Z-nogyroP asks:

i feel like you’ve almost certainly answered this question before, but how do you think abilities work? some abilities seem more like physical features (tough claws, thick fat, compound eyes) whereas others are a lot more abstract (pixilate, mold breaker, cloud nine). wouldn’t a tinted lens butterfree’s eyes be just as compound as one with the compound eyes ability? what makes a gluttony snorlax have less fat than one with thick fat?

I’ve tried to answer this one before; let’s see… here.

It’s a bastard of a question, to be quite honest with you.

My natural inclination is to say that abilities have nothing in common and they all work in different ways because… why would they?  As you rightly note, “abilities” covers a very wide range of traits and skills.  There’s no reason to expect that the rules governing a Butterfree’s vision would be anything like the rules governing Snorlax’s rolls of fat.  Continue reading “Z-nogyroP asks:”

Katiecat asks:

I was reading your eeveelutions reviews. You mention the whole “adaptations” thing isn’t really done that well, since most of them don’t really match their environments all that well.
Theoretically, how would you design an octet of eeveelutions to go with different environments from scratch? I have my own but I wanna hear what you’d do first.
The other thing you mention is that they go for many different aesthetics, such as cute (flareon/sylveon), cool (jolteon), beautiful (vaporeon/glaceon), and mysterious, but kind of leave off a brutish aesthetic. I would also add they leave off the under-appreciated weird aesthetic- the dunsparces and exeggcutes of the world that end up in “top 20 worst pokemon” lists but a small number of us keep close to our hearts.

What catastrophically awful person puts Dunsparce on a Top 20 Worst Anything list?

So, some of the eeveelutions I actually am totally fine with; I’d just associate them with different environments to their canonical ones. For instance, although the core games don’t say much about Flareon’s habitat, spinoffs tend to put her in volcanic or lava areas with all the other Fire Pokémon, but if we’re thinking of eeveelutions in terms of being adaptations of Eevee to a specific type of environment, well, Flareon kinda looks to me like a cold-adapted form. Thick fluffy fur is useful in a cold place, and fire powers are useful if most of the other local Pokémon are Ice-types. Alternatively, and this is what I said when I discussed Flareon for my eeveelutions series years ago, I could buy that Flareon belongs in a temperate grassland habitat, using her fire abilities to scorch areas of dry vegetation and drive out prey. Whether Pokémon in general are actually suited to the kinds of biomes the games tend to put them in… is kind of a big and complicated question and not worth getting into at the moment, but I think if you’re going to do it, Eevee is the place to start, because her lore draws attention to the concept of adaptation and (arguably) to the problems with the way Pokémon portrays adaptation.

Which is my long-winded way of saying “this is too damn complicated to get right with a short post that I wrote in like an hour,” but fµ¢& it, let’s give it a whirl Continue reading “Katiecat asks:”

[A Foursome with Chris Pratt, Grant Gustin and That Garbodor Evolution] asks:

I know this is pretty broad and vague, so no pressure to answer it super deeply and completely, but I’ve found it to be a pretty fun thing to think about and I’m curious to know what you would say to it.
Which specific set of Pokémon games do you think had the most missed opportunities, or could be some of the best games in the series but fell short? (That can be in terms of the story, the gameplay or anything else you think you’d want to be changed about them.)
And if you were put in charge, not of making a NEW set of games or changing the series as a whole but just of fixing up that one set of games, what would you want to do to it to take advantage of that potential?
(By “set,” I just mean a pair like Black 2/White 2 or a single game like Platinum, not a whole Generation or every game taking place in one region, haha.)

That is one confusingly recursive name you’ve given yourself there.

So… I feel like in almost all of them there’s something I would change.  Heck, in almost all of them there’s probably something the designers would change if they could; no one ever gets to put everything they want into their game because time and budget constraints exist, even for a franchise as successful as Pokémon.  And I have a really peculiar love/hate relationship with Black and White specifically, because those are the games that started me writing this blog, and I think they are in some ways the best games in the series but in other ways deeply “meh.”  I guess a lot of my old “If I Were In Charge” article series is kiiiiiind of a response to this question with reference to Black and White, but also not at all.  Assorted thoughts on why Black and White are interesting here, here, here, here, here and here, and although I don’t 100% stand by a lot of it anymore you can also pick up something of what annoyed me about Black and White from my assorted reviews of 5th generation Pokémon from 2011.

All that being the case, let’s talk a bit about a completely different set of games instead. Continue reading “[A Foursome with Chris Pratt, Grant Gustin and That Garbodor Evolution] asks:”

Ty asks:

How would you rate changing Cacturne’s Sand Veil into Sand Rush? Too much? Not enough? Just right?

