Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 4 Part 5 - Bronzor line to Lucario line

Oh thank god!
I don’t like writing negative reviews, especially of something like Pokémon where it’s so easy to slip up and so, so subjective. It helps that Purrugly and Skuntank aren’t particularly popular, nor particularly used in competitive play so I can rip into them without too much of a worry but I still don’t like doing it, and frankly I don’t think I’m that good at it. But it’s ok, because Bronzor and Bronzong are here and these two I adore. Not just for their designs, nor just for Bronzog’s fantastic use as a wall in battles but because they’re damn interesting.
The two are based primarily on Japanese legend Of a Mirror and a Bell. A story of a woman who gave a bronze mirror (they didn’t have glass in them, those ones) to a local temple to be melted down into a new bell for them (hence the connection of a mirror evolving into a bell) but when they went to melt it down, it wouldn’t (hence the two having the ‘Heatproof’ ability that resists Fire Types completely). When it was found out whose mirror this was, the woman drowned herself in shame but said that whoever hit the bell hard enough to break it would be rewarded with riches (Sadly Bronzong cannot learn Pay Day, a big oversight if you ask me). there’s also references to another Japanese story, that of the Bell of Mugen (Check it all out here). This sort of stuff fascinates my ass and made me appreciate Bronzong and Bronzor 100 times more than any amount of walling could do. Bronzong is my preference, it looks like some kind of ancient robot, with it’s markings recalling a face not simply a face slapped onto it, this isnt’ a bell with googly eyes, but an ancient bell-like creature. Bronzor’s face it a little less well worked into the design, I can see what it was going for but the bright yellow eyes just make everything a bit more obvious -  happily also doesn’t look enough like a stereotypical (western) mirror to have that ‘they just put a face on something’ feel going on for me, of course if I was Japanese or Chinese I might think different.
Nice colours these too

For Bonsly go here

For Mime Jr. go here

For Happiny go here

I’ve done my Gimmick Pokémon rant, right? I feel like I have, how people use the term ‘gimmick’ or ‘gimmicky’ to mean ‘crap’? but it bugs me because there are actual gimmick Pokémon who aren’t called as such? I’m sure I have.
Chatot is one such ‘actual’ Gimmick Pokémon. It was invented solely to show off the Nintendo DS’ flashy microphone, it had a signature move called Chatter than allowed you record a soundclip and attack with your own words. That is actually really cool, and pretty fun in practice, being able to 1 hit KO a Graveller with the sound of your own voice shouting ‘Cock fuck!’ is damn entertaining. Sadly like a lot of gimmick Pokémon, Chatot is a fairly average ‘mon and the gimmick it was created to promote is no longer remotely relevant in the days when most Pokémon is played on the 3DS, Switch and your mobile (though the latter would totally allow for Chatter to make a comeback, get to it Niantic). Which is a shame because I LOVE Chatot as a design, for a while it was one of the few Gen 4 ‘mons I’d admit to liking (was very anti-Gen 4 for a while but I grew up and stopped being a twat) even while everyone else was writing it off as boring with no use in battle - just because it looks so nice. It looks like it could sit alongside the simpler more naturalistic Gen 1 and 2 ‘mons (which I like aesthetically) with the musical note head and metronome tail really feeling like they fit nicely with a regular macaw’s look and a lovely set of colours that take advantage of a parrot being able to be any old mix of colours and it never looking wrong. Chatot needs a new evolution to make it more than just a gimmick, it needs to become a symphony as it were, it’ll probably never get one though because, well, few of these ‘actual’ gimmick Pokémon do (except Eevee of course, but then Eevee’s gimmick is evolution)

