Two Curious Fans ask:

I know it has been over 5 years since you’ve worked on Memoirs, would you ever plan on writing something like that again? I loved it so much, and wanted to know if you had any more work to read, or perhaps something to look forward to in the future.

Memoirs? I don’t… remember ever working on anything like that…? What was I even writing 5 years ago…? Stuff about Sun and Moon, about Alola and gen VII? Doesn’t feel that long ago, oddly enough. You don’t mean my book of weird poetry about Greece, do you? I only released that in 2020 and it’s not really a memoir, but it’s kind of the closest thing I can think of. I suppose the answer in that case would be that I don’t have anything in the pipes at the moment, but easily might in the future. Or… do you mean, like, the first-person narrative style of my Moon playthrough? In which case, again, I suppose I’m not really thinking about doing anything similar in the short term (certainly not for when I play Scarlet, because I do like the writing I did on Moon, but wasn’t really fond of how it dragged out my experience of that game), but I also do kind of have the seeds of ideas for something in a similar style, maybe?

Or… maybe it’s an autocorrect for mottos, which is, like… genuinely something I’m officially still planning to do for gen VIII but haven’t made time for. Because I am a lazy bastard.

Um. I’m… glad you liked whatever it is I wrote, but I’m afraid I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about.

Toxapex asks:

Do you think it’s awesome that Landorus-Therian is the best Pokemon in standard competitive singles? I do.

I mean, broadly, no, not really; as a top-level design and worldbuilding principle I would prefer for most legendary Pokémon not to be usable at all under normal circumstances, and I would also, as a separate issue, like for them not to dominate the competitive game. But this is a very “old man yells at cloud” opinion that you shouldn’t concern yourself with too much.

Conjuring Abominations for Fun and Profit

My life is conspicuously failing to make sense right now, so let’s talk about what I’ve been doing to stave off the encroaching despair marshalled against me by the tendrils of the Endless Void: creating abominations against nature and the divine with a Pokémon fusion generator.

I think there are a lot of people out there who still only know about Alex Onsager’s original Pokémon Fusion Generator that became mega-popular back in 2013, the one you can still find at https://pokemon.alexonsager.net/, which takes the face and colour palette of one first-generation Pokémon and slaps it on the body of another.  If that’s you, then boy howdy, do I have news for you: for there is another.  The Japeal Pokémon Fusion Generator 2 (which is not affiliated with the original generator or its creator, as far as I know) is much more powerful.  It can work with every Pokémon up to Eternatus, thanks to community-made sprites for the Pokémon from the 3D generations (the new Crown Tundra Pokémon are also in there, but paywalled, as are regional variants and most other alternate forms; the handful of Hisui-exclusive Pokémon are still missing entirely).  It does its face splices, in my opinion, a little more elegantly than the original, and can splice some other body parts as well, like feet, wings and tails.  It generates a hybrid cry for your creation.  You can also customise the colour palette of your abominations to some extent, and even play dress-up with them, using a set of props drawn partly from the generation IV-V contest/musical dress-up minigames and partly from conveniently modular chunks of some popular Pokémon (like Haunter’s floating hands or Bulbasaur’s bulb).  It is among the most highly sophisticated tools humanity has yet developed for spitting in the face of God.

Just look at this.  How and why did I even make this?  It is an affront to all that is good and pure.  I’m going to put a little hat on it.

Continue reading Conjuring Abominations for Fun and Profit

The Evil Twin asks:

I’ve got a Kantonian Gyarados pointed at your head and I compel you to make a regional form of Gyarados that’s a Dragon-type, with a capital D. I permit any historical, cultural, or mythological influences you want to pull from, and you may add a secondary type if you so choose, but it has to be Dragon. My Gyarados is locked and loaded, and your head is looking mighty Hyper Beamable. You have 72 hours. Good luck.

well

well what region, that-?

I mean if it’s just a Gyarados that’s from anywhere that’s not Kanto

look, people ask me from time to time what I would do with a Pokémon region based on New Zealand, and I never really want to get into it, for all sorts of reasons not worth talking about here, but if that region were to exist and if someone else were to tell me I needed to make a regional form of Gyarados from some fµ¢£ing place and it doesn’t matter where… well, obviously it’s going to be a taniwha.  Taniwha (the “wh” makes an f sound; TUH-nee-fuh) are serpentine water dragons, creatures of deep lakes, watery caves, river rapids and stormy seas.  They are the distant cousins of the shapeshifting mo‘o of Hawai‘i, who are possibly one of the influences behind Salazzle.  Taniwha are powerful, dangerous and fickle, with some of the European dragons’ tendency to abduct beautiful young women.  On the other hand, some of them are friendly to humanity and can be appeased with gifts, chants and songs.  They create and guard harbours, straits and waterways, and watch over those who show them the proper respect.  When the ancestors of the Māori people first came to New Zealand, some of their canoes were guided across the ocean by ancient taniwha.  A Pokémon based on a taniwha would have all of Gyarados’s renowned potential for destruction, especially if offended or treated disrespectfully, but could also be a benevolent guardian.  You go to it with gifts, and not only does it not murder you, maybe it gives you its blessing for the next time you’re out on a boat.  I think Pokémon trainers are supposed to be responsible for exactly this kind of give-and-take personal relationship with the embodied forces of nature that also exists in traditional Japanese spiritualism.

