Happy 100th post!
Before the release of Pokemon X and Y, I was all but begging Nintendo to pull the plug. Many of the new designs were eyes slapped onto random objects and scribbles, and Ash, who should be pushing thirty years old by now, was still ten, but somehow has seen enough lady friends come and go to start up his own maid cafe. I officially quit playing the games after Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, consoling myself that maybe this was just that whole “growing up” thing I kept hearing about.
Whether it was my individual tastes or not, it just felt very tired, as though the franchise was running on nothing but steam anymore. Obligation and sheer momentum would keep it chugging forward, but it wouldn’t ever seriously capture my attention or child-like wonder again. It was too busy trying to keep up with the trends of its intended demographic, which tend to age as quickly as they do. That’s why Ash never ages, after all; no ten-year old could possibly relate to a kid who is even slightly older than them.
Side Gripe: Nintendo, can we talk? If you can’t get a trainer’s license until age ten, then what’s the deal with these little snot-noses?
Thankfully, the two newest installments (X and Y; Sun and Moon) resuscitated Pokemon right before my eyes, showing me that it could still be creative, interesting, and at least slightly more innovative, in addition to upgrading the graphics. Then Pokemon Go came in for the kill, buttering me up with nostalgic indulgence and some costly, sweaty wish-fulfillment.
And, in the spirit of fairness, let me share with you some Pokemon that I’ve actually genuinely liked since the resurgence. After all, I was never a Generation I and done kind of girl; I liked plenty of Pokemon from the other generations just fine. Five just rubbed me the wrong way, for whatever reason.
This little guy is adorable, and pretty great to start Sun or Moon out with too. The first trial has Normal-type Pokemon, but the two following it include Fighting and Water-types respectively.
Disregarding what he evolves into it, Rowlet just makes me want to hug him. And kudos, Nintendo, for finally making me like the Grass-type more than my other starter choices.
Meh. It’s cute.
OH HOLY GOD, WHAT IS THIS MONSTROSITY?! I’D SAY KILL IT WITH FIRE, BUT THAT WON’T WORK! KILL THIS SUCKER WITH LIGHTNING!
Oh, cool! More equine-based Pokemon!
I wasn’t crazy about Mudbray’s design (Side Gripe: I don’t know why it looks stupider than Mudsdale because mules and donkeys tend to be a lot smarter), but I can definitely get behind this majestic evolution, even if it is based in mud. Its speed stat is the lowest, which seems ironic, but it’s only really weak to three other types and its Ground-type moves get much better with leveling. Mudsdale looks like a “salt of the earth” kind of guy, pun intended; the design is a nice contrast to Ponyta and Rapidash’s distinctly mystical, feminine look.
It’s a humanoid mantis with cute striped hakama. A great balance struck between cool and pretty without being too cutesy. According to its Pokedex entry, “It requires a lot of effort to maintain Lurantis’s vivid coloring, but some collectors enjoy this work and treat it as their hobby. It fires beams from its sickle-shaped petals. These beams are powerful enough to cleave through thick metal plates.”
7) Cosmog (a.k.a. Nebby)
I’m awarding this one mostly because for once, a Pokemon game got me actually kind of invested in my mute avatar and her friends. Well played.
Actually, while we’re on the subject…
6) Solgaleo & Lunala
NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!
Both of these legendaries are surprisingly cool and elegant. I love that the creators tried to keep them in form with the actual sun and moon; they aren’t just the same color of the game title, for once. Solgaleo probably would have topped this one out of sheer awesomeness if I’d been playing Pokemon Sun, but I just like Lunala too much. Halvsies it is!
5) Tapu Fini
The Guardian Pokemon are interesting in general, but excluding my brief story arc with Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini is probably my favorite of them. I love her color scheme and Water/Fairy-type combo, and the swordfish-like shield she pops out of reminds me of Aphrodite’s clamshell. Supposedly she is based on sirens, mermaids, and the Hawaiian god of the ocean, Kanaloa.
She is one of the most obnoxious Pokemon to catch, however, considering that she can heal herself with every turn and her catch rate-of-success is among the lowest of the low.
4) Type: Null
At first, I thought, “This is a Pokemon? At best, it reminds me of a jagged armored Mewtwo that needs to be put out of its misery.”
It does use the heavy mask on its face to keep its power in check, according to the Pokedex entry, and the fact that it was a failed experiment by the Aether Foundation that Gladion freed in the hopes of helping it…awwwwwwwwww!
It’s weird-looking, but it just needs a little love. Literally, to evolve it, you have to max out its friendship, and its evolution, Silvally, is much happier and more in-control, thanks to you. Isn’t that sweet?
At first, I scoffed at this one. A ghost sandcastle? Really, guys? The very idea of a Ghost/Ground-type combo sounds contradictory by itself!
But, kind of like with Sylveon, with time and exposure, I warmed up to the idea. This time, I was helped along by its disturbing Pokedex entry: “Possessed people controlled by this Pokémon transformed its sand mound into a castle. As it evolved, its power to curse grew ever stronger. Buried beneath the castle are masses of dried-up bones from those whose vitality it has drained.”
What a unique ghost story! The souls of its drained become balls of hatred that form more Sandygast, its pre-evolution, and children are drawn to its whimsical shape and meet their doom by reaching for the shovel on top.
…Who comes up with this stuff? Do you need any therapy?
The ghost that wants to be loved so badly, but one glance under its sheet will drive any human or Pokemon insane. It wears a uber-cheap Pikachu cosplay, but looks like a poor imitation of Pokemon’s beloved icon. Is it trying too hard, or not hard enough?
Whatever it is, Mimikyu is tragic, pathetic, and adorable. Maybe it can be the underground mascot for awkward, lonely otakus everywhere.
Oricorio is my favorite Gen 7 Pokemon, and probably my favorite of all bird-based Pokemon. It can take on four distinct, colorful forms, resembling a cheerleader, Hula dancer, Flamenco dancer, and Japanese fan dancer. These “styles” are based on the island meadow it inhabits or the kind of nectar you feed it, and much like the Fairy-type combo Guardian Pokemon, Oricorio pairs each with its own unique Flying-type combo.
The Pa’u (pink) Oricorio looks the most suited to Alola, but the creative team must have decided that wasn’t enough. My personal favorite forms are the Sensu (purple) and Baile (red) because they look so beautiful, elegant, and downright classy, but I was excited to see all of these birds and their dances for the first time. You can bet I was running around with my Rotomdex camera, trying to capture the best possible shot of them in the wild.
It still astounds me how much culture could be crammed into one game. Even better, it feels totally natural, inclusive, and fun. Pokemon could still stand to see more innovative gameplay, especially in its main series, but I’m much more optimistic now, thanks to Sun and Moon in particular. It’s not some monstrous, shambling zombie that obstinately refuses to die.
*None of the pictures in this post are owned by me.