A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLIII: Rocket to the Moon

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Do you want to give Paras a nickname?

  • Receive an AI-generated name

Okay!  Look at this, kid; you’re gonna love this.  It’s gonna revolutionise the whole business of naming Pokémon.  All you have to do is plug in some context data to get the AI started…

and presto!

Um.  Well, it… uh…

Look, it’s still in the experimental stages, okay?  Needs some… y’know, refining.  Work the kinks out.

I mean, your Paras seems pretty chuffed about it; she’s acting all bashful and her mushrooms are blushing.  Weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.

Ah, whatever; Cutie it is!

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLIII: Rocket to the Moon”

Kingslocke Rules: Second Revised Edition

Tremble, mortals, and despair, for the Second Revised Edition of the Kingslocke Rules has come to this world.

For those wishing to know the history of this most bat$#!t of all Pokémon challenge runs, see the intro to the First Revised Edition, which remains available here.  You can see those rules in action in my recently-completed run of Pearl, which inspired the changes in this edition; you can also read the Ur-Rules here.  If you want to know more about the Second Revised Edition and my thought process behind some of the changes, scroll down to the second half of this post.  If you just want to try playing a Kingslocke, read on…

You will need:

  • A Pokémon game
  • A deck of tarot cards (or a simulation thereof)
  • An observer to the game, willing to occasionally provide custom rules (optional, but recommended)
  • Sanity and a willingness to sacrifice it
Continue reading “Kingslocke Rules: Second Revised Edition”

Revisiting Pokémon Pearl: The Kingslocke

As we all know, Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl are coming out in a little over a month, with Legends: Arceus following early next year.  I feel like revisiting Sinnoh, so I want to do a playthrough of the original Pearl version – but not just any playthrough.  I think it’s time to revisit the dumbest Pokémon challenge run ever devised: the Kingslocke.

This is a challenge run I created with basically two aims in mind:

  • That it be more forgiving than a Nuzlocke, with mostly temporary penalties and consequences, as well as fewer unwinnable scenarios, but also…
  • That it be absolutely bat-fµ¢£ insane and require the player to rethink their party and strategy constantly.

In pursuit of these goals, Jim the Editor and I developed a challenge ruleset where the player would regularly draw from a normal deck of playing cards, with each card changing the rules.  The effects of the different cards are very loosely based on a popular drinking game that we call “Circle of Death” in New Zealand (because, at least in our version, the cards are arranged in a big circle around a vessel in the middle of the table), but which is more commonly known in America as “Kings” or “King’s Cup,” hence the name “Kingslocke.” You don’t have to drink to play with these rules, but to be honest you probably should.

Continue reading “Revisiting Pokémon Pearl: The Kingslocke”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLII: A Shortcut to Mushrooms

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Return to camp?

  • Take the scenic route, explore a bit more of the mountain

You’re still feeling understandably salty over a bunch of wild Pokémon ambushing you, knocking you out and taking your stuff, so you decide to blow off some steam by wandering back down the mountain in the opposite direction to the way you came, looping back around by a longer path to return to your camp site from below.  You still have your notebook; you don’t need a Pokédex to do some solid field research, and you can send Aura up to fly overhead and let you know if she spots anything interesting.  You meander downward, stopping now and again to idly draw some of the plants or take a leaf rubbing; it’s all lichens, hardy mountain grasses and unpleasant thorny shrubs up here, only a couple of twisted, put-upon trees.  It makes a lot of sense that you’ve only seen cave Pokémon like Zubat and Sandshrew.  If you had all the time in the world to map the place out, you’d be interested to find all the springs and streams to see whether any cool Pokémon live there, although to be honest you doubt it.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLII: A Shortcut to Mushrooms”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLI: Perchance to Dream

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you dream about?

  • Your Pokémon
  • Blue

As the mountain cave fades away and the Clefairy’s strange song fills your head with fog, you come to realise, all of a sudden, that you’re back home, in Pallet Town.  You’re at school, on your lunch break – and so is Blue, who is mid-sentence saying something about why studying Pokémon scientifically is dumb.

