Gym Trainer Jeff asks:

Pokemon Concept:
Mechanically, what would you think of a Dark-type Pokemon that functions like an “anti-Zoroark?” What I mean is: imagine a Pokemon that has high stats on average, but no/few moves it can learn or be taught/bred on its own. Instead, it has a unique ability that works like the move version of Zoroark’s Illusion, where it fills in any empty move slots it has with the moves from those slots on the last Pokemon in your party? This is why I’m calling it an “anti-Zoroark”—while with Zoroark it always has Zoroark moves but hides under the illusion of another Pokemon, with this “anti-Zoroark,” you always know the type of Pokemon it is, but it could come at you with almost any move, based on what’s in the party with it, and generally has the stats to make them work? Weirdly enough, it’s a Pokemon where forgetting moves is actually *encouraged* (more empty move slots to fill with its ability). I get that this is a super gimmicky idea to base a Pokemon around, but is it an *interesting* gimmick, or just dumb?

hmmmmmmmmmm

Without more details, my first instinct is that this is too strong – like, if it has good stats and a bad movepool, but its bad movepool doesn’t matter because it can have practically any moveset you want, then that seems extremely good to a degree that is probably dangerous. The fact that its type coverage is going to be redundant with something else on your team is a limiting factor, but it could also have other tricky bull$#!t that just doesn’t rely on fighting toe-to-toe; maybe it has Spore or something, which on a fast Pokémon has a lot of potential for abuse. Hell, maybe you just put Smeargle in your last slot; then “anti-Zoroark” can have literally anything you want, but on a body with actually good stats. That’s terrifying. Of course, you can’t ever make a Pokémon forget its last move, so this thing is always going to be stuck with one move of its own. If its natural movepool is really $#!t – like if there is nothing good in there whatsoever, not even a good Dark-type STAB move – you could design a Pokémon that effectively has only three moveslots, which might be interesting. Without actually diving into all the zillions of possible combinations of moves out there, or doing the calculus of whether this is good enough to be worth having a Smeargle on your team with a moveset designed for a high-statted Dark-type, I really don’t know where this falls from a balance standpoint. And, of course, in the post-Sword and Shield era, maybe you can just never allow this thing to exist in the same game as Smeargle; that’s probably safest. Still, my instinct is very much to assume this thing will be super overpowered unless someone can really convincingly prove otherwise.

hugh_donnetono asks:

What’s your opinion on the Beta Sinnoh Pokemon? (especially arceus)

I’m not sure I have an opinion on them, or feel I need to.  I mean, a lot of them are placeholders, right?  Many of the leaked sprites are just… clearly unfinished; that’s what a beta is.  Arceus especially; people meme on beta Arceus, but it seems pretty clear to me that no one ever planned for it to go into the finished game looking anything like that (likewise Rotom).  They knew they wanted Arceus to exist, and they had a rough idea what they wanted it to look like, but they hadn’t finalised the design or done proper sprites yet.  The only Pokémon that seem to me like they had a genuinely different design in the leaked beta materials – not just unfinished art – are Rampardos, maybe Hippowdon, Lumineon, Lickilicky (back sprite only), Togekiss and the Garchomp line, and most of them… well, yeah, they just kinda look like first drafts of the Pokémon that they are.  Beta Rampardos seems a bit less naturalistic, maybe a touch more manic?  Beta Togekiss has shades of Latias and Latios, and I do think it looks pretty cool, but I’m not sure it works as an evolution from Togepi and Togetic.  Beta Gible, Gabite and Garchomp have different colour palettes and are… I guess my instinct is maybe a bit simpler, a bit more gen I-II-like?  They’re fine, I suppose; I think the final designs are more visually interesting. 

The one thing I do think is kind of interesting is the mystery Pokémon, Kimairan, that seems to have occupied Giratina’s slot, whose sprite is clearly a draft but looks like a kind of six-legged griffin thing.  My guess is, Game Freak knew they were going to have another legendary Pokémon in that slot, but hadn’t quite figured out what the third piece of Space/Time/??? ought to be, or what role they wanted this Pokémon to have in the mythology of Sinnoh.  Even the final release of Diamond and Pearl is, in my opinion, pretty noncommittal about what Giratina actually represents (compared to, say, Rayquaza in Ruby and Sapphire or Kyurem in Black and White), so I honestly wonder how much, if any, of Giratina’s role in Platinum was sketched out in advance.  Kimairan might have represented… dreams, maybe, or the world, or life, or a fixed point of reference within space-time.  Maybe at this stage of the beta they didn’t even know they wanted this mystery Pokémon to be part of a trio with Dialga and Palkia yet, and it was just something completely different.  The point is, I think they probably ditched Kimairan and created Giratina because something clicked about the way they wanted to tell the story of generation IV, and they realised that the Pokémon they’d made wasn’t right for the role they needed.

