Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Should Pokémon Actually Exist? Get Real!

Far too often, my friends and I get into a conversation about what it would be like if Pokémon actually exist. Sure, you might think that would be the coolest thing ever. You get to fly your Pidgeot to school, make your Scyther mow the lawn, and have your Charmander roast marshmallows in the middle of July. But trust me, it's better that Pokémon stay in your DS.  

1. It's like training a pet, except your house can catch on fire.
You've probably heard the old "a pet's a big responsibility" lecture from your parents one time or another.   You have to train it to not bite the mailman, not bark at strangers, and not treat the living room floor like a toilet. Training a normal animal is tough enough, but imagine if your puppy was a Growlithe. Instead of biting the mailman, it'd roast the unfortunate postage worker with Ember! It's Roar would easily intimidate any bystander that crossed it. And if it could expel high amounts of heat from its mouth...I shudder to think what would come out of its rear end.  

So maybe you're not a dog person. Meowth? You better hide your wallet. Pikachu? Stray Thundershocks will short circuit your light bulbs. Ekans? Better have that antidote ready. Jigglypuff? Don't let it near markers. Pokémon make terrible pets.
This is why you can't have nice things!

2. 10-year-olds can summon titans, gods and great beings of destruction.
10-year-olds aren't old enough to drink, join the military or even get a part-time job. But they can go out in the wild and catch Pokémon? It's a severe lack of judgement, especially since 10-year-olds aren't the most mature humans.

Imagine shopping at the grocery store with your kid when he spots candy at the checkout line. Normally, you'd say no and he'd throw a temper tantrum, crying and rolling all over the floor. But now with Pokémon, he can send out his Reshiram and use Fusion Flare on you. Temper tantrums have reached a whole new level.

3.You'll be out some serious cash.
Playing Pokémon in-game for many years gives trainers the illusion that they're the very best like no one ever was. Half the time you're fighting Youngsters with Zubats and Rattatas! The Pokémon games rarely present a challenge, so it's easy to see why you think you're the best when you become champion.

But that's the thing, you're not. It's a harsh reality, but you can't win every battle. That's not necessarily a problem until you realize how Pokémon battles work.

Whenever two trainers meet eyes, they must battle each other. No exceptions. You can't run away from the
fight or say that you left your good Pokémon back in the PC, doesn't matter. You have to battle with what you got. The worst part is, the loser has to pay the winner.
Hand over your money, noob!
Let's say there's a pretty tough trainer with a level 100 Gyarados who just chills at the corner. Usually, you can avoid him by sneaking past him, but today you're running late for class. You mindlessly walk in front of him, your eyes meet, and uh oh! Looks like you have yourself a battle. You try to reason with him that you're late for class, but it doesn't matter. No running away from a trainer battle, no exception. So you send out your Geodude, watch it get pulverized by Mewtwo, and shell out some cash. Now you're not only late for class, you got no money for lunch. Great.

4. I wouldn't eat that ice cream...
Most Pokémon are based on animals and other living organisms. But if you're not used to walking candles and cotton candy, some of these creatures can catch you by surprise.

It's a Saturday night and you invite a couple of your friends over for a sleepover. You get a case of the midnight munchies and go to the fridge for a quick snack. Nice, there's a box of Casteliacones! You bring it upstairs and everyone enjoys their frozen treats. girl starts screaming. Blood is dripping down her mouth. That was no ice cream cone...she bit into a Vanillite!

Rule of thumb: if it says its name, don't eat it!
The horror doesn't stop there. You best not pick up any Pokéballs from the floor; Voltorb could use Explosion and blow off your arm! That purple balloon...yeah that's a Drifloon. It'll take children away if they tug at its strings. Late for an appointment? Don't rush out the door with Klefki instead of your keys. You wouldn't want to jam a fairy into your car's ignition. You get the idea; you better think twice before picking up a seemingly everyday object. The way Pokémon is going, I wouldn't be surprised if I ran into floating pencils that shot out Pin Missiles.

