Don't Get Me Started: a Pokemon blog

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Thread Description
In which I talk way too much about my favorite topic

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Badges
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Dex Entry Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Loves music, worldbuilding, anthropomorphism, horrible puns, and Masquerain.
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
3,551
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
So... this was inevitable. At some point or another my tendency to massively overthink my favorite things simply had to manifest itself into some form of outlet. I could have done this on Tumblr, but I'm wildly allergic to social media drama (and let's face it, Tumblr is the absolute last place you want to be on in 2020 because it's 2020). I wanted to do this on DeviantART, but Eclipse. So I'm doing this here. The plus side is that here, I can use spoiler tags to separate my articles into sections, so a reader can quickly jump between specific sections if they should so desire on the particularly long articles (and I do have a tendency to 'talk' on and on on the Internet about subjects that truly interest me).

I was inspired to do this by a series of PokeTubers whose work I really enjoy, such as Lockstin & Gnoggin, HoopsandHipHop, Bird Keeper Toby, and one of my favorites, the criminally underadvertised The Ruin Maniac Files. (Seriously, check him out. He's awesome.) But since I'm better at writing than talking, I chose to take the form of a blog instead.

My goal is to publish one article a week. Not all the articles will be as long as this one, because I do have other projects I'm working on. And while my hope is to eventually blog my way through the entire Pokedex, not all of my articles will be writeups on specific Pokemon families. Just so you're aware. I do want variety in what I cover. Each article will also end with a discussion question or two, to encourage reader interactivity. (And also because I just love talking about these things.)

So without further ado...

While not nearly as iconic or oversaturated as the Charmander line, the Bulbasaur line is well known for being the 'easy mode' starter of the Kanto games and Red's starter of choice in the Pokemon Adventures manga. (Yes, I know, technically Red's actual first Pokemon was Poliwag. What is it with him and frogs?) But as with many much-loved Pokemon species, Bulbasaur's line runs deeper than one might think at first glance.

As with most Pokemon, that's actually a complicated question. There was much debate in the past over whether the Bulbasaur line was based on frogs or dinosaurs, compounded by the fact that while many of its translated names involved references to dinosaurs, its Chinese names translated to "wonderful frog seed," while its original Japanese name translated simply to "strange seed" or "strange, isn't it?" Even in the anime, Ash's Pokedex states "Researchers are unsure whether to classify Bulbasaur as a plant or animal."

In an interview posted shortly prior to the release of Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, Ken Sugimori, one of the founding members of Game Freak, revealed that the Bulbasaur line was based on frogs to evoke the experience of having a small animal pet, to give the game "a sense of reality" and allow the player to emotionally connect with their Pokemon. This was later confirmed in-canon with Venusaur's hopping animation and with Bulbasaur in the Detective Pikachu movie having slimy, amphibious skin.

Interestingly enough, Pokemon fan artist RJ Palmer (aka Arvalis) helped create the realistic Pokemon of the Detective Pikachu movie, and was scouted based on the realistic Pokemon fan art he was already well known for on DeviantART -- and prior to his work on the movie, he was firmly in the "Bulbasaur is not a frog" camp. (I wonder how he feels about how things turned out in the end.)

Interview source: https://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-news/creator-profile-the-creators-of-pikachu/

But why a bulb? And how exactly does a frog get a bulb on its back to begin with?

(WARNING: The following paragraphs contain NATURE, and certain aspects of said nature may be unsettling to the faint of heart. Nothing mature-rated here, just... unnerving biological realities.)

While I'm not sure whether these particular inspirations were ever actually considered in the Bulbasaur line's design, there are some interesting frog species that have unusual similarities to Bulbasaur. The most obvious are the various frog species that live within bromeliad plants. Both tree frogs and poison-arrow frogs (Grass-types and Poison-types?) will keep their tadpoles within the pool of water within the bromeliad, making Bulbasaur's setup an ironic reversion of species roles. Notably, the poison-arrow frog will go so far as to lay unfertilized eggs into the pool for her larvae to eat. Much like frogs themselves, this is equal parts awesome and disgusting.

However, the most awesome and disgusting (and egg-related) real-world counterpart to the Bulbasaur line would have to be the Surinam toad. Like Venusaur, it has a flattened body, a triangular head, and tiny eyes. Also like Venusaur, it has something alive growing under its skin.

When Surinam toads mate, after the male fertilizes the eggs, he very carefully places the eggs on the female's back, where they get absorbed into her skin. The skin grows back over the eggs, which are carried to term inside the honeycomb-like 'chambers' that form around them. The young grow into tiny toadlings, which eventually break out of their chambers and head out into the world. You can probably find videos of this process somewhere on the internet, but quite frankly, I'm too squicked out to search for one and risk having who knows what wind up in my YouTube search history.

The flower itself is based off of the Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest flower on Earth. It is the same flower that inspired Vileplume, which is said in its Pokedex entry to have the largest petals in the Pokemon world. (Obviously this was written before Gigantamax Venusaur was a thing.) What makes it all the more interesting to be on Venusaur's back is that the real-world Rafflesia arnoldii (or "corpse flower," so named because of its horrible smell) is a parasitic plant, although instead of taking root on the backs of frogs or toads, it grows on other plants. Also unlike Venusaur's symbiote, which has a clear trunk and leaves, the corpse flower lacks roots, leaves, and stems, and its main body consists of thread-like strands of tissue completely embedded inside the host plant's body. Similarly to Venusaur's plant, the flowers differ in construction based on being male or female, although the plant itself is unisexual.

While humans find the smell of the corpse flower horrendous, carrion feeding flies feel very differently, and are attracted to the stench. While the flies themselves get no benefits from the corpse flower, they do play an important role in pollinating the plant, as pollen from the male flower sticks to the flies and can be transferred to female flowers. Thankfully, the flower of the Bulbasaur line has a more pleasant aroma, and is known to smell sweet shortly before Ivysaur's evolution to Venusaur.

The corpse flower is one of the rarest and most endangered plant species on earth. Unlike the Bulbasaur line, the corpse flower does not thrive in captivity, and environmentalist attempts to grow the plant in protected environments have largely failed. In my research, I was unable to determine whether said environmentalists have ever attempted to grow the corpse flower on the back of a giant toad. That is one thing that, quite frankly, we may be better off not knowing.

(Nature ends here.)
Well, when a mother Venusaur and a father of the Monster or Grass egg group love each other very much...

All right, seriously, I promised no more nature, so my hyper-asexual self is going to back off here.

The difficult thing about pinpointing the region of Bulbasaur's origin is that, as with most starter Pokemon, Bulbasaur is quite rare in the wild. But it had to come from somewhere, which is why I'm going to go through most if not all of its 'wild Pokemon' appearances to try to narrow things down. (For the sake of canonicity, I will only be focusing on its video game appearances, so its appearance in Hoenn in the anime or Rime City in the Detective Pikachu movie will not be counted.)

In Generation 1, of course, Bulbasaur is available as a starter Pokemon in Red, Green, and Blue, and is gifted to the player by a girl in Cerulean City if Pikachu's friendship is high enough. These are not wild encounters, however, and do not qualify them as Kanto Pokemon. However, they are occasionally found in the wild in Viridian Forest in Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, which could mean they are rare species native to the region. Alternatively, the wild Bulbasaur of LGPE could simply be feral Pokemon descended from captively bred specimens abandoned by their trainers. I do find this very unlikely, as you'd have to be an idiot to abandon your Bulbasaur before even facing Brock. But humans have done stupider things (such as some of the game design choices for LGPE to begin with).

Bulbasaur can also be spotted at the Bus Stop in Mintale Town in Pokemon Channel, which is heavily implied to take place in the Kanto region due to the presence of Viridian Forest. As this is an urban area, I am not counting this as a wild encounter.

Speaking of spinoff games, Bulbasaur can be seen in the wild in Pokemon Snap, specifically in the Pokemon Island river area. Notably, wild Porygon can also be seen in this area, meaning that not all the species on Pokemon Island were originally native there (Porygon being an artificial Pokemon designed by Silph Co.). We do learn some interesting facts about Bulbasaur behavior in the wild from observing these specimens: Bulbasaur will conceal themselves in hollow logs and stumps, not unlike actual frogs.

The first time in a mainline game in which players are able to legitimately capture a Bulbasaur in the wild is in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, where it is available on Alola Route 2 while using Island Scan on Fridays. Why rare Pokemon appear with Island Scan and how they came to arrive in Alola to begin with is unknown, but many species of starter Pokemon can be obtained via Island Scan -- Chikorita in particular is available on that very route in the original Sun and Moon. Admittedly, it would be rather boring to just assume that all starter Pokemon originated in Alola, so we'll keep on looking.

Bulbasaur has also been available in Sword and Shield via Max Raid Battle events in the Wild Area, and a tame one capable of Gigantamaxing once it evolves exists at the Master Dojo on the Isle of Armor. (It is unknown whether this specimen was naturally able to Gigantamax, or had simply eaten the Max Soup often cooked at the dojo.) So Galar is another possibility for Bulbasaur's location of origin.

