After a long hiatus welcome folks to Mummyboon. This site originated as a place for me to describe my life in Japan, post photos and tell stories about the things I did, places I went and foods I ate. Since coming to the U.K. I have been much poorer and have travelled to less interesting places and eaten much less interesting things.
As such the site has now morphed into a place where I intend to write about anything and everything that strikes my fancy, that might be short stories, review of comics or computer games, or humorous list features. Mostly it just exists as a place to practice my writing and develop my craft, if anyone other than family members and friends stumbles across my work, well then that’s a bonus.
My opening salvo in the resurrected Mummyboon is a feature reviewing the weird and wondrous designs of pokemon, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! Yes, all 649! I must be stupid.
Pokemon should require no explanation at this stage, and if it does, well you know where wikipedia is. But seriously pokemon might just be the most merchandised product on the planet, there is a pokemon version of everything, from the expected like computer games and anime, to the obvious spin offs like pencils, backpacks and pencil shapes to the frankly mind boggling like a plane and a special train. Yes, there is a pokemon airplane, gaze upon its majesty.
What has made pokemon so popular? Hell if I know. However, one reason is definitely the strong design sense of the monsters themselves. Unlike similar games like digimon or monster rancher pokemon don’t differ in art styles or design aesthetic, they all look like they belong to the same world rather than an individually strongly designed set of monsters that clash when put together. Also whilst a lot of pokemon designs consists of taking an animal or everyday item and producing a cartoony version of it plenty of the designs exhibit a spark of originality that really elevates them. Often this is a pun or gimmick that gives the monster not just a design but suggests a personality a way it acts and thinks.
Full disclosure, this is kind of blatantly stolen from Chris vs Pokemon over at the wonderful the ISB by Chris Sims. I loved those occasional forays into commenting on the bizarre inventinve genius of pokemon designs and its a shame that the feature, like most of the non comics related content Chris Sims used to write, seems to have gone the way of the dinos. It’s also partly a reaction to all the bitching and moaning people have been doing ever since Black and White came out about the quality of the designs in this generation. People have called them everything from lame, uninspired, unoriginal, pointlessly busy and oddly bizarre. Frankly I feel that’s just nostalgia talking. The original 151 pokemon designs were far from perfect and included a few massive clunkers and some unoriginal entries as well as some moments of pure genius. This series is a tribute to pokemon in all their weird, wonderful and occasionaly horrendously designed glory.
Bulbasaur, Ivysaur and Venusaur
Bulbasaur’s pokedex entry is 001, he is the first pokemon ever recorded and frankly they got it right first time and have never improved since. He’s just a perfect little monster and a perfect statement of itnent for pokemon. He’s a part plant dinosaur monster. Nowadays we’re all kind of used to the idea that you can have part vegetable monsters running around shooting leaves at each other but at the time this was a pretty original idea. Not wholly original but certainly different. If you were tasked to come up with an aggressive beasty for a fighting monster game would you think flower bulbs? His design is perfectly balanced not overpowering the flower bits or the dinosaur bits, they work in equal harmony and he just has an aesthetically pleasing simple confident design. Plus I have to give props to the localisation team for the name. Bulbasaur is obviously a portmanteau of bulb and dinosaur but it also contains the word bulbous referring to this guys cute fat tubby cheeks. Look at that face! Couldn’t you just eat it up with a spoon.
Ivysaur kind of works, he’s a teenaged bulbasaur, the bulb unfolds to show a flower which is a logical progression and the body looks older and more vicious. The name is less inventive but again a logical progression.
But Venusaur, damn Venusaur puberty hit you hard.
Firstly what is wrong with your head, whereas the other two evolutions look cute you got whacked by every branch when you fell out of the ugly tree. It’s also waaaay bigger in proportion to the rest of the body than the other two forms. Similarly the flower looks dinky and also the final evolution of the flower just looks ugly and lame too. A big ugly disappointment here.
Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard
Charmander was always a popular one amongst kids growing up but looking back with the eyes of an adult there isn’t much going on here. It’s a gecko, stood up, with its tail on fire. The only original feature here is the flaming tail which is admittedly a cool idea but they do it better in the same generation with Ponyta. And the name isn’t clever either.
Charmeleon fairs much better with a sleek cool and dangerous design although if you ask me Nintendo missed a trick by not adding fire to the other pointy bits.
Charizard is by far the best of this trio though. It’s not gonna win any points for originality but hey, you can’t go wrong with a classic western style dragon, and it feels like a logical progression from the other two forms too. Charizard is just pure badass through and through.
Also how weird is it that this guy above is considered a dragon but Charizard is not.
Squirtle, Wartortle, Blastoise
Squirtle again is not gonna win any points for originality. It’s a turtle, stood up, and blue. Sigh. It doesn’t even have a cool elemental feature like charmander did but instead a wussy little weird tail thing. I will give points to the localisation team for a good name here though as squirtle is not only the obvious squirt + turtle portmanteau but also that tail kind of looks like a squirrel tail too.