5. Having a non-Pokémon job in a Pokémon world
Despite the many problems Pokémon would bring, it would still be pretty cool if Pokémon existed. You get to travel across the land, searching far and wide to train these fantastic creatures. But being a Pokémon Trainer isn't the only job. You could study the mysteries behind evolution and become a Pokémon Professor (just don't forget anyone's gender). Or maybe you see yourself as a mentor for up-and-coming trainers as the local Gym Leader. If the life of a law-abiding citizen bores you, you can even join up with Team Rocket or Team Flare and lead a life of thievery and misdeeds. But what if you had a job that has nothing to do with
Team Rocket is now hiring! *Must bring your own Zubats

You're an accountant for a faceless corporation. Day in and out, you're punching numbers as your higher-ups continue to berate you. Life's a drag. And yet, right outside your window, 10-year-olds are living it up. You watch in awe as one kid orders his Charizard to use Flamethrower. Charizard swoops down and lets out a stream of flames, only for the opposing Blastoise to swiftly dodge and retaliate with a well-aimed Hydro Pump. Charizard comes tumbling down and your heart stops. You press your face against the window as Charizard struggles to get up. Will he make it? Just then, the blinds fall down and your boss glares right at you. A stack of papers falls on your desk and you're back to work. In a world where people can train Pokémon, you're stuck in an office building unable to break the monotony of the 9-5 workday. What a life.

If only you arrived at  Professor Oak's lab a little earlier...

Even after all this, you probably still think it's a cool idea to have Pokémon in real life. Who could blame you? There are endless possibilities in a world of electric rodents and fiery chickens. But with great power comes great responsibility, and an even greater headache. Sure, it might seem cool if Pokémon existed, but I for one am glad they just stay in the games.
Imagine dealing with this guy's calls in REAL LIFE!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Why I (Eventually) Decided to Buy X and Y

After a lot of thought, I decided to advance to the 6th generation and buy X and Y. This decision definitely took a long time, but why? In case you couldn't tell, I'm kind of obsessed with Pokémon. Then why would this be a hard decision to make?

From the beginning of this year, Pokémon revealed quite a bit of information leading up to the release. Most of X and Y's content was either a hit or miss for me. While I wasn't initially a fan of the legendary mascots, that didn't bother me. Besides, there are plenty of other Pokémon to catch. As more Pokémon were revealed, I started to get worried.

As the first Steel/Ghost type, Honedge was a huge disappointment for me. Its design lacked creativity. It's a floating sword that can unsheathe itself. Really? That's what qualifies as a Pokémon!? The worst part was that Game Freak thought the design was so good, Honedge deserved to be revealed before the game's launch. That's like using Muk to promote Red and Blue. You think anyone would have bought Red and Blue if their first impression was Muk? Many of the designs like Clauncher and Skrelp fell flat for me. I wasn't inspired by a good portion of the revealed Pokémon, which hasn't happened for me before.
From the people that brought you living sludge and floating ice cream cones...

They're changes in the battle system that I at first viewed as unwelcome. Horde battle is just outright stupid! Why would Game Freak even care about trainers who catch strong Pokémon to quickly advance through the game? So yeah, fighting five weak Pokémon instead of one strong one will force you to grind more. Talk about frustrating. Black and White reduced the amount of grind time you needed. Way to go backwards! I pretty much ran from any horde battle I encountered. And then there's Sky Battles where only Flying Pokémon can participate. What's the big deal? Is this mode so ground-breaking that you had to reveal it during E3? Granted, I haven't gotten this far in game, but the concept seems frivolous.

Great Psyduck, now you're giving ME a headache!

What have they done to you!?
Probably the would-be final straw was Mega Evolution. If you thought I was angry when I made my Mega Evolution post back in August, then you best prepare yourself for Primeape rage! Seriously, a part of me dies every time I find out about a new Mega Evolution. Half of them look like they went through the same horrific genetic splicing as Mewtwo. Apparently, Alakazam can heighten his skills with 5 spoons and Santa Claus' beard. Gardevoir can stand to lose a few pounds. And 10 points to anyone who can explain what the heck is going on with Heracross. The recent announcement that only one Mega Evolution is allowed on a team is a relief, but I still stand by that it's still as a gimmicky mechanic that makes the game needlessly complicated.

