Sunday, 17 February 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 1 Part 4 - Vulpix Line to Venonat Line

A series about catching monsters made in Japan really had to have a Kitsune in it somewhere and I don’t think they could have done any better than they did with Vulpix and Ninetales unless they, say, made them wispy and ghostlike – oh wait. Before we get to that though Vulpix is a great ‘Kitsune cub’ a concept I’d never seen before and haven’t seen done as well since, it’s as cute as any cub can be and says ‘fire’ though it’s colouring without being obvious about it. Ninetales meanwhile is elegant and ‘beautiful’ while still looking mischievous (and Kitsune are), it’s no wonder these are as popular as they is it? They’re a popular type, one’s cute, the other’s gorgeous.
I of course much prefer the Alolan Forms because I prefer ghosts and the cold, I am GOTH dammit. Alolan Vulpix is no less cute, though it sure does look like Gentle Heart Lamb (from Care Bears, it’s the mint green Care Bear Cousin) if you ask me but that’s ok because Gentle Heart Lamb is easily as cute as Vulpix if you ask me. Ninetales however becomes even more ethereal, even prettier, even more mysterious and of course, ghostlike.

The first of Gen 1 to have had a Baby planned for it but to never receive it because, honestly, most of the Space World Baby Pokémon are even more boring than the ones we got and frankly feel very uninspired. Mikon is a better than many and would probably have been further developed (like Cleffa, Igglybuff or Pichu were) before it’s release but I’m reviewing what we’ve got and Mikon does look younger - I think it’s the hair, it looks like a kid’s haircut – is cute and has only three tails so it does it’s job just dandy. It’s also perhaps the most necessary Baby Pokémon, as a younger form of Vulpix (with less tails) was implied back in Gen 1’s Pokedex entries. It’s still a very boring Baby Pokémon though.

I like Jigglypuff because of the Pokémon anime and Super Smash Bros, some would say that you shouldn’t use anything but the core video games to judge a Pokémon, I say a very load ‘bollocks to that’. Not that Jigglypuff is a slouch in the RPGs, it knows Sing which is exceptionally useful for catching wild Pokémon, keeping difficult Gym Leader’s Pokémon from killing your team one after the other with the same bullshit move and for driving you up the wall when the Jigglypuff is anywhere but on your team. But it’s stint as an exasperated running gag who draws on the bastards who had the VERY NERVE to fall asleep during its beautiful impromptu recitals and it being a Kirby clone I can use when I’m banned from using Kirby (my Main in Smash), those are great things and good things to use when deciding if you like something or not.
I couldn’t give a shit about the rest of this evolutionary line, because no one has ever done anything to make me give a shit about them. Jigglypuff had a starring role in the cartoon, had a sought after Black Star Promo card in the TGC, and can beat up Link, Wiggltuff is just the thing Jigglypuff becomes and Igglybuff is just another Gen 2 Baby Pokémon that does nothing other than be cute and draw attention to a new mechanic that other (though admittedly not necessarily better designed or cuter) ‘mons like Cleffa, Pichu and Togepi were doing. I mean it IS cute, and slightly unsettling much like big mama Wigglytuff will be, but they’re just…there.

I’ve been disappointed with Golbat since Red & Blue, but as an evolution of Zubat it makes a lot of sense: Zubat is a bat boiled down to it’s most essential design elements – big ears, fangs, wings and something to hang by, no need for anything else, not even eyes, and that’s why Zubat is a fucking great design, it’s clear what it is while being clearly not just a cartoon bat, I wish a lot of other species had received this ‘cut the shit’ approach to being Pokéfied – and Zubat is perfect for what it does - hang out in caves and spam Supersonic until you want to take a hammer to anything remotely bat shaped, from Batman to Count Duckula, but little else. As it evolves, by doing more than hanging out in caves and upsetting players, it gains a form better suited for doing more than that – of course it grows eyes because it actually needs to do things in the light, of course it gets a bigger mouth and feet because it needs to fight things more challenging than rocks with arms. I don’t know if this was intentional but it’s certainly something that’s there. Golbat still isn’t as cool as Zubat though.
Then there’s Crobat, who’s purple. It bugs me, Crobat doesn’t bug me, Crobat is awesome, it’s a fucking Halloween decoration shaped comet, it makes catching a Zubat worth it, it makes dealing with 10,000 of the buggers worthwhile, it’s a great Pokémon, a great Flying Type and it’s available early for non-competitive scrubs like to me but why is it god damn purple? Why did they decide to invert it’s colours? it makes the design look far more different to its predecessors than it actually is.

