Saturday 23 February 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 1 Part 16 - Legendaries and Pseudo-Legendaries!

Note: just to clarify, these Pokemon don’t evolve into each other, they’re the first instance of a ‘Legendary Trio’, a group of three Legendary ‘mons who are connected but not by evolution (usually they’re connected by their story or by their region).  

I like me some Legendaries. Some don’t, they’re use in competitive play often makes them not worth the effort for people who care about that, while others (like Bogleech) are just apathetic to them or have become overdosed on them. Not me though, I was all in on them from the start. I like old things, half-understood and half-remembered remnants of the past, I like derelict buildings, old stories, old heroes coming back for one last battle, old toys and I like things with legends and stories behind them and the Legendaries generally have the most lore for me to get my teeth into and to build them up, making them seem ‘more’ even if Aegislash can kick all their arses with its shield tied behind it’s back.
Funnily enough that isn’t true of the Legendary Birds – Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres – it was Mewto and Mew that got all the lore while the birds really got little more than ‘they’re old, powerful, and birds – you know you want ‘em’ but it still got them across as big, powerful, revered, rare and this all rubbed off on me and made me think more of them. Them being in the best Pokémon Film (Pokémon: The Power of One) - which gave them some (non-cannon in the game universe) more lore and tied them to the awesome Lugia - just made me like ‘em more.  My favourite has always been Zapdos, not only because it looks the coolest and is, in retrospect, the most original execution of the concept of ‘element + bird’, I mean it’s clearly lightning bird but not a bird that’s just lighting coloured or has lightning on it like the other two are, but I feel it was the best presented. This old monster perched in the dark of the Power Plant, old meets new, an ancient creature lurking in modern technology.
Moltres’ home is also really appropriate - it’s a phoenix that lives in Victory Road – but it’s probably the least creative, it’s literally a bird that’s on fire and it’s a Fire Type bird, it’s cool, but it’s not that creative. Articuno, who I’d like to thank for being awesome in Stadium is completely different again; a cute, fluffier songbird type whose only overt ties to it’s element (Ice) are its colouring, it’s a very ‘pretty’ design, something you’d find on an expensive Christmas card – the one start have the glitter don’t fall off or silver or gold ink. This leaves us with a very diverse Legendary Trio which frankly is no bad thing, as the Lake Trio and Kami Trio would go on to prove. Each one is an elemental bird but each one a different take on executing that idea.
I got quite serious in this one, um…farts!

The first Pseudo-Legendaries! Hell yeah! The first Dragon types! Hell Yeah! The first base-breaking Pokémon? Probably.
I need to tread carefully here because Dragonite is the favourite Pokémon of a friend of mine and she will make me pay if I slag off her baby, but it’s ok as I don’t dislike Dragonite at all, I’m just not convinced that Dragonair was created to evolve into it.
Dragonite is a very early Pokemon, not one of the original 31 but not much younger, probably dating from the latter days of 1992-1993, it predates evolution but is the first overly dragon-like ‘mon designed after Elemental Types were added, meaning (at least to me) it was probably just created to be a Dragon type dragon. Dratini and Dragnite come from a later period and from a large batch of 2-stage evolutions knocked out by Nishida. This, combined with the fact that there are other cases of Pokémon who were thrown into an evolutionary line together (Exeggutor & Exeggcute, Gastly & Gengar and Blastoise) later on in development leads me to suspect that Dragonite was tacked onto the Dratini line later for whatever reason. There is some evidence against this, notably that Nishida said she liked to make evolutions notably different from each other but none of her designs really support this bar, maybe, Sandshrew and Sandslash.
I bring that up because I don’t have much to say about these that hasn’t already been said ad-nuseum, Dratini it adorable, Dragonair is elegant and easily deserves the popularity it gained back in the day (I hate that saying) and Dragontie is a cute stereotypical dragon that doesn’t feel in any way like it should evolve from Dragonair. This would have been a disappointment had I not been introduced to Dragonite before Dratini and Dragonite thanks to the anime and Dratini’s late-game availability (and thus in turn Dratonite’s late game availability), by the time I got Dragnonite I always already used to the idea that Barney the Dinsoaur evolved from Sexy the Sea Serpent. Looking at it from a distance (so to speak) I don’t think Dragonite is a disappointing evolution to get from Dragonair overall, just a jarring one, it IS a big and powerful dragon that looks like what you’d expect from a big and powerful dragon while being different enough from Charizard to justify its existence and that’s a satisfying thing to get for your hard work and for the first fully evolved Dragon Type - but I do thoroughly agree that something like Milotic or Drampa would have been a far better fit.

