AceTrainerAlvaro asks:

Pokedex entries are psuedo-scientific at best but locomotion is a sorely abused biological concept in a lot of Pokémon designs. Other than Garchomp flying around at “jet plane” speeds*, what are some the most egregious examples in your opinion? For me, the two other worst offenders are A) Escavalier, which somehow “fl[ies] around at high speed” – I like to pretend it actually hovers on rapidly flapping insect wings, too fast for human eyes to see – and B) the Diving Pokémon Lugia – I cannot explain how a benthic organism can use those same large flippers to break the surface and move its body through the air using anything other than “psychic force propulsion”.

*in my mind, Garchomp has a modified swim bladder that has evolved allowing it to float in the lighter-than-water fluid that is air, but I still can’t imagine how Garchomp achieves lift to propel itself through the air.

Escavalier always really bothered me too, just because of how slow the damn thing actually is in the game; you see the same kind of thing with Donphan, Vikavolt, probably some others (EDIT: however, see here on what “speed” and other stats actually mean).  Honestly, I don’t even care that it doesn’t have wings, because I can totally imagine it just, like, levitating on magnetism or something – although of course the bastard thing doesn’t learn Magnet Rise either.  Speaking of Magnet Rise, though, Jim the Editor found a fantastic one, which is that Electrode can apparently become so bloated with electricity that it floats and drifts along on the wind.

All that said, though, off the top of my head I can’t think of anything that tops Garchomp being able to fly – and I will note here that it can’t actually learn Fly, which would have been a very easy move to give it in a practical sense, and not a serious game balance threat.  That’s actually what bugs me here, the lack of consistency, that Garchomp in the game doesn’t do anything that makes it seem like it should be able to fly.  ‘cause, like… the physics of flight clearly don’t work for a whole lot of Pokémon; I don’t really believe Charizard could fly with wings that size, and Dragonite sure as hell couldn’t.  But Charizard’s clearly a traditional European dragon, and they’re supposed to fly whether the physics works or not, and Dragonite’s all mystical and sacred and stuff.  Likewise, I’m not bothered by just about anything Lugia does because Lugia clearly is extremely magic.  There’s realism, and there’s verisimilitude, y’know?

N asks:

What would a pokémon based in New Zealand be like?

Well, New Zealand has a lot of unique native birds, and I’d love to see Pokémon based on some of them.  Kiwi are the obvious choice, because they’re adorable and weird and iconic, but I think you could also do something fun with kea (mountain parrots that dismantle people’s cars for fun), moa (extinct giant emu-things), kākāpō (flightless nocturnal parrots with a booming mating call that can be heard several kilometres away) or pūkeko (wading swamp birds with beautiful blue and black plumage and red beaks that adapt easily to living near humans).  We’d need something for pāua, which are a kind of abalone with an iridescent shell that’s used a lot in Māori art.  I’d love a regional form of Shelmet with rainbow armour, that kept its armour instead of losing it to Karrablast and evolved into a warrior with a taiaha or mere.  There should probably be some kind of bat Pokémon, because bats are New Zealand’s only native mammals, but I don’t know exactly what to do with it beyond that.  And we’d need a giant wētā – they’re these huge bugs, like spiky crickets the size of your hand (if you choose to search for images of them, don’t be scared; they look terrifying but they’re completely harmless).  You maybe don’t even need to do much with that one; just make it a huge, tanky pure Bug-type.

Jim the Editor had this idea that I absolutely love, which was to have a Solrock regional form based on the legend of Maui slowing down the sun (aside: I love that the existence of the movie Moana means we can talk about Maui and Americans will more or less know who that is), possibly also building in some kind of reference to the ozone hole, which has always been a particularly acute problem for New Zealand.  Maybe they normally live in the sky but have been driven closer to the ground by air pollution and are terrorising land Pokémon.  I think there’s a lot of cool possibilities.

At the risk of sounding like a wet blanket, though, I do want to repeat some stuff I’ve said before about designing Pokémon regions, namely that I would not be super comfortable about Game Freak doing this stuff without hiring some Māori artists and designers as consultants.  I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to take material from indigenous cultures to inspire new media, but money from that commodification should flow back to those communities and they should have a voice in how it’s done.  It would be… really personally unpleasant for me if this were something I had to get mad at Pokémon about.

hugh_donnetono asks:

Where do you see yourself in seven years?

I guess that depends in large part on whether I can evade Doom for that long.  Like, in theory it would be nice to be ruling the world as a deranged sorcerer-king by then, but frankly I’ve offended a lot of deities and unleashed several ancient sealed evils, and that $#!t catches up to you.  Obviously I want to finish my PhD, probably sooner rather than later, but I’m not sure I want an academic career anymore.  It’s unlikely I’d get a university position in New Zealand or Australia within my first few years on the academic job market, and I don’t want to keep working in America any longer than I really have to; it’s also really difficult to return to an academic career after a few years working in another field.  This, of course, assumes there will be an America to go back to so I can finish my degree, so I’m gonna need all my readers there to step up and do everything you can to stop the country collapsing into totalitarianism or civil war.

