Leo M. R. asks:

So, last time we talked a little bit about signature Pokémon and how (ever since Ruby/Sapphire) most Gym Leaders’/Elite Four members’/Champions’ signatures are always newly-introduced Pokémon. Let’s talk about that more. I’m of two minds about this paradigm.

On the one hand, I do think new generations *should* showcase new Pokémon in major battles, since that is the major draw of new Pokémon games. On the other hand, I feel like it’s gotten to the point where Game Freak design certain Pokémon specifically to fit a particular character they’ve come up with, regardless of the Pokémon’s own merits. XY was particularly bad with this: Vivillon was the only new Bug-type introduced in Gen VI and half of its raison d’être was just to be Viola’s signature. I would argue a similar case for Heliolisk/Clemont, Avalugg/Wulfric, and to a lesser extent Pyroar/Lysandre. SwSh may have begun moving away from this somewhat, but I still get the same impression with Drednaw/Nessa, Centiskorch/Kabu, Coalossal/Gordie, Alcremie/Opal, and like the entirety of Bede’s teams. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying those are badly-designed Pokémon necessarily; I’m just saying it seems to me they only exist to be the signatures of their respective Trainers, and not much else. What are your thoughts?

Continue reading “Leo M. R. asks:”

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.

Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 5: Ashen Wolves)

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4)

oh, right, I was doing this whole thing

uh

Well, there’s only four characters left, so here they are: the Ashen Wolves. They’re the “secret fourth house” that live in the basement and never talk to anyone. There’s apparently an entire hidden town called “Abyss” hidden underneath the school/monastery/fortress where you and all the other characters live, filled with outlaws, refugees, dispossessed nobles and assorted other fugitives who collectively decided that the best place to hide from the law was literally in the Pope’s basement. These four kooky kids can join you no matter which of the other “houses” you’re aligned with, as long as you’ve bought the “Cindered Shadows” DLC and completed an extra chapter of the story focused on them. And here they are:

Yuri Leclerc

  • Commoner adopted by a minor noble family, grew up to become some kind of mob boss
    • Basically runs Abyss in the absence of any more reasonable authority figure
  • Could probably arrange for you to be murdered in your sleep
    • Has definitely thought about it
  • Is too gay to put up with your bull$#!t
  • Kind to children; will shank you if you find out about it
  • Difficult to be friends with, but extremely worth it
  • He is perfect and I love him

Favoured types: Flying, Dark, Normal
Yuri’s mob nickname is “the savage mockingbird,” and if you teach him magic (which you probably will, since his “default” class is a hybrid caster) he mainly learns wind spells.  He was born a commoner and is still devoted to helping ordinary people, hence Normal, but regularly does so through… less than ethical means, hence Dark.

Disfavoured types: Fairy, Ground, Bug
Yuri’s biggest mob rival is a gang that identifies its members with scorpion tattoos.  He’s not good with Fairy-types since he’s so cynical, and doesn’t like the bulky, solid nature of Ground-types.

Partner: Honchkrow
Honchkrow is a bird who is a mob boss, which is basically Yuri’s entire aesthetic; they’re made for each other.

Other Pokémon: Toucannon, Dodrio, Crobat, Raticate (Alolan), Liepard

Yuri likes Flying Pokémon with great speed, manoeuvrability and physical power.  Raticate is another mobster Pokémon to help him run his gang, and Liepard is just very good at shanking people.

Continue reading “Pokémon Trainers of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Part 5: Ashen Wolves)”

A Particularly Persnickety Probopass asks:

What’s wrong with me?

listen, Probopass, we’ve been over this

you were the dumbest Pokémon of the generation for two generations running, which by all rights shouldn’t even have been possible

you’re a moai, but you’re also a compass, and you have a terrible moustache, and for some reason you have small flying noses, and I won’t say there’s nothing clever or interesting or redeemable in there, but at the end of the day you’re a big red nose with a stone idiot hanging off it

Perry asks:

How much do you think GameFreak is willing to change (HMs, Megas, Dexit/whatever you like to call it) and how much will they expand to other types of games and medias ( Pokemon Unite… ugh)? How much do you think should happen to continue their success, financially and from a fan’s perspective?

…look, I don’t want to be mean about this but… this question basically amounts to “solve game design” and I’m not going to do that; I don’t know how to do that; I’m simply not that knowledgeable about design or business.  Here are some thoughts that I have, which may or may not be of use to anyone:

I should point out, first of all, that Pokémon Unite actually isn’t Game Freak at all.  Game Freak isn’t directly responsible for… I think any of the Pokémon spinoff games, and I suspect that will probably continue.  Pokémon games outside the core series are all developed under the umbrella of the Pokémon Company, and most of them in association with Nintendo, but by many different studios.  I know that sounds nit-picky on my part, but it does matter when we’re talking about big long-term future-of-Pokémon questions, particularly if we care at all about the business side.  A lot of it is… not entirely in Game Freak’s hands, and I suspect there is a pretty strong impulse from up above towards being quite conservative with the design of the core games.

Continue reading “Perry asks:”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXIII: See the Forest for the Trees

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do with your prisoners?
– Restrain Kevin so you can drag them both to the authorities.

