Galarian Ponyta and Rapidash

Galarian Ponyta

Back when Fairy Pokémon were first introduced in X and Y and several existing Pokémon had their types retconned to Fairy or part-Fairy, one of the things we talked about a little bit here was which Pokémon weren’t changed to Fairy-types although they justifiably could have been – and one of the Pokémon on that list was Rapidash.  Rapidash is a unicorn – a fairytale creature if ever there was one, full of mystery and magic.  But Rapidash itself is… weirdly not very unicorn-ish; all of its powers are related to either fire or speed, and all of its lore (not just in the games, but in other continuities like the anime) is pretty heavily focused on its legendary speed and competitiveness.  It’s not really a unicorn in the sense of Mediaeval European mythology – more of a horse that just happens to have a pretty vicious horn.  And is on fire.  But Galar has now given us an enchanted, divine Psychic-type Ponyta and Psychic/Fairy-type Rapidash, all pure white and sky blue and candy pink like a My Little Pony character, sweetness and light from head to hooves.  And we’re gonna dig into it and figure out what makes a unicorn unicorn-ish, because that is apparently the path I have chosen.

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Galarian Weezing

Right, where was I?

Galarian Weezing

I’ve been doing the regional variant Pokémon up until now as blocks of two or three, but I don’t think that’s going to work for the rest of them – I’ve been stuck for weeks trying to do another set, and I’m not sure there are useful themes I can use to tie them together.  There’s also just… a lot more to say about the Galarian forms than the Alolan ones, partly because some Galarian forms evolve into totally new Pokémon, partly because the design changes are more radical.  So let’s not do that – let’s just talk about Galarian Weezing, the steampunk capitalist keeping Galar’s air fresh and clean!

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Regional Variant Pokémon: Galarian Yamask and Corsola

Today’s Galarian variant Pokémon, Yamask and Corsola, are both Ghost-types, and they have some pretty different ideas about what that means.  One is an ancient curse, supposedly the twisted remnants of a long-dead human corrupted by mysterious dark magic; the other is older still, the revenant of a prehistoric extinction event whose lasting effects on the Galar region we can only begin to trace.  This piece might feel a little different from the others in this series, because it’s difficult to talk about Pokémon “adapting to the environment” of a new region when those Pokémon are dead and the environment is literally magic.  But Ghost Pokémon consistently have really interesting lore, and there’s some cool stuff to dig into as we investigate the inspirations of these Pokémon.  Let’s take a look.

Yamask and Runerigus

Galarian Yamask.

Unovan Yamask are tragic Pokémon, with some of the saddest backstories in the Pokédex.  Yamask are supposedly the spirits of dead humans, and each one carries a clay mask which is said to represent its human face.  They retain memories from their human lives and weep for their loss, their masks a constant reminder of their eternal sorrow.  Which is, as the expression goes, a bummer.  Once it evolves, Cofagrigus has a pretty different attitude, becoming a spiteful tomb guardian who devours grave robbers with a crazed grin on its face.  Although its mask is still there, set into Cofagrigus’ forehead, according to its new Pokédex entry in Sword Version, “people say it no longer remembers that it was once human” – as if its curse has overtaken it completely.   Now, Galarian Yamask… don’t have masks.  Instead, a Galarian Yamask’s tail is embedded in a chunk of what looks like carved stone but might in fact be clay, since its Pokédex entry makes reference to “a clay slab with cursed engravings [that] took possession of a Yamask” (this mention of clay is the only reason I can find for Galarian Yamask to be Ground/Ghost rather than Rock/Ghost, since from every other angle these Pokémon appear to be rocky).  In the case of the evolved form, Runerigus, we get a troubling line about “absorbing the spirit of a Yamask” to animate the painting on the surface of its body.  Just like Unovan Yamask eventually succumb to the curse that strips away the last of their remembered humanity and transforms them into Cofagrigus, something has taken over this Yamask spirit and is gradually turning it into a malevolent force… but what?

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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.

Alolan Raichu, Marowak and Exeggutor

The regional variant Pokémon we’re looking at today all evolve from Pokémon that do not have regional variant forms of their own – a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched in Alola will look much the same as a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched anywhere else.  In fact, they don’t just look the same, they are the same; an Alolan Pikachu that is sent to Galar will evolve into a standard Raichu (even though Sword and Shield do know what an Alolan Raichu is, and Pokémon games do track each individual Pokémon’s region of origin), while a Pikachu that arrives in Alola from anywhere else will evolve into an Alolan Raichu.  That’s weird, because other regional forms don’t work this way (with the exception of two Galarian forms, Weezing and Mr. Mime); you can take an Alolan Rattata to any region of the world and keep it there for as long as you like, it’ll still evolve into an Alolan Raticate.  Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on here.

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Ty asks:

Glad the Mr. Mime question got the ball rolling! I just have one more for the time being regarding your favorite Vileplume. With Alola forms in mind, if you could pick any region where Oddish’s evolutionary family had a regional variation, which region would it be, and what would make the Oddishes, Glooms, Vileplumes, and Bellossoms different there?

Yeah I think when I moved to WordPress people… forgot(?) for a while, I guess, that they could do this?  So thanks for that!  Anyway, Vileplume.  I wasn’t sure how to begin going about this, but I did some reading and learned about a property of the Rafflesia genus of flowers (which Vileplume is based on) that I hadn’t previously known about.  Continue reading “Ty asks:”

RandomAccess asks:

Do you think it’d be fun if, for some reason, they remade the gen 1 and 2 games again and they made regional variants for some of the new Pokémon? Or even a regional variant for some new Pokémon that got retyped to fairy as their original typing? Maybe a fairy/normal Clefairy that even has the original light pink color scheme way different from the much more vivid pink clefairy we have today.

I’m not sure what you mean by the “original light pink colour scheme” – Clefairy in generations VI and VII is a noticeably paler shade of pink than in II through IV (especially II, where the sprites would, I think, be best described as “shocking pink”).  But as a general principle, I guess sure?  I’m decidedly unconvinced by the idea of re-remaking generations I and II, but if you were going to do it, details like that would give the exercise some point.