For all of Generation 3’s faults, it’s Legendaries were fantastic.
Sinnoh’s untamable golems, made from the continents themselves and taken to a far-off land and buried behind irritatingly difficult puzzles both to keep them away from people and in the hope that one day a trainer clever enough to control them would find them, are but the first.
These three are just design successes, even if their names are nearly as terrible as Zigzagoon and Poochyena’s. Even though I go back and forth on it, today I’m voting Registeel the nicest to look at, a mix of lovely curving metal monster recalling space-ships both modern and retro-futuristic this looks like a creature made out of new Tomorrowland that would also be at home in the middle of an Apple factory - no-one does robots better than Japan, no-one. And while Registeel looks fittingly man-made (steel is man-made, remember?), Regirock and Regice look thoroughly organic, both neatly recalling the formation style of their elements – Regirock is pulled straight a mountainside, big clumps of rock stuck together without a need for fineness or refinement, it doesn’t even have hands – just huge pestles for smashing and crushing, it’s as rocky as rock can get. Regice on the on the hand is almost all crystals of ice that look like they shot up or shot out of each other, even if I do find its legs kind of comical, not to critique your work Regigigas but, I mean, they’re just so stubby and ineffectual looking, they’re adorable and pretty damn funny, could you not have made him some feet at least?. And with their lack of faces and only vaguely humanoid shapes they really do feel otherworldy and thus not only very old but like the creation of something that isn’t human (their triomaster, the aforementioned Regigigas). So successful
But their names suck, they’re another of Gen 3’s so-damn-obvious-was-any-thought-put-into-this names, they’re just Regi and a word stuck together, I expect better than that from Pokémon (god knows why, but I do), I expect bad puns and obvious plays on words but not this obvious a set of portmanteaus. Also the way of catching them in Ruby and Sapphire is bullshit, it requires you to know braille by sight – that’s not the point of braille!
“For all of Generation 3’s faults, it’s Legendaries were fantastic.”
Me, last entry
I only said this because I completely forget that Latias (red one) and Latios (blue one) exist. Now, if you look at them side-by-side the two are actually pretty different, their heads, feet, backs, wing placement, they actually have a lot more differences than Plusle and Minun, and the two also boast different stats and different moves that play into those stats so they’re not quite the palette swap characters they appear to be.
But they’re the first Legendaries that, for me, feel unnecessary. There’s just nothing about them that makes them seem like they needed to be included in a Pokédex that already boasted the largest number of Legendary Pokémon so far even without them, there’s nothing about them that makes them seem like they should be Legendary Pokémon, in fact there’s nothing about them that makes them seem like they need to be two Pokémon.
This is not to say I don’t like them AS DESIGNS, I think they’re completely fine looking, but they have a design that if they weren’t Legendaries you wouldn’t think ‘oh they should be Legendaries’ and yet simultaneously have a design that as Legendaries you don’t think ‘these shouldn’t be Legendaries’ so they could have been used as normal, Pseudo-Legendary or Legendary - and at least as Pseudo-Legendaries they’d’ve at least put an original spin on the concept as they’d be the first non-evolving Pseudos - but then this Gen already has TWO Pseudo lines as it is and as ok as these are I sure as shit wouldn’t cut Metagross for them and can see why you’d keep Salamence over them. All they really have going for them is that they’re the first Legendary Pokémon to have genders and a gender split but so little’s done with that – compare how different Nidoking and Nidoqueen are to how different these two are as designs for instance – that it’s really a bit of a waste of an ‘honour’ if you get my drift.
And they’d still feel like they could and should have been one Pokémon and like they were split into two either to fill out the ‘dex (which it didn’t need), add another ‘mon to catch (which it didn’t need) or to facilitate the sex-split Legendary concept (which they didn’t do anything with).
Wait, hang on – I have genuinely just thought of this as I’m typing this – they WERE one Pokémon once:
That is an unused Pokémon that has elements of Latios, Latias and of all things Blaziken. So it seems like at some point they took elements from this and split them into Blaziken and Latias and Latios, or a Latios/Latias combo that was then split again. I VERY much doubt this is the first or last time this has happened by the way, that a design was split into more than one Pokémon either for creative reasons or bulking out the ‘dex reasons, in fact I’d say that Gurotesu proves this (with Huntail and Gorebyss both being ‘split’ from it), the problem is with Latias and Latios, even without knowing that this was the case, you can tell.
The Megas are just taking the piss though, they’re the same fucking design for each, I think it’s supposed to be a knowing wink at how similar they are and fan’s criticism of them for being such but I’m not fucking laughing Game Freak, I’m not fucking laughing! I will fucking find you and fucking kill you you lazy fuckin cu…ok, ok, that got away from me, sorry.
