Larry asks:

Hey, just something that’s been, pun very intended, bugging me- Paras and Parasect. We all know their deal, their horrible, horrible deal. But it’s weird, innit?

Why would a Paras let itself evolve, let its trainer do that to it? How come the Parasect *seems* to maintain all emotional bonds? (Saying that based on friendship/affection remaining.) If the Paras’ soul really gets sucked, and it’s a known fact, why isn’t it even frowned upon to evolve Paras?

This seems like one of the more trustworthy dex entries, the damp habitat thing seems realistic, Parasect’s eyes are too barren for comfort, but I can’t quite make up my mind.

This is on my mind specifically because now I’m playing soulsilver with a Paras, and I’m not sure if I can forgive myself if I evolve him. Thoughts?

(PS: I know there’s an anime episode about a girl who wants to evolve her Paras, but I couldn’t find your review, if there is one. All I know is that in the ep there doesn’t seem to be any drama OR soulsucking?)

So, Parasect is… a tricky one.  Just to get us all on the same page, here are (by my reckoning) all the relevant examples of how the Pokédex talks about Parasect and its mushrooms:

  • The mushrooms have “taken over” the host bug.
  • Staying in dark and damp places is “the preference not of the bug, but of the big mushrooms.”
  • The mushroom “extracts” nutrients from the bug until “nothing’s left.”
  • The mushroom “controls” the bug.  Notably, Ultra Moon also says this about Paras.
  • “The bug is mostly dead, with the mushroom on its back having become the main body. If the mushroom comes off, the bug stops moving.”
  • The mushroom “appears to do all the thinking.”
Continue reading “Larry asks:”

Lilycat asks:

Doesn’t Raihan look like Garchomp? Considering his sandstorm…weather team….do you think it was a wasted opportunity that he didn’t have a Garchomp?

I mean I suppose they’re saving him for the rumored diamond pearl remakes…but what are your thoughts?

Yeah, I guess I can see it?  Like, those particular shades of navy blue and scarlet, together with the white “spikes” on his hoodie… seems like it could be a deliberate stylistic reference.  I can think of reasons not to give him a Garchomp, but not fantastic reasons.  Like, as you said, if they were planning to release Pokémon: Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl or whatever in 2020 or 2021, then those games would definitely have Garchomp, so there’s a decent argument for leaving it out of Sword and Shield, but I think you are allowed to put it in both; there are several Sinnoh-native Pokémon in Sword and Shield, including the iconic Rotom and Lucario, so there is going to be overlap anyway.  You could also argue that gym leaders almost always have a signature Pokémon that’s new in their own generation – in Raihan’s case, Duraludon – and putting a “pseudo-legendary” Pokémon like Garchomp on his gym team would overshadow his star player, which is clearly undesirable.  However, his Champion Cup team actually does include a pseudo-legendary Dragon, namely Goodra.  I don’t think it was necessarily a mistake to leave Garchomp out of the Galar Pokédex and thus deny Raihan the opportunity to use it, but I do think it was a weird choice to do that and then lean into what seems like a Garchomp-inspired character design, rather than picking one of the many other Dragon Pokémon that do exist in Galar, like Haxorus or Noivern.

Then again, I can see an argument for that being kind of the point.  The Pokémon that are missing from Galar aren’t gone for good, and they even have fans in Galar; maybe Raihan loves Garchomp but has never had the opportunity to catch one.  Arguably his costume would look… well, over-the-top if it matched a Pokémon he actually used, but comes across a bit more subtle as a reference to a foreign Pokémon that he likes but doesn’t have.

Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

You know how you can’t freeze a Pokémon during intense sunlight? What if we did the reverse and have it so that you can’t burn a Pokémon when it’s hailing (which I think makes quite a bit of sense); do you reckon that’ll make hail a more competitively-viable weather condition, considering many Pokémon rely on either burning others or being burned themselves? Happy holidays, btdubs!

Hmm.  I like it as a subtle buff to hail. I am wary because Sun and Moon already nerfed burn significantly by reducing its damage from 1/8 per turn to 1/16, to balance it with poison (which does 1/8 per turn but doesn’t reduce the victim’s stats), but hail is probably still niche enough that this is fine.  More importantly to me, it feels weird for hail to have this effect without rain also getting it, since it’s usually rain that weakens Fire attacks and thematically it makes just as much sense (if not more) for rain to soothe burns.  I think the issues with hail hint at a broader problem of the Ice type struggling to find an identity distinct from Water, which kinda goes back to generation I.  In a way, it’s actually of a piece with my old complaint that “Grass-types Don’t Get Nice Things” – the type’s identity has always been defined in such a rigid way that flavour considerations rule out a lot of good mechanical possibilities for rebalancing it, particularly in the case of buffing the hail weather condition.

Also, happy thing and stuff to you too, and to everyone else reading!

Riddler asks:

You have a Fenniken, a Torchic, and a bag of Sitrus berries to take across the river on a boat, the boat can only transport one at a time, the Fenniken is hungry but won’t eat the berries, the Torchic will eat the berries but is a noticeable few levels lower than the Fenniken, how do you get them all across the river when, while testing for deepness, you threw your pokeballs into the river and you can’t swim?

why the fµ¢£ would I throw my Pokéballs into the river to test the depth when rocks are literally free

besides which, listen, if this Fennekin can’t be trusted not to eat my Torchic when I leave them alone together, then it can fµ¢£ing swim across; I don’t care if it’s a Fire-type

hell, why am I even training a Pokémon that wants to eat one of my other Pokémon?  Throw the fµ¢£ing Fennekin in the river and let it drown; see if I care

EDIT: Riddler further asks:

What if you were trying to sell the fennekin and it was just bought, if you don’t bring it you won’t get your money?