Did you miss it? Did you miss the unfocused enthusiasm and all-caps onomatopoeias that accompany my favourite Pokémon? Tough, cos it’s back. Spiritomb, baby!
Spiritomb is GREAT, sure it was slightly greater when it had no weaknesses (stupid Fairy Types) but Spiritomb is still GREAT, GREAT, GREAT. It’s the dark side of Pokémon, the bad side of humanity’s ability to make Pokémon and the Ghost Type as a whole, and it’s an angry face tied to a rock that is also secretly a face. Its 108 spirits chained into an Odd Keystone, at least according to the ever unreliable Pokédex but we know that ghosts do exist in this world (we meet several who aren’t Pokémon) and we know that people have used technology to create Pokémon (at least the Porygon line) and how you ‘catch’ this Pokémon does involve something that sure looks like a ritual. So, yeah, this could very well be a monstrous combination of the unwilling dead. What you get when you combine 108 spirits (the number has significance in many culture’s including Japan) is a monstrous swirling ghost face, one of the most unsettling of all Pokémon -  . ones that are only found and awoken in BAD places, wrecked ships and old temples and one that when it was designed and introduced, has no weaknesses and now only has one, the sweet, kind, adorable Fairy Type and there’s more than one of it. Basically Spiritomb is dark and wonderful and magnificent, it’s one of the scariest of all Pokémon, certainly of all the non-Legendaries or non-mythic Pokémon, it’s a mad face made from a 108 spirits trapped against their will by some dark necromancer Trainer and I love it.

Hm. Ok, I like this line I mean if you don’t like a set of three creatures that are best described as ‘aeroplane dragon land sharks with rocket heads that can kick all the asses you throw at it’ then you’re dead inside and I feel bad for you. The problem is that a lot of the fandom LOVES this line and I’m not sure I have that level of enthusiasm for them, I can understand he love though, after all they’re aeroplane dragon land sharks with rocket heads that can kick all the asses you throw at them.
Gible is super adorable and does nothing wrong design wise for me, it does so little wrong that this is the whole of it’s review. I wobble back and forth as to which of the three I like the best, but at the moment I think it’s Gabite, Gible’s a better design, in fact Gible is pretty much flawless as a design – but Gabite has a menace to it, it’s the black under the eyes I think, while still remaining a little adorable. It needs to lose the completely unnecessary thigh razors (though I suppose being able to say ‘I have thigh razors’ alone might be a good argument for their necessity) but that’s nothing serious, certainly not THAT ONE THING Syndrome level. Then there’s Garchomp and homly shit is it understandable that people think this thing is awesome, because it fucking well is. Do you want to know how tall Garchomp is? 6'03"? that is a whole lot of aeroplane dragon hammerhead shark, that is a dragon version of Scyther that can look Hulk Hogan in the eyes. Sadly it suffers from unnecessary spikes - seriously they do not need to be there, they do not help the design, it would have been badass without them and how much use can bicep spikes possibly get on an animal with scythes for hands? - but ultimately it’s still fucking badass in every single way (spikes, even ill-placed ones, are badass, live with it).
Then there’s Mega Garchomp, an unnecessary addition if ever where was one (though not quite as bad as Mega Rayquazza), already a monster in in every way, it didn’t need the stat boost and it didn’t seem like it could get any more impressive now did it? WRONG!
by god it’s horrifying, I think it’s the jab, that jaw just makes the face more ghoulish and frightening, or I suppose it could be the giant blades for hands that are coloured so they always look like they’re soaked in blood, maybe that too. the ‘frill’ of spikes down it’s body looks silly for me but again Mega Evolutions are supposed to be over the top and this one is certainly that, while also being pant-shittingly intimidating. 
See I mean all that praise, but I just can’t get uber-enthusiastic about them, they’re great, what I’m saying is….it’s not you, it’s me.

