jeffthelinguist asks:

So I have some theories but I want to hear what you have to say on this.

So the latest “fossil” Pokémon clearly never actually existed (nor should they now, either), but the most interesting thing about them is none of them are rock type. In your standard reputation of reading heavily into this as world building and not Game Freak not giving a $#!+ about maintaining any sense of consistency, what would be your reasoning for this and why? If you have multiple theories, feel free to share more than one!

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AceTrainerAlvaro asks:

The Pokémon brand remains sheepishly heteronormative (ie, Steven Stone & Wallace are just best guy friends *wink*). On that note, the move Attract should be low-key rejiggered to also affect targets of the same gender, with its overall accuracy reduced somewhat (say down to 85 or 90%) to reflect the slightly lower incidence of same-sex interactions among animals. Frankly, it’s 2019 & kids across the globe are well-aware that LGBTQ people & same-sex “infatuation” (to borrow an in-game term) exist, stop pretending otherwise, Game Freak. Thoughts?

I mean, honestly, I don’t think there’s really any compelling game balance reason you couldn’t just have Attract work on all gendered Pokémon (or even just all Pokémon) with 100% accuracy.  That’d still be strictly worse than Confuse Ray was in generations I through VI, because infatuation wears off if either the user or the target switches out, and an attack that fails due to confusion comes with some extra damage (in generation VII, the chance of a confused Pokémon hurting itself drops to 33%, so it’s a bit murkier now, but still; we can always nerf infatuation by a similar amount, just to keep “parattraction” from becoming a frustrating metagame force).  All Pokémon are bi now.  Really, why not?  This isn’t even all that out of step with nature; there are species where same-sex sexual interactions seem to be more common (for one or both sexes) than opposite-sex ones, like giraffes.  It doesn’t even have to signify homosexuality if people want to be prudish about it; you can just make it a joke, like “he’s so hot even the straight guys want him,” which is a joke the anime has made with Meowth and a wild Purrloin (also, like… straight guys… there’s one, right?  You might not say it out loud, but there’s always one.  We share this blessed earth with the corporeal incarnations of Hugh Jackman, Rock “the Dwayne” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Idris Elba, for goodness’ sake; you’re allowed one).  The fact is, we don’t know anything about Pokémon sexuality.  Nothing is canon and nothing is sacred; Game Freak have made sure of that.  We know it usually takes a male and a female to produce an egg, but the games keep insisting that no one knows how it happens, and also claim that eggs “aren’t really eggs,” and permit all kinds of… anatomically improbable pairings (ArcheOPS WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT CLAWITZER).  I’m not sure it would make the system any more implausible even if you straight-up allowed Pokémon to breed and produce offspring regardless of gender (there are single-gender species already, and they must reproduce somehow).

hoennian asks:

uh oh so [SWSH spoilers fwiw)

galarian ponyta just got Officially Announced and it’s described as having been “exposed to the overflowing life energy of the forest over many generations, and this is why their appearance became unique in this region”
buuuuuut

it’s a psychic type

does this do anything to or for your Fairy-is-life-energy theories? or does it still also just kinda feed into “typing is nonsense”?

While we’re here, this will also serve as my answer to the question from another reader who gives their name simply as “Getting Shield!!!”:

Galarian Ponyta, thoughts?

So… I think it’s fine. Unicorns are an emblem of Scotland, so it certainly fits Galar as a Pokémon inspired by the culture and history of Great Britain. It’s quite pretty. It’s a point in favour of a prediction made by my esteemed PokéJungle colleague Jon that suggests we can guess which Pokémon are getting Galarian forms on the basis of new egg moves given out in Ultra Sun and Moon, so that’s quite nice if you’re interested in the prediction game. Psychic is a weird type to choose, in my opinion, for something as obviously “fairytale” as a unicorn – back in the X and Y era, Jim the Editor and I actually thought it was a bit weird that the base Kantonian Ponyta and Rapidash hadn’t been promoted to Fire/Fairy, because it would have made perfect sense and produced an interesting unique dual-type. But that brings us to…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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