Sunday, September 19, 2010

Favorite Pokemon by Generation : Gold & Silver

This will sound like blasphemy to Pokémon fans, but I had to think pretty hard to fill a list of ten creatures I liked much from the second generation. I always found it a bit plain for my tastes.

FORRETRESS (bug/steel) - I've always liked "concealed" monsters who leave their true form to our imagination, and when all we can see of this bug/steel Pokémon are glassy eyes and fleshy red tubes, you know there's something weird in there. Forretress evolves from Pineco, a bagworm Pokémon, which means this thing is actually a caterpillar, but doesn't evolve into a moth or butterfly. In real-world bagworms, it's often only males who become moths at all, and some species have populations of entirely parthenogenic females, so perhaps Forretress represents a bagworm that completely lost the adult stage in the course of its evolution, or perhaps I'm thinking too hard about imaginary bugs. Anyway, Forretress's big claim to fame is its ability to explode, which is a pretty rad thing for an armored caterpillar to do.

SLUGMA & MAGCARGO (rock/fire) - the only fire Pokémon I really adore, and then only because they're gastropoda. A slug made of lava is the perfect poster-child for Pokémon's creativity, especially the fact that it evolves into a snail as some of the lava cools into a rocky shell. Unfortunately, these guys suffer the opposite problem of my beloved Parasect; one little sprinkle of water and they're gone.

SHUCKLE (bug/rock) - I theorized on my own Pokémon biology article that this bug/rock type may be a scale insect, but I'm beginning to think it's probably a land-dwelling barnacle. Either way, it's pretty fascinating; a squishy little critter in a shell that gives it ungodly defensive power, and it lives off fruit it stuffs into said shell to decompose and ferment, making it the "mold" Pokémon. I wish we had just given it a name as cool as its Dutch one, "Pottrott."

GLIGAR (ground/flying) - this Pokémon has the characteristics of a bat and a scorpion, complete with bloodsucking fangs and a venomous stinger. You might expect it to be bug/poison, but it's actually ground/flying. Whatever type they gave it, it would still be badass.

DUNSPARCE (normal) - based on the mythical Tsuchinoko, which is basically just a short, pudgy snake. Dunsparce supposedly spends its life underground, which explains its pale appearance and perpetually closed eyes.

WOBBUFFET (psychic) - a fan favorite, especially as a member of the incompetently villainous Team Rocket in the cartoon series. Wobbuffet is a psychic type incapable of attacking, but able to bounce enemy attacks right back at them. It's a truly unusual punching-bag themed Pokémon, though what's really interesting is its tail. Its tail has eyespots which in some cases have been shown blinking or looking around, and it's said to use its body to protect the tail at all costs. While it's never explicitly stated, the tail may very well be Wobbuffet's "true" body, or at least its brain.

WOOPER & QUAGSIRE (water/ground) - few Pokémon are as cute as little Wooper, the larval salamander. Quagsire, though lacking the cool external gills, is still adorable in its own right as well. It's a very pleasingly simple design, and the dopiness of the face is a perfect likeness of the Japanese giant salamander.

OCTILLERY (water) - Octillery evolves from a fish, which makes no biological sense, but makes sense considering the fish is gun-shaped and Octillery is cannon-shaped. It learns a ton of beams and projectile-themed attacks, including the awesomely named "OCTAZOOKA," which no other Pokémon can use!

SLOWKING (water/psychic) - while I don't find Slowking as interesting looking as Slowbro, the symbiotic relationship is just as neat. Slowking's Shellder is attached to its head, rather than its tail, and is said to increase its partner's intelligence by pumping venom into its brain.

UNOWN (psychic) - still one of the weirdest ideas in the pokeverse, the Unown are completely useless in battle but can be collected to solve puzzles in some of the games. Each is shaped like a different letter of the English alphabet, allowing your team to spell out any word under six letters and then get creamed by a bulbasaur. I do love these little guys, and wish they could do a bit more.