Wartortle however is just a mess. What on earth is going on with ear things, or that tail. What do they represent? I guess I can kind of see the tail being a wave but it doesn’t work at all. Nor does the name, I can see that they mean you to read it as water but for me it always evokes war and what does that have to do with anything?!
Blastoise is kind of a cool design on his own but fails as an evolution of the previous too. Even his name is different with the other two being turtles and him a tortoise. The only unifying element between squirtle and wartortle is the watery tail thing, which Blastoise doesn’t have, instead he has water cannons. Admittedly the water cannons are infinitely cooler so Blastoise gets a pass.
Caterpie, Metapod and Butterfree
Caterpie is possibly the worst drawing of a caterpillar I have ever seen. Why is it 4 legged? Why does it have a tv antenna stuck on its head? Is it digitally enabled or will it stop working once the digital switch over starts?
Metapod not exactly the most dyanmic or inspiring of pokemon and mostly loved by pokefans everywhere for learning the move harden. Cue a million immature 10 years olds naming their pokemon penis so they can read “penis used harden”. I’ll warn everyone right now incidentally, I promise no maturity whatsoever in these reviews.
Butterfree is actually one of my all time faves less so for the design than the role it plays in the games. Early on it learns a turn of useful moves including some psychic attacks so for the first 2 – 3 gyms its actually a bit of a powerhouse. It stops working in the middle of the game though. The design is quite cool though, simple and clean, something Gen 1 pokemon have in spades and that gets abandoned later on. Butterfree is quite easy for kids to draw and looks enough like a butterfly whilst also being a dstinct somewhat alien creature. That is the essence of good pokemon design, can I draw it and can I tell what animal its supposed to be.
Weedle, Kakuna and Beedrill
Weedle belongs to the “stick a horn on it” school of pokemon design. This school has a simple design ethos. Follow the three step plan and you two can make a pokemon. Step 1. take an existing animal. Step 2. Stick a horn on it. Step 3. Profit.
Kakuna everything I said about Metapod except somehow Kakuna looks kind of badass, or possibly like a strressed out Japanese salaryman.
Beedrill is awesome sauce. Again everything I said about butterfree applies, simple design easy to copy but very much it’s own creature, primarily because of the sting arms which are just cool.
Pidgey, Pigeotto and Pidgeot
Lazy lazy lazy lazy. Lazy name and lazy design.
Pidgeot and Pidgeotto more of the same really, I’m including the two together because they have the wrong names. Surely everyone can see that the porgression should go pidgey, pidgeot, pidgeotto. In fact they make this mistake in the anime dub constantly. Who made this mistake and were they fired for it? Also I love pidgeot’s hair, that do is slick.
Rattata and Ratticate
I don’t think anybody likes rattata, It’s function in the games is purely and simply to be annoying. Nobody uses them in fights they just exist like the vermin they’re based on. About the only value they represent to the world is for easy xp at the start of the game and easy catches for if you’re trying to get all three starters through trades. Oh and they’re purple, because…..because fuck it why not. That counts as originality right? If we just take an existing animal and make it a different colour that should be fine right? Hmmmmm, maybe we should stick a horn on it to be certain.
Ratticate in contrast is not just worthless but ugly. Ugly and with a stupid face.
Spearow and Fearow
Spearow, its pidgey but not cute and so similar that why even bother?
Oh because it has this…thing as an evolution. What is fearow meant to be? The crest on its head makes it look like some kind of angry vengeful rooster only the rest of the body doesn’t match that at all. Also Fearow is definitely a 3 in the morning, deadline tomorrow, fuck it this’ll do effort from the localisation team. Spearow is a sparrow + spear portmanteau but Fearow doesn’t work at all.
Ekans and Arbok
Ekans is snake backward, that is literally the only interesting thing about this pokemon. They didn’t even stick a horn on it.
And Arbok is Kobra backwards, but they already did that joke once so Arbok is somehow worse.
where do you start
I have a very much love hate relationship with Pikachu. Obviously as the mascot for the games I have a lot of affection for the little guy, he stands for pokemon and as I have a lot of love for these games that extends to Pikachu. But he is also so freakin’ annoying. The voice is annoying, the fact that he’s EVERYWHERE is annoying and oh don’t get me started on how annoying he is in Smash Bros. The shock rat is practically banned when I play Smash Bros.
But, taken at face value you can see why they picked him to be the mascot. It’s a very strong and very original design. He’s based on an animal but an obscure one, a Pika actually (not a mouse) and he’s really really cute. Pika as well as being an animal is also the Japanese onomatopeia for electricity sparking so of course they incorporated electric elements like the colour and lightning bolt tail. And these are incorporated organically rather than just being bolted on. The design is clean and simple and again, easy to draw. It’s a good strong design with a neat premise and a good punning name.
But he’s banned from Smash Bros, unless we mute the irritating git.