Then I guess I would recite the extremely well-known solution to this extremely well-known riddle?

  1. Take Torchic across, return alone.
  2. Take Fennekin across, return with Torchic.
  3. Take berries across, return alone.
  4. Take Torchic across.

Was that what I was supposed to say in the first place?

(also why am I selling Pokémon? That sounds kinda fµ¢£ed up)

EDIT AGAIN: Riddler further asks:

The guy outside Mount moon sells live Magikarp, plus you are literally just given pokemon, not to mention Team Rocket’s black market.

Team Rocket’s black market is… well… Team Rocket’s black market; I mean, there are two very significant red flags in the name of the thing you are citing. The Magikarp salesman is also characterised as… pretty damn shady; like, in the anime he literally runs a pyramid scheme, and even in the original games, where he has like three lines, it kinda seems like he’s deliberately trying to mislead you about what you’re buying. I suspect that exchanging a Pokémon for money might be seen as kind of crass or unethical in a way that trading or giving away a Pokémon is not – largely because the best examples of Pokémon being sold are… well, not above board.

Also, this is a very annoying way to have a conversation; there is a comment section and you don’t need a WordPress account to use it.

Anon the Mon asks:

Are you ever going to release part 3 of your Uranium nuzlocke, or did you forget you started that?

Oh, I 100% forgot I started that and am 100% not going to continue it. Honestly it was a mistake to start a Nuzlocke when what I was really interested in was exploring the new Pokémon. And there were external factors, like the game basically didn’t function on Mac OS when it was released (not sure if that’s changed) and it was a hassle to change operating systems whenever I wanted to play it.

jeffthelinguist asks:

Why do Pokemon post game stories suck (aside from Johto’s, and even that doesn’t have much for story)? The more casual fans might stop after the credits so really they should be for the hardcore fans; it’s really a chance for Game Freak to step up their storytelling and give us some good lore. Instead we get Looker (arguably the best thing other than Johto’s and that says a lot), Team Rainbow Rocket (minor nostalgia dump with huge plot holes), and now Squidward and Sherbet (I refuse to ever use their real names).

Well, I should start by saying that I actually quite like Sword and Shield’s post-championship storyline in spite of Swordface and Shieldbutt (who are clearly not meant to be sympathetic characters), as detailed here (this question landed in my inbox before that entry was published). Their enmity towards Sonia for “changing history” actually does feel to me like a natural continuation of her story and an interesting perspective on the events of the main plot. So I sort of disagree with the premise of the question, which is a thing I do a lot.  I also liked Fire Red and Leaf Green’s Sevii Islands storyline, and while I consider Looker himself a personal enemy who should be flung into outer space, I don’t actually have any issues with the Lumiose City storyline featuring Emma and Xerosic in X and Y.  I have problems with the endgame stories that feel tacked onto a game that was already finished – the worst offenders in my view being Platinum’s Charon subplot (the main plot is about ancient mythology and seizing control of terrible cosmic powers to rewrite reality and change the nature of life, the universe and the soul; and then Charon, who’s been built up as this incredible genius for the entire game, just wants to blow up a volcano in order to extort lots of money from the people of Sinnoh) and the Team Rainbow Rocket saga of Ultra SMoon (which… well, we’ve been there). Also, frankly, even though this isn’t actually postgame material, I think the Ultra Recon Squad subplot counts as this too; it’s not actually bad in isolation but it doesn’t belong in the story it’s attached to.  And, well, that’s kind of the answer to your question: because they’re tacked onto games that were already finished, in some cases (as I understand it – fact-check me on this) by different writers than the ones responsible for the original story.  I’m inclined to blame the rampant corporate greed that dictates an annual release cycle for Pokémon, whether there’s actually a worthwhile game to be made or not – but then, I blame a lot of things on rampant corporate greed these days, so you can argue this is just my baseline.

Marnie, Piers and Team Yell

Okay; let’s get cracking!  New generation, renewed sense of purpose, momentary spike in my will to live… aaaaaand it’s gone.

Oh well.

I’m going to begin with my character studies of the major players in the plot of Sword and Shield, rather than Pokémon reviews like I’ve done in the past, partly because I want to get my thoughts on the story out there while the games are fresh in people’s minds and it’s more immediately relevant… and partly because I was still doing Pokémon reviews for generation VII just a couple of months ago and frankly I need a minute (also I am kiiiiinda thinking I should go back and do the characters from Sun and Moon that I missed out).  Let’s start with the, uh… pseudo-villains… of Sword and Shield – Team Yell – and their reluctant “leaders” Piers and Marnie.  In more ways than one, Team Yell are a continuation of things we saw in Sun and Moon with Team Skull.  Team Skull are arguably not “villains” in Sun and Moon, and certainly not the main antagonists.  They’re set up as troublemakers and petty criminals, but if anything we’re supposed to come to sympathise with them by the end of the game, and their leaders earn redemption in the epilogue.  Team Yell are the same, but more so: they’re obstructive and annoying, but they never really hurt anyone as far as we see, and once we learn their true nature, it’s clear that their motives are – if not exactly “pure” – certainly understandable.

Continue reading “Marnie, Piers and Team Yell”