K asks:

What do you think is up w/ types and “life energy” these days? Like, if you had to sum up what your theory is on Dragon, Psychic, and Fairy types and how those relate to the nebulous concept of “life energy” in Pokemon?

so

y’see

y’know what, I may as well revisit this one, yeah

listen, for the record, I’m about to go way too into depth about this $#!t because I’ve tried to answer this before and I change my mind practically every time there’s a new Pokémon game, and I am chronically incapable of addressing a problem without recapping everything I’ve ever thought about it.  Really what I should do is research it properly and actually write up A Big Long Thing, but that sounds hard so I’m not going to.  If you read on you have only yourself to blame.

What I always went back to was this line, originally from Gold and Silver, where one of the gym trainers at Clair’s gym in Blackthorn City describes Dragon Pokémon as “Pokémon that are overflowing with life energy” (or something like that; I’m quoting from memory).  In that original context, it seems like this is an explanation for how Dragon-with-a-capital-D Pokémon – at the time a very exclusive club, consisting of only Dratini, Dragonair, Dragonite and Kingdra – are different from Pokémon that are dragons, like Charizard and Gyarados.  Dratini and Dragonair are kinda the emblematic Dragon Pokémon at that point, and they have this snakelike ability to shed their skin and “rejuvenate” themselves (which is exactly why snakes are often linked with immortality in real-world mythology).  My mind also always goes to the Victini and Reshiram/Zekrom movie(s), where the plot revolves around a character’s attempts to manipulate something called the “Dragon Force,” an underground stream of life energy that has some vague connection to the legendary Dragon Pokémon of Unova.  Similarly, in Jewel of Life, Arceus creates the titular jewel, which has the power to invigorate living things and restore damaged ecosystems, from its plates that correspond to the elements of Water and Ground (basic necessities of life), Grass (the foundational life represented by plants), Electric (a “spark” to get things started) and Dragon (because… y’know, you can’t have life without dragons?).  Legendary Dragon Pokémon are prominent in the lore of generations III-V and often seem to have those big “cosmic keystone” roles.  So it sounds like Dragon Pokémon are special precisely because they have this unique connection to some kind of abstract universal “life force” that other Pokémon obviously need (because… y’know, they’re alive) but aren’t directly linked to.

Continue reading “K asks:”

Pink Fairy Armadillo asks:

If you could have one Pokémon help you with your PhD thesis right now which one would you want? Like not to help you directly write it but help with other things related to it?

I like to think about things like what Pokémon would make good service animals and stuff. Pretty much any Pokémon work, the least obvious ones are more interesting!

To be honest, at the point I’m at, directly writing it is pretty much the entire remaining task; I don’t have any more travel to do, or objects to examine.  So… the real answer to this question is none of them, and nothing, because there is nothing else – just my brain, the scholarship and some Word docs.  And… I’d be pretty nervous about using a Pokémon’s abilities to try to augment my brain (my mind always goes back to the cautionary tale of that anime episode where a bunch of aristocrats use Drowzee and Hypno to help them sleep and accidentally scramble the brains of a dozen local children).  I’ll assume Victini’s power to make its trainer always succeed at everything is off the table.

In a hypothetical world where I were still travelling to visit archaeological sites or working on physical objects, I suppose there’d be a lot more options.  I’ve always thought a Claydol’s combination of psychic senses and control over earth and soil would be really helpful in carefully digging through dirt one layer at a time.  Castform’s ability to manipulate the weather would be great during a dig – you can get a bit of cloud cover to avoid the worst of the summer sun, but also make sure it doesn’t rain on your open trenches.  Failing that, I’d take anything that can produce drinkable water; I’m not 100% clear on whether humans can safely drink water from a Pokémon’s Water Gun attack, but if you can, the possibilities are endless.  Pokémon seem to have at least some ability to comprehend human speech regardless of the actual language being spoken, so a Pokémon that can also imitate speech, like Chatot, might have some potential as an interpreter (alas, street signs would probably remain out of reach – I can read French, Italian, German and Greek with a certain… very limited degree of competence, but I can’t even sound out a single written word in Hebrew or Arabic).  In terms of some more specific archaeological problems… well, Stakataka might have some very niche use if you could train it to simulate the collapse of walls and structures in different field conditions.  I wonder if you could teach a Muk to run some form of microdestructive chemical analysis…?

