Saturday, 13 July 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 5 Part 4 - Audino to Venipede line

Gen 5’s equivalent of Chansey and… you know what? Yeah. If I couldn’t have Chansey I’d be happy to have an Audino. It’s still a lovely colour scheme, still an indistinct, random whatever (though this design recalls more traditionally cute things like dogs and baby elephants) and it does something different with the nurse idea: your Audino comes complete with an in-built stethoscope that are part of its ears and that aren’t nearly as gross as they could (and given this is Pokémon, probably should) be. It’s certainly one of the equivalentmons that’s the closest to its source material, one that feels the most like an ‘alternate company equivalent’ used as a copyright free stand-in (ala The Squadron Supreme or The Sentry) and I don’t like it anywhere near as much as my beloved Blissey but it’s fine.
it’s Mega, fittingly looking closer to Blissey, is just lovely, a really pleasant little frilly design and LOOK AT IT’S LITTLE SHOOOOES! IT HAS LITTLE FRILLY SHOOOOES! Little shooooes are so cute. Though I think the stethoscope thing becomes a bit grosser now, with that random little tentacle on its chest, even if it does seem to hang from a meringue (and meringues are tasty! I don’t think I’d want to lick a Mega Audino though, and they have really good hearing so licking it would probably make its poor frilly ears hurt). I don’t really know why Audino was judged worthy of a Mega Evolution, but I’m glad it got one this pleasant looking (though it is rather reserved for a Mega).
Thinking about it, I think what might make me warmer to the more derivative Audino than the more creative Roggenrolla line is that Audino had its own thing: it’s the Pokémon in the shaking grass in Black & White (and Black 2 & White 2) that yields high Exp for level grinding whereas Roggenrolla is just another catchable Pokémon, and doing the same job as Geodude in that regards (loitering in large numbers in caves) Audino had something to… hang feelings on? Ok I’ve run out of the ability to be legible, lets move on.

Well now, I honestly don’t know how I feel about this line.
Which, if you’re a Pokémon fan and especially one who has been around since before Generation 5, may seem a bit odd, as people had VERY strong feelings about this, and those strong feelings were spelt y-u-c-k. The continually bulging veins were dubbed gross, the faces were dubbed gonky and ugly, the weapons were judged dumb and overall the three – Timburr, Gurdurr and Conkeldorr – were judged as inferior imitators to their equivalents: Machop, Machoke and Machamp.
I’ll agree with last point, they lack the simple elegance of the Machop line and…and…what’s the word? The Kinnikumanness of Machamp (not that I’m biased towards Pokémon that look like things I like or anything, no sir) and the Macs weren’t calling for a replacement (which might have hurt a number of these equivalents now I think on it, the likes of Roggenrolla, Audino, Tympole and Timburr were fixing things that weren’t broke and no-one wanted rid of, which might explain why the fandom has cooled on them also: now they’re just one of many lines in their Types that can be used in new ‘Dexes for variety or just because why not?). I don’t have an issue with the bulging veins personally, I mean I wouldn’t want to poke them but there’s clearly been some thought put into where they’re placed and Conkeldor’s make a lovely pattern that wouldn’t haven out of place on a Legendary like Diagla/Palkia or Reshiram/Zekrom and aside from the veins I don’t think they’re any different to most of the humanoid Fighting Types we’ve had since the Machops. I wouldn’t say they were any weirder looking than Hitmonchan or Hariyama.
As for the weapons…well I think the issue is Gurdurr. Timburr’s wood and Conkledoor’s stone columns could be made by the Pokémon anywhere in the wild and at any time in history (I know the Pokedex refers to them as concrete but, well, the Pokedex is not always reliable, is it?) but Gurdurr’s girder is clearly a man-made girder and that raises questions that Pokémon has never answered (because god forbid the Pokedex do that, rather than talk about how buff it is and how even a team of Hulk Hogan, Antonio Inoki and Terry Funk couldn’t beat it up because it’s just so cool and badass, yo), not helped by it’s name in English being ‘girder’ but I suppose you could just say that girders are named after Gurdurrs in the Pokémon world. So what? Did Gurdurr use something else before girders? Were girders based on whatever that was and now Gurdurrs use them instead? Some clarification would be nice, k thnx. And then there’s the gameplay/story segregation that always comes with weapon wielding Pokémon when they hatch or evolve and come out with the weapon in hand, but it’s always possible (in the case of evolution) that evolution evolves the weapons (or belts) with the Pokémon, I mean they do seem to be reduced to pure energy and then reform. It’s a little thing, but a little thing that bugs me (and not only me).
So what have I decided? I think they’re alright, but someone should have put some more thought either into what weapon they gave the second stage of the line or to explaining away that weapon

