What are your thoughts on Pokémon evolution as a biological process instead of as a gameplay feature?
Larry has no shortage of his own thoughts so I’m gonna break this up.
Most evolutionary lines are very clearly meant to be not only progressions of power, but also of physical maturity and aging. There are outright “baby pokémon”, but it’s not like those are children and the rest are all adults. Most first stages in three stage lines, and some in two stage lines, are made to look and act like children, small and playful.
Right, but at the same time, most unevolved Pokémon are viable on their own, which is interesting. Pidgey can survive and reproduce without evolving into Pidgeotto; you can have a whole community of Pidgey without a single Pidgeotto and they’ll probably manage. With the exception of “baby” Pokémon, who can’t lay eggs (presumably because the designers saw them as “too young” to reproduce – it’s weird that Gold and Silver didn’t extend this restriction to a few other pre-existing Pokémon, like Caterpie), an unevolved Pokémon is a “complete” organism. So I think in a lot of cases it’s not just maturity as such but maybe a social and/or hierarchical thing. More evolved Pokémon might need more space and more food or other resources, so maybe it’s advantageous to the whole community if only a small number of them evolve.
Continue reading “Larry asks:”
Really REALLY out of left field thought on my part… but I’m curious to see how you’ll respond or interpret my potentially mad rambling. Since USUM, I’ve never really gotten over the alien-humans from the Ultra recon squad. And as I have now been replaying Pokémon Platinum and stumbled across the ye olde Sinnoh myth of Pokémon and people being one in the same at one point. Which got me to think like “do humans in the various Pokémon multiverse have types?”. Which isn’t too far-fetched in some cases given normal and ghost for alive and dead people, or psychic for those few individuals like Sabrina. But now that there are technically canonical people that took a different offshoot of human evolution AND how some Pokémon types are based on humanesque myth critters. The idea of people in universe being like the fae or fair folk akin to Fairy types or other types could potentially be a viable canon thing given how darn big and infinite multiverse shenanigans actually are. Here’s hoping what I’m sending somewhat makes sense or isn’t too off the deep end!
So… to my mind that depends on what you think type actually is. If they’re somehow baked into Pokémon biology specifically, then the answer is obviously “no, that doesn’t even make sense.” Humans aren’t Pokémon, at least, not in any meaningful way; there are several things that all Pokémon have in common which humans don’t appear to share (I’m not convinced that we’re supposed to literally believe that Sinnoh myth; there are real-world cultures that have similar myths, and we don’t believe those; there are also compelling ideological reasons for a culture that relies on Pokémon training to create a myth like that).
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The new Dreepy evolutionary line, to me, brings up some pretty interesting questions about the Pokemon world’s evolutionary biology. They’re apparently aquatic Pokemon that lived in the ancient past that became spirits once they became extinct, and now fittingly have the “ghost/dragon” typing in the modern day. What’s interesting about this is you must wonder, why isn’t this more common, that being why isn’t there a ghost type variant of every existing Pokemon, since all Pokemon are living creatures that shed their mortal coil eventually all the same. This seems to imply that becoming a distinct ghost-type pokemon is something only some are capable of, while the rest just become normal wraiths like Pikachu did in the Pokemon Tower episode and presumably eventually pass on. Might there be some “metaphysical” (or possibly just physical, since this is just how things work in this world) laws that determine how adaptive a Pokemon’s spirit is? And judging what we know of Pokemon that are suspected to have once been the departed spirits of humans (such as Yamask and Gengar) and how different they look compared to humans, how many ghost type Pokemon might be the result of the ghost of a known or unknown species of Pokemon? Hell, if we could somehow find the spiritual version of “genes” would it be possible to trace common ancestry with their mortal relatives, and add ghostly branches to the Pokemon tree of life? The implications of this are both overwhelming and exciting.
Yeah, it’s an interesting problem. I really love the idea of a Pokémon that’s not a fossilised prehistoric creature, like so many we’ve seen before, and instead the ghost of an extinct creature, but it does raise that question – why this Pokémon? Why is Dreepy unique (well, not quite unique; Galarian Corsola seems similar, but they’re obviously unusual)? I would not actually default to thinking that Dreepy became lingering spirits because of something inherent to them, though. In folklore, people become ghosts because of something about the way they died – maybe they have “unfinished business,” or weren’t given the burial rites their culture requires, or were killed by a particular monster, or just died in a particularly unpleasant way that somehow damaged their soul and prevented them from moving on to wherever spirits are supposed to go. In Pokémon, we often aren’t explicitly told where Ghost-types come from, but when we are, my impression is that it’s more often a magical or spiritual cause than a biological or scientific one (of course, then the follow-up question is whether we’re supposed to believe what we’re told about Phantump, Sandygast, etc. or just see it as a mystery yet to be solved). Given what little we know, my first guess would be that Dreepy exist in their current ghostly form due to something about the nature of the event (or competing species, or predator) that drove them extinct. Maybe their species was wiped out by something unusually sudden or traumatic, or maybe there was some Ghost-, Dark- or Psychic-type predator (now extinct itself as well) that could manipulate and damage souls, or maybe – just maybe – they were the victims of some kind of spiritual calamity, like an eruption of the spirit world into the “real” world. That’s the sort of place my mind goes when you raise the question, at any rate. I think in the absence of anything more explicit from an official source, the “correct” answer is probably whatever you feel is the more potentially interesting.