For goodness’ sake, I wanted to be a novelist.  You don’t really get paid up front for that sort of thing, though, so you sort of need to support yourself with a “real” job, like some sort of peasant.  So it would sort of be nice if I could convince more people to pay me for my writing here… but that’s a long enough shot that saying it’s where I “see myself in seven years” seems grandiose at best.  For now I’ll settle for finding a job, and if the world ends I can always rule its ashes from a throne of jagged glass.

[my miltanks bring several existential thoughts to the yard and they’re like, “moooooooo”] asks:

it’s pride month and we’re all stuck inside so i was wondering which place in the pokémon world would throw the baller-est pride parade?

yeah this is how long my question queue typically is these days; don’t ask me anything that’s specific to the time you’re asking it unless you’re okay with a margin of error of, like, a month

But yeah, um… I dunno, what’s the campiest city in the Pokémon world?  Saffron City and Goldenrod City are way too straight and business-y, likewise Wyndon in Galar; Ecruteak City’s probably too conservative; you’d want to get out to, like… Celadon or Olivine.  Mauville City’s glitzy and glamorous; Slateport and Lilycove have robust Pokémon Contest traditions, and you just know all the top competitors in those are queens; same goes for Hearthome City in Sinnoh (also… Fantina).  Sootopolis City and Castelia City have the campiest gym leaders – I mean… you could almost decide this with a lip-sync battle between Burgh and Wallace.  Spikemuth is probably a strong dark horse contender, ‘cause they know what it’s like to be oppressed and even the straights would be allies (less so Po Town in Alola, ‘cause Team Skull are still kinda working through their toxic masculinity baggage; Marnie wouldn’t put up with that $#!t).  Lumiose City has the highest concentration of coffee shops in the known universe, which is a very important resource, as well as the best clothes, makeup, etc.  Hau‘oli City is probably a good bet for similar reasons; it’s modern, it’s trendy, also their Captain is Ilima and just look at him; if that boy’s completely straight then I’m a shiny Wobbuffet.  The biggest regular pride parade in the real world is the São Paulo one, but there’s no Brazilian Pokémon region (yet?) and New York is also really big because of Stonewall, which is a point in favour of Castelia City.

Listen, I think there’s a lot of strong contenders here and honestly I don’t feel confident making a call.  We can turn this over to discussion in the comments; I just think the most important thing is for us not to lose sight of the fact that all the major characters in Pokémon are some flavour of queer, except for a few of the villains and, like, maybe Brock.  I don’t make the rules; I just enforce them.

Ace Trainer Fox asks:

How would you feel if game freak made a region based on Mexico or Spain, it has many of the same points as India for a candidate, a rich cultural history, interesting landscapes, heck, you could even have some really cool regional forms, like a water grass type maractus based on cacti that store water, or a chatot evolution based on a macaw, or even a fairy type happy phantump & trevenant based around a pokemon themed festival similar to the day of the dead. Sorry, I went off on a but of a tangeant there, but something like that would be rather interesting, just some food for thought.

Yeah!

Uh

I don’t know; I feel like I should have something to add to this but… um… well, yeah, there’s all kinds of cool things you could do with a Mexican region.  I’m a history and archaeology guy so obviously the first thing that occurs to me is that it would be cool to have some Aztec-, Toltec- and Olmec-inspired stuff; maybe a Nosepass regional form (or a totally new Pokémon) using the Olmec heads from La Venta, or an Aztec “jaguar warrior” Pokémon, or a legendary “feathered serpent” (or even just a resplendent quetzal Pokémon).  Modern Mexico would have a lot of cool natural and cultural inspirations for Pokémon too.

Ace Trainer Fox asks:

If you had to make a pokemon team for each of the original digidestined: Tai, Matt, T.K., Izzy, Mimi, Joe, Sora, and Koiri(using the dub names here, also can’t spell Koiri’s, Kairi’s? name) what pokemon would you pick for each that shows off their individual personalities and abilities?

[This question actually landed in my inbox before I started that series doing this same thing for Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I just have a huge queue of questions and this particular one took a while to answer; it’s a total coincidence that it’s kind of on-theme.]

Hmmmm… let me see… we’ve got to get Pokémon that at least vaguely resemble their Digimon partners and their powers, and we’ve also got to get Pokémon that can stand for the virtues of their Crests, as well as for notable traits of their personalities.

Tai:

I think Tai mainly uses Fire-types like Agumon and Greymon; obviously he needs a Charizard, and I think Arcanine is a good match for his Crest of Courage.  He has a somewhat reckless and impulsive nature, so I think we should add something like Primeape.  I feel like we should include something for SkullGreymon – Houndoom, maybe?  Tai and Sora play soccer together and I think they both have Cinderace that they got at the same time.  Nidoking kinda straddles his transition from risk-taking idiot to actual leader, and is another dinosaur-like Pokémon.

