet and Braviary”→
Two more bird Pokémon enter the fray, these ones based on the humble duck and regal swan. Are they interesting? Probably not? Are they powerful? I doubt it. Do I like them? Heck no, but let’s look at them anyway.
Part of me assumes that Ducklett and Swanna are supposed to reference the fairy tale of the ugly duckling, the repulsive-looking baby bird who was shunned by his peers and the rest of the animal kingdom, suffered untold hardships in a cruel world he was not made to live in, grew strong from adversity by learning the true meaning of friendship, and died alone in the middle of a swamp, upside down with his head jammed into a hollow log filled with soft peat. Or something like that. I’m a little hazy on the finer details. Anyway, I originally assumed that’s what Ducklett and Swanna are about, but I’m no longer sure that can be it because Ducklett really isn’t ugly. She’s not flat-out adorable but she’s reasonably cute. If that is what Game Freak were aiming for with this design then they picked a strange way to go about it. Continue reading “Ducklett and Swanna”→