Monday, 13 May 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 4 Part 2 - Starly line to Shieldon line

Well that was quick, welcome back THAT ONE THING Syndrome, welcome Staraptor’s stupid fucking hair. A lot of Gen 4 Pokémon feel like the designers didn’t stop when they should have and in this case they should have stopped when they had a bird with Wolverine hair and not giving it that fucking thing on its head:

See? See how much better it looks without that really stuck-on feeling, ugly-ass red quiff thing? Starly and Staravia are muuuuch better but they do still have a little too much going on, it’s not necessarily erroneous for starlings because of their markings but since when did it matter if Pokémon looked just like their real-world basis? Are you telling me there are chinchillas that look like Pikachu? Or rabbits that look like Wigglytuff? Of course not, these two needed less things in their design. Also Staravia needed a new, far less goofy face, that face is straight out of an Aardman short, it looks like Feathers McGraw when he’s pissed off, I cannot take that seriously, especially when paired with a sugar plum fairy haircut. Though this sort of saves Staravia in my eyes because but it’s so silly that I find it endearing, I don’t LIKE it as such but it’s so daft that it’s impossible to hate it. Oh, and I hope you like triangles, like them so much that you want to see lots and lots and lots of them because this generation FUCKING WORSHIPS triangles.

My baby!
Bidoof is just the adorablelest little HM slave, he’s very cute, very reserved in it design, I liked it from the moment it was revealed (or leaked, whichever it was) and I want one in real life. And yet people loathed it. it was ‘dumb’ it was ‘silly’ it was ‘stupid’ and it was very, very common, even for an early-game com-mon. Which leads me nicely into being able to express one of my major issues with Diamond & Pearl: new Pokémon distribution, half the ‘Dex was evolutions and Legendaries, most of whom weren’t available until the post-game or through events or not at all while a lot of the other new ‘mons were limited to just one area, just one or just hard to catch (Combee, Munchlax, Spiritomb, Driftloon etc). Take away the Starters and Fossil ‘mons too and what was left were mostly ‘mons I didn’t’ much like and Pokémon I’d been catching since 1999, it didn’t help an already severely flawed game BUT what it did mean was that I actually had the complete opposite effect to Bidoof’s unnaturally high commonness – I’d much rather see a dozen Bidoofs than 6 Cherrubi and 6 Buizel – I was pleased that Bidoof kept popping up!
Bibarrel it took me a lot longer to warm too, I initially really disliked it, it wasn’t until I got one in Pokémon Go! and saw it standing on all fours that I really got into it, you should always look at Pokémon in different poses to the standard sprites or Sugimori art before deciding on your opinion of them, things like their trading cards, Pokémon Go or Gen 7’s in-game models are great for this, I didn’t do this with Bibarrel and I should have. Now I like it just fine, not as much as Bidoof but then that’s quite common for com-mon rodents I think, I don’t in any way think Furret, Linoone or Watchog improved on their previous forms either and I like Bibarrel a lot more than sodding Watchog.

I remember thinking that Kricketot took sooooo long to evolve. It evolves at level 10, Caterpie and Weedle had ruined me.
Right, so there is such a thing as a Violin Beetle, that’s the whole starting point for this line, a set of two music themed bugs that are, like most of the Bug Types, absolutely fine. I’m certain it’s because Satoshi Tajiri was a bug collector and that hobby lead to the creation of the franchise - and the fact that all the development team and all the fans know this - that leads to the constantly high quality of Bug ‘mons, like: everyone expects the bugs to be good because of this fact (except possibly Tajiri) so they have to be. Kricketot itself is delightful, an adorable little bug that looks like a musician or opera singer without resorting to obvious clothes or worse, accessories, everything comes together, everything flows, everything fits, it’s just lovely. Kriketune, the actual Violin Beetle, is a little bit less successful; the moustache is a little big goofy and it’s body looks a little too busy even though, of course, it has to be that detailed to resemble a violin and the moustache is a good fit for a classical musiscan ‘mon so…*shrugs*. It’s a clever concept, and a fun and fitting theme for the bug, in fact it’s doubly fitting as this generation was the first on the DS, which famously had a microphone in it, more on that latter.