Wild Bulbasaur also exist in the Fiore and Oblivia regions, where rather than training and battling Pokemon, the humans of the regions live side by side with them and mostly leave them to their own devices in the wild. It is entirely possible that one of these is Bulbasaur's initial home. In Fiore, Bulbasaur is found in Lyra Forest and Kisara Plains, while in Oblivia, it is found on Dolce Island, Hinder Cape, and the Forest Temple, while Venusaur is found on Latolato Trail, the Dark Temple, and the Odd Temple. Notably, the temples are accessed from the past via Celebi's time travel, so Oblivia may well be the oldest known appearance of Bulbasaur in the games.

By 'may well be,' I must make one final qualifying statement. Wild Ivysaur can be also captured in certain Friend Safaris in X and Y, although whether this truly counts as 'the wild' is up for debate. However, it is largely assumed that Venusaurite was one of the Mega Stones created as a result of the firing of the Ultimate Weapon in the AZ War in Kalos three thousand years ago, making it probable that the Bulbasaur line existed in Kalos at the time. However, this does not state whether they were native to the region or introduced from somewhere else, possibly from Oblivia. Why exactly the three starter Pokemon of the Kanto region are all known to Mega Evolve is unknown, at least from a Watsonian viewpoint -- everyone already knows that Game Freak is playing to the Genwunner crowd and has been doing so for an obnoxiously long time. It's possible that the three starters were specifically chosen as starters because all three of them can Mega Evolve and/or Gigantamax... but it does seem like a particularly strange coincidence. But that's another story (and possibly a future theory article).

TL;DR: Lots of possibilities on this one, but I'm going with Oblivia.
(Yes, I am aware that the canonical term for this is 'evolution,' but that's kind of a confusing term because it can be taken to mean the other kind of evolution, so I'm going with metamorphosis. Sue me.)

An interesting quirk of frog Pokemon is that whether they hatch as tadpoles or froglets appears to directly correlate with their typing. Water-type frogs such as Poliwrath and Seismitoad start their lives as tadpole Pokemon, while Poison-type frogs like Bulbasaur and Croagunk start out as frogs. Of course, it's natural that Water-type Pokemon would be more at home in the water and that land-dwelling Pokemon would be less likely to have their offspring live in ponds, but there are of course exceptions (Surskit comes to mind, but mainly because Masquerain is awesome and I can't stop thinking about it).

Bulbasaur largely remains the same throughout its evolution, at least in its animal shape: it's a frog that grows into a bigger frog. (Contrary to popular belief, not all real-world frogs hatch as tadpoles.) The plant on Bulbasaur's back is another story. It naturally grows from a bud into a blossom into an entire tree, eventually (through either Mega Evolution or Gigantamax) becoming so enormous as to threaten to overtake its host Venusaur in size. The Venusaur itself likewise adapts to its own temporary transformation, with Mega Venusaur growing bulkier and developing 'thick fat' to halve its type weaknesses, and Gigantamax Venusaur becoming a colossus that's still dwarfed by its now-enormous flower.

Various forms of media have depicted Bulbasaur's metamorphosis in an interesting manner. In the anime, many members of the Bulbasaur line congregate together in various places to absorb sunlight to mass evolve. This was depicted both in the original generation's Bulbasaur's Mysterious Garden and in the more recent anime's Ivysaur's Mysterious Tower. Notably, even a Bulbasaur that does not evolve can still become larger and stronger, as The Mystery Menace revealed that a Bulbasaur that had been abandoned by its trainer for failing to evolve had grown to an enormous size (while still not evolving) while living in the sewer. It is entirely possible that the lack of sunlight within the sewer had led to Bulbasaur having to eat more than is usual for the naturally photosynthesizing species, which led to its unnatural growth.

In The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga, which is loosely based off the anime, Bill describes watching his Ivysaur evolving into a Venusaur as a slow process of 'bloom(ing)'. This is counter to other media's depiction of the process, which usually has it happen at the same rate as any other species' evolution.
One of my favorite aspects of multi-media franchises is that each new piece of media in the franchise provides its own new lore bits to digest. While this can be taken to unhealthy extremes when the media interpretations are strongly contradictory to each other (see: Sonic the Hedgehog), for the most part, the Pokemon franchise has managed to build itself up with its different interpretations of the canon, rather than tear itself down.

One important, and often overlooked, part of the Pokemon canon is the lore bits provided in the trading card game. From new moves to Shadow Pokemon to regional variants, many aspects of the Pokemon we know and love today originated from the trading card game. In addition, the cards themselves feature a great deal of original art that often depict Pokemon doing interesting things.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Bulbasaur_(Base_Set_44)

One example of the latter is Bulbasaur (Base Set 44), which shows Bulbasaur appearing to fire some sort of mist or cloud of smoke from its bulb. It could be an example of Stun Spore or Poison Powder, or it could be an action similar to how Red's Bulbasaur in the Adventures manga sucks up a Gastly into its bulb and expelling it out its mouth. This is not dissimilar to Ash's Bulbasaur using Whirlwind in the anime episode The Ninja Poke-Showdown, which is not a move that Bulbasaur can learn in the games.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Bulbasaur_(Vending_S1)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Dark_Ivysaur_(Best_of_Game_6)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Dark_Venusaur_(Best_of_Game_7)

Bulbasaur (Vending S1) depicts an unusual coloration of Bulbasaur, which is a deeper blue and has a spotted bulb. Given that its surroundings appear to be a lab of some sort, and one of its stated moves is "First Aid," it is entirely possible that this Bulbasaur is sick in some way and that its illness is responsible for its altered appearance. Notably, its other move is "Poison Seed," which is not the name of a move, but is the name of an item in the (released later) Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series that poisons the Pokemon hit with it. Other cards have Bulbasaur knowing moves like Sleep Seed, which is also an item in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon that causes the target it's thrown at to fall asleep.

The nature of this Bulbasaur's mysterious illness may well be the result of experimentation to 'close the door to its heart' as in Cipher's shadow Pokemon process, for Dark Ivysaur (Best of Game 6) features an Ivysaur of the same cobalt blue coloration, turned crazed enough to apparently headbutt into a wall/tree (it's hard to tell with the image). It's quite possible that this is the result of Dark Ivysaur entering Hyper Mode/Reverse Mode. Dark Ivysaur later evolves into Dark Venusaur (Best of Game 7), which retains the blue coloration, but its flower is a sickly yellow, rather than the normal pink of Dark Ivysaur. Dark Venusaur produces a "Horrid Pollen" that can inflict multiple status conditions at once; however, this is not unusual in the TCG, even for members of the Venusaur family, so Dark Venusaur's ability to do so likely has nothing to do with its unusual condition.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Bulbasaur_(Expedition_94)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Bulbasaur_(EX_Team_Magma_vs_Team_Aqua_39)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Bulbasaur_(POP_Series_2_12)

Bulbasaur (Expedition 94) also has the move Poison Seed, but shows Bulbasaur in an unusual position: on its back in a field of flowers. Given that the bulb on top of its back is used both in battle and for absorbing sunlight for energy, one would think that rolling over would be dangerous for its health. However, Bulbasaur appears blissful and happy in this pose, leading me to believe that the bulb may be sturdier than one could assume. This is not the only card to depict Bulbasaur among flowers; Bulbasaur (EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua 39) shows one standing in a field of daisies, while Bulbasaur (POP Series 2 12) has two Bulbasaur in a field of white flowers. Rather appropriate, given their evolutions.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Bulbasaur_(EX_Crystal_Guardians_45)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Ivysaur_(EX_Crystal_Guardians_34)

While multiple cards depict Bulbasaur going after apples, Bulbasaur (EX Crystal Guardians 45) takes the flower association a bit farther than one might expect, depicting Bulbasaur with a pink flower partially in its mouth. However, the context of the picture indicates that Bulbasaur is not eating the flower, but plucking petals off of it -- two petals are missing from the flower and are blowing in the wind. This indicates that Bulbasaur may be engaging in a common human ritual: "She loves me, she loves me not." Given that Bulbasaur is most commonly seen living alongside humans, it shouldn't be all that surprising to see one picking up a human habit. (I do wonder who the heartthrob is. Possibly Ivysaur (EX Crystal Guardians 34), which is the other half of the image and is jumping up to catch the petals as they fly.)

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Erika's_Bulbasaur_(Gym_Challenge_39)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Erika's_Ivysaur_(Gym_Challenge_41)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Erika's_Venusaur_(Gym_Challenge_4)

Erika's Bulbasaur (Gym Challenge 39) shows that Gym Leader Erika owned a Bulbasaur, which she used to run errands for her (one of its moves is Errand-Running). This card is also the closest thing we have to confirmation that the status-inducing seeds that we see in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games do come from Bulbasaur: this Bulbasaur's other move is Sleep Seed, and its artwork directly depicts its bulb spitting out a seed very much similar in appearance to PMD's Sleep Seeds. Coincidence? Probably, but I'll take my theories where I can get them, thank you very much. This Bulbasaur later evolved into Erika's Ivysaur (Gym Challenge 41) and then into Erika's Venusaur (Gym Challenge 4). No, I don't know what's up with the numbering order either.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Ivysaur_(Southern_Islands_5)

Ivysaur (Southern Islands 5) reveals an unusual side effect of the scent of its flower: healing damage taken. While Aromatherapy already exists in the game, the move Strange Scent in the TCG functions more similarly to Gen 8's Life Dew in that it heals direct damage to multiple Pokemon (in this case, depending on a coin flip and the decisions of the player(s) that win the coin flip).

