You’d think, given how prominent the line was featured in the first season of the Pokémon anime and how I ate that shit up during Gen 1 that I’d have strong opinions on Caterpie – the poor little bugger – and Butterfree, who you damn well better believe made me cry when Ash set it free in Bye, Bye Butterfree. But I don’t. Caterpie is a cute little bug that hits all the right cute and bug notes and Butterfree is a cute little butterfly, I want to hug Butterfree but I can’t say that if the Pokémon weren’t stars of an average kid’s cartoon I give much of a shit about ‘em. I do however think Butterfree should have got a Mega Evolution, just for symmetry’s sake if nothing else: it’s just so odd that one of a pair got a Mega, it makes no sense to my brain, it should also have been pink.
Metapod I have a little bit more feelings toward, sadly they’re negative or rather they’re comparatively negative, because compared to Kakuna: Metapod kinda sucks. In fact, quick personal story time: When I first got into Pokémon I didn’t have the internet, so I had to go to a schoolfriend’s house to use it, and he’d saved a picture of Metapod from what we now call the Pokémon Adventures manga as ‘lookslikedeadturd’. Just to be clear: I still find the phrase ‘dead turd’ hilarious and as such that’s all I can ever think about when I look at Metapod: dead turd. So two Pokémon that I’m thoroughly ‘meh’ on and one dead turd then
Now we’re talking. OK back at school we used to mercilessly pick on Weedle, mostly because it was SO DAMN COMMON in the Base Set of the Trading Card Game and because it looks kinda dopey, we took to nicknaming any Weedle we caught (that we weren’t planning to evolve anyway) ‘GAY’ because I was, like, 13 and this kind of homophobia was totally acceptable at that point in my life. I fully disagree with this now (though I do sometime still nickname a female Weedle ‘Gaye’ for old time’s sake, it’s actually a girls’ name thank you very much) and we were fools - cos Weedle was where it was at. See, Weedle learns Poison Sting which is not only a fair enough move, but also inflicts Status Ailments (it poisons things), Tackle (which Caterpie learns) does more damage but Poison Sting is simply more useful, it also means that if you evolve it, Kakuna will be just as menacing as it looks because the only things it will know how to do is protect itself and kill your ass with poison. Kakuna is magnificent, it’s my favourite larval stage Pokémon because it looks like a pissed off alien with Scyther hands and it can kill your ass with poison. Which is a point what happened to its Scyther hands Sugimori? It clearly had them in Red, Green and Blue? Why did they atrophy?
Speaking of awesome - Beedrill is awesome. It’s not anything particularly clever, it’s a big cartoon bee with three stingers because what’s worse than a bee? A big bee that brings three times the pain, but that’s all that’s needed, OR SO I THOUGHT. Enter Mega Beedrill, where Beedrill grows a pair of lances as well as its three stingers and transforms into something from Kamen Rider Black’s worst nightmares. Every single thing about this design looks like it would hurt you, even the antennae. It’s stabby death and it can fly, joust and kill your ass with poison, I don’t want a Mega Beedrill, I want to BE a Mega Beedrill.
Jesus I’ve given out three Golden Sixes so far! I’d worry about being called a Genwunner but one of those Golden Sixes was for something introduced in Gen 6 so I should be alright.
I’ve always liked Pidgeot, I guess I just always wanted to pal around with a huge bird with hair like the coolest bass player at the battle of the bands *shrugs*. These are one of those lines I was worried about reviewing because I’m so used to them that I like them all just fine and they’re really very basic in design so there’s not much to talk about or get a cheap laugh out of to pad this out. Pidgey’s an angry little bird that’s not as fearsome as Spearow but totally likeable, Pidgeotto is a bigger, calmer bird but still looks like it would fuck you up, Pidgoet has nice hair and is my old mate and Mega Pidgeot becomes the lead singer of a Hair Metal band and really, really big. All good with me but not very interesting nor very interesting to review, sorry everyone. I could make some Twitch Plays Pokémon references if you want? I mean it certainly did wonders for the line’s popularity but it didn’t really change MY opinion on them, I liked ‘em just fine before they became Bird Jesus and like ‘em just fine after they ascended to sainthood.
I’d like to say I really appreciate Rattata being purple and always have, in fact Rattata is a very Sonic the Hedgehog-style design all over, from the proportions to the random colour to the highly stylized tail, this is probably why I’ve never got sick of it, it’s cute and it reminds me of Nack the Weasel. Also it evolves into Ratticate, and Ratticate can learn Hyper Fang, which (especially in Gen 1) was liking giving you a handgun while everyone else as still using fighting cocks. But as design? ‘Cate’s just a big fat brown rat apparently based on a Coypu (which look just like Ratticate, even having big nasty teeth like that) that hates the world, but say it with me, that’s all that’s needed to be, I like that it’s ‘hands’ are clearly feet and it has a unique ear design rather than just a straight curve. I dunno
*Sigh* Ok: Alolana Rattata and Alolan Ratticate are a great example of taking something that wasn’t broke and fixing it, and apparently getting Michael fucking McIntyre to do the fixing. Alright, a bit hyperbolic, was there room for improvement on the Rattata line? Yes, absolutely, was the way to fix them giving one an evil moustache and the making the other comically fat? Not in my opinion, no. taking a Pokémon with a design that either breeds respect or fear and redesigning it to make it silly is not my idea of a good idea, my grandad always said I couldn’t take a joke (mostly after insulting me), I guess he was right. They’re not improvements, they’re got as good as, they made something cool silly, the Alolan Rats can fuck off.
I do appreciate their Dark typing though; really Rats should be Dark/Poison if you ask me, y’know that whole ‘Black Plague’ thing that people just can’t forgive them for, but Dark is just as suitable.
Do you know what Fearow is? Fearow is a damn satisfying evolution.
It’s the kind of monstrous, fearsome bird that you want Spearow – the ‘cool’ com mon of Gen 1, the scrappy, scruffy street raker to Pidgey’s angry young man – to evolve into and it allows you have a big scary ‘mon relatively early on (Spearow evolves at level 20) and relatively early in the game as generally speaking Spearow is found early on, you can feel all badass sending out Fearow while you’re still grinding for Charizard and Nidoking. In Gen 1 especially, If you liked cool and fearsome Spearow, Kakuna, Beedril and Fearow kept you interested at a stage in the game that was dominated by cute - that’s good game design, keep all types of players interested, give them little rewards on the way to the bigger ones, good stuff.
I do not forgive.
You get zero score Ekans you snaky tosspot.
Ok, ok I’m being mean, it’s not Ekans fault that it was given a completely broken move, it’s been 20 years, let’s get over it and just give it a three because Ekans as a design is just kind of there, Arbok needed a prevolution so they came up with a cute but somewhat uninspired little snek to fulfil the role. Speaking of Arbok, what a cool Snake, look at that scary face on it, it’s based on a real thing Cobras actually have (on their backs, I believe), a lovely execution of the concept ‘big-ass cobra with scary face on it’. That’s enough speaking about Arbok.
I told you these might be a bit lacklustre didn’t I? Arbok is a good execution of a good idea, even if it couldn’t pronounce its own name in the anime and on that: having a big snake just make Jessie even sexier didn’t it? Weird wunnit?