Osprey asks:

This is a slightly odd question (or set of questions), but I’ve been thinking lately about how Pokemon perceive or relate to their own type, and whether type distinctions induce some kind of cultural difference among Pokemon. Are Pokemon aware of their own type? Do type distinctions arise “naturally,” or are they simply human-created terms used to organize and taxonomize Pokemon by their salient features? Do Pokemon feel culturally closer to Pokemon who share their type? What about Pokemon from “allied” types, like Water and Ice, or Rock and Ground? Is a Pokemon like Abomasnow who has two types that are fairly “far apart” from each other able to “code switch” to an extent– to “lean in” to his Grass-type features when he’s hanging out with other Grass pokemon, and to his Ice-type aspects when he’s up on the mountain with the other Ice-types?

What do you think about this?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

I tend to think that the world makes more sense if Pokémon type is a construct created by humans in order to understand how Pokémon fight and predict which Pokémon will have advantages against certain others.  If Pokémon type is a natural thing that exists independently of humans, then you need to do a lot of work explaining what it is and how it arises (especially considering that Pokémon of the same type do not usually seem to be related species), and this is work that Game Freak has not done.  I think it would probably imply that each type corresponds to some metaphysical source of magical power that Pokémon can tap into – and honestly I think that might be true anyway for some of the more mystical types like Dragon and Fairy, but for most of them there simply isn’t anything that hints at it in official sources.  Of course, because this is something that Pokémon’s creators probably haven’t thought about, there are a few stray things that do strongly suggest Pokémon types are in some way natural and absolute, like Arceus having forms for every type, and Hidden Powers existing for every type (except Fairy), and there being no exceptions to the type chart.  So… basically, I know what the answer would be if I were in charge, but I’m not confident in anything given the world as we actually see it.

Continue reading “Osprey asks:”

kyurem asks:

did you notice that in gen 7 mega evolution was quietly retconned from an emotional bond-based transformation to being more of an energy-fueled mutation and generally a cruel thing to do to a pokemon? the SM and USUM pokedex entries for mega evos are pretty much all about how much pain the pokemon is in, how it’s been mutated into a grotesque form that distresses it, how it hates being in that form, etc. and none of them are positive or mention the pokemon’s bond with the trainer

Well… I’m looking through the Pokédex entries and I think it’s a bit more ambiguous than that.  There are several Pokémon for whom this seems like a fair description of the Pokédex text on their Mega Evolved forms, but they’re certainly not a majority, and there are also two Mega Evolved Pokémon who explicitly like their new forms: Mega Slowbro is said to be “pretty comfortable” ensconced inside Shellder, while Mega Pinsir supposedly never touches the ground because it’s overcome with happiness at being able to fly.  There are two more that explicitly cite the importance of the Pokémon’s bond with its trainer (Mega Charizard Y and Mega Gyarados).  I think that pretty well rules out any general statement about what Mega Evolution is like for all Pokémon; it affects each of them differently (which, well, makes sense).  But there are also those more disturbing entries referencing things like “sharp pain and suffering” or body parts becoming “misshapen.”  I think in most of these cases it’s relevant that the Pokémon involved are… well, let’s just say they’re not necessarily Pokémon you’d want at a child’s birthday party.  Mega Evolution is – in my opinion – an exaggeration of everything distinctive about a Pokémon.  Whatever a Pokémon already does, Mega Evolution turns it up to eleven.  I don’t think they were designed with the intention that they should be proper viable organisms in their own right; they’re ridiculous overpowered battle modes that are supposed to be assumed for minutes at a time, at the very most.  It sort of makes sense that they should often be quite stressful.  Furthermore, if you have a Pokémon already known for viciousness or destructiveness… well, let’s see what happens, starting from the ones that aren’t particularly objectionable.

Continue reading “kyurem asks:”

Smugleaf asks:

Why Nidorino & Nidorina evolve via Moon Stone? Clefairy, Jigglypuff and others are somewhat related to moon, night, or sleep. But I can’t find the connection with the Nido family.