Obviously, I had a fair share of good reasons to buy these games. For one thing, while there are only 70 new Pokémon, some of the designs were spot on. I don't know why, but something about a cotton candy Pokémon seems so cool. Maybe it's the way Swirlix sticks his tongue out that makes it cute. I honestly can't wait to evolve it to Slurpuff. Maybe when they give it a Mega Evolution, it'll turn into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Trevenant, Goomy and Pyroar are pretty cool to name a few. While I wish there were more, there were definitely some well designed Pokémon in the bunch. Just like any generation, it takes time to get used to the new Pokémon. 
It's so fluffy!...and quite possibly sticky.
When I first watched the opening cutscene, I knew that no previous Pokémon game could compare in respect to presentation. The 3D battles and animations puts X and Y ahead of even Colosseum and XD. My heart melted when I first encountered a 3D Pidgey in the wild. The towns are bustling with life and traveling from route to route is a seamless transition. X and Y overhauled the Pokémon battle cries. Pikachu literally says its name when it jumps out of the Pokéball! And of course, the music is amazing. Within the first few minutes, I was humming to Santalune City's tune! But I wouldn't expect anything less from Mr. Masuda, his work is phenomenal. Take a listen: 

The biggest push for me was that a good number of my friends planned on playing.  I apologize to those who had to listen to my endless complaints these past couple of months. It's been a humbling experience to listen to reasons why other trainers decided to buy the next installments, and I thank you for dealing with my stubbornness. I got caught up in all the battle mechanics and game changes that I lost sight of what Pokémon truly is. Pokémon is a shared experience with friends. No matter how competitive or casual you are, Pokémon is about connecting with people and having fun. So far, X and Y continues that shared experience the franchise is known for, and as long as it stays that way, it's worth the investment. Well done Game Freak. You got me in for another generation. 

Welcome back to the world of Pokémon!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bringing New Variables in Battles with X and Y

With the introduction of Fairy-type Pokémon, the type-chart saw its first overhaul since Gold and Silver. But how will this affect Pokémon battles in the futures? Not much about this new type was known until the type-chart's official confirmation through Coro Coro Magazine.
New type-chart for X and Y. Props to Pokémon XY News for the chart.

Here's a summary of the changes. Fairy is super effective against Fighting, Dark and Dragon Pokémon. Fairy is not very effective against Fire, Poison and Steel Pokémon. Fairy is weak to Poison and Steel-type moves. Fairy is resistant against Fighting, Bug and Dark-type moves. And Fairy is IMMUNE to Dragon-type moves. Talk about a hard counter! Game Freak also sneaked in a slight nerf for Steel-types. Steel Pokémon no longer resist Dark and Ghost-type attacks.

It's obvious that Fairy-type Pokémon will play a key role in shaping the metagame. Sylveon's ribbons slaps Dragonite right in the face. And to think, I made that prediction about Xerneas being one of the best competitive Pokémon in jest. Fairy-type's lucky immunity to Dragon-type moves prevent Draco Meteor and Outrage spam.
I'd hate to see Iris encounter a Flabébé

Imagine Gardevoir switching in on Salamence's Outrage. Your Trace activates, throwing his Intimidate right back at him. Salamence will probably switch out, giving you ample time to set up a Calm Mind and possibly sweep.

Besides their ruthless thirst for dragon blood, Fairy-types also have it in for Dark and Fighting-types. Their resistance allows them to switch in on powerful moves and immediately threaten tough Pokémon out. Hydreigon and Scrafty now sport a nasty 4x weakness after a generation of favorable typing. STAB options for strong Pokémon like Scrafty and Heracross are severely limited.

It's hard out here for a pimp

Fairy's only weakness to Poison and Steel-type moves makes it a strong defensive type, especially since Poison and Steel moves are quite uncommon. While people might predict that Poison-type moves would be on the rise, I will have to disagree on this. Besides Fairy, Poison only hits Grass-types for super effective coverage. But why would you use a Poison move to knock out a Grass-type? You have Ice, Fire, Flying, get the point! There are better options. Furthermore, many types resist Poison, including Steel which is actually immune to it. Defensively, Poison gets a boost which is great for Pokémon like Weezing.
Now only if it could do something about that horrendous cough...

Steel's loss of resistance might not seem like much, but it does cause problems for some Pokémon. The haunted sword Honedge now has to contend with two weaknesses in Ghost and Dark-type moves. Being as smart as a supercomputer gives Metagross a hard time. Everyone's coming up to it asking for help with taxes, quantum physics and damage calculations. Now it has to worry about things that go bump in the night. Metagross's Steel/Psychic type now becomes a hinderence. Tyranitar, Absol and Pangoro now can rely on their STAB moves to take on the four-brained behemoth.

