Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 14 - Space World '97: Norowara line, Urufuman line & Round-Up

It’s the nail. That’s what’s been bugging me about Norowara, a Pokémon I should absolutely love, I mean it’s living voodoo doll and a voodoo doll mixed with a teddy bear, this is a clever way to do the teddy bear thing, way more creative than Teddyursa or Snufful, this feels creative. But that nail, it makes the whole thing…well…here’s what Bogleech had to say about Kyonpan:

“This, too, only barely looks like a Pokémon design, then or now. It looks more like the kind of critter you might see on the cover of a bootlegged, knockoff Pokémon mod”

That hits then nail right on the head (I’m sorry) both of these feel like they should be on the box on some really dodgy Monstermon bootleg, something really pointless like a can of fizzy drink or a packet of bubblegum or something. Designed by someone who gets the idea of Pokémon – animals mixed with other things – but doesn’t have a fraction of the creativity or skill of Game Freak. Now while I like Bootlegs and knock-offs it’s just… a Jiang-shi Panda – that’s a hopping ghost vampire panda by the way – is fun but… the team could do better, they DID do better:

However these did sound like they had an interesting gimmick, a kind of reverse Gyarados in a way, Norowara would evolve early (Level 2) but keeping it unevolved would seemingly be as beneficial if not more so, it would learn Curse at level 99 which would imply that keeping it and getting it that high would have seriously paid off.
I think I might have just pulled these scores out of my ass, because...I just don't know with these two.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 13 - Space World '97: Manboo line to Kotora line

Ok, Manboo is programmed in as ‘Manboo 1’ not simply Manboo but I think we can all safely say that this was either a mistake or some kind of developer shorthand, maybe for a Nidoran male/female thing or something, I don’t think the Pokémon was actually supposed to be called Manboo 1.
Anyway these three don’t seem to make a great deal sense at first when thinking about them as something that evolves into something else, a fish, a shark and an angler fish don’t even seem the right order, with a shark being the obvious choice for the final stage because sharks are the ultimate predator etc but I think I figured it out – the line is going deeper into the ocean as it evolves, from a floating buoy-like sunfish to an anchor-shark to a mix of two of the things that dwell in the deepest parts of the ocean, often below where anchors would normally land, they’re all combinations of two things found deeper and deeper down. 
I can’t say I’m that crazy about them though, Manboo’s cute but feels lacking somewhere design wise, I can’t quite put my finger on where but something feels like it should have been done and it wasn’t. Ikari (the shark) is boring, sorry to say this about a shark with an anchor for an arse but it is, it’s just the front of a cartoon shark and an anchor on a chain and no attempt has been made to blend one thing into the other, to abstract things, to make it look anything other than half an organic creature stuck to half an inorganic thing. As for Gurotesu? It has everything about Gen 3’s design style going for it, everything I dislike about that style, from the face that’s clearly going ‘duuurrr’ to the random bits stuck on (it’s tail this time) to the overall Aaagh! Real Monsters art style. That said, because it’s supposed to represent something so weird and alien it’s a little better use of this style and it does do a better job of saying ‘deep, deep sea creature’ than Huntail, mostly because it’s not the colours of a carnival float. 

Monday, 18 March 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 12 - Space World '97 Recap, Honooguma line, Kurusu line

So it’s time to look at this bloody thing in a bit more depth. If you missed it whenever the hell I introduced it, Pokémon Gold Version & Pokémon Silver Version, the first of the Generation 2 games, were in development as early as 1996 and were shown off at Nintendo’s Space World ’97 event, and it was radically different – different Starter Pokémon, different town layouts,different lots. The games then went back into development for a further three years, not coming out until 2000 and the ‘Space World Demo’ version of the games was thought lost – until it turned up (obvious, really)! This was big news in the Pokémon fan community (and indeed other communities too, like the Game Boy, Nintendo, Lost Media and just general video game and retro video game fandoms), a piece of lost media uncovered and it answered a lot of fan speculation and solved a lot of mysteries, as well as giving us insight into the development of a set of popular games, one that we rarely get from Game Freak who are very loath to share in-development information. You can find an overview of the whole demo at The Cutting Room Floor [] but we’re just focussing on the Pokémon, because there was around 100 ‘mons in this that were going to be part of the next generation and a lot of them were either early designs, or completely new creatures we had no idea had ever existed.

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 11 - Round-up

Well, It certainly wasn’t as bland or plain as I remembered it being, though most of the ideas the Pokémon were based on were far simpler and often less outlandish rarely getting beyond an animal or a plant and the overall style was a little more… down to earth? A little more woodsy? A little cuter, a little softer, a little more comforting, the big bastard kaiju and the antisocial fuckers were reduced, though I think this may have contributed to Johto feeling a nicer place to live than Kanto and of course this helped balance out the Pokédex but taken on their own it’s a generation that can seem a little unexciting compared to the madness of Gen 1 and the bright colours of Gen 3.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 10 - Larvitar line to Celebi

There is a fan theory that Tyranitar is the final version of one of the original 31 Pokémon, ‘No. 1’ sometimes nicknamed Gyarth and a later cut Pokémon called Gyaoon:

