Friday, 22 February 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 1 Part 13 - Electabuzz Line to Ditto

Ever noticed that Electivire’s markings on its back look like a two-pin plug socket? I wonder if a trainer ever got REALLY drunk and tried to plug an Elekid into an Electivire. I wonder how quickly they died.
As a 12 year old I thought Electabuzz was THE badass of Non-Legendary Pokémon, even more of a badass than Charizard, only Mewtwo was cooler than Electabuzz and I’m really glad that despite their best efforts, Game Freak have never sullied it with a shitty link in it’s evolutionary chain, in fact I reckon that of all the single stage Pokémon that have been expanded into full-on three-stagers, the Electabuzz family is the most consistent, especially in terms of design quality. ‘Buzz itself is just a big yellow tiger-Oni (they’re the gods of thunder and lightning sometimes, hence the typing) with a big black lightening bold down it’s body that I’m SURE Sugimori thinks is more discreet than it actually is has a face like someone’s nightmare. Elekid is the coolest Baby Pokémon, an egg with a plug on its head should be ridiculous but god knows they made it work just fine - and I am a huge fan of the fact that they manged to make a Baby for Electabuzz that didn’t lose the original’s badassery, that there is a little tyke, not a cute-widdle-babykins. Electivire is a huge yettirilla with electric cables for tails and has that overall feel of ‘it will crush me and eat me’. There, I have now explained why these are awesome, please remember these things because there will be a test later.

WHAT is Magmar and why does it have a butt for a head? It’s a Karura, a ‘divine creature with human torso and birdlike head’ which is said to breathe fire, I have no idea why it has an ass for a head, some Karura depictions do have odd shaped heads but none of them look like buttocks. I’ve never really been bothered by the strange shape of Magmar’s brow btw, in fact I get a bit fed up with EVERYONE bringing it up but I felt like if I didn’t, someone would question my familiarity with Pokémon. I can’t say I love Magmar as a design, with its complicated arms and fire stomach markings it feels like it could have done with a big of simplifying or another redesign, most of my respect for Maggy is just left over from Gen 1 where it was a superb little Fire type without any evolving or levelling up needed.
Magmar, Electabuzz, Chansey, Mr Mime- they were all shoe-ins for baby Pokémon, single stage evolutions that looked (and had the stats comparable to) fully evolved ‘mon so it’s not surprising they all got ‘em in the end. Magby’s not quite as great as Electabuzz, it’s a bit too precious for me, Magmar’s goofy but intimidating, a Disney Afternoon villain, but Magby looks more like the kid character form a Disney Afternoon show. There’s just that bit of disconnect. Magmortar is just awkward but it’s evolving from an awkward looking Pokemon so maybe that fits? They could have tried to improve things instead of keeping them the same though, Magmortar’s body is what bugs me, those ‘undesigend’ markings I’ve been alluding to are in full force here, the really do feel like someone just drew wiggly fire-ish lines up the body and called it a day, no thought, no effort and that’s annoying because I know that thought and effort DO go into Pokémon. There’s easily one too many colours on the damn thing too HOWEVER I do like that it keeps up the trend of having a really weird face, Magmar is duck-like but it’s not a duck’s face, it’s just odd and Magmortar’s is even odder, the more conventional (and I use that word loosely considering I’m talking about a Pokémon with a blow-dart gun mouth, super sad eyes and big balls on it’s head) face on Magby. As a line it’s all just a bit of mess really, at least they’re decent in battle.

Creeped out by bugs? Meet Pinsir – and never sleep again.
There is nothing wrong with Pinsir, it combines things that look very painful with things that look very scary and then slaps it a few times so it’s fucking furious. But Game Freak wasn’t content, oh no, no satisfied with making a walking nightmare they decided to give it the ability to fly! The only thing scarier than Pinsir is Mega Pinsir swooping down to get you, with its longer thorns, it’s bigger arms and monstrous yellow eyes. It’s feet even look like those multi-needle things and are posed like they’re going to stab you. Even Pinsir’s toes are scary in Mega form.
Total success. And now competitively viable.

 It makes a lot of sense that if Scyther was set to get an evolution then Pinsir would have been too but what a let down Purakkusu is, we finally see what an official Pinsir evolution would be and it’s just Pinsir with a new face and bigger horns. How utterly dull. Not terrible (and Scizor was pretty boring too in the Space World Demo, it was even still green) and the creepy new face is definitely creepy but also definitely a step down from the horror show of Pinsir and nowhere near as great as the flying death that is Mega Pinsir. Just another ‘Just Bigger’ evolution and a bit of Japanese creepiness for a Pokémon that Was crying out for more than that.

Tauros is a cool Pokemonized bull. It’s a nice cartoon bull in general actually and has an exceptional amount of personality in it’s face when you consider it’s just a bull’s head drawn in Sugimori’s art style, it looks orney y’know? It looks like it has the personality cowboys ascribe to bulls. I also has the best thing all fictional bulls can have – horns that look metal. That is just, well, Metal.
That’s all I got soooo: remember that time in the anime where Ash just randomly had a whole heard of Tauros and you never knew why? Did you ever research that? It’s easy to find online today: he caught ‘em in an episode that was never shown on American TV (and so anywhere) because 4Kids never dubbed it because a character is a gun nut in it and pulls guns all the time for comedic effect, including pointing them at people (like Ash, who – come on – we’ve all wanted to shoot in the face every so often). American regulation people don’t want to show this sort of thing because it might give kids ideas and as American children are statistically 80% likely to be watching TV within 10 foot of a gun it’s not the dumbest idea, of course everything else that kids can see can still have them – action figures, movies, live actions shows, Phil Spector, their parents – so one wonders how effective it actually is. Actually no, one doesn’t wonder, one knows, completely ineffective.
Yes I did turn this into a musing on gun control in America, hey I was ‘reviewing’ a bull here, where am I gonna get a better chance to do that with an animal associated with Texans?