Continue reading “Ace Trainer Fox asks:”

Ty asks:

So there’s a Pokemon fan game that I’ve been enjoying for quite a while now called Pokemon Rejuvenation, and while they stay pretty true to the original Pokemon games, they also have added new things on top of the old system like more complex field effects, Gym Leaders with exclusive, signature moves, and a hard level cap where your Pokemon stop getting EXP at a certain point until you get your next badge.

One of these things I’d love to hear your opinion on, which is Pokemon Crests. Crests are inspired by items like Marowak’s Thick Club and Farfetch’d’s Stick. Pokemon Crests can be held by specific Pokemon to give them advantages to help make weaker Pokemon stronger. Here are some examples that were added: [cutting this for space and moving it to the end]

There are several more Crests, but you get the picture. What are your thoughts on this concept, how you like it in comparison to other ways of strengthening weaker Pokemon that we’ve seen, and how reasonable do you think this solution is?

Continue reading “Ty asks:”

House Hightower of the Hightower asks:

Now that we’ve had the Fairy type for a while, how well do you think they achieved their conceptual goals, which ostensibly were to both nerf Dragon Pokemon and re-assert the offensive relevance of Poison and Steel types?

Pretty well, I guess?  A lot of Dragon-types are still really good, but they’re largely carried by their extremely high base stats now; the game is noticeably much less about throwing Draco Meteors and Outrages while blocking with Steel-types than it was in generations IV and V.  You can’t really make a competitive team with, like, four or five Pokémon from one of those two types and expect it to work, which… you arguably could, for a while?  You still probably wouldn’t stick a Poison attack on a non-Poison Pokémon unless you were really strapped for better options, but I guess I feel less bad about using Poison-types in offensive roles now.  Steel as an attack type often still feels redundant with other attacks that a lot of the same Pokémon tend to learn (and when do you need a type advantage against Ice, anyway?  They don’t resist anything; just hit ‘em with whatever), but Steel Pokémon are fine, obviously.

A Bucket of Water asks:

Why do you think Rotation Battles sorta just stopped being a thing?

Well… well, I want to just answer “because they were kinda dumb and gimmicky and probably not worth the effort,” but upon sober reflection that might be slightly unfair.  I don’t think alternate battle formats with different fundamental rules are in principle a bad idea; they mix up what can be a somewhat repetitive core gameplay experience, and depending on exactly what rules you change, they can be ways for otherwise useless Pokémon to get some time in the spotlight (there are quite a few that have never been good in singles, but shine in doubles because of their support skills).  I don’t know much about how rotation battles tend to play, though, because… well, because hardly anyone ever played them.  Even in generation V I don’t think there were ever many big tournaments that used rotation battles as the format, or a large competitive community.  And… well… even the games themselves sort of treat them as a gimmick.  There are so few rotation battles in the single player story that you never really get a feel for how they’re different from single or double battles, so it doesn’t feel important to learn how they work and there isn’t any case made for why anyone would want to play them.  They’re just… kind of superfluous, and to make them not superfluous they needed to have more support from the very beginning, not just be kept around for the sake of completeness.

I have also seen a suggestion that axing triple and rotation battles for Sun and Moon might have something to do with the graphical capabilities of the 3DS.  Triples and rotations in X and Y are… well, they have performance issues, put it that way, and Sun and Moon noticeably struggle to run at normal speed even with four Pokémon on screen in a double battle.  I don’t know that this was a factor in discontinuing them, but it kinda makes sense to me?  The Switch is more powerful and Sword and Shield don’t seem to have these problems, so mayyyyyyybe there’s an argument there for the return of triples and rotations in a future game?  Not sure.

Camarasaurus asks:

How would you change/better balance Ice type Pokemon, aside from making them resistant to water-type attacks?

Well… I think Ice should be bad defensively; I think that works as a type identity thing.  It doesn’t need to be as bad as it is, though.  Resistance to just one other common, strong attack type probably makes it about as good defensively as Psychic, which is a poor defensive type but not actually comical, and supports a decent variety of tank and support Pokémon.  Water… well, Water does seem like the most logical choice there; it’s not perfect, because one thing that Ice-type tanks need is a point of distinction from Water-type tanks (who both resist Ice attacks and can normally learn them).  Maybe there’s an argument there for resistance to Dragon (although at that point you probably need to give Dragon a buff somewhere else) or Ground, instead of Water.  I know you said aside from that, but I really don’t know that there needs to be much more, at least not in terms of adjustments to the type chart itself; Ice is also really strong offensively and I don’t want to risk overtuning it.  I like the more indirect buffs like the addition of new Hail synergies – Aurora Veil, Slush Rush, Ice Face – and I like the suggestion in the comments of this post that Ice-types should get a physical defence buff during hail, to parallel the special defence buff that Rock-types get during sandstorms.