Larry asks:

Hey, are you worried about regional variants making the OG mons get sidelined? Because while I love the new versions, both from a bio nerd standpoint and a creature design standpoint, I look at variants getting evolutions, OGs getting nothing, and get… concerned

What if the answer to “how to deal with pokémon who need buffs” simply becomes “replace them with clones?”

If I’ve merely missed Hoennian Obstagoon from avoiding SwSh spoilers, I’m sorry to bother, but I’m kinda scared. Thoughts?

So… I think there may actually be a reason for this, and it’s a dumb reason.  Game Freak think they’re not allowed to give new evolutions to old Pokémon unless it’s through regional variation, because it would create an inconsistency in how the Eviolite works.  If Hoennese Linoone could evolve, then it would be able to use an Eviolite, which it can’t in generation VII.  Therefore, we can never let it evolve.  Now, personally I think that whether or not to give new evolutions to old Pokémon is a top-level design choice with no inherently right or wrong answer, and I would actually be fine with never seeing it again (incremental moveset/ability buffs or even flat base stat buffs to older Pokémon are another matter, and I think we have every reason to imagine that those will continue; Jim the Editor would like to recommend a YouTube series on the subject that you can find here).  However, “we accidentally painted ourselves into a corner by introducing a weird item during a generation that consciously downplayed older Pokémon” is the dumbest possible reason I can imagine for making that choice.  I hope that’s not actually something that Game Freak’s designers have in mind – or, if it is, that they get over it – but it is kind of consistent with their actions.  New evolutions stop in generations V-VII, with the sole exception of Sylveon (who is allowed, because Eevee can already use an Eviolite), and reappear in VIII, but restricted to Pokémon that got Galarian variations, who can therefore be treated as a blank slate. Mega Evolution and Gigantamaxing, although they have other functions, can also be seen as a replacement of sorts for new evolutions (with the added bonus that you can give them to Pokémon who’ve already evolved twice, such as the obvious best Pokémon that is everyone’s favourite and may not be questioned, Charizard).  It also feels like the same kind of logic that dictates that old Pokémon who get new evolutions must always evolve in new, increasingly obscure ways that weren’t available in previous generations (can’t evolve Seadra in Red and Blue because Pokémon couldn’t hold items until generation II; can’t evolve Piloswine in Gold and Silver because it couldn’t learn Ancient Power until generation IV). On the other hand, they have also now stopped holding to some of those, because it’s just a huge pain when you can’t have Leafeon in the game unless you build an area with a Mossy Rock, and if some godawful pedant wants to ask “so why can’t I use a Leaf Stone on Eevee in Red and Blue?”… well, honestly, fµ¢£ ’em.

So I guess I would say yeah, be scared because the thing you’re describing is definitely happening and can only be stopped by Game Freak choosing to abandon an arbitrary nonsense rule that they’ve held for three generations now.  However, also don’t be scared because Pokémon don’t need to keep getting new evolutions to be valid, there are other ways of buffing them that the developers definitely know about and use, and anyway they’ll probably see the light eventually.

Ms. Guided asks:

What do you think of the original game concept of having to eventually battle the opposing Pokemon yourself should all of yours be defeated?

I think it might be…

mis-guided?

…okay, you have to let me have that one; you were asking for it.

