The Evil Twin asks:

I’ve got a Kantonian Gyarados pointed at your head and I compel you to make a regional form of Gyarados that’s a Dragon-type, with a capital D. I permit any historical, cultural, or mythological influences you want to pull from, and you may add a secondary type if you so choose, but it has to be Dragon. My Gyarados is locked and loaded, and your head is looking mighty Hyper Beamable. You have 72 hours. Good luck.


well what region, that-?

I mean if it’s just a Gyarados that’s from anywhere that’s not Kanto

look, people ask me from time to time what I would do with a Pokémon region based on New Zealand, and I never really want to get into it, for all sorts of reasons not worth talking about here, but if that region were to exist and if someone else were to tell me I needed to make a regional form of Gyarados from some fµ¢£ing place and it doesn’t matter where… well, obviously it’s going to be a taniwha.  Taniwha (the “wh” makes an f sound; TUH-nee-fuh) are serpentine water dragons, creatures of deep lakes, watery caves, river rapids and stormy seas.  They are the distant cousins of the shapeshifting mo‘o of Hawai‘i, who are possibly one of the influences behind Salazzle.  Taniwha are powerful, dangerous and fickle, with some of the European dragons’ tendency to abduct beautiful young women.  On the other hand, some of them are friendly to humanity and can be appeased with gifts, chants and songs.  They create and guard harbours, straits and waterways, and watch over those who show them the proper respect.  When the ancestors of the Māori people first came to New Zealand, some of their canoes were guided across the ocean by ancient taniwha.  A Pokémon based on a taniwha would have all of Gyarados’s renowned potential for destruction, especially if offended or treated disrespectfully, but could also be a benevolent guardian.  You go to it with gifts, and not only does it not murder you, maybe it gives you its blessing for the next time you’re out on a boat.  I think Pokémon trainers are supposed to be responsible for exactly this kind of give-and-take personal relationship with the embodied forces of nature that also exists in traditional Japanese spiritualism.

pie asks:

I just realized–remember that post you made about Pokemon and Food where you concluded that the Pokemon world has no bacon? Well now we have LECHONK, who is a chonky fellow that is Normal type and basically just a pig, and therefore we have now achieved bacon.

Oh, it’s even better than that, because Lechonk is a black pig in an Iberian region, which means it’s definitely the specific breed of pig used for making the fantastically rare and expensive gourmet cured pork product known as jamón Ibérico.  Black Iberian pigs are raised to forage wild acorns according to ancient traditional practices, making them strong and muscled but also full of marbled fat; their meat is the Wagyu beef of pork.  A leg of Iberico ham will set you back several hundred dollars.  Lechonk isn’t just a pig: it is the most delicious pig in the universe.

They’re practically asking for us to eat our Pokémon.

[EDIT/FOOTNOTE: this is the ancient post in question. Obviously there are pre-gen IX pig Pokémon, but I argued that all of them are, for one reason or another, not good candidates for food production at a commercial scale.]

Evil Pokemaniacal asks:

Thoughts on Wiglett, the new convergent mon unrelated but similar looking to Diglett, and the implications this has that Diglett bodies are Pokémon’s form of Carcinization?

…no, no, you don’t understand what’s going on here at all; I’m evil Pokémaniacal – well, no, not even that, I’m evil Pokémaniac Chris, Pokémaniacal is the blog (a distinction that made sense in the 2000s but that people really seem to struggle to understand in the age of influencer culture), which is not a sapient entity and has no moral alignment.  You’re, like… if anything, you’re… good Pokémaniac Chris.

And believe me, I’m gonna put a stop to that $#!t.

What was the question?

Oh yeah.

