How do you feel about natures? There are 25 of them in total, but for almost every Pokemon, only 2-4 of them are viable. Even then, many Pokemon strongly prefer 1 of those few, and having anything else might actually be hindering said Pokemon? Espeon, for example, would really appreciate Timid, is also cool with Modest, and doesn’t hate Calm or Bold even if Espeon doesn’t get much out of them. Any other Nature either doesn’t grant any benefits at all, or actually hurts Espeon.
I feel like natures work the way they do at least partly as a result of their interaction with generation III’s contest mechanics, which failed to survive in most of the later games, and in that respect they’re sort of emblematic of the way Pokémon is now composed of a whole bunch of legacy systems that no one is quite willing to get rid of. I don’t think you would design natures the same way if you were creating that system from scratch in generation VII without reference to things like the five contest stats, or berry flavours. Some discussion of what you could do here, here and here.
What would you say are the Pokémon that best exemplify the five Contest categories?
Well, beauty has to be Milotic, right? ‘cause originally Milotic’s very evolution was tied to the beauty stat, and no other Pokémon has that kind of connection.
I reckon cleverness and toughness are probably Alakazam and Machamp respectively, since in the original games they sort of form an opposed pair of brain and brawn.
Coolness is hard because it’s something that you know when you see it but is hard to define; if you look at the moves associated with it, they tend to be either flashy, dynamic and powerful or quick and accurate, so there are kind of two aesthetics blended in there. I think I can probably appeal to popular authority, though, and say without fear of contradiction that the coolest Pokémon of all time is Charizard.
Cuteness is downright impossible because there are so many Pokémon you quite justifiably could pick. Also I happen to think Dunsparce is the cutest Pokémon ever but I suspect this is a minority view on my part. I might have picked Pikachu for this because of his universal popularity, but Cosplay Pikachu firmly establishes him as being linked with all five categories. The best I think I can do is narrow it down to two – Eevee or Togepi – because I think the concept of ‘cuteness’ implies the potential for growth, and those are both Pokémon for whom that’s a really important design element.