 For Munchlax go here

So I mentioned a few times that this is completely inspired by/ripped off from Bogleech’s awesome Pokémon reviews right?  Bogleech is a fantastic blogger who has a habit of focussing on things that I like to read about, I fully respect him, his comedic ability, his huge knowledge of the animal kingdom (especially the creepier side of it), his Halloween countdowns and the fact that he gave his complaints in bullet points and he is free to dislike Lucario with all his black heart. Just as I’m free to argue his bullet points because they seem a bit…spurious to me, so here we go, Bogleech’s points are in italic. find the original here
·          First, The Stripes. Those perfectly straight, rigidly angular black stripes on Lucarion's face do not look good at all wrapped around a roughly globular head, and they don't really match the jagged black ends of its paws, nor the black "belt" stripe, nor those weird black donuts on its shoulders. None of these markings feel like they synch up
Except they’re not rigidly angular? They clearly have a curve to them, it’s a subtle curve but it’s definitely there, and it’s even more pronounced in in-game 3D models and the anime, where the curves of Lucadoodle’s head are more obvious thanks to the various poses you can find it in. You actually include pictures later that show this. they al run parallel with the curved black bet stripe so I’m not seeing the conflict here either. More so though: why wasn’t this brought up with Luxio, who genuinely has this issue with it’s shoulder stripes? (I ugess because that’s not on it’s face and so less noticeable would be a good argument but shut up). Also on the shoulder doughnuts (best name for them, I’ve adopted it), all of the Chaotix from Sonic the Hedgehog have those, Espio having always had them, the other two having received them for their Sonic Heroes redesign, so it seems to just be a design element the Japanese sometimes throw in.
·          The Hair. Is Lurciaro supposed to have "dreadlocks?" Is that what those are? Because they don't look like them. They look like fat, smooth, solid plastic tear drops nailed to the back of its skull at a weird angle and they don't complement the rest of the design in any way. Whatever flow its outline could have had is only ground to a halt by these cumbersome bulbs.
Except they don’t look tear dropped shaped at all? No, really they don’t, I mean they do taper off but they’re not teardrop shaped, they’re more like sausages with a pinched end, this really bugs me about this review for some reason. Also I’d argue that by making them the same colour as the markings (and the back of his head) and appear to fan out from the central head stripe, they don’t anywhere near as stuck on as you’re implying
·          The Tail. That is the worst tail a pokemon has ever had. It's a bent, featureless sliver of plastic sticking out of Lucidolo's ass at a sharp angle to the rest of its spine. Ouch. 
This was a bad generation for tails, I completely agree there – Glameow, Purrugly, Buizel, Gliscor, Ambipom, Stuntank and that’s kind of my point, I’d rank all of those far below Lucanofrio’s (admittedly not exactly fantastic) tail, also the thin plastic thing is definitely a side-effect of Sugimori’s art, check out Lucario in Smash Bros, Pokken, merchandise and in-game models to see it’s a lot more 3D than Sugi makes it, a problem that Gliscor always has (and wasn’t criticized for).
·          The Mouth. Did you ever notice that even though Lucrararnosaurus has a canine muzzle, it doesn't usually have a canine set of jaws? It has the same little anime mouth they use for humans, floating around its chin area as if the entire muzzle is just an oversized nose. 
I don’t have a good rebuttal for this one, I just don’t agree with it and Bogleech shows an image later on wherein the mouth looks absolutely fine:

So *shrugs* it clearly does work as a design. 
·          The Stance. We've had plenty of humanoid pokemon before, but up until this point, only Blaziken ever looked this much like an actual human in a fuzzy costume. Lickarhino's silhouette is just that of some skinny teenager with a dog head instead of a person head, which really only looks good if the design is geared for comedy - like a Bojack Horseman character - or intended to be ominous and surreal, like, I don't know, an Egyptian god of the underworld. Speaking of which... 
Oh no, a Fighting type based on an animal that regularly stands on its hind legs (including to fight each other) and possibly a god that had a human body is standing like a human. It’s not like we’ve had multiple lines of Fighting Types that do this or have several more coming up including several animal-based ones including two frogs. Sorry to abuse sarcasm.
·          A Waste of a Humanoid Jackal. Lucaduke is constantly described as "Anubis-like" by the fandom, and that's often cited as one of its strong points. Anubis, however, is actually cool looking. Anubis is portrayed with a sleek, black, sinister Jackal's head and eerie, dignified eyes. If Lurklyo is really supposed to resemble Anubis, then it does about as good a job as Knuckles does of looking like an echidna. 
Except we don’t actually know Lucarroncleo’s based on Anubis do we? I agree that it probably does draw at least some inspiration from it, especially it’s head but it’s still only fan conjecture and fans think everything remotely doglike is a wolf. If anything, given it’s Fighting typing and aura connections it’s probably based more on Wepwawet than Anubis, who was the jackal headed war god and scouter of ways and not so closely connected to death. I suppose it doesn’t really matter as the issue seems to be that if it is it’s a waste which is just subjectivity but as it’s not explicitly based on Anubis (or Wepwawet) it feels a bit like reaching.
Also, echidnas DON’T look like Bob Marley?
·          The Useless Spikes. Everyone's first assumption, when they first saw Lukergeorgie-o and learned of its typing, was that it used the metallic spurs on its hands and chest as weapons. Instead, Lucraniadonk is almost always shown thrusting with its palms, and no purpose is ever even mentioned for the spikes, except that they "channel energy" or some gibberish. Unless, of course, you ask the surprising number of people convinced that the spikes deliberately represent the crucifixion of Jesus. What? 
Ok, so someone pointed out that Lucaelmcamino does use those spikes for things in the anime but what bugs me about this is Bogleech just got done reviewing the Gible line, which features thigh razors, thigh spikes and bicep spikes and these were not brought up as one of the two things he didn’t like about those designs. Are you seriously trying to tell me that Gabite slices everything up with it’s upper legs? Cos I’ve never seen it do it, not even in the anime – why is it explicitly an issue here but explicitly not an issue there or on Mega Lucario who has lots more useless spikes? huh? Huh? Huh?
·          Jorts. Doesn't actually bother me that badly, but I thought I'd point them out. 
Wahahahahahahahaha! Now I can only see jorts.
·          The Insistence Upon It. Lalaloopioop isn't even a legendary pokemon, yet it's been the focus of a movie and gets pushed on the player like it's something extra special. While you can argue that every pokemon is technically a committee-driven marketing mascot, it feels especially in-your-face here. "What are the kids into these days? Dog heads? Jorts? Spikes for no reason? I think we've just about struck gold here, gentlemen.
Spikes for no reason have been considered cool by kids since at least the 1970s and you know it. But the whole ‘Lucario is forced on us’ is something that I’d like to waffle about: see I do agree that it was clearly designed to be popular and that this feels very obvious: it was designed to be popular and Game Freak wanted it to be so, so they went about trying to make it thus, the trouble is is that IT WORKED. Lucanopener became genuinely popular so Game Freak, Nintendo etc responded to the popularity the same way they do to other very popular Pokémon. Things like it appearing in Smash Bros. and Pokken, it getting a movie and a Mega Evolution and being the used as the ‘demonstrative’ Pokémon for Mega Evolution (so thus being given to you in the X & Y, or ‘forced on you’ if you prefer, fans), merchandise and a higher profile are all the result of it being actually popular, sure it was a popularity that Game Freak and Nintendo actively sought but any wrestling fan (and Roman Reigns’ therapist) can tell you that just because a company WANTS a character to be popular, doesn’t mean they will be – but Lucanaryo got over.
·          The...well, the Disproportionate Popularity of an Anthropomorphic Dog. You got me. It's not the reason, the first reason or even a very large reason this pokemon irks me, but it's there, I can't deny that. While I have nothing whatsoever against furries, there's a "furry bait" theory of Pokemon which holds that the easier it is to conceive a fursona out of a pocket monster, the more embraced it is by the fandom. This certainly seems to be the case, as there's always been a lot of crossover between people who worship Lucario and people who snub their nose at quirky, imaginative pokemon like Trubbish, Magmar, Amoonguss, Nosepass or Klefki, which they characterize as not only "ugly" but conceptually "lazy," as though a dog on its hind legs is any baseline of effort.
Ok, trying not to be too hypocritical here as I agree with a lot of this, especially the annoyance of fans loving Lucario while claiming things like Trubbish and Klefki are uncreative and how a fandom can put me off something (Scarface, for instance) and the fact that Lucario seems like as blatant furrybait as Lopunny but, well, I can’t see why this is an issue if it’s not an issue with Pikachu (which it wasn’t), Pikachu’s just a yellow chinchilla (with an actually flat tail), it’s no more spectacular than Lucario (though it does have much more visually pleasant markings if you ask me).
And the thing is, I don’t even like Lucarmadillo that much! It’s getting a four from me.! So what was the point of that? After all it was really just ‘my onion versus his onion’ right? The point was that I thought it was a nicely different way to get my review of Lucario out. In case you missed it in all that: I like Lucasmoochawhatever just fine, it does badass well, its colours are nicely chosen, it could have done with losing the hand spikes. Neither me nor Bogleech are any more right, except about the dreadlocks, they’re not in any way teardrop shaped, I’m right about that.
Riolu I’m honestly not that fond of, he has that Gen 4 style that I’ve already  moaned about going on, the hand nubs are even more superfluous than Lucaspaghettio’s hand spikes as at least you can argue that spikes are cool, whereas completely useless bumps are not in any way, his markings suffer from the lack of forehead stripe and unnecessary triangles to make them look far more awkward than Lucario’s and ultimately like all post-Gen 2 Baby Pokémon he doesn’t really need to exist. Mega Lucario is also something I’m less happy with, I like it a lot more than Riolu but it’s the red brick I think, it just sticks out and doesn’t need to be there, his hair and tail do look much better though. 


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