Ok this is a nice one but a little strange – see Bogleech is a very big fan of Gloom and I am a very big fan of Gloom but we both identify with it for different reasons, the ‘leech fell in love with it’s weird monstrousness, I identify with it because it’s basically the Eeyore of Pokémon (or at least Generation 1). I suffer from clinical depression and it started to really take hold when I was in my early teens and the worse it got the more I grew to love Gloom, the perpetually sad flower monster who stinks, the fact that it was based on a flower that imitates dead animals certainly helped – I was a morbid teenager and remain a morbid adult – but the fact that it was sad all the time like me is what drew me to Gloom and keeps him very high in my opinions.
Oddish, Vileplume and Bellossom don’t have this appeal of course, Oddish is completely forgiven because it’s SUPER FUCKING CUTE and a mandrake, which is just something I like in general, Vileplume always seemed to be too cheerful to me, I guess you could argue that the line has moved out of its miserable teen phase (Gloom) and become an adult comfortable with itself or just find some twisted humour in a Corpse Lilly being so damn cute and happy but I’d just like my Corpse Lilly to be a bit more miserable. As for Bellossom, Bellossom is a seemingly very WEIRD choice for a Gloom evolution, it’s really nothing at all like the rest of the family – then I realised: you get a Bellossom by using a Sun Stone on Gloom, and a Vileplume by using a Leaf Stone on Gloom - the rest of the Oddish line are explicably nocturnal flower beasties, they’re night flowers, Vileplume is more of the same because of its evolution method, but Bellossom is what Vileplume would be in the light, it’s a day flower and as such it’s sunny - as in disposition - no pretending to be rotten meat for Bellossom just dancing, because it’s  a beautiful day out, if Gloom is depression then Bellossom is happiness. It’s so different because that’s the point, get it? No? Ah I give up


Paras is based on an actual thing, there are actual fungus (cordyceps) that attach to Cicada just like the mushrooms on Paras, prevent it from becoming the real-world version of Flygon and affect it’s behaviour (and eventually kill it). The only thing that could have made Parasect creepier is knowing that it’s real (and fatal), because Parasect is an empty body controlled by the big mushroom on its back and it lives in the dark, it’s fucking terrifying! It’s fucking brilliant! We’re in the darker side of Pokémon now, with its life leeching eyeless bats, it’s corpse flowers and its zombie bugs and somehow they’re still all cute! Paras is adorable, although I can’t say I’ve ever really been that bothered by it, and certainly not as much as the shambling dead-eyed evolution, it’s always felt like a necessary step to getting what I really want, albeit a cute one.


I’m very glad we didn’t get Para, Para is a very funny and a cute inversion of Paras and Parasect – it’s a bug growing out of a mushroom instead! But I don’t want funny in my upsetting and creepy bug zombies thank you, and it make no sense when put with the rest of evolutionary line – what, the Para grows from the fungus then the fungus grows from the Paras and then the fungus IS the Parasect? That seems…unnecessarily complex and a bit bonkers to me. If anything the Paras line needed an evolution not a prevolution, a bigger, deader zombie bug that had the then-new Dark typing.

Sorry to ruin this for everyone, but if the internal list detective work is right, and I can’t see why it isn’t, then Venomoth was always supposed to evolve from Venonat, no mix up with Butterfree, look at the internal list and [] you can see that Venomoth was created alongside a bunch of other evolutions for the Pokémon created around Venonat (like Diglett, Mankey or Seel) whereas all signs point to the Caterpie line being created together and coded together. BUT WAIT, Butterfree is just before a second group of evolutions! What if, what if, what if – nah I don’t buy it, the evolutions after Butterfree are all for Pokémon from an earlier time and are even in the same order as those ‘mons they’re evolving. Face it, Venomoth and Butterfree are supposed to evolve from what they evolve from, no mix-up.
I’ve always been meh on Venomoth, I love Venonat, which sits in that perfect spot between ‘cute’ and ‘creepy’ and is, of course a little fluffy ball (see Mankey for more on that) and purple, but Venomoth has never inspired anything but shrugs from me. It’s a cool looking bug, I can sit back, stroke my chin and say ‘yes that is a successful design if the intention was to create a big fearsome moth’ (and it was) and I can certainly stroke my chin and say it’s a satisfying thing to evolve your little cute thing into but…I dunno, meh.


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