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Ivysaur_(Bulbasaur_Deck_22)

Ivysaur (Bulbasaur Deck 22) depicts an Ivysaur using what appears to be Solar Beam... under a night sky. Interestingly enough, Solar Beam is not one of the moves on this card, which instead uses Leech Seed and Vine Whip. That's a bit of a waste if you ask me.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Ivysaur_(EX_Crystal_Guardians_35)

Ivysaur (EX Crystal Guardians 35) shows an Ivysaur on top of a mound of sand with seashells on it. Perhaps another example of a Pokemon picking up a human habit of play, although let's hope that it didn't get swallowed by a Sandygast shortly afterward. A Grass-type being eaten by a Ground-type would be very much embarrassing indeed.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Celebi_&_Venusaur-GX_(Team_Up_1)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Venusaur_&_Snivy-GX_(Cosmic_Eclipse_1)

Venusaur appears to get along quite well with other Grass-types, if the TCG is any indication. The anime confirms this in Grass Hysteria, where a Venusaur is the leader of a group of Grass-type Pokemon in the Forbidden Forest. Notably, Ash's Bulbasaur has been seen in Bulbasaur... the Ambassador! as a peacemaker between Pokemon of all sorts of types.

Celebi & Venusaur-GX (Team Up 1) depicts a Celebi and a Venusaur working side by side, which will prove ironic in the next segment, given the two species' history in the competitive scene. Venusaur & Snivy-GX (Cosmic Eclipse 1) shows a Venusaur fighting alongside a very energetic Snivy. Apparently nobody told those two the story of "Why Frog and Snake Never Play Together," because these two seem like the best of pals.
A number of Venusaur's competitive movesets involve inflicting status conditions such as Leech Seed and Sleep Powder. In addition, Venusaur has access to moves like Synthesis and Mega Drain, which allow it to recover health. Venusaur also has a Mega Evolution and a Gigantamax form.

Please note that the following summary is far from extensive and leaves a great many things out. A link to the Smogon page for Venusaur is provided at the end of this section of the article.

In Gen 1, Venusaur was UU (underused) tier, countered by Gengar, Exeggutor, and the three legendary birds, with Gengar and Exeggutor being especially dangerous. Venusaur does outspeed Exeggutor, though, and can put it to sleep with Sleep Powder (which Grass-types do not gain immunity to until Gen 6).

In Gen 2, Venusaur was put on the UU ban list, but Smogon describes it as "mostly inferior to Meganium due to its typing." (Before you think this is a terrible insult, be aware that Meganium isn't a bad Pokemon -- it's just the more forgettable of the Johto starters, and to be fair, it had some pretty stiff competition in Typhlosion and Feraligatr.) Venusaur also suffers from not being able to learn Sludge Bomb in GSC. Skarmory is a particularly effective Venusaur counter because it strongly resists the Grass type, resists Body Slam, and can use Whirlwind.

Gen 3 Venusaur remained on the UU ban list, and benefited from finally being able to learn Sludge Bomb. It still has problems against Skarmory unless it carries a Fire-type Hidden Power, and while Celebi may be Venusaur's buddy in the TCG, it's a powerful Venusaur counter in the Gen 3 metagame. Sleep Powder means that even Venusaur counters are not entirely safe to switch into, although Hypno and Banette can come in safely with the right ability.

Gen 4 saw Venusaur's return to the UU tier as a bulky sweeper -- not uncounterable, but not to be underestimated either. It can run a special attack set with Leaf Storm and Sludge Bomb, a physical set with Swords Dance, Power Whip, and Earthquake/Return, a physically defensive set, a specially defensive set, a mixed attacker set, a Choice Scarf set, a Substitute/Leech Seed set, you name it. Notably, every single set that Smogon lists for Gen 4 Venusaur involves Sleep Powder, which just goes to show why Sleep Clause is a thing.

In Gen 5, Venusaur finally officially made it to the OU (overused) tier, but the eventual Chlorophyll+Drought ban in that generation limited its effectivity, leaving it outclassed by Ferrothorn, Amoongus, and its old frenemy Celebi. It did see better usage in VGC, however, particularly alongside Drought Ninetales. Ironically, Venusaur's own ability works against it, as Fire-type moves are super effective on Venusaur and deal even more damage in heavy sunlight. In addition, Abomasnow can take away Venusaur's sunlight and deal massive damage with Blizzard.

Gen 6 saw the arrival of Mega Venusaur in OU, which negated Venusaur's Fire and Ice weaknesses through the Thick Fat ability. Mega Venusaur's bulk and defensive typing allows it to check a great many common threats in Gen 6 OU, including several other megas such as Altaria, Diancie, Gyarados, Lopunny, and Manetric. However, Mega Venusaur retained its Flying and Psychic vulnerabilities, which are two relatively common offensive types in the Gen 6 metagame (I'm looking at you, Brave Bird Talonflame). Mega Venusaur is countered by Fire types, Flying types, Psychic types, Chansey, and Kyurem-Black.

In Gen 6 doubles, non-mega Venusaur (which is RU/rarely used tier in Gen 6 singles) has strong offensive synergy with Mega Charizard Y, which packs Drought to boost its Chlorophyll (the combination is no longer banned in Gen 6). If Venusaur is the one mega evolving, Heatran makes a good partner to it with Heat Wave (eat this, Skarmory) and itself benefits from Mega Venusaur, which can counter rain teams. And of course Quick Guard users can protect Venusaur from that obnoxious Smogon bird.

Gen 7 Venusaur remains in the RU tier, while Mega Venusaur is on the UU ban list. Smogon describes Venusaur as "exclusively a choice for sun teams, as it is outclassed by Roserade and Shaymin otherwise." Growth is notably mentioned as a move for Venusaur because its effects double in strong sunlight, increasing Venusaur's Attack and Sp. Atk by two stages. When paired with Chlorophyll and possibly a Grassium Z, this is a force to behold. Torkoal is a recommended teammate for Gen 7 Venusaur teams, as this is the first generation in which it bears Drought. In this generation, Venusaur is countered by Dragon-types, Steel-types, Gigalith, and of course Fire-types, including Venusaur's old buddy Ninetales.

While Gen 8 canned Mega Evolutions indefinitely, it also saw the arrival of Gigantamax Venusaur, which was placed in the Ubers tier as with all G-Max forms. Venusaur itself is currently in the UU ban list, although the recent release of the Isle of Armor DLC for Sword and Shield (in which G-Max Venusaur debuted) has left the metagame in a tizzy, so it could be a while before Venusaur's definitive place in this gen's metagame is solidified.

For much more information regarding Venusaur in the competitive scene, you may consult its various Smogon articles: https://www.smogon.com/dex/ss/pokemon/venusaur/
Discussion questions: What is your favorite depiction/interpretation of the Bulbasaur line, either in fan works or official canon? Do you have a favorite Bulbasaur/Ivysaur/Venusaur character from a nuzlocke?
 
OP
Trollkitten

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Badges
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Dex Entry Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Loves music, worldbuilding, anthropomorphism, horrible puns, and Masquerain.
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
3,551
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
Originally, my plan was to just go through the entire Pokedex with articles on each Pokemon family in order. But it occurred to me that with the vast number of fan works created for this franchise, I could actually do two articles on each family: one for official content, the other for fan works such as species redesigns, variants, fusions, gijinkas, that sort of thing.

Let me just say, there is a LOT of cursed content on the Internet, and you should consider yourselves fortunate that I respect the creators of such content enough as human beings that I have resisted the urge to share said cursed content out of my refusal to further humiliate them.

So yeah. I'm only sharing what I consider to be the good stuff out of what I've found.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Pokemon fan community is the reimagining of canon monsters into alternate forms. Real-life animals can come in many different breeds and subspecies, so it's natural (no pun intended) that the same thing would happen with Pokemon. Which it did, eventually, first in the Orange Islands season of the anime, then in the Delta Species of the TCG, and finally into the games with Alolan and Galarian forms. In addition, many fans have redesigned Pokemon as realistic designs, humanoids, and even fusions with other Pokemon.

For this article, I shall scour the Internet in search of the Bulbasaur family variants that are the very best, like no one ever was. I'm aware that it's extremely difficult to improve upon perfection incarnate, but that's never stopped the fans before, and it certainly won't stop me. If you've found any that I've missed, then be sure to throw me a link!


Since I'd previously mentioned Arvalis in the previous Bulbasaur article, we'll kick off this one with his original take on the Bulbasaur line, which are, in his own words, "like a cross between a Horny Toad and a Scutosaurus." Notably, the Bulbasaur is eating a Nincada, while the Venusaur's plant is attracting some Ninjask which are almost certainly also going to be lunch. This isn't entirely unlike how the smell of the real-life corpse flower attracts carrion-feeding flies to pollenate it, except that these 'flies' aren't going to be pollenating anything if Venusaur eats them. Just sayin'.


JoshuaDunlop is another well-known realistic Pokemon designer, and his Bulbasaur is all kinds of adorable. Another reptilian version of the creature, this one sticks a bit closer to the canon version's proportions, and those eyes really get me.