Also check out pikachu in the original games and now.
Man Pikachu lost a lot of weight, I’m slightly concerned he’s developed an eating disorder since becoming famous. Expect him to check in the Betty Ford clinic any day now.
Pikachu’s electric motifs are incorporated subtly and organically into the monster design. Raichu…not so much. They basically took Pikachu painted him orange and then slapped lightning bolts wherever they had the space. This looks like a first draft of pikachu before they worked out the kinks.
Sandshrew and Sandslash
I am oddly fond of Sandshrew, he’s a shrew, made of bricks. That’s a nice simply uncluttered concept and a nice simple uncluttered design. You know what you’re getting with Sandshrew and that’s honesty, integrity and a shrew made of bricks.
I don’t have much to say about Sandslash except to tell him that Sonic the Hedgehog called and he’s pissed you stole his look bro.
Nidoran Nidorino Nidorina Nidoqueen and Nidoking
I don’t have a huge amount to say about these designs either. They’re pretty generic and uninspiring. About the only interesting thing about them is that in Generation 1 Nidoran is the only pokemon that came in two genders. Then this was made into a slightly squicky fact when it was pointed out to me that Nidoran is meant to resemble a rabbit, and what is the one thing everyone knows about rabbits? Ewwww, I don’t really want to think about Pokemon fucking thank you very much Nintendo. Actually weirdly when breeding was introduced as a proper mechanic Nidoqueen and Nidoking turn out not to be able to breed with each other which….is too stupid for English words.
Clefairy and Clefable
Clefairy is, I think, extracted directly from the brains of 5 year old girls. It’s soft, fuzzy, round, pink, a fairy and magical, from the moon, that’s a doll/pet. The only thing missing is a unicorn.
Clefable is a stretched clefairy, I don’t think this was an intentional design I think this was a photocopying error.
Vulpix and Ninetales
Vulpix and Ninetales are based on the Japanese myth of Kitsune, magical foxes with shape changing abilities that disguise themselves as human women and basically fuck around with Japanese farmers. There are hundreds of myths and legends regarding Kitsune in Japanese mythology, that they’re the messengers of the gods, that as they grow older their tales split signifying that they are becoming more powerful, hundreds. And Nintendo did nothing interesting with any of them, instead they made a fire breathing fox with extra tails. What a waste.
Jigglypuff and Wigglytuff
Jigglypuff is a pink ball and Wigglytuff is a bean bag chair with ears. Jigglytuff does get props for having his own personality in the anime, he’s a singer who loves to perform but his songs put people to sleep, this pisses him off so he draws on them. It’s not much of a character but it’s a damn sight more than Wigglytuff has.
Zubat and Golbat
Zubat is the only Pokemon ever invented that’s more annoying than Rattata. You know why? Because you can avoid Rattata, you just don’t walk in the grass. But Zubat! Step into that cave and one will attack you approximately EVERY FUCKING SQUARE!
I hate everything about the fucker, I hate it’s lack of a face, I hate it’s lack of legs, I hate it, hate it, hate it!
Golbat is somehow worse though. Someone literally drew a mean face and added wings and feet. At least Zubat looks like a bat, this thing looks an abberation before god. Seriously where is it’s body? Where does it put the food it eats? How does it use feet that are at the side of its head? This thing mystifies me.
Oddish, Gloom and Vileplume
Oddish is another Pokemon I like a lot, it’s cute, it’s a simple design but reflective of what its meant to be (a raddish). Not much to say here.
Gloom is weird but again I like it. The design is meant to evoke carnivorous tropical plants. The drooling represents the sap they extrude to lure flies into them but the designers have used it to suggest character and make Gloom look like a bit of a moron. That’s actually really cool, most pokemon designs don’t obviously communicate a personality like this one. And it still works as an evolution of Oddish.
Finally vileplume completes a trio of nice designs, based on the infamous Rafflesia arnoldii the largest single flower in the world that takes months to develop but blooms for only a few days and also stinks of rotting meat. Vileplume is basically a drawing of that but with a body to match the evolutions of gloom and oddish. Not as cool as gloom but this is a nice little trio.
Paras and Parasect
Paras is like Bulbasaur only lamer in every conceivable way. Instead of a dinosaur a crab, instead of a flower mushrooms. Yay
Parsect is much, much better. I love the integration of the mushroom with the body to form a continuous shape. It makes it much more unique and makes it a more balanced design. Plus its a reference to that creepy fungus that turns ants into zombies, and zombie ants are always cool.
Venonat and Venomoth
Although Venonat is an ugly little bugger the design works, nice and simple evocative of the animal it’s aiming for but with enough distinctive fantasy elements to make it a Pokemon. Strong entry.
Okay so here’s what’s weird about Venomoth, take a look at it, now look at Venonat, now look at Caterpie and Butterfree.