Lupina Howls asks:

Any updates on the advanced kingslocke rules?

Well, I was going to finish that test run of Heart Gold before publishing them, and I didn’t mean to have a very long break before starting the Kanto section of the game, but then I got COVID, and then my laptop broke down and I had to send it away to be fixed, and both of those things set me back on finishing my PhD thesis which is now very much in full crunch time, and will be for at least the next six weeks (by the way, and this isn’t related to what you’re asking and I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating for anyone else who might be paying attention, I am absolutely not going to touch Scarlet/Violet until mid-December at the very earliest).  So… maybe I need to accept that I’m never actually going to finish that run, just make what revisions I can on the basis of what we saw in the first half, and publish what comes out of that.  Hmm.

pie asks:

I just realized–remember that post you made about Pokemon and Food where you concluded that the Pokemon world has no bacon? Well now we have LECHONK, who is a chonky fellow that is Normal type and basically just a pig, and therefore we have now achieved bacon.

Oh, it’s even better than that, because Lechonk is a black pig in an Iberian region, which means it’s definitely the specific breed of pig used for making the fantastically rare and expensive gourmet cured pork product known as jamón Ibérico.  Black Iberian pigs are raised to forage wild acorns according to ancient traditional practices, making them strong and muscled but also full of marbled fat; their meat is the Wagyu beef of pork.  A leg of Iberico ham will set you back several hundred dollars.  Lechonk isn’t just a pig: it is the most delicious pig in the universe.

They’re practically asking for us to eat our Pokémon.

[EDIT/FOOTNOTE: this is the ancient post in question. Obviously there are pre-gen IX pig Pokémon, but I argued that all of them are, for one reason or another, not good candidates for food production at a commercial scale.]

Evil Pokemaniacal asks:

Thoughts on Wiglett, the new convergent mon unrelated but similar looking to Diglett, and the implications this has that Diglett bodies are Pokémon’s form of Carcinization?

…no, no, you don’t understand what’s going on here at all; I’m evil Pokémaniacal – well, no, not even that, I’m evil Pokémaniac Chris, Pokémaniacal is the blog (a distinction that made sense in the 2000s but that people really seem to struggle to understand in the age of influencer culture), which is not a sapient entity and has no moral alignment.  You’re, like… if anything, you’re… good Pokémaniac Chris.

And believe me, I’m gonna put a stop to that $#!t.

What was the question?

Oh yeah.

I don’t know that I have strong feelings about it, to be honest.  It will probably evolve into something, and I’m more interested to see what that is.  Creating a Pokémon that looks just like Diglett just to say “look, convergent evolution!” seems a bit silly to me, honestly, because Pokémon already has lots of examples of convergent evolution.  There are Pokémon based on real animals that are examples of convergent evolution, like Aerodactyl and Golbat both having leathery bat-wings, or Arbok and Masquerain both having defensive eyespots.  Hell, Pokémon even has examples of carcinisation; Crabrawler is a coconut crab and Dwebble is a hermit crab, which means neither of them are “true crabs”; they’ve evolved crab-like shapes independently from true crabs like Krabby and Klawf, starting from a more lobster-shaped common ancestor.  Then there are also Pokémon with special powers that must be the result of convergent evolution, like reptilian Charizard and mammalian Heatmor both having fire-based abilities (unless they mean to imply that all Pokémon of the same type come from a common ancestor, which is pretty flatly contradicted by Eevee, the egg group system and almost every Pokémon with regional forms).  Basically it’s cute that they’re trying, but I hope that’s not the whole reason they made Wiglett.  Garden eels are cool, though, and I can imagine the evolved form could go in some interesting directions.

sweetpie asks:

is A Pokemon Trainer Is You continuing? It is/was a really cool series and I’m glad it gave some more unpopular species like Wurmple and Minun love. I also really liked the ecology parts.

Ye-ess???  I mean, I hope so?  I mean, I agree with you, I like those things too; it’s just a bigger and longer commitment than ever I intended for it to be (and, honestly, less silly than I thought it would be), and right now I can’t handle updating it regularly, and the premise doesn’t really work if it’s not regular.  I may need to re-evaluate how it works, what kind of choices it presents, which bits get the most detail… Part of me says reboot it in a new form, part of me doesn’t want to lose what we’ve seen so far; on the other hand it’s sort of… so stretched-out at this point that I could hardly expect anyone new to go back and read the whole thing.  I think it’s worth the effort it’d take to pick it back up again, just… not right now.

P.S. Apologies (to you and everyone else in the queue) for being slow at the moment; on top of my usual bull$#!t, I am currently afflicted with the Dreaded Rona.  I hope to destroy it in a blasphemous ceremony and absorb its power, but failing that, of course, I expect all loyal readers to contribute what they can to my resurrection (the necessary components of the contingency ritual are hidden throughout my recent writing; remember: the serpent shall feast at dusk).

