One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
Take the scenic route, explore a bit more of the mountain
You’re still feeling understandably salty over a bunch of wild Pokémon ambushing you, knocking you out and taking your stuff, so you decide to blow off some steam by wandering back down the mountain in the opposite direction to the way you came, looping back around by a longer path to return to your camp site from below. You still have your notebook; you don’t need a Pokédex to do some solid field research, and you can send Aura up to fly overhead and let you know if she spots anything interesting. You meander downward, stopping now and again to idly draw some of the plants or take a leaf rubbing; it’s all lichens, hardy mountain grasses and unpleasant thorny shrubs up here, only a couple of twisted, put-upon trees. It makes a lot of sense that you’ve only seen cave Pokémon like Zubat and Sandshrew. If you had all the time in the world to map the place out, you’d be interested to find all the springs and streams to see whether any cool Pokémon live there, although to be honest you doubt it.
What kind of Pokémon wanted to join you? – Creepy – Intelligent
The odd thing is, you didn’t see it at first. You mostly remember releasing Bug Pokémon from the cages – Caterpie, Weedle, Ledyba, Spinarak. There were some Pidgey, even a couple of Pikachu, who immediately fled into the underbrush. Not really anything you’re surprised to see; hell, aside from the Pikachu you aren’t even sure what Pokémon there are here that are even worth poaching. What is the business model of a Pokémon poacher, anyway? You make a mental note to ask your prisoners that. The point is, everything you consciously remember seeing is… well, not that you’d ever put it like this, but trash.
But when you glance over your shoulder at Scallion and Nancy, the Pokémon talking to them isn’t any of those. It’s… a four-legged, furry charcoal-grey Pokémon with a pointed face and keen, intelligent, almost sinister eyes. Did it just come out of the forest? No, you’re sure it walked over to them from the stream of Pokémon you were releasing from the cages. You saw it out of the corner of your eye.
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.
How do you deal with the poachers? – Use your Bug Pokémon to create snares and set up an ambush.
If you get into a fight, which Pokémon will you use? – Scallion, the Bulbasaur – Nancy the Negator, the Minun
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Nancy can cheer for our other Pokémon from the sidelines, so let’s have Scallion take point.]
You think about the problem for a minute. Yeah, all things considered, Dane has a point; the five of you with all your Pokémon probably could take these clowns with a good battle plan, even if they do turn out to be a bit stronger than you individually. But why risk it? You all have Bug Pokémon that can spin silk (except maybe Ellis? You glance at him questioningly and he confirms that, yes, his Beedrill is still young enough to remember String Shot) – you can use them to create nets and webs, string them up between the trees, then lure the poachers into a trap. With any luck, you won’t even have to fight.
Is there a character you think was wasted? A character you think has potential to be fascinating, but ended up to be underused and forgettable?
I think I have to go with Archer, the leader of Team Rocket in Heart Gold and Soul Silver. The remakes make an effort to create these four characters – Proton, Petrel, Ariana, Archer – out of the faceless Team Rocket Executives from Gold and Silver, but they don’t… do a whole lot with them. Honestly I wouldn’t even have expected them to, and I’m basically satisfied with the handling of Proton, Ariana and Petrel, just putting names and unique designs on characters who were formerly indistinguishable. Once you’ve done that, though… it just sticks out that the leader of the organisation, the mastermind of the entire plan to take over Johto, has literally one scene in which he speaks nine lines of dialogue and says pretty much nothing that we haven’t already heard from his subordinates. Why were we scared of this guy? What was his motivation in trying to recall Giovanni, rather than just running Team Rocket himself? What does he actually want – money, power, a golden Magikarp? He’s just not as interesting as either Giovanni in the previous games, or Cyrus in the contemporary Diamond and Pearl. Even after his appearances in Let’s Go I have trouble giving two $#!ts about him. It’s a shame, because Team Rocket in Gold and Silver seem to have a kind of cult of personality around Giovanni, which is really interesting, and Archer is the “cult leader,” as it were, but he never gives us any inkling of why.
again, “Team Rocket is gay now” is pretty compelling
(what am I
saying, “now”? look at Jessie and James; they were always gay)
let’s try for a shorter one
aftermath of the resolution of the main plot in Ultra Sun and Moon, Team
Rocket appears out of nowhere and takes over first Festival Plaza and then the
entire Aether Paradise, renovating Lusamine’s mansion with a new menacing
black-and-red colour scheme. Only they
aren’t Team Rocket anymore – they’ve rebranded, are now Team Rainbow Rocket,
and are accompanied by a rogue’s gallery of villains from all the previous
Pokémon games. And they’ve got plans. Apparently.
I know a lot of my readers haven’t actually played Ultra SMoon
(which… well, fair enough; they’re not a big step up over Sun and Moon)
so let’s begin with a summary of what exactly happens.
A haggling dispute with Slippery Sue’s contact at the other end of Rock Tunnel has led to bloodshed. She and Evil Steve will need to find somewhere else to offload our stolen goods. Meanwhile, Detective Doug thinks this was all a clever sting operation.
I think anime Jessie would find Team Skull appealing, don’t you? What with her growing up poor and becoming a criminal to ‘stick it to the man’ as it were, that’s some Team Skull motivation right there! Not sure if she and Guzma would get on, though… Maybe a frenemy relationship with Plumeria?
Well, I’ve seen exactly one and a half episodes of the Sun/Moon anime, and Team Skull did not feature, so grain of salt and all that, but yeah, I actually think all three of our Team Rocket trio would find a lot to like in Team Skull as they’re presented in the games. Jessie and Meowth would sympathise with their disadvantaged position in Alola’s society and respect their ambition, and I think James – despite his own privileged background – has enough of a rebellious streak to appreciate their desire for change. Also, given that a lot of individual members of Team Skull are actually not particularly malicious, I kinda think James and Jessie would fit right in, with their “only evil because I’m supposed to be” attitude. Jessie and Guzma would immediately battle to the death for control of the team though.
What do you think shininess to do with Pokémon evolution, if anything? I remember in the Johto games, the shiny Gyarados was red because it was force-evolved from the naturally-red Magikarp, right? And is it a coincidence that Mega Charizard X has similar coloration to a shiny Charizard?
I’m sceptical. Like, what happens at Lake of Rage, supposedly, is that they’re forcing a whole bunch of Magikarp to evolve. The red Gyarados that you fight isn’t the only Gyarados there, it just happens to have caught everyone’s attention because… well, it’s red. Team Rocket’s original plan in Mahogany Town (aside from perfecting their radio technology for their later plot in Goldenrod City) was to turn a tidy profit converting useless Magikarp into valuable Gyarados – not just one, but several. Honestly they probably would have been better off without the extra attention drawn by the red one, but once people did start getting curious, they opportunistically started making a bit of extra money on top of that by setting up a toll booth near the lake. Or at least, that was my reading of it.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mega Charizard X and shiny Charizard are both black, but I don’t think that’s the direction of the causal relationship; I think they’re both black because of a third, unrelated factor – namely, black Charizard are super badass (also, none of the other mega evolutions have this relationship, and the only one who does, Charizard, also has another mega form that doesn’t).