The Philosophical Sheep asks:

Aside from our brief encounter with Deoxys just outside the planet’s atmosphere in ORAS, we’ve never been to outer space in a Pokemon game. This feels strange, especially now that there have been multiple games where we spend long periods of time in alternate dimensions–space feels like a much more natural area for a Pokemon game to explore in comparison. Why do you think Pokemon hasn’t yet really explored outer space in a game?

I suspect there’s often not a good answer to questions of the form “why didn’t Pokémon/Game Freak/Nintendo do this?”  A lot of the time, the truth is that the answer is just “because they did something different instead, and one choice isn’t obviously better than the other.”  There’s not necessarily a logical progression that says you have to have outer space before… whatever Ultra Space is.  But I think if we want a real answer… well, what would be the consequence of going into outer space, rather than using Ultra Space as a proxy to let us explore the universe?  For one thing, we would in principle be able to touch back down anywhere on our home planet; there’s not really any good reason we’d have to return to the region we left from (things like Ultra Wormholes provide at least a handwavey justification for always coming back to the same part of the world you left). But I think a deeper consequence is that we see the solar system.  And Game Freak is a bit weird about whether or not the Pokémon world is supposed to be Earth.  After generation I, there are very few references to real places on Earth, but all the regions we’ve visited in the core series are based on real places, and the world has a single white moon that looks the same size as its sun (only I think Pokémon might believe that the moon is an independent source of light, since moonlight and sunlight are distinct sources of magical power with different effects).  If we leave the planet… well, do we see Mars? Other iconic planets of the real solar system, like Saturn?  Are there Pokémon on Mars?  If we can visit the moon, does that force definitive answers on things that have previously been deliberately left as the subject of rumour and conspiracy theories, like the origins of the Clefairy? Do we have to answer questions about how moonlight and Pokémon with moon-related powers work?  What about the gas giants?  How would they even support Pokémon?  Is Pluto a planet?  Can the games show us Earth from space without having a clearly defined world map?  Will the answers to some of these questions accidentally confirm that the Pokémon world is definitely not Earth?  Granted, Ultra Space and the Distortion World raise lots of questions too, but I think for the most part they’re questions that are relatively easier to ignore.  I don’t think you can let players travel the solar system without being forced to immediately take a stance on a number of things that Game Freak would probably rather leave ambiguous.

Sandro asks:

Can you put together any reasoning for why Pokémon can learn only four moves? I mean, I can understand from game perspective but from in-universe perspective? I suppose complicated magical moves would make sense but some moves like Tackle or Peck are really just simple basic body movements. How does learning how to breathe fire or squirt water make you forget how to ram your face into stuff?

Obviously there are compelling gameplay reasons for it, and early seasons of the anime (which doesn’t need to care about that) actually do play fast and loose with this rule occasionally – Drake’s Dragonite uses no fewer than ten different attacks in Ash’s Orange League championship battle.  But cases like that are the exception, not the rule, and often seem meant to illustrate that a particular Pokémon is unusually powerful and skilled – most Pokémon can’t do it.  Why?  I think we need to compare how athletic skills and martial arts techniques work in the real world (because that’s basically what Pokémon attacks are).  Continue reading “Sandro asks:”

Team Galactic

Okay, everyone, take a deep breath because this one’s a doozy. Team Rocket’s evil plans threatened first a major corporation and then an entire nation. Team Aqua and Team Magma’s climate shenanigans threatened the whole world. When Game Freak went to make Diamond and Pearl, they looked at the villains they had written in the past… and apparently thought something along the lines of “now, how can we top that?” Answer: a villainous team whose evil schemes threaten – I kid you not – reality itself. And they plan it all whilst wearing the kind of bizarre silvery jumpsuits you expect of aliens in dated sci-fi movies and sporting ridiculous turquoise bowl-cuts.

 This is going to be great. Continue reading “Team Galactic”