I don’t know that I have strong feelings about it, to be honest.  It will probably evolve into something, and I’m more interested to see what that is.  Creating a Pokémon that looks just like Diglett just to say “look, convergent evolution!” seems a bit silly to me, honestly, because Pokémon already has lots of examples of convergent evolution.  There are Pokémon based on real animals that are examples of convergent evolution, like Aerodactyl and Golbat both having leathery bat-wings, or Arbok and Masquerain both having defensive eyespots.  Hell, Pokémon even has examples of carcinisation; Crabrawler is a coconut crab and Dwebble is a hermit crab, which means neither of them are “true crabs”; they’ve evolved crab-like shapes independently from true crabs like Krabby and Klawf, starting from a more lobster-shaped common ancestor.  Then there are also Pokémon with special powers that must be the result of convergent evolution, like reptilian Charizard and mammalian Heatmor both having fire-based abilities (unless they mean to imply that all Pokémon of the same type come from a common ancestor, which is pretty flatly contradicted by Eevee, the egg group system and almost every Pokémon with regional forms).  Basically it’s cute that they’re trying, but I hope that’s not the whole reason they made Wiglett.  Garden eels are cool, though, and I can imagine the evolved form could go in some interesting directions.

Pixel3r asks:

If Vileplume got a gigantamax form, would you prefer it be a giant body with a tiny flower, or an even larger flower with a tiny body?

I dunno if I need Vileplume to have a Gigantamax form, honestly. I think if it did get one, though, the aesthetic of Gigantamax is all about exaggerating whatever a Pokémon’s most prominent features are already. So: enormous flower, petals reach down to the ground, the Pokémon’s body dangling from the middle, legs waving in the air.

Pie asks:

Did you ever get around to playing the Crown Tundra? Also, do you think the Hisuian variants/evolutions of some Pokemon you’ve ragged on before make up for the originals? (sorry if you get this twice, i think i accidentally deleted this the first time)

I did! I thought it was quite fun, and a decent answer to the honestly pretty intractable problem of “how do we fit all these goddamn legendary Pokémon into this game?” (to which my answer, frankly, would probably have been “don’t,” but we’ve seen the kind of response that strategy gets). I mostly just didn’t think I had anything particularly important to say about it. Broadly, I think the Isle of Armour and Crown Tundra are pretty similar to the kind of stuff that Pokémon used to add in its “third version” games like Emerald and Platinum, but priced as an expansion rather than a whole new game, which strikes me as a good deal less exploitative. It is what it is, it does what it promises to do, I don’t know that I think it’s anything special, but I did like the Calyrex storyline, so… yeah, sure. It’s fine.

As for the Hisuian forms… hmm… trying now to remember which of those I have ragged on… I dunno if this counts as changing my opinion on Basculin, who is still pretty silly, but I do think Basculegion is a nice addition and takes the shoal/school theme in an interesting direction. That’s probably the biggest one. Uh. What about Lilligant, was I mean to Lilligant? Eh, I dunno if I’m that big a fan of Hisuian Lilligant either, in any case; it’s kinda just “what if Lilligant were Tsareena?” Qwilfish…? Nah, I just refuse on principle to allow Qwilfish to settle into my long-term memory, no matter what they do with it. The name Overqwil is worth a lot of points, I’ll give them that.

Gym Trainer Jeff asks:

Pokemon Concept:
Mechanically, what would you think of a Dark-type Pokemon that functions like an “anti-Zoroark?” What I mean is: imagine a Pokemon that has high stats on average, but no/few moves it can learn or be taught/bred on its own. Instead, it has a unique ability that works like the move version of Zoroark’s Illusion, where it fills in any empty move slots it has with the moves from those slots on the last Pokemon in your party? This is why I’m calling it an “anti-Zoroark”—while with Zoroark it always has Zoroark moves but hides under the illusion of another Pokemon, with this “anti-Zoroark,” you always know the type of Pokemon it is, but it could come at you with almost any move, based on what’s in the party with it, and generally has the stats to make them work? Weirdly enough, it’s a Pokemon where forgetting moves is actually *encouraged* (more empty move slots to fill with its ability). I get that this is a super gimmicky idea to base a Pokemon around, but is it an *interesting* gimmick, or just dumb?


