Friday, 19 April 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 3 Part 6 - Aron line to Roselia line

Where’s my fucking Aggron meme!?!
click to motherfucking enlarge
Aside from the unnecessary faggot usage (why does the internet love the word so much? Faggots are gross, they’re like big meat sultanas made up of all the shit that’s too shit for sausages, my nan loves faggots and has subjected me to them many times when I could have been eating meatballs and I don’t forgive her, balls > faggots, nan!) this is pretty  much how I feel about Aggron, it’s about as cool as a Pokémon should legally be – it’s a steel plated samuraisaur and is equipped to counteract its own weaknesses. But it’s whole line is one of the nicest designed THINGS in Generation III, in fact in any of the first three generations – effectively taking the qualities of Rhyhorn and keeping them throughout the entire line.
The whole line has a very structural feel to it, perfectly fitting for a line of Steel/Rock types, with their armour plating feeling like they make up the girders, joints and amour of set of dinosaur shaped buildings. It leaves everything feeling like it’s where it should be, rather than just stuck on to make it look a little different to a normal animal. Aron is adorable in a way I never knew Jason Vorhees could be and whoever thought of making the head amour of a Pokémon look like a hockey mask is a genius; Mega Aggron somehow manages to make Aggron look like even more of a beast and is a great place to point out again how colours schemes can help a design as Lairon, Aggron and Mega Aggron are pretty complex designs, with lots of pieces to them, but colour them right and it doesn’t look messy or over-busy at all, in fact Mega Aggron looks like the Silver Samurai of Pokémon and that is no bad thing to be. Lairon I REALLY like, nearly as much as Aggron, from a design point of view – I like the flow of it’s segmented silver head and back armour, it’s very animalisitic, lizard-like face, and it’s strange shaped lower jaw that just makes it look so rugged – it’s kind of the Pokémon Dimetrodon and that is no bad thing to be.
Or in other words: it’s a line of brickshittingly amazing bad motherfuckers who will fuck your shit backwards. I hate it when memes are funnier than I could ever be.

I have no idea what I think about these, which isn’t very good for someone reviewing them is it? For me they are absolutely a line of ‘mons who are just ‘there’. I get them, I get the thought process behind the first Psychic/Fighting Pokémon being humanoids who are based on gurus and yogi and the like but nothing connects with me about them and they suffer from Gen III Random Colour Syndrome, why is Meditite blue? Is it cold up in the mountains? I guess they must have been popular with someone (their designer, who was still with the firm by Generation 6, would be my guess) because Medicham got a Mega – and it’s one of the most obvious things in the game, with it’s turban and beaded sash that looks JUST LIKE a turban and beaded sash, Sugimori really wasn’t trying there was he? Maybe he needed the loo?

Do you know what these two – Electrike and Manetric – look like to me? They look like the sort of fakemon fans design when they don’t have the required zoological, cultural and pop cultural knowledge to match that of Game Freak, the fan made Pokémon from fans who think all you need to do is draw a cartoon animal in a funny colour, slap some random bits on it and colour it Sugimori style. Close enough to look like it’d fit in the Pokémon world but soulless nothings that lack everything that makes so many Pokémon good. 
Now I don’t actually dislike the idea of having some Pokémon that look like fan made Pokémon, every generation you’ll hear people using this as way of deriding new ‘mons they don’t like but I don’t think this is too bad an idea. Fan made Pokémon are a big part of the Pokémon fandom and thus a part of the Pokémon franchise, and representing any part of a fandom or franchise, even the pervy bits, in-game is no bad thing. Grookey (newly revealed as of this writing) does this very well for instance, like how Charizard is the perfect dragon design - the dragon everyone thinks of when they think ‘dragon’, Grookey is that for fakemon, unfortunately Electrike feels like that for uninspired fan made Pokémon. Manetric is this a little less, with it’s Egyptian feel at least showing some sort of knowledge and cultural references but shit me is its markings an extra bits ugly and stuck on, especially it’s weird spikey ‘thigh casing’. It has some of the worst ‘that’ll do, wherever the pen goes, shan’t bother refining or tweaking it’ feeling design elements of the whole generation on its neck and legs.
Mega Manetric is so fucking silly that it’s impossible for me to truly dislike it, I know it’s shit, I know it’s a wolf wearing a giant lighting bolt and it’s about as imposing as a baby’s fart but it’s just that right kind of stupid that I can’t mark it lower than 3 because it’s just so, damn, daft. And it loses all of Manetric’s horrible ‘fuck it lets just draw some shit on it’ elements too, of course it replaces them with a big cartoon lightning bolt but better ridiculous looking than lazy and awkward looking. 

These two aren’t connected by evolution (yet), but they’re the first of a bunch of duos of Pokémon who I’m covering together in this generation because they’re connected in some way, in this case they’re connected by being the same fucking thing just in different colours.
Ok that’s actually not factually correct, they have different tails, but they are some of the most egregious of the ‘palette swap’ Pokémon, especially as they’re already derivative of another design (hint: it’s Pikachu). I actually have no problem with Plusle and Minun in concept – I’ve said before (again and again) that I’m ok with and actually like and encourage the idea of using a new Pokémon to promote a new gimmick or gameplay feature (in this case, double battles), it’s a good way to introduce it to players and a good way to make them make use of it, and if any type of Pokémon is a good fit for this it’s the Pikaclones, it even shuts up a lot of ‘what a waste’ naysayers as they all think the PIkaclones are a waste of slots anyway. And Plus’ ‘n’ Min’ have a nice movepool that makes them easy to understand assist characters (RPG characters who are designed to help the rest of the team, like healers, rather than to be useful offensively) so they’re fine as ‘example Pokémon’ go.  
But they’re just uncreative, they stick to the Pikachu design template the closest of all the clones, they’re even the same Type (pure Electric), they have the exact same movepools as each other, do nothing with the positive-negative concept and the only difference between them that isn’t just a palette swap can’t be seen if they’re face on AND THAT’S taken from Pikachu. Even if one was the inverted colours of the other it would help:

See? At least it’s slightly more different. I get that the idea is that they’re red and blue to represent Ruby and Sapphire, the two games, but the implementation is crap is all. One could‘ve learnt the moveset the other way ‘round from the other, or they could have been opposite Types, or Types that deal no damage to each other, it shouldn’t be this easy to improve on them! The people who created these are experienced designers! Dozens of people see these! Dozens!

See, these two do Plusle and Minun’s job far better than Plusle and Minun do. Coming straight after them they almost feel like an apology for the uncreativeness (but merchandisability) of those two. They especially do the move pool thing well – both of them learn a number of the same moves – useful Bug moves like Struggle Bug, Bug Buzz and Infestation and standards like Tackle, Play Rough and Quick Attack but the sweet, cute 100% female Illumise learns nice, sweet and helpful moves like Play Nice,  Sweet Scent, Charm, Wish, Flatter and Covet while the grumpy, uglier, 100% male Volbeat learns irritating, damaging and shitty moves in their place – the likes of Flash, Confuse Ray, Signal Beam, Protect and Double Edge. That’s how you use move pools to show the differences and similarities between two connected species. They’re fireflies by the way, short, stubby, fat little fireflies with tiny glowing bits, an very unusual but not unwelcome way to make cartoon fireflies.
However it needs to be addressed and it’s very important: Volbeat is a band – and a pretty damn good band at that – and they predate Ruby & Sapphire by years, and one makes me immediately think of the other. I’ve seen Volbeat live, more than once, and all I could think of was the little angry firefly from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. It’s a complete coincidence as far as a I know HOWEVER Volbeat sure looks like the sort of Pokémon who’d like Volbeat, or be in Volbeat. Volbeat’s my preference of the two, Illumise is cute and able to conduct a swarm of horny Volbeat like an orchestra during mating season which is disturbing and cute in early Disney movie measures but I find her just on the sickly side of sweet and just on the obvious side of showing her design influences (she looks like a conductor in a suit) whereas miserable, sour, tangled-antennae Volbeat certainly has neither of those issues.
Also, going back to a topic I waffled on…ooooh god when was it… Goldeen and Seaking I think? Whatever, the topic of ‘it’s funny what makes you like something’, do you know why I’m cool with these two? Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire. These are little more than screen wipes in that game but their amusing little jigs on and off screen endeared them to me, permanently.

Actually, 4.5 is what I’d give the band Volbeat too…

Mustn’t…make…Thin…Lizzy...reference…already…did…music…references…last…section…MAH ROSELIEE-ah.
The Roselia family is an oddity, a few single stage Pokémon became the middle stage in an evolutionary line over time (Chansey, Electabuzz, Magmar...) but Roselia was given a Baby and an evolution in the same generation (Gen 4 of course, the generation of evolutions) and is so far the only ‘mon to have this happen to them. We can see from that demo I can’t mention anymore that Game Freak had actually planned to do this to Pokémon as early as 1997 when Tangela was due to get a baby and evolution, instead a grass type I like far less got two far less awesome stages.
Roselia’s alright I s’pose; it feels very much like it fits in the Pokémon world, effectively a grass version of the style of design used on the Hitmons and other humanoid fighting types like Hariyama but still not feeling out of place alongside Oddish or Hoppip, I think it’s the mix of simple creatures with simple faces attached to more detailed and realistic plants.  Its poison typing (and this thing is MEGA poisonous, in fact it makes different kinds of colour co-ordinated poisons) and overall design work the beautiful but dangerous thang that roses have and I like the subtlety of the leaves around its neck, making little shoulder pads and a little tabard.
Baby Roselia is Budew, who seemed ridiculously common in Diamond & Pearl, was it? Maybe it just stuck out because it’s green? I don’t mind Budew, it seems like plant-based Baby Pokémon fair better in the Game Freak Pokémon Design Sweatshop, it’s a little simple, it reminds me of the illustrations from Mr Men books, but it’s cute and looks very much like it ‘blooms’ into Roselia. Big Roselia is Roserade and it’s kind of a mess? It’s not bad from a distance but the more I look at it the more things I find to dislike – I especially dislike the way the green of its neck becomes this weird spikey smudge up the side of it’s face, it doesn’t really seem to find the contours of… anything really. the anime interprets this as being the collar of it’s cape, but Sugimori’s drawings and its in-game models make them look like they’re flat against its head, like markings. I also tried to find out if there was a reason it’s flower hands no longer look like flowers but instead a set of hard balls or a travel game for the car, several Pokédex entries mention them being able to jab with ‘near-fatal’ power so I suppose they do in fact stop being flowers and become something more solid? Meh, it this still doesn’t make it any less messy, it still doesn’t make the mask look any less stuck on or that strange belly leaf look any more incongruous but LOOOK AT IT’S LITTLE SHOOOES! LITTLE BALLERINA SHOOOOOES!



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