I’ve been quite sceptical of this in the past but looking at them now I can see why you’d think this and even why this could be true, the stomach, head and legs all bare an uncanny resemblance, and both are based at least partly on Godzilla. However I do have the niggling thing at the back of my (tiny) brain and that niggling thing is this sentence “yeah but that’s just how Sugimori draws armoured Kaiju”.  So until someone from the design team confirms it, consider me fully agnostic on the whole Tyranitar is Gyaoon issue.
Onto an actual review…meh, Tyranitar is flat-out awesome, I get that, I see that, I’ve used one on my teams, it’s a Dark Type Godzilla, other than the fact that it’s tail looks suspiciously like a cartoon ear of corn (don’t tell me you can’t see that shit) there’s nothing that comes remotely close to ruining it’s utter kickassery but…I dunno… I like it’s evolutionary concept, in fact I think it does the Nidos gag better than they do, with this cute (but feisty) little critter who enters a pupal stage and comes out of it a monster, it’s basically the Godzilla equivalent of a Mogwai…and the idea of a Pseudo-Legendary cocoon stage is just too cool, a subversion of the usually useless cocoon ‘mons so early in the franchise (I think I like Pupitar the best of the three actually, it’s mean cocoon, not quite as cool as Kakuna but it certainly looks far more psychopathic, as it should I think and it being a midvolution that randomly changes colour makes a bit more sense, it’s a casing, not a random pink sheep, a casing can be any colour it likes)…in case you haven’t guessed I’m trying to psyche myself up about these three, because I KNOW they’re cool and I KNOW they’re popular and I can absolute get why but that’s just the issue, I’ve always lacked enthusiasm for them, the same enthusiasm I have for the likes of Charizard, Aggron or even Volcarona SHOULD be here, but it isn’t. I have no idea why.
Oh and Mega Tyranitar is a thing, it’s over the top in all the best ways, really taking in the design of the most over the top powered-up or mutated (or merged, or all three) of Kaiju, especially the more modern suits with higher detail (see the last few decades of Godzilla movies, for instance). With it’s skull face and knee spikes and a tail that….it looks even more like an ear of corn! How has no-one notice this?!?

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 9 - Miltank & The Legendary Beasts

So due to the number, order and size of sections I coudn't find a way to
break them down in a way that we didn't end up with... well, with a section that's just a cartoon cow and some of the Legendaries. Sorry, all. 

That’s a nice cartoon cow.
it’s cute, it’s friendly looking and it produces a healing item, a good cow.
But yeah it’s a cartoon cow, Bogleech already did all the sex jokes [], so I’m sort of left with nothing here. It’s a nice ‘feminine’ compliment to the ‘masculine’ Tauros, which you’ll remember was a nice cartoon bull and I had equally nothing to say about, it’s cartoony where Taurus is not and pink and girly where Tauros is brown and manly so… success
Oh I tell what I do like about Miltank – it’s tail! It’s so nice to see a cartoon cow with a different type tail!
Oh yeah and half the Pokémon fanbase hate it because Whitney used one to devastating effect in what’s considered the worst difficulty spike in any Pokémon game to date, but I never had that issue (I didn’t have a problem with the barrel in the Carnival Night Zone either, suck it internet) so I have no lingering resentment towards Miltank, and am left with… it’s a nice cartoon cow with a nice tail.
At least that rhymes

Friday, 15 March 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 8 - Mantine line to Smeargle

If you were getting sick of all the positivity, then this one’s for you! Mantine is such a 3-baller it’s not funny, I have nothing to say other than the semi-serious observation that Mantine looks like the interior decoration for a bowling alley and or arcade from about 1992. This is not a complaint. It’s a cartoon manta ray that looks like a Bowl-O-Rama or Happidrome or some other place with sticky floors and, often, soda cups that look like Togepi.
Mantyke meanwhile is the poster child for how useless and unnecessary Post-Gen 2 Baby Pokémon are – it an uncreative design that adds nothing to Mantine. I don’t believe in ‘wasted slots’ when it comes to Pokémon, mostly because we know that the slots are not finite and that there is no set number of new Pokémon for each new generation, you can’t really waste something that’s unlimited, cutting Mantyke from Generation 4’s roster of new ‘mons wouldn’t have guaranteed that an evolution for Dunsparce or Kecleon would have been granted to us in it’s place, there probably would have just been one less Pokémon in Generation 4 – but that would have suited me fine. 

While it’s obvious that Mantine developed out of Haneei here, the two are so different that it’s…well depressing actually. Haneei is an incredibly clever little design, mixing manta-rays and Japanese kites into a flying fish with a light side and a dark side, and a dark side that's an evil face:

 And you know how much I like a nice false face. But even without my weird preferences in fictional animal designs what Haneei was is far more interesting and original than… a cartoon manta ray. Because it can look like the Saved by the Bell credits as much as it likes, that’s all Mantine is, and that’s fine but it’s a massive step down from this. And it jut makes Mantyke even more depressing too, because instead of recycling this a huge kiteray for an evolved form of Mantine (and we know they recycled the ideas Leafeon at least from this Generation so they were clearly up for doing such things) they gave it a boring-ass uncreative and totally useless prevo instead.
*sigh* I’m gonna go eat chocolate and blame it on Mantyke.