So, I don’t think we actually know for sure that trainers were going to take part in combat.  That’s one interpretation of some of the old concept art for Red and Green and all the trainers from Generation I who use whips, but as far as I know no-one from Game Freak or Nintendo has told us “yeah, we were thinking of letting you fight them yourself.”  Regardless… I think if you include that, Pokémon has to be a fairly different game and world from what it ended up being.  Mechanically, the trainer is going to end up acting like a seventh Pokémon, but it’s one that you can’t change or do anything interesting with, which is weird and jarring in a game that’s otherwise about building a team from hundreds of choices.  So, in order for it to not be a drag, you have to build a whole bunch of new systems and options for trainer combat, or maybe systems where you can optimise your trainer for either direct combat or other things.  That sounds interesting, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve even had a bunch of ideas for different abilities that trainers might have (haven’t we all?), but it sounds like it would be a nightmare to balance, especially if you want trainer combat to be a last resort, and you probably need to devise a whole separate experience system.  And do you use any of this in battles against other trainers?   If not, then it’s going to be a minor enough part of the game that you might as well not bother (because how often do you expect players to lose their entire teams to wild Pokémon?), but if you do, then what on earth does that do to the concept of what a Pokémon battle is?  If you beat your opponent’s Pokémon after yours have already lost, do you fight your opponent hand-to-hand?  Even if you aren’t fighting other trainers one-on-one, the world clearly feels  a lot more dangerous this way; like, in the games we have, your Pokémon are knocked out and you run back to a Pokémon Centre with them, and wild Pokémon don’t pursue you at that point.  If you’re fighting a vastly more powerful opponent by yourself as a last-ditch effort, what does that imply about the stakes?  Like, I don’t know if the Pokédex quest was a thing at this point in development, but is Professor Oak sending you out into the wild to catch Pokémon, knowing full well that they will try to kill you?  Clearly this isn’t something you can just plug into Pokémon as it exists; you have to start from the beginning and I think there’s potential for the end result to turn out either better or worse.

Don't Call Me Bradley [Patreon cultist] asks:

Did you know there’s a Mimikyu in the anime that’s Shiny? It’s supposedly the ghost of Acerola’s first Mimikyu that is still lingering as a Ghost-Ghost.

What level of Bull$8!# are we assuming this is?

…I…

…uh…

…okay, y’know what, I haven’t seen the relevant episodes; I’ll be right back

Actually, hang on, I have seen one of these before; I watched Tough Guy Trials when I was researching my Necrozma article because it has some stuff about the legend of the Blinding One.  I guess it didn’t register with me that there was anything unusual about Mimikins (Acerola’s Mimikyu) because Acerola just says “Mimikins is a ghost!” and doesn’t explain or clarify any further, and I just assumed she meant it’s a Ghost-type.  Also… I’m honestly not sure it would be totally out of character for Acerola to just be bull$#!tting everyone because she likes spooky and creepy things.

(also I didn’t even notice it was shiny because Mimikyu’s shiny colouration is just, like… its cloth is kinda dull and it couldn’t find red crayons to colour in its Pikachu cheeks)

Continue reading “Don't Call Me Bradley [Patreon cultist] asks:”

The Dag asks:

What do you think is both the origins(s?) of ghost Pokemon and how they’re unified by a common theme; I. E. How some are explicitly defined as spirits of dead humans, while others are merely natural creatures with ghost-like powers, Vs possessed objects given life through other forces, and how it all ties into the Pokemon world.

Welllllllllll I think we have decent reason to believe that Pokémon’s creators imagine a sort of “spirit world” that exists apart from the material world, and that Ghost Pokémon are all in some way “touched” by that plane, but don’t necessarily all have the same relationship with it.   Maybe some of them are from there originally, while others were once normal creatures that have been altered by exposure to it, or have developed the ability to access it as a source of power (which might also be a thing humans can do in the Pokémon world, as channellers or mediums, or through whatever “ancient science” was used to create Golurk).  Beyond that… I don’t know, and I think that might be kind of the point?  Like, I think the actual real answer to this question might be “there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – that is, there are some things in the universe that just are mysterious, and you can’t logic them out or determine the answer experimentally.  That’s not because we’ve missed something or because the lore is poorly thought out; it’s actually the point, because it’s meant as a comment on the limits of scientific thinking (which… well, to be honest I don’t think Pokémon has a very well-formed idea of how science might work in a fantasy world, and the writers need to read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but this is neither the time nor place).  The spirit world doesn’t have consistent rules and different Pokémon relate to it in different ways, because if we could understand it, then that would defeat the purpose.  Moreover, many Ghost Pokémon have powers of illusion and a reputation for deception and trickery; they have the means and the desire to obfuscate the issue.

