One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
If it were up to you, what would you give to the inevitable 1000th pokemon to commemorate it?
Hmm. I suppose it feels as if there should be something special about #1000, doesn’t there? You know, one thing you could do would be to have a contest to let a fan design a Pokémon – obviously with some tidying up by Game Freak’s design team in between the winning entry and the finished game. I think if I were in that position I might restrict the contest to residents of Japan, just to keep the scale manageable and make it easier to get some back-and-forth between the winner and Game Freak over how the design would be interpreted for the final game (but you could have a bunch of other regional contests in the rest of East Asia, Europe, North America and so on for the #980, #990, #1010, etc. slots). That, to me, would feel more special than any gimmick that could be added to the design of the Pokémon itself.
[First of all: apologies for this one being late. I lost quite a bit of writing time last week flying back from Athens and recovering from jet lag (which, for me, tends to involve sleeping for 15 hours straight), but I think everything is just about back on track now!]
Ever had a paper cut?
Hurts, doesn’t it?
Well, today’s Pokémon, the Ultra Beast
Kartana, would like you to know that it lives to cause you that pain. Every time you turn a page in a book too
quickly and feel a sudden, sharp sting, or every time you lick an envelope and
your tongue or lip screams at you to abort the mission because something has
gone horribly wrong, Kartana is there, watching. And laughing.
Look, the raw, unvarnished truth is that I think all hype is dumb and everyone should just sit down, shut up, and wait for the movie in an unfurnished stone cell in perfect, motionless silence without eating, drinking or breathing. But I guess that’s the kind of attitude that people around me are always calling “not normal” or “disturbingly aloof” or “please put down that Necronomicon,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’ll just have to say something and get on the record as being just as wrong and dumb as everyone else.
You’ve often complained about the unoriginality of bird pokemon, and you did a great job of suggesting ways to increase the relevance of the two most original ones of the bunch, those being Farfetch’d and Delibird.
So, suppose you had the freedom to redesign all of the flying/normal pokemon in the game (Pidgeot, Fearow, Noctowl, Swellow, Braviary, Unfeazant, Staraptor, Chatot) and possibly Svanna, Mandibuzz, Honchkrow and Dodrio (although the latter seems original enough to me, and the others have the benefit of their typing to make them stand out enough that they at least don’t look like mere copy-pasted concepts), how would you do it?
You’re free to do anything – suggest altered looks, change the stat-lineup and/or typing, create new moves or abilities, modify the amount of evolutionary stages – other than removing them; each species ought to remain as something that exists in the game.
And I know I’m leaving a handful of birds out (the legendary trio, Pelipper, Talonflame, Hawlucha, Dartrix), but I feel those are original enough, and/or sufficiently competitive, as not to need any redesign.
Really looking forward to how you’d do that – your series on “upgrading the worst 10 pokemon in the game” was a really interesting read.
So… cut me some slack here; I can’t do all of these, because… well that’s twelve Pokémon to review and redesign, and think of the precedent it sets if I signal that I’m willing to throw together a project like that every damn week. Game Freak has a whole team of people who design 60-odd Pokémon every two years, and I’m one disgruntled archaeologist with a termite-infested soapbox and no artistic skills. So what we are going to try to do here is make it very clear that I don’t want to make a habit of this, and then address the question by prioritising: get some kind of ranking system in place to isolate the worst of the suck. Who most needs a buff or redesign?
I don’t get why the Pokémaniac Npc’s are called that way in the game. They seem to be as obsessed with Pokémon as anyone else in the games. What do you think is the reason they get this moniker? Pokemaniacs rise up!
This is kind of an interesting one, because in Japanese they’re not called Pokémaniacs. They’re actually called かいじゅう(kaijū, or “monster”)マニア(mania, a transliteration of the English “maniac”). Kaijū is also the name of the Monster egg group – the group that includes most ground-dwelling reptilian Pokémon that are not Dragons, a definition presumably influenced by the Japanese kaijū movie genre and its most famous star, Godzilla. So they’re actually not obsessed with Pokémon per se; they’re obsessed with a particular group of Pokémon, almost always use Pokémon from that group and, starting in generation III, regularly cosplay as Pokémon from that group (they also tend to hang out in very out-of-the-way places, often in caves). Of course, when the first Pokémon games were translated into English back in 1998, we didn’t have egg groups yet because the breeding mechanics were only introduced in generation II (released in Japan in 1999). So some poor translator, who’d been told that “Pokémon” derives from the English “Pocket Monster,” probably read kaijū mania literally as “monster maniac,” thought “oh, this means someone obsessed with Pocket Monsters” and decided that “Pokémaniac” sounded better in English. It wouldn’t have helped that the first two generations’ Pokémaniac sprites (see my avatar at the top of the page) look more like mad scientists than cosplayers. Of course, I’ve only been learning Japanese for about six weeks, and I’ve been writing under the name “Pokémaniac Chris” on a blog called “Pokémaniacal” with a generation II Pokémaniac as my avatar for eight years, so there’s an argument I might have missed the window to back out on that one. And anyway, to me, my Pokémaniac avatar represents the heart and soul of what this blog ought to be: pointing boldly forward into the unknown, with a wild-eyed grin, Pokéball at the ready, and a billowing cape just to add that subtle touch of “escaped cultist.”
What are some of your favorite underrated/overlooked pokemon?
Well, I suppose it depends on what we mean by underrated or overlooked… some Pokémon are “overlooked” in that they’ve never been competitively viable, but nonetheless have a sort of cult following, like Dunsparce, whom your mega-evolved counterpart asked about recently, and if allowed, Dunsparce would definitely go on my list. Pokémon that are genuinely overlooked in that they have no fans whatsoever, I mostly kind of think deserve it, like Qwilfish. For some reason I’m very fond of Delibird, who is legitimately terrible, but I don’t know whether there’s a fan following for Delibird. Carbink may not qualify as overlooked because of its link to Diancie, but I do have a weird soft spot for Carbink because I have a pet theory that it’s the oldest of all Pokémon (I reject Mew’s claim on the position, in what I realise is a conflict with established lore). Druddigon is, frankly, my spirit Pokémon, because I too aspire to live in a dark cave and hate everybody, and Druddigon has definitely never had the competitive spotlight and I don’t think has ever been especially popular, so I think “overlooked” is justifiable here. And lastly, my favourite Pokémon is Vileplume, who… isn’t really overlooked or underrated, I don’t think, but has never been, like, top-tier super popular either.
Today’s Pokémon is our second Ultra Beast, the abomination of hulking
muscle and red life-juice that is Buzzwole.
While clearly just as weird and arguably un-Pokémon-like as Nihilego, Buzzwole
is weird and un-Pokémon-like in very different ways, the main commonality being
that Buzzwole also lacks well-defined facial features (I mean, it kind of has eyes, but they look more
like real insectoid compound eyes than the heavily anthropomorphised eyes that
Bug Pokémon often have, and are very small and indistinct). However, unlike the unrelentingly alien
Nihilego, Buzzwole is if anything weirdly and unsettlingly human while
simultaneously being obviously insectoid – fitting for the Bug/Fighting type
combination, but a striking contrast to the one previous Bug/Fighting Pokémon,
Heracross. Let’s take a closer look.