Lo0bo0's Bulbasaur is definitively tree-frog-like, and is rendered with motion blur on the 'vines,' which are mostly white rather than green in color. This is more reminiscent of newly grown plant shoots than vines, which honestly works rather well for a first-stage Grass type.


Twarda8's Ivysaur is far more dinosaur-like, and bears some pretty wicked tusks and sharp claws. While the pattern on the skin looks natural, I do wonder why Ivysaur would have its skin patterning in areas where it would be covered up by the bulb's leaves anyway. What purpose would it actually have?


These 'realistic' takes by CamusAltamirano are most likely the closest (bar Detective Pikachu's beautiful designs) to the original artwork, while still bearing more detailed skin and plant textures to invoke the real-world flora and fauna that these Pokemon are based off of. Are they frogs? Are they reptiles? Or are they something in-between?

Rather than a fusion or regional variant of the Bulbasaur line, this image by Cryptid-Creations is a reimagining of the original creatures themselves. The pot on the back is a whimsical touch, leading to so many questionsas to the biology of these creatures. The plant has been redesigned as a venus flytrap of sorts, with the Pokemon bearing it growing increasingly grumpy as its symbiote develops. Maybe it's the weight of the pot? Or maybe it's the constant movement of the plant snapping at anything that moves (bye-bye, Butterfree).


This vaguely mammilian redesign by Sony-Shock evokes the concept of nature spirits, reflecting the Venusaur line's role as guardians of nature (as seen in the anime and in The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga). Ivysaur in particular is a favorite of mine, its face resembling some form of Animal Crossing cat. The vines and their patterns further enhance the piece, drawing the viewers' eyes across the image and towards its three subjects.


This "Bulbasaur 2.0" by Tooscoo goes for a more dinosaur-esque design, with the bulb and vines forming a ring around the animal portion of the Pokemon. Its body shape is more angular than the official Bulbasaur design, but is oddly adorable in its own way, even a bit turtlish.


Unlike the original Ivysaur, this design by VolatileT1MES retains the ability to stand on its hind legs, and has what appears to be fingers and thumbs rather than the original's claws. But perhaps the most striking aspect of its reworking are the rootlike vines that wrap around its arms, legs, and face. I must say that I'm partial to its catlike expression, especially with the wooden growths resembling whiskers.


These starter redesigns by ShinyGazza make Bulbasaur more easily identifiable as a tree frog, although I do have to wonder a bit about the 'bulb,' given that its patterning and lack of discernible 'leaves' makes it seem a bit more like a nut or a mushroom. The skin patterning is top-notch, though, and I love those cute little toes. There are also second and third stage versions, although I do have to wonder about Venusaur's 'hand' sticking out of the flower. That part just seems wrong, and this is coming from someone who's had to search up Pokemon gijinkas for this very article and whom has discovered some extremely cursed content (which, before you ask, I will not be sharing in this article, because no one deserves to see what cannot be unseen).


Another 'tree frog' redesign of Bulbasaur shares the spotlight with Charmander and Squirtle in Stabbler447's cute yet complex chibi designs. This time, the bulb is more of the proper bulb that original Bulbasaur had, but it bears a more vibrant, contrasting color scheme of light green with orange highlights, and it, too, has cute little toes. (I have no idea why the toes get me. They're just toes. But they're adorable.)


This figurine by Hontor bears special mention for the interesting swirling patterns in its 'skin,' although I'm not really sure what's up with the shape of the bulb. Maybe it's lightning, or perhaps the angle of the photograph, but the bulb does seem a bit lopsided.


And finally, another design by Twarda8 (who also drew a realistic Ivysaur featured above) shows a more infantile Bulbasaur, this one with smaller ears and a rounder head shape. Featured solely because it is a bean and deserves to be seen.
https://www.artstation.com/artwork/oONmxm

This first piece of work, by Steph Walker, is a beautifully rendered version of the Bulbasaur family line, but instead of their usual 'corpse flower' plants on their backs, they instead bear cacti. They are described as a 'desert variant' of Bulbasaur, which explains their sandy orange coloring, which replaces the canon Bulbasaur's greener hues and provides excellent camouflage from predators. In addition, this Bulbasaur line appears slightly spikier and toothier, looking something similar to the desert-dwelling horned toad (which despite its name, is not actually a toad, but a species of spiky lizard). Walker has specifically said "Please don't take these and put them on reddit I swear to GOD," but they never said that I couldn't put them on the Nuzlocke Forums, so I'm gonna drop a link here and hope it all works out.



Interestingly enough, the fangame Pokemon Infinity also has a version of the Bulbasaur line with a more earthy color scheme and a cactus on its back. Its type is Grass/Ground, its ability is Solid Rock, and it learns a few moves that regular Bulbasaur does not learn, such as Harden and Mud-Slap. It also learns an all-new move called Dry Needles, which is a Grass-type version of Fury Swipes. And no, that's not just a reskinned Bullet Seed, as Fury Swipes has 18 Power and Bullet Seed has either 10 Power (Gens 3-4) or 25 Power (Gens 5+).


This Desert Spiny Bulbasaur sculpture by Carcardontalicious is another desert-dwelling member of the Saur family, "inspired by animals of my hometown." Unfortunately they failed to identify the plant on top of this warty creature's back, but it doesn't appear to be any species of cactus that I know of. Not that I'm an expert or anything, mind you. The general body shape and coloration appears to draw from the same 'horned toad' inspiration that Steph Walker's Bulbasaur line came from, proving that great (and creative) minds often think alike.


This interesting collection of Bulbasaur variants by AltabetStudios is drawn in a simple, cartoonish style, and portrays a number of different plants and the adapted breeds that host them. Most notable are the fearful Fungus symbiote, the spiky and toothy Rosethorn, the adorable Dandelion (which oddly enough appears to be in the final stages of the dandelion life cycle rather than the bud form), and... yet another Cactus variant. I'm beginning to sense a pattern here.


This Autumn Bulbasaur line by TheMeekWarrior is a bit different, portraying the Bulbasaur evolutionary line with, instead of a plant bulb, a rapidly growing pumpkin on their back. If you can look past the biological incongruity of the pumpkin growing despite the stem already being cut (Pokemon has done worse things to science), the patterns on Bulbasaur and Ivysaur and the garnish of leaves on the latter two evolutions make these one of the most well-executed Bulbasaur line variants I have yet seen.


Darksilvania's Kroelian Bulbasaur line is a Grass/Fairy variant, bearing an unusual 'bulb' on its back that bears aspects of both mushrooms and crystals, two items well known to have connections to fairies. What makes this variant stand out from the crowd is its Mega Evolution, which is not in fact a Grass-type at all, but Electric/Fairy, a creature with organic 'wires' and a 'satellite dish' resembling the type of design you might find in Pokemon Uranium. All in all, this is certainly one of the more unique Venusaur variants out there, and dare I say, at least a bit more creative than the more well--known other Fairy-type Venusaur line from Pokemon Insurgence.

https://wiki.p-insurgence.com/Delta_Bulbasaur_(Pok%C3%A9mon)

And speaking of Pokemon Insurgence's Delta Bulbasaur, here's PurpleHairedTrashCan's take on reworking the original design by EchoTheThird. This Fairy/Psychic type bears some resemblance to the original, but its colors and patterning are altered, and it bears a set of feathered wings. (For the sake of comparison, I have also linked to Insurgence's actual Delta Bulbasaur, but it's easily the weakest of the three Delta starter designs if you ask me.)


Midnitez-Remix designed an entire Bulbasaur variant line, this one being Grass/Rock type, with crystals sprouting from its skin much like the bulb sprouts from its back. Ivysaur bears sharper crystals, some growing out of the bulb itself (which, notably, has not yet bloomed into a flower.) Finally, the Venusaur variant has its leaves spread out to accommodate an enormous bulb-shaped crystal, and also bears a long, spiky, draconic tail that the official version lacks. I can only imagine what this thing looks like Mega Evolved... or Gigantamaxed. (Honestly, its bones must be made of rock to carry a bulb that big.)


Finally, Nyjee of DeviantART has created not simply a Bulbasaur variant line, but variants of every starter Pokemon from generations one through seven. Their Bulbasaur is a Fire-type with a volcano mounted on its back, which evolves into a Fire/Rock type Ivysaur. Unfortunately, the artist has yet to supply us with the final evolutions of these unique Pokemon variants, yet alone their Mega Evolutions or Gigantamax forms. Perhaps another day, far in the future...


This Bulbasaur/Sandile fusion line by Puppsicle is very well rendered, depicting shading and skin patterns quite well. The plant remains mostly unchanged, although the final evolution's plant seems a bit flattened -- most likely to ensure it stays within the picture's borders. They are chonks and I love them.



In another example of great creative minds thinking alike, the fangame Pokemon Fusion Origins has a Bulbasaur/Sandile fusion known as Bulbadile as one of its starter Pokemon. Unlike Puppsicle's version, Bulbadile retains Bulbasaur's aquamarine coloring, but bears the black mask and toothy snout of Sandile. (Voltsy's playthrough linked here shows a later version of the sprite used in a more recent update to the game -- we don't talk about what it looked like before, although a YouTube search of "Pokemon Fusion Origins" should lead you to a video with that image by HoodlumScrafty. It's not as bad as you might think, but not as good as to be worth looking up, IMO.)