It's not all bad for Steel-types though. The resistance to Fairy-type attacks and their super effective coverage against them will be what shapes the metagame. In 4th gen, a concept called "4 Drag, 2 Mag" was introduced. Basically, the only thing that stood in a Dragon's way were Steel-types. So Magneton and Magnezone were used to trap and knock them out. This concept can easily make a comeback to counter Fairy-types as well, but with a few modifications. Heatran's Steel/Fire type gives him a 4x resistance to Fairy. Plus, he can finally find a use for Flash Cannon to immediately threaten any Fairy-types out. Heatran's Fire-type moves can burn up most Steels and either Hidden Power Ice or Dragon Pulse can take on opposing Dragons. I wouldn't be surprised if Heatran's usage skyrocketed. Scizor also finds itself in a similar situation. Bullet Punch from Scizor is already a strong move, but the additional super effective coverage is icing on the cake. If you feel the opponent will switch out, simply use U-turn to maintain momentum.

The updated type chart for X and Y creates an interesting shift in the game. This post barely scratches the surface of what to expect in future battles, and rightfully so. What happens if Fairy moves have wide distribution like Flamethrower and Thunderbolt? What new tools can Dragons use to help outmaneuver these pixies of doom? Will the recent setback for Dark and Fighting-types lead to a reemergence of Psychic and Normal-types? Will Dunsparce get an evolution (or God forbid mega evolution) so grand that not even Arceus can stand up to it? Only the future will tell...or you can have Xatu use Future Sight. Whatever.

These trainers are way ahead of their time

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Mega Mistake

Yesterday, a new type of "evolution" was revealed.
Is that Blaziken?
Now you might be thinking "is Blaziken evolving? It's already part of a three-stage evolution!" Indeed you're right, but this isn't an ordinary evolution. This is called a Mega Evolution, a transformation that happens only with a specific item. When I first heard about it, I was confused myself. I thought it was an entire new evolution.

To make things clear, here's how it works. During battle, when a Pokémon is holding a specific Mega Stone, the Pokémon will Mega Evolve. So when Blaziken holds a Blazikenite, it'll Mega Evolve into Mega Blaziken. The transformation ends when the battle's over. So it's not an evolution per say, it's more of a form change.

Before this, we were already introduced to a Mega Pokémon. The new form of Mewtwo is actually a Mega Evolution.
This is Mega Mewtwo. I still call it Majin Mewtwo.

From the title, you probably guessed that I have a problem with this new battle mechanic. You bet I do! First off, quit calling it an evolution! It's a form change! Even if a Pokémon's stats get better, it doesn't make it an evolution. Black and White Kyurem have a higher base stat total than Kyurem, but that doesn't make it an evolution. Evolutions are permanent, form changes are temporary and reversible.

Form changes in the middle of battle aren't "new and revolutionary", it's been done before. Remember Darmanitan's Zen Mode? Or Meloetta's Pirouette Form? Those are triggered through an ability and move respectively. Sure this is a first time a held item is the trigger, but that doesn't make this mechanic ground-breaking.

Changing forms in the middle of battle before it was cool.

Speaking of held items, that's another issue I have with Mega Evolution. I can see the game play balance of giving up your Leftovers or Choice Scarf to get a Mega Evolution, but thanks to the Mega Stones being species specific, Item Clause won't limit how many Pokémon on your team can turn Mega. It doesn't seem like Mega Pokémon are addressing a balance issue. At least Fairy-type was created to address how powerful Dragon-types have become. 

The initial release of Mega Pokémon obviously shows this mechanic isn't supposed to bring balance to the game play. Blaziken, Lucario and Mewtwo have all been dominating forces in Pokémon battles. In fact, Blaziken was banned from standard play thanks to his newly acquired Dream World ability, Speed Boost. Lucario remains a relevant threat in standard play and is quite the Pokémon to deal with. And you're an idiot if you think Mewtwo is "weak" and needs any buffs. Mewtwo single-handily won a good portion of my battles in Global Showdown. Sure, Ampharos and Mawile appreciate the boost to their strength, but they could have been buffed through new abilities and moves instead of a haphazard form change.

Instead of buffing old Pokémon through new abilities and moves, Game Freak has opted to throw in a frivolous game play mechanic. Form changing in the middle of battle, regardless of stat redistribution, has proved not very effective in the past. Mega Evolution is a poor solution to the evident power creep in past generations. I fear that Mega Evolution is just the beginning of potential gimmicky battle mechanics that will make the game needlessly complicated.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Ultimate Showdown on a Global Scale!

