Saturday, 11 January 2020

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 6 Part 7 - Legendaries

Why am I suddenly reviewing Yu-Gi-Oh monsters? I mean they’re very nice Yu-Gi-Oh monsters but wasn’t this about Pokémon last entry? Whaddaya mean these ARE Pokémon and were in fact the box Legendaries for Pokémon X & Y and I know this and I’m just dragging it out to make a point? The point is that is that I find the pair – two thirds of the Aura Trio, we’re dealing with Zygarde separately for reasons that will become obvious later – exceptionally jarring in terms of design and feel which really can be summed up as ‘they look like they’re from another series’ with Yu-Gi-Oh being the closest stylistically and for me that sore thumbness is what defines them, especially Xerneas (Zer-Ne-Ass)
As a monster design I do find myself rather liking Yveltal (Evil-tul), and it’s certainly a fit for the concept of a bird of destruction, it’s kind of like the bird version of Lord Zedd and that’s no bad thing, and I like it’s tail is also a hand, the whole thing not only looks like a Y (as it was the Box Legendary for Pokémon Y) but also like a huge thing grabbing at you – when all it’s doing is flying, ‘if it’s that menacing when benign’ it says ‘imagine what it’s like when it’s pissed off’. Xerneas I don’t much like and never have, I like the concept of jewelled stag horns and it’s nice that the first pure Fairy type Legendary isn’t a typical fairy, which would be obvious as all fuck, but the design as a whole I just don’t dig. There’s too many bits where there shouldn’t be – too many markings, too many colours and the whole thing is incredibly segmented, feeling less like one animal and more like a kinder egg toy (again). And I hate its feet, this is really petty but they’ve bothered me since reveal – how the bleedin’ hell does it stand up? They look like apple corers, how does it stand up on blades? It’s just…they piss me off.
The legend behind these is that they’re basically Ragnarök which if you ask me makes them terrifying, the idea of the world ending and restarting really bothers me for whatever reason and it’s another thing that puts me off the two. I’m serious I don’t want to think about that shit when I’m playing Pokémon (god, I’m a child). Xerneas gives life with its horns, Yveltal sucks life with its wings, Yveltal will end the world, Xerneas will rebirth it, Zygarde monitors the two little shits. Of course it’s Pokémon so this all could be bullshit, but I still don’t like it - don’t give me existential crises Pokémon!

Zygarde is indeed part of the Aura Trio with Xerneas and Yveltal and I normally do legendary trios together yes but because it has a whopping five forms (well technically it has two forms that make up the other three) and because of its ties to the belief that at one point a Pokémon Z existed we’re doing it separately - cool? Tough.
When it was finally allowed to show off its whole gimmick, Zygarde is awesome. In X & Y it was just a big, albeit cool looking, snake in a cave with little fanfare of backstory but in the anime and then in Pokémon Sun & Moon, that was where it shone and why I like it so much.  You see you need to build Zygarde, by collecting Zygarde Cells and Zygarde Cores around the region, both are almost offensively cute for what they are and both look like little adorable cartoon snakes (or more like the snake-like cryptid tsuchinoko, the same thing Dunsparce is based on). These aren’t actually Pokémon, you can’t use one on your team, but one was a character in the anime, rightly called Squishy. Instead you put them into a machine and gradually build yourself a Zygarde – which comes in 3 Formes because Formes, Game Freak WILL make you like Formes and… actually, this does an ok job of convincing me, it’s a very fitting use of them if you ask me, it just makes sense to me that the ‘mon would have different forms as it became more and more complete and it allows you use the Pokémon while you’re still building it.

