Shroomish was one of the Gen II Pokémon that really turned me off the Generation, it felt so different that I rejected it. I don’t think I’ve warmed to it so much as I’ve gotten used to it, and later generations style of Pokémon have made it and the other ‘offenders’ of this generation. Also a friend of mine always names her Shroomish ‘Tinkleplop’, I think I would have liked Shroomish a lot more out of the gate if it was called Tinkleplop.
Then there’s Breeloom. Do you remember those cupcake dolls? They were big for a while and had a small comeback recently? They’re cupcakes that spring up into dolls? They’re called Cupcake Surprise apparently:
This is what Breeloom reminds me of, this is what Breeloom has always reminded me of. It might be the mushroom hat but it certainly does feel like Shroomish unfolded into a fighting type. It’s a weird little creature too, one that no one seems to be able to have found a concrete basis for, or rather no one seems to have found a concrete basis for why it’s a little dragon-kangaroo-dinosaur-thing. But you know what? I like it, I don’t LOVE it, but I like it. I think what I dislike is the colours; they’re just too washed out and make me think of stuffy old rooms, its shiny form is much better if you ask me:
Though it does make it look like the midvolution Torchic should have had, another reason to shit on Combusken – lovely, I might give it an extra half a ball for that.
This is it.
This is the line that turned me off this generation, this is the line that confirmed my ‘I fear change’ mentality was in fact right and Generation 3 was just a shit generation of Pokémon, this became the exemplary line for Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and how they weren’t as good as Generations 1, 2 and 5. For years this was the line I thought of first when I thought ‘Generation III Pokémon’, more than the Starters, more than the Legendaries, more than Pokémon I actually liked like Claydol, Aggron or Seedot, I’d think of these three gonky looking things and think ‘fuck Gen 3, Gen 3 was shit’. Today gives me a chance to really look at them…
I can’t think WHAT I was thinking when it comes to Slaking. Its face is a little out there compared to Gen 1 and 2’s design aesthetics but it, at worst, just a big Pokémon ape and that would be, by itself, inoffensive, 3 balls, no reason to hate it at all. But it’s not just that is it? If it’s English name didn’t’ tip you off - this is Pokémon King Kong and that’s just brilliant. King Kong is one of my favourite things ever but we it’s brilliant because we had Pokémon Godzilla last generation didn’t with? With Tyranitar, so bringing in Godzilla’s old sparring partner next is just fantastic and as a Pokémon King Kong, Slaking is pretty damn good, having that right mix of imposing and lovable and that ‘respectable’ feel to it. Also, by now we can totally create our own Kaiju team:
Godzilla! King Kong! Gamera! Mothra! Rodan! King Ghidorah! Yeah!
Slaking also has a fun gimmick to represent the sloth it isn’t in any way; the Truant ability that means it skips every turn because it’s just so damn lazy. Slakoth also has this, but with Slakoth it’s a detriment, Slaking’s gargantuan stats mean that this really isn’t a problem when it comes to using it in single player or in non-competitive multi-player so it can be ‘fun theming’ and not ‘fucking annoying’. While it’s not as creative as Primeape or Tyranitar design wise it’s still an awesome big Kong Pokémon.
I can sort of see why I had issues with Slakoth, it has that Aaargh! Real Monsters feel to it but without any real need for that style (unlike, say, Huntail or Camerupt, more on that later) and it has annoyingly unnecessary tufts of fur on it’s back but it’s not hateable. I think what did it for me with Slaktoh was seeing it in 3D models, or in any other pose really, because I think what really bugged me about it was that fucking arm, that big fat noodle limb struck me as so damn lazy a way to execute something, weird yes but it does doesn’t it? It’s just the easiest way to draw that, two big lines, not attempt at proportions, anatomy or anything other than connecting the fingers to the body as quickly and easily as possible. But when I see it other poses, including its default pose of laying out like a cute slothy rug, that isn’t there to annoy me and I realise I disliked the drawing, not the ‘mon it was a drawing of.
Vigaroth I still hate, at least form a design point of view. The progression of this evolution line is pretty neat – you go from the sleepy baby, to the angry teenager, to the laid back adult, that’s cool and Vigaroth – with it’s high speed stat – presents a nice dilemma for trainers who don’t care about design: do you evolve into Slaking and get it’s improved offensive and defensive power but at the cost of getting the Truant ability back or do you keep the fast Vigaroth and hit first but potentially last less time in battle? This is nice, this feels like thought when into the evolutionary line. I hate Vigaroth as a design though, everything about it doesn’t work for me, literally everything. I hate it’s ugly fucking face with it’s random brown jaw and it’s blob of tomato sauce between its eyes; I hate it’s eyes; I hate it’s proportions and how unbalanced they feel; I hate it’s unnecessary little nubs of ears that further effect it’s silhouette; I hate where it’s tuffs of fur have been put and where they haven’t, flowing like a rabbit’s course down a u-bend; I hate the fact that it looks like a chicken. I. Just. Hate. It. All.
And I feel bad, because two of my friends really like Vigaroth, sorry guys!