Last weekend, I fought in 70 matches while competing in Pokémon's online tournament, the Global Showdown. Global Showdown was my first online tournament and the last for Black and White 2. With school and moving out of my apartment, I didn't have much time to prepare a team. So I got some old Pokémon, changed a few movesets, and threw this together:
Sheik, Waluigi, Dhalia, Raymond, Bolin and Macho Man "Mewtwo" Savage are ready for battle!
So I know what you're thinking. "Smiles is using a Mewtwo!? Isn't that cheating?" Actually, no. The Global Showdown allows for any Pokémon to be used (except oddly enough Chatot). If I wanted to stand a fighting chance against Kyogre, Arceus, Kyurem, and opposing Mewtwos, I had to pack a Mewtwo of my own. You might also notice that some of my Pokémon come straight from my VGC team. Like I said, I didn't have much time between school and moving out, so I quickly threw them in. They actually performed pretty well.

 The first day of battling went well. I had a few wins here, a few losses there. It was definitely a learning experience fighting against Uber legendaries, but I got the hang of it. My first win against a full legendary team was a huge confidence booster, and I owe my thanks to Sableye.


For the most part, I was able to use strategy to get out of tough situations. My most memorable battles however come from Lady Luck. Sometimes, a dose of good ol' fashioned hax is all you need to get out of a sticky situation. I, however, did rely on Lady Luck more than I'd like to admit.


Lady Luck can be a cruel mistress. Just as easily as she'll flinch your opponent, she'll flinch you right back! This is one of the reasons why I hate the Wishmaker Pokémon Jirachi. I just wish I didn't have to deal with it.


The worst thing that can happen during an online tournament is that your WiFi stops working. The second day of the tournament, my WiFi stopped working. I went insane! I was having so much fun and didn't want to stop competing. I decided to scour the area and bum WiFi wherever I could find it. My search led me to Big Bite, the greasiest place in town. Let's just say their slice of pizza has enough grease to create Muk. I bought the healthiest thing I could find and sat there for five hours playing Pokémon. It was glorious. 

A grilled cheese sandwich with tomato was the healthiest thing available.

Like before, I had my fair share of wins and losses. But that day, I felt that it was easier to pull off  my strategies. It was like the Big Bite grease was a good luck charm or something. Originally, my Volbeat was more of a gimmick that Baton Passed his Tailglow boost to Mewtwo for a clean sweep. Obviously, there's so many things that could go wrong with this, but I was surprised how often I pulled it off. Especially when I faced a full team of legendaries.

Probably my most memorable match was against a really bulky Lugia. I barely scratched it with a Super Effective Ice Beam! It planned to outstall me until I would struggle myself to death. However, a few good hits on Kyogre gave me the advantage as far as health is concerned. So what did I do? I planned to outstall the clock! It was a bloody war of attrition as his Lugia kept on using Substitue, Protect and Roost. Luckily, he gave in when we had 8 minutes left. Still, this was my most difficult match yet. I had to fight him and the urge to use the restroom! This battle took over 40 turns, so I suggest you make some popcorn if you want to watch the match below.

I had a blast competing in my first online tournament. Sure, I had a few disconnects (looking at you Rocky from Texas!), but for the most part I enjoyed the competition. It was great to see all the creative teams and movesets from trainers around the world. And to top it all off, I ended up with a 1547 rating! Basically, that means I won more than I lost. My biggest regret is that I didn't compete in online tournaments sooner. Hopefully X and Y continues the tradition of hosting fun tournaments.

Feel free to watch some of my other battles on YouTube

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Tough Trek through Victory Road

I can't believe a whole year has passed since my last VGC competition. While I've been able to play a little online, I missed the experience only a live competition can bring. Meeting new trainers, catching up with old friends, taking a picture with the guy in the Pikachu costume, I missed it all! This year's VGC though was...different. I still can't fully process this year's experience, but it gave me a new perspective of what it means to be a Pokémon Trainer.

