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.

Continue reading “Nihilego”

[Don’t worry, you’re the ONLY Chris the Pokemaniac] asks:

I saw your recent post…and with that being said:. Seeing how regular and….. irregular Pokemon can be found in other universes…could it be that Pokemon could be descendents of ultra beasts? Or is this something Chris the pokemaniac doesn’t want to get into?

So, I’ve had this suggested to me before, and it doesn’t strike me as wildly unlikely, but I’m also not sure I can think of any good reason to actually believe it.

I think Pokémon as a franchise likes to keep some things intentionally mysterious, and the origin of life on its version of Earth is one of them.  However, it’s at least somewhat amenable to something like the panspermia hypothesis – the idea that very simple life, or its chemical precursors, might be commonplace in the universe and could have spread to Earth from extraterrestrial sources rather than developing here spontaneously.  I doubt Pokémon are descended from Ultra Beasts as we know them, but from some microorganism that emerged from Ultra Space a billion years ago?  Sure.  Or, from some microorganism that arrived on an asteroid a billion years ago?  Sure.  Or, and I think this is what people actually mean when they make this suggestion, from some ancestral Ultra Beast that wandered through to Alola in ancient times?  That one seems to me less likely but yeah, whatever. Continue reading “[Don’t worry, you’re the ONLY Chris the Pokemaniac] asks:”

Random Access asks:

I once heard an interesting theory that all Pokémon may descend from ultrabeasts. Do you think it may have merit?

Well, I’d sort of need more than that.  Why might we think that all Pokémon are descended from Ultra Beasts?  I mean, it’s not impossible, but given that we have no idea what the Ultra Beasts’ relationship to modern Pokémon (if any) even is, that seems like the last place to start looking for the origin of all Pokémon.  What’s the reasoning?

Anonymous asks:

Based on your answer to the Ultra beast question, WHAT IS A POKÉMON??

Well, I think the Ultra Beasts (and Deoxys, for that matter) suggest that it’s not actually a biological distinction, or even anything scientific at all.  I think they just call something a Pokémon if it can battle and take orders.  Pokémon moves and types are categories invented by humans to describe what different creatures can do; they don’t necessarily indicate anything consistent about physiology.  So it’s not clear whether Ultra Beasts are Pokémon or not, until someone catches one and uses it in a battle, and that fact is formally recognised by one or more Pokémon Leagues; after that, they definitely are.  I suspect it’s almost more of a legal/rules issue than anything else.

VikingBoyBilly asks:

Are ultra beasts legendaries or not?

I’m not sure it matters?  Being considered “legendary” doesn’t really imply any particular status, and they don’t follow a consistent set of rules.  But… sure.  There are certainly legends about them in Alola, and they seem to have been unknown outside of those legends until fairly recently, so in that sense they are literally “legendary.”  They aren’t one of a kind, but then again, neither are Heatran, Lati@s, Manaphy, etc.  In game terms they certainly have stats commensurate with being called “legendary.”  I think probably a much more interesting question is whether they are Pokémon or not, and as far as Game Freak is concerned the answer seems to be “yes,” but I suspect that this implies some less-than-straightforward further questions about what a Pokémon is.


Now that you’re done with your play through, mind sharing your thoughts and theories on Anabel? I’m not asking for a formal review on her or anything as I know you have a lot of other things planned, but outside of the Epilogue bit you wrote, do you have anything to say on her appearance? Why they chose her, what it all means? It was a really unexpected appearance!

Anabel… I think she’s there at least partly because she isn’t in Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, and they wanted to do something with her.  She’s sort of the unofficial leader of the Frontier Brains in Emerald, and does seem to have an affinity for legendary Pokémon, using more of them in the Battle Frontier than any of her colleagues except for Brandon.  They might also have felt it was important to include characters from Hoenn who could act as assurance that Mega Evolution isn’t gone for good (Anabel can use Mega Alakazam, Mega Lucario or Mega Latios in the Battle Tree).  She seems like she may be a Psychic-type specialist, so she sort of makes sense for the vaguely X-Files/Men In Black-ish Ultra Beast incursion plotline.  Could also be that the game designers have big plans for her in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

Pokémon Moon, Epilogue: Responsibility

Beneath the crystal dome at the summit of Mount Lanakila, all is serene; all is peaceful.  The dome sparkles in the midday sun, the air is still, pure white clouds drift softly past the mountain below, and the inlaid Pokéball design on my throne pulses gently with a warm azure light.
“…sweet Arceus, I’m SO BORED!”

Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Epilogue: Responsibility”

Nakedviolentedpenguin asks:

we have to wait a long time for Ultra Beast reviews, so i want to know some of your thoughts (maybe “review snippets” about Pheromosa, Kartana, Nihilego and Celesteela. (Dont care about the rest, but if you will…)

I don’t really want to comment on them individually before I’ve thought it through properly; you’ll just have to wait, I’m afraid (and I really haven’t properly examined them; off the top of my head I don’t even know what type Kartana is).  On the Ultra Beasts generally… well, aesthetically they definitely succeed at being “alien” and making you wonder “wait, are these even Pokémon?  What else could they be?”  I’m a little sceptical of the Beast Boost ability; it’s certainly strong, but I think I would have preferred abilities that differentiated them a little more.  Obviously it functions differently for different Beasts because it boosts different stats, but because it works as a momentum-building ability, that kinda just serves to make it much better for the aggressive ones who want to be sweeping (e.g. Pheromosa) than for the defensive ones who want to be tanking (e.g. Guzzlord).

Pokémon Moon, Episode 14: In Which Literally All Hell Breaks Loose

The teleport pad leads to what seems to be Lusamine’s private laboratory – a cavernous space at the heart of Aether Paradise.  We’re standing on a massive white platform made of the same synthetic material as the rest of the Paradise’s superstructure, and we must be in some closed-off part of the docking level, since there’s sea water all around the platform’s base – perhaps we’re directly below Lusamine’s mansion.  At the centre of the platform, Lusamine has several consoles displaying similar information on spatial anomalies to the instruments in Professor Burnet’s lab back in Heahea City.  At her side is a black metal box, glowing from within with a strange blue light and floating just off the floor.  And all around her instruments… Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 14: In Which Literally All Hell Breaks Loose”

Pokémon Moon, Episode 9: In Which I Do Battle With A Demon Jellyfish From The Endless Void

I should really just get out while I’m ahead.

I got this sparkly bracelet thing, I got a bunch of weird voodoo crystals with a variety of dubiously magic powers, I got a bunch of… arguably cool Pokémon that I’d never seen before.  Some of those things’d have to fetch a decent price if I just left Alola and never looked back, right?

And if you’re with the police, no, obviously I’m not talking about the Pokémon; they would stay with me back in Kanto and I would do my best to give them all a good life.

(If you’re not with the police, look, I know a guy who knows a guy, okay?  Just be cool)

Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 9: In Which I Do Battle With A Demon Jellyfish From The Endless Void”