Mr. Rustworthy asks:

If you were a gym leader, what would your gym experience be like,?

So I have a really old thing somewhere, where someone asked me a question that was not this, but I answered this question instead by outlining a gym that specialised in nocturnal Pokémon where you had to find your way to the leader by reading glowing constellations painted on the floor.

Yeah, here it is:
https://pokemaniacal.com/2012/12/11/imagine-that-you-have-been-hired-to-become-a-gym/

Therefore, I will now continue the cycle by leaving that old answer there, then answering a slightly different question that someone else will ask me seven years from now, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

(look, if you’re going to follow this blog you’re going to have to accept that time and causality are not always super-firm in my presence; deal with it)

Continue reading “Mr. Rustworthy asks:”

The Dag asks:

If Milo asked “Pokemaniac Chris, why won’t you date me?!” what would you say?

is this like that weird trick question from Blade Runner with the tortoise in the desert, where you’re asked to explain why you wouldn’t do something that you would definitely do, and then if you give a rational answer instead of just getting angry it means you’re a robot

is that the particular farce in which we are presently engaged, The Dag?

‘cause if so, my real answer is because I plan to sacrifice him in a void ceremony to bring forth an ancient star-spawn that will grant me phenomenal cosmic power

but, I mean, obviously I wouldn’t tell him that so probably I’d actually say that “it’s not him, it’s me” (which is true in context) and I need to take time to “work on myself” (which is also true in context)

Toucannon asks:

You’ve often been asked abregout the type balance in the games, but I was wondering: if you’ve ever played the Pokemon TCG, do you think that the balance of the types shown there would be more akin to what a realistic balance between the types should be like? After all, each type tend to be competitive there while still retaining their uniqueness (even more so, in case like Grass or Electric), and it encourages mono-type lineups by making them easier to run, while multi-type are more versatile but harder to run.

Hmm.

So, I am on the record as thinking that seven or eight types is a better number than seventeen or eighteen, because it lets you develop each one a bit more in terms of identity and philosophy.  I don’t know if the TCG… actually does that, because it’s kind of shackled to the video games and the type system that exists there, but in principle you could do that.  Like, if you’re going to have only seven types in your base game then I don’t think two of those should be Fire and Lightning, because those each correspond with only a single video game type, one of which isn’t even very common.  But you kind of have to, because those types’ elemental powers give them very firm and narrow identities, and so you transfer them one-to-one into the TCG and wind up constricting them quite severely.  That’s why so many of the early Delta-Species Pokémon are Fire or Lightning; you needed Pokémon who could go in a mono-Fire deck but weren’t weak to Water, and previously there were almost none of those.  Meanwhile, no one knows what to do with Poison; those Pokémon used to be part of Grass, then for quite a long time they were in Psychic for some reason (because… purple?), now apparently they’re Dark?  Which kind of brings us full-circle to the beta of Gold and Silver when Umbreon was drafted as a Poison-type, and no one ever thought to get rid of the Pokédex lines about Umbreon having poisonous sweat, but that’s neither here nor there.

I suspect the Pokémon TCG would be a better game if it didn’t have to care about the video games or its own status as, essentially, merch for another series that doesn’t pay much attention to it. Put a pin in that and come back to it if I ever start writing about the TCG regularly.

I’m also not super-hyped about Pokémon having, at most, one weakness and one resistance, or about weaknesses and resistances being triggered by the Pokémon’s type and not by a move’s type.  This is partially dictated by the TCG encouraging decks with a small number of types, but that wouldn’t actually transfer to the video games unless you came up with something analogous to energy cards, which… well, you could; that might be interesting and it would provide a rationale for so many important characters being type specialists.  What would that mechanic actually be, though, and how would it be justified?

So I guess my answer is that it depends on the details of exactly what you mean and how you would apply the TCG mechanics to something that is not a card game.

Maybe I expect too much from people who submit questions to me here.