Since my brother won regionals again, we got a free hotel room. It was the same one as last year, but we slept in the train car rooms. Yeah I thought the train car rooms were cool last year, but that's because I didn't sleep in them! If only I knew how claustrophobic they were. To make matters worse, there was a wedding that same weekend and our family was unfortunate to be neighbors with the groom's family. Look, I get that you hate your new in-laws, but SHUT UP! It's 4 in the morning and I have to battle at 9!
After a terrible night sleep, me and my family walked into the convention center, ready for a day of battling. We even convinced my sister to play! Seeing the success my brother had with rain, I decided to change up my team and add some new tricks. After some quick playtests and adjustments, this was what I came up with:
Dahlia, Bolin, Toadsworth, Sgt. Calhoun, Slippy and Sheik are ready for battle

This year I decided not to go with an overall theme. My main strategy was to slow down my opponent's momentum with moves like Icy Wind, Spore and Yawn or quickly knock out two of their Pokémon and use Perish Song. Giving up movepool coverage like Ice Beam on Kingdra was a tough choice to make, but in the end the surprise factor gave me a slight edge. Unfortunately, I ended up with a 4-5 record. My sister also ended up with a 4-5 record, which is amazing for her first time battling competitively.

At this time, I was down in the dumps. Going in this competition, I told myself I wanted to walk out with a winning record. My losses were especially crushing; battles ended with my opponent sitting on little health with one Pokémon left. I was the Spurs losing Game 6 to the Heat. I failed to claim victory when it was literally at my finger tips. While it was a lose, this match was the most intense match I had in the competition. Oh yeah, sorry for the bad camera quality.

After me and my sister finished playing, my brother entered the ring. His first win brought a smile to his face, but his next two losses left him disheartened. His battles were close too! My brother's opponent's won by the skin of their teeth. As a coach, I felt bad I couldn't help. My brother made all the right moves in the replays. Could it be that Dragonite needed more Speed EVs? Or maybe Rotom needed Hidden Power Fire over Grass? These thoughts haunted me. Maybe I didn't do all I could to prepare him for competition.

I was pretty depressed leaving the convention center that evening. We had a strong desire to win but fell short of our goal. It took me some time to get over it, but I had to think back to Ash Ketchum. This kid only won a league once, and that wasn't even in the main series! Time after time, he's failed to become the champion. And yet, Ash remains optimistic.
It's been over ten years and he's still at it.

Besides the tournament, we also got to play in some side events. This really helped lift our spirits, especially when we managed to win eight booster packs. Plus, we pulled three Latios EX cards! One was even the full
body artwork!
Here's a match during the side events where I made Perish Song work. It's a pretty good strategy if you can pull it off:

This year's Nationals had its disappointments, but the experience humbled me. As a Pokémon Trainer, you have to deal with defeat. Not every match will end with a win, so you have to grow from it. Does this mean I'm giving up? Of course not! I am now more determined than ever to compete again! My brother has already drafted a new team and my sister even wants to compete again. Nationals let me spend time with Pokémon and family, two of the greatest things in the universe. I wouldn't trade it for anything, not even for another Latios EX.

The picture that sums up what I love about Nationals

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This is No Fairy Tale, it's a New Type of Pokémon!

Between E3 and the latest issue of Corocoro, an explosion of new information about X and Y reached fans across the world. And alas, the biggest bombshell the Pokémon crew dropped has me eating my own words...again. It's been 14 years since Gold and Silver introduced two new types which we now consider staples. Without further ado, here is the new type of Pokémon, Fairy!
Sylveon challenges Hydreigon. Watch out for its Moonblast!

Before this announcement, we already met the first Fairy-type Pokémon, Sylveon. I personally thought it was Normal. Older Pokémon like Jigglypuff, Marill and Gardevoir also gain a secondary Fairy-type. This is similar to how Magnemite and Magneton became both Electric and Steel-types.

Looking at the initial Fairy Pokémon, it's obvious that they fit the "cute" motif. I highly doubt Muk is going to be Poison/Fairy anytime soon. I found it peculiar that Jigglypuff became Normal/Fairy over Clefairy. I mean, it's literally in Clefairy's name! Granted, Jigglypuff was the second-most popular Pokémon in Japan (with the first being Pikachu of course), so it might have been a smart way to promote the new type. Still, this doesn't mean that Clefairy can't be a Fairy-type. We just have to wait and see what Game Freak has in store for us.

While I didn't think a new type would come about, I did say that a new type would probably counter Dragon-types. At least I got that right! But what would make Dragon Pokémon so good that they needed a new type to counter it? The first family of dragons was the Dragonite line back in Red and Blue. Back then, he was benign, playful, cuddly...but now Dragonite's an unstoppable juggernaut bent on sheer destruction!
That's not cute and cuddly...

