A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXIII: See the Forest for the Trees

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do with your prisoners?
– Restrain Kevin so you can drag them both to the authorities.

You all take a moment to revel in your victory and high-five each other before doing anything else.  You’ve got time; Ned is already pretty securely tied up, and Kevin… well, Kevin’s still moping over his unconscious Zubat.  Poor guy seems like he’s having some kind of breakdown.  Abner has his Pokémon start spinning more silk, and you help him tie up Kevin and attach some extra leads to Ned’s cocoon so you can drag him along the ground behind you.  Meanwhile Stacey and Ellis tend to the injuries the Pokémon have suffered – including Zubat.  You aren’t sure about the ethics of confiscating the loyal Pokémon of criminal trainers, and you don’t want to risk Ned’s Pokémon trying to fight you if you let them out, so you get Kevin to recall his Zubat and decide to let the police in Pewter City sort it out once you get there.  Neither Kevin nor Ned seem to be in any mood to talk (even if Ned’s mouth weren’t muffled by the silk), and refuse to say anything about their operation.  Once you’re sure Kevin’s hands are securely bound, you start moving back in the direction of the clearing where you found them.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXIII: See the Forest for the Trees”

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.

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVII: Battle of the Bugs

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you say to Stacey about her love triangle situation?
– Commiserate but don’t interfere; it’s none of your gosh-damn business.

You only just met these people yesterday.  It may not be the most interesting way to approach this situation, but you decide it’s best to stay out of it.  You listen sympathetically to Stacey as she tells you about her crush on Abner and possible rivalry with Ellis, nodding along and making thoughtful “hmmm” noises at the right moments, and doing your best not to sway her towards any particular course of action.  Before too long, the two of you are close to base camp, and Stacey changes the subject before you get into earshot of the others.

Would you like to battle in the bug catchers’ tournament?
– Battle with Aura, the Silcoon.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVII: Battle of the Bugs”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVI: Ladybirds and Gentlemen

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Who would you like to go with?
– Help Stacey find a Bug Pokémon that’s rare in Kanto.

Once everything is settled, Ellis has elected to follow Dane and look for battles with wild Pokémon while doing general exploration, and you have volunteered to search out some unusual Bug Pokémon with Stacey. Rather than join either pair, Abner decides to stay at the group’s base camp so he can try his experimental evolution ideas on his own.  Sticking to the ground, you can see tell-tale signs that the vegetation has been invigorated by the presence of wild Grass Pokémon, and occasionally you spot intriguing blackened marks near the base of tree trunks that look to you like electrical burns.  If you want to find different Bug-types, though, you suspect you’ll need to get off the ground and into the treetops.  You’re not much of a climber, and Stacey is only a little better, but using Scallion’s Vine Whips and Aura’s String Shot, you’re able to create makeshift ropes and nets that help you up into the highest trees without breaking your fragile child necks.  Of course, you make an awful racket in the process, and you can tell there are Pokémon fleeing just out of your sight, but once you get used to what you’re doing, you can move from one treetop to the next with surprising ease, thanks to the interlaced branches of Viridian Forest’s dense canopy.  You suggest focusing on trees with sweet berries and listening carefully for the low-pitched hum of Bug Pokémon wings; Stacey catches on pretty quickly and leads the way.  After half an hour picking your way through the upper levels of the forest, you stumble into a tree filled with red, black-spotted beetle Pokémon, which you vaguely recognise as Ledyba.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVI: Ladybirds and Gentlemen”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XV: A Bug Catcher Is You!

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What will you do tomorrow?
– Join up with some other trainers to explore.

You’re not the only trainer about to attempt a Viridian Forest expedition; a group of trainers from Viridian City, all friends, are also spending the night at the rest stop.  You decide to sidle over and introduce yourself while they’re all chatting before lights-out.  After all, Viridian Forest has kind of a dark reputation, and although you’ve already proven to yourself and your Pokémon that you can manage a couple of days in the wilderness on your own, it’d still be dumb to pass up company when it’s on offer.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XV: A Bug Catcher Is You!”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIV: On the Road Away From Viridian City

You think that was the name of a hit song.  Something like that, anyway.

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What will you do as you head north?
– Train with your Pokémon.

