One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
Who would win in a fight to the death, all the Gen 5 Pokemon you allowed to live, or all the Gen 5 Pokemon you condemned to die?
Well, in general one of the criteria I used for letting them live or die was whether they were actually any good, so… well, the ones who lived get most of the legendaries, all three starters, Hydreigon, Excadrill and Volcarona… and the ones who died get, like… fµ¢£in’… Watchog and Emolga and $#!t. I mean, it’s not all bad, they get Bisharp, and Bisharp is legitimately a lot better now than it was in generation V, but still… I dunno if I see it working for them.
The Dark Council has convened, and by the will of my mysterious Patrons, my fate is ordained: we’re talking about Ghetsis, the villain of Pokémon: Black and White. Black and White have always been games that I have very mixed feelings about, for all sorts of reasons, and Ghetsis and his role in the story are inextricable from those feelings. I love the story of Black and White and their sequels; taken together I still think they have the best plot a core Pokémon game has yet produced (although more recent games have different strengths of their own). I also think they’re deeply flawed and could easily have been so much more. Ghetsis is a fantastic character – but he and his relationship with the games’ anti-hero (anti-villain?), N, are at the heart of what holds Black and White back. I’ve talked about Team Plasma, N and Ghetsis before in places, but that was ages ago and some of that old stuff is a little patchy, so this has been a long time coming. Let’s talk about what makes Ghetsis arguably the most evil character in Pokémon’s history and how he shapes the story of these now-classic entries in the series.
One thing I’ve noticed about Bianca and Cheren: Bianca always ends up being the more useful of the pair. In the Relic Castle sequence, Cheren just tags along behind you, ultimately adding nothing to the situation. Bianca, meanwhile, gets ahold of Juniper–which turns out to be really important since they find the dark/light stone. In the Elite Four sequence, the same thing happens. Cheren tags along and beats the Elite Four as well (not contributing much of anything to your predicament) while Bianca rounds up all the Gym Leaders (who save your ass). I think this was probably intentional, and it sheds light on how the writers wanted us to view Bianca and Cheren.
Hmm. I think that’s a little unfair to
Cheren; he does fight alongside you against Team Plasma on multiple occasions, and
fighting usually makes up most of the player’s contribution to advancing
the plot. And I don’t… think Bianca
is responsible for getting Professor Juniper involved in looking for the
Dark/Light Stone, or at least I don’t believe anyone ever says that’s
what she’s doing. I’d be more inclined
to assume that that was the elder Professor Juniper, who is present at the
Dragonspiral Tower when the player confronts N, and works together with his
daughter to identify the stone. There is
a general point to be made about Bianca and Cheren as foils to each other,
though. The early part of the game kind
of sets up Cheren as more organised, more ambitious, a better trainer, more…
well, frankly, more competent, whereas Bianca doesn’t really know what she’s
doing or what she wants. Over the course
of the game, though, Cheren comes to realise (through Alder’s example) that his
ambitions are basically hollow, leaving him somewhat listless at the end of the
story; Bianca, on the other hand, grows into herself, figures out what she wants
to do with her life, and becomes a researcher.
She’s ultimately the one who comes out of it with a stronger conception
of her own goals and identity. I think
the message is supposed to be about taking time to explore life, and figure out
what your goals are gradually and organically, rather than focusing on the
single-minded pursuit of just one aim in the belief that it will complete you as
a person (Cheren actually credits Bianca, as well as the player, Alder and N,
with helping him realise this).
Who would win in a fight? Your vastly superior intellect, or all the Gen V Pokemon sentenced to cruel, horrible deaths all those years ago?
Oh, I would get destroyed. This brain of mine? This is an ideas brain; moreover, this is a humanities brain. I’m not going to go all Home Alone on this $#!t; I’m just going to stand there, pompously explaining to them that criticism is part of the network of social relationships that give art its meaning, that a thorough understanding of a work’s flaws can actually deepen a sincere appreciation of it, and that we all have a responsibility to be critical of the media we consume, while they… y’know, variously incinerate, lacerate, electrify, putrefy, pulverise, exorcise, freeze and disembowel me.
Anyways, how do you think gamefreak would approach restoring Kyurem to the original Dragon?