Mew and Mewtwo are the evolutionary line that doesn’t – and won’t ever – evolve into each other. One comes from the other but one will never become the other. Sad? Probably not if you're Mew.
If you missed the best part of Red & Blue, Mewtwo is a clone of Mew, made on Cinnabar Island under orders from Giovanni and Team Rocket – the Pokémon Mafia – and augmented and weaponized to be the ultimate Pokémon for battling and criminalling. But it got out, designed to be a weapon, given the best stats in the first generation, even its hiding place showed off how badass it was, it went and hid in Ceruelan Cave (aka the Unknown Dungeon), a place where the most powerful Pokémon in the region dwell and is so dangerous that only trainers who’ve beaten the Elite Four – only Champions – are allowed to enter. And all of this story is told you via what TV Tropes calls ‘apocalyptic logs’, the remnants of diaries and reports found in a burnt out mansion, it was a survival horror level in a Pokémon game (the series’ first but not last) and it built up Mewtwo perfectly and made him work in his role as the ultimate Gen 1 ‘mon effortlessly and, almost by accident, made Mew so desirable that it would easily be able to fulfil its role too – as the first event only Mythical Pokémon. It made you want to bother to go out and get this thing from an event, and Mew’s success was crucial to Pokémon’s success in Japan thus it’s export to the rest of the world.
And this Is all before the first Pokémon Movie, which is where I feel in love with Mewtwo FOR LIFE. But first a recap of Mew: Pokémon Red & Green (the first games) were very tightly packed, which is one of the reasons they’re so glitchy, 40 Pokémon of the planned 190 had to be scrapped due to space (before debugging), but when the debugging tools (a programme of a sorts for, basically, checking for bad shit in the game, they obviously weren’t very good tools) were taken out there was room for one more. Instead of putting one of eh scrapped ‘mons back in, they put in Mew instead, as much as I love Omega and Gyaasu this was ultimately a great idea, Mew had been mentioned in-game (though it was only supposed to be a mention and to a catchable Pokémon when that was written) and as I said this made you want it, especially as it as talked up in the game as possibly the original Pokémon. Mew is exceptionally cute when you figure it’s pretty much a cat foetus and it’s ‘ancestor of all Gen 1’ concept is beautifully realised in gameplay by it being able to learn any HM & TM (so any move) and by being the strongest type in the game (Psychic) but still having notably weaker stats than Mewtwo, realising that plot point in gameplay perfectly as well.  Mew is a success on every level really.
Then Pokémon: The First Movie came out (god that was exciting) and Mewtwo became the a dark, brooding, anguish and resentment filled anti-villain who was going to destroy humankind for the sake of Pokémon but only because it had never been loved and knew nothing but abuse and pain and had this relationship with the true ultimate Pokémon Mew and turned good and OH  MY GOD I LOVED IT. The Power of One is a better movie but Mewtwo is the greatest villain that show has ever had and still, STILL my favourite Legendary.
BUT, our story is not done, because by the time of Gen 6 Mewtwo, while still as popular as ever, needed a boost in stats to make his viability on combat (and competitive play) catch up with other, slightly less popular, Legendaries and indeed many Pseudo-Legendaries and regular Pokémon. So, being as popular as it was it got two Mega Evolutions. I’m fine with that, and it’s great that we finally got MewThree – an evolution of Mewtwo or a bigger, badder clone of Mew that was one of the most common (and commonly believed) pieces of bullshit during the PokéGod filled rumour mill that was the original Pokémania but I’ve really wasn’t wowed with either. Mega Mewtwo X is just armoured up Mewtwo, presumably scratching that itch of people who wanted to play Mewtwo in his cool armour from the anime  or thought that that was Mewthree but, well it’s not that much different and certainly not the batshit over the top of many Megas. Mega Mewtwo Y I like a little better, it’s much creepier, much more alien and much more unique than MMX but it still doesn’t do very much for me. Both are clearly ‘evolutions’, clearly a step-up but neither are better or as good as Mewtwo itself IMO. Some of the biggest Mega let downs for me.

