AceTrainerAlvaro asks:

IV-training and competitive battling aside, sometimes I feel training your Pokémon in battle is too straight-forward and controlled. I’d like to see a mechanic where even a wild-caught Pokémon occasionally disobeys its trainer’s command (maybe it “slacks off” or uses a different move altogether) or feels overwhelmed / flinches and returns to its Pokéball for an ally to replace it. And this becomes less likely the more trust (higher friendship value) a given Pokémon has towards its trainer until it fades away once High Friendship (value 200) is achieved. Keep in mind each Pokémon species is assigned a base friendship level when caught so disobedience could be more pronounced for certain species (which naturally feature a lower baseline friendship value when caught) than others. I’d especially like to see this play out in pseudo-legendary lines, legendary/mythical Pokémon, and maybe special versions of certain species – regardless of how many badges you have (obedience according to your number of collected badges could remain a separate mechanic specific to traded Pokémon).

Thoughts?

So, I think this changes the “vibe,” if you will, considerably.  I suspect if you just implement mechanics like this in the core Pokémon games as they currently exist, and don’t also add some kind of additional systems for developing your relationship with your Pokémon that come with associated benefits, players would unreservedly hate it.  It’s a whole extra mechanic standing between us and what we already understand to be “normal” battling, which makes the game much harder – but in a random and frustrating way, not in a way you can be strategic about.  I appreciate the goal here, making your friendships with your Pokémon something you really have to work at, but there’s got to be more to it, carrots and not just sticks, and ways of working around the disadvantages.

Having said all that, if you wanted to rebuild Pokémon to be a much more punishing and painful game all around – something in the spirit of the Nuzlocke challenge, for instance – this mechanic might be an interesting addition as it stands; something that will, from time to time, just randomly cause you to lose a Pokémon and force you to adapt to that loss. Throw in Nuzlocke staples like permanent death and limited, randomised Pokémon choice; reduce access to Pokémon Centres and sharply limit healing items (maybe lock high-quality healing behind some kind of crafting system); add some permanent debilitating conditions (so, like, less experienced Pokémon might disobey you, but more experienced Pokémon might also have picked up scars or developed phobias that give them specific weak points); remove some of the quality-of-life stuff from the last few generations like easy EV training methods… maybe then we’ve got a game on our hands. Either way, it’s got to be part of a package of mechanics with a definite theme and feel, is the point.

X asks:

Recently, the new episode of Twilight Wings focused on Hop and his bond between Wooloo. This made me think, how do kids under 10 have pokemon? Bonnie has Dedenne, Hop has Wooloo, and I’m pretty sure there are others. Would there be any law about this? Also, how do you think it will work if the kid won’t become a trainer?

Well, the anime has said you become a trainer when you turn 10, but the games have also had trainers who are pretty clearly younger than the player (who in Red and Blue we usually assume to be about 10) from the beginning.  There also seem to be people who have Pokémon companions but aren’t trainers (like, think even of Professor Oak’s opening monologue in the very first games; trainers are just one of several groups of people who live alongside Pokémon); you could probably weasel your way around a lot of rules if, say, your family has a Pokémon pet that technically “belongs” to your parents, but likes you enough to fight for you and take commands.  I think the situation is much more flexible than, like, getting a formal license on your 10th birthday, without which you are at risk of having a Pokémon confiscated, or regulations to that effect.  I also doubt all regions have the same rules.  There might only be age limits for the gym challenge, or for leaving on a journey with your Pokémon; some kids might have known their partners for years before “officially” becoming trainers.

(Besides, I don’t think we know Hop’s age? He might not be 10 at the beginning of the story of Sword and Shield; he clearly hasn’t finished growing but I could believe he’s, like, 13 or 14?)

KalosianPorygon asks:

What is your ranking of Poison-type Pokémon from less to most deadly?

I’m assuming you mean specifically in terms of how poisonous/venomous they are, what kind of LD50 we might be looking at for the various sorts of awful $#!t they throw around; that sort of thing.  Well, there are at present 69 (…nice) Poison Pokémon, so I hope you’ll not mind if I just go for a quick top 5… We can probably eliminate unevolved Pokémon right off the bat; that narrows it down to 32 (give or take).  What, then, can we use as measures of lethality?

Continue reading “KalosianPorygon asks:”

KalosianPorygon asks:

Is there a character you think was wasted? A character you think has potential to be fascinating, but ended up to be underused and forgettable?

Hmm.

I think I have to go with Archer, the leader of Team Rocket in Heart Gold and Soul Silver.  The remakes make an effort to create these four characters – Proton, Petrel, Ariana, Archer – out of the faceless Team Rocket Executives from Gold and Silver, but they don’t… do a whole lot with them.  Honestly I wouldn’t even have expected them to, and I’m basically satisfied with the handling of Proton, Ariana and Petrel, just putting names and unique designs on characters who were formerly indistinguishable.  Once you’ve done that, though… it just sticks out that the leader of the organisation, the mastermind of the entire plan to take over Johto, has literally one scene in which he speaks nine lines of dialogue and says pretty much nothing that we haven’t already heard from his subordinates.  Why were we scared of this guy?  What was his motivation in trying to recall Giovanni, rather than just running Team Rocket himself?  What does he actually want – money, power, a golden Magikarp?  He’s just not as interesting as either Giovanni in the previous games, or Cyrus in the contemporary Diamond and Pearl.  Even after his appearances in Let’s Go I have trouble giving two $#!ts about him.  It’s a shame, because Team Rocket in Gold and Silver seem to have a kind of cult of personality around Giovanni, which is really interesting, and Archer is the “cult leader,” as it were, but he never gives us any inkling of why.

