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.

Here’s how the new Pokémon (#s 152-251) break down:

Chikorita, Meganium, Mareep, Flaafy, Ampharos, Qwilfish, Natu, Zatu, Crobat, Skarmory, Donphan, Smeargle, Slowking, Unown, Ledyba, Miltank, Houndour, Houndoom, Steelix, Ho-Oh, Togepi and Snubbull all appeared as they did in the final version of the game, no changes. However Chikorita did not evolve into Baleef and Ledyba, Togepi and Snubbull didn’t evolve at all, several ‘mons also had different names or typing.
Hoothoot, Igglybuff, Quagsire, Spinarak, Espeon, Umbreon and Bellossom appeared in slightly different prototype versions, Hoothoot had different markings (which I liked), Igglybuff was missing it’s hair, Quagsire had a different tail, Espeon was yellow, Umbeon black and purple (and a Poison type!) while Bellossom was the same colour scheme as it’s line-mates which matched some old official art of it we had. Nothing particularly spectacular, again some had different names and types.
Then things got a big more interesting: Noctowl, Mantine, Pichu, Cleffa, Marril, Araidos, Sunflora, Phanpy, Girafarig, Politoed, Remoraid, Octillery, Hitmontop, Hoppip, Skiploom, Jumpluff, Mime Jr, Smoochum, Elekid, Magby, Delibird, Murkrow, Blissey, Scizor, Porygon2, Lickilicky, Kingdra, Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Sneasel, Aipom and Leafeon all appeared in prototype forms that were different, sometimes radically different to their final versions, in fact I do think that a few more should have been covered individually in the previous two generations like Porygon2 and the Legendary Beasts were. Oh, as I didn’t give a ball rating to most of these prototype ‘mons, here they are:

Also, ah, um… the only prototype Baby Pokémon I bothered to cover was Mime Jr (who was a Gen 4 ‘mon), despite the fact that all of the Gen 2 Babies were all included in the demo and were all different, some significantly so. This was due to sheer apathy, but I have got to cover them if I’m doing this job properly and if a job’s worth doing it’s worth putting off until you absolutely HAVE to talk about Igglybuff and Smoochum again. If you missed my review of the prototype Mimey it was ‘it’s creepy and a bit like a harlequin, I prefer the Jr. we got’. now for the rest:

The babies were in two bunches in the proto-dex: Pichu, Cleffa and Igglybuff were the first set. Igglybuff was the least changed, it simply grew a little round tuft of ‘hair’ at some point, I actually find Proto-Iggly the more visually pleasing (though it has clearly seen some things) but I get the change, having an extra thing on it’s head to break up the simple shape of it’s body is a design element shared by both Jigglpuff and Wigglytuff so it makes sense to keep it consistent across the whole line. Cleffa, who I consider one of the best of the Baby Pokémon design wise originally looked…well I know what it LOOKS like, it looks like it has one of those handheld lightning rod wands things that the Legion of Superheroes used to bring back Lighting Lad and Wally West from the dead but I respect that virtually no one will know what the fuck I’m on about with that, so let’s just call it a ridiculous looking antenna and be glad that Dickhead Cleffa was redesigned shall we? Proto-Pichu is an absolutely state, it looks like a child tried to make a Pikachu glove puppet at school with just some felt and wood glue.

In contrast the second set – Mime Jr, Smoochum, Elekid and Magby – are all pretty decent. As creepy as Proto-Mime is, being creepy and pink is Mr. Mime’s whole schtick so as a design for a prevo it makes sense. Elekid is…well it’s weird isn’t it? But I do like it, it almost looks like Elekid’s baby form which I assume is why it was redesigned, it just doesn’t look enough like a younger Electabuzz, what are e calling it? An alien mixed with a bee’s arse? It looks like a dog toy, I’m still not critiquing it by the way. Elekid is better but Proto-Elekid is funky and fun. Proto-Magma’s head is different, that’s the main difference, I like the proto-head it looks like an explosion and that’s very fiery, something that would be explored better with the Cyndaquil line, but it’s not quite as weird as the bubbly bonce we eventually got and when it comes to making something that evolves into or from Magmar, the weirder the head the better. Smoochum is the only Baby I’d’ve preferred to have had the beta version of, Smoochum is a jumbled mess, but Proto-Smoochum is a lot more ‘complete as a design, it looks like a little old lady which is a bit off for a baby (and it particularly looks like Generation 1 Elite Four member Agatha, which is double odd as she was Ghost Type trainer wasn’t she?) but it also doesn’t look as bird-like as the Smoochum we got, and as Jynx betrays no influence of any animal this seems like a far more fitting design for a baby form of it, of course it still has, um, that face, that could have done with being reworked by release.