You decide to set a relaxed pace and train with your three Pokémon as you move.  You have Scallion punch berries off tree branches and toss rocks around with his Vine Whips, get Nancy to do progressively faster and harder Quick Attacks, and tell Aura to try to restrain you with her String Shot.  That last one… turns out to work better than you anticipated, and you spend the next fifteen minutes trying to pull gluey threads of silk off your limbs and face with hands that are, themselves, covered in gluey threads of silk.  You get some of it in your hair.  It is awful.  Kid, this kind of $#!t is why Larry was such a lost cause (rest in peace, man).  Once you get all the webby gunk off you, Aura immediately – unprompted – starts spewing more silk everywhere.  You open your mouth to tell her to stop, but realise that she’s no longer aiming at you; in fact, most of the silk is winding around her own body.  You watch, fascinated, as she spends a full minute wrapping herself in tight swathes of silk.  There is a sudden flash of light, and your Wurmple is gone, replaced by a silky-skinned white Pokémon the size and approximate shape of a football, with sleepy-looking red eyes beneath shaggy lashes.  She blinks once and makes a satisfying low-pitched humming noise.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIV: On the Road Away From Viridian City”

The Top Ten Worst Pokémon Ever #3: Beautifly, Dustox and Their Associated Spawn

Why?  Just… why?

I understand that they like their Pokémon templates – things like “rodent-based Normal-type trash” and “Grass-Fire-Water starter trio.”  I know I spent most of last year complaining about it non-stop, but I understand.  I do.  It has to be comforting to have something in your game that you know will work the way you expect it to work, so you can go and innovate somewhere else without worrying too much about the basics.  I get it.

To design exactly the same Pokémon and act like no-one was ever going to know, on the other hand; that… just… look, it isn’t even that I don’t understand how they weighed up the pros and cons of what they were doing; it’s that I can’t actually comprehend what the pros were supposed to have been in the first place!

But that isn’t the worst part.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Wurmple, Silcoon, Cascoon, Beautifly and Dustox, a family of Bug-types native to Hoenn.  Wurmple is basically Caterpie and Weedle shoehorned into a single body; every single characteristic of his design is shared by one of the two.  That’s… pretty much all you need to know.  Wurmple evolves into either Silcoon or Cascoon, based on factors which are randomly determined and impossible to predict or influence.  This is sort of a troll way to evolve, if you ask me, but it’s far from the worst (*cough*Vespiquen*cough*).  Silcoon and Cascoon themselves are, likewise, basically Metapod and Kakuna, except round and largely featureless.  There’s a bit in Cascoon’s Diamond version Pokédex entry which I initially thought was interesting, stating that the inside of Cascoon’s shell is very hot because all of its cells are working so feverishly towards its evolution, but then I found out that this same factoid was originally from Kakuna’s Sapphire version entry, so it’s official: the designers are completely shameless.  The one genuinely interesting thing about either of these Pokémon is that Cascoon apparently remembers every opponent it ever faces and every injury it ever suffers while waiting to evolve, so that it can get revenge when it finally does.  This doesn’t really tie in to what Dustox is like at all, though, so… eh, whatever.  Silcoon evolves into Beautifly, who is Butterfree, except that she makes no sense.  I guess I should elaborate.  Apparently Game Freak were, let’s be fair to them, aware of what people would think when they met Beautifly (this is also, I assume, the reason Beautifly’s art is so much more naturalistic than Butterfree’s) and decided to tell us that she actually has a brutal dark side; Beautifly is a savage hunter who will drain her prey’s vital fluids through her proboscis!  However, they spend just as much time talking about how Beautifly is a pollinator, which means, pretty unambiguously, that her main food source is nectar, not the blood of the innocent (exactly the same as Butterfree).  To top it off, the whole “she looks beautiful but actually she’s a vicious blood-sucker” thing was also done in the same set of games by Gorebyss, who pulled it off far more effectively.  Now, Dustox, to his credit, is not Beedrill.  Unfortunately, he is Venomoth.  Everything Dustox does – nocturnal behaviour, attraction to bright lights, scattering toxic powder, radar senses – was attributed to Venonat and Venomoth first, except for his irritating habit of swarming in brightly lit cities and devouring all the foliage he can find.  I admit that this is an interesting ecological detail and just the sort of thing I like, but it’s too little, too late for a Pokémon that is blatantly a cheap rip-off of a far more awesome pre-existing design.

But that isn’t the worst part either.

 

