The Dag asks:

Why do you think Poison-type Pokemon were so commonplace and widespread in Gen I and since then have been relatively scarce since?

Honestly, maybe the fact that it’s true is the reason for the thing itself?  Like, if balance of the number of Pokémon in each type is something that Game Freak cares about at all, then you could fairly look at the 33 first-generation Poison-types and say “okay, we have more than enough of these.”  Per Bulbapedia, Poison is still the 8th most common type out of 18, despite gaining only three new members in generation II, four in III and just two (Skrelp and Dragalge) in VI.

I think Poison is just… a weird thing to even be a type, frankly.  It’s like Flying, in that it’s more something a Pokémon does than something a Pokémon is (except arguably in the case of industrial waste Pokémon like Muk and Weezing), and it’s not hard to imagine its abilities being given fairly freely to Pokémon who aren’t actually members of the type.  And… well, think of other JRPGs.  Poison is always a status effect; off the top of my head I can’t think of any games that have a concept of status effects where poison isn’t one of them.  However, I think I’m justified in saying that it’s very rarely, if ever, a trait of monsters that affects their general strengths and weaknesses.  Having Poison as a type at all is a very weird decision, both conceptually and in terms of mechanical game design, and generation I also slaps it on several Pokémon for whom poison is… arguably not a very strong part of their identity – Bulbasaur, Golbat, Nidoran?  I’m really going out on a limb here, but it’s sort of plausible to me that Game Freak’s designers genuinely didn’t know what to do with the Poison type for quite a while after the first games.

Pikachu

Pikachu

Somehow, after writing on this blog for nearly 10 years(!!!) and having reviews of individual Pokémon be a pretty big part of my schtick, I’ve never actually talked in depth about Pikachu – the beloved mascot, the one Pokémon everyone knows, even people who have never played a Pokémon game or seen an episode of the TV show; heck, I’d wager there are people who don’t even know what a Pokémon is who’d recognise Pikachu.  But no more, for I have been commanded by the mysterious cloaked figures of my Dark Council to write next about the most famous Pokémon of all.  So… what exactly is Pikachu’s deal, anyway?  Where did it come from, and what makes the design so effective?  Whence Pikachu?  Read on, as we delve into the history of Pokémon’s favourite child.

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Staryu and Starmie

Staryu.

The Dark Forces from Parts Unknown whose occult powers sustain my life and strength have anointed new emissaries to convey their terrible will!  By which I mean, I have two new Patreon supporters pledging $12/month, the amount required to bribe your way onto my Dark Council.  The Dark Council can vote once a month on any topic (I mean, I assume Pokémon-related, but strictly speaking I suppose it doesn’t have to be) for me to write about at length, and this month I’m writing on the suggestion of Miame Irohara (thank you so much for your support!) whom I have named my new Chancellor of Fate.  By the authority vested in the Council, she has requested that I write about her favourite generation I Pokémon (and some of mine as well): Staryu and Starmie.

This is actually pleasantly topical, since Staryu and Starmie are among the Pokémon who weren’t previously in Sword and Shield but have become available in the Isle of Armour expansion (reminder: even if you haven’t bought the expansion, you can still trade for Staryu, or transfer it from an earlier game via Pokémon Home), and as any veteran trainer knows, they are some seriously kickass Pokémon.  If you’ve never had the pleasure of training one, maybe give this article a read, pick one up and take it for a spin (…literally).  But first, let’s talk about starfish.

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[Asks: Asks: Asks: Asks:] asks:

How do you feel about the lack of single type Flying pokemon? I’ve always felt it was odd that there is only one pure Flying type.

I tend to think Game Freak’s notion of what the Flying type actually is has changed quite a bit since generation I, perhaps to the extent that no one has ever quite known what it’s supposed to be.  All the generation I Flying-type attacks are bird-themed – Wing Attack, Drill Peck, Sky Attack (in Japanese, Goddo Bādo, a transliteration of the English “God Bird”) – which makes sense, since we have reason to suspect, on the basis of MissingNo and other bits of stray game data from Red and Blue, that it was originally called the “Bird type.” This, of course, is why Flying is strong against Bug.  Gust was a Normal-type attack originally, and Whirlwind still is.

Continue reading “[Asks: Asks: Asks: Asks:] asks:”

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:

Now that you’ve seen all the Alolan forms, I’ve a thought to share: the types they gave to the Alolan forms are all types that have either 0 or 1 representative among Gen I Pokémon. Think about it: Persian, Raticate, & Muk got Dark while Ninetales got Fairy (neither repped in Gen I), Sandslash & Dugtrio got Steel (only Magneton), Exeggutor got Dragon (only Dragonite), & Marowak got Ghost (only Gengar). The exceptions are Raichu (but Pikachu’s popular) & Golem, for which I got nothing. Thoughts?

There actually are Fairy-types in generation I: Jigglypuff, Clefairy and Mr. Mime (if Magneton counts, so do they).  I don’t think this says anything interesting, other than maybe that Game Freak likes type diversity.  Could be they want to give the first generation a bit more of the types that were introduced later.

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?