Oh and the mascot/comapny that Porygon2 looked like was Pon de Lion from Mister Donut.

The rest of the Pokémon were unique to this demo.
Of these, 18 were connected to other evolutionary lines; mostly Babies and Cross-Generation evolutions for Gen 1 but a few were ‘mons planned to be part of Gen 2 evolutionary lines that were cut or replaced for the final Gold & Silver. These were Hanamogura, Mikon, Monja, Jaranra, Shibirefugu, Gyopin, Para, Animon, Hinaazu, Tsuinzu, Koonya, Puchikoon, Taaban, Betobebii, Gongu, Pudi, Tsubomitto, Nameeru and Purakkusu and were all covered after the lines they were planned to be a part of in our Generation 1 and 2 segments,

But that still leaves 19 ‘mons left! These were all totally unique Pokémon completely unconnected to the Gen 1 ‘mons we’d had or the Gen 2 ‘mons we’d get, many of whom had never been so much as hinted at before. That’s what this section is primarily for, covering these lost lines, so I should really get to it shouldn’t I?     

*burn self*
Ow! You’re not going in the ‘ones I’d like to own’ bit, stupid deceptively cuddly little shit
The Space World Demo revealed that Gold & Silver (or Pokémon 2 as it was called then) was going to have a vey different line-up of Starters, Chikorita was there but with it’s weird flowermole midvolution and Cyndaquil and Totodile were nowhere to be found, instead their places were taken by the Honooguma and Kurusu lines. Honooguma’s just great, it’s a bearcub, on fire, reminiscent of Pikachu and just as cute, I also have a lot of attachment to it thanks to it being one of the great ‘lost’ Pokémon we’ve known about for years and for it being a PokéGod, so I’m attached. Don’t’ mess with my bonfire bearcub.
Borubeaa is your basic midvolution, it looks kind of cheeky, like a child in a 70s American TV series, but I don’t think the design team spent much time on it so we shan’t either and anyway Dynabea is, well, dynamite. Everything about this guy is so cool, it’s far from just a cartoon bear (which is really all Ursaring is, sorry Ursaring) and very much a bear-like Pokémon. It has so much fur! It’s so shaggy! And it has this wiseness to it, and a powerfulness to it, feeling like an old warrior – or more likely an old sorcerer, I think it’s the fire markings on its head – who could utterly destroy your ass in  battle would contemplate it first and only do it if absolutely necessary. Basically I want to marry Dynabea, ok?   
I don’t get why these were cut, I really don’t. Even if you didn’t want them as Starters – and I will concede that the Cyndquil Line is far more original – why not just keep these around as a standard set of Pokémon? There’s no ban on there being a three-stage line of the same elemental type as a Starter line – Generation 1 had the Oddish and Bellsprout families after all – these could have just been ‘the bears’ for the generation, they’re far better than Teddyursa and Ursaring who are, while lovable, just a teddy bear and a bear, this line offered elemental elements (ha) and a big shaggy look BEFORE those two were concocted, they had a better idea and the threw it away for a more generic one, why?

Damn it Game Freak.
You had the chance to completely change my mind my on Gen 1’s starters and you threw it away for crocodiles. You had a line of Loch Ness Monster Starters and you kept them from us? You bastards.
Ok I’m being a bit over the top but…but…but THESE GUYS! They’re even a complimentary set of designs to Chikorita and pals (probably why they were scrapped? Chikorita is a better use of a long-neck I’ll give it that, using the neck to imply the growth of a flower). We had this adorable Kurusu that mixes the elements of Lapras, Clefairy and  Dratinit into this pudgy lil’ dino that you just want to cuddle, we had Akua – and actually decently designed midvoultion sealosaur that’s has none of the problems of Croconaw while, admittingly, still being a bit boring but it has that ‘character’ that Ivysaur and Charmeleon have don’t’ you think? (Croconaw had character TOO mind you, it just had a horrible design elements) and then we had Akueria, the angry mother of Pokémon, a big plesiosaur to bear down on unfortunate NPC’s Hoothoot and Teddyursa.
I can understand why they might shelve these, they feel a little too close to previously existing ‘mons (Lapras and Dratinni/Dragonair) for a generation that was mostly avoiding that but…well I just like ‘em more than Totodile, Croconaw and Feraligatr.


No comments:

Post a Comment