Saturday, 13 July 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 5 Part 5 - Cottonee line to Darumaka line

It isn’t very often that a Pokémon line gets cuter as it evolves, Dragonite and Whimsicott are the two that come to mind and, oh look, this is Whimsicott’s section! So we have a weird thing turning into one of the cutest critters in the Pokémon World, I cannot stress that enough by the way, Whimsicott is CUTE!!!, in all caps, underlined, in bold, with exclamation marks, it is Pichu levels cute. It’s not much else mind you, just an adorable sheep thing which is itself just fine but it is weird after Cottonee which is one of the Pokémon’s ‘pull everything related to the concept together so dwitefry thinks it’s really clever’ designs – in this case we have a lamb who’s a cotton pod that has lambs ear leaves for ears, that is so much to put into something seemingly so simple. So for Whimsicott to just be a thing it’s a bit of a change, still it’s so cute it’s hard to care about anything but that, well unless you try battling git, then you will care about the following: it’s a dick. It’s Prankster ability and moves-et allow it to lock you into loops where you get nowhere as it protects, heals ad nauseum and it will always do this when the battery on your DS is dying.

To create a humanoid out of something else completely, say, flowers and plants, so convincingly that people have trouble seeing the something else through the humanoid is not to be sneezed at. Lilligant shows this off exceptionally well with no cheating whatsoever, every part of Lilligant is a part of a plant, just shaped and designed to resemble part of a woman or their clothes, or crown (damn that crown’s well done). Of course Lilligant is somewhere between the Pokémon version of a Bentley and the Pokémon version of a chihuahua and I’m sure if I lived in the Pokémon world I would never own one due to the stigma of “This Pokémon is popular with celebrities” which in my mind means ‘Paris Hilton’ because god she’s totally own one of these wouldn’t she? Just to show off how deep she is in her ability to recognise beauty and fragrance when really she’s got one just because everyone else who hands out awards at shit music ceremonies has them for the exact same reason. Lilligant is also high maintenance apparently, you know between Gardevoir, Lopunny and Lilligant you really do get a disturbing look into the design team’s ideas about women.
Petilil isn’t as much as a design triumph as what it evolves into, mostly because it’s much simpler and thus much easier to make out of bits of plants but it is still made out of bits of plants and thus still worth a good, firm ‘well done’ pat on the back and keeps it from falling into Digimon levels of simple and uncreative. And of course as a long-time viewer (whether I always agree with him or not) of Linkara I love it because ‘Lil Peti’ was such an absolute (memetic) badass in his playthrough of (fan game) Pokémon Omnicron, Lil’ Peti WILL cut you. It may not be necessarily be a good reason to like something solely because a comic book reviewer made his one seem cool in a video game playthrough, but it is A reason, shut it.

The racist Pokémon.
This Pokémon fucking hates the Basculin of the other colour, it is also known as the National Front Pokémon 
You read that all in Dexter’s voice, right?
Yeah that’s the thing that kind of defines these two in the fandom, the Red Striped and Blue Striped Forms hate each other and for no other reason than they’re different, at least in the Gen V entries (I think some of it was revealed to be over territory in later games?), the fact that they’re called ‘The Thug of the Lake’ and later Pokedex entries make a point of saying that ‘sometimes there are interracial marriages members of one school mingle with the other's school’ it seems that Game Freak picked up on this and ran with it a bit, which is actually ok with me, there’s got so little going for them why not just flat out make ‘em Pokéracists?
I want more for Basculin, because it’s got a lot of personality in its design, it looks like a thug of a fish and although there maybe is a little too much of a lingering Gen 3/4 style to it for me with all the triangles and just generally the body it’s still got that personality going for it. But it’s utterly average to use - I want it to get two big, badass bass evolutions, one for each type of stripe. I’m not asking for it to become Gyarados, but Seaking would be nice.