Favorite Pokemon by Generation : Red & Blue

So in honor of the 156 brand new Pocket Monsters, I wrote up my own personal "top ten" for each generation some time ago. I originally intended to paste one a day into the old blogger until the official Japanese release of Black & White, but I constantly forget about my blog and am posting them a bit late. Evolution stages that are similar enough were counted together, and I wrote these in descending order (favorite first) Without further ado, here are my stupid opinions on my ten favorites of Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow - the original 151!

GLOOM (grass/poison) - evolving from the adorably weird little "Oddish," Gloom subverts all those unfair expectations society has of a flower monster; its colors aren't pretty, its odor is supposedly the foulest in the known world, and it constantly slobbers (my favorite detail). Every aspect of this nasty little weed appeals to me, including the simplistic but creepy name, and made it my #1 favorite from day one. Unfortunately, Gloom is an un-evolved Pokémon, making it nearly useless in battle against any "serious" player, and neither of its possible evolutions are anywhere near as cool to me.

PARAS & PARASECT (bug/grass) - Paras is based upon the nymph of a Cicada, but never evolves into a winged Cicada-like Pokémon. Instead, it gets completely overtaken by the parasitic mushrooms sprouting from its back, which were inspired by the real world cordyceps. This makes Parasect more or less "undead," and a parasitized zombie insect has no business ever not being on my team. Over time, Parasect even became a bigger favorite of mine than Gloom, and also became my first-ever geek convention costume. I just wish the poor little guy didn't light up like a Roman candle at the slightest touch of those damn "fire" types. Screw those guys...except when they're snails.

KOFFING & WEEZING (poison) - nothing but hollow, balloon-like fleshy mutants filled with filthy smog, you gotta love the crossbones design as well as the wart-like pores, giving them the appearance of naval mines. Koffing's obliviously happy demeanor has earned it a big following, but I have to say I also appreciate the raw misery emanating from Weezing. Koffing is already an unnatural abomination, but Weezing is just Koffing melted together into a thing that truly ought not be. The grotesque asymmetry is delightful, especially that third, vestigial sack hanging off the primary pair.

GRIMER & MUK (poison) - while Koffing and Weezing are smog-themed monsters, these two are sludge-based. I've always had a soft spot for amorphous blobs and toxic oozes, so I find these slimeballs perfect in their simplicity. I like Grimer's dopey expression a bit more, but there's something to be said of the subtle hatred in Muk's eyes. Everything he touches is forever tainted...and he loves it. Interesting how both of the "pollution" monsters start out looking stupidly cheerful, but seem embittered and broken by the time they evolve.

VILEPLUME (grass/poison) - Vileplume evolves from Gloom, but I'm counting it separately because I don't like it as much, but like it for different reasons. It's explicitly based on the real-world Rafflesia or "corpse flower," and with "Vile" right in the name, there should be no mistaking this eerie-eyed poison type for one of the "girly" monsters. Unfortunately, that's exactly how it gets treated by the fans, and I just wish it had retained Gloom's icky drooling habits.

VICTREEBEL (grass/poison) - another grass/poison Pokémon and originally considered a counterpart to the Oddish line, this guy is a giant, carnivorous pitcher plant and quite menacing with that upside-down face. The official Pokedex mentions that it swallows prey whole and dissolves it bones and all.

KABUTOPS (water/rock) - easily one of the most sinister and deadly-looking of the original Pokémon, Kabutops has a detailed yet very organic design, and it's that big, flat, alien looking head that ties it all together.

VENONAT (bug/poison) - while its evolved form (Venomoth) is kinda cool, Venonat's design will always far outclass it. I so wish that this roly-poly wingless fly was a fully evolved Pokémon in its own right, or at least evolved into something a little more similar.

PINSIR (bug) - another perfect bug-type pokemon; just a mean, spiny, armor-plated beetle bastard with a terrifying vertical mouth full of needly teeth.

SLOWBRO (water/psychic) - so "slowpoke" is a dopey, long-tailed psychic monster that uses its tail as a lure for fish. Should said tail be bitten by a "Shellder" (a clam Pokémon) instead of a fish, the two of them evolve together into a Slowbro, the symbiotic union of dopey psychic mammal and seashell monster. One of Pokémon's most memorably wacky concepts.