Clearly Venonat should evolve into Butterfree and Caterpie into Venomoth, Venonat and Butterfree both have compound eyes and antenna whereas Caterpie and Venomoth both have that weird tv antennae and eyes with pupils.
Diglett and Dugtrio
Diglett is such a brazenly awful design you kind of have to admire it. Partly that’s intentional, the fact that you can’t see the body is the joke they intended and every illustration of Diglett ever has him sicking his head out of the ground like this. But that head design is scrawled off in seconds. That is a kids doodle and nothing else. Diglett you’re so bad you’re actually kind of awesome.
Dugtrio however, sigh. I despise pokemon whose evolution is just that they have 3 of them together. Fortunately so does everyone else so outside of gen 1 this stops happening. But did Diglett really need an evolution? Diglett? The design is a joke for god’s sake, how does adding 2 more improve the joke in any way shape or form?
Meowth and Persian
Meowth looks like a manekinekko, a statue you often see in Japanese shops and restaurants of a cat holding a coin and beckoning customers in. They are supposed to bring good luck and bring lots of money into the property. Appropriately Meowth learns a move that gets you money when used. The design isn’t particularly strong but is basically fine, it evokes what it means to, is uncluttered but generally uninspiring.
Persian is just flat out disappointing. Meowth at least had personality (money grubbing) this is just, boring. The only remotely clever bit is that coin has upgraded to a jewel but basically somebody just drew a Persian cat and said “good enough.” At least they didn’t slap a horn on it.
Psyduck and Golduck
Psyduck, like Gloom, is a design that just screams personality. Psyduck is a luckless dork, you can see if straight away in his face, in the way he holds his hand partly from the headache and partly from shame and those eyes. Those are the eyes of a man who has had life tread on him repeatedly for decades but has endured. I love psyduck.
Golduck is fine I guess. It’s a sleek design in fact he looks kind of cool and badass but he’s kind of a disappointment after psyduck since he retains none of the goofy charm of the prevolution. Also the pokedex says he resembles the Japanese monster kappa. Here are how kappa are usually drawn.
Okay other than the head, ish, and the duck beak I’m not seeing it.
Mankey and Primeape
Mankey is an angry monkey with a pig nose, one from the “combine two animals randomly” school of design I feel.
Primeape is like Mankey but with badass heavy metal accessories. After this pokemon match he’s off to the mosh pit to head bang to slayer bro.
Growlithe and Arcanine
Growlithe is a tiger dog that breathes fire, another one from the random animal combiner I think although it is another okay design.
Arcanine does a nice job of having the hair tufts evoke flame without being obvious and the face design does look like a really inviting big goofy dog. Strong design.
Poliwag, Poliwhirl and Poliwrath
First of all I think it’s kind of brave of Nintendo to name a pokemon after a pollywog, considering the name has unfortunate racist associations.
For years I struggled to think how Nintendo looked at a tadpole and a frog and came up with this design, I mean poliwag does look like a tadpole but the other two evolutions look nothing like frogs at all, and that weird spiral design seemed to have been tacked on from nowhere. I mean the design is fine on its own but it isn’t evocative of frogs in the slightest.
Then I saw this picture.
and after that it made a lot more sense.
Abra, Kadabra and Alakazam
First off well done to the naming team that’s an excellent pun. Although considering the Japanese version is called Yunghelor a reference to famous psychic spoon bender Yuri Geller it might actually be taking second place.
There’s elements of these three I like. I like the idea of using a spoon to convey psychic power, I like the moustache harkening back to stage magicians and I like the expression of the face but, the monster these elements are stuck on is juts kind of an abstract mess that looks like nothing in particular. Not brilliant but okay.
Machop, Machoke and Machamp
I despise Machop. First off I hate any and all pokemon designs that are basically just “ a guy”. And there are loads. I prefer my monsters to be based on insects, mammals, birds, fish, inanimate objects, etc than humans. I find nothing lazier than taking a humanoid shape (2 arms 2 legs stood up, roughly human proportions) and just fudging it to make a monster. And what a dull monster Machop is. He’s just a basic human shape but with visible ribs and some kind of head crest, the head crest is the only thing to differentiate him from a blob of humanoid putty and it in no way is evocative of anything about this monster. He’s supposed to be a fighting type but nothing about him says fighting except the name. And the name is awful too. Why ma? I get chop from the fighting move but just adding ma to the front is almost digimon esquemon inmon namingmon techniquemon.
Machamp is marginally better since I do like the bulging muscles and pro wrestling belt but…. why does a wild animal have a pro wrestling belt?
Machoke is the best of the lot since the addition of the extra arms makes it look like a frigging monster and not a lump of putty.
Bellsprout, Weepinbell and Victribell
I think it’s kind of disgusting that Nintendo made a pokemon out of a male sex toy, let alone 3 evolutions of it.