Without more details, my first instinct is that this is too strong – like, if it has good stats and a bad movepool, but its bad movepool doesn’t matter because it can have practically any moveset you want, then that seems extremely good to a degree that is probably dangerous. The fact that its type coverage is going to be redundant with something else on your team is a limiting factor, but it could also have other tricky bull$#!t that just doesn’t rely on fighting toe-to-toe; maybe it has Spore or something, which on a fast Pokémon has a lot of potential for abuse. Hell, maybe you just put Smeargle in your last slot; then “anti-Zoroark” can have literally anything you want, but on a body with actually good stats. That’s terrifying. Of course, you can’t ever make a Pokémon forget its last move, so this thing is always going to be stuck with one move of its own. If its natural movepool is really $#!t – like if there is nothing good in there whatsoever, not even a good Dark-type STAB move – you could design a Pokémon that effectively has only three moveslots, which might be interesting. Without actually diving into all the zillions of possible combinations of moves out there, or doing the calculus of whether this is good enough to be worth having a Smeargle on your team with a moveset designed for a high-statted Dark-type, I really don’t know where this falls from a balance standpoint. And, of course, in the post-Sword and Shield era, maybe you can just never allow this thing to exist in the same game as Smeargle; that’s probably safest. Still, my instinct is very much to assume this thing will be super overpowered unless someone can really convincingly prove otherwise.

Leo M.R. asks:

Let’s make the most cursed concept design for a Fire starter ever! A bipedal bovine that:
– fights by getting enraged and charging at its opponents (shamelessly ripping off Tauros and Bouffalant, because we’re being as unoriginal as possible),
– is a fast physical attacker with Anger Point as its Hidden Ability, just to drive home the Tauros comparisons,
– has Fire/Fighting as its type in reference to the practice of bullfighting (a morally-questionable blood sport, and also calling back to Blaziken & cockfighting, because we’re being as unoriginal as possible),
– draws visual cues from oxen just to further reinforce the idea of Fire starters being based on the Chinese zodiac.

So, how cursed is this whole idea? Can we make it even more cursed?

oh no

so, this is a good effort, but I don’t think it’s cursed enough yet

We need to spit on the game balance somehow – make it either heinously overpowered, like Speed Boost-Blaziken overpowered, or find a way to make it really bad.  Fire/Fighting is so strong offensively that, I think, in order for a Fire/Fighting starter to be bad, it almost has to be really slow with one garbage defence stat and a signature move that does something pointless (maybe it scores more critical hits against burned targets).  Even then, though, starters have such high stats that it’s hard to make them truly awful without doing something totally obtuse, like mismatching their attack and special attack stats with their movepools.  If you want to go in the other direction, just make its hidden ability Huge Power and give it access to Agility.

On the zodiac angle… well, for me personally, to make it as cursed as possible, you have to make it like Cyndaquil or Fennekin, where it’s not actually based on an animal from the Chinese zodiac, but it’s close enough to make people keep repeating the theory anyway.  Not sure what the best direction for that is – maybe a bison?

The trouble with the cockfighting/bullfighting analogy is that it feels almost clever.  I think if you want to make it as cursed as possible you should just make it an angry wrestler.  With tights, except that the Pokédex makes it clear that they’re only skin/fur markings that look like tights for no obvious reason.

Oh, and… obviously it has to learn Curse.

Anon asks:

If you were transported to the pokemon world but as a pokemon, which one would you be (barring legendaries and mythicals) also, keep in mind, this isn’t about which one is your favorite, it is about which one has the best chance for survival based in different criteria.

For survival?

Well, that’s easy.  Carbink.

I mean, yeah, you’re rubbish at fighting, truly bottom-tier ludicrously bad.  On the other hand, you basically don’t age, you’re composed primarily of diamonds and, consequently, you’re thoroughly inedible, impervious to most environmental hazards and, for all intents and purposes, indestructible.  There are Carbink out there that are almost a billion years old – not the species, but individual CarbinkIn Kalos, mind you, which means they’ve slept through Yveltal’s tantrums before.  Time itself can’t kill these little fµ¢£wits, and it has tried.