These are Gen 4’s problems in a nut-shell. All three exhibits the same problem: the designers just didn’t know when to stop and how to balance out a design, and seemingly (erroneously as far as I’m concerned) decided that busy designs help the ‘mons look fantastical when we had three generations to prove this wasn’t the case, it was a design misstep that hurt the generation and thankfully was not carried over to Gen 5 with any real commonality.
As a progression the designs work, Shiny grows it’s mane like a beard and hair (adorable) and the patterns on its fur evolve with each design, getting bigger, more numerous or just more ‘badass’, that’s all good shit, but all three of them are just too much and individually it creates one awkward looking kitten and two complete messes.
Shinx needs to lose all the black please, or if you must, keep the black tail and neck markings and loose the black arse and forearm rings, also with all this unnecessary black, its tufts of hair – which are black on its two evolutions but here AREN’T BLACK. Irritating. Though its facial resemblance to Kimba the White Lion is noted and appreciated
Luxio’s main design issue is those big, ugly Wolverine shoulder stripes, I get that they’re an evolution of Shinx’s little black neck markings but they’re just, well, shit, too big, to straight, completely unnecessary, as is the blue feet, blue toes could have worked, but blue feet just look odd.
Luxray wants to be badass, but from the neck down it’s just a complete mess: they should have just picked one: yellow stripes or black fur accents because together they look unnecessary and frankly shit, it’s not like there weren’t Pokémon that didn’t keep their markings when they evolved, it’s not like those rings NEEDED to be there, some ‘mons change species when they evolve for fuck’s sake.
Also they’re electric types because in some European mythology Lynxes were said to be able to see through solid objects, like X-Rays – or Luxrays. Pity this isn’t in any way emphasised in any of the three’s designs innit?

For Budew and Roserade go here

These are the opposite of Piplup, Piplup is the penguin I’d waited for, Cranidos and Rampardos are a let down to the Pachycephalosaur fan in me.
Both suffer from the ‘JUST STOP DRAWING ALREADY’ design issues of Gen 4, Cranidos suffers from a completely unnecessary jaggedly body markings and Rampardos suffers from EVERYTHING. Too many spikes (including a pair just randomly near the neck), too many markings, a bright colour next to a duller colour, things just sticking out at angles at odds with each other (stolen from Bogleech because it’s exactly the way to word the issue), they’re just bollocks designs. What they need is a pair of regional variants to refine and improve the designs because Pachycephalosaurs rock. I’ve got the hump now.

Jesus, talk about contrast, and more so FITTING contrast *feels all smug and fancy*. Cranidos and Shieldon you see are actually contrasts – and I REALLY like it when Pokémon do this, when things like version exclusives or Pokémon connected by a theme or group (like a Legendaries, Starters or in this case, Fossils) connect through one way or another – like say the Mage/Warrior/Rogue archetypes of the Gen 5 starters or in this case two Dinosaur Pokémon that are opposites in battle. It just feels like a little more effort and smarts went into filling these roles and makes me happy in the same way that having all my CDs in alphabetical order makes me happy.
Here we have two Fossil Pokémon, one is simple, quadrupedal, curved and based around defence while the other is angular, bipedal, based around attack and feels like the artist had an uncontrollable compulsion to keep drawing - that’s an awesome amount of opposites right there – but both are dinosaurs and they both do their attack/defence thang through their heads and are both Fossil Pokémon. As Counterparts they’re lovely.
The contrast I was originally talking about though is the contrast in my opinion of them: I think Shieldon and Bastiodon are great, I think Cranidos and Rampardos should be shot not the sun. Shieldon is cute, simple little stage one critter with a head that clearly looks like a shield without it being obviously a shield stuck on its face (odd as that’s pretty much exactly what the ‘mon is! a dinosaur with a shield on its face) while Bastiodon does all the things right that Rampardos does wrong, it’s grey and yellow colour fit together nicely with both being of similar contrast and achieving a very brick/stone look; it’s (admittedly) complex design all works nicely thanks to being armour (Which is typically segmented and thus ‘detailed’) and Bastiodon’s whole castle/rock design theme makes sticky-outy-bits (that’s a term right?) not feel out of place, everything follows lines and curves and looks aesthetically pleasing as well as aesthetically fitting (that’s a term too, right?). There’s no overabundance of markings slapped all over the place either! Bastiodon is still very much a Gen 4 design, but one of the better uses of the style, probably solely because its concept fits that style well (see also Scorupi). Also its head progresses from a clear-but-not-too-obvious shield to a clear-but-not-too-obvious CASTLE WALL as progressions go that’s a hell of progression and fills that ‘I can’t believe I get to have X as a weaponized pet’ sweet spot, in this case ‘I can’t believe I get to have a dinosaur that’s also a fucking castle as a weaponized pet’, you get me?

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