You were never close with Blue, back in Pallet Town.  Obviously you knew him – you were at school together and he’s related to the Professor, so it would have been hard not to – you just didn’t feel like he had the qualities you wanted in a friendship.  And, I mean, fair play to you; he’s a piece of $#!t.  But you remember this day.  Your Pokémon Studies teacher had asked the class why people become trainers, and you and Blue had gotten into a fairly spirited argument about how much trainers should value strength and power, which spilled over into lunchtime.  You think it was about six months before you both left home.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLI: Perchance to Dream”

Chronos asks:

So, do you have any thoughts on some of the more “loose” interpretations of moves in the new Pokemon Unite? For example Defense Curl, Hex and the three different Surfs?

I haven’t actually looked at Unite.  I don’t really enjoy MOBAs as a genre; I kinda find the design of character abilities interesting from an abstract perspective and I can see why people like them, but the fast-paced team combat just doesn’t play to the things I enjoy about games or have any aptitude with.  So, yeah, I haven’t looked at it.  I was thinking maybe I should, specifically so I can talk about this kind of thing with reference to the portrayals of specific Pokémon across different media, but I doubt I’m going to get really into it.

The other thing on my mind at the moment is that I’m hearing Pokémon Unite is extremely microtransaction-heavy, even more so than Pokémon Go or anything else in the franchise.  Which… well, given that Pokémon (even though it now has a lot of adult fans) has always consciously marketed itself as being for preteen children and still makes a lot of major decisions from that perspective… seems a little bit on the evil side, and maybe represents something that I shouldn’t be giving oxygen to?  I dunno; I am willing to be guided by my readers on this.

Seronimo asks:

Since Gen 7, the Pokedex has been getting more liberal in talking about predator/prey relationships between Pokemon. However, they’ve stopped making sure these relationships are reflected in type effectiveness. Before, you had Heatmor being 4x effective against Durant, and Zangoose with its two poison-related abilities. But now, we’ve got Talonflame preying on Wingull, both Gabite and Sableye chasing wild Carbink, and the Poison-type Mareanie devouring the Rock-type Corsola. Idk, how do you explain that?

I’d imagine that – much like predators in the real world – predatory Pokémon go out of their way to make sure that any fights they get into with prey are deeply unfair.  Just like Pokémon with a type disadvantage against their prey, a lot of real predators are genuinely kinda fµ¢£ed if their target manages to fight back.  Think of, for example, big cats, who go for the throat at the first opportunity, preferably from ambush, and usually back down pretty quickly if that fails because they can’t afford to expend the energy, or sharks, who famously tend to retreat if you give them a good punch in the snout or gills, because they’re just so stunned at the concept of food that tries to hurt them.  You want to stack the deck.

Continue reading “Seronimo asks:”

Leo M.R. asks:

Let’s make the most cursed concept design for a Fire starter ever! A bipedal bovine that:
– fights by getting enraged and charging at its opponents (shamelessly ripping off Tauros and Bouffalant, because we’re being as unoriginal as possible),
– is a fast physical attacker with Anger Point as its Hidden Ability, just to drive home the Tauros comparisons,
– has Fire/Fighting as its type in reference to the practice of bullfighting (a morally-questionable blood sport, and also calling back to Blaziken & cockfighting, because we’re being as unoriginal as possible),
– draws visual cues from oxen just to further reinforce the idea of Fire starters being based on the Chinese zodiac.

So, how cursed is this whole idea? Can we make it even more cursed?

oh no

so, this is a good effort, but I don’t think it’s cursed enough yet

We need to spit on the game balance somehow – make it either heinously overpowered, like Speed Boost-Blaziken overpowered, or find a way to make it really bad.  Fire/Fighting is so strong offensively that, I think, in order for a Fire/Fighting starter to be bad, it almost has to be really slow with one garbage defence stat and a signature move that does something pointless (maybe it scores more critical hits against burned targets).  Even then, though, starters have such high stats that it’s hard to make them truly awful without doing something totally obtuse, like mismatching their attack and special attack stats with their movepools.  If you want to go in the other direction, just make its hidden ability Huge Power and give it access to Agility.

