I know that this week is supposed to be the every other week “Currently Playing” post about what video games I’ve been playing, but the problem is that this time around that post would be empty. I’m in college. I’ve been busy. So instead I did some thinking about a different post I could provide this week about something similar, and, not too unusually, I got to thinking about Pokemon again. The new fifth gen games Pokemon Black and White have been getting some really good responses. Lots of critics have said that it goes to great lengths to breathe new life into a tired series, and a few friends of mine who’ve bought it seem to agree. On the other hand, everybody seems to agree that the main problem with this new entry in the series is that the new Pokemon all suck.
Yes, that is a Pokemon shaped like an ice cream cone. The criticism that the new Pokemon are terrible is fair. While the series has always had a problem with creating new Pokemon as iconic and interesting as the original 150 Pokemon, this new generation is particularly bad. Or is it? Are our beloved Red/Blue companions really as superior as people think, or do they simply enjoy the benefit of having been first? Looking back, was that first batch of monsters really all that remarkable? For all the complaining people are doing about how stupid the new Black/White Pokemon look, here are ten of the originals that are just as bad.
When playing Pokemon Red or Blue, after defeating the Master of the Fighting Dojo you are given a choice between two fighting Pokemon: Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan. You could only pick one, and unless you traded from another game, you would never get the other one. Hitmonlee was a Pokemon with huge legs that kicked everything. Hitmonchan was a Pokemon with huge fists that punched everything. Most people picked Hitmonlee, and not because it was necessarily the better Pokemon. More so because Hitmonchan looked like this:
For a Fighting type Pokemon meant to strike fear into the hearts of its foes, it certainly has a pretty dress. Apparently the clothing is supposed to be a tunic. Right. That’s not a tunic. This is a tunic:
That is Link, the hero of The Legend of Zelda series. Note how his clothing is basically the same sort of shape as Hitmonchan’s yet looks entirely more badass and not at all girly, and it has nothing to do with the sword and such. Link’s tunic does not have a frilly lower half. Hitmonchan looks like it’s wearing a skirt. And who goes boxing in a skirt?
So before you go making fun of the new Black/White Pokemon Throh and Sawk for being stupid looking because they’re anthropomorphic rocks wearing karate uniforms, remember that at least they’re wearing something you’re supposed to fight in. Hitmonchan was wearing a fucking dress.
Think that Snivy/Smugleaf looks lame and weedy? Remember what this thing looked like? And no, not the illustrations or the anime. Remember what the original Bellsprout sprite looked like?
That thing is horrifying! Not like “don’t go into the cornfield, the murderer’s in the cornfield” horrifying, but “oh my God, what happened to this poor creature?” horrifying. This thing looks downright depressing! I’d give it a hug if I wasn’t terrified I’d catch some sort of illness. It looks pathetic. So, sure, Black/White‘s Serperior is a creepy looking snake thing with a head that looks completely out of place, Bellsprout looked absolutely pathetic.
Voltorb looks exactly like a Pokeball. You could argue that this is a pretty weak and lazy design choice, but I’m going to argue against that. It’s kind of neat to have the two thing that look the same because it sort of fleshes out the world the game takes place in. The implication that Pokeballs were modeled after a certain Pokemon, Voltorb, gives the world a little more history and character. So Voltorb is a-okay in my book, aside from how it kind of it sucks, but that’s not my argument here. What I’m arguing is that Voltorb isn’t the stupid one. Electrode is.
Electrode is Voltorb’s evolution. Or, for all we know, an upside-down Voltorb.
Even for fake Pokemon world science, this one is weak. But not as weak as…
7-6. Dugtrio / Magneton
These two are the same, stupid idea. Now, don’t get me wrong, Dugtrio was one of my favorite first generation Pokemon, and after the steel type was added, Megneton was also one of my favorites, but that doesn’t change the fact that for these Pokemon “evolution” just means “hang out all the time with two creatures that look exactly like you, but now you all have angry eyebrows.”
So, sure, we can make fun of Vanillish, a Pokemon that looks like a single scoop ice cream cone, for evolving into Vanilluxe, a Pokemon that looks like a double scoop ice cream cone, but at least its two heads are coming out of one body, indicating some sort of change. Dugtrio and Magneton are three of the same Pokemon it used to be, but in formation.
This is a huge design cop-out for what are generally considered the “classic” Pokemon. Can you imagine if all new Pokemon were made with the “more of them but with angry eyes” method?
So before you go around saying that they ran out of ideas for new Pokemon in the later games, just remember they clearly ran out of ideas in the first one.
We’re now going to move our focus away from Pokemon that are stupid because the game designers got lazy and passed off nearly identical Pokemon as different Pokemon, because, honestly, if it weren’t for the cop-out evolution, those last three entries on the list wouldn’t be so bad. The Pokemon don’t look stupid; on the contrary, they actually look pretty cool. Magneton isn’t stupid because it looks stupid, it’s stupid because it’s just three Magnemite stuck together.
Then we have this idiot.
This thing is stupid for entirely different reasons. The Pokedex listing from the original games describes it as a “superpower” Pokemon, and basically every entry across the series describe how it loves to spend all its time bodybuilding, and, presumably, tanning and doing laundry.
Machoke is better suited to be on the cast of Jersey Shore than it is to be a Pokemon. It’s nothing but a blue bodybuilder in a speedo, and, amazingly, it actually gets worse. Machoke is the second evolution in between Machop and Machamp, shown here:
Machop is actually pretty cute looking, and Machamp looks pretty badass with four arms. Both are totally legit Pokemon. Machoke is like their ugly cousin. Most Pokemon in between their first and final evolution tend to look pretty awkward, but Machoke takes it to a whole other level. It doesn’t even look like a Pokemon. It looks like a person with a really ugly face that’s like 40% snout. But, still, it’s not the final evolution, so no problem, right? Just evolve it as soon as you possibly can. Unfortunately, the only way to evolve a Machoke into a Machamp is if you trade it with another game, so you have to find a friend and trade with them to stop having to look at that ugly thing, and sometimes other people who play Pokemon are hard to come by. Especially in, say, high school. Although, strangely, it’s much easier in college. Go figure?
So, sure, make fun of Litwick, Lampent, and Chandelure for being a Pokemon that looks like a candle that evolves into a gas lamp that evolves into a chandelier, but at least you wouldn’t see any of them on Jersey Shore.
4-2. Grimer / Muk / Ditto
So far in this article I’ve mentioned new Black/White Pokemon that are ice cream cones and candles. There are even new Pokemon that are nothing but mechanical gears, adding a new gear each time it evolves. Lots of people are citing these new Pokemon, among others, as a sign that the Pokemon series is running increasingly out of ideas. Are these Pokemon pretty stupid sounding? Sure. But you know, what? At least they’re based on things. At least the Pokemon series hasn’t gotten so bad that they’re making a bunch of Pokemon that are nothing but amorphous blobs.
That’s right. Three of those beloved 150 original Pokemon were amorphous blobs. Sure, you can argue that Grimer and Muk are supposed to be slime Pokemon and Ditto’s an amorphous blob because it’s specialty is that it copies the appearance of other Pokemon, but that argument almost makes it worse. They were so desperate for ideas in the first generation that they based Pokemon on slime? They couldn’t think of one more Pokemon and made one that just turns into all the other ones they already made? Admittedly, Ditto is pretty cool, if not somewhat useless, but seriously? Three amorphous blob Pokemon? Think about that next time you make fun of the new garbage bag Pokemon. At least it’s a thing!
I don’t even need to make this joke, right?