Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 6 Part 1 - Starters

Hey, it’s Generation VI! The French one!
One of the shorter Generations and the first for the Nintendo 3DS and the game that saw the serious finally jump into full polygonal (not Porygonal) 3D. Set in Kalos (Paris) (I actually played it for the first time over the 5 days I was on holiday in France which was just great), this was the generation of Pokémon X & Y, the games introduced one of the staples of these reviews if not (sadly), the Pokémon franchise as a whole – the temporary state Mega Evolution. which acted as a powered up form and a special attack and for me one of the funnest things the series has done, becoming a ridiculous form and unleashing massive amounts of power on poor Magikarp. They also introduced the nice virtual pet element Pokémon-Amie buuuut they did other things: they were the start of the series streamlining gameplay and making the core titles easier, they introduced the smallest number of new Pokémon so far, thier story and character were far shallower than Gen V and it improved and simplified breeding and IV training (making really good Pokémon for competitive play) which should have been an plus but annoyed hardcore competitive players and that’s not going into issues with weather effects, Pokémon Bank, Poké Transporter, the Global Trading Station and Global Link and the 3DS Clock.

Luckily the even worse reception that Generations VII and VIII got and the sheer amount changes they made have, plus the pandering to the Generation 1 fans, have caused X & Y’s stock to rise with the fandom, and it does very much feel like the last ‘classic-style’ Pokémon game before started frigging with things. And this was the generation of Hoenn Confirmed. Sheer fan demand prompted Game Freak to produce a set of excellent remakes of Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire – Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire – and these did not have the issues of X & Y, vastly improving the old games to the point that even I, a man thoroughly lukewarm on Gen 3, loved them. I mean they weren’t perfect and people still had issues but they were better.
And then there was no Pokémon Z, no third version or sequels to fix up X & Y – instead a whole new Generation was announced – Generation VII, Pokémon Sun & Moon aaaannd we’ll get to that. I enjoyed X & Y but honestly felt that I didn’t leave as  much of an impression as Generations 1 through 5, I felt like I breezed through it and the whole thing was nice but not that substantial, basically the Milky Way of Pokémon Games. I thought ORAS was great.

As for the Pokémon themselves? I remember it being a very definite case of quality over quantity with a shitload of really strong designs and really likeable ‘mons but few that immediately jumped into my all-time favourites list. I expect a lot of 5 and Gold 5 scores.

While veering just a little into the digital world stylistically if you get my drift, I do like where this line ends up, Chesnaught is a damn cool final stage for a Pokémon with a wise old warrior way about it (maybe it’s the beard). It brings balance to the line’s colour scheme, manages to have a segmented armour without becoming too busy or cluttered, has ginormous spikes and recalls one of my favourite prehistoric animals – the glyptodon – plus I’m really pleased for it because it finally grows elbows. It’s also a fairly original way of doing an armoured warrior, instead of a stereotypical ‘It’s Just a Flesh Wound’ knight or Conan barbarian we end with a kind of holy crusader vibe and that’s nice. The rest of the line kind of sucks though.
Chespin, while clearly having had some thought put into it, just ends up looking generic to me, it’s just a generic cute mammal with some generic plant looking green bits because it’s a Grass type and some generic ‘real animals wouldn’t have these’ markings, it’s almost fakemon levels of boring. It’s allegedly a hedgehog mixed with a chestnut shoot –this line does ‘bloom’ like a lot of other grass starters, from shoot to chestnut to split chestnut, it’s just a bit more subtle than usual – but it just looks so…yeah, generic is the best word. Quilladin is a fucking mess and shout not only have gone back to the design phase but been set fire to as it went. It’s both one of those designs where I think nothing works and one of those designs where the ‘mon looks derpy in the extreme, the colour scheme is awful – seriously those colours should never sit next to each other like that ever – the markings are just slapped on, the eyes upset me in my soul area, it’s a pile of shit.
You can see what I mean about the elbows thing, right?