This Bulbasaur/Mudkip fusion was a commission drawn by Mondlichtkatze for Claire-Cooper, and while its body and head design are cute as heck, what really makes it stand out is the 'plant' on its back. Instead of a common bulb, this fusion's plant is a blooming flower with petals resembling Mudkip fins and a pair of blue vines extending from the flower. I'd say Claire-Cooper got their money's worth on this one!


These "Bulbasaur Breeds" by DurrCo-Arts not only have aspects of different Pokemon species, they even have a few extra moves gained through their breeding. The first breed, which carries aspects of Snorlax, Slowpoke, and Slowbro, inherits Amnesia or Curse. The second, fathered by the Blastoise line, inherits Skull Bash. One can only imagine how this could affect the metagame, or what their final evolutions' Gigantamax forms would look like.


Firmly in the "wrong as hell" territory (and I mean that in the best, most unsettling way possible), we have Voltaisa's sprites of Bulbasaur/Duskull line fusions. A Pokemon of life and a Pokemon of death unite into the shapes of horrors beyond all imagining. They are completely bizarre and I love them for it. I'm not sure I would trust the final evolution to be my partner Pokemon, yet alone to Mega Evolve or Gigantamax (neither of which are depicted, but both of which would almost certainly be the harbingers of Eldritch horror).


Another unsettling creation is TBROFusion's "Bulbasaur edit," which is described as a mix between Bulbasaur, Furret, and Scizor. While the creator claims it obvious what parts came from which sprites, the color scheme doesn't really fit with any of them, which is curiouser and curiouser. Very much like this sprite itself, which seems to be staring into my soul.



For a look into the process of creating a fusion, watch D.T Drawing's video in which a fusion of all three original Kanto starters is completed. (No, I didn't leave out a period on their name. That's literally how it's spelled. Heck if I know why.)



And of course, RaZzi has gone and made a video showing Bulbasaur fused with literally every single other Pokemon in the original Kanto dex, because Wynaut.

https://pokemon.fandom.com/wiki/Venustoise

Honorable mention: the original Bulbasaur family fusion, Venustoise. Starting life in the official anime as an illusion created by a Gastly to frighten Ash's Bulbasaur and Squirtle, this is arguably the 'original' fusion and has inspired countless fusions the world over.


In this piece by Alukelele, the 'bulb' on Bulbasaur is depicted as a backpack held on with straps. The color palette and shading are soft and understated, and the somewhat androgynous gijinka somewhat reminds me of the gym leader Bugsy. There's even a little regular Bulbasaur standing at their feet for comparison.


This adorable -- and adorably simple -- Bulbasaur gijinka by Howwiee also shows the bulb as a backpack. Its subject, a small child, wears a hat somewhat similar to Brendan's from the Hoenn games, complete with a little bit poking out to symbolize the ears. The child bends down to touch fingers with a non-gijinka Bulbasaur, leading to some interesting philosophical questions as to the nature of gijinkas and just how close they are to their Pokemon counterparts. (Well, at least that's how I see it.)


Though this Ivysaur gijinka by Nirvna-chan is only shown from the waist up, their plant aspects are expertly worked into the character design, with the flower bud growing out of the hair, the leaves sprouting from the back, and the vines serving as additional 'limbs' to clutch an Ivysaur trading card. Judging from the gijinka's expression, they didn't expect to be photographed.


This Venusaur gijinka (excuse the watermark) by Mizuki-Minoru has no true animal or plant features on the body, simply depicting the humanoid dressed in clothes bearing a Venusaur motif. Most notably, a pattern of palm leaves adorn the dress in the form of an extra skirt, and the hat carries the pattern of the flower on Venusaur's back. Even the tree trunk is referenced in the lady's top.

A similar pattern is seen in the same artist's Ivysaur gijinka. Her top is formed from Ivysaur's flower, and the leaves form a pattern on the skirt. Even her headband and shoes bear tiny Ivysaur flowers.


And finally, while not actually a gijinka art piece per se, GL-Gloria has designed an interesting set of fashion pieces based off of the Bulbasaur line. Given the high number of cursed images I had to go through to give you this small sampling of actually decent Bulbasaur gijinkas, I feel like padding the article out just a tiny bit is justified. (Seriously, don't go searching for Bulbasaur line gijinkas on DeviantART, especially the later evolutions. Why? You don't want to know. Which means you'll probably do so anyway, but trust me, you'll regret it. I certainly regret it.)
Discussion questions: If you were to redesign the Bulbasaur line, which aspects would you change, and which would you keep? Are there any moves or abilities you wish that the Bulbasaur line had?
 
OP
Trollkitten

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
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She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Dex Entry Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Loves music, worldbuilding, anthropomorphism, horrible puns, and Masquerain.
Pronouns
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokédex No.
208
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
3,551
Location
Gatto Region
Nature
Quirky
Another week is over, and another article has begun! (I, like, wrote the entire last part of the article just now because I had trouble motivating myself to do much of anything over this week, so it's not exactly comprehensive, but to be fair, I'm not really a competitive Pokemon person myself. So those are really not my favorite parts of the article to write.)

So apparently the cure for writer's block (for me anyway) is to work on tinkering with Pokemon stats in my upcoming Pokemon Burst homebrew tabletop RPG, because that job is so boring that before long my brain is begging me to let it work on the article. I'm not sure just how much that says about me or if I like what it's saying, but oh well.

Charizard. Easily one of the top five most iconic Pokemon of all time, and probably one of the top three. This makes it kind of controversial among the Pokemon fanbase, as many view it as overhyped, especially given Game Freak's trend over the past few generations to play to Gen 1 nostalgia at the expense of other generations. But what IS Charizard, exactly? What are its secrets? And why isn't it even a Dragon type? (Okay, in fairness, that last question I'm saving for another article, so be patient!)
While these topics were two separate sections in the Bulbasaur article, I felt it important to merge them into one for Charizard, given that Charmander changes drastically upon its evolutions. The creator of the Kanto starters, a woman named Atsuko Nishida, created Charizard first, then designed its species line so that one wouldn't be able to easily guess that Charmander would eventually evolve into Charizard. (You know, besides the fact that Charizard is, like, literally on the cover of the freaking box. In fairness, as a child, I was surprised that Charmander didn't evolve into Dragonite, which basically looks like a branched evolution of the Charmander line. But that's another story.)

While Charmander itself is a lizard, its English name invokes the classic "fire salamander" myth of ancient times. Great thinkers of the past such as Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) and Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) both believed that salamanders were born or created from fire. This misconception is believed to have sprung up from the real-life fire salamander, which nests in the type of hollow logs typically used for firewood. Once the logs were set on fire, the salamander inside would beat a hasty escape, giving the impression that it had been 'born' from the flames.

In reality, even fire salamanders are no more fireproof than anyone else; why else would they be running so fast to get out of the flames? But the myth persisted, and the salamander was even named by 16th century occultist Paracelsus (1493-1541) as one of the four elemental spirits of alchemy, made of fire itself. (This ties neatly into Gigantamax Charizard becoming so powerful that its very wings and horns become a raging inferno. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.)

Charmeleon, as the intermediate stage between Charmander and Charizard, vaguely resembles a stylized form of bipedal crested dinosaur such as Parasaurolophus. This dinosaur's name literally means "crested lizard" because of its most distinctive feature, the crest on its head, which according to computer models made from various fossil specimens, may well have been used to push air through to make sounds, similar to a wind instrument. The crest may also have been used to help the (most likely cold-blooded) dinosaur regulate its body temperature, allowing it to absorb heat during the day and slowly release it at night. (This may also explain why G-Max Charizard's horns are engulfed in flames, as the sheer power of Gigantamaxing increases its internal flame immensely.) It is believed that Parasaurolophus could travel on four legs or two legs, which is somewhat different from Charmeleon, who has only been seen on two legs. Given that Charmeleon's forearms are visibly longer than its hind legs, I would imagine that one running on all fours would be somewhat awkward.

Charizard, obviously, is based around a classic Western dragon. While I know a guy who vehemently insists that Charizard is not a dragon... well, it's in the Dragon egg group, which has the exact same name as the Dragon type in both English and Japanese, so at the very least, I'd say the species line has draconic ancestry. (Although the Scraggy/Scrafty line is also in the Dragon egg group... and so is Magikarp... and Swablu... okay, I'll be honest, I never know what the hell Game Freak is thinking on any given day.) More notes on why Charizard looks like a dragon but isn't the Dragon type will be forthcoming.

Charizard has no less than three 'ultimate' forms: Mega Charizard X, Mega Charizard Y, and G-Max Charizard. The Mega X form is very different from the other two forms, having deep black skin with blue flames, belly, and wing membranes. This extreme transformation into a Fire/Dragon type, as well as the existence of two Mega Stones for Charizard, has led many fans to theorize that Charizardite X is a man-made Mega Stone similarly to how (in theory) Mewtwoite X and Y are believed to be man-made. Personally, I find this theory doubtful for several reasons, which I intend to detail later. (No, don't point to the Origins anime as evidence; it may stick closer to the games than the original anime, but that doesn't make it the inerrant Word of God to the game canon. Not to mention that it doesn't outright state where Mr. Fiji got the Charizardite X either.)

