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.
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.
Now that we’ve had the Fairy type for a while, how well do you think they achieved their conceptual goals, which ostensibly were to both nerf Dragon Pokemon and re-assert the offensive relevance of Poison and Steel types?
Pretty well, I guess? A lot of Dragon-types are still really good, but they’re largely carried by their extremely high base stats now; the game is noticeably much less about throwing Draco Meteors and Outrages while blocking with Steel-types than it was in generations IV and V. You can’t really make a competitive team with, like, four or five Pokémon from one of those two types and expect it to work, which… you arguably could, for a while? You still probably wouldn’t stick a Poison attack on a non-Poison Pokémon unless you were really strapped for better options, but I guess I feel less bad about using Poison-types in offensive roles now. Steel as an attack type often still feels redundant with other attacks that a lot of the same Pokémon tend to learn (and when do you need a type advantage against Ice, anyway? They don’t resist anything; just hit ‘em with whatever), but Steel Pokémon are fine, obviously.
I think we should talk about regional variants, don’t you? I was going to do the Alolan forms at the end of generation VII, and the timing got so tight at the end, but now that we’ve got a bunch of Galarian forms as well, it seems like something we could do all at once. So here’s the plan: Alolan forms first, Galarian forms after that, and I dunno if I have all that much to say about each one individually but I could certainly take ‘em three at a time, trying as far as possible to put them into groups that are in some way thematic. Sound good? Okay. We’re going to begin with the Alolan Rattata and Raticate, Meowth and Persian, and Grimer and Muk – not because they are all Dark-types, which is a reason, but not a very good one; we’re putting them together because all three forms exist in Alola as the result of human intervention. Let’s discuss.
You mentioned a while back that if you had your way, Pokémon would have less types, and Water would be one of the types on the chopping block. Can you elaborate more about which types you’d cut and why, and what would remain in your ideal type chart?
It goes through… iterations, depending on how much wild abandon I’m feeling from day to day, and what kind of scope I’m imagining for whatever hypothetical redesign of the Pokémon games that would give me this opportunity. The common thread of my logic is that (contrary, I think, to a lot of fans) I don’t believe more types actually make the game better. Once you have about seven or eight you’ve probably already exhausted 90% of the strategic depth they add to the battle system (compare the TCG, which originally had just seven, although it was more or less forced to expand to eleven by the introduction of new types in generations II and VI, as well as the proliferation of Dragon-types starting in generation III). Having more just makes it harder to memorise all the relationships, and makes the game harder to get into. Like, I get it because I had the bulk of it seared into my impressionable child brain when I was nine, changes in generations II and VI notwithstanding, but if I picked up my first Pokémon game today, in my late 20s, I’m not sure I’d think that was worth my time (though I admit it helps that recent games in the core series display the type effectiveness of your moves against your opponents). There’s an argument that more types enable a wider range of creature designs, but I think you can actually achieve the same result with fewer types more broadly defined. But let’s actually take a stab at answering this question.
dealt with ALL the Ultra Beasts.
Nihilego, Buzzwole, Pheromosa, Xurkitree, Celesteela, Kartana, Guzzlord,
all seven of them have been reviewed.
…what do you mean, they added more!?
Okay, so… 802 Pokémon was not enough, it’s never enough, it will
never be enough until I’m dead, so
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon added another five Pokémon that weren’t in the
original Sun and Moon, and can’t be traded back to those games either. Four of those were additional Ultra Beasts,
and for the sake of thematic unity I’m going to cover them before returning to
the legendary Pokémon of Alola. Our
subjects for today are the first two, the only Ultra Beasts to evolve: Poipole
and Naganadel, the Poison Pin Pokémon (the same species name as Nidoran!).
The Alolan archipelago has at last surrendered all (or, well, most) of its secrets – so now the time has finally come for us to leave behind the world we know. The stars have aligned, the ritual is complete, the Dark Forces from Parts Unknown have imparted their mystic secrets, the Ultra Wormhole beckons, and the void opens before us, promising nothing at the price of everything. Yep – we’re figuring out the Ultra Beasts. There’s ten of these freaky bastards (not counting Lunala, Solgaleo and Necrozma), and they’re each getting their own entry. My aim over the course of those ten articles will be not just to review the Ultra Beasts individually, but also to, hopefully, figure out… well, something about them as a group. What are they? What exactly is Ultra Space? Why are they such a threat to Alola? Are they really a group at all, or just a random sample of the variety of life that exists in an infinite multiverse? All these questions, and more, will… honestly, let’s face it, probably not be answered here on Pokémaniacal, but we’ll bloody well give it a go – starting with probably the best-known Ultra Beast of all, Nihilego.