I just saw the YouTube video “Trope Talk: Dragons” from the channel “Overly Sarcastic Productions”. Basically a brief summary about how a dragon is defined (or rather how they lack a concrete definition) and how they play an important role throughout almost every human culture in the world. If you have seen the video (or probably more accurately, decided to see it after reading this) I’m curious if you have thoughts on it regarding how these ideas might apply to the variety of the dragon type in Pokemon.
Well, it’s a good video! No corrections! (Here it is, for anyone wanting to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eXAPwjASEQ)
Continue reading “RandomAccess asks:”
Why do you think Poison-type Pokemon were so commonplace and widespread in Gen I and since then have been relatively scarce since?
Honestly, maybe the fact that it’s true is the reason for the thing itself? Like, if balance of the number of Pokémon in each type is something that Game Freak cares about at all, then you could fairly look at the 33 first-generation Poison-types and say “okay, we have more than enough of these.” Per Bulbapedia, Poison is still the 8th most common type out of 18, despite gaining only three new members in generation II, four in III and just two (Skrelp and Dragalge) in VI.
I think Poison is just… a weird thing to even be a type, frankly. It’s like Flying, in that it’s more something a Pokémon does than something a Pokémon is (except arguably in the case of industrial waste Pokémon like Muk and Weezing), and it’s not hard to imagine its abilities being given fairly freely to Pokémon who aren’t actually members of the type. And… well, think of other JRPGs. Poison is always a status effect; off the top of my head I can’t think of any games that have a concept of status effects where poison isn’t one of them. However, I think I’m justified in saying that it’s very rarely, if ever, a trait of monsters that affects their general strengths and weaknesses. Having Poison as a type at all is a very weird decision, both conceptually and in terms of mechanical game design, and generation I also slaps it on several Pokémon for whom poison is… arguably not a very strong part of their identity – Bulbasaur, Golbat, Nidoran? I’m really going out on a limb here, but it’s sort of plausible to me that Game Freak’s designers genuinely didn’t know what to do with the Poison type for quite a while after the first games.
Maybe this answer exists somewhere online and I’m dumb, but… what benefit does Sudowoodo have using mimicry to appear as a tree? It seems like that is a poor choice for a rock type given it’s weak to water (which intelligent creatures will naturally pour on it).
I suppose my first instinct is to say that, on an evolutionary timescale, creatures who see plants and immediately think to pour water on them are probably a recent enough arrival in the world that they wouldn’t have had much impact on Sudowoodo’s physiology or evolved instinctive behaviour yet. But we don’t really know that’s true; there are Pokémon that modify and curate their environments; there are even Pokémon that tend gardens. The Pokédex says that Sudowoodo looks like a tree to avoid predators, and that does make sense to me; I have no problem with that. So I suppose the best answer is probably that looking like a tree does work really well for its intended purpose – well enough that it’s worth accepting the unfortunate side effect of sometimes having water poured on you.
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?
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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.
In battle, Pokémon are basically indestructible. No matter what kind of attack they endure, the worst that can happen to them is they’ll faint. A slash from a Scyther won’t sever your Caterpie in two. A punch from a Machamp won’t shatter your Rattata’s bones. If this wasn’t the case, then it would be impossible to ethically justify battles.
However, there are also many circumstances where Pokemon are depicted as being susceptible to injury. For example, I recently watched The Power of Us. In the movie, we learn that the old woman’s Snubble died as a result of a fiery explosion…but why? If every Pokémon can endure a Blast Burn from a Charizard without being reduced to a pile of ash, then why would this explosion kill Snubble?
The obvious explanation is that Pokémon are only capable of being harmed when it’s convenient to the plot, but that’s boring and terrible. If you had to come up with an in-universe explanation, what would it be? Why are Pokemon indestructible in some circumstances but not others?
I kind of suspect that this is actually part of Pokémon training – learning to use your attacks accurately, under pressure, in a wide range of situations, and non-lethally. I mean, that’s part of martial arts in the real world; you have to be proficient in not just inflicting maximum damage, but also in inflicting exactly the amount of damage you intend to and no more. In real combat sports, if you’re in a match and you kill your opponent by mistake, you generally have to flee Los Angeles with your petite French girlfriend and your father’s precious gold wristwatch, and I don’t think most Pokémon can even drive a stolen motorbike, much less rescue a mobster from a sex dungeon. The point is, there is a certain amount of control and holding back that is probably exercised in all but the blackest of underground cage matches.
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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$8!# are we assuming this is?
…okay, y’know what, I haven’t seen the relevant episodes; I’ll be right back
Actually, hang on, I have seen one of these before; I watched Tough Guy Trials when I was researching my Necrozma article because it has some stuff about the legend of the Blinding One. I guess it didn’t register with me that there was anything unusual about Mimikins (Acerola’s Mimikyu) because Acerola just says “Mimikins is a ghost!” and doesn’t explain or clarify any further, and I just assumed she meant it’s a Ghost-type. Also… I’m honestly not sure it would be totally out of character for Acerola to just be bull$#!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)
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