The starters in Gen 6 are themed, their theme is the core three RPG classes – the warrior, the mage and the rogue. I want you to remember those three words – warrior, MAGE, rogue. Done it? Good. You’re now better than about half the Pokémon fanbase. One of the criticisms of Delphox I’ve come across the most is that it doesn’t look ‘witchy’ with witchy meaning this:

Y’know, like Murkrow and Mismagius. This would be all well and good if a) this was just the one look for witches and that SOLE LOOK for witches was at all accurate to real-world witches (which Delphox closer resembles) and b) Delphox wasn’t a fucking mage. What’s the differences? Well functionally not much but in terms of typical visual elements a great deal, a mage is far closer to a wizard and far further from Margaret Hamilton or, to be simpler, they tend to look like Delphox without the excessive ear hair. Something else people don’t like. If you haven’t caught on yet, Delphox isn’t very popular, but I don’t get it. I suppose the fiery ear hair is a little gross but then fennecs do have really hairy ears:

Mind you I’m never quite sure that people know these are based on fennec foxes and not just your garden variety (ha!) fox either. Basically, I’m one of those arseholes that think that people don’t like what I like because they’re thick and just don’t get it. I’m gonna go hate myself for a while, ‘k?
Now I’ve done that (and had a Kit-Kat): I still don’t get it, it’s a cute cartoon fennec that becomes a cuter magical girl fennec that becomes an imposing fennec wizard, it has one of the better (IMO) uses of the ‘Pokémon with a weapon’ designs as that weapon is a stick, something it can easily find in the wild so there’s no questions raised, and it doesn’t repeat what they’d already done with the OTHER fire foxes, Vulpix and Ninetales. Delphox does actually have downsides compared to Chesnaught and Greninja (it has more weaknesses and a shallower move pool, for instance) but design wise all three of these are just fine if you ask me. I think I do agree with the majority and think midvolution Braixen (brake-sen) is the nicest looking – which is a nice change – though, it has nicer proportions than Fennekin (which as a HUGE head) and a slightly more appealing colour scheme than Delphox (though Delphox’s colour scheme IS pretty fitting for a mage, a witch and a fox – and, I guess, an autumn tree).

YES! Yesyesyesyesyes!
I have mentioned a have an EXTREME phobia of frogs and toads right? I’m sure I should have brought that up somewhere here before but if I haven’t: I have an EXTREME phobia of frogs and toads, I’m utterly pant-shittingly-high-pitched-screaming-petrified of them and exceptionally grossed out by them, I can’t watch one on television, I won’t go out in the garden if one’s out there or if I THINK one’s out there (it’s usually just leaves) and if one actually touches me…
But you should also notice that I’ve given decent reviews to a lot of frog and toad Pokémon – see my phobia doesn’t extend to cartoon frogs and toads at all, I fucking LOVE Kermit and this is one of my favourite starter lines - actually the realistic 3D Greninja in Detective Pikachu didn’t set me off either, hmmm, maybe the awesomeness that is a ninjafrog (well a roguefrog) so strong it can even overpower life-long phobias.
What do you want me to say? Greninja is just a cool design, sometimes you just get it right and Greninja gets it right, t head shapes are just so…cool. And then there’s it’s gimmick, which is proof that Greninja’s design is so cool s because it’s kinda gross and kinda silly, he has a tongue scarf - but look how cool it looks. I’m gonna stop saying cool a second I promise but it is the ultimate point, everything about Greninja is cool. In the anime Ash’s Greninja got itself a powered-up form named Ash-Greninja where it’s head and chest design were changed to resemble Ash’s head and jumper. I don’t think the new head design works quite as well as the old, I think It’s the big red part, it’s still nice looking but not quite as sleek but it does have a giant throwing star made out of water so that kind evens things out, it’s also impressive how the designer managed to make Ash’s hair look cool. 
What about the rest of the line? Froakie is cute as, when the Starters were revealed it was my pick, the one that I pointed at and went ‘I’m picking that one when I get the game’. Mostly because it was cute as but also because it (and Frogadier) have a really clever way of incorporating it’s element into it’s physical form, those bubbles/froth they both have: some frogs really do secrete foam as a defence mechanism and I knew this (know thine enemy!) so I was impressed, it was also a nice change to have the water type have their element physically on them instead of the Fire or Grass Starter. Frogadier is just a nice midvolution, very much in the style of Ivysaur or Charmeleon where they’re not quite as stand-out as either side but act as a nice mid-point between the two and still retain their own identity.
I like this line. Have you got it?

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