Before we go to the wrap up section, a special review for a special Pokémon:

It wasn’t even an official Pokémon but for those of us playing in Generation 1, when Pokémon as at it’s biggest remember, Missingno was as famous as any Pokémon, as big as Pikachu and far more useful. Only Mew seemed to be of greater interest. And it is genuinely my favourite Pokémon. I think it is so scary, a completely otherworldly completely unexplained thing lurking off the coast of an island, randomly appearing, with a Typing that doesn’t exist that can break the universe (aka: your game). It is so alien, it is nothing like anything we can associate with, you cannot project anything onto it, it has nothing to latch onto and make it seem better like say, Staryu’s limbs or Tangela’s eyes. it’s a wall of broken visuals, because it is in fact a block of glitched graphical data. You COULD conceivably design something like this on purpose but as people, can’t help but anthropomorphise or animalise fictional monsters to a degree.
This is pretty easy to find online but I reckon I’ll go into it just for convenience. Missingo is a glitch, a mistake the game makes. Why it happens is fairly technical but, I think, fairly easy to understand so I’ll tell you:
·          What happens is, when the Old Man in Veridian City shows you how to catch a Pokémon, the game has to replace your name with ‘OLD MAN’ for all of the text that’s usually only used by the player (‘OLD MAN threw a Pokéball’ ‘OLD MAN caught a Weedle’ ‘OLD MAN has as serious caffeine addiction and needs treatment’ etc etc) but it needs somewhere to store your name so it can use it again once the Old Man is finished.
·          The handy place that was chosen to store this just happens to be the same part of the game that tells the game what Pokémon should spawn in what location – this shouldn’t be an issue, because every time you enter a new area where you can catch Pokémon (including every route out of Veridian City) this information resets, so any changes made to it Veridian City shouldn’t matter.
·          However the water on the right side of Cinnabar Island doesn’t have a set group of Pokémon that should appear programmed in – it was an oversight, there’s a couple of places like it – so if fly straight then from talking to the Old Man and go straight to that area, the reset doesn’t happen and instead the game brings up Pokémon based the characters in your name, this is why you can get Mew here using this method.
·          In Pokémon Red, Green and Blue there are actually slots for 190 Pokémon, because that’s how many were originally going to be in the game, but only 151 Pokémon fit, 3 slots are used to store the generic ghost and the skeleton sprites used in the game but the other 36 are empty and they are all missing numbers, or ‘MissingNo.’. And as it turns out, these empty slots are – again by complete accident – tied to very commonly used letters and characters so Missingno (and its variants, like M’) turn up very frequently.
The end result is the Pokémon series’ Old One. my favourite Pokémon, a bunch of garbled data that shouldn’t exist and should never have been seen by anyone.

Holy shit that was a lot to do! It’s all very well and good and sensible to start with the Generation 1 but you’re not actually reviewing one hundred and fifty-one ‘mons are you? You’re reviewing (according to Microsoft Access) 231 ‘mons (including Megas) all the way up to Generation 7. I need a nap.


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