Name asks:

Lore-wise, how is aura sphere a fighting type move if other pokemon besides Lucario (Togekiss, Clawitzer, Zeraora to name a few) can also learn it? And why is aura wheel electric?

Well, Aura Wheel is a different thing from Aura Sphere, because if you go back to the original Japanese, the “Aura” of Aura Wheel is オーラ, ōra – just the English word “aura” written in katakana. This is, I have to assume, a reference to the new-age/pseudoscience concept of auras, visible, colourful energy fields that represent your personality or mood (which is why Aura Wheel changes type according to Morpeko’s mood).  The “Aura” of Aura Sphere, also mentioned in Lucario’s flavour text, is はどう/波動, hadou, which means something like “wave energy” (see also the classic Street Fighter move Hadouken, or “Wave Motion Fist”).  Despite the English translations, the two are completely unrelated.

As for the other Pokémon that learn Aura Sphere – the move is supposed to represent, basically, weaponised spiritual energy (it’s… well, it’s a Dragonball Z ki blast; there’s no other way to put it).  Lucario gets it because of the mastery of spirit produced by intense martial arts training.  Other than Fighting-types, it’s primarily learned by Pokémon with what you might think of as “strong souls”; Togekiss, Mewtwo, the Sinnoh space-time trio, Magearna.  Clawitzer and Blastoise, on the other hand, get it because of their Mega Launcher ability, which powers up things with hadou in their Japanese names (the “Pulse” moves).

Osprey asks:

The most important Pokemon move, in terms of its centralizing impact on the competitive metagame (at least in singles), is probably Stealth Rock. Having a Stealth Rock setter on your team is essentially mandatory in serious competitive singles play, and Pokemon like Volcarona and Charizard are singlehandedly dropped several tiers of competitive viability by their 4x weakness to Stealth Rock.

On the one hand, it does seem useful to have some way to check endless switching. But on the other hand, this one single move being Rock type has a really unfortunate impact on the competitive metagame for those of us who favor types that happen to be weak to Rock. The changes to Defog in Gen VI seem to have been intended at least partly as a SR nerf, so Game Freak seems at least somewhat inclined to agree, but several generations later, the impact of Stealth Rock is still enormous.

In your view, is this something that needs fixing? If so, how would you fix it? Remove type advantage/disadvantage from Stealth Rock damage? Add other mutually-exclusive entry hazards of other types (“Stealth Ice???”), forcing teams to decide which they’ll run in a way similar to Terrain? Other ideas?

So, mutually exclusive entry hazards of different types have been my go-to solution for this in the past, but I think there’s several things you could do – some of which Game Freak has done.  You mentioned Defog, which I kind of like, since it’s a much more widely available counter to entry hazards, but comes at a cost that Rapid Spin doesn’t have (clearing your own hazards as well), and there’s also the new Heavy-Duty Boots item in Sword and Shield that just makes a Pokémon straight-up immune.  Those are both a little blunt for my liking, though; they hit all entry hazards, when we really just want to hit Stealth Rock.  I remember Smogon’s very first Create-A-Pokémon, Syclant, was a Bug/Ice-type with an ability that made it immune to Rock-type damage on the turn it switched in, which is an interesting response, but more a cool toy for that Pokémon in particular than a real nerf to Stealth Rock.  You could just reduce Stealth Rock’s damage directly, but honestly its neutral damage output is probably fine; you could take away its ability to do more or less damage based on the target’s weakness or resistance to Rock, but that’s the most interesting thing about the move.  That’s why I like the idea of having several competing options for that slot, with different type properties; it actually introduces an additional interesting decision (which one is most helpful for your team composition?), while also reducing the victimisation of Pokémon who are weak to Rock attacks in particular.  On the other hand, it’s clunky – why are these moves mutually exclusive, when Spikes and Toxic Spikes aren’t?  And what’s the best way of communicating that to a new player?  My latest idea is to have Stealth Rock actually wear out over time; it can do a total of eight (or twelve, or some other number) “ticks” of damage, each of which is equal to 1/8 of the target’s health (Stealth Rock’s standard neutral damage).  Pokémon with a Rock weakness still take a lot more damage, but they also wear the rocks out faster, which turns an unfair-feeling punishment into an additional strategic calculation.  It’s another thing players then have to keep track of during battles, but you could probably add a counter or something to the battle UI (which has already been picking up some useful extra functions over the last few generations).

The Dag asks:

Who would win in a dance-off? Ludicolo, Oricorio, Bellossom, Sudowoodo, Maractus, Jynx, or you?