Tentacool and Tentacruel
Tentacool is more annoying than Ratata, not as annoying as zubat (nothing is) but for me not in their league since I actually like the design. Specifically I like the fake eyes and mouth on the top part. That’s something real animals do in nature all the time, make their arse look like their face and vice versa and it’s nice to see a pokemon design evoke nature like this. Other than that trick its fairly meh but it’s sleek, uncluttered, easy to draw, etc.
Tentacruel of course is drawn in such a way as to ruin that nice fake face idea and adds a big pointy nose/ hook thing. Because of course jellyfish have big noses, famous for it they are.
Geodude, Graveller and Golem
Firstly, bravo naming team, bravo. A pun on geode, well done you all. It’s a rock with arms and a face. Again as a statement of purpose its a strong one. Yeah some of our monsters are just rocks, we don’t care, anything can be a Pokemon, even a rock. For a simple idea gGeodude is pulled off quite well he’s a very distinctive rock and again has bags of personality, you can’t look at this Pokemon and not picture an incredibly grumpy old man shaking his fists in impotent rage at those kids on his lawn. Oh if only he had legs he’d see to them.
Graveller has less personality but is actually my fave of the three for no other reason than I think it looks cool. It’s a boulder, with arms and legs, can’t go wrong there.
Golem though just makes no sense. His two prevolutions are sentient rocks whereas he is some kind of lizard/dinosaur thing encased in rock….rocks don’t turn into lizards nintendo, they just, they just don’t. Also he appears to have lost two limbs which must have been a bit of a blow.
Ponyta and Rapidash
Ponyta is a simple idea done well, we’re going to take a horse but replace the mane, tail and fetlocks with billowing flame. Awesome! That’s a great original idea and a very strong visual and Ponyta is simply a strong execution of that idea.
Rapidash however is Ponyta but with a horn stuck on it. Sigh. Horns do not equal fantasy Nintendo.
Slowpoke and Slowbro
Slowpoke is awesome, he’s an idiot Pokemon, a complete and utter total buffoon, with vast psychic powers. That’s hilarious and even if I can’t even hazard a guess as to what kind of animal he’s supposed to be I love him and his goofy, stupid face. He is herp personified.
Slowbro if anything has an even better face and a better name, he’s slow, bro. But he is also deeply confusing. That shell on his tail is supposed to be a Shellder, but it looks nothing like a Shellder meaning that the Shellder evolves when it bites a Slowpoke. That makes as much sense as anything regarding Pokemon evolution but since Slowbro and Slowpoke look basically the same doesn’t that make this technically an evolution of Shellder?
Magnemite and Magneton
I usually have no problem with the inanimate object designs but something about Magnemite bugs me, something about how all the elements seem separate. And I have nothing to say about Magneton I didn’t say in the Dugtrio entry.
Farfetch’d has to be one of the odder concepts for a pokemon going, he’s a fairly realistically drawn duck but…holding a leek. Wow, a leek. Get it? Because duck cooked with leeks is a popular dish in asia. Yeah, this one is definitely the result of a drunk designer looking at his dinner and becoming, for want of a better word, inspired. We really need a word for inspirations that are unutterably awful, badspired? Unspired? Outspired? Yeah I vote for outspired. Farfetch’d is an outspirational design.
Doduo and Dodrio
Another one I don’t have much to say about, the gimmick is cool and well executed, it fits the Butterfree test, the evolution is logical. It’s competent designs like this that made Pokemon such a winner in the first place.
Seel, a more classic example of “stick a horn on it” design you will not find.
Really, really? Was Seel crying out for an evolution? The one that was basically a seal drawn in a cartoony fashion with a horn on its head, what inspired idea do you have for its evolution. Oh, you just drew basically the same animal at a different angle. This is beyond lazy it’s actually verging on slothful. Your pokemon design is actually one of the seven deadly sins. It’s that bad, it’s biblically bad.
Grimer and Muk
Grimer, people pick on grimer for being basically a blob but, well, why not. A sentient blob of pollution is a really strong idea for a monster, oozing towards you inexorably melting everything below it in poisonous acids. It definitely didn’t warrant an evolution that was basically “the same, but bigger” though.
Shellder and Cloyster
I got nothing on Shellder guys, sorry,….it’s a shell, and a tongue….I got nothing.
Cloyster looks a vagina. There, I said it. Admittedly an evil and pointy vagina but a vagina nonethless. You can see outer labia, inner labia and a big ol spiky clit. This is Gen1, a kids game and right there it is, a vagina monster. Well played Japan, well played.
Gastly, Haunter and Gengar
Aside from the terrible English name Ghastly is okay, he’s one pokemon you can’t say much about because his design works and evokes what it’s meant to without being particularly great. Same goes for Haunter. Gengar though is interesting because for years I struggled to figure out what it was meant to be until somebody pointed out to me that it looks like the shadow of a Clefable.
That’s actually really clever and very subtly done.
I never liked Onix because I don’t get how he works, are those rocks separate? Are they linked? How does he move if they’re separate? I know its weird that I don’t pick on other monsters that clearly don’t make sense biologically (like geodude) but something about his design just seems weird and off to me.