Zygarde 10% Forme is a Doberman, it keeps the pixelated look but ultimately it’s just a cartoon Doberman and very uninteresting, and also it’s one green paw bugs me. The theory is it represents Fenfrir (as Yveltal and Xerneas both represent Norse legends too) but… it’s just a Doberman and very random, what is with Japanese ‘mon franchises and random Dobermans? Do you remember the random Doberman from Digimon? The one that as there solely because it won a fan competition? That’s both of the big two in the genre - did Yokai Watch just have a Doberman Ghost what showed up for one episode too? And It’s really not a very good flow to go ‘snake, dog, snake’, even for Pokémon’s wonky version of evolution.

Zygarde 50% Forme is the one you’ll recognise, the big awesome pixelated snake and the nicest looking of the Aura Trio if you ask me, it’ still seems a little bit of a departure from Pokemon’s regular style but much of that an optical illusion caused by its pixel-like design, I think it’s supposed to represent it being segmented rather than pixelated by the way but it certainly looks like it’s made from pixels or a low-polygon count CGI model from the 32-bit era and that’s what I like about all three forms, I have a weird love for that blocky polygon look. It’s also relevant here to bring up that Zygarde is jut a lovely pair of colours and ever noticed that they colour one of it’s segmented eyes white to represent the ‘shine circle’ in segmented polygonal form? I like that, a clever little touch to keep the style of design absolute, I thank you for the extra effort whoever designed this (Sugimori probably, he usually does the Legendaries). The theory is it represents Jormungandr.

And then Zygarde becomes Zygarde 100% Forme and of course it’s a fucking Gundam! I never knew I wanted Pokémon to do Beast Wars until Zygarde but now I’m so glad they did, look at this bastard? They clearly sat around and thought “what would be a satisfying reward for all this work” and then realised the answer was “A humongous mecha, duh!” and they were right. also you’ll notice the red and blue on either side of 100% Zygarde’s streamers and chest mouth? Zygarde is the balance between Xerneus and Yyvetal remember? And ti’s one of many things about Zygarde that add fuel to the conspiracy theory fire that is Pokémon Z.

What is this shit? Well Generation 6 didn’t get a third version, this is the only time a duo of main series Pokémon game up to this point (well it depends how you count Pokémon Let’s Go, I count them as remakes so as far as I’m concerned I’m right about this) had not received a third ‘definitive’ version (Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Crystal, Pokémon Emerald, Pokémon Platinum, Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 and Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon fyi) but there’s enough in the games and spin-off media to imply that this wasn’t originally the case: Zygarde is a major part of this, the full Zygarde gimmick wasn’t implemented until the first games of the next generation where it had nothing to do with anything and after it had been a plot point in the anime, an anime that  used the name Pokemon XYZ during it’s second half while focussing on story elements (like Zygarde) that weren’t covered in Pokemon X & Y.  There there’s AZ’s Eternal Flame Flabebe and other dummied out things like the Kalos Pokedex, the fact that Ash-Greninja was also dumped into Gen 7 (in the Sun & Moon downloadable demo) despite being a Gen 6 Pokémon, the fact that Hoopa’s story was put into Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire despite being a Kalos Mythical and various other things in X & Y that seemed to be begging for a follow-up and it just all points to a third version being cut, especially as 2015 was the only year without a Pokémon game since Gen 2 and if the usual release schedule was adhered too (main games, remakes, third version) it would have the year Pokémon Z came out.
There are various theories as to why and probably it was a case of a mix of some or all of them: Pokémon X & Y was heavily criticised and is generally considered one of the weakest main series Pokémon titles so Game Freak might’ve just have been keen to get it’s generation over with;  Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire weren’t planned but added to the development schedule due to overwhelming fan demand, possibly taking up the time, people, resources and money planned for X & Y; Pokémon’s 20th anniversary was coming up (in 2016) and work needed to go into developing something that would feel like a celebration, which a third version of an unpopular game wouldn’t but, say, a new generation doing all kinds of new things might; the Switch was on the horizon and Game Freak were keen to get another Generation of games out of the Nintendo 3DS (Sun and Moon’s development overlapped with ORAS). Whatever it was it left Gen 6 feeling somewhat incomplete and meant that there was no chance to ‘redeem’ X & Y to it’s detractors the way Platinum had done for Diamond & Pearl, sadness.

