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.

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A Pokémon Trainer is You! XII: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

How will you frame the situation in your report to Professor Oak?
– Suggest encouraging the Bidoof population and increasing their influence on the area, while searching for ways to mitigate any harm they cause to native species.

The situation here is complicated, and you worry that removing the Bidoof by force could be just as disruptive as doing nothing at all – not just to the Bidoof themselves, but to everything else living in the area.  It would take half a dozen trainers to round up just the ones here (you assume there are other dams), and breaking the dam could easily be destructive.  Besides, the Bidoof aren’t just crowding out or oppressing native species; they’re also creating something new.  Many of the local species actually stand to benefit from their transformation of the landscape, and the end result could be a more diverse ecosystem than Route 22 started with – if the competing needs of the different species are managed correctly.  It’ll be like threading a needle, no mistake, but your instinctive compassion makes you unwilling to dismiss the possibility that all the Pokémon of the area can live in something resembling harmony.  You resolve to write the conclusion of your report in a way that emphasises the potential benefits of the Bidoof presence, but without downplaying the risks to species like Goldeen that could be harmed by their effects on the landscape.

I hope you know what you’re doing, kid.

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jeffthelinguist asks:

So I have some theories but I want to hear what you have to say on this.

So the latest “fossil” Pokémon clearly never actually existed (nor should they now, either), but the most interesting thing about them is none of them are rock type. In your standard reputation of reading heavily into this as world building and not Game Freak not giving a $#!+ about maintaining any sense of consistency, what would be your reasoning for this and why? If you have multiple theories, feel free to share more than one!

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Osprey asks:

I know you get a lot of questions about type chart balance, and it seems like people are always trying to mess around with adding and subtracting weaknesses and resistances to improve their favored types (I’ll cop to a longstanding desire to see a defensive buff for Ice, my favorite type).

But recently on a forum, I ran across a suggestion that I found remarkable for both its simplicity and its potential to have a huge impact on game balance: reduce the super-effective damage multiplier from 2x to 1.5x across the board. What are your thoughts about this?

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Anonymous asks:

So here’s a thought that occured to me; for a series titled Pokémon, many of its plots aren’t really ABOUT the Pokémon themselves, are they? At most, they’re just plot devices while the human characters get all the focus, characterization, and development. You could replace Groudon with a weather dominator Team Magma created, and nothing about Ruby’s story would really change. Even Necrozma, the most proactive Legendary I can think of, is held back until the eleventh hour, and has everything about its character told to us by other characters (who seemingly exist ONLY to provide said exposition) instead of something the player finds out for themselves. What do you think would be the best way to rectify this recurring problem, if you even think it is one?

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A Pokémon Trainer is You! XI: Dam It!

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do next?
– Camp out here so you can investigate the invasive species.

You have other concerns besides continuing your journey.  The evidence you’ve collected suggests that there are non-native species in this habitat, and while that isn’t necessarily a problem per se, you want to rule out any possibility that they might be harming the local ecosystem.  Viridian Forest and Pewter City aren’t going anywhere, and there’s always some chance that the mysterious Viridian gym leader will return in a day or two.  You find a sheltered spot by a small pond and set up to spend the night here.

Do you want to give Wurmple a nickname?
– Let Pokémaniac Chris name it.

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KalosianPorygon asks:

What are, in your opinion, the most baffling worldbuilding incoherences of the mainline Pokémon games? For me, it’s the presence of Bananas (as is, the real-life fruit) in Sword and Shield, when Nanab Berries, which are based on bananas, also exist.

That’s a tough one… See, this is hard because a big part of my schtick normally is looking at inconsistencies and figuring out why they actually might not be inconsistent.  “This is a baffling worldbuilding incoherence” is normally my last resort, after “unreliable narrators” and “differing creative visions” and “fiction has no sense of scale” and “myth and history are really complicated” and “biology is also really complicated” and “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio” have all failed.  Actually pegging something as fundamentally inconsistent in a way that allows no more interesting interpretation is almost an admission of defeat for me.  Like, take the Nanab Berry thing.  That doesn’t even strike me as a problem; that’s just two fruit that look similar and have similar names, which may or may not be related (Jim the Editor pointed out that we have grapes and grapefruit).  Cheri Berries and Cherubi also exist in the same world; I think one is probably named after the other.

My first thought for an actual answer here was “they never really explain how Pokéballs work, and none of the characters seem to think that’s weird” but I don’t know if that qualifies as an inconsistency, so much as something that’s just never explored.  Something that really is worth wondering about is how food works – not just whether we eat Pokémon, but whether Pokémon eat each other.  I actually suspect there may not be a firm party line on this within Game Freak, because the games definitely mention hunting and predation from time to time, but when you directly ask them they’re reluctant to talk about it.  We finally get to eat Slowpoke tails in Sword and Shield, but they’re always careful to mention that Slowpoke tails grow back.  You sort of have to assume that we eat Pokémon and they eat each other, because a world with no predation whatsoever just wouldn’t have creatures that resemble real ones, but if even the lowest Pokémon are of roughly doglike intelligence and many species are superhuman, the idea of killing them for food – or of them killing each other for food, when they could easily have been friends on some trainer’s team – does make one a little bit… queasy.  And that’s just not something Pokémon’s optimistic worldview can process in a nuanced way.