You all take a moment to revel in your victory and high-five each other before doing anything else.  You’ve got time; Ned is already pretty securely tied up, and Kevin… well, Kevin’s still moping over his unconscious Zubat.  Poor guy seems like he’s having some kind of breakdown.  Abner has his Pokémon start spinning more silk, and you help him tie up Kevin and attach some extra leads to Ned’s cocoon so you can drag him along the ground behind you.  Meanwhile Stacey and Ellis tend to the injuries the Pokémon have suffered – including Zubat.  You aren’t sure about the ethics of confiscating the loyal Pokémon of criminal trainers, and you don’t want to risk Ned’s Pokémon trying to fight you if you let them out, so you get Kevin to recall his Zubat and decide to let the police in Pewter City sort it out once you get there.  Neither Kevin nor Ned seem to be in any mood to talk (even if Ned’s mouth weren’t muffled by the silk), and refuse to say anything about their operation.  Once you’re sure Kevin’s hands are securely bound, you start moving back in the direction of the clearing where you found them.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXIII: See the Forest for the Trees”

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.

Continue reading “Pikachu”

jeffthelinguist asks:

Maybe this answer exists somewhere online and I’m dumb, but… what benefit does Sudowoodo have using mimicry to appear as a tree? It seems like that is a poor choice for a rock type given it’s weak to water (which intelligent creatures will naturally pour on it).

uh

well, it

um

I suppose my first instinct is to say that, on an evolutionary timescale, creatures who see plants and immediately think to pour water on them are probably a recent enough arrival in the world that they wouldn’t have had much impact on Sudowoodo’s physiology or evolved instinctive behaviour yet.  But we don’t really know that’s true; there are Pokémon that modify and curate their environments; there are even Pokémon that tend gardens.  The Pokédex says that Sudowoodo looks like a tree to avoid predators, and that does make sense to me; I have no problem with that.  So I suppose the best answer is probably that looking like a tree does work really well for its intended purpose – well enough that it’s worth accepting the unfortunate side effect of sometimes having water poured on you.

Tapu Wooloo asks:

Would it be possible for Pokemon to retire the concept of “fainting”? Originally, Game Freak wasn’t even sure what fainting even meant–when you tried to send out a fainted Pokemon it said “there’s no will left to fight,” and in the early anime trainers simply withdrew a Pokemon when it clearly couldn’t fight anymore. So what if “[Pokemon] fainted” could be replaced with “[Pokemon] gave in” or something?

I’m not sure that it matters, particularly?  I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with changing it, but “fainted” isn’t a terrible word for what they use it to mean, and the condition itself is simple enough – the Pokémon can’t battle, full stop – that I don’t think it’s all that important to have precise language for describing it.  You could do away with the entire concept, and replace it with a range of more specific ways a Pokémon can be debilitated, each caused by particular attack types, requiring specialised forms of care and having different lingering effects after the Pokémon is healed.  I think you could build an interesting system out of that, although it wouldn’t be a very good fit with Pokémon’s general direction over the last several generations; it’s more of a “darker and grittier” mechanic.  If it’s just changing the name to slightly better reflect what we already imagine is happening, I could happily go either way.

Leo M.R. asks:

I watched a Pokémon video on YouTube where the guy pointed out that, for all the hype Mega Evolutions got prior to the release of XY, you actually only ever fight three Mega Evolutions throughout the course of the main story: Korrina’s Mega Lucario, Lysandre’s Mega Gyarados, and Diantha’s Mega Gardevoir. He argued that 1) the first one doesn’t even count because it was just a Mega Lucario battle, and 2) this is a big reason why XY felt too easy, especially since you can Mega Evolve after the third Gym. He suggested that, since you fight Lysandre before the final Gym, Wulfric and the Elite Four should all have been given Mega Evolutions, something the anime actually does (sans Drasna). It’s an excellent point and I… don’t know why Game Freak didn’t do this in the first place, now that I think about it. The final rival battle at Victory Road should probably also have given them their eventual Mega Absol, if Wulfric should have a Mega. What do you think?

…huh

Y’know, I never really thought about that – when I played X for the first time, I never used Mega Evolution unless my opponent did as well, because it seemed “unfair,” so I guess I just wasn’t thinking about it very hard.  But yeah, considering that Mega Evolution is generation VI’s flagship mechanic, it’s… not actually in there very much.  Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are kinda light on it as well, at least in the main story; there’s… what, Archie/Maxie, Wally and Steven?  But then there are a lot more in the postgame: May/Brendan, Matt/Courtney, Zinnia and all of the Hoenn Elite Four.  X and Y don’t really have that.  This seems doubly weird considering how much work must have gone into designing the Mega Evolutions.  Wouldn’t you want to show them off?  I can see a perspective where finding all the Mega Evolutions is mainly meant as an end-game side-quest for the player, a little challenge for the 100%-completionists, but a) the Pokédex already provides plenty of that, and b) it would make a lot more sense if Pokémon had, like, Final Fantasy-style “bonus bosses” where you really needed the right Mega Evolution to win.

Continue reading “Leo M.R. asks:”