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.

This thing has sword wings, say that with me again: SWORD. WINGS. It has wings that are sharp as swords and those wings are attached to a nightmarish metal Rodan that can fly incredibly fast, it metal swooping high speed death, it looks like what Dr Robotnik sees when he masturbates, of COURSE I’m a fan.
See I have thought, once or twice, that Skarmory just seems to badass because it came in a generation of Pokémon where Badassery was severely rationed and cuteness is handed out like leaflets on an American college campus but actually taking the time to look at Skarmory, think about Skarmory, and thing about it’s sword wings and that a high-speed nightmare in silver it is and no, Skarmory is just a sweet monster design no matter what era of Pokémon it comes from, or in fact, no matter what franchise it comes form.
I wish it had at least got a Mega though, can you imagine how over-the-top terrifying a Mega Skarmory could have been if say, the design sensibilities of Mega Pinsir had been applied to it?

Yeah I’m off again. Being the massive Goth stereotype I try desperately to pretend I’m not the skeleton-devil-dogs are some of my favourites and mark the third of three lines from Gen II that rank Gold 6 for the line overall. Good going for a smaller generation I once called ‘possibly bland’ and was all ‘I don’t knooooow’ about when I started.
I just love everything about them, I like that their designs are so shamefully Goth/Metal and only get Gothier and Metaller the more they go on, I like that they’re a massively subversive being fucking HELLHOUNDS in the middle of a franchise that had, by this point, become as much about selling cuddly toys to children as anything else and had always been aimed at kids; I like the fact that Houndour looks like it could be in a Sonic game and Mega Houndoom looks like it should be on at least three different album sleeves; I like the realisation that those bones are naturally occurring, it’s either armour or more than likely actual external skeleton bits; I love using them in battle because being Fire/Dark type they’ll murder any Psychic Types - who I still resent from the Gen 1 days; I like the progression of their designs up the evolutionary line exemplified best I think by the progression from Sonic ears to horns to magnificent horns, a really nice way of doing the ‘bigger and badder’ style of Pokémon evolutions -  I even like that Houndoom’s leg armour/bones/things remind me of candy watches because everyone knows the only thing you buy them for is to ping half of each piece of candy at people and that is SO hellhound.
There is no bad here, none, just cute METAL doggies that will burn your skin with wounds that will never heal.

for Kingdra go here

Man, from Wobbuffet onwards there is a lot of good shit in this ‘dex. Donphan jumped into the ‘favourite Pokémon ever’ the minute I saw it (in the first Pokémon movie which of course I saw on opening weekend), whatever whoever designed this saw when they looked at an elephant and thought ‘unrolled tire’ I see in them too, I just never knew it until I was shown in a kid’s film. The fact that Donphan rolls up into a tire to attack is cool, I’m a long-time Sonic the Hedgehog fan, I associate rolling up in a ball and throwing yourself at things with ‘coolness’ and coolness only but somehow it makes complete sense that an elephant should be bale to do this, I think it’s the trunk somehow.
You should have seen this coming by now but… not a big Phanpy fan, I don’t get it, there’s nothing that really make me feel like Dophan evolved into it or that Phanpy would evolve into Donphan, nothing tire-like or vehicle-y about it, it’s just a cute abstracted pachyderm with a design choice that we’re going to see a lot of from the next generation onwards, which I shall call ‘extra bits that aren’t armour but aren’t markings either’ and hope to find a pithier name for, the orange-y bits on Donphan that it didn’t originally have:

Space World ’97 demo again, and while it’s a little plain and still completely lacks a theme to tie into Donphan, I prefer this version without the unnecessary orange things and, well it does kind of prove that Game Freak really DO think the best way to improve a design is slap unnecessary bits on it doesn’t it? This early in the franchise’s life no less. How upsetting.


Poor ol’ Stanler, with it’s cool alien face and bubble butt and neat way of doing antlers, it’s so unloved and since Gen 5 brought us Deerling and Sawsbuck who are not only some quality dears but also very cute and/or cool, the weird little Reindeer gets even less love.
Really, when was the last time you heard someone say they liked Stantler the best?
I like you Stantler, not too much though, you’re ok. Your antlers are cool, they look like eyes and they work with your Psychic typing well, the trouble with you think me old mate is that you look like a final stage in an evolutionary line, because everyone knows that dears grow up to have big fancy antlers. This was almost certainly why you got overlooked for a Gen 4 evolution, I mean I’m sure they could have given you ac ute little Baby prevo but honestly that wouldn’t really improve much for you would it? Maybe it would have developed its own ‘awww so cute’ following and made you a little bit more well-known? You know what you needed? A Mega form, a Mega Form where your antlers became whole evil faces or some shit and became more competitively playable, at least then the Smogon crowd would have appreciated you.
Poor ol’ Stantler.
Also, just to pad this out a bit, this is a complete set of all the single stage Pokémon Gen 2 introduced, omitting Unown because of its multiple forms:


That’s 20! 21 if you include Unown! And you know what, with the exception of *shudder* Aipom, I really do think they’re all at least alright.

When looked at and picked apart, as I am want to do, Smergle’s design has all the elements going for it that I dislike from Gen 3, it’s mentally ill looking face, it’s arm and leg markings there are seemingly solely there to be there, unnecessary lumps (that thing it has for a neck, which I assume is supposed to represent a roll-neck sweater?) but somehow it ends up as a whole that’s greater than the sum of it’s crappy parts. I think it’s the colours, if you colour something mostly one colour with just one colour for highlights it must hide a multitude of sins that throwing on random third and fourth colours obviously makes more obvious.  
Smeargle’s another gimmick Pokémon and thus quite interesting – like Ditto or Delibird it only learns 1 move, but that move (‘Sketch’) permanently becomes whatever the last move Smeargle’s opponent used was and it learns Sketch 10 times. This makes it exceptionally customizable and doubly useful as it can pass on any Egg Move to others in it’s egg group (oh yeah, Egg Moves are moves a Pokémon can only learn from having the bred into them by it’s parents, and Pokémon are separated into different ‘egg groups’ that dictate what they can and can’t breed with), it’s stat however are pants and for good reason, you could – with proper use – load up Smeargle with Dragon and Fairy type moves and break the entire game. It’s kind of a shame in a way because how wonderful would it be if the game breaker for Pokémon was a Snoopy in a beret? A beagle that tags everything in sight with its own bodily secretions bringing down Rayquaza. Oh yeah, it makes its own paint, make of that what you will, personally I want to know why, if it can make its own paint, it usually chooses garden furniture green but then I’m not an artiste and Smeargle is, so I probably just wouldn’t get it.
Also, fun fact, Smeargle’s shiny colours completely changed, originally it turned bright green, but since Gen II it’s turned vanilla ice cream flavoured instead. Weird that over the years the shiny became less different, usually it’s the other way ’round.
Also also - the way of catching it on Pokemon Go! is just great:

Photobombing Smeargle is just so apt.

for Tyrogue and Hitmontop go here

for Smoochum go here

for Elekid go here

for Magby go here


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