It would certainly help, because Cacturne is powerful but slow, and heavily reliant on Sucker Punch. It’s exactly the type of Pokémon who would benefit from an ability like Sand Rush, although how much is “enough” is pretty subjective. My concern here isn’t that Sand Rush would be too strong on Cacturne, but rather that it doesn’t really fit. Cacturne is a stalker, a Pokémon who follows prey across the desert, unseen and out of range, until that prey collapses from exhaustion. Tricky moves like Sucker Punch that catch the target off-guard are a good fit; Sand Veil, a silly ability though it admittedly is, is a good fit; low speed and high power are a good fit; a conventional weather-based sweeper mentality isn’t, really. I think maybe some kind of Grass-type situational first strike move, analogous to Sucker Punch, would be interesting – maybe something that has speed priority against a target with less than 50% of its health, but fails against healthy Pokémon the way Sucker Punch fails against status moves?  You could even rework Needle Arm into this; the only other Pokémon that get it are Maractus and Chesnaught, and although Chesnaught is arguably decent already neither of them is in danger of breaking the game. That probably falls under “not enough,” but I like it better as an expression of what Cacturne is about.

Joe Cool asks:

Have you had the chance to take a look at the recently leaked Space World ’97 demo of Pokemon Gold and Silver? I would love to hear what you think about each of the scrapped and heavily altered Pokemon designs. If you haven’t seen them yet, you can find them here: https://tcrf.net/Proto:Pok%C3%A9mon_Gold_and_Silver

Wellll, I saw it, and I kinda went back and forth on whether to say anything about it, and eventually just sort of waffled until it felt like the moment had passed, but here we are, so…

The synopsis for people who haven’t seen any of this yet is as follows: The Cutting Room Floor, a community that studies material from video game development that was cut from commercial release, recently got hold of a very early beta version of Gold and Silver.  This version of the game was available to play at Nintendo’s Space World trade show in November 1997 – almost exactly two years before the games were actually released in Japan.  Only a tiny part of the game was actually accessible in the demo without debug commands, but all the Pokémon and maps of most of the region (though nothing that tells us much about the story) are in the code if you know where to look, and the effects of those two years of development are pretty evident.  It features a region apparently based on the whole of Japan (with Kanto being reduced to a single city – Pallet Town is intact, Pokémon Tower stands in the northeast, and we have the most important buildings from Saffron City and Celadon City, but the rest is almost unrecognisable; the Kanto Gym sits in the location roughly corresponding to the Indigo Plateau), Gold and Silver’s day/night mechanics and Pokégear with radio and cell phone functions, as well as 100 Pokémon that were not in generation I.  Not all of these are the same as the 100 Pokémon that we actually got in the final commercial release of generation II.  Some were already known from concept art that has leaked over the years, such as the scrapped Fire and Water starter Pokémon, or the early version of Girafarig’s design, but several are completely new to us.  Continue reading “Joe Cool asks:”

ShadJV asks:

Two follow up questions (unrelated to each other):

1) How do Pokemon without arms “hold” items”? I realize it would vary (and I’m not asking you to explain ALL of them) but just… like how do you give voltorb a quick claw? And even ones with arms, how do they battle without being severely handicapped from having to hold a berry without crushing or dropping it in a huge fight?

2) How does Pay Day work then? I’ve still never understood where the coins come from.

1) We do see quite a few Pokémon in the anime holding one particular type of item: Mega Stones.  The stones are usually set in wearable accessories – even for Pokémon with dextrous hands, like Lucario and Gardevoir, so as not to interfere with battle techniques.  You could probably generalise that to most other items, and create custom fittings to suit the anatomy of almost any Pokémon (Voltorb is admittedly a difficult one, but I’m willing to trust that some Poké-world artisan has figured it out).  I suspect trainers may be able to buy an assortment of these from specialty tailors and jewellers. Continue reading “ShadJV asks:”

Might be Squidward Tentacles asks:

I am the culmination of your dreams…and nightmares…

Some of these villains were over the top, some were pretty within realistic “levels of insanity” like Giovanni (Pokémon mafia) and Ghetsis (manipulating with a front) . I seek your creativity! How would YOU, the great Chhrrrriiiiis, make a villain team?

Culmination of… dreams and nightmares…?

But… putting aside the sheer improbability of a threesome with Chris Pratt and Grant Gustin, why in the name of all that is holy would Game Freak choose that as their design for an evolved form of Garbodor?

…uh… anyway…

Pokémon likes villains who believe on some level that what they’re doing is justifiable, even necessary.  Which makes sense, because that’s what villains are like in the real world – only a rare few psychopaths are conscious of being evil; most evil people think they’re doing what they have to, because it’s their job or because it will protect their family or because it will help their country or any number of other excuses.  It takes real training and effort to recognise that something you’ve done is evil, because you think of yourself as a good person, and good people “by definition” don’t do evil things.  Continue reading “Might be Squidward Tentacles asks:”