Stakataka

Stakataka

We’re down to our last two Ultra Beasts: Stakataka and Blacephalon, who were added to the roster only in Ultra Moon and Ultra Sun (respectively).  We don’t know as much about them as we do about all the others, because we never see their homeworlds.  All the original Ultra Beasts, whom we first met in Alola in Sun and Moon, are encountered in Ultra Smoon by travelling through Ultra Space to their own worlds (while Poipole is involved in the story of the Ultra Recon Squad, and gets a major supporting role in the anime).  These two, we only ever meet in Alola, and we also get no information about them from Wicke, who is otherwise a fount of interesting (if occasionally dubious) intelligence.  As a result, there’s more I’d like to know about Stakataka that I just don’t, like what kind of ecosystem produces a creature like this, and how it behaves in its natural habitat – things that, for normal Pokémon, we tend to learn as a matter of course.  But we have the Pokédex, we have the design, we have Stakataka’s in-game types, stats and mechanics, and we have the anime episode it stars in, so let’s take a look and see what we can do.

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Nihilego

Nihilego

The Alolan archipelago has at last surrendered all (or, well, most) of its secrets – so now the time has finally come for us to leave behind the world we know.  The stars have aligned, the ritual is complete, the Dark Forces from Parts Unknown have imparted their mystic secrets, the Ultra Wormhole beckons, and the void opens before us, promising nothing at the price of everything.  Yep – we’re figuring out the Ultra Beasts.  There’s ten of these freaky bastards (not counting Lunala, Solgaleo and Necrozma), and they’re each getting their own entry.  My aim over the course of those ten articles will be not just to review the Ultra Beasts individually, but also to, hopefully, figure out… well, something about them as a group.  What are they?  What exactly is Ultra Space?  Why are they such a threat to Alola?  Are they really a group at all, or just a random sample of the variety of life that exists in an infinite multiverse?  All these questions, and more, will… honestly, let’s face it, probably not be answered here on Pokémaniacal, but we’ll bloody well give it a go – starting with probably the best-known Ultra Beast of all, Nihilego.

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Minior

250px-774Minior.png
Minior

Pokémon Sun and Moon are, as the names imply, games that always have one eye on the heavens. A lot of the time this manifests as a day/night theme, but they are interested in other celestial phenomena as well – Cosmog is a nebula that gives birth to a star, one of the games’ prominent locations is an observatory, and of course the Ultra Beasts have a certain sci-fi aesthetic to them and emerge from wormholes. A lot of Alola’s ordinary Pokémon draw on themes related to the real Hawaiian islands (or at least tropical islands in general) but today’s Pokémon is one that cares a lot more about Alola’s relationship with the sky. Meet Minior: the Meteor Pokémon. Continue reading “Minior”

Rockruff and Lycanroc

Rockruff.
Rockruff

Today’s Pokémon is Professor Kukui’s loyal partner, Rockruff, and his evolved form – or rather forms, as we’ll see – Lycanroc, the latest additions to Pokémon’s growing stable (or, uh… kennel) of dog Pokémon.  Physically, Rockruff’s design is very straightforwardly based on a domestic dog, perhaps an Akita Inu (a large Japanese dog breed with a wolf-like countenance and a fluffy tail).  Physically we’re looking at something quite close to Growlithe, with a different colour scheme and obviously very distinct powers, but very similar in terms of personality and behaviour.  Rockruff’s most distinctive feature is a “collar” (or “ruff”?) of stones, which apparently has a social function – Rockruff greet each other by rubbing their stony collars on each other’s bodies.  This little ritual apparently extends to their human friends as well, which can cause significant discomfort.  Nonetheless, Rockruff is one of the Pokémon most favoured for beginners in the Alola region because they have a friendly and loyal disposition that makes them easy to train and command, and are also extremely tenacious in battle.  In other words, they’re almost exactly like real dogs – energetic, devoted and affectionate to the point of being overbearing.  A bit generic, slotting in alongside Growlithe and Lillipup almost unnoticed, but that’s sort of to be expected for the basic stage of an early-game Pokémon, and the Rock element is incorporated in a neat way with the “collar.”  The meat of what this design is supposed to be doing comes with the evolved form: Lycanroc. Continue reading “Rockruff and Lycanroc”

vikingboybilly asks:

If diamond is harder than steel, shouldn’t the rock and steel weakness/resistance to each other be reversed?

I see no compelling reason for it, unless we believe a) that Rock Pokémon are made of diamonds or something equally hard, b) that Steel Pokémon are made of ordinary carbon steel and not some kind of bizarre bio-alloy, and c) that Mohs’ hardness is a good indicator of how a Pokémon’s body holds up under the diverse stresses of battle.  On the other hand, I see no compelling reason for the way that relationship works currently either, and Steel-types have too many damn resistances anyway, so sure, go nuts.

Inksword asks:

I always thought the rock typing was a side-effect from the fossil reviving process.Since fossilization is the replacement of stuff with rock, and you’re specifically reviving from FOSSILS not DNA (except, I guess, for aerodactly) the typing changed

Mostly works for the games (except for, as you mention, Aerodactyl).  Doesn’t work once you bring the anime into it, because there are episodes where Ash encounters surviving populations of supposedly extinct Pokémon (like the Kabuto in the Orange Islands), and even one where he actually travels through time and sees Tirtouga and Carracosta in their natural prehistoric habitat.  It’s pretty clear from instances like these that the fossil Pokémon aren’t substantially altered from their original biology.

VikingBoyBilly asks:

Why are mamoswine and relicanth not fossils? Also, Relicanth should evolve into a Dunkleosteuss pokemon. Cool idea, no?

Well, the whole point of Relicanth is being based on something that’s actually not extinct but just looks like it should be.  Making Relicanth a fossil would sort of defeat the purpose, in a way.  I mean, you could have Relicanth available as both a fossil and a wild Pokémon, which I think would be a cool way of emphasising its unusual status, but from Game Freak’s perspective, why would you do that?  And would most players actually like that, or would they feel cheated by getting a ‘fossil’ Pokémon that they could just catch normally?  Dunkleosteus… eh.  Sure?  It is again kind of defeating the purpose of Relicanth, but it’s not like evolutionary history in the Pokémon world makes any damn sense anyway.

As for Mamoswine… well, one of the ideas I have about fossil Pokémon is that they’re all Rock-types because Rock-type skeletons are unusually robust, and so representation in the fossil record is overwhelmingly skewed towards Rock Pokémon.  Fossils of prehistoric Pokémon of other types – including Mamoswine – are rare enough that we just never come across them in the games.