Many Dragon-types are pseudo-legendaries with a base stat of 600. Besides raw power, Dragon-types have impressive offensive and defensive capabilities. Dragon hits every type for at least neutral damage except for Steel (not very effective) and Dragon (super effective). Furthermore, Dragon is only weak to Dragon and Ice-types while sporting resistances to Electric, Grass, Fire and Water. This allows them to switch in on a number of moves and immediately threaten any unfortunate Pokémon standing in the way.

Dragon types also have powerful moves to abuse. Draco Meteor, Outrage, Dragon Pulse and even Dual Chop are quite effective. I wouldn't say that Dragons enjoy the privileges of Psychic-types back in Gen 1, but they're pretty powerful. I'm glad that the strength of Dragon-types was addressed.
Take that you jerk! It's Super Effective!

So what about my opinions about these new Fairies? For one thing, I wish they weren't called Fairy-type! To me, it's too gender specific. Look at Grass, Fighting and Dark. They don't inherently sound male or female. While certain Pokémon like Machamp and Gothitelle look masculine and feminine, the type as a
whole is not all one gender. Fairy sounds too feminine; I wouldn't want Fighting to be called "Macho". Light-type could be an alternative. There are moves like Moonblast and the released Fairy Pokémon have a sort of "light" or good persona to them.

Flabébé is a new Fairy-type in 6th gen
It's great that the strength of Dragons were addressed, but I don't think a new type was the best answer. While it might benefit the main series games, how will this new type affect the Pokémon franchise as a whole? Will the trading card game create a new energy type? How will the anime "magically" explain that  Jigglypuff had a secondary typing? Only time will tell. At the moment however, I don't believe that Fairy-type was necessary to keep things fresh for X and Y.

Monday, June 3, 2013

You Can't Judge a Pokémon by its Type

The world of Pokémon is filled with an infinite array of creatures. Like humans, Pokémon come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and personalities. From the cute and brightly-eyed Jigglypuff to the fierce and destructive Gyarados, no two species of Pokémon are exactly alike. But does that mean that every Jigglypuff is cute and every Gyarados is destructive?

If every Pokémon in a species shared similar personalities, then Zubat would be inherently evil. These blood-sucking fiends swarm inside mountains, causing misery to any trainer foolish enough not to invest in Repels. Besides my hate-hate relationship with these Pokémon, many of the evil teams like Team Rocket use a high volume of Zubats. Team Rocket battles with about a total of 35 Zubats throughout your journey in Pokémon Red. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that Zubats are inherently evil. There are many factors that play a role in Pokémon selection. If Giovanni needs to quickly build an army of grunts to storm Silph Co, he's not going to have time to hand-pick Pokémon for each member. He'll probably hire some guy to walk into Mt. Moon and hurl as many Pokéballs as he can.
These things are evil in their own right.

To say that Pokémon selects their trainer based on personality is absurd! It's the trainer who throws out the Pokéball; Pokémon rarely "choose" their trainer. So why is it that we see certain Pokémon with certain types of trainers? Perception. It is not to say that a certain species of Pokémon have the same personality, but trainers perceive them to act a certain way.

If you're a Biker on Cycling Road, chances are you're going to pick Arbok over Teddiursa. Why? Because one is a huge snake who poisons foes with venomous one. The other is a tiny bear who licks honey off its palms. Likewise, Lass Andrea on Route 8 opts for a Meowth over Grimer. One is a cat who likes to play
with shiny objects. The other is a pile of sludge with eyes. While trainers in the games adhere to Pokéstereotyping, the anime tries at times to break the mold.

Biker Ernest is outcasted from the other Bikers for choosing a Teddiursa and Marill on his team.
Houndoom takes its design from hell hounds. The Pokédex describes it as the "Dark Pokémon" whose cry
Even Houndoom can be heroic
was thought to be that of the Grim Reaper. Burns caused by Houndoom are said to be everlasting. Houndoom has a less than pleasant description, but its appearance in the show have been fairly positive. In "Houndoom's Special Delivery", a Houndoom finds Misty's Togepi alone in a forest. Defending it from a Pinsir, Houndoom takes Togepi under its care until they reunite with Ash and friends. Even Houndoom, who are seen as vicious Pokémon, can be heroic.