Cassidy Arnold asks:

how do you feel about the new region being based on Spain?

it also seems like it has a “past” / “Future” motif which you may be interested in.

I am going to continue to insist on saying “Iberia” rather than “Spain” because, y’know, there is a name for that whole region Paldea is based on, which actually contains countries not called Spain – not that anyone’s told either Game Freak or the fandom that.

Although, on the other hand, I do think it would be extremely funny if Scarlet and Violet somehow recognised Andorra but not Portugal, and would be prepared to endorse this course of action.

Anyway.  I’m not sure that it occurs to me to feel one way or another about it.  I don’t think it’s a bad choice, nor is it exactly what I would have chosen.  If the last few generations are any indication, we can expect a significant fraction of Paldea’s Pokémon to draw inspiration from Iberian flora and fauna, as well as regional history and culture; we’ve already seen Smoliv (can’t have a Mediterranean region without olives, after all) and Lechonk (the black Iberian pigs that produce ibérico ham).  I suppose I am also curious how the games’ depiction of Paldean culture might be influenced by the history of Iberia.  I think in general the Pokémon games tend to reference real-world history in ways that are pretty oblique and allegorical, on account of how actual history is so often a bit of a downer.  They’ll put a little Roman soldier Pokémon in Galar and give Circhester the same Georgian neoclassical architecture as Bath, but they won’t imply the existence of a Roman Empire, if you see what I mean. If there are any references to the role of Spain and Portugal in colonising the Americas, for instance, we can expect them to be heavily sanitised; there might be some pretty buildings here and there inspired by Moorish architecture, but only vaguest possible allusions to the religious conflicts that have characterised so much of Spain’s history. I do wonder whether they might somehow work in a Galarian connection with Gibraltar (and even if they don’t, there are plenty of vacation spots in Spain and Portugal beloved by British holidaymakers); Pokémon does like implying historical links between different regions, like the Kantonian cultural influence on Alola. Speaking of Alola, actually, the malasada is originally a Portuguese dish, and one of Oricorio’s forms is a flamenco dancer – I’d be interested to know whether there’s a Paldean connection in either of those.

Past/Future does seems like something that would interest me, but “that seems like something that would interest me” is kinda all there is to say about it so far.  I’m of the opinion that Past/Future (or its cousin, Tradition/Innovation) is at least a minor theme of almost every Pokémon game in the “core” series, so when Scarlet and Violet say explicitly that it’s going to be a primary theme… well, yes, I’m interested, but that’s because I’m usually interested whenever it comes up in a Pokémon game, which happens pretty often, and the fact that these games are labelling it as a core aesthetic motif doesn’t necessarily mean much.  X and Y have some interesting things to say about tradition, lineage, individual responsibility, collective good and redemption, but they don’t really say anything particularly insightful about life and death – nor, in my opinion, are the merits of Diamond and Pearl’s story in their ideas about space and time, nor are Black and White at their best while talking about “truth” and “ideals” (words which are, in those games, close to meaningless).  So I guess what I’m saying is “we’ll see when we see,” which is something I try to say about every Pokémon game, but seems to get harder and harder every time.

Further Opinions are to be found here and here, in case you haven’t already seen those.

Katiecat asks:

Why do you think Pokemon is still so damn popular? I work with kids and they’re *still* obsessed with the damn things. It feels like so many trends have come and gone but Pokemon is weirdly enduring. And what’s weird is a lot of the kids today like the original Pokemon best- I talk to kids I work with and almost all of their favorite Pokemon are from the original 151. If it were like, mewtwo or mew it might make sense but there are kids I know whose favorites are tauros and jynx!

If I had to guess, I’d say that I think it plays to desires and values of the 90s that have only gotten more important in the decades since.  There’s the desire for a lost connection with nature in a modern urban world, the consumerist impulse to collect, the search for companionship through electronic media that was originally behind Tamagotchi, the promise of definite bounded knowledge and learning in a world growing steadily more and more complicated… I think a lot of Pokémon’s more escapist promises have more allure now, not less.

Anyway that’s very much a guess based on my personal observations of how I and other people seem to relate to Pokémon; this next part is even more of a guess.

As for the gen 1 Pokémon still being the most popular… well, I’m not an authority on what younger people like or what draws anyone to a specific Pokémon, nor am I in possession of any relevant stats, but I honestly kinda think it might be mainly exposure.  The Sacred 150 are still pretty front-and-centre in a lot of marketing, as well as many side games.  More importantly, older Pokémon fans know them better and create more art and fiction that uses them, and memes about them get more traction – in the 90s, we mostly consumed official Pokémon media because that’s what existed, but kids using the internet today are also getting a lot of unofficial material that was made by… well, us.  Official merch also skews towards what marketers think we will buy, either for ourselves or for our children, and we recognise and respond to the old designs.  That’s probably not the whole of it, but that’s all I can offer without making a bunch of unsupported assumptions about what kids are thinking.