TOO MUCH $#!T TO DO

Taking a break; if you’re lucky I’ll tell you some time this week about whether or not the Trojan War really happened (the correct answer, of course, is “I don’t f#$%ing know but I still have to write an essay about it”).


Xerneas and Yveltal

Xerneas.

To my amazement, we’re already coming quite close to the end.  Only a handful of Pokémon from eastern Kalos remain, then I’ll have to think of something else to pass the time until I pick up Alpha Sapphire or Omega Ruby (at the moment it’s looking like I’ll finally do that series on the rival characters that I’ve been putting off forever).  Meanwhile, my unfathomable whims decree that now is the time to take on the flagship Pokémon of X and Y: the divine guardian of life and the terrifying shadow of death, Xerneas and Yveltal.  I’m not even going to bother talking about stats or moves or any of that nonsense; I know I usually do, but you really don’t need me to tell you that these things are godlike, right?  Stick some attacks on them and go commit brutal murder; whatever.  I’mma talk about themes and stuff.

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Q
So there is a Pikachu Amiibo toy. Look it up.
Anonymous
A

I did not know what an Amiibo was prior to receiving this question, and having now looked it up I’m not sure I see the point…


Q
There's something I've been wondering about lately, and I want to get your opinion. Do you think the Flygon line are reptiles with an insect motiff, or insects with a reptillian edge? I myself lean toward the former, but I'm very much interested in your input.
A

Does it matter?  Trapinch is basically an insect - it’s supposed to be an antlion or something - and Flygon looks basically like a reptilian western dragon, with Vibrava being somewhere in between (and, appropriately enough, a dragonfly).  Since they’re in the Bug breeding group, I’m inclined to say that they’re biologically more like insects, despite Flygon’s appearance.


Q
Some Pokemon like Eevee have evolutions that act like an actual evolution, some creature adapting to certain living conditions. However, most Pokemon don't actually evolve, they just grow up; hence baby Pokemon. Bulbasaur isn't adapting to a new environment or anything it's just getting older, thus the bud on its back blooms and its body grows. Does this bother you at all, or do you not mind it?
Anonymous
A

Well, Pokémon evolution is sufficiently different to real-world evolution anyway that details like whether it’s ‘adaptation’ or not kind of go over my head.  Darwinian evolution has no effect on individuals.  Organisms cannot ‘evolve’ within their own lifetimes.  Only populations can evolve.  What Pokémon are doing - dramatic change within the lifetime of a single creature - is really metamorphosis; it makes more sense to compare Bulbasaur to, say, what a cicada or dragonfly does.  Evolution is a bit of a silly thing to call it, I suppose, but I think I’ve been desensitised to it over the sixteen years I’ve been playing Pokémon.


Bergmite and Avalugg

Bergmite.

Single-typed Ice Pokémon do not have a terribly good record on this blog.  Black and White produced three of them, and I condemned all three (for different reasons, of course); later on, Glaceon was partially responsible for my coming to the conclusion that we should just be done with Eeveelutions and move on to something else.  For some reason Game Freak’s designers seem to have trouble getting past “this Pokémon has ice powers” as the central feature of what these Ice-types are and do.  Bergmite and Avalugg… well, there’s something there… let’s take a look.

The Pokédex describes Avalugg, with a group of Bergmite huddled on its back, as resembling “an aircraft carrier made of ice.”  This would strike me as a rather uninteresting and honestly pretty silly comparison (which, let’s be honest, would not be atypical for the Pokédex), if not for the fact that there was in fact a time during World War II when the Allied Powers actually tried to build an aircraft carrier made of ice.

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Q
Nice and informative goodra fact, but why you referred to it as a "she?" It seems the community wants to make goodra a female only Pokemon for some reason. Still, thanks for the insights, I liked them!
Anonymous
A

I offer no explanations, justifications or apologies for my brain’s subjective gendering of Pokémon designs (which often makes little sense even to me), nor do I expect such from others.


Q
I don't know if you've been following the VGC world championships, but if not (or still if so, I suppose), there's a guy named Se Jun Park who just won the video game Masters' division with a surprisingly effective Pachirisu on his team. While it is admittedly still a rather redundant Pikachu clone, does the fact that it's actually somewhat competitively useful make you feel any better about Pachirisu?
Anonymous
A

Well, that was really quite spectacular.