Someone decided that crocodiles + the Hambuglar would make a good Ground/Dark line, they were correct.
So I haven’t gone into this yet because I didn’t know how to word it, I think I might have got half-way there so let’s try it: I have this issue with Pokémon who have expression-based designs, Krokorok, the midvolution in this line is a good example of that, it’s a design where the facial expression and stance are integral to the design – or feel that way - and they have to appear with expression/body language to get the intent of their design across properly. It bugs me, especially by Gen V where every Pokémon could have a variant of natures, personalities and abilities generated at random; not every Krokorok is going to be a smug hoodlum so you probably shouldn’t base the design around this or require this face and body language to get ‘criminal crocodile’ across. But that’s where later generations and 3D models come in, they make this a lot harder to do (though Gumshooes has managed it) and maintain. Nowadays Krokorok just looks like a pretty standard Gen 1 style ‘just bigger’ midvolution and I’m fine with it. It’s nothing spectacular, it’s a pretty standard ‘just bigger’ midvolution, a mid-point between the cute memorable starter and the HOLY FUCKIGN SHIT THAT IS BADASS final stage. That in itself is worthy of criticism but I can’t be arsed right now because writing that last sentence made me want to talk about Krookodile so let’s do that:
Why is Krookodile suddenly red and black? WHO CARES because it looks awesome! Should Krokorok really have been a different colour to make this progression feel more natural? WHO CARES because Krookodile is a big, red motherfucker of an evil crocodile, you know what Krookodile is? Krookodile is the end-of-level boss we never got, it’s the end-of-level boss that gets all the merchandise and reappears in all later games because it’s just so cool, which I guess makes it Whispy Woods but that’s not badass enough so lets pretend no one’s heard of Whisy Woods and instead call it that badass red samurai from Shinobi, what was it called? Lobster? Oh. Never mind that either, lets move on!
The Sandile line is really what I would have liked all of the Gen V Pokedex to be, because they clearly exist to fill a role that needs to be filled now they can’t use al the old ‘mons – they’re a common three-stage evolution and a common ground type – but aren’t straight-up equivalents of Pokémon they can’t use anymore. As I have nothing else to say other than OMG SANDILE IS SO CUUUUUUUTE shall we move on again?
Oh, one more thing, they grow natural sunglasses (they’re scales) to excuse why the bad crocodiles have bad shades, there’s a lot of Pokémon that could do with that sort of thought put into excusing things like that, some of them are in this generation and they may all be Fighting Types.

Do you know these things?

They’re called Daruma dolls and represent the founder of the Zen tradition of Budhism, a man named Bodhidharma, you buy one, wish for something as you paint one eye, then when it comes true you paint in the other, then you burn them. Despite seeing them everywhere, all over conventions and all over London, I only know all of that because of Pokémon – it’s a nice bonus of franchises like this - or say, Monster Rancher or Yokai Watch – you end up learning about different cultures just because the designers are so familiar with them that for them making ‘mons based on Daruma dolls are as obvious as making them based on dogs and sheep.
On to the designs, Gen 5’s Mankey and Primape have that nice ‘abstracted to a point of originality’ thing going for them too, though some of that is lost when you realise that they really just added arms to a Daruma doll and called it Darumaka, but it’s suitably goofy and cute for a baby monkey and it hops around all the time, which is as endearing as…well, as a hopping little red monkey with big eyebrows, and that is some endearing shit, indeed. Darmanitan is a little more complex, it’s two Daruma dolls! It’s gimmick is to be able to turn into it’s Zen Mode when it’s health gets low, a clear and obvious references to Bodhidharma and I’m CERTAIN that it’ Zen Mode is also based on a kind of Asian statute but I can’t find which one I mean, I like it’s Zen Mode, it’s a clever mix of a cooling down and references to the basis for the basis of the ‘mon and it’s a lovely set of colours and delightfully grumpy looking, I’d also like to see someone throw one at something sometime, get to it anime. The Standard Mode is fine, it’s a big grinning ape thing, there’s not too much to dislike really is there? Unless you have an uncontrollable hatred of monkeys and I which case I feel very, very sorry for you.
The only complaint I have for these really is that Daruma dolls have GLORIOUS moustaches and yet neither Darumaka nor Darmanitan have any face fuzz at all, still they do have magnificent eyebrows…

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