Let’s go back to good Legendaries shall we? Meet Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza, meet awesome in Pokémon form.
Ruby & Sapphire were the first Pokémon games to make Legendaries an unavoidable part of the story, you could argue that Mewtwo was a part of Red & Blue’s story but I’d argue that they have less of a story and more of a setting with events happening in it and that Mewtwo’s story is already over and he’s completely optional in a completely optional bonus area. Ruby & Sapphire’s plot – because it has a plot – is Team Aqua and Team Magma trying to get their respective legendary (Kyogre and Groudon respectively) to advance their plot and as you progress you HAVE TO encounter them. I have no problem with this, Legendary Pokémon and their legends being integral to the plot is fine by me and Kyogre and Groudon absolutely benefit from the extra talking up and importance: they look important, they feel important, I’m told they’re important and then ultimately they are important, it’s a good method for making me like something.
The two have a lovely ancient artefact feel to them, with markings/plating designs that make them resemble ancient statues or structures, they feel like the sort of thing that an alien civilization might have left behind, or – foreshadowing – the sort of thing that a non-human creature might have made. Of the two I definitely prefer Kyogre, I like how its design resembles modern wetsuits and swimming trunks, I like it’s colour scheme which sees this generation finally find a shade of red and a shade of blue that don’t look pants (trunks?) next to each other, I like it as abstraction of a killer whale and, well, I’m just biased towards orcas. I have been ever since I went to Sea World as a kid, just because Sea World itself is horrible doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from it (other than ‘Sea World needs to shut down’ obviously) and I learnt that Orcas are magnificent. And an ancient, alien orcaspaceshipleviathan is just as grand.
Groudon must be a successful design because it’s very detailed without looking busy or worse, too busy, compare with how detailed Raikou or Entei are compared to how busy THEY look and see what I mean, the colour scheme undoubtedly helps. Personally I’ve always thought it looked like one of the made-for-the-toyline Mutanimals from the original TMNT figure line, but in case you haven’t noticed, if something reminds me of something, there’s a 80% chance it’ll remind me or something from Sonic or The Turtles - or a wang.
But you know what they needed? Tron lines! Because everything needed fucking Tron lines for a while didn’t it, DC? I need to get this off my chest: I really like Tron, I like the whole franchise: I like the films, I like the vintage toys, I like the cartoon series, I like Tron 2.0 on the Xbox and IT’S toys, I even like Diamond’s new Kingdom Hearts figures even though they have McFarlane Toys levels of articulation, I want a lightcycle, I would rank lightcyles up there with the best of pop culture’s vehicles, up there with Ecto-1, The DeLorean Time Machine and the Jetson’s car but NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS FUCKING NEON DOODLES ON IT! OK?!? The Flash’s costume is not improved by covering it in piping that shows up under black light! Not every character, vehicle and apparently Legendary Pokémon needs to look like it was designed by Apple for Snow White’s Scary Adventures! I’m thoroughly glad the Tron line fad is over with now, let’s not have a revival.
ANYWAY! Kyogre and Groudon got Tron lines I the form of their Primal Forms, Primal Forms are the same as Mega Evolutions, they just have swanky names and neon bits on them. They take the ‘ancient relic’ look of the ‘mons to the nth degree and don’t really do anything egregiously bad – Primal Kyogre becomes a lot busier but not unattractive, it has a nice colour scheme and most of the Tron Lines fit nicely with the shape and design of regular vanilla Kyogre, I especially like the joining up of the ‘head’ marking and the new highlights in it’s tail. Primal Groudon feels a bigger change thanks to inverting most of it’s colours but it’s not really, it got Trap-Jaw’s jaw which is cool because anything that reminds me of Trap-Jaw from He-Man is instantly cool but, well, look at the Tron lines on Mega Groudon:
Now look at the insides of a Kinder Country Bar:
You’re seeing it right? Can you taste it? Can you taste the bittiness of Kinder Country Bars? Because I can, every time I look at Primal Groudon. No I’m not marking it down for this.
Then there’s Rayquaza.
Raquaza is the coolest dragon in Pokémon.
Kiss my arse.