If you really want to use Butterfree, you can.  She has poor stats in everything except for special attack and special defence, coupled with one of the most awful type combinations in the entire game (Bug/Flying), but she does get one of the most useful abilities, Compoundeyes – a substantial accuracy boost to all of her attacks, including Sleep Powder.  A 97.5%-accurate sleep attack is nothing to sniff at.  I mean, if that’s really your thing you should probably just use a Pokémon that learns Spore, but if you really want to use Butterfree, you can.  Beautifly, on the other hand, has poor stats in everything except for special attack and attack (which she doesn’t use), coupled with the same awful type combination, and has abilities that are far less helpful in comparison.  Beautifly has a decent special movepool.  Pretty much all of her attacks are resisted by Steel-types, but otherwise she has impressive variety: Bug Buzz, Air Slash, Shadow Ball, Energy Ball and Psychic.  This is what she’s got.  Let her enjoy it.  Dustox has similar options (swapping Air Slash for Sludge Bomb) but minimal firepower; his focus is on defence and special defence.  Unfortunately, with his low hit point total, he fails at this even more comprehensively than Beautifly fails at offense. His support movepool basically consists of Light Screen, Toxic and Whirlwind.  If you’re going to use Dustox, you should probably get one from an older game so he can learn Roost and Giga Drain, because his low stats and unhelpful typing are quite enough for him to worry about without having to rely on weather-dependent healing from Moonlight.  Black and White have been very kind to both Beautifly and Dustox by giving them Quiver Dance (a.k.a. special sweeper in a can), which boosts speed, special attack and special defence all at once.  However, Beautifly is too slow and too delicate to get a chance to use it in the first place, while Dustox is too wimpy to do a respectable amount of damage anyway, and Steel-types in general still laugh at both of them.  The Dream World mocked Beautifly and Dustox mercilessly by giving Beautifly the Rivalry ability (when facing an opponent of the same gender, she does more damage with physical attacks – which she doesn’t really use anyway) and Dustox the Compoundeyes ability (even though he doesn’t learn a single attack that is less than 90% accurate).

But even that isn’t the worst part.

 Beautifly using Silver Wind, by Pearl7 (http://pearlsaurus.fc2web.com).

The worst part is that now I have to save them.  And since it is an iron law of Pokémon design that nothing ever evolves more than twice, further evolution for either of them is out of the question; no ifs, no buts.

Fetch me a case of Bitter Poffins and four bottles of twelve-year-old Max Elixir.  It’s going to be a long night.

The easiest thing to do would have been just to use Butterfree and Beedrill, because even though they’re pretty bad, at least they aren’t rip-offs as well.  That would be a cop-out though.  Leavanny and Scolipede proved that it isn’t impossible to do this concept in a way that’s different and fresh.  I can’t exactly do a complete redesign, though, because that would be missing… whatever vaguely-defined point I’m trying to make here.  I do have… one idea.  It’s a little trippy, but sacrifices must be made; this is Beautifly and Dustox we’re talking about, so here we go.  Butterflies traditionally symbolise the human soul, right?  I can work with that.

 Dustox using Toxic, by the same artist.

Beautifly is now Bug/Psychic and Dustox is now Bug/Ghost (with appropriately adjusted movepools, and matching colour schemes; I wouldn’t change them radically, but give Beautifly a more vibrant and surreal palette and Dustox a darker, more sinister one).  I know I made a bunch of uncomfortable noises about retconning things like this when I was doing Sunflora, but, well, desperate times and all that.  Wurmple are found in all the usual forest-type places where Bug Pokémon like to hang out, but adult Dustox are associated with Mount Pyre and Beautifly with Sootopolis City and the Cave of Origin.  In general, Beautifly are ‘active’ – they’re feisty and can be aggressive if provoked, but are also playful – while Dustox are ‘passive’ – they prefer to avoid fights and spend a lot of their time zoning out.  Their presence stirs up corresponding emotions in people and Pokémon, and they grow healthy and strong by spending time with people whose personalities match their own.  I would fold Silcoon and Cascoon into a single Pokémon, and have them split off at the final stage instead – that way, we can say that the determining factor in the split is the kind of emotions that the Pokémon is surrounded by in its cocoon stage.  Like many real-world moth species, Dustox do not eat after reaching adulthood (the mass defoliation mentioned in the Pokédex is a result of the soporific aura emitted by large groups of Dustox causing trees to prematurely shed their leaves as they do in Autumn).  Beautifly can and do consume sweet liquids for enjoyment or for quick bursts of energy, but both species are believed to live primarily off the psychic emanations of humans and Pokémon.  I could go on, but I need to give them some actual toys.  Quiver Dance is sure nice for Beautifly but she’s still hamstrung by her slowness and frailty.  In keeping with the flavour I have in mind for her, I want to give her an ability that doubles her speed, analogous to Medicham’s Pure Power (call it Blinding Speed or something) and a signature move, Energy Flare (a powerful Psychic attack that often reduces a target’s special defence).  Dustox gets one too, Energy Drain (a Ghost attack that converts damage to health for Dustox, like Giga Drain), as well as access to Reflect, Sleep Powder and Stun Spore.  For an ability… I want to give him Dragonite’s Multiscale (if you’re at full health, attacks that hit you do half damage), because, hey, moths have scales!  Both of them get Aura Sphere too, because it fits and it will help.  That’s… a lot of very cool stuff.  I doubt it’s cool enough to get them into the élite, but at least the other Bug-types will stop laughing at them.

I warned you it was going to be trippy.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to polish off the last of my Max Elixir and pass out in the bath.