Drowzee and Hypno
Drowzee is based on a Japanese monster that sneaks into people’s rooms at night and eats their dreams. And also a tapir. That’s perfectly fine, it’s a nice mix of design and gimmick and his moves in game back up his concept. However what is going on with his evolution? What is a Hypno? A lazy anthro monster is what it is.
Krabby and Kingler
We’re deep into, not much to say, territory here. Both of these designs are perfectly fine hitting the Butterfree test of “can I draw it?” and “can I recognise the animal?” but there is nothing inspiring about either of them.
Voltorb and Electrode
If anybody ever tells you that the original designs are full of originality and the new ones are just basically taking an everyday object and making it into a monster; show them voltorb. It’s a ball. Just, a ball….with a face. Now admittedly there is something of a gag to Voltorb, it looks like a Pokeball and has the move self destruct allowing it to explode. So unsuspecting trainers pick it up thinking it is a Pokeball and instead get a nasty surprise. That’s fine and all but then…
why the hell does it need an evolution that is basically a bigger ball.
A bigger ball.
….this is supposed to be originality folks.
Execgute and Execgutor
God I hate Execgute. Everything about it is just so confused and muddled. First of all it isn’t an egg Pokemon it’s a seed Pokemon. Secondly it’s not one Pokemon but six, but oh wait, they’re in telepathic link with each other so really it kind of is one Pokemon. But then why are some broken? Are they always like that? Is it meant to be broken, can it survive like that? Out of every six is one brother always broken? This Pokemon just confuses me deeply.
Exxegutor just confuses me more, do all 6 evolve and combine together, which is odd, or does one evolve into one exxegutor and the others go away? This pokemon just raises more and more questions.
Also that face is irredeemably goofy.
Cubone and Marowak
I like Cubone a lot, less so for the design than for the pokedex entry, check this out.
“Wears the skull of its deceased mother. Its cries echo inside the skull and come out as a sad melody.”
How messed up is that? It wears the skull of its dead mother. That’s beyond morbid and moving into vaguely creepy territory. But is also raises many questions. Does this happen to every Cubone? Does this mean that Cubone mothers (or marowak’s I guess) all die shortly after childbirth? If that’s the case how do you get more Cubone’s. Well actually one theory is that a Cubone mother is actually a Kangashkan, check this out.
Another thing I like about Cubone is that he’s one of the few pokemon to carry a weapon, a dinosaur weilding a bone club is a pretty neat idea and it makes him distinctive from most other Pokemon, even in later generations.
Marowak is much less interesting mainly because the skull Cubone wears is supposed to fuse with it’s real head as it evolves into Marowak. I know its silly to talk about common sense when dealing with dinosaur monsters wearing skulls that magically transform into slightly different dinosaur monsters but something about that idea just defies my own suspension of disbelief. Yes I can buy a dinosaur monster wearing it’s dead parent’s remains like a hat but not that it’s own head would organically fuse with said hat. And that may be the strangest sentence I have ever been called upon to type.
Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan
Hitmonlee is an abstract humanoid monster with nothing of interest to it at all and a silly name.
Hitmonchan is an abstract humanoid monster with nothing of interest to it and an even sillier name. Seriously the joke is that Hitmonchan is named after Jackie Chan and Hitmonlee after Bruce Lee, that makes some sense for Bruce Lee since he was famous for kicking but Jackie Chan is more famous for hitting people with ladders than boxing. He should be Hitmonali or Hitmontyson or something like that.
Generic abstract dinosaury monster with a really long tongue. I actually kind of like these single gimmick monsters, there’s something simplistic about their design that just kind of works for the gaming concept. This monster has a long tongue so all it’s attacks will be tongue based. Also the best thing about Lickitung’s existence is this screen cap.
Koffing and Weezing
I’m never sure what Koffing is meant to be. He looks a bit like a sea mine but he’s supposed to be a flying bag of smoke. Is he modelled after a germ maybe? Confusion aside it’s a nice strong design, simple, clean lines, evocative of the idea of poison (particularly the skull and crossbones) and again with plenty of personality. Look at this guy, he’s adorable, he just wants to goof around and mess stuff up. He’s like poison but cuddlier.
Weezing is the sole, SOLE exception to the 3 pokemon togther = an evolution rule since he actually works as an evolution. This is because the other two heads look like they’re growing out of the main head. This idea of a kind of mutation rather than evolution works well for a poison themed monster or if he’s supposed to be germ themed it looks like cells splitting and dividing.
Ryhorn and Rydon
Ryhorn is just a mess of extraneous lines. It’s really hard in the actual computer game sprites to get a sense of what shape this thing is supposed to be. You can make out the horn and the fact that it sweeps off to either side making a kind of u-shape on the head but beyond that it’s just a mess of spikes. Not great.
Rydon is an improvement since you can actually see what it’s supposed to look like but is still nobody’s favourite.