See, this is the thing that’s quite nice about Pokémon.  In a lot of games that have… shall we say ‘issues’ with balance, the inferior option is completely and unarguably inferior all the time.  Pokémon just has so damn many attacks and abilities that practically everything has some skill or combination of skills that nothing else can imitate.  Se Jun Park has found Pachirisu’s: only a bare handful of Pokémon can learn Follow Me, which is an incredibly easy attack to screw up but very dangerous if you’re good with it, and of those, Pachirisu is the only one who can actually restore health while using it (via Volt Absorb).  Super Fang also means that her nonexistent attack scores don’t really matter, while her defences are actually pretty solid - not great, but she only has one weakness anyway.  Stick a couple of powerful Electric-weak, Ground-immune Pokémon on the team - Gyarados and Talonflame - to force your opponent to bring out powerful Discharges and Thunderbolts while messing up their Earthquakes, and you’re all set.  I mean, she’s still useless in singles - it’s just not the same game, and you’d never pull off that kind of $#!t without the right partners - but hey, it’s something Pachirisu’s good at!  This calls for celebration!


Goomy, Sliggoo and Goodra


Goomy.Let’s talk about dragons.

If there’s one thing Game Freak are good at, it’s thwarting English-speaking fans’ expectations of what a ‘dragon’ is (odd, considering that the Japanese name for the Dragon type in Pokémon is a transliteration of the English word ‘dragon’).  If I had a dollar for every time I’d ever heard someone complain about how cutesy Dragonite is a Dragon Pokémon but badass, firebreathing Charizard isn’t, I would have… like, eight, maybe nine dollars, easy.  Then of course there’s fluffy Altaria, the Eon Twins, Shelgon, Mega Ampharos (who owes her existence to a Japanese pun – Ampharos’ Japanese name, Denryu, can be taken to mean either “electric current” or “electric dragon”), and now Charizard actually is a Dragon (sort of), but we also have these adorable things: Goomy and Sliggoo, two blind swamp-dwelling molluscs whose most remarkable feature is their ability to constantly secrete disgusting slime.  One might be forgiven for thinking ‘Dragon’ now really just means ‘weird $#!t.’

…so, wouldn’t it be fun if I told you there are not one but two snail dragons this thing could be based on, one from Japanese folklore and one from southwestern France?

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Q
What would you think of someone starting a Pokemon Tabletop RP using concepts from your "If I Was In Charge" series?
A

Hmm.  Well, I mostly intended that stuff to apply to the core series, and I’m not really sure how it would work if you turned it to a different mechanical framework, but if you think there’s something you can get out of it, please, go ahead!  I’d be flattered, in fact - let me know how it goes!


Q
So what do you think of the mystery dungeon games?
Anonymous
A

Well, I only ever played the first one and have incomplete secondhand knowledge of the plot of the subsequent titles, so anything I say here applies only to Mystery Dungeon Red/Blue and should be taken with a grain of salt.  I like the feel of them a lot.  It’s nice to have Pokémon games that are just about Pokémon, without any of those pesky humans to get in the way (even if the plot felt it was necessary to have humans exist… somewhere else… without ever really explaining their relation to the world we were actually playing in…).  It’s just cool to have Pokémon working together to solve their problems and protect each other, although some more effort could have been spent on explaining why exactly their problems seemed primarily to be “other Pokémon” (“they’re really mad at everything because of the natural disasters, okay!”).