I’ve already said that Charizard is the perfect dragon and I like Goodra and Flygon for subverting the Dragon archetype but none of them are as pure badass as Gen 3’s sky dragon. If you don’t know the lore, Pokémon legends say that Groudon caused the continents to rise and Kyogre brought rain that made the seas, but being polar opposites whose world’s expansion would destroy the other’s, they FUCKING HATE each other and fight whenever both are on the same planet, and their battles could very well destroy said planet. They need a mediator, and that mediator is a huge dragon that dwells in the ozone, above where planes can fly and where humans cannot possibly live, a dragon that only comes down when it needs to save the world. That is Rayquaza, a living Big Damn Heroes moment, a big green missiledragon with the same ancient artefact design as Kyogre and Groudon and a face that combines everything that could kill you in Jurassic Park. This is what Salamence should have been and what Garchomp wishes it was, and then Super Mash Bros. Brawl it’s a huge awesome boss and then in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire you ride it into space to save the world by having Rayquaza kill a giant meteorite and end up in an awesome final battle! God. Damn.
I like Raquaza.
I get giving Rayquaza a Mega to make it fit in with the Primal forms of the rest of its trio, after all it’s supposed to be more powerful than them both combined (so why doesn’t IT get a Primal form? I guess because it’s not as old as the other two?) but it really didn’t need the boost. And if a Mega Evolution can be too much, then this is too much, there’s just so much going on in this thing and all of it behind big neon light-up streamers, it’s just…too much. My eyes can’t handle it, my brain doesn’t like it, they’re going to watch Tron again.
Poor lil’ Jirachi. It remains the least important of Gen III’s Legendaries. It had its own movie, sure (Jirachi: Wish Maker, which I can’t seem to remember a bloody thing about) but in the games it’s always just been a bonus Pokémon, Latias, Latios and Deoxys all received bigger focus in later games but nothing for Jirachi. It was the Pokémon you got free with Pokémon Colosseum and it’s pretty much always been just that, an event ‘mon with no relevance. Which is a terrible shame because it’s a lovely little Not-Mew with a lovely and adorable little design that’s actually more worthy of praise than I think a lot of people think.
Jirachi is the physical embodiment of Japan’s Tanabata festival and making something like that – and making it successfully – is pretty damn hard, it make something that symbolizes a holiday or event without just anthropomorphising something associated with it (say, Christmas trees or yule logs for Christmas), Jirachi has obvious elements associated with the festival – stars, the tanzaku (paper with wishes written on it) but wraps it all up in references to all sorts of other wish-granting lore including genies and angels and doesn’t just make a star with tanzaku stuck on it, but a unique little cutie that Japanese natives could still easily connect with Tanabata. Tricky and well done.
Also it has a huge eye on its stomach, because Game Freak just can't create cute things and not throw in something to make those cute things horrible, bless ‘em.
This generation has taken far to long to review, progress ground to a halt while I was suffering from a return of my possible-Labyrinthitis, which makes focussing on things hard and being funny nearly impossible, it made this gen’s reviews drag on and I god quiet fed up with it all, but we have a happy ending to our tale – Deoxys.
Deoxys is a space virus that mutated into an alien monkey and its last big role was bursting to of a meteorite that could destroy the world as a surprise final boss leading to boss fight between it and Rayquaza! It also had, at the time, an unusual gimmick linked to its three other formes – because it’s a virus you see, it can mutate! If you caught it in Ruby & Sapphire (through an event) or in the 3D games it was in it’s normal forme, if you caught it in FireRed it would be in Attack Forme, in LeafGreen it would be in it’s Defence Forme and in Emerald it would be in it’s Speed Forme and it would always be in that forme in those games. Personally I can’t see why you’d want to mess with Deoxys’ normal design because I think it’s bloody lovely – it’s such an anime alien (Neon Genesis Evangelion apparently) which is what it is but with a real space ship feel to it and it has DNA elements into its design too!
The formes are a little less wonderful I feel: Speed Forme makes sense, it sheds a lot of it’s armour (and thus it’s weight) to become lighter and faster, it has only one tentacle for the same reason and I like it’s super streamlined conical head but it does look like a toy that’s incomplete and while it’s boost in it’s Speed stat is nice it’s a bit disappointing to be stuck with this version on Emerald instead. I don’t get Attack Forme, nothing about it says ‘attacker’ or ‘stronger’, it’s just a slight variation on the normal form, so slight I’d wonder if it wasn’t an earlier design that got repurposed because the designer (Sugimori?) liked it still. Defense Forme is just Deoxys as The Juggernaut (bitch) and that is just fine, it’s armour becomes more all over, even it’s tentacles are armoured up for maximum defence, the amour looks thicker too, I’d rank it the highest of the three – it’s a functional design that looks different enough but still nearly as cool as normal Deoxys.
It is however red and blue again – they were really going for that ruby and sapphire theme this generation, weren’t they? I’m glad that line thinking got dropped.