Okay, so, the easy part first: I cannot dance, and I come dead last.  I will, however, sabotage all the other contestants by spiking their drinks.  I’m not trying to tip the competition towards anyone in particular; I just think it would be hilarious.

Now, what are the dance skills of all these Pokémon like?

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Jumping Joltik asks:

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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Leo M.R. [Patreon Cultist] asks:

What do you think of getting rid of weather altogether, but in replacement give ALL of the types terrain effects instead? The same rules still apply (only affect grounded Pokémon, only one can be active at any given time, etc.), of course. I always did find it kind of unfair how certain types are so advantaged in specific weather over other types, but those other types have no equivalent for themselves (e.g. Poison, Dark, Bug). Now that we’ve got type-specific terrains, what do you think? I figure the effects of intense sunlight can be taken over by Fiery Terrain, rain by Watery Terrain, hail by Icy Terrain, and sandstorm by Sandy Terrain. I have some fun ideas about the other types but I wanna hear your thoughts about the idea first. Cheers!

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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).

Elchar asks:

How can the economy of the Pokémon world even keep itself stable when domestic cats can just produce money out of thin air? The coins that Pay Day creates have real value. You pick them up in the game and you use them as regular money. I can’t be the only one who would, upon manifesting myself in the Pokémon world, quickly set up a Meowth farm and made them use Pay Day all day. Preferably somewhere close to the Pokémon center for that delicious free PP refillment.

Simple answer: it can’t.  If any trainer with a Meowth can access an unlimited supply of money, then money can’t have a stable value.  It doesn’t make sense.

If it doesn’t make sense, then we have misunderstood something or made a bad assumption (…or the worldbuilding is just fragile enough that we’ve broken it, but let’s make that our explanation of last resort).  Either they can’t actually produce money out of thin air, or the coins don’t actually have value, or perhaps their capacity to produce money is not unlimited and has already been “priced into” the economic systems of regions where they are native.

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Ace Trainer Alvaro asks:

Although a relatively new ability introduced in Gen VI, Symbiosis has come up several times across your blog history (see https://pokemaniacal.com/?s=Symbiosis) and it sticks out as an ability that is oddly specific, to the point it’s arguably not useful except for passing on items to allies in double, triple, etc battles that have consumed their own consumable held-item. How would you rethink this ability or create a new ability that captures the concept of symbiosis (let’s just think about mutualism or the purposes of simplification)? My immediate inclination is that if a Pokémon with Symbiosis has a held item, it also copies the effects of that item (but not the item itself) onto an ally once said item is consumed. Extra credit: this ability could be retconned as a Hidden Ability for Slowbro and the Bulbasaur evolutionary line.

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Analytic Mareep asks:

Guilty confession time:
I’m warming up to Greninja’s battle bond ability, and think that the concept is something Pokemon should continue to explore.
Hear me out. I know Ash-Greninja specifically is pure pandering to anime fans. But the implementation of the concept is, in my opinion, mega evolution done right. Mega Evolution was supposed to be about a strong bond between Pokemon and trainers making the Pokemon stronger, which would strengthen the franchise’s partnership concept. But of course, mega stones simply became an OP held item that you could use as soon as you obtained them. Battle Bond, on the other hand, really emphasizes the participation of the trainer (I think Ash feels pain when his Greninja does or something?) and occurs in the heat of the battle, once the Pokemon has already started taking out foes. What if in a future generation, all the starters’ final evolutions had battle bond as an ability? It might need some adjustments, like needing to be at a certain level to activate, and maybe a friendship or affection requirement as well. But overall, I think Game Freak could really work with this.

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Ty asks:

Hello,

I don’t recall if you ever did a post on your thoughts on Z moves as a whole, or particularly how you reacted to their extreme animations. Would you share your thoughts on each one in a few words?

I haven’t, but I might have promised that I would later.  Let me check.

[Also, just while we’re here, I feel I should note (just to completely weird out the Americans in the audience) that, as I think most New Zealanders would, I have always instinctively pronounced it “zed-move” (not “zee-move”) and this should be the way you imagine me saying it whenever you read my words on the subject.]

damn it Past Chris, get your $#!t together

Y’know, in the past I have definitely made noises about it, but I was never sure what I should commit to, because I thought I might end up talking about them in the context of my review of Necrozma, since the power of Z-moves comes from Necrozma’s light.  That’s something I’m now less optimistic about, since there’s a buttload of lore to study and clarify surrounding Necrozma.  I think I’m going to have to beg to defer this, because it probably does deserve a full article (I did one on mega evolution, after all; I mean, it was completely bat$#!t but I did write it) but I don’t think I can properly tackle the subject with my customary brilliance until I get my facts straight on Necrozma and the cosmic light.