Back to Zygarde, the reason I like it so much, other than it’s a big snake that turns into a Beastformer is because it’s such a good fit with Pokémon and something that really should have been around long before this, between Vivillion and Zygarde Gen 6 really was doing sensible and fitting gimmicks for the ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All’ side of Pokémon – and it was fun to do too, I spent more time on this than the main Island Challenge and enjoyed it more too.  

It had so many forms I had to give it an oveall score! There's more Pokemon scored there than a lot of the actual evolutionary lines!

For Diance and Mega Diance see here

So, this one time, Hoopa Unbound summoned Groudon, Kyogre, Regigigas, Reshiram and Zekrom and kicked all their arses using just clever uses of its rings and it did this just to show it can. This is how the movie Pokémon: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages begins and was when I realised that Hoopa was great. The movie isn’t very good by the way, it’s main draw and main success is a lot of fighting between old Legendaries and that’s great but the story is holey and dialogue average-to-annoying, Pokémon 2000 it ain’t. BUT it did its job, I think Hoopa is awesome when unbound and adorable when bound. So yeah, I like it because of the anime but that’s why I like a good half of Gen 1 and the reason why everyone likes Bewear so who cares?
Hoopa is basically the troll Pokémon, somewhere between Orko, Loki and the weasel from America Sings (there’s some references for ya), the one in the movie meant well but generally it seems that Hoopa in the games/as a species is just a mischievous little thief in its ‘Bound’ form, zipping about via rings and stealing stuff and messing with your doughnuts, bound it’s a little ‘toy’ like but a nicely original design for a Djinn and a sensible combination of types too – this is Ghost/Psychic the first of its kind and I get that, it’s a type of ghost that can make wishes come true, makes sense to me. But then it transforms into its true form, it’s Unbound form (using an item, the Prison Bottle) and becomes a Djinn Kaiju and that’s just fantastic, it’s a fantastic concept and great execution, it looses the plastic, segmented toy design of Bound and becomes exactly what you’d think a Djinn Kaiju would look like really, only with more floating arms for more ring-related teleporting badassery, the whole thing has a suitably ‘Asian’ feel to it without losing the Pokémon style with markings that mix fancy and scary. Or maybe I just like it because it looks like Wizeman from NiGHTS into Dreams… - my favourite video game of all time. 
Basically Hoopa does everything it needs to do design-wise and becomes a Kaiju, I like it lots - Alléhooparing!

Yeah I didn’t expect the first Fire/Water type to be based around a heating system either.
But it does make sense – combine Water with Fire and you get steam, steam goes in pipes, we get a Pokémon that mixes steampunk, sci-fi and, um, foxes? Volcanion is one of the ‘just a thing’ Pokémon and I like it for that, this generation’s designs were almost all very clearly based on something, staying a lot closer to the animals they were inspired by when they were inspired by animals, so a nice ‘just a thing’ design acts a balance and Volcanion sure is a nice looking thing with a nice mechanical feel to it – an occasion where the segmented ‘plastic’ designs people complain about works is the occasion where your Pokémon is supposed to be a heater.
I think Volcanion suffered the most from the truncating of Generation 6 though – it was a pure event ‘mon, just dumped onto carts in events with little fanfare and very little backstory and it’s movie Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel felt more like it was using Volcaninon to get a Gen 7 Pokémon over. It’s a shame because Volcanion is neat, it’s just hard to get into when very little was done to make me want to, I think of it now as just a very determined Dog Lion Boiler. 
Oh and that ring splits in half and fires jets of boiling steam at opponents. That is coooooool (well actually it’s piping hot but you know what I mean).

For Mega Mewtwo X & Mega Mewtwo Y go here

Yep. All done. Quality of quantity indeed.

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