Monday, September 20, 2010

Favorite Pokemon by Generation : Ruby & Sapphire

Whiny fanboys with an inflated sense of entitlement (i.e. your typical gamer) like to harp on the third generation of Pokemon as the point where things started to go "downhill" and the designs began to "look less like pokemon," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. In my opinion, Ruby & Sapphire introduced a FAR more interesting selection of new creatures than Gold & Silver. Pokemon are, after all, monsters, and the third generation was chock-full of bizarre, monstrous concepts!

My top ten favorites, beginning with my #1:

SHEDINJA (bug/ghost) - the third generation introduced the franchise's second Cicada-based Pokémon, Nincada, and unlike Paras, this one is fungus-free and evolves into the flying Ninjask. During evolution, however, it casts off its exoskeleton (just like the real insect) and for no explained reason, the empty skin goes on "living" as a bug/ghost Pokémon. How can I not love a haunted, empty insect skin? Uniquely, Shedinja has only a single hit point, but immunity to most types of damage. If your opponent just happens to be out of things that can damage Shedinja, they're pretty much screwed. Rare to pull off, but always delightful.

SABLEYE (ghost/dark) - this dark/ghost Pokémon with super-spooky diamond eyes is probably based on the Hopkinsville Goblin, a famous "alien encounter" with enduring popularity in Japan. Sableye is both incredibly creepy and incredibly cute, especially when they show it opening its saw-toothed mouth. In its 3-d appearances, it moves with a wickedly creepy twitch, like a stop-motion puppet!

GULPIN & SWALOT (poison) - these pure poison types are really enigmatic. Their theme is swallowing and digesting, so they're basically stomach monsters, though they regrettably look nothing like body organs. I have no idea what's up with the diamond pattern, either.

CACTURNE (grass/dark) - this sinister cactus is patterned after a scarecrow, with an appropriately spooky face - the mouth is just a row of holes! I kinda wish they made the head orange, so it could also be a *pumpkin* scarecrow cactus, but maybe we'll finally get a pumpkin Pokémon in the sixth generation. Cacturne supposedly stand motionless during the day and come alive at night, filling a vulture-like niche by preying on the weak and dying deep in the desert.

LUNATONE (rock/psychic) - speaking of pumpkins and scarecrows, Lunatone may very well be one of the "Halloweeniest" of Pokémon. It's actually supposed to be a living, psychic meteor, but it happens to resemble a yellow, crescent moon. The deep-set red eyes are pretty creepy, and I like how the eye sockets run into the "beak" mouth. Lunatone has a sun-shaped counterpart, Solrock, which is also pretty cool, but not quite as haunting.

MAWILE (steel) - this cave-dweller is based on the mythical Futakuchi-onna, a woman with a mouth on the back of her head. The whole esthetic of the fuzzy little critter with gigantic jaws hanging off its skull makes for a very weird and distinct concept. It also supposedly behaves like a bear trap, laying out its jaws to snap shut on trespassers.

DUSKULL (ghost) - a big, goofy skull with a shroud-like body is the perfect, iconic ghost Pokémon, which makes me wish it kept the skull-face when it evolves. In animated form, its single eye constantly rocks from one socket to the other, like a pendulum, and its Pokedex entries make it out to be a sort of bogeyman, used by parents of the Pokémon world to threaten their children.

DUSCLOPS (ghost) - like Vileplume, I like this guy less than its unevolved form but still appreciate it on its own merits, mostly for that penetrating stare. It's sort of a combination between a mummy and a Chochinobake or "lantern ghost" from Japanese mythology. Sadly, they would later add an evolution that I just can't get into it all, Dusknoir. I guess I kinda wish that this whole line went backwards.

CLAYDOL (ground/psychic) - based on ancient stone idols popularly associated with aliens and UFO's, Claydol is suitably UFO-like itself, and the repeating eyes and noses are one of the spookiest traits of any Pokémon.

NOSEPASS (rock) - this poor unloved little guy is based on a Moai, the world-famous statues littering Easter Island. Even if we ignore this fact, it's a rock with a giant, magnetic red nose. That's nothing but lovable. I always liked the pleasant, compact chunkiness of its design, and the way its arms can fold neatly into the rest of its head.