The gameplay was… flawed in a number of ways, though (and here I will remind you that I’m going purely off the first titles in the series; many or all of my complaints may actually have been addressed later, I don’t know).  Adding new Pokémon to your team happens entirely at random, which is frustrating.  The dungeons themselves very quickly start to feel like they’re all the same - you wander through a randomly generated maze hitting anything that gets in your way until you reach whatever it is that you’re there for.  Tactical positioning doesn’t play nearly as much of a role as you’d think.  Sometimes your companions’ AI just does incredibly stupid things, like running off down a long corridor in pursuit of… something… and not being able to find you again.  Some moves are either crazy overpowered or completely useless: Silver Wind just damages everything on the screen (in addition to its side-effect of sometimes raising all the user’s stats), so sometimes you just die before you can even get close enough to attack whatever is using it, whereas your companions’ AI has no clue how to handle some support moves like Reflect, and will spam them every time you take a step until they run out of PP, which is not really helpful.  Each Pokémon’s level-up move list seems to have been directly copied over from Ruby and Sapphire without any consideration for how the strengths and purposes of the different moves are changed by the radically different demands of the battle system - I can understand not wanting to review every Pokémon, but surely it would have made sense to tinker with the ones available as player characters (I played as Psyduck, whose level-up list is appalling compared to what most of the starter Pokémon get, with no real advantages to balance that).  In short… there’s a lot of evidence in there of a general lack of effort in adapting the existing material of the Pokémon franchise to the game mechanics implied by the new concept.  Maybe it got better; I don’t know.  I hope so, because it was a very cool idea.


Q
Why do some people equate Ash with Michael vick? Is it because of superficial judgment or real reasons with merit?
Anonymous
A

People keep bringing up this Michael Vick dude and I have no idea what he did (I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen anyone compare him to Ash either - just people objecting to that comparison).  I understand from what readers have told me that he was in the news a lot in the United States a few years back for something to do with animal abuse, so some of the stuff in my answer to this question might be of interest to you, but I just don’t know or care enough about this guy to say anything specific about him.


Q
Do you think there should have been a Fairy-type that got Illusion as an ability? Not necessarily an existing one, just as a concept in general.
A

Hrm.  It makes sense, don’t get me wrong - fairies go well with illusion and deception - but I think the Illusion ability is something that it’s better to keep as Zoroark’s ‘thing,’ both for Zoroark’s sake (because, to be honest, it would probably not be difficult to come up with a Pokémon who gets more out of Illusion than Zoroark does) and to avoid the chaos that would be brought about by having both of them on the same team.  That’s not to say we can’t try to think of something that draws on a similar idea of deception, though… fairies from different cultures and different stories can have control over a wide variety of elemental forces, so… maybe a Fairy-type who can have several different secondary types, which the opponent can’t immediately identify.  It can be (say) Fairy/Fire, Fairy/Electric, Fairy/Water or Fairy/Grass, chosen at birth, and its appearance is the same for all four (maybe including elements from all four types), which means that the opponent has to fire off one or two “test” attacks to figure out what its weaknesses and resistances are.  Undecided on whether to have moves that are unique to each form or just give all four a wide range of attacks.  Could go either way there.


Klefki

Klefki.

And Game Freak said “let there be Klefki,” and old school Pokémon fans around the world cried out “the $#!t is this?” and “why is there a f@#%ing keyring Pokémon?” and “OMG Pokemans ruined 5evah.”  And Game Freak said “YOLO,” for they felt that it was good.

Klefki immediately forces us to open the old “inanimate Pokémon are dumb” chestnut, for which the arguments and counterarguments (such as they are; neither side really pulls its intellectual weight on that one, to be honest) have been done to death.  Game Freak have run out of ideas/We had Magnemite and Voltorb in the first generation.  Pokémon based on objects make no sense/Whereas ghosts, psychics, electric mice and dragons totally do?  But they’re not alive, goddamnit/But magic, goddamnit!  Then of course there are actually Pokémon based on inanimate objects which most people (I think?) would probably agree are really awesome, like Chandelure and Aegislash – the result of which is that I’m now wondering whether both sides have completely missed the point of that whole debate and what people are actually turned off by is not so much their status as ‘objects’ but rather the sheer mundanity of the things some Pokémon are based on.

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So I got mugged this afternoon

…by a bunch of, like, 14-year-olds, no less, and in broad daylight.  Thankfully I lost only my glasses (of which I have spares) and was rescued by passers-by who drove me home.  Jaw aches a bit from being punched repeatedly, but it’s been a couple of hours and I’m pretty sure I’m not seriously hurt.  Could have gone a lot worse, all things considered.  Nonetheless, next entry will be delayed as I plan to spend the next day or two doing absolutely nothing.