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.