On the zodiac angle… well, for me personally, to make it as cursed as possible, you have to make it like Cyndaquil or Fennekin, where it’s not actually based on an animal from the Chinese zodiac, but it’s close enough to make people keep repeating the theory anyway.  Not sure what the best direction for that is – maybe a bison?

The trouble with the cockfighting/bullfighting analogy is that it feels almost clever.  I think if you want to make it as cursed as possible you should just make it an angry wrestler.  With tights, except that the Pokédex makes it clear that they’re only skin/fur markings that look like tights for no obvious reason.

Oh, and… obviously it has to learn Curse.

a people asks:

Do you think the people of the pokemon universe consider Yveltal and other destructive pokemon evil? Affection for legendary pokemon works the same way it does for others, should we have to earn their trust in a different way? And they still do things like play minigames with you and make cute faces when you pet them. Why?

I don’t get the impression they do.  They might be scared of certain Pokémon that have dangerous powers or that humans don’t know much about, but I’m trying my hardest to think of anyone who says a Pokémon is “evil” and I’m really not coming up with much (not counting phenomena like the Shadow Pokémon from Gale of Darkness and Pokémon Go, who have been transformed by an external force and can be “purified” to return them to their peaceful natural state).  Individual Pokémon can certainly be evil, like the Malamar from the X and Y anime or Meowth from Team Rocket (maybe Meowth is debateable as he has several redeeming qualities, but he certainly self-identifies as “evil”), but species of Pokémon aren’t inherently evil.   When Yveltal appears in the games, it’s a pawn of Lysandre, and in the Diancie movie, it’s treated as extremely dangerous but not really malevolent, more like a living natural disaster than a villain.  Tyranitar and Hydreigon are much the same, destructive forces of nature more than evil beings.  Mewtwo is, I think, intended to be more complex than just outright “evil”; Necrozma is destructive because it’s diminished and broken; most Dark Pokémon that are mischievous or violent are treated as being dangerous in an animalistic way.

The only ones I can come up with, the only Pokémon that I think are ever implied to be by nature actively and deliberately malicious, are a few of the Ghost Pokémon that literally represent “evil spirits” – Banette and Spiritomb and the like.  And even then, the inspirations behind Spiritomb’s design imply the possibility of redemption: the 108 demons of Water Margin become heroes; the 108 temptations that lie between mortals and Nirvana can be overcome.  For Spiritomb, the same has to be possible.  We’re told by the Ultra Moon Pokédex that Banette’s curse can be broken by treating it with kindness.  And I suspect that this should be the default assumption – that even when Pokémon are violent or destructive or malevolent in nature, there is a way in.  And that way in commonly involves macarons, doughnuts and/or curry.

I think fundamentally, Pokémon are animals, and Pokémon the series takes the view that humans have a responsibility to be the enlightened stewards of the natural world.  We’re supposed to show them the difference between right and wrong (or, in some cases, accept that they are beyond our understanding of right and wrong).  What we’re not in a position to do – what I don’t believe the series ever endorses us in doing – is judge them.

Except for Drapion; Drapion’s a piece of $#!t

Anon asks:

If you were transported to the pokemon world but as a pokemon, which one would you be (barring legendaries and mythicals) also, keep in mind, this isn’t about which one is your favorite, it is about which one has the best chance for survival based in different criteria.

For survival?

Well, that’s easy.  Carbink.

I mean, yeah, you’re rubbish at fighting, truly bottom-tier ludicrously bad.  On the other hand, you basically don’t age, you’re composed primarily of diamonds and, consequently, you’re thoroughly inedible, impervious to most environmental hazards and, for all intents and purposes, indestructible.  There are Carbink out there that are almost a billion years old – not the species, but individual CarbinkIn Kalos, mind you, which means they’ve slept through Yveltal’s tantrums before.  Time itself can’t kill these little fµ¢£wits, and it has tried.