Alolan Bidoof asks:

If it were up to you, what would you give to the inevitable 1000th pokemon to commemorate it?

Hmm.  I suppose it feels as if there should be something special about #1000, doesn’t there?  You know, one thing you could do would be to have a contest to let a fan design a Pokémon – obviously with some tidying up by Game Freak’s design team in between the winning entry and the finished game.  I think if I were in that position I might restrict the contest to residents of Japan, just to keep the scale manageable and make it easier to get some back-and-forth between the winner and Game Freak over how the design would be interpreted for the final game (but you could have a bunch of other regional contests in the rest of East Asia, Europe, North America and so on for the #980, #990, #1010, etc. slots).  That, to me, would feel more special than any gimmick that could be added to the design of the Pokémon itself.

Jim the Editor asks:

I thought you were going to talk about something similar to what you said in the celesteela article…

…oh yeah

right, we were going to use that space question as an excuse to go off on that tangent about Ultra Space that I didn’t do in the Celesteela thing

bollocks

See, this is why I keep him around.

Right, let’s talk about that now. So the thing about Ultra Space that I think is a bit weird is that it’s… not altogether clear what it actually is.

Continue reading “Jim the Editor asks:”

The Philosophical Sheep asks:

Aside from our brief encounter with Deoxys just outside the planet’s atmosphere in ORAS, we’ve never been to outer space in a Pokemon game. This feels strange, especially now that there have been multiple games where we spend long periods of time in alternate dimensions–space feels like a much more natural area for a Pokemon game to explore in comparison. Why do you think Pokemon hasn’t yet really explored outer space in a game?

I suspect there’s often not a good answer to questions of the form “why didn’t Pokémon/Game Freak/Nintendo do this?”  A lot of the time, the truth is that the answer is just “because they did something different instead, and one choice isn’t obviously better than the other.”  There’s not necessarily a logical progression that says you have to have outer space before… whatever Ultra Space is.  But I think if we want a real answer… well, what would be the consequence of going into outer space, rather than using Ultra Space as a proxy to let us explore the universe?  For one thing, we would in principle be able to touch back down anywhere on our home planet; there’s not really any good reason we’d have to return to the region we left from (things like Ultra Wormholes provide at least a handwavey justification for always coming back to the same part of the world you left). But I think a deeper consequence is that we see the solar system.  And Game Freak is a bit weird about whether or not the Pokémon world is supposed to be Earth.  After generation I, there are very few references to real places on Earth, but all the regions we’ve visited in the core series are based on real places, and the world has a single white moon that looks the same size as its sun (only I think Pokémon might believe that the moon is an independent source of light, since moonlight and sunlight are distinct sources of magical power with different effects).  If we leave the planet… well, do we see Mars? Other iconic planets of the real solar system, like Saturn?  Are there Pokémon on Mars?  If we can visit the moon, does that force definitive answers on things that have previously been deliberately left as the subject of rumour and conspiracy theories, like the origins of the Clefairy? Do we have to answer questions about how moonlight and Pokémon with moon-related powers work?  What about the gas giants?  How would they even support Pokémon?  Is Pluto a planet?  Can the games show us Earth from space without having a clearly defined world map?  Will the answers to some of these questions accidentally confirm that the Pokémon world is definitely not Earth?  Granted, Ultra Space and the Distortion World raise lots of questions too, but I think for the most part they’re questions that are relatively easier to ignore.  I don’t think you can let players travel the solar system without being forced to immediately take a stance on a number of things that Game Freak would probably rather leave ambiguous.

jeffthelinguist asks:

I am the true Jeff, not that impostah. By the way, you can’t prove I am him also indeed….you could ask him and he’d say no, but how do you know he’s not messing with you and he and I aren’t one and the same.

But for reals though, here’s a legit question:. Do you think Ultra sun/moon was a proper goodbye to all the handheld games? (If we don’t count the switch as a handheld game)

Listen, I’m not here to adjudicate who gets to be Jeff.  If there are multiple Jeffs-claimant, you should settle it like adults: in a secret death battle in a remote swamp, fought while under the influence of potent psychedelics, with no witnesses, no safeguards and no remorse.  To be clear, I have no interest whatsoever in knowing the course or outcome of this challenge.

Anyway.

Don’t we count the Switch as a handheld?  I mean… I know it’s not just a handheld, but it is designed to be usable as one.  I’m not sure what would constitute a proper goodbye, or really even what there is to say goodbye to.  I didn’t expect anything in particular from Emerald as a farewell to the Gameboy Advance.  Conversely, expecting something special from the last game on a particular console kinda seems like it’s letting all the other games off the hook.

Dosidicus Giygas asks:

So apparently “Galar” is a Scots-Gaelic word that means disease. I wonder if Game Freak knows this?

Hmmm… whoops?

You know, I would love it if they did know this.  You could make it an early hint at a kind of hidden dystopian reality behind Galar’s very standard happy-go-lucky Pokéverse façade, where Poké-Scotland is being oppressed by the Poké-English bastards and they call the united region by a name that means “disease” to express their true feelings about it.  I’m just not sure Game Freak have it in them to be so delightfully subversive, though!  Jim the Editor says “Galar” reminds him of galahs, which are a sort of very noisy pink and grey parrot they have in Australia, and that’s probably not what Galar refers to either, but at least you could conceivably make a Pokémon out of it.

Toucannon asks:

You’ve often complained about the unoriginality of bird pokemon, and you did a great job of suggesting ways to increase the relevance of the two most original ones of the bunch, those being Farfetch’d and Delibird. 

So, suppose you had the freedom to redesign all of the flying/normal pokemon in the game (Pidgeot, Fearow, Noctowl, Swellow, Braviary, Unfeazant, Staraptor, Chatot) and possibly Svanna, Mandibuzz, Honchkrow and Dodrio (although the latter seems original enough to me, and the others have the benefit of their typing to make them stand out enough that they at least don’t look like mere copy-pasted concepts), how would you do it?

You’re free to do anything – suggest altered looks, change the stat-lineup and/or typing, create new moves or abilities, modify the amount of evolutionary stages – other than removing them; each species ought to remain as something that exists in the game.

And I know I’m leaving a handful of birds out (the legendary trio, Pelipper, Talonflame, Hawlucha, Dartrix), but I feel those are original enough, and/or sufficiently competitive, as not to need any redesign.

Really looking forward to how you’d do that – your series on “upgrading the worst 10 pokemon in the game” was a really interesting read.

Hmm.

So… cut me some slack here; I can’t do all of these, because… well that’s twelve Pokémon to review and redesign, and think of the precedent it sets if I signal that I’m willing to throw together a project like that every damn week. Game Freak has a whole team of people who design 60-odd Pokémon every two years, and I’m one disgruntled archaeologist with a termite-infested soapbox and no artistic skills.  So what we are going to try to do here is make it very clear that I don’t want to make a habit of this, and then address the question by prioritising: get some kind of ranking system in place to isolate the worst of the suck.  Who most needs a buff or redesign?

Continue reading “Toucannon asks:”