I think it’s time to explore some of the more hostile reaches of Alola, with the volcano-dwelling salamander Pokémon, Salandit and Salazzle. Salandit and Salazzle could be based on any of several things, or a mix of all of them, or none of them. Physically they resemble fire belly newts (genus Cynops), a group of newt species native to Japan and southern and eastern China (in the strictest scientific sense, newts are a branch of the salamander family and, compared to other salamanders, remain more aquatic even after leaving their tadpole stage; the words are often used interchangeably though). Fire belly newts are so called for their black colouring with bright red or yellow flame-like markings, which warn predators that they are poisonous and unsafe to eat – so we have a ready-made fusion of the Fire and Poison elements right there. Salamanders also have a very long history of being associated with fire, with stories that they bathe in flames going back at least as far as Aristotle. We could almost stop at that – Salandit and Salazzle are fire salamanders that breathe fire, and they’d hardly be the first Pokémon to come out of “real animal + appropriate-sounding elemental powers” (*cough*Beartic*cough*). But no; there’s more to these crafty amphibians, and as so often in Alola, we can look for answers in the real archipelago of Hawai’i. Continue reading “Salandit and Salazzle”→
Today we’ll be looking at some of Alola’s more passive-aggressive denizens, the Brutal Star Pokémon, Mareanie and Toxapex. Their physical designs are a little bit cryptic – Mareanie looks like a sort of spikey anemone, while Toxapex… Toxapex resembles nothing so much as a cancerous uvula glued to the inside of a dilapidated sea mine, with her twelve arms locking together to form an impenetrable dome that protects against not only predators but the force of waves, tides and ocean storms. In appearance, probably the closest animal to Toxapex would be something like a sea urchin, so bristling with spikes that its real body is essentially invisible, and probably not what you’re most worried about anyway. But it’s from their place in Alola’s ecology – specifically their relationship with one particular Pokémon, Corsola – that makes it clear that they’re probably supposed to be based on the dreaded crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, an unusual many-armed, spiny starfish found throughout much of the Pacific ocean. Continue reading “Mareanie and Toxapex”→
Well, yes and no. Swalot’s kinda dull, don’t get me wrong, and in terms of being a Poison-type blob it’s more or less the same idea. Swalot’s schtick is different, though, in that it doesn’t have Muk’s industrial pollution theme – it’s a totally 100% natural formless blob – and instead is defined mainly by being essentially an ambulatory stomach with a face.
Bunch of random thoughts on my favorite type, Poison? I think some simple tweaks, that also make logical sense, would make the type much more balanced: poison should be super effective on water(cause toxins affect aquatic animals more strongly), and the poison status effect should sharply lower special attack(analogous to burn). Maybe throw in effectiveness on bug and resistance to dark? Also, what do you think of the idea of a Poison/Fire legendary that creates oil spills and sets fire to them?
Poison, Poison, Poison…
Poison is underrated, I think. Like, everyone knows Poison attacks are terrible, but Poison as a type, defensively, is actually really good; just ask Weezing. Making all of those changes would make Poison much too strong, I think – but making it super-effective on Water types probably wouldn’t be too much, and it’s thematically appropriate. As for the poison status… well, thematically burns weaken your physical attacks because they make movement painful and make the affected parts of your body tender; I guess you might justify an equivalent special attack penalty from poison by claiming that the poison damages concentration or something? But I think thematically I would prefer just making all poison “toxic” to bump it up to the level of other status effects. For the attacks that currently cause that status (Toxic, Poison Fang, potentially Toxic Spikes), give them a head start on the damage ramping – start at 1/8 of the target’s HP on the first turn instead of 1/16. The legendary Pokémon could be interesting; I think I’d be inclined to see it as a sort of souped-up Muk, an avatar of industrial pollution, which potentially comes with some interesting territory to explore – if something is born out of toxic waste or oil spills, does that make it evil, or mean that it doesn’t have the same rights as other Pokémon? Does it spread pollution itself, or does it actually wipe out oil spills by burning them away, and what is its overall impact on the environment? Mechanically, what could also be neat there is a signature move along the lines of a Fire-type Venoshock – fire damage, with a bonus on poisoned targets (much stronger than Venoshock though, obviously).