Herald of Opera asks:

So, apparently the National Dex is going away. For all the Internet riots that have been going on about this, wasn’t it pretty much inevitable that the series would eventually create more Pokémon than it could fit in one game? And I’m saying all this despite knowing my personal favorite is almost certainly getting the axe (sorry Piplup, but you’re a non-Kanto starter, your animal basis doesn’t live in the same hemisphere as Britain, and your anime appearance was an obnoxious spotlight stealer)

Okay, I’m gonna hijack this question to get out everything I think about this and be the one and hopefully only time I talk about it, so here goes nothing:

Continue reading “Herald of Opera asks:”

Toucannon asks:

You’ve often complained about the unoriginality of bird pokemon, and you did a great job of suggesting ways to increase the relevance of the two most original ones of the bunch, those being Farfetch’d and Delibird. 

So, suppose you had the freedom to redesign all of the flying/normal pokemon in the game (Pidgeot, Fearow, Noctowl, Swellow, Braviary, Unfeazant, Staraptor, Chatot) and possibly Svanna, Mandibuzz, Honchkrow and Dodrio (although the latter seems original enough to me, and the others have the benefit of their typing to make them stand out enough that they at least don’t look like mere copy-pasted concepts), how would you do it?

You’re free to do anything – suggest altered looks, change the stat-lineup and/or typing, create new moves or abilities, modify the amount of evolutionary stages – other than removing them; each species ought to remain as something that exists in the game.

And I know I’m leaving a handful of birds out (the legendary trio, Pelipper, Talonflame, Hawlucha, Dartrix), but I feel those are original enough, and/or sufficiently competitive, as not to need any redesign.

Really looking forward to how you’d do that – your series on “upgrading the worst 10 pokemon in the game” was a really interesting read.


So… cut me some slack here; I can’t do all of these, because… well that’s twelve Pokémon to review and redesign, and think of the precedent it sets if I signal that I’m willing to throw together a project like that every damn week. Game Freak has a whole team of people who design 60-odd Pokémon every two years, and I’m one disgruntled archaeologist with a termite-infested soapbox and no artistic skills.  So what we are going to try to do here is make it very clear that I don’t want to make a habit of this, and then address the question by prioritising: get some kind of ranking system in place to isolate the worst of the suck.  Who most needs a buff or redesign?

Continue reading “Toucannon asks:”

Flareon asks:

Am I useful now that I finally can learn Flare Blitz?

Well, I’d say you’re arguably no longer the worst of your siblings, which is… something, right?  Your offensive movepool is still really bad, and that’s a problem that pretty much your entire family struggles with.  The best moves you all share are support techniques, so it’s your toughest siblings – Vaporeon, Umbreon and Sylveon – who are the most consistently useful.  Espeon gets a leg up from her ludicrous hidden ability, and Jolteon kinda gets by on his good offensive stat distribution and strong attack type.  Leafeon is pretty bad, but arguably still better than you because Swords Dance and Chlorophyll give him sweeping potential.  Now that you have Flare Blitz though, you can claim to be at least as good as Glaceon, who has a similar offensive power level but a very weak defensive type and generally poor abilities.  The problem with being you, Flareon, is you’ve got one hell of a Flare Blitz, but you’re lacklustre in both speed and defence, which makes you really easy to kill, and all of Fire’s weaknesses are to really common attack types (Water, Ground and Rock – including Stealth Rock).  In comparison with other physically-oriented single-type Fire Pokémon, well… Darmanitan is somehow faster, tougher and stronger, and has a better selection of physical attacks plus the ridiculousness that is Sheer Force; while Arcanine is faster, surprisingly tough, has Intimidate, is flexible enough for a physical/special mix, and can heal with Morning Sun.  Hell, even Rapidash is faster and has arguably a better physical movepool than you, but at least she has the decency to have bad abilities, average defences and a weaker attack stat.  You could go hang out with Rapidash, I guess?

Robin asks:

You already did a Top 10 worst/least favourite Pokémon, but is there any chance you’d do a Top 10 best/favourite Pokémon?

Probably not, mostly because I don’t think I would be able to come up with a good rationale for it. When I did that top 10 worst Pokémon list, I chose Pokémon that were both extremely weak and (in my estimation) poorly designed or bland – and there’s really not that many of those. If you set something like Kricketune as your standard for power, you’re eliminating the vast majority of Pokémon right off the bat, and then it’s fairly easy to sort through what’s left and decide which ones are interesting enough to be redeemed on design grounds. That doesn’t really work for picking the best ones. I could start by getting a list of all the most powerful legendary Pokémon – Kyogre, Necrozma, Mewtwo, Reshiram, and so on – and maybe a couple of other top-tiers like Blaziken and Aegislash, then pick ten that I think are well-designed, but… well, for one thing, at that point we’re basically doing a list of the top ten coolest legendary Pokémon, which I don’t think is really what you’re suggesting, and for another, I don’t believe those Pokémon are actually good for the game. Well, obviously then I should start by ruling out all the Pokémon that I think are unreasonably powerful and start picking the best-designed ones from the upper echelons of what’s left. The problem is, I don’t actually know where that point is – and even if I did, I’m not sure how I would convince anyone to agree with me. The “worst Pokémon” list made sense because it was a way of talking about what makes a Pokémon bad, and how to fix the kinds of problems those Pokémon had in common. A “best Pokémon” list… ultimately would probably just be a list of my favourite Pokémon, which I don’t actually think is particularly interesting.