Mega Charizard Y is the most Charizard-like of the ultimate forms, focusing more on Charizard's Flying-type than its Fire-type. Its wings grow larger and more ragged, its arms grow smaller wings, and it generally becomes spikier. In addition, it has the ability Drought, powering up its Fire-type moves and making Solar Beam even more of a threat to counter Water types.

Gigantamax Charizard, as previously mentioned, is so powerful that its horns and wings have burst completely into flames. In addition, its claws have grown larger and sharper, and its skin bears a visible diamond-shaped scale pattern. I wouldn't want to meet this thing on a dark night, not that the night would stay dark for long with that much fire around.
While Charmander is found in the Fire Temple of Oblivia's past, I'm inclined to believe that the species as we know it today most likely was native to the Galar region. It's the most obvious choice -- as I've mentioned before, Charizard resembles a Western dragon, and Galar itself is based on England, which has its fair share of knight-and-dragon legends.

This actually leads into a theory I have about how and why the Kanto starters became starter Pokemon to begin with, and why 'Kanto starter' might not actually be what they 'originally' were in-universe. This ties into another theory made by The Ruin Maniac Files and also ties into my "why Charizard is not a Dragon type" and "why Charizard has two Mega Evolutions" theories, which are probably best put into their own great big theory article of everything.
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmander_%CE%B4_(EX_Crystal_Guardians_49)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmeleon_%CE%B4_(EX_Crystal_Guardians_30)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charizard_%CE%B4_(EX_Crystal_Guardians_4)

Charmander δ (EX Crystal Guardians 49) is a Delta Species of the Lightning type, a type generally corresponding to Electric-type Pokemon. Notably, Delta Charmander still has fire and not lightning coming out of its tail, which IMO is a waste of design potential. This sadly continues in Charmeleon δ (EX Crystal Guardians 30), which at least shows some electricity flowing around Charmeleon in both of its artworks. Charizard δ (EX Crystal Guardians 4) is Lightning/Metal type, an interesting combination that would probably look pretty cool if it wasn't basically just regular Charizard with a slight aura to it.

In the TCG canon, Delta Species originate from the Holon region and gained their unusual typing through exposure to electromagnetic waves that scientists used to try to locate Mew. One would think that these scientists would go about their work in a far less dangerous manner, but obviously they didn't safety test their equipment properly, which is why we have electric Charmander running around.

Notably, a normal Charmander can evolve into a Delta Charmeleon, and a Delta Charmander can evolve into a normal Charmeleon. This goes for literally any other Delta Pokemon in the TCG, at least for those that evolve. Why this is, don't ask me. Probably a mechanical oversight on the part of the game developers, unless it's not a bug, but a feature.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmander_(Arceus_59)

Charmander (Arceus 59) is particularly brave, keeping its tail flame so close to a raging waterfall. Or maybe it's forced perspective and that waterfall is actually much farther away than it looks to me. Or maybe its Call for Friends move is it yelling for help because it's surrounded by water and if its tail flame goes out, it'll die. Although it looks a bit too happy to be screaming for its life.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmander_(Boundaries_Crossed_18)

Charmander (Boundaries Crossed 18) shows one happy young specimen in an interesting pose, appearing to swing from a vine or tree branch. While Charmander does have stubby fingers and what looks to be opposable thumbs, I'd never pegged it as the swing-from-vines type, especially considering that, well, its butt is on fire. If it's not careful with that tail of its, it's gonna set something on fire that really shouldn't be set on fire -- possibly the very branch it's clinging to, meaning it had better hope it's not a long way down.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmander_(Generations_RC3)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmeleon_(Generations_RC4)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charizard_(Generations_RC5)

Charmander (Generations RC3) shows one individual's mischievous side, as a playful Charmander runs off with a young boy's glasses. This continues with Charmeleon (Generations RC4), in which the now-older boy and now-evolved Charmeleon are sitting in a tree and studying some sort of book. (Charmeleon looks like it's gonna set that tree on fire with its tail. Seriously, they give these Pokemon to ten-year-olds?) In Charizard (Generations RC5), both boy and Char have grown up, and are exploring an icy wilderness. It should be noted that Charizard is protectively using its wing to shield its trainer from the elements.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmander_(Dragon_Majesty_1)

Charmander (Dragon Majesty 1) is a clear example of a Pokemon using tools, as it's holding a large leaf over its head as an umbrella. This is vaguely reminiscent of the famously heartbreaking anime episode (which needs no introduction) in which an abandoned Charmander holds a leaf over itself in a desperate attempt to protect itself against a raging rainstorm. However, the context and tone of this trading card are vastly different: this Charmander is relaxed and happy, and standing on its own two feet after the rain has ended. In the anime, Charmander had to be rushed to a Pokemon Center after enduring the vicious downpour.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmeleon_(EX_Dragon_99)

Charmeleon (EX Dragon 99) is a rare shot of the hot-blooded Pokemon trying to face either a rockslide or a raging river (it's hard to tell at such low resolution). Either of which could be fatal to it, but judging by the wild expression on its face, it clearly doesn't care. I'm not sure how it got into this state, but if I was its trainer, I'd recall it into its Poke Ball before it got itself killed.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmeleon_(EX_Crystal_Guardians_29)

Charmeleon (EX Crystal Guardians 29) shows Charmeleon inside either a cave or a canyon, with crystals all around it. Given the long-standing association of Western dragons with collecting treasure, I wouldn't be surprised if this is an indication of the Charizard line's draconic instincts. Of course, it could also just be because the line of cards it's in are literally called Crystal Guardians, so maybe I'm overanalyzing.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charmeleon_(Burning_Shadows_19)

Charmeleon (Burning Shadows 19) seems to be rampaging around Po Town, judging from the scenery in the background. Notably, Charmander is available in USUM, but only through Island Scan, which of course no Team Skull member would be able to use, as 1. it requires a Rotom Dex, and 2. it's only made available after completing your island challenge, which is something no Team Skull grunt has ever done. The most likely reason for a Charmeleon to be in Po Town is that Team Skull stole it, which could explain why it's angrily rampaging around. Maybe Guzma should think twice about having his squad kidnap a bunch of elementally powered and potentially dangerous creatures. Just stick to swiping the Trump weasels.

Disclaimer: In the interests of science, mongooses are not actually part of the weasel family at all. I just like to call Yungoos and Gumshoos the Trump weasels because it's funny.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Dark_Charmeleon_(Team_Rocket_32)
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Dark_Charizard_(Team_Rocket_4)

Dark Charmeleon (Team Rocket 32) is a fierce, fireball-flinging fighter that actually had a manga chapter from How I Became a Pokemon Card written about it. In that chapter, Charmeleon's trainer, Hitoshi, attempts to become a Team Rocket grunt by doing evil deeds, but he and his Charmander keep accidentally doing good deeds instead. In that story, Charmander evolves into Charmeleon, and while it isn't shown in the manga, eventually Dark Charmeleon evolves into Dark Charizard (Team Rocket 4), which has a shadowy, ashen appearance. Or maybe it's the lighting, I don't know. Its tail flame at the very least looks dark and smoky.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charizard_(Skyridge_146)

Charizard (Skyridge 146) has the interesting distinction of being "Crystal Type," which is not a type at all but a Poke-BODY effect. Similar to the abilities Protean and Libero, Crystal Type alters the Pokemon's type based on the type of energy most recently attached to it (in this case, Fire, Lightning, and Fighting energy). While there was never any in-universe explanation as to why Crystal Type Pokemon existed, given that one of the types is Lightning, the same type as the Delta Charmander line, my best guess is that it has something to do with how Pokemon types can change due to radiation of certain energies. (Hmm... radiation... energies... this could well tie into my Charizard theory...)

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charizard_%E2%98%86_%CE%B4_(EX_Dragon_Frontiers_100)

Charizard ☆ δ (EX Dragon Frontiers 100) is Dark-type, but is still seen breathing fire. Also of note, it's marked as a Basic Pokemon, despite being the third in a fully evolved line. This is likely because only one Pokemon is allowed in a deck, meaning it would be impossible to evolve a Charmander.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charizard-EX_(Flashfire_11)

One version of Charizard-EX (Flashfire 11) depicts Charizard being roped by Venusaur's vines and spitting fire to try to burn itself free. Given that Grass-type attacks deal one-fourth the usual damage to a Fire/Flying type, I question the effectiveness of this attack, unless the purpose is to try to prevent Charizard from escaping. And on that note, why the hell would Venusaur WANT to keep fighting with a Fire/Flying type, anyway?

