You know I haven’t really talked about methods of evolution very much, this is genuinely because I rarely find how a Pokémon evolves to be a factor in my opinion of them; you should hopefully know that most Pokémon evolve by levelling their EXP up to a certain number, which is usually done through battling (or battling AND catching in Pokémon Let’s Go), but a percentage require you to do something else; use an item on, increase their friendship stat, trade them (sometimes holding an item); evolve them in a certain place or occasionally something completely unique like with Feebas or Inkay. But I’ve never found most of these to be a problem – stones and other items are easy enough to come by and I’ve usually had at least one other Pokémon playing friend to trade with (or an Action Replay to just skip the whole process and go straight to Machamp, I ain’t proud) and as these are the most common ‘other ways to evolve’ having a different method of evolution is rarely something I take into consideration here.
But we need to go into it now because what makes these two lines connected – and so cool – is their new twist on one of the games methods of evolution, specifically trade evolution. Making some Pokémon evolve only when traded was a great way of achieving the goal it was meant to achieve – to promote the interconnectivity and social aspects of Pokémon Red & Green by basically forcing the player to connect with someone else (and this be social) if they wanted top notch ‘mons like Golem, Alakazam, Machamp and Gengar, No-one likes being forced to do something but the rewards in this case were worth the effort (and perhaps the cost of a link cable). In gens 2, 3 and 4 trade evolution was more used to explain away why Pokémon who could now evolve couldn’t before - you simply hadn’t had the necessary item to trade with them to make them evolve, but Gen 5 is back to basics kinda thing so we have Pokémon that again evolve when traded just ‘cos; luckily they put a new spin on this idea and it was pretty damn cleverly done: Karrablast and Shelmet only evolve when traded for each other, that’s not the clever part in fact it’s such an obvious idea that it’s pretty shocking it took five generations of video games to do it, the clever bit is the execution – the two pocket monsters picked for this gimmick was a little Carabid beetle (Karrablast) and a little snail (Shelmet) (the former being a predator of the former) and when they’re traded, Karrablast not only takes Shelmet’s shell but it’s entire visual style to become the armoured beetle Escavalier leaving Shelmet as a shell-less snail (that’s basically a slug isn’t it/) that has in-turn inherited Karrablast’s visual style and, free from it’s extra weight, become incredible fast and, of course, has used its new incredible speed to become a fucking super sentai ninja. Everything about that it is just so fitting, but done so well, the art style swapping it what really does it for me, these two look like the other has influenced their entire evolution while still retaining enough remnants of their past form (look past Escavalier and Shelmet’s armour and you’ll see what I mean) to feel like they came from those forms. It’s just so well done.
As for the individual Pokémon? Honestly Karrablast is the only let-down of the four. Shelmet looks like a gravy boat or a sauce pot to me but I don’t believe for a minute that this is unintentional, of course it looks like silverware as well as a knight and a snail, a snail’s shell is basically a gravy boat’s handle in animal form, right? Escavalier and Accelgor are just flat out badass, Generation 5 is THE bug generation and those two just keep the level of quality high, Escavalier is especially wicked, a floating heavily armoured bug with lances for hands and a face of seething hate. But Karrablast is honestly a bit boring, it’s a fine abstraction of a Carabid beetle standing on its back legs and it’s certainly cute in it’s own way, but compared to two bug knights and a bug ninja, a standard Pokémon Bug Type is a little underwhelming, but I don’t’ think that ‘being about as good as Venonat’ is much of a criticism, it just feels lesser due to everything else in it’s line, sorry mate.
While the Vanillite, Trubbish and Klink lines tend to be the best-known punching bags from this generation, and some of the best known ‘worst Pokémon ever’ in the whole franchise, people really seemed to shit on this line, has that stopped? Has the fandom moved on and I missed it? I hope so because I’ve never really seen why Foongus and Amoongus (yes, really, ‘fungus among us’, people get paid to think up these English names remember) should cause such a strong reaction in anything. Is it because they’re so obviously derivative of Voltorb and Electrode? I mean they ARE Gen 5’s equivalentmonts for Voltorb and Electrode but take the idea and go a different way with it, Voltorb is the ultimate mimic, a living version of something you want and you pay for you stupidity with Explosion or Self-Destruction, it’s a very RPG kind of thing; Foongus and Amoongus take a more nature approach to the idea of being fake pokeballs and you pay for your stupidity with poison in the face and, if you’re a Pokémon, being eaten and Amoongus is far better at it’s fucking job than Electrode (and yet it’s said to be not that convincing, I don’t buy it).
I mean they’re far from my favourite Pokémon but they’re harmless and a twist on an old idea rather than the same idea with a new design (see Roggenrolla, Bouffalant, Tympole, Woobat, Audino etc etc). it is a shame that Game Freak felt they couldn’t go one generation without having Voltorb around though - guys, it was one generation, you could have had a few years without Zubat, Geodude and Voltorb - and they could easily be considered a poster-child for what a let-down the ‘entirely new Pokedex’ idea was because of the sheer amount of equivalents in it, but that could be said for several other lines that didn’t get anywhere near as much hate (again: Roggenrolla, Tympole, Audino and Woobat) despite them lacking that twist while still filling the exact same niche as the ‘mons they were standing in for. Weird.
