AceTrainerAlvaro asks:

Pokedex entries are psuedo-scientific at best but locomotion is a sorely abused biological concept in a lot of Pokémon designs. Other than Garchomp flying around at “jet plane” speeds*, what are some the most egregious examples in your opinion? For me, the two other worst offenders are A) Escavalier, which somehow “fl[ies] around at high speed” – I like to pretend it actually hovers on rapidly flapping insect wings, too fast for human eyes to see – and B) the Diving Pokémon Lugia – I cannot explain how a benthic organism can use those same large flippers to break the surface and move its body through the air using anything other than “psychic force propulsion”.

*in my mind, Garchomp has a modified swim bladder that has evolved allowing it to float in the lighter-than-water fluid that is air, but I still can’t imagine how Garchomp achieves lift to propel itself through the air.

Escavalier always really bothered me too, just because of how slow the damn thing actually is in the game; you see the same kind of thing with Donphan, Vikavolt, probably some others (EDIT: however, see here on what “speed” and other stats actually mean).  Honestly, I don’t even care that it doesn’t have wings, because I can totally imagine it just, like, levitating on magnetism or something – although of course the bastard thing doesn’t learn Magnet Rise either.  Speaking of Magnet Rise, though, Jim the Editor found a fantastic one, which is that Electrode can apparently become so bloated with electricity that it floats and drifts along on the wind.

All that said, though, off the top of my head I can’t think of anything that tops Garchomp being able to fly – and I will note here that it can’t actually learn Fly, which would have been a very easy move to give it in a practical sense, and not a serious game balance threat.  That’s actually what bugs me here, the lack of consistency, that Garchomp in the game doesn’t do anything that makes it seem like it should be able to fly.  ‘cause, like… the physics of flight clearly don’t work for a whole lot of Pokémon; I don’t really believe Charizard could fly with wings that size, and Dragonite sure as hell couldn’t.  But Charizard’s clearly a traditional European dragon, and they’re supposed to fly whether the physics works or not, and Dragonite’s all mystical and sacred and stuff.  Likewise, I’m not bothered by just about anything Lugia does because Lugia clearly is extremely magic.  There’s realism, and there’s verisimilitude, y’know?

Lilycat asks:

Doesn’t Raihan look like Garchomp? Considering his sandstorm…weather team….do you think it was a wasted opportunity that he didn’t have a Garchomp?

I mean I suppose they’re saving him for the rumored diamond pearl remakes…but what are your thoughts?

Yeah, I guess I can see it?  Like, those particular shades of navy blue and scarlet, together with the white “spikes” on his hoodie… seems like it could be a deliberate stylistic reference.  I can think of reasons not to give him a Garchomp, but not fantastic reasons.  Like, as you said, if they were planning to release Pokémon: Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl or whatever in 2020 or 2021, then those games would definitely have Garchomp, so there’s a decent argument for leaving it out of Sword and Shield, but I think you are allowed to put it in both; there are several Sinnoh-native Pokémon in Sword and Shield, including the iconic Rotom and Lucario, so there is going to be overlap anyway.  You could also argue that gym leaders almost always have a signature Pokémon that’s new in their own generation – in Raihan’s case, Duraludon – and putting a “pseudo-legendary” Pokémon like Garchomp on his gym team would overshadow his star player, which is clearly undesirable.  However, his Champion Cup team actually does include a pseudo-legendary Dragon, namely Goodra.  I don’t think it was necessarily a mistake to leave Garchomp out of the Galar Pokédex and thus deny Raihan the opportunity to use it, but I do think it was a weird choice to do that and then lean into what seems like a Garchomp-inspired character design, rather than picking one of the many other Dragon Pokémon that do exist in Galar, like Haxorus or Noivern.

Then again, I can see an argument for that being kind of the point.  The Pokémon that are missing from Galar aren’t gone for good, and they even have fans in Galar; maybe Raihan loves Garchomp but has never had the opportunity to catch one.  Arguably his costume would look… well, over-the-top if it matched a Pokémon he actually used, but comes across a bit more subtle as a reference to a foreign Pokémon that he likes but doesn’t have.

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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Anonymous:

If you were to make a themed team for Cynthia, what would you give her? Feel free to interpret any particular theme you feel is appropriate for her, and you can use Pokémon from any region you want, but you MUST keep her Garchomp.

Ehhhhhhmmmmm.  Cynthia likes mythical things and ancient mysteries and such.  Garchomp probably isn’t a Pokémon I would have chosen for that theme, given the option, but it is a big dragon, and dragons are magic, so close enough.  A lot of her other Pokémon already do have an appropriately mystic feel – Spiritomb, Lucario, Milotic… Roserade doesn’t fit; the Gastrodon she uses on Diamond and Pearl certainly doesn’t fit, though the Togekiss she replaces it with on Platinum is a bit better.  I would in principle want to replace them both with Pokémon that exist in Sinnoh.  I rather like Bronzong, which has the disadvantage of being Lucian’s signature Pokémon in Diamond and Pearl, but is workable if we just switch it out for Gallade on Lucian’s team (which is actually what happens in Platinum).  I’m tempted to go with a second Ghost- or Dark-type for the final slot… maybe Froslass, or Absol.

Incidentally,

I saw this on Pokémemes today, under the title “Technology Lent to More Design.”

The artist may have been trying to make a point, but I’m not entirely sure what it was.  Purely because it was on Pokémemes, I initially assumed it was an attempt to prove the superiority of either the first or the fourth generation as compared to the other, but if so it’s not clear which one the artist favours, so I’ve decided that this is unlikely.

As the picture illustrates, the newer designs are generally more detailed; the older ones are more likely to have large plain areas of block colour without ornamentation or patterning (broadly speaking – you might get the opposite impression by comparing, say, Jynx and Abomasnow).  Personally, this is something I like about the newer designs – I think, on balance, that I prefer the original Garchomp to this redesign, but I feel there’s a lot to be said for this Charizard (though I don’t like the way the flame’s been done; it looks more like a bristly tail than fire, which fits when you see that style of flame on, say, Emboar or Typhlosion, but not on Charizard).  I think the thing to take away from this, though, is that they both work.  There’s more than one way to interpret a design concept, and some people are going to like one way of doing it, and some people another.

What do you think?

– Do you like your Pokémon clean and simple, or detailed and elaborate?
– What are the advantages and disadvantages of these two extremes?
– Has the artist still managed to capture ‘Garchomp’ with this different aesthetic?
– How about Charizard?
– And what the hell is the title “Technology Lent to More Design” supposed to mean, anyway?