A rambling chat about game balance

In lieu of a Pokémon review (because what even is my life right now, arghghghl; next weekend my students are handing in essays and I have to write an exam for the week after that), here is a message log with a conversation between me and Jim the Editor about game balance in Pokémon (and elsewhere).  This is the kind of thing I might post regularly to a Patreon page, if I ever actually create one?  So, comments would be useful.

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 6.41.51 PM.png Continue reading “A rambling chat about game balance”

Anonymous asks:

For moves like Hyper Beam, Giga Impact, Frenzy Plant, etc… How do you like the sound of them being changed so that, rather than forcing the user to recharge and waste a turn after use, they simply fail if used in succession?

Hmm.  I rather like this one.  Probably the most important thing is that it all but prohibits using these moves with Choice items, which presents a trade-off in min-maxing potential that strikes me as an interesting choice.  The moves will still force you into awkward situations quite often, so their power comes with a cost, but they’ll no longer f$#& you over so consistently as to make them unusable.

Anonymous asks:

what are your views on ledian and how can you make him (i really see ledian as a him) good or actually viable? because i, for one, was disappointed back when i was playing the gen 2 games for the first time because i thought ledian’s whole “ladybug that punches things with its four boxing glove arms” design was awesome.

Better stats.

I mean, that’s a dull cop-out answer, but… like… that has to be step one.  The boxing/punching thing seems to be a fairly important element of Ledian’s design, but they gave him an attack stat that’s outclassed by baby seals, some caterpillars, seaweed, and f&#%ing Bidoof. Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

Anonymous asks:

Not sure if you’ve done this before but it strikes me that there are a number of gen 2 pokemon that are severly lacking and in need of some love. Which design out of Sunflora, Dunsparce and Delibird do you think is most worthy of being saved and how would you make the one of your choice relevant again?

Well, I actually did ramble about Sunflora and Delibird long, long ago when I did a Top Ten Worst Pokémon Ever list, the point of which was mostly to bitch about Pokémon who got the short end of the stick with respect to… well, everything, but partly also to try and fix them.  I actually love both Delibird and Dunsparce; my suggestion for Delibird was to rewrite Present into a sort of souped-up Fling, that would have made him into a bombardier Pokémon whose specialty was fighting with dangerous items like Iron Balls and Toxic Orbs (as well as just giving him a pile of extra attacks and better stats).  Dunsparce… well, Dunsparce seems like an obvious candidate to evolve into some huge derpy dragon-thing with too many wings and cool magical powers.  Dunsparce makes sense already and has a cool thing going with Serene Grace; better stats and access to Dragon attacks (especially some kind of signature move that works with Serene Grace – Dragon-type Ancient Power variant, anyone?) might just push him over into actually being useful.

Anonymous asks:

I think they should de-nerf Hyper Beam (and all its variations like Giga Impact and the starter types’ “ultimate moves”) back to Gen I mechanics where it doesn’t need to recharge if it knocks out an opposing Pokémon. What do you think?

Not sure.  I don’t think I’d be opposed to that for Hyper Beam and maybe Giga Impact specifically – Hyper Beam gets used on just about everything in generation I, to the extent that you could maybe argue it’s oppressive, but that’s partly because so many Pokémon just don’t have anything better to do in generation I (there are no really good Fighting, Rock or Ghost attacks, no Bug or Poison ones that are even decent, and basically no Dragon attacks at all), which is no longer the case.  I don’t think allowing everyone to have a good Normal-type special attack is going to break all that much; Normal attacks are terrible anyway.  Even Rock Wrecker is probably fine; Rhyperior’s probably too slow to abuse it.  However, I am extremely antsy about giving, say, Blast Burn with these mechanics to Infernape and Blaziken, or Hydro Cannon to Greninja (for that matter, Roar of Time might be worth a raised eyebrow, but hey, if we care about balancing Dialga, the ship has sailed on that one).  That might be asking for trouble.

Anonymous asks:

I think that Game Freak should have made an Ability that’s Chlorophyll but with a different name (a la Insomnia/Vital Spirit), and made THAT Blaziken’s Hidden Ability instead of Speed Boost. Something like ‘Blazing Legs’. This would address Blaziken’s big weakness (Speed) and encourage players to use it in sunlight, which strengthens its Fire attacks, thus powering it up in competitive without making it crazy broken like Speed Boost does. What do you think?

I kinda want it to be something more unique… I don’t know that it particularly fits Blaziken to be especially dependent on sun.  Maybe something Technician-esque that gives priority to low-power moves, so she gets, like, priority Aerial Ace and priority Double Kick?  Or something Motor Drive-esque that absorbs Fire attacks to gain speed (it worked for Electivire in his day, after all)?