Ashe asks:

You mentioned a while back that if you had your way, Pokémon would have less types, and Water would be one of the types on the chopping block. Can you elaborate more about which types you’d cut and why, and what would remain in your ideal type chart?

It goes through… iterations, depending on how much wild abandon I’m feeling from day to day, and what kind of scope I’m imagining for whatever hypothetical redesign of the Pokémon games that would give me this opportunity.  The common thread of my logic is that (contrary, I think, to a lot of fans) I don’t believe more types actually make the game better. Once you have about seven or eight you’ve probably already exhausted 90% of the strategic depth they add to the battle system (compare the TCG, which originally had just seven, although it was more or less forced to expand to eleven by the introduction of new types in generations II and VI, as well as the proliferation of Dragon-types starting in generation III). Having more just makes it harder to memorise all the relationships, and makes the game harder to get into. Like, I get it because I had the bulk of it seared into my impressionable child brain when I was nine, changes in generations II and VI notwithstanding, but if I picked up my first Pokémon game today, in my late 20s, I’m not sure I’d think that was worth my time (though I admit it helps that recent games in the core series display the type effectiveness of your moves against your opponents).  There’s an argument that more types enable a wider range of creature designs, but I think you can actually achieve the same result with fewer types more broadly defined. But let’s actually take a stab at answering this question.

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Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Fini

So… I guess it’s time to learn about native Hawaiian mythology, huh?

Tapu Koko

We’re on the home stretch of seventh-generation Pokémon now, and today we’re talking about the four guardian deities of the Alolan islands: Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Fini.  These four are deeply woven into Alolan culture and identity, and they have a special relationship with the Alolan trial system and its administrators, the four Island Kahunas.  They’re also the pièce de résistance of generation VII’s unprecedented level of interest in taking inspiration from the culture, ecology and history of the real-world region its setting is based on.

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Bruxish

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Bruxish

Alola is a tropical paradise, and what would a tropical paradise be without a brightly-coloured and unforgivably gaudy tropical fish? Fish Pokémon never felt as inevitable as some of the other Pokémon classes, like the generic bird or the off-brand Pikachu, but there’s a lot of weird fish in the world and only so many Pokémon regions to stuff them into. Unfortunately their ranks include some of the most forgettable Pokémon in history, such as Finneon, Basculin and… y’know, the… that one. The other one. Alola’s designated fish, the teeth-gnashing Water/Psychic Pokémon Bruxish, is luckily a good deal less pointless than Finneon, Basculin, or what’s-its-butt. Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Bruxish”

Wimpod and Golisopod

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Wimpod

One of Pokémon’s grand traditions is Pokémon who are very difficult to train on account of their weakness, but evolve into very high-statted and powerful beasts. Magikarp is the classic example, practically unable to fight at all, with Feebas following very closely in the same mould. Larvesta and Noibat are better able to fend for themselves but take a very long time to evolve and are pretty pathetic until they do. It’s one of the most powerful expressions of Pokémon’s theme of nurturing leading to growth. Alola’s most traditional contribution to the list is really Cosmog, who is even worse than Magikarp until he suddenly isn’t, but we can also count the Turn Tail Pokémon, Wimpod, and its fearsome evolution Golisopod.

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Pyukumuku

Today’s Pokémon is the weird spiky loofah that lives behind Kahuna Hala’s toilet-

wait

Today’s bathing accoutrement is the weird spiky Pokémon that-

okay, let me start again

Today’s Pokémon is the weird spiky sex toy that lives behind-

no, that’s even worse

Look, we’re talking about Pyukumuku, okay

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Pyukumuku

On account of its willingness to sit placidly between its trainer and certain death, Pyukumuku… is just barely a Pokémon, despite clearly being more closely related to the exfoliating bath sponge. It is, everyone is pretty much agreed, based on a sea cucumber. Sea cucumbers are soft-bodied echinoderms, distantly related to starfish and sea urchins. They’re essentially long, squishy tubes, with a mouth at one end and a multi-purpose respiratory/reproductive/excretory hole at the other. This is a body setup that makes for a pretty passive lifestyle. Continue reading “Pyukumuku”

Mareanie and Toxapex

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Mareanie

Today we’ll be looking at some of Alola’s more passive-aggressive denizens, the Brutal Star Pokémon, Mareanie and Toxapex. Their physical designs are a little bit cryptic – Mareanie looks like a sort of spikey anemone, while Toxapex… Toxapex resembles nothing so much as a cancerous uvula glued to the inside of a dilapidated sea mine, with her twelve arms locking together to form an impenetrable dome that protects against not only predators but the force of waves, tides and ocean storms. In appearance, probably the closest animal to Toxapex would be something like a sea urchin, so bristling with spikes that its real body is essentially invisible, and probably not what you’re most worried about anyway. But it’s from their place in Alola’s ecology – specifically their relationship with one particular Pokémon, Corsola – that makes it clear that they’re probably supposed to be based on the dreaded crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, an unusual many-armed, spiny starfish found throughout much of the Pacific ocean.  Continue reading “Mareanie and Toxapex”

Dewpider and Araquanid

Dewpider.
Dewpider

Sometimes, we all need more spiders in our lives.  Spiders kill flies and mosquitos, keep the streets of New York safe from techno-goblins and octopus-physicists, rescue intelligent piglets from the slaughterhouse with their whimsical web messages, and keep you from getting hungry at night by crawling into your mouth while you sleep.  Game Freak, bless their hearts, recognise the importance of spiders, and periodically give us more.  Thus, today, we come to Dewpider and Araquanid, the alien bubble spiders of doom… Continue reading “Dewpider and Araquanid”