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Reshiram_&_Charizard-GX_(Unbroken_Bonds_20)

Reshiram & Charizard-GX (Unbroken Bonds 20) depicts Charizard teaming up with an actual Fire/Dragon type in Reshiram, Unova's own Dragon of Truth, as a tag team. Notably, this card contains a GX move, Double Blaze-GX, which deals massive damage. GX moves are essentially the TCG's version of Z-moves, which makes me wonder why they used the term "GX move" instead of Z-move. That's kind of weird.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charizard_&_Braixen-GX_(Cosmic_Eclipse_22)

Charizard & Braixen-GX (Cosmic Eclipse 22) channels the power of two fire starters ready to start something. This one also has a GX move, Crimson Flame Pillar-GX. Unlike Double Blaze-GX, this move deals no damage, but pulls five basic Energy cards from the user's discard pile and attaches them to the player's Pokemon, and also has the opportunity to make the foe's Active Pokemon both Burned and Confused. I guess if a teenage fox witch just flew down on a fire dragon and started shooting columns of fire that energized its teammates, I'd be confused too.

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Charizard_(Base_Set_4)

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the original best card in the TCG series, Charizard (Base Set 4). Its powerful Fire Spin, useful Energy Burn, and highest HP count made it the most sought-after card in the entire game, sold for as much as $150. It's very likely that this only contributed to the species' popularity among the fans, a popularity that eventually bit Charizard in its own flaming backside when Game Freak started overusing it and the online fan community collectively got sick of it.
In the Gen 1 meta, Charizard is classified as UU tier, but for some reason Smogon only has an article for it in the OU tier, in which Starmie makes it absolutely miserable. Smogon recommends giving Charizard Earthquake to help against obnoxious Rock-type foes such as Rhydon and Golem and to KO other Fire types. Zapdos is another good Charizard counter, although any other Electric types in the Gen 1 meta are threatened by Earthquake.

In Gen 2, Charizard is firmly on the UU ban list, due to being a very speedy Belly Drum user. While its stats and typing weaken it, with the right team, it can still shine, getting OHKOs and 2HKOs on anything that doesn't resist Earthquake. Rock Slide is a necessary move against Flying types that are immune to Earthquake, and Fire Blast takes advantage of Charizard's high Sp. Atk and Fire typing to knock out foes such as Skarmory, Steelix, Forretress, and Exeggutor. However, for Belly Drum Charizard to sweep, everything that outspeeds it must be paralyzed, frozen, sent to sleep, or knocked out. This is why Charizard needs a solid team built around it to cover its flaming backside. Starmie is still Charizard's greatest enemy in this generation.

Charizard remains in the UU ban list in Gen 3, where Dragon Dance and the Salac Berry help it against speedy Pokemon like Starmie and Gengar. Smogon describes it as "a high-risk, high-reward Pokemon" and warns that "the more setup moves it runs, the fewer attacking options it gets." There are several Belly Drum sets that Charizard can run, and a couple sets without the move, but Smogon seems to recommend Belly Drum above all else. Zapdos remains a threat to Charizard, alongside bulky Water-types like Suicune, Swampert, Milotic, and Vaporeon. And of course, Rock-types like Aerodactyl and Tyranitar are a horrifying threat to any Fire/Flying type.

Ah, Gen 4. How the mighty have fallen. Power creep kicked Charizard to the curb, or at least to the NU tier -- in which, I might add, it is actually the most likely to be used, being considered the best Pokemon in the tier. Its weakness to Stealth Rock means that it relies on its teammates to provide Rapid Spin support, but its Ground immunity and Fighting resistance give it better opportunity to switch in than other Fire-types in its tier. Roost gives it recovery options, which is always nice. Notably, none of the NU sets Smogon has provided use Belly Drum, although the move is mentioned under "Other Options" with the caveat that it requires a great deal of conditions to be successful in this gen.

Charizard is a difficult mon to counter in Gen4 NU due to its versatility -- Regirock and Slowking are vulnerable to a SubToxic set, Politoed and Mantine will be KO'd by Thunder Punch on a physical set, and Quagsire, Gastrodon, and Whiscash survive physical Charizards but are absolutely destroyed by special sets' Hidden Power Grass. Smogon's recommended strategy against Charizard in this tier is to keep up Stealth Rock and put the heat on it (no pun intended) with faster Pokemon such as Tauros, Manectric, Floatzel, and Electrode.

In Gen 5, Charizard remains a power player in NU, where Stealth Rocks are still annoying but can work to its own advantage by activating its Blaze ability. When a player can't afford that risk, Wartortle makes an excellent teammate to Charizard with its Rapid Spin and its ability to tank Water and Rock attacks that would make its partner cry. Giving Charizard a Choice Scarf to increase its speed makes it a fantastic revenge killer. Charizard remains as versatile as it was in Gen 4, being able to run physical or special sets. Once again, rocks are your friends against Charizard, but be careful about Hidden Power Grass and Focus Blast.

While Charizard itself remains NU tier in Gen 6, X and Y gave Charizard not one but two mega forms, both of which powered their way to OU. Mega Charizard X is a top-tier Dragon Dancer, and Mega Charizard Y is OU's greatest wallbreaker. The fact that your opponent won't know which one they're facing until you mega evolve the thing is the icing on the cake. (Why must you be evil, Game Freak? WHY.) Honestly, I don't know why Game Freak didn't give more Pokemon multiple mega evolutions... although to be fair, I would have settled for just more Pokemon getting mega evolutions. (Flygon cries delicious fanboy tears.) The mega evolutions do have a major weakness in that a Pokemon with excellent NU-tier speed is completely outpaced in OU, and even Mega Charizard X still takes half HP Stealth Rock damage before it mega evolves.

In Gen 7, base Charizard finds itself in the PU ban list, not even officially making it to NU proper. Both mega evolutions remain in the OU tier as powerful wallbreakers, and Mega Charizard X remains an excellent setup sweeper. There are two walls that Mega Charizard Y cannot break through, and those are Toxapex and Chansey. Speed remains a problem for both megas, although much less so for Mega Charizard X with Dragon Dance. Alternatively, base Charizard can use Z-Hold Hands in NU to clean up weakened teams, but requires teammates that can take out any threats to its existence first.

At least Gen 8 was kinder to Charizard, or so it seems thus far. It's still going to be some time before the metagame balances out, but base Charizard has made its way, if not a full return to the UU tier, at least up to RU. G-Max Charizard, of course, is in Ubers, as is every other G-Max Pokemon because Smogon has banished Dynamax to Ubers entirely. (Smogon, why do you hate fun?)

For more information, you may look up Charizard on Smogon.com from the generation of your choice: https://www.smogon.com/dex/ss/pokemon/charizard/ru/
Discussion questions: How do you feel about Charizard's popularity? What Pokemon species do you feel is underrated compared to Charizard? (I'm aware I'm probably prodding at some wounds here, but if it starts a discussion...)
 

redwings1340

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The reason Charizard isn't a dragon is probably because its gen 1, and gen 1 wanted to reserve the dragon status for Dragonite, despite clearly flirting with the idea of making a few other pokemon honorary non-dragon dragons, most notably Gyarados. If Charizard came out today I think it might be a fire/dragon, though I don't really mind its status as fire/flying, as I've always felt that makes sense too. The Dragonite line was actually the only dragon type line of pokemon until gen 2, when they started experimenting with creating two different tiers of dragons, the legendaries and absurd stat ones (Salamence, Rayquaza, Latios, Latias), and also some less powerful, more mainstream dragons (Kingdra, Flygon, and Altaria).

I think after the tier 2 dragons became fan favorites, gamefreak got a bit more willing to introduce more tier 2 dragons in to the game, and have been far more willing to add dragons that don't have 600+ bst, while still keeping up their tradition of making sure to create more legendary and pseudo-legendary dragons. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are any dragons with base stats in between 540 (Kingdra, highest bst of the teir 2 dragons) and 600 (which all the Dragonite inspired dragons have). Dragons are one of those two categories, and until recently, Gamefreak has been super cautious about creating tier 2 dragons, probably worried that creating them would mess up the image they wanted to capture as Dragons being rare, insane overpowered monsters that are really hard to train, but worth the reward if you manage it.
 
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Trollkitten

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are any dragons with base stats in between 540 (Kingdra, highest bst of the teir 2 dragons) and 600 (which all the Dragonite inspired dragons have).
Guzzlord's BST is 570, and Mega Altaria's BST is 590. (And that is something I never once thought in my life that I would have the occasion to look up.)

Anyway, my theory is more of an in-universe explanation than an out-of-universe explanation. From a Doylist perspective, you're probably right.
 

SnakeEyesDraws

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Very interesting and good read! I'm a sucker for good Pokemon species analysis. I do wanna reply to the discussions question, because this is a topic I'm interested in!
Re: Charizard's popularity, I think while a part of it comes from nostalgia (he's one third of the original starter trio, after all!) I think a lot of his "popularity/overratedness" comes from Gamefreak and their Kanto bias. That's not to say there aren't people who love Charizard regardless, but how many times have you also heard "I prefer Squirtle/Bulbasaur"? Yet Gamefreak keeps pushing Charizard and Kanto in general to the forefront, and this is really apparent in Gen 8 where Charizard is the Champion's main, and the top three Pokemon in Galar are all Kanto Pokemon (Machamp, Gengar, and Charizard). That was so lame I still roll my eyes when I think about it.
While I do like Charizard, and Kanto, it does make me sad that Gamefreak continues to give so much attention to Kanto while neglecting other regions. In XY, the new starters weren't given Mega Evolutions, but the Kanto starters were instead - and Charizard got two megas. In Gen 8, Charizard was given a Gigantamax form before the other two Kanto starters and before the Galar starters were given Gigantamax forms. It almost feels like Gamefreak doesn't believe enough in the new regions/Pokemon to carry their own games, so they keep falling back onto Kanto. And while again, I like Charizard and Kanto, it's just tiresome to see them constantly brought up again and pushed front and center while other regions/Pokemon feel forgotten.
This topic certainly isn't anything new, I've seen it discussed in other threads, but I see a lot of people just growing fatigued over all the Charizard and Kanto hype. There's now eight generations and numerous other regions, couldn't we get just a little variety?
 