Much like Drillber and Excadrill we have a set of equivalents that fix the source material’s flaws, except this time we end up with a Pokémon that I actually thinks looks nice – which is a little odd considering the Pokémon in question is covered in musical warts and that’s just a bit gross. Actually, musical warts, bulging veins, frozen snot, what WAS up with Game Freak this generation? Was the design team being headed by a 6-year-old American kid or did they just give the person who designed Stunky more power?
Anyway, my main issue with the Poliwag line was how similar Polywrath was to Poliwhirl, but here we have three ‘mons who are each delightfully unique. Tympole is by the far most ‘complete’ feeling design I feel, taking the music + frogs concept and refining it so there’s no waste at all, it’s a drum with musical note eyes and musical wart headphones that itself looks like a musical note. Palpitoad doesn’t have that plus but it is a midvolution that really feels like a midpoint between the two Pokémon either side of it, which is less common than you might think, generally a midvolution is a Pokémon that feels like a step-up from one and a step-down from other but Palpitoad looks and feels like a Tympole half turned into a Seismitoad, it also has no arms, which makes it instantly hilarious. Seismitoad is just a big awesome sound system of a toad who, apparently, vibrates its warts to pack more of a punch, which is just creative of it really isn’t it? It’s just a big lumbering funny looking thing that knows how to use its powers for maximum effect, it’s basically an Ankylosaur, and a nice, satisfying conclusion to training an adorable Tympole even if, like Palpitoad it doesn’t really do as much with the musical theme.  
The thing is, they remind me of the artwork of comic book illustrator Jeff Matsuda, from the moment they were revealed the reminded me of his stuff, especially around the time he was doing Kaboom, the problem is no one knows what I’m talking about, especially as no fucker bought Kaboom (it was great, but it came out from Awesome Entertainment, a piddling indie label that Rob Liefeld set up after he got kicked out of Image Comcis for talent poaching and misappropriation of funds – Awesome had a shitload of good books including Supreme: The Return, Youngblood Volume 3, Kaboom and The Coven with works by the likes of pre-madness Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness, Ian Churchill, Steve Skroce and Alan fucking Moore but few cared, and most of those who did seemed to only care just so they could mock Liefeld’s Re-Gex, which totally deserved it) so here, have some Kaboom panels to back me up:

You’re seeing it right? please say you are, I need validation after all these years.

Suuuuun-ny Day! Sweepin' the clouds away!
Ooonn my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get? How to get to -- alright, alright this joke isn’t new or original, Throh and Sawk, Gen V’s Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan and dubbed ‘Bert & Ernie’ almost immediately after reveal, look like Muppets. As a Jim Henson fan devotee I don’t see this as a problem, hell their faces are the only things about them I really rather like. It’s everything else about them I’m not fond of, well except the belts, because it’s explained that they weave their own belts, sure there’s still the gameplay/story segregation issue that comes with them hatching wearing one and you’d think Game Freak would know this by now and work around it rather than just ignoring it, but at least they tried, unlike with Gurdurr the clown-faced construction Nostradamus.
It’s the Karate Gi, the fact that they’re clearly wearing a Karate Gi when it’s supposed to just be their body and more so the fact that the only attempt to cover this up is putting some crossed lines on it. That’s just shit design. It’s not the first time Pokémon haven’t quite manged to blend clothes and body parts, not every Pokémon can be Shiftry, but it’s the pathetic attempts at integration, the pathetic fucking crossed lines, I’d prefer no attempt (like say Hitmonchan’s gloves) than having my intelligence insulted.
And thank fuck! All those stand-ins, all in a row, and now all done. Well the bugs are still to come but every generation has bugs to review.

These are a really well-designed set of leafy bugs, they’re not particular favourites of mine despite being Grass/Bug which is two types I do like to have on my team if possible, especially early on, I have no idea why, I just never boned to them, but they’re just so, well, designed.
They’re actually based on a real animal, the ‘leaf insect’, a type of stick insect called Phylliidae that, well, look a lot like Leavanny without the charm or vague similarities to Cooking Mama, which funnily enough don’t’ have a larvae or pupal stage but when you can make something this good, who gives a shit about the real-world inspiration, these are monsters from another reality, they can do whatever the hell they like. What makes them so good as designs as we’ve got the life-cycle of a bug (just not Philliidae) – caterpillar, cocoon, bug, lined up perfectly with (a very Japanese) human lifecyle – baby, hikikomori, adult, and then mixed with a wonderful integration of it’s element (grass) that is actually based on a real-world source to elevate it above ‘animal with grass btis stuck on’, too! That’s a lot to put together and pull off seamlessly and goddamn do these three pull it off.
As magnificently cute as Sewaddle is (god it’s adorable isn’t it?) and as fun and delightfully well worked out (as in, planned out as a design, not that it’s been to the gym) as Levanny is, I like midvolution Swadloon the best, the idea of combining a cocoon form, the ultimate in becoming insular, with the ultimate shut-in (it’s actually a disorder you know) and having it evolve via friendship into its friendly, bright, sunny, adult form is just flat-out perfect.

Another line where the midvolution is the real star, and it’s another cocoon. Whirlipede is a cocoon form for a centipede like-‘mon that’s a wheel Whirlipede is still a cocoon, far more cocoon-like than Swadloon (who just looks like a sad bug), it’s a solid, single-piece with no moving parts, but it also has a way of defending itself and moving, this is clever design AND it just seems so…likely for the Pokémon world where all the animals and 80% of the people who own the animals are always fighting, that a cocoon would develop a way of attacking while still being a cocoon.
Either side of Whirlipede are just to cool looking bugs, Venepide is cool and another one of those cases where ‘complex’ doesn’t equal ‘busy’ in fact there’s nothing really wrong with it at all except that I’ve never really ‘got into it’ and Scolipede, the hypothetical answer to the question ‘what if centipedes got really big and really badass’ is just neat all ‘round and looks like what I imagine the Cheshire Cat would saw if it took LSD, Scolipede is officially trippy.
I don’t trust Venipide though, it looks shifty.

No comments:

Post a Comment