In complete contrast, I’ve loved this line from the off. The Nincada line is one of the most creative ways of using evolution in the franchise so far, so, bugger that, the Nincada line is one of the most creative ways of using evolution in the franchise ever. It uses already established mechanics to perfectly represent the line’s basis (cicadas) and leaves us with two awesome Pokémon. You wouldn’t think that from looking at Nincada mind and it’s individual score will be not be very high because it really is just a drawing of a bug, it’s a nice bug, it has that slightly unsettling but slightly cute look that many bugs do in fact have in real life but it’s nothing particularly amazing or creative. And that’s just perfect, you see Nincada is a line based around a nice surprise and the less remarkable Nincada is the better the surprise angle works.
The first surprise is the switch from ho-hum Nincada to awesome Ninjask – a ninja flying insect with a high speed stat, the Speed Boost ability to make it even faster and a lovely armour design recalling, what else, Kamen Rider. Ninjask alone is worth keeping the seemingly unremarkable Nincada in your party because, in case you missed it, it gives you the chance to battle with a high speed flying ninja Kamen Rider.
The second surprise however is the one. because you know what cicadas are famous for? Leaving their old exoskeletons stick to things after they exit their pupal stage like the hollow corpses of the thing they once were. So if you have a spare spot in your party and evolve yourself a nincada, the Ninjask will also leave behind it’s old exoskeleton, and that exoskeleton will become a Ghost/Bug Type, the utterly awesome Shedinja. THIS IS SO FUCKING MORBID AND COOOOOOL! And this thing LOOKS DEAD, it feels dead, this lifeless, unmoving, browny husk with dead eyes and an empty void in it’s back (that’s meant to steal your soul if you look in it, but given that it has a back sprite that shows off the hole every time you use it, I think we can debunk that as horseshit, or Rapidash shit, or whatever) and a set of wings made from where Ninjask tore out of it. It actually has elements of both devils and angels, which (as Bogleech pointed out) helps hammer home that this is something in-between – in-between life and death, in-between Nincada and Ninjask, in-between heaven and hell.
And then there’s Shedinja’s other gimmick - cos this is a double-gimmick Pokémon baby! – it has 1 hit point, and never any more, it can only be hit once and then it’s dead, because it’s nothing more than a shell, based on something that crumples if you blow on it. BUT it has the ability Wonder Guard, which means it can only be hit by types of moves that are super effective against it, a total of 5 out of 18: Rock, Fire, Flying, Ghost and Dark. You notice what’s missing from that list? The powerful Dragon, Psychic and Fairy and the common and over-used Grass, Normal and Water. This thing can kill dragons, this little dead bug with only 1 HP. Meaning that if you do use it, winning with it is just that much more satisfying.
What a great fucking line!
I like how this line ends, but It doesn’t start out so great. Whismur is just Gen III Jigglypuff – which means it’s weirder looking, has unnecessary markings and a much less complimentary colour scheme. It’s also probably quite annoying, as it cries all the time. It’s cute though, weird-cute but cute nonetheless. Sadly my abiding memory of Whismur is a Nuzlock let’s play I read where their Whismur was annoying and ‘died’ so was left as a corpse in a box in the Pokémon PC with a sock stuffed in it’s mouth and was used as a figure of fun. Poor fucker, it doesn’t deserve that.
Loudred is very much a midvolution, feeling less than the Pokémon either side of it, it’s a big loud hippo-monster with speakers for ears through so it’s hard to hate, it’s the most Klasky Csupo of the three too, and it’s toe claws look like it’s teeth, was that intentional?
But it’s worth to get to Exploud, at least for me. Which continues a trend for Gen III, have you noticed it? The first stages of the line I think are alright or a bit crappy but the final forms get five and gold give scores? Ludicolo, Gardevoir, Slakoth, Ninjask and now Exploud, and if I’m right this will be a trend that continues. This isn’t exactly a good thing, it may seem like a good thing as after all lots of Gen 3 Pokémon get high scores but it means that overall the lines are far less consistently well designed, which is not something that could be said for the majority of the previous two generations and shows, at least if my opinion is anything to go by (and it may not be, let’s be honest here, I like Vanilluxe AND Probopass), that less may have gone into the generation of Pokémon as a whole.
Back to Exploud, the Pokémon whose larynx has evolved so that it can only be used as a weapon. Exploud does exactly what it’s supposed to – it looks LOUD and it looks FEARSOME, it loses all of Loudred’s Rugrats goofiness (and weird teeth toes, though its toes do now resemble packing peanuts – upgrade?) and instead grows huge organ pipes out of its arse. Its head is the big I like the best, the way it’s pipes lean back and it’s HUGE mouth give the impression of large amounts of sound coming out even when it’s just a silent drawing. The only issue I have with Exploud (it’s a useful bugger in battle too) is another minor Gen 3 markings nitpick, why does the yellow on it’s central head pipe go so much further down said central head pipe? I don’t get that, at all. Anyway I’m not as super hyper enthusiastic about it as I am Shedinja or, I dunno, Aggron or something but it’s a marvellous monster.