Stakataka

Stakataka

We’re down to our last two Ultra Beasts: Stakataka and Blacephalon, who were added to the roster only in Ultra Moon and Ultra Sun (respectively).  We don’t know as much about them as we do about all the others, because we never see their homeworlds.  All the original Ultra Beasts, whom we first met in Alola in Sun and Moon, are encountered in Ultra Smoon by travelling through Ultra Space to their own worlds (while Poipole is involved in the story of the Ultra Recon Squad, and gets a major supporting role in the anime).  These two, we only ever meet in Alola, and we also get no information about them from Wicke, who is otherwise a fount of interesting (if occasionally dubious) intelligence.  As a result, there’s more I’d like to know about Stakataka that I just don’t, like what kind of ecosystem produces a creature like this, and how it behaves in its natural habitat – things that, for normal Pokémon, we tend to learn as a matter of course.  But we have the Pokédex, we have the design, we have Stakataka’s in-game types, stats and mechanics, and we have the anime episode it stars in, so let’s take a look and see what we can do.

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Nihilego

Nihilego

The Alolan archipelago has at last surrendered all (or, well, most) of its secrets – so now the time has finally come for us to leave behind the world we know.  The stars have aligned, the ritual is complete, the Dark Forces from Parts Unknown have imparted their mystic secrets, the Ultra Wormhole beckons, and the void opens before us, promising nothing at the price of everything.  Yep – we’re figuring out the Ultra Beasts.  There’s ten of these freaky bastards (not counting Lunala, Solgaleo and Necrozma), and they’re each getting their own entry.  My aim over the course of those ten articles will be not just to review the Ultra Beasts individually, but also to, hopefully, figure out… well, something about them as a group.  What are they?  What exactly is Ultra Space?  Why are they such a threat to Alola?  Are they really a group at all, or just a random sample of the variety of life that exists in an infinite multiverse?  All these questions, and more, will… honestly, let’s face it, probably not be answered here on Pokémaniacal, but we’ll bloody well give it a go – starting with probably the best-known Ultra Beast of all, Nihilego.

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Minior

250px-774Minior.png
Minior

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”

Rockruff and Lycanroc

Rockruff.
Rockruff

Today’s Pokémon is Professor Kukui’s loyal partner, Rockruff, and his evolved form – or rather forms, as we’ll see – Lycanroc, the latest additions to Pokémon’s growing stable (or, uh… kennel) of dog Pokémon.  Physically, Rockruff’s design is very straightforwardly based on a domestic dog, perhaps an Akita Inu (a large Japanese dog breed with a wolf-like countenance and a fluffy tail).  Physically we’re looking at something quite close to Growlithe, with a different colour scheme and obviously very distinct powers, but very similar in terms of personality and behaviour.  Rockruff’s most distinctive feature is a “collar” (or “ruff”?) of stones, which apparently has a social function – Rockruff greet each other by rubbing their stony collars on each other’s bodies.  This little ritual apparently extends to their human friends as well, which can cause significant discomfort.  Nonetheless, Rockruff is one of the Pokémon most favoured for beginners in the Alola region because they have a friendly and loyal disposition that makes them easy to train and command, and are also extremely tenacious in battle.  In other words, they’re almost exactly like real dogs – energetic, devoted and affectionate to the point of being overbearing.  A bit generic, slotting in alongside Growlithe and Lillipup almost unnoticed, but that’s sort of to be expected for the basic stage of an early-game Pokémon, and the Rock element is incorporated in a neat way with the “collar.”  The meat of what this design is supposed to be doing comes with the evolved form: Lycanroc. Continue reading “Rockruff and Lycanroc”

Amaura and Aurorus

Amaura.
Amaura

DINOSAURS

YES

I think everyone has a dinosaur phase, right?  Mine was… longer and more educationally rigorous than most, put it that way (my parents claim to this day that my first words as a baby were not the traditional ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ but the often tongue-twisting names of dinosaur species).  There actually aren’t all that many Pokémon who seem to be based primarily on dinosaurs, funnily enough, although several of the big superstar ones are represented: we have ceratopids (Shieldon and Bastiodon), pachycephalosaurs (Cranidos and Rampardos), sauropods (Bayleef and Meganium, Tropius), and of course the famous birdlike theropod Archaeopteryx (Archen and Archeops).  There are also a bunch of Pokémon that are probably influenced by dinosaurs, like Tyranitar, who seems to be a tyrannosaur via Godzilla, Charmeleon, who has shades of a small theropod, Torterra, who owes as much to ankylosaurs as to tortoises, and Bulbasaur, who… well, to be honest I don’t think even Game Freak really know exactly what Bulbasaur is but the –saur suffix definitely strikes a particular note.  X and Y give us two more fossils: the brutal tyrannosaurs Tyrunt and Tyrantrum, and these two loveable goofs.  I probably wouldn’t have chosen another sauropod, myself – I kind of want to see a hadrosaur – but I’m not about to complain about more dinosaurs, so here we go.

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Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion and Keldeo

The time has come (largely because I’m running out of anything else) to think about some more legendary Pokémon, namely the so-called “legendary musketeers,” Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion and Keldeo.  These Fighting-type Pokémon have that name because, according to the designers, they are based on the eponymous French warriors of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel, the Three Musketeers, though personally I think it would be more appropriate to say that they are, if anything, parallel to the musketeers.  You might be forgiven for not thinking that the connection is immediately obvious (in fact, I’m not convinced anyone could work it out without being told or simply getting very lucky with a wild guess) – both groups have (in brief) an old one, a fat one, and a gay one (Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, respectively), plus an annoying kid who hangs around with them because he wants to join their club (d’Artagnan).  They are also both renowned for swordsmanship – the Pokémon versions only in a figurative sense, in that they all learn Swords Dance and share a signature move called Sacred Sword; despite the name, they fight mainly by goring enemies with their horns.   Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion and Keldeo are, furthermore, motivated by their ideals of duty and justice, which likewise sounds like a reference.  Continue reading “Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion and Keldeo”