My idea would be (as true to the seemingly benevolent natures of the protagonist in the games). Reshiram and Zekrom giving a piece of their essence, which would then be transformed into a mega stone for Kyurem
Well I am not Game Freak, as I have learned over the course of the last seven years, slowly, painfully and at great material and mystical cost. What we actually know about any plans Game Freak may ever have had to release this Pokémon (let’s call it “Primal Kyurem” for the sake of argument – I think Primal Reversion is arguably a better analogy for what we’re doing than Mega Evolution) is that there is an unobtainable item lingering in the code of all the games from Black and White onwards, called the God Stone. Aside from its grey colour, it looks exactly like the Light Stone and Dark Stone, the dormant forms of Reshiram and Zekrom, which are plot-critical items in the final versions of Black and White. Not enough information is left in the finished games for us to deduce what the God Stone was intended to be for. It might have been meant as a dormant form of Kyurem, but the name “God Stone” seems altogether too grand for a being as diminished and broken as Kyurem. I suspect it is the item, created by somehow merging the Light and Dark Stones, that would be absorbed by Kyurem (as it absorbs the Light Stone or Dark Stone at the climax of Black or White 2) to restore it to its “primal” state. But even if this is true, the notion was probably abandoned at a relatively early stage of the games’ development cycle. Continue reading “Squidward Tentacles asks:”→
Is it just me, or do Pokemon Black and White seem like they were intended to be a lot longer? Many Pokemon in the game reach their final stages well after they’d be useful (like Bisharp, Braviary, Hydreigon etc) and the ending sequence feels so rushed, with N’s castle popping up out of nowhere, and you catching your dragon in the very last scene. I know it’s a weird time to be talking about Black and White, but it’s always felt so odd…
Well, that is the only generation so far that included a direct sequel to its main title. Purely as a practical reality of development cycles, Game Freak must have decided that they were going to do Black and White 2 as sequels long before Black and White were actually released, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if they had originally planned a more typical “Grey version” – Black and White with some extra bells and whistles – and changed course only when they realised there was too much material that wouldn’t fit in the initial release. So it’s plausible that there was something unusual about the writing process in Generation V that could be responsible for that truncated feeling you’re sensing. Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”→
You denied Bisharp’s right to exist back when just Black and White were out. Now it’s a defining metagame pokemon, with exceptionally powerful options in Knock Off and Sucker Punch, as well as Dark/Steel being excellent offensive typing due to the changes to Dark and Steel in Gen VI. Are you satisfied with the pokemon, now?
Sure, I suppose. I mean, most of the stuff I said at the time about Bisharp’s design (on which I was fairly equivocal) still applies. Rereading the entry, I feel like I could very easily have gone the other way on him if I’d found a little more to like in his flavour text or something – after all, I described him as “at least vaguely competent” in battle, which I still think is a perfectly fair assessment of Bisharp’s capabilities at that time (generation VI has been very kind to him). So there are definitely things about Bisharp that I still feel decidedly ‘meh’ towards; it’s just that he’s now so obviously strong that I’m sort of forced to overlook them.
Are you going to do the series where you decide whether a Pokemon is actually good or not for Alola?
Good question. I mean, I’ll do some sort of individual review for each Pokémon once I’ve played the game, definitely. I don’t know how much I want those to look like what I did for Unova and Kalos, though. I think that depends on how I react to the overall feel of the whole group of 7th generation Pokémon. Like, when I did Unova, a lot of the way I wrote those reviews was the result of my being frustrated about one particular decision and its consequences – namely, that Game Freak chose to use no pre-5th-generation Pokémon in Unova, but simultaneously undercut that decision by including so many designs that felt like one-for-one replacements for 1st-generation Pokémon (this one is here because they couldn’t have Pidgey, this one is here because they couldn’t have Geodude, this one is here because they couldn’t have Muk… etc). And that’s why I did the whole “I hereby affirm/deny this Pokémon’s right to exist” thing, of course, because I had really strongly polarised feelings about… well, really everything in Black and White, not just the Pokémon designs. I had very different feelings about Kalos; the Pokémon were… not better, Unova at its best is just as good as Kalos, but more consistent; I had trouble finding anything to seriously dislike in Kalos. Well. Except Dedenne. But f%&k Dedenne.
So yeah, we’ll see what I think of Sun and Moon as a whole and go from there. Honestly I’m even kind of toying with doing something really weird, like some sort of in-universe in-character discussion of the different Pokémon that just totally jumps off the deep end with respect to, like, being a review. But I would have to see if I can make that work, or if I even like it.
Okay, I realise that we’re pushing it by including Colress in this series; it’s easy to come up with reasons to lump in N with the list of ‘rival’ characters, even though he behaves very differently to the rest of them, but Colress is very clearly not the same thing. However, I don’t care and I want to talk about Colress, because shut up.
Nice reasoned argument there.
So, Colress. Crazy mad scientist character. I was underwhelmed by him, to be honest. I mean, what does he even do?
I actually liked him! I enjoyed the fact that he was working pretty much at right angles to what literally everyone else in the story was trying to do.
On the last day of March this year, I set out to pass judgement on all one hundred and fifty-six of the new Pokémon of Black and White. I have spent the intervening nine months whining constantly about the general incompetence of Game Freak’s designers and the total unworthiness of the name “Pokémon” of such creations as Unfezant, Emolga, and (shudder) Garbodor. So, here’s the big question: what’s the final score?
Out of one hundred and fifty-six Pokémon, I have:
And shaken my head in confusion and given up on one.
Wait, that can’t be right! I’ve let almost half of them live! I must have been far too nice! Let me see those…