What is a Dag? asks:

What things/animals would like to see as inspiration for Pokemon in future installments?

Well, here’s a bunch of ideas on this theme that I’ve spat out over the years:

https://pokemaniacal.com/2019/07/12/james-crooks-patreon-cultist-asks/#more-5917
https://pokemaniacal.com/2019/06/09/jeffthelinguist-asks-8/#more-5744
https://pokemaniacal.com/2019/05/13/not-me-asks-2/
https://pokemaniacal.com/2019/02/15/mr-f-asks/
https://pokemaniacal.com/2018/05/15/anonymous-asks-5/
https://pokemaniacal.com/2017/12/31/if-you-had-to-make-a-generic-normal-type-rodent/
https://pokemaniacal.com/2015/06/20/what-would-be-your-ideal-worm-cocoon-some-kind/
https://pokemaniacal.com/2014/03/09/i-see-you-liked-my-pitohui-pokemon-thanks-which/
https://pokemaniacal.com/2012/11/12/if-the-creature-design-department-at-pokemon/

But you asked, so I suppose I should come up with a couple of other things that could be used as starting points…

  • Horned lizards can squirt blood from their eyes, which… well, I dunno if that does you any actual good but it’s pretty metal.
  • Climbing perch are fish that can walk and supposedly even climb trees, and by god, there has to be something you can do with that.
  • Naked mole rats are blind, cold-blooded, hairless rodents that live like ants, in massive hives with queens, and are mysteriously immune to both pain and cancer; and frankly that might, if anything, be too weird to make a Pokémon out of.
  • Therizinosaurus is a massive, terrifying dinosaur with vicious scythe claws, a close-ish cousin of “raptors” like Dromaeosaurus and Deinonychus, that apparently decided at some point in its evolution “fµ¢£ this super-predator shit; I’m going veggie.”

Any of those would be fun, I reckon.

jeffthelinguist asks:

So we got our latest “Pokémon made up of separate entities” (Falinks) and I was thinking… how do these exist as a single Pokémon? What happens if you… separate them entirely? What if you divide an Exeggcute into two sets of egg-seeds and keep them apart? Could they still evolve? Can one or two members of a Falinks survive on their own? What would we call them? I never could wrap my head around the idea of multiple creatures making up a single Pokémon, especially when they don’t evolve from a single unit (like Dugtrio or Magneton)…

There’s gotta be an anime episode that covers this.

…huh.  I don’t think there is?  Or at least I can’t find one.

Well, we know Exeggcute at least must be able to survive on their own, because we’re told that a new one forms from an Exeggutor dropping an extra head… but six is clearly the optimal number for them to be healthy.  I suppose in nature Exeggutor live in groups, so that there are always plenty of spare Exeggcute lying around to form clusters of six.  When they’re with trainers… well, when they’re with trainers they lay eggs that hatch into six more eggs, so that doesn’t really help us much (maybe this is one of the examples we should think of when looking at that one random X and Y NPC who claims that Pokémon eggs “aren’t really eggs” but “more like a Pokémon cradle” – in nature they actually don’t lay eggs but have other, weirder forms of reproduction).  Honestly I think an Exeggcute that loses one of its heads and can’t get it back may just be permanently impaired, and if it gets down to less than three it could well be impossible for it to evolve.  On that point, though, what I want to know is, if Exeggcute form clusters of six and Exeggutor normally have three heads, what happens to the other three?  Maybe the three heads don’t each correspond to one of the six Exeggcute heads at all, and their consciousnesses all sort of blend together during evolution (after all, they’re Psychic-types and make decisions collectively via telepathy anyway).  Now, Falinks… the whole point of Falinks is that it’s supposed to reference ancient Greek and Roman infantry tactics, fighting styles where teamwork and cohesion are the units’ main strength (and we can debate ad nauseam exactly how hoplites and legionaries actually fought and whether Falinks is a good representation of either, but… dear gods, please not now), so I kinda think it would be thematically appropriate if a lone Falinks without its comrades just couldn’t survive – couldn’t fight predators, couldn’t find food, just generally couldn’t function.  Maybe different numbers are viable, maybe you can have a five-member Falinks or a seven-member one, but they haven’t evolved to live independently.  As a trainer you might be able to separate them and support them individually, but I suspect it would be psychologically damaging and frankly kind of abusive.

The Dag asks:

What are your opinions on Pokemon Reborn, and whether fanmade games could possibly find elements of themselves incorporated into future canon games?

I don’t think I have an opinion on Pokémon Reborn; I don’t know anything about it.  The second part of this question… I think might have some legal or at least moral hazard to it?  Like, if someone creating a Pokémon fan game creates a cool new mechanic, and that mechanic is later incorporated into a commercial game and the original designer is not compensated in any way… well, I don’t think that would be illegal because (as I understand it) you can’t copyright a game mechanic and it would be extremely difficult to prove that Game Freak didn’t come up with the same idea independently (unless they straight up jacked the fan game’s code, which… well, why?), but it certainly seems sleazy to me?  And, indeed, arguably more so than doing the same with a mechanic from a game that had its own profitable release and was designed by a paid developer.  I don’t know; if I worked for Game Freak I think I might avoid even looking at fan games just so I didn’t need to have that debate with myself.