So while we were out hunting on Pokémon Go! one time, one of my friends called Magikarp ‘Keith’ somehow (‘Magikeith’ maybe?) and now Magikarp is forever known as Keith in my circle of friends.  And I’m still stalling. I put this off until last. Really, this is the last Gen 1 review I’m writing, I did this for the very simple reason: Keith is a very popular Pokémon, both a fandom darling and a fandom punchline at the same, and it’s evolution Gyarados is considered untouchable, the ultimate pay off to the ultimate Pokémon joke character (who totally stole Nidoran’s gimmick for a silly little thing become a huge badass thing) and one of the biggest, baddest bastards in the franchise. It’s large part in Gold & Silver’s story-line (which was totally just done to show off the new Shiny Pokémon mechanic), the most beloved of Pokémon games, only making it more fireproof.  
And I have no idea what to say about it, because it’s all been said and I have nothing to add. Keith is the adorable looser, even more so than Farfetch’d, and a great little abstracted fish design if I may say so, not too over-detailed but detailed enough to suggest the segmented, scaled body of a fish with some great fin design there, love that star-like abstraction. I’ll stop saying words derived form ‘abstract’ now. Gyarados is epic, one of the coolest things in the Pokemon world and one of the most threatening too and the gag was great when it was new, a pathetic thing that becomes a Gyarados. (it’s based on a legend about a carp that managed to swim up a waterfall and was rewarded with become a dragon, that’s why Gyarados is a Flying Type btw, because the dragon in legend flies). Did you know that it used t be a massive, gross lamprey thing though? Well it did, here’s its original Capsule Monsters sprite:

Mental, and a weird proto-Eelektros at the same time, but I like what we got better, Capsule Gyarados doesn’t really have that Pokémon feel to it and while gross, is nowhere near as pant-wettingly mean as Gyarados proper. 
And Mega Gyarados is great too, taking Gyarados to the extreme without making it look silly or overly busy, and giving it a lovely Dark typing that something as horrible as Gyarados really should have.
See? There’s virtually nothing new to say!

Lapras is the product of an early concept developed for Capsule Monsters, that some of the monsters you kept in capsules would be kept for – and designed for – specific reasons, there would be monsters that were just, for instance, pets (like Clefairy) and others that were for transport – like Rhyhorn and Lapras. This is a concept that still exists in-universe (NPCs use Pokémon for all kindsa shit) and in the game’s gameplay via HMs like Surf and Fly and the Poké Ride. Lapras was meant to be a raft, and sadly that’s all it’s useful for today, Lapras needs some love, it’s a lovely design – mixing turtles, plesiosaurs, kaiju and even a little bit of dolphin into a tritely original looking critter, it’s even what I’d call pretty – it’s a well-recognised Pokémon and in-universe quite rare and special but it’s usefulness outside of being a raft, like in competitive play, is minimal. Lapras needed a Mega, if that ship really has sailed then I’ll take a cross-generational evolution (though it already looks like a fully evolved ‘mon to me) or some kind of buff, whatever the new Z-Move or Mega Evolution is. I’ll take a fancy hat that gives it Dragon moves if necessary - I’ll take anything.

I love Ditto
Most things love Ditto actually, even things without genders.
Ditto’s gimmick is that it transforms into its opponent, it only knows one move and that’s Transform. But its useful gimmick is that it’s the Poképrostitute: it can breed with anything that isn’t a Legendary or a Mythical (and indeed one of those). A lot of people have latched onto this idea that Ditto is man-made, many having latched onto the very specific fan theory that Ditto is a failed clone of Mew made during the development of Mewtwo but I can’t seem to find anything that points to that, did people just mix it up with Eevee (which was said to have been genetically tampered with to allow for its multiple Eeveelutions?).
Look I really don’t’ have much to say here, it’s a pink blob with a charming face, it’s a fan favourite and if you don’t like Ditto you’ve no soul and are going to hell. props to Game Freak for making it a different shade to Grimer and Muk to avoid confusion.

I have way more to say about this though. Ditto was gonna get an evolution! Something fans have wanted for a long time and fanartists have drawn many different ways and I’ve never got that. Ditto transformed into whatever it sees, it can become any chain in an evolutionary line, it can be Weedle, it can be Aggron, it can be any Eeveelution or Baby Pokémon, and it’s only really in it’s Ditto shape when it’s not in use battle, so a new form for it seems completely superfluous. Why bother? Apparently the answer is stats (it usually is, actually) Ditto (with the right ability) can mimic everything about it’s opponent except it’s health and Ditto has a shit health stat, so it’s is limited, especially in competitive play. The other reason is that fan artists are often uncreative, trust me – I am one. the official evolution for Ditto was going to this endless scream of agony and I completely love it. Apparently it was due to evolve using ‘metal power' (and early version/variant of Metal Coat) so my theory is Ditto would become hardened, frozen forever with that face of terror and pain. Presuambly it would still be able to transform though right? But do you know what I want for Animon? what this should have been recycled as? Mega Ditto! Imagine a Ditto that transforms into a ridged screaming railroad spike before transforming again into another ‘mon’s Mega Evolution and flattening all who lay in it’s path! I bet that would bump it up a few tiers on Smogon.


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