Monday 11 March 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 2 Part 3 - Natu line to Hoppip line

“Gen 2 introduced a lot of single stage evolutionary lines, a lot of plainer designs and a lot of simpler (and way less nutty) concepts – at least that’s how I remember it and think of it” I think I’m going to paste this every time I was completely WRONG.  Because there is nothing plain or uncreative about a mind-reading neon purple and green living totem pole is there?
I think we can safely say that Xatu was designed first and Natu was created to evolve into it, but it works lovely, in fact the ‘evolutionary flow’ as it were of Natu to Xatus is pretty much perfect, with both clearly being their own thing design-wise (ball bird, totem poll bird) but one clearly coming from the other. This is true for a lot of Gen 2 ‘mons, half of it is almost certainly because they were all designed together rather than placed into evolutionary lines at some point during a long-ass development like Gen 1, but the other half, the not just asking a slightly bigger or small version but multiple things that are clearly connected but retain a unique feeling? I dunno, I guess we’ll just have to chalk that up to the designers having a ‘good week’ for the entire development period of Gen 2.
HOWEVER Natu most reminds me of the prizes you used to get in Frufoo, like these:

Or these:

It’s basically a living Frufoo prize, which completely fits with its evolution! Xatu is the next in a long line of ‘made flesh’ Pokémon designs that Meowth and Diglett started and the likes of Teddyursa will continue into a very ‘made flesh’ Generation 3. In this case we get a living piece of Native American art, that can read your mind.
Natu and Xatu are pretty damn cool aren’t they? I’m sure someone from Tumblr will no come along and use the term ‘cultural appropriation’ and how they are in fact not cool.

Ampharos is a sheared sheep!
Look I KNOW I’m not the only one who was confused why a sheep evolved into a Woozle, look at that evolution up there, to the unknowing it seems to go ‘sheep looking thing’ > ‘sheep looking thing’ > ‘thing that looks fuck all like a sheep but does look like a weasel’; in fact it goes ‘sheep’ > ‘half-shorn sheep’ > ‘fully shorn sheep’ (and then later > ‘fabulous as a night out in Soho sheep’)  but I don’t know what a shorn sheep looks like! I live in Essex, the only wildlife I see are pigeons, seagulls and drunks. Actually that’s a bit facetious, Old MacDonald’s Farm is about 20 minutes from me by car, I’d just never seen their (presumably very popular) sheep shearing show.
I like this evolutionary line so much more now it all makes sense, of course a sheep would evolve into a shorn sheep! It’s the circle of sheep life – grow wool, have wool shorn off, be cold, repeat – or in this case: have wool, reach level 15, loose some wool, reach level 30, have no wool, be cold, fuck a Ditto, make egg with sheep with wool. Or optionally since Gen 6 ‘hold a stone, become a dragon that knows it’s beautiful’ THEN do the nasty with a Ditto etc.
Anyway I enjoy these electric sheep (which androids of course DO dream of), in fact they’re some of the most visually pleasing of ‘mons, they’re just so…curved. So many curved lines and so much roundness, it’s all very nice to look at and YES I KNOW my explanation very easy to make sound dirty but the contours of the designs are what makes it pleasing, that and yellow and black always looks good together. ACTUALLY that is my one complaint about this line – why is Flaaffy pink? I mean pink and sheep certainly go together and it makes Flaaffy seem more like a half-naked Mareep standing up (which it mostly is) so I can see ‘why’ from that point of view, but from an evolutionary point of view it makes no sense to me, the thing just becomes pink for a while before going back to yellow.

For Bellossom go here

Goddamn was Marill huge once, as PIkablu it was easily the most sought after of the rumoured ‘PokéGods’ (after Mew, but Mew was real) and it was one of THE preview Pokémon for Generation 2, sure Ho-Oh appeared first but Togepi and Marill (who has the worst name to spell, I can never remember how many r’s and l’s the bloody word has) was in the anime every week, tantalizing fans throughout the Orange Islands on the run up to Gold & Silver’s release.
You can see why they made such a choice, it’s the most Pikachu-looking of Gen 2’s mons and Pikachu had already proven to be, um, somewhat popular with THE WHOLE WORLD, as we shall see Game Freak are one to try the same thing again and again hoping it’ll take off. However there is apparently some debate as to whether or not PIkablu is a ‘Pikaclone’ (each gen has a Pikachu like rodent) or not, it’s a super-cute elemental rodent with a unique jaggedy tail, I think that should be enough but apparently it’s not. I actually really like Marril as a design, maybe a bit more Pikachu – Marill is much rounder, much bluer and nearly as cute and it actually has a use for it’s weird tail (it’s a floatation device)  and is just a very visually simulating little rat. It was also pink originally:

I think this is pretty well known, it being pink is strange and makes no sense but it doesn’t look horrible in the colour does it? I pretty much like everything that was done between this demo version and the final though, the final ears are more pleasing and the jaggedy tail is just more visually interesting, the Space World version is just kind of… generically ‘different’ from a normal mouse. I’m not making sense again am I?
Azurill, introduced in Generation III for once rather than Generation 4, is alright, I can’t see why Marill needed a Baby specifically as it’s already quite young looking (I’ll at least concede that the bigger or scarier ‘mons like Snorlax or Electabuzz could – in some people’s eyes – do with an earlier stage to make things make a little more sense to them, seriously how big would a Snorlax egg actually be?), maybe just to perfectly mimic the Pikachu line? It’s that isn’t it! It is! I bet it is! Pikachu got Pichu so in the next generation Marill got Azurill! Stop trying to make lightning strike twice Game Freak! Even though lightning can in fact do that!
Azurmarill however has THAT ONE THING about it’s design that bugs me, it’s the bubbles. I’m not going to go so far as to call them an example of hat ‘undesigned markings’ thing I go on about because it does seem like some thought went into their placement but with them it just feels like the body is doing too much (shush). However I will agree that without them:

The body doesn’t seem to be doing enough (shush!) and by keeping Marill’s markings it does just look like a blue Wigglytuff. I think ideally they should have just picked one of the two types of markings, the bubbles or the easter egg thing and rearranged things. As such I think Azumarill is the first case of me wanting a regional variant for a ‘mon. Lets have a regional veriant of either the whole line or Azurill, fixing THAT ONE THING in the process, maybe restore the hot pink and make them pure Fairy (oh yeah, Marill’s whole line got the Fairy typing in Gen 6) or Psychic/Fairy? Here I’ll even help out:

The look kind of, really… edible in that scheme don’t they? (SHUSH!)


God damn Sudowoodo is great.
If you just played Gold & Silver (or Crystal, or HeartGold & SoulSIlver) without paying attention or, say, in a language you can’t read you could be forgiven for thinking that Sudowoodo is just ‘the new Snorlax’ but it really isn’t. it serves the same purpose – a living roadblock- but conceptually it’s far more high-concept than ‘bear’. 
This isn’t a tree, this isn’t a Grass Type, this is a Rock Type pretending to be a Grass Type as a defence (Rock shares none of the weaknesses of Grass) which means that as it’s not a tree it’s just a really, really weird tree-looking thing. Everything you look at in that design as see ‘tree thing’ be that trunk, branches, leaves or knots is in fact not that but some anatomical feature that isn’t what you think, doesn’t feel like what you think and doesn’t do what you think it does. That’s just fascinating (and a very real thing in our world), Formantis and its mates will later do the same thing, but Sudowoodo doesn’t look like Frazzles, instead it looks like an insane rock alien, which wins but not by much. It’s also a nice reference to petrified wood and petrified wood just fascinates my ass and has done since I was small.
So you know how I said all Post-Generation 2 Baby Pokémon are pointless? All Post-Generation 2 Pokémon are pointless, still does it makes more sense for a fully grown ‘tree’ to receive a Baby Form than, say, Wobuffet or Mantine and Bonsley is cute and it did have a big role in the anime as ‘Brock’s Bonsley’ so a lot of people did grow to like it (ha! Grow, it’s a pretend plant, get it?) including me and it does have a good concept (the Baby Sudowoodo is pretending to be a bonsai tree)… ok I won’t be mean about Bonsley. It didn’t need to exist but it doesn’t hurt that it does.


for Politoed go here

Well these certainly changed, the Space World ’97 Demo shows us that these three started off as cat heads with flowers on them, coin purses with plumage:

What we ended up with was is three Pokémon that all have limbs and only one (Hoppip) of which looks even slightly like a cat and even slightly like it’s prototype design, the others are completely random creatures and the one that looks like anything remotely animal-like is Skiploom who looks more like a dog - and we know that dogs are about as far from cats as one can get, cartons have told us so for a century. Ultimately we end up with a counterpart line to Oddish, which makes sense given Kanto and Johto’s closeness geographically speaking but differences ecologically speaking; the Oddish line is a very dark and unpleasant thing despite it’s cuteness, it’s mandrakes and corpse flowers, dark blues and angry reds, the Hoppip line is the opposite, they’re happy, cute and bright and none of them smell or drool. I’m 80% sure this is unintentional and the line just ended up being ‘flower things’ rather than ‘cat flower things’ but it works nonetheless. It’s also however our FOURTH set of evolutions that mimic the life-cycle of plants, and it won’t be our last, people say Game Freak is running out of ideas NOW? They did the same plant shit 4 times in two generations! Though here we have a slight variation compared to Bulbasaur, Oddish and Chikorita – here we got plant, flower, seeds blown to the wind to repopulate, basically the life-cycle of a dandelion which I think makes these three cute weeds, no wonder they’re do so common and so useless. 
Other than reusing the same idea there’s very little wrong with these three, they’re superbly cute with Jumpluff being so adorable it’s close to rivalling Pichu and Tangela, they also have Wooper and Quagsire’s thing of looking utterly delighted even with a neutral face and pose - and they can fly. it’s a pity they’re so weak in battle – Jumpluff for Mega Evoluion!



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