Because we couldn’t have a generation without Tentacool and Tentacruel could we!?! I sometimes think that Game Freak are completely out of touch with their audience.
I kid, Frillish are nowhere near as omnipresent as Tentacool and come with a far less irritating move pool and while clearly a set of equivalentmons they are beyond different to Gen 1’s krakens. Instead we get our first Water/Ghost line themed around…royalty, or I guess the ghosts of royalty. This isn’t as batshit as it may seem, the yokai Nurarihyon is a jellyfish like creature that appears as a wealthy or regal old man which would explain a lot and there is such a thing as a ‘king jellyfish’ of a sort, a type of Box jellyfish is called malo kingi (Common Kingslayer) named after their victim Robert King so if you throw those together, ghostly highly deadly jellyfish that look like bobbleheads of fairy tale royalty is actually a fairy sensible thing to come out of Game Freak, who’s design team might as well have the motto ‘we combine everything possibly connected together to make you the best Pokémon’.
I like these guys; because we’re doing royalty we have to have a prince and princess and king and queen and this is achieved by sexual dimorphism or ‘gender differences’, a common thing for Pokémon at this point, this is just an extreme version of it (which I guess makes these Gen 5’s Nidoran line too?). The female line I like slightly less simply because I think queen Jellicent looks a bit off, I know they’re supposed to be unsettling, but just design wise she looks a little bit more awkward than unsettling, I get what they were going for and it makes sense when viewed next to king Jellicent but they just didn’t quite pull it off, everything’s just a little ‘wrong’ proportions and placement wise, it could probably had done without the mouth too. It’s not enough to make me dislike it, just enough to make me like it less than king Jellicent, the only ‘mon with a more GLORIOUS moustache than Stoutland. That is one regal motherfucker right there, even though it kills ships and murders humans (but then what king didn’t?) I still want one.
Did we really need two single-stage local fish in this ‘dex? Well I have a conspiracy theory that might explain it. Alomomola looks a shitload like Luvdisc, everyone thought it was going to be a cross-gen evolution until the ‘whole new Pokdex’ thing was announced. My conspiracy theory is that Alomomola was intended to be just that, my theory is that the game wasn’t developed with the ‘whole new ‘dex’ thing in place and this was added later-on as a gimmick from somewhere other than the Pokémon design team. That’s why the Pokémon in the game so readily divide into all new Pokémon that could have been introduced regardless of the whole new ‘dex gimmick and Pokémon that were clearly designed to fill roles other Pokémon now couldn’t. In my theory Alomomola was the intended evolution for Luvdisc but never got to be that due to the completely new ‘dex decision. Now it IS based on a fish (the mola mola) that does look like a big luvdisc with fins, but mola mola aren’t pink (they’re white or brown), now yes I now rats aren’t purple and deer aren’t green either but I find, in this instance the change in colour to be suspicious - the change of colour from it’s real world source to make it look just like another Pokémon, a well-known weak single stage Pokémon.
Of course it could all just be a coincidence and they might just have thought that the design looked good in pink, and it does doesn’t it? it’s a very pink-suitable design, but I like my conspiracy theory and as I had almost nothing else to say here because it’s a big fish and little else I thought I’d share.
Joltik is small, like palm-sized, it’s one of very few Bug types that are actually close to being bug-sized. The fact that it’s so small, and so cute and can one-hit KO a Lapras pretty much makes it impossible to argue with, Joltik is popular in the Pokémon fandom because it’s impossible for something like Joltik to not be popular and I’m completely on board with that. Joltik is a darling little cartoon fuzzy bug with absolutely nothing to complain about design wise. This sadly means that Galvantula is kind of surplus to requirements for me, there’s nothing wrong with Galvantula, it’s a great big bad hairy spider with a fuzzy blue butt, but it doesn’t do enough for me to make loosing Joltik worth my while.
“Let’s do a Grass/Steel Type”
“Yeah! We haven’t done one them before, what shall we do?”
“Y’know burrs, right? Those seed things that stick to you?”
“I’m thinking we’ll make one into a mace”
“Ok, ok, that’s not a bad idea”
“Yeah it’ll look cool too, we’ll give it these cool robot eyes and make it look like an easter egg of doom”
“Yeah, I can see the connection, I like robot eyes, what’ll it evolve into?”
“I’m thinking a Beyblade with three mace tentacles that it’ll us as suckers to drop down on unsuspecting fools and bring death from above”
Bulbpedia has a whole bunch of possible ‘origins’ for Ferrothorn, amongst them a brier plant, durian plants, a Tribulus, and a caltrops but I’m sticking my first interpretation it’s a killer Beyblade with mace suckers. Either way it’s pretty nifty innit?