[This question was promoted to the front of the queue because the submitter is supporting me on Patreon!  If you enjoy my writing and like getting my answers to cosmic dilemmas like this one – or just think I deserve something nice for my work – consider visiting https://www.patreon.com/pokemaniacal and signing up!]

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?

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Tapu Wooloo asks:

Now that regional variants are a thing, can you revisit your article on Beautifly and Dustox and say what more you would do with them?

ugggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh

so the thing about Beautifly and Dustox

is that there’s no reason for them to exist

and I know I try not to say things like this anymore, and I try to be nice about Pokémon that are a bit dull or pointless, and I’m just a more chill and friendly persona now and try to keep my violent rage against the entire universe buried under a few thousand layers of self-loathing and cream cheese icing, and I don’t even think that article is good anymore, we’ve simply moved on, Tapu Wooloo, but my god, WHY ARE Beautifly and Dustox?  What, actually, is the point?

I mean, really, there’s an argument that Beautifly and Dustox are already just Hoennese forms of Butterfree and Venomoth.

I don’t even know what you’d do with them that justifies using them and not any other butterfly or moth Pokémon.  Vivillon is kinda the obviously more interesting butterfly Pokémon to work with as a regional variant because it has them already; they just weren’t called that at the time; you could retcon all its existing forms by giving them more significant cosmetic and mechanical differences and suddenly you have a whole bunch of regional variants, most of them for regions we haven’t even visited yet!  I guess there must be something that makes use of Wurmple’s split evolution, right?  Something sun/moon-themed might have been good, because Beautifly and Dustox have a day/night duality to them and Dustox is based on a luna moth, but we kinda missed the perfect opportunity for that with Alola (and you’d have to be careful not to step on Volcarona’s toes, because Beautifly 100% does not survive that comparison).  The most interesting thing about Beautifly is it can stab you with its face and drink your blood, so I guess I would like to work more with that, but how you would actually go about it depends on the region you were building, I guess.  You could flip the day/night thing on its head and have, like, a vampire Beautifly with a black and red colour scheme, then make Dustox into something vaguely day- or sun-themed, maybe imitating the colours of a monarch butterfly… that works better mechanically too, because Dustox is already support-oriented and wouldn’t be so obviously trying to compete with Volcarona.  Needs more than that, of course, but it’s a start.

I know this is not a particularly satisfying answer, but this question has seriously been in my inbox for weeks, and the sincere answer is honestly “nothing, why would there be anything?” so… y’know, I’m trying, is the point.

James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:

In light of the reveal of Alcremie, who looks like an Eton Mess(?) what’s a dessert/series of desserts that you think could be adapted into a new Pokemon?

There’s kind of a… maybe theme that Game Freak might be trying to start, of having Pokémon that are based on desserts associated with the real world cultures that their regions are based on. Slurpuff is a meringue Pokémon for France and Alcremie is a strawberries and cream (or perhaps Eton mess, as you suggest) Pokémon for England. Vanilluxe… well, you can debate how fair it is to call ice cream cones American, but they were first popularised in the United States, and for Pokémon’s first non-Japanese region something generically “Western” is probably enough anyway, and Castelia City has a Vanillite-themed dessert that you can buy. Alola doesn’t really have one, but I think arguably Hau counts as an honorary dessert Pokémon for his obsession with malasadas (a characteristic Hawaiian dessert) and his diabetes-inducing personality. That being the case… we could look at some iconic desserts of other regions.

Continue reading “James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:”

jeffthelinguist asks:

Currently the only pure flying type Pokémon is a legendary. If you were tasked with creating a pure flying type Pokémon that isn’t legendary, what would you make?

uggggggghhhhhhhhh

Flying

what even is Flying

A few months ago I got asked about single-type Flying Pokémon and the final sentence of my answer was “no one planned for any of this, it doesn’t make sense, and it’s 20 years too late to do anything about it – but hey, that’s the type chart for you,” which… well, that sums it up, doesn’t it?  I don’t think there’s a single thing that all Flying Pokémon have in common, not even the literal ability to fly, because Dodrio is a Flying-type (and frankly “flight” would also be a pretty generous description of what Gligar and Jumpluff do).  The one single-typed Flying Pokémon we do have, Tornadus, is a sort of wind elemental, but it would be a stretch to say that wind is the unifying core of the Flying type, because a lot of Flying Pokémon like Fearow and Emolga have no wind-related flavour and can only learn wind attacks as egg moves, and now in generation VII we have Minior and Celesteela, who can’t even do that.