Plus it’s called ride on and has what appears to be a phallic symbol for a nose, make your own jokes people.
Chansey is a big pink ball carrying an egg with long pink hair and that works as a nurse. I’m fairly certain this is a fetish for somebody.
Tangela. What I love about Tangela is that technically you can’t see the Pokemon at all. The face is completely obscure in darkness, all you can see is the vines it uses to surround itself with and hide it’s face away. That’s a great concept and this is a slick execution of that idea.
Kangashkan, my abiding memory of this monster is that it was UNBELIEVABLY rare and hard to catch in the games since you could only catch it in the safari zone and it would run away at the drop of a hat. I hated this thing purely for that and an uninspired design doesn’t help it either.
Horsea and Seadra
They pass the Butterfree test and that’s all you can say for them really.
Goldeen and Seaking
Slap a horn on it design at it’s finest.
Staryu and Starmie
I don’t think there is anything interesting about star fish the actual animal or starfish the fighting pocket monster and the application of girly gems doesn’t fix that at all. Actually that’s probably being unfair to real starfish who at least have the ability to regrow limbs if damaged. That’s kind of neat.
Mr Mime, Mr Mime howfore dost thou suck, let me count the ways
- everybody hates mimes
- you’re the most egregious example of abstract humanoid design I have ever seen
- everybody hates mimes
- the expression on your face is eminently punchable
- everybody hates mimes
- the weird pointy haired boss hairstyle you have going on
- everybody hates mimes
- the pointy curly shoes
- everybody hates mimes
Scyther is the byword in sleek badassitude, is badassitude a word? It is now, Scyther just declared it. This is the Chuck Norris of Pokemon, not because it’s an overplayed and tired internet meme but because everything about it screams I will come and kick your ass and you have zero chance buddy. I mean it has swords for hands. Nothing quite pleases my inner 6 year old like sword hands and it puts Scyther in the rareified company of wolverine and Shredder.
A black face opera singing Pokemon. They can’t actually show this on american TV without recolouring it a violent purple hue. Jynx is walking evidence that Japan just doesn’t understand racism at all. Now plenty of people in Japan are proper racists, or more correctly, proper xenophobes, convinced that Japanese people are superior in almost every respect and prepared to drive black vans around Tokyo announcing this on loudspeakers but the vast majority of Japanese people would be perfectly nice and polite to anyone regardless of race or ethnicity. But the fact is the vast majority are also really racist without intending to be so, because their media and culture is woefully lacking in coverage of the world outside of Japan and so they think it’s perfectly acceptable to dress up in blackface and do things like this.
Jinx is therefore one of the more abstractly inspired Pokemon since she’s the walking embodiment of unintentional Japanese racism.
There’s plenty more racist designs by the way, just not in Generation 1.
What the hell is this? What is it supposed to be, did somebody mess up whilst drawing Pikachu and just decide to submit it anyway? What is this design meant to evoke?
Magmar, because when I think fire monster I immediately think of a duck, yup, duck’s well known for loving magma. Hence the well known expression, like molten magma off a duck’s back.
And I thought Cloyster was a scary vagina monster but looking at that thing’s mouth has just made little Adam retreat up into my body faster than you can say vagina dentata.
Tauros is completely dull except for one fact.
It was the one pokemon I never caught.
My pokedex contained 149 pokemon and the only guy I never got was Tauros. Like Kangashkhan he was only available in the safari zone and like Kangashkhan he was skittish as hell and would run away before you could catch him. I wasted hours and hours of my life going after that thing before Gold and Silver came out and I decided to just give up, accept defeat and move on with my life.
So when I see Tauros I don’t see a cartoony bull looking at me, oh no, I see a failed and wasted childhood staring into me, mocking me, laughing cruelly at my childish efforts.
Magikarp and Gyarados
Everyone, and I mean everyone loves these two. The heart of it being that Magikarp is completely and utterly useless. It knows one move, splash, which does no damage whatsoever. It’s completely useless in a fight, it can’t be eaten and just look at that face. That is a dopey, ugly, unloveable face.
And then it evolves into this.
Badass personified. A giant sea serpent with moves like dragon rage that sweep everything before it away in a tidal wave of fury and anger.
Magikarp into Gyarados is like the ugly duckling story as pokemon. Or better yet the Charles Atlas ads in the back of 1960’s comics. Are you a skinny pathetic weakling always losing fights, well if you can just make it to level 25 you can turn all that repressed anger back on the bully’s and destroy their posteriors totally.
There are some weird things about gyarados though. Why isn’t it a water dragon? It learns dragon type moves, it looks like a dragon, why not a dragon? Instead it’s a water/flying, but it learns no flying moves whatsoever so derives no benefit from flying at all just an additional weakness to rock attacks it wouldn’t normally have.