Personally, I think it’s because they’re supposed to be – very loosely – based on rabbits (definitely the weirdest fµ¢£ing rabbits I’ve ever seen, though, I’ll give you that; maybe they’re influenced by jackalopes or wolpertingers or something).  Rabbits are associated with the moon in China, Japan and Korea, because the shapes on the surface of the moon that we see as “The Man in the Moon” in culturally western countries are traditionally interpreted as a rabbit, often with a mortar and pestle, in east Asia.  There are a bunch of different stories about exactly why the rabbit is up there and what the mortar and pestle are for, but the fact that it’s a rabbit is pretty well agreed, and this gets referenced a fair bit in Japanese pop culture (Dragon Ball had an anthropomorphic rabbit villain who wound up imprisoned on the moon; Sailor Moon’s real name, Tsukino Usagi, is a pun on tsuki no usagi, “moon rabbit”; Digimon World: Dusk gives the player a partner Digimon who is a rabbit with moon-related powers; etc).  It’s a little tricky to be sure that’s the intent, but it’s the best explanation I can think of.

Tony the Tiger asks:

You like old stuff, right? What are your thoughts on fossil pokemon?

In general archaeologists take pains to point out that we do not study fossils (it’s a surprisingly common mistake).  Not all “old stuff” is similarly old (unless you listen to certain ill-advised religious sects); I deal in the hundreds/thousands of years range, not millions/tens of millions.  Fossils are about as much my professional area of expertise as the moons of Jupiter are an airline pilot’s.

…as it happens, though, I am independently a layman dinosaur nerd with a basic knowledge of evolutionary biology, and I was a sufficiently weird kid that, when I started school, I wanted to be not a fireman or an astronaut but a palaeontologist.  So LET’S TALK FOSSILS.

Continue reading “Tony the Tiger asks:”

Albert Einstein asks:

You were right about Meltan…

I am as unsurprised to be proven right as I am unconcerned with the result either way, and equally so, I am pessimistic enough to point out that I was totally wrong (at least, given what we know so far) in predicting that Meltan would need to combine with different Pokémon representing other construction parts like washers, screws and bolts.

Honestly I think it’s sort of a shame Melmetal is just a big pile of hex nuts soldered together; there might have been some interesting “mechanical” (in multiple senses of the word) possibilities to be had with a modular Pokémon.  Melmetal might have several different possible stat profiles or movepool options unlocked by different combinations of “component” Meltan forms.  Of course, I suppose it’s possible that additional secrets will be unlocked in the generation VIII games.

[Do Porygon dream of electric sheep?] asks:

Why was I created? Do I have a physical form or am I just a hologram? What “programming code” am I written in? How does a cybernetic Pokémon co-exist alongside those with tangible forms (organic and inorganic alike)? Does my Normal-type – as opposed to an Electric-type – imply that I am indeed just another “gimmick Pokémon”…?

403 Forbidden
You don’t have permission to access /Existential_Crisis on this server

Hmm. Well, that isn’t right.

Override permissions, admin password ***********************

Access directory porygon/existential_crisis

Delete angst.gif

Delete bladerunner.mov

Access philosophy.cfg
ontology=1
epist=0
ident=porygon/trainer/pokemaniac_chris/userconfig.cfg
causal=porygon/data/aristotle_physics.java
utility=porygon/data/books/also_sprach_zarathustra.txt
spacetime=porygon/data/zeno_tortoise.gif
moral=porygon/data/3laws.csv
rad.free=1

Run sense_of_purpose.exe

Good morning, Porygon. Continue reading “[Do Porygon dream of electric sheep?] asks:”

Ty asks:

Can you share your thoughts on Ice-Types and how they work a little? I’ve always had a pet peeve with the way the games treat Ice’s strengths and weaknesses as if the Pokemon themselves are all actually just made of ice, when that doesn’t seem to be true. All Ice-Types also seem completely fine and safe in warm weather, which shouldn’t make sense if heat and fire actually harm them. The way their moves and abilities work also seem to imply that Ice-Types are capable of removing extremely large amounts of heat from the environment, but that heat has to go somewhere right? Wouldn’t it make the most sense for Ice-Types to be absorbing heat in order to make everything else cold? If so, wouldn’t Ice-Types be extremely threatening to Fire-Types?

Continue reading “Ty asks:”