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Toucannon asks:

You said that “Sentret frankly has a much more striking aesthetic and a more interesting design than Furret, which is a shame, and I don’t know how we can redesign Furret to make more use of Sentret’s distinctive bullseye patterning and ability to stand on its tail.”. That’s quite true. What would you think of redesigning Ursaring so that it would be an evolution of Sentret? Like, giving him a more “red pandaish” aestetic to be a bit closer to the base stage, with multiple concentrical rings in the belly instead of one, and maybe a pokedex line about how “Ursaring uses each other as target practice for their hyperbeams to decide their pecking order”, or some such?

Do you think such a design could work? And, assuming Sentret was still catchable in the early routes, what would a (relatively) easier to obtain Ursaring do to the games in which that happened?

[This is in response to me $#!tting all over Furret in a recent post (for which I absolutely do not apologise)]

…you know, this is a fµ¢£ing bizarre idea but for some reason I kind of like it?  Teddiursa and Ursaring’s hoarding theme actually fits with Sentret and Furret’s complex burrows, they have the ring motif in common, and if Sentret’s evolved form is something huge and brutish, they can have their lookouts call the muscle back from foraging if the troupe is attacked.  On the other hand, if we leave Ursaring as a bear, it’s a very weird jump from whatever kind of meerkat-thing Sentret is supposed to be, and if we make it into a red panda instead it’s… well, I mean, that’s not really Ursaring, particularly (it’s arguably something better, but I am also starting to lose track of what we’re actually doing); certainly it no longer seems like a good fit for Ursaring’s current statline.  Red panda’s also strange next to the burrows because they’re arboreal. I think it’s… probably better to work with what Furret’s got at the moment – the whole “fur snake” aesthetic and the maze-like burrow concept. I still don’t know how to do that in an interesting way, but the unvarnished truth is I don’t actually care about Furret very much, and that’s Furret’s own fault, so it’s just going to have to learn to live with that.

Not Me asks:

If you could pick an animal to base the next pika-clone on, what would it be?

can I pick something that doesn’t exist so it doesn’t get made

uggggghhhhh fine

obviously there is only one animal in all the infinite cosmos that is worthy of this… dubious honour

and that is its majestic lordship the capybara

Pros:

  • It’s a fat sack of $#!t, which I strongly empathise with
  • Can swim, which is an excellent excuse to have it be Water/Electric
  • Big enough to stack all the other Pikachu clones on top of it
  • I admit I’m not sure how that would be helpful, but it seems like a plus
  • Mysterious gland on its snout can be adapted for dispensing electric death
  • Often has a bird sitting on its head
  • Good excuse to do a Brazil/Amazon-inspired region
  • Despite being literally an obese guinea pig, can run as fast as a horse
  • Skin grease can be used in traditional medicine

Cons:

  • Literally none???

EDIT: I will it so, and it is done! Here’s reader voltorb1993’s take on “Zapybara”!

SkarmorySilver asks:

I remember a few years back when I challenged you to come up with a viable Dedenne evolution, but I don’t think I’ve ever asked you about one for Togedemaru yet. Seeing as you got burned out fixing up the worst of the Normal/Flying birds recently, though, I’ll spare you the pain and provide an idea for one I thought of a while ago – In some some parts of Asia and the Middle East, the hedgehog is credited in myth with bringing fire to man, so I combined that with the principle of electric heating and came up with a glyptodont/hedgehog hybrid critter with a spiny shell like a cartoon sun which could learn Fire-type attacks on top of the stuff Togedemaru gets already; it attracts lightning to heat up its spines, so it can gently warm its surroundings and allow life to flourish in cold nights (as well as learn Flame Charge or maybe even Flare Blitz if you’re daring enough). I still don’t know how to fix Zing Zap though, since I only thought about the pitch for Togedemaru’s evolved form, rather than improving the move itself (a damage boost is obvious, but IDK what additional effects if any could be included on top of it, just in case).

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hugh_donnetono asks:

Out of all the early game rodents – Raticate, Furret, Linoone, Bibarel, Watchog, Diggersby, Gumshoos, and maybe Alolan Raticate too – which ones do you think are the most poorly-designed, both fluff-wise and gameplay-wise, and what would you change about those worst ones if you could? (I told you it’d probably be me.)

GOD DAMN IT HUGH

okay, let’s see

Diggersby is pretty much fine on both fluff and gameplay, to my mind.  Gumshoos is… fiiiiiine?  I mean, it’s weird, but I will concede there is something clever going on with the noir detective/mobster aesthetic between Gumshoos and Alolan Raticate.  It could do with an increase to its defences, and maybe a better priority move than Quick Attack (buffing the Stakeout ability would be nice too – maybe have it raise Gumshoos’ attack when something switches in against it?).

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