I suppose a Metagross’s supercomputer brain would be good for the statistical processing of my chemical data that I actually do still need to finish, but I think there’s a solid argument that that would be cheating.  And there is also Xatu’s ability to see into the past… but to be honest, if that vision could be reliably/safely shared with humans, it would instantly make a good chunk of the current methods and practice of archaeology and history obsolete, so if I had access to that, I probably wouldn’t be writing this thesis at all.  Not that I wouldn’t still be interested in studying the past, but I’d be asking completely different questions.

Anonymous asks:

Hey, longtime fan, do you think you would ever do another speed nuzlocke like you did for fire red a few years ago?

That was… sort of a unique situation.  Jim the Editor and I normally live on different continents, but for New Year’s Eve at the end of 2017 we were together, with no other company, in a Scottish winter with not a lot else to do.  So, precisely like that, no, absolutely not, or at least not in the next few years.  But I won’t rule out doing some lowish effort write-ups of Pokémon playthroughs in the nearer future. Which, uh… knowing me, will transition seamlessly into high effort write-ups that I can’t possibly finish. Che será, será.

Lizardman Lizardman asks:

Fun fact: one of the most feared Pokemon in Anything Goes is not Mega Rayquaza, or some Arceus forme… It’s Vivillon. Just thought you’d like to know.

Well “one of the most feared” is a bit of an exaggeration; she’s a bit niche and very high-risk/high-reward, but even that much is a hell of an achievement for a cookie-cutter early-game butterfly.  Honestly I think this says less about Vivillon than about how heinously overpowered sleep is in Pokémon, even after being nerfed in four out of six generations, and how completely we all tend to forget about that most of the time.  Smogon has a rule (and I think other communities use this as well) that you can only put one Pokémon to sleep at a time, and their influence on the competitive Pokémon community is so great that even in contexts where their rules don’t apply (like most official tournaments) people kind of act as if they did – partly, I think, because the strategies banned by rules like this are just incredibly dickish and make the game a lot less fun for everyone.  Of course, in Smogon’s “anything goes” tier… well, anything goes.  Vivillon is faster than Butterfree and gets Compoundeyes Hurricane, and Sun and Moon nerfed the cr@p out of Darkrai’s Dark Void, so if you want to spam a very high-accuracy sleep technique, she’s the one to do it with.  I mean, yes, Quiver Dance is part of it, because without it Vivillon would be outrun and one-shot by practically everything, but when you have all the legendary Pokémon in the game to work with, the offensive presence of a Quiver Dance Vivillon, while significant, isn’t that big a deal – which is why we would never have this conversation in the “uber” tier, where the sleep rules still apply.  Sleep really is just that good.  This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t automatically defer to the competitive zeitgeist when choosing Pokémon and movesets for single-player, not even in end-game battle facilities – it’s not actually the same game.

Hyper Beam asks:

How would you…in glorious detail…imagine kyurem, zekrom, and reshiram finally combined?

(Disclaimer first: I’m not a designer or an artist, and a Google image search would give you multiple answers to this question that are better than anything you’ll get from me)

The thing is, I actually like that Game Freak never gave us a final realisation of this concept.  Whatever they came up with, it would not have lived up to our expectations or done justice to the idea.  The original primordial dragon represents the totality of all truths and the realisation of all ideals, the reconciliation of every pair of opposites and the resolution of every conflict.  I suggest, though I obviously cannot prove, that the reason it never appears in the games is because Game Freak realised that there is no satisfying way to depict that, and decided it was better left as a mysterious background presence in the lore.  Sometimes it’s more effective to leave things to the imagination; there’s a reason some horror movies never show the monster.  A big mass of black and white wings and scales and $#!t is not as evocative or meaningful as the vague suggestion, buried in layers of mythology, of a primordial being who symbolises the impossible unity of all divisions.  Frankly I think Pokémon could do with more of that kind of restraint, not less.

Continue reading “Hyper Beam asks:”

Anonymous asks:

Are you a superhero fan at all? Comics, movies, TV series, cartoons, games, anything?

Not particularly.  I’ve watched a fair bit of Arrow and The Flash, and some movies here and there (I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, which… I don’t know, is that still a “superhero” movie because it’s Marvel, or is it sci-fi?  What are the boundaries there?) but I don’t go out of my way to engage with superhero stuff, and I wouldn’t have called myself a fan of the genre broadly.