On the flip-side, normally benign and innocent Pokémon can have a dark side. During the Sinnoh saga, Team Rocket encounters a Pokémon that eats all of their food, throws Jessie's clothes in mud, and lights Meowth's fur on fire. You'd think a naughty Gengar or Murkrow would be behind these misdeeds, but a Togepi!? It's surprising that this dastardly Pokémon is the same species as the one that was coddled by Misty during the Kanto and Johto journies. It gets so bad, this Togepi literally blasts Team Rocket into space. Still think Togepi couldn't possibly be evil? This will change your mind:

Pokéstereotyping is a serious issue in the Pokémon universe. Oftentimes, trainers choose their Pokémon based on perception rather than a Pokémon's real personality. Vilified Pokémon like Houndoom can be loyal, trustworthy and heroic. Likewise, cute and innocent Pokémon like Togepi can have a mean streak. Even Zubats, who frequently harass me in caves, might have more to them besides blood-sucking. So challenge yourself. If you usually pick the water-starter, choose fire. Instead of training a Growlithe, catch a Koffing. After all, you can't judge a Pokémon by its type. When you break Pokéstereotypes and train new creatures, you might even find your new best friend.       

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Wildlife of the Kalos Region (X and Y update)

Recently, four new Pokémon, among other things, were revealed for X and Y. 
A normal day in Kalos, the region of Pokémon X and Y.

The first of these is Helioptile, the Normal/Electric type lizard. I'm not really sure how it's a normal-type. Granted, Altaria is a Dragon-type despite not having any remotely draconic features.

My opinion on Helioptile is ambivalent. I don't love or hate it, Helioptile is just ok. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to catch it. One thing that's interesting about Helioptile is its move Parabolic Charge. Parabolic Charge attacks the opponent and heals the user half the damage they dealt out. Essentially, it's an electric Giga Drain. Hopefully, more Electric-types can learn this move. I can see this being beneficial with bulky Electric-types like Lanturn and the Rotom appliances.
"Parabolic Charge" functions as an electric Giga Drain

Next is Fletching, your Pidgey/Hoothoot/Taillow/Starly/Pidove of this generation. I'm biased when it comes to the standard Normal/Flying birds. Pidgey and Starly will always have a place in my heart, so there's no love for Fletching from me. It's not all bad though, in fact I would recommend catching this bird if you so choose. Fletching can learn Flame Charge, which is handy to get past Steel-types. I just won't be going out of my way to catch it. What am I saying? I probably wouldn't have to! These things will be swarming the first route!

 Yes, your prayers have been answered. You can catch a panda in Pokémon! Actually, you could catch a Spinda since Ruby and can now catch a panda that you'll actually like! Pancham is a fighting type who means business. While Teddiursa stands there and licks its palms, Pancham has no problem picking a fight with anyone who makes fun of its small stature. Bear Pokémon for the most part are always cool (sorry Spinda). Snorlax, Ursaring and Beartic are among my favorites and have that cool factor that I know Pancham's final evolution will have. Pancham alone is legit; it's a good mix of cute, tough and playful.
What you say about my leaf?! I'll knock you into next Tuesday!

Finally, there's this big guy. At first, it looks like a standard grass goat. The details about Gogoat though are interesting to say the least. Let's start with his name. REAL creative there. I can just imagine what that meeting sounded like. "Alright, so this goat allows you to go places when you ride on it. Let's call it Gogoat!" That's like naming Pikachu "Shockmouse" because it's a mouse and it can shock you.

That brings me to my next point. Earlier I said you could ride on this and the picture at the beginning of this post shows the trainer riding a Gogoat. So yes, you can ride it. Forget bikes, I'm on a goat! Just imagine strolling down the city, all the ladies checking out your swag as you ride on a Gogoat. That alone is pretty cool, and I hope more Pokémon have this "ride" feature. Can you imagine riding into town on a Zapdos? That would be pretty beast!
They see me rollin', they hatin'. Patrollin' tryna catch me ridin' dirty.

A major part of what makes Pokémon great are the actual Pokémon. When X and Y were first announced, the starters and legendary mascots didn't pique my interest. I originally couldn't commit to X and Y, but these newly revealed Pokémon made me reevaluate my initial impression. It's the Pokémon that make these games worth playing, and X and Y seem to be on the right track. I mean, you can catch pandas and ride goats! What's not to love?