KHM asks:

Have you considered that Ribombee’s Fairy Typing might be influenced by how you can connect bee flies’ reproductive habits with the trope of the Changeling (a fairy left in the place of a kidnapped human baby)?

Mmm, I’m not sure I see it, for three reasons.  One, nothing about Ribombee really seems like a reference to parasitism; it’s not an idea that the design or the flavour text or Ribombee’s mechanical abilities seem to be evoking.  Two, Cutiefly and Ribombee’s dainty, gossamer-winged physical appearance already gives us a pretty clear reason for them to be Fairy-types; we don’t need an explanation for that.  And three… well, I think there are better animal kingdom metaphors for changelings – namely brood parasitism, like what cuckoos do; they actually slip their eggs into the nests of other birds to trick them into raising the cuckoos’ chicks.  Personally, that’s where I’d go if I wanted to play with changeling mythology.  I suppose I don’t think it’s impossible that Ribombee is doing something along these lines, but I’m not convinced.

hugh_donnetono asks:

What’s your opinion on the Beta Sinnoh Pokemon? (especially arceus)

I’m not sure I have an opinion on them, or feel I need to.  I mean, a lot of them are placeholders, right?  Many of the leaked sprites are just… clearly unfinished; that’s what a beta is.  Arceus especially; people meme on beta Arceus, but it seems pretty clear to me that no one ever planned for it to go into the finished game looking anything like that (likewise Rotom).  They knew they wanted Arceus to exist, and they had a rough idea what they wanted it to look like, but they hadn’t finalised the design or done proper sprites yet.  The only Pokémon that seem to me like they had a genuinely different design in the leaked beta materials – not just unfinished art – are Rampardos, maybe Hippowdon, Lumineon, Lickilicky (back sprite only), Togekiss and the Garchomp line, and most of them… well, yeah, they just kinda look like first drafts of the Pokémon that they are.  Beta Rampardos seems a bit less naturalistic, maybe a touch more manic?  Beta Togekiss has shades of Latias and Latios, and I do think it looks pretty cool, but I’m not sure it works as an evolution from Togepi and Togetic.  Beta Gible, Gabite and Garchomp have different colour palettes and are… I guess my instinct is maybe a bit simpler, a bit more gen I-II-like?  They’re fine, I suppose; I think the final designs are more visually interesting. 

The one thing I do think is kind of interesting is the mystery Pokémon, Kimairan, that seems to have occupied Giratina’s slot, whose sprite is clearly a draft but looks like a kind of six-legged griffin thing.  My guess is, Game Freak knew they were going to have another legendary Pokémon in that slot, but hadn’t quite figured out what the third piece of Space/Time/??? ought to be, or what role they wanted this Pokémon to have in the mythology of Sinnoh.  Even the final release of Diamond and Pearl is, in my opinion, pretty noncommittal about what Giratina actually represents (compared to, say, Rayquaza in Ruby and Sapphire or Kyurem in Black and White), so I honestly wonder how much, if any, of Giratina’s role in Platinum was sketched out in advance.  Kimairan might have represented… dreams, maybe, or the world, or life, or a fixed point of reference within space-time.  Maybe at this stage of the beta they didn’t even know they wanted this mystery Pokémon to be part of a trio with Dialga and Palkia yet, and it was just something completely different.  The point is, I think they probably ditched Kimairan and created Giratina because something clicked about the way they wanted to tell the story of generation IV, and they realised that the Pokémon they’d made wasn’t right for the role they needed.

[This question was promoted to the front of the queue because the submitter is supporting me on Patreon!  If you enjoy my writing and like getting my answers to cosmic dilemmas like this one – or just think I deserve something nice for my work – consider visiting and signing up!]