For years I thought Lapras wasn’t actually introduced until generation 2. I have no idea why I thought this since the surfing animation in gen 1 is a Lapras and he’s in the credits for the original TV show but memory is a funny thing. I can see why I may have thought this since Lapras is kind of boring. I mean it’s fine and all, the design is perfectly solid but it’s just basically a pleisaur with a shell on its back and no more clever ideas than that.
I love ditto. He’s pure gimmick but what a gimmick. He. only learns one move, transform, which allows him to turn into an exact copy of the Pokemon he’s fighting. Unfortunately this means he’s completely useless in fights since his moves are always not very effective and can’t gain type advantage. From Gold and Silver onwards though the real use of ditto became apparent. Ditto is a dirty, dirty slut who will fuck anything that moves. Yup, Ditto will breed with any Pokemon in the game, of either gender. Ditto doesn’t care, he takes it anyway he can get it. Look at that cute little pile of purple splooge, he is having the nastiest and most varied sex life you can possibly imagine. Skank.
Eevee, Vaporeon, Jolteon and Flareon
Eevee is again a gimmick pokemon but a great gimmick .Eevee himself is a cute little squirrel/dog thing, a nice design but nothing special. No what makes Eevee great is his ability to transform into, originally, 3 different evolutions (and now up to 7). This is a nice riff on dog breeding and the endless variety of dog shapes people have been able to come up with and is also a fine example (like ditto) of playing with the mechanics of the game itself to come up with an original idea for a monster. The 3 evolutions themselves are all pretty cool, they all look like dogs, they’re all clearly evocative of the element they’re linked too, they’re also pretty cool designs individually only enhanced by the eevee concept. My favourite is Jolteon because I think he has a really sleek and dangerous looking design.
Porygon is a digital pokemon, which is a dumb idea to start with. He looks like nothing in particular and has no personality. Plus this is the guy responsible for giving all those Japanese kids seizures. Basically beyond those dull lifeless eyes there is a sadistic monster, plotting something.
The Fossil Pokemon, Omanyte, Omastar, Kabuto, Kabutops and Aerodactyl
I don’t have much to say about any of these, they’re all competent designs (Kabutops is the coolest) but the concept behind them, fossilised pokemon brought back to life, is pretty neat and differentiates them from other monsters pretty cleverly.
Snorlax is another pokemon everyone loves. Again it’s a fairly abstract design but enlivened by a great gimmick, he’s a fat sleeping monster. So big and so fat that he actually poses a blockage to traffic. Hes a got a great simple design a neat concept and scores of personality. I mean who wouldn’t want to fight with a giant tub of lard whose moves actually allow it to fall asleep in the middle of a battle.
The Three Legendary Birds, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres
There’s not a huge amount to say about these guys, they’re slick designs, they’re all evocative of the element they’re linked to, they’re just baseline cool. My fave is Zapdos, both because his design is spiky (I like spiky electric types apparently) and because in game his typing is a great combination. Electric types are weak against ground but he has flying moves to take out ground types and flying types are weak against electricity but being an electric/flying he has no such weakness.
Dratini, Dragonair and Dragonite
Dratini and Dragonair are fine and all but nothing special. However Dragonite is hilariously awful. The other two are sleek and elegant, this guy looks like barney the dinosaur’s retarded cousin. Look at that face. That is a face that had to repeat a school year, possibly twice. He reminds me of lenny from of mice and men.
Mewtwo looks like a science experiment gone wrong, an unholy genetic aberration. Which is exactly what they were going for so well done design team. I also love his name, Mewtwo works as a clone of Mew and sounds exactly something artificial and created in a lab. Mewtwo’s design is fine not too crowded but full of little touches which suggest his artificial origin (like the weird neck tube) but what really makes him stand out is his back story. Mewtwo is the villain of the first Pokemon movie and really one of the only Pokemon intelligent enough to actually be a stand alone villain rather than just a tool for somebody else. His origins as an artificial being of immense power is of course a riff on, well take your pick, Frankenstein, Pinnochio, Star Trek’s Data, etc but whilst it may not be an original idea it is a gimmick shared by no other Pokemon so it makes him stand out and grants him a lot of personality. In fact I think Mewtwo qualifies as not really a monster but a character in his own right with his own emotions, desires and character arc something you can only really say about Ash’s Pikachu otherwise and that’s only in the TV Show and not the games. He’s also bastard hard and easily the most powerful monster in the games for the first two generations.
Mew has quite a few cool qualities but all of them are meta qualities to do with the game such as the fact that he’s the 151st Pokemon only obtainable at special events, or the fact that he can learn every HM and TM in the game. These are all cool unique things about Mew but they’re all just ways he’s weird in terms of game mechanics, there’s nothing intrinsic about Mew himself that’s very cool, his design is meh and unlike Mewtwo he doesn’t have any kind of character or personality.
And that’s all 151 original pokemon reviewed, mocked and discussed. I hope to get the Pokemon from Gold and Silver up here next month but stay tuned because non-pokemon related Mummyboon content will be up at least once a week between then and now.