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Trollkitten

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This topic certainly isn't anything new, I've seen it discussed in other threads, but I see a lot of people just growing fatigued over all the Charizard and Kanto hype. There's now eight generations and numerous other regions, couldn't we get just a little variety?
Before SwSh came out, I didn't really care about Kanto pandering. But when only two G-Max forms aren't Gen 1 or Gen 8, there's definitely a problem. (And I have absolutely no idea why one of them was Garbodor.)
 

RubyClaw

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Oh wow Trollkitten, you amaze and impress me every time. I think that's the most detailed article I ever read on a single pokemon and you covered almost every possible angle. I can't wait for you to cover more and more pokemon and eventually get to Hoenn, I always love to double check my lorelocke sources and find new inspirations.

Well as a Charmander fan (no surprise here I guess) and also overall a Charizard fan I can honestly get the negative feelings people get about its overuse, and I even personally don't really like how much it is used as I feel it takes away from the original uniqueness of this pokemon. Still, blame my childhood memories or my love for big flying fire breathing monsters, but I just love this line so much, and can only hope one day I'll find a pokemon line I prefer (which almost happened more than once, so who knows). There are many other pokemon who deserve love, but I have enough love for all of them, no reason to compare :).
 
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Oh wow Trollkitten, you amaze and impress me every time. I think that's the most detailed article I ever read on a single pokemon and you covered almost every possible angle. I can't wait for you to cover more and more pokemon and eventually get to Hoenn, I always love to double check my lorelocke sources and find new inspirations.

Well as a Charmander fan (no surprise here I guess) and also overall a Charizard fan I can honestly get the negative feelings people get about its overuse, and I even personally don't really like how much it is used as I feel it takes away from the original uniqueness of this pokemon. Still, blame my childhood memories or my love for big flying fire breathing monsters, but I just love this line so much, and can only hope one day I'll find a pokemon line I prefer (which almost happened more than once, so who knows). There are many other pokemon who deserve love, but I have enough love for all of them, no reason to compare :).
Hehe, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I enjoy writing these things because I enjoy massively overthinking Pokemon. Next week, or maybe the week after, I hope to share my 'Charizard Theory' that I alluded to in that article. I hope you like it!

So originally this week's article was going to be my aforementioned Charizard Theory, which is actually a few theories put together. Unfortunately, I fell out of the depression tree and hit several branches on the way down, which severely damaged my motivation to write out said theory...

So today I'm going to talk to y'all about Pokemon form changes.

There are quite a few Pokemon with form changes, and many of those Pokemon need a certain item in order to change their form. Arceus and its Plates, Genesect and its Drives, Silvally and its Memories, that sort of thing. Usually, the way one changes a Pokemon's form is relatively straightforward: the trainer does a thing, and their Pokemon changes form. It's as simple as that.

In most of the Pokemon games, obtaining these forms is fairly straightforward. Deoxys? Find a set of Meteorites somewhere. Rotom? There's sure to be some spare appliances lying around. Shaymin? Search around and eventually you'll find some NPC or another to hand you that crucial Gracidea. You may need to use Bulbapedia to look up where to find what you need, but you'll find it, and you'll get what you want.

Unless what you want is, y'know, an actual sense of accomplishment.

Let's face it: most form changes are practically handed to us. Cosplay Pikachu has all her outfits unlocked as soon as we receive her. Gladion gives us all seventeen Memories along with Type: Null. Many of the rare items used to boost or transform legendary Pokemon can be purchased in SuMo/USUM through either PokeDollars or BP, and the latter requires repeatedly winning in various challenge areas such as the Battle Royale and the Mantine Surf. Which is fine if you enjoy that sort of thing... but quite honestly, I don't. As someone who plays Pokemon primarily for the adventure of exploring a world full of wonder and mystery, just putting a Griseous Orb behind a paywall and asking me to grind for it really takes away my motivation to get one.

Other form-change items are more difficult to come by, such as Arceus's plates in various generations. And it is with these Plates that I shall begin investigating how to make form-change items interesting to come by.
In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, Arceus's plates were spread across Sinnoh as overworld items (or, on rare occasion, gifts from NPCs) and could also be dug up in the Underground. In the interest of full disclosure, I never really understood how digging in the Underground worked, and I lost my copy of Diamond before I could learn how to do it (and given that Sinnoh is my second least favorite generation, I can't see myself picking up another one, but that's another story).

For all of Sinnoh's faults, one thing it got right was making the search for Arceus's plates actually fun. I never knew where or when I'd find another one, and the extra bit of worldbuilding text attached to several of the plates made it that much more interesting when I was pleasantly surprised to receive one.

Then HeartGold and SoulSilver came along, and all of that went out the window. The plates were reduced to freebies handed out by the captain of the S.S. Aqua once per day, which was 1. tedious, 2. not fun, and 3. contributed absolutely nothing to the player's journey aside from making them talk to this one guy sixteen times.

Pokemon Black and White went back squarely to the 'fun and adventure!' side of the plates. Rather than just pepper them all over the overworld, they had an NPC on Unova Route 13 give the player two plates and mention that they came from the Abyssal Ruins, a sunken temple with puzzles inside and a step limit that makes it impossible to get every single treasure on a single trip. This temple was more than just a puzzle; it also included mysterious coded messages in a cipher that would not receive their official translation until Zinzolin provided the necessary documents in B2W2. These messages described the history and philosophy of ancient Unova, and spoke of the king that the temple was built to honor. They also had to be read backwards from Zinzolin's transliteration, which added an extra layer of work to the Abyssal Ruins. But, then, the puzzle can't be solved too easily, or else it's not a puzzle.

In Gen 6, the plates returned to being overworld items -- scattered around the map in XY, and hidden in underwater areas in ORAS. However, this was still a downgrade to their original Sinnoh appearances, as no text was obtainable when you found a plate. (One notable exception: in ORAS, the Iron Plate is held by the Beldum you receive from Steven Stone's house.) In Gen 7, finding the plates was downgraded further, as only a handful of plates were findable through Stoutland Search; the rest had to be purchased from Hau'oli's shopping center. And in Gen 8, only one of the plates was even available, the Pixie Plate at Galar Route 8. (This is likely because there was never any other Fairy-type boosting item in the Pokemon games.)
First of all, form-changing objects don't just have to be mechanical. When integrated properly into the game's world and storyline, they can be used as a method of establishing the game's lore, further building the player's sense of immersion in this world.

Second, while there's such a thing as too much obscurity when placing items in the overworld (some younger players might argue that the Abyssal Ruins puzzle was a bit much, which might be why Game Freak never produced any puzzle of its caliber ever again in a Pokemon game), that shouldn't mean that form-changing items need to be given out too easily either. If a quest for a certain item isn't fulfilling -- if acquiring it seems more like a chore or routine than anything else -- then there's no fun to it. Why place an ancient relic of Arceus itself behind a time lock or a store counter? Not only is there no satisfying in-universe reason for it, it just seems cheap.

Third, if the pattern of the plates is any indication, Game Freak is far more likely to make the obtainment of form-changing items relatively weak achievement-wise than anything else. Which isn't to say it's entirely wrong to hide important items in the overworld; I just feel like, well, they're the very plates that give power to the Orginal One itself; there should be at least a tiny bit more to them than just having a dog sniff them out.
Believe it or not, the one set of form-changing items in the Pokemon games that I look to as the paragon of item quests is the deceptively simple nectars that Oricorio drink.

I'm serious.

Why do the nectars work where so many other item quests have failed? Several reasons, actually, working in tandem.

1. It isn't too easy. If the nectars were just lying around willy-nilly, it wouldn't be as interesting to find them. But to get a nectar, you have to find a certain area on a certain island and visit it during the daytime. This means that certain Oricorio forms cannot be accessed until later on in the game (aside from trading with other save files, of course), giving a clear sense of progression and having achieved something.

2. It isn't too hard. Once you've reached a place where nectars are available, it's easy to tell you're there because of the flowers, regardless of whether it's day or night. This is, in my humble opinion, a lot better than how the Zygarde cell quest handled the day/night mechanic, in which certain cells are only available at certain times of the day, but the game never freaking tells you this, so you have to figure it out on your own and it makes it that much more difficult to keep track of where you've already harvested cells. (For the record, the Isle of Armor handled this sort of thing far better in the Diglett quest, in that the game automatically tells you how many Diglett you have left to find in a certain area every time you find one. If only the Zygarde cell quest could've been this straightforward!)

3. It fits the lore of the Pokemon involved. Oricorio's entire thing is that it changes its form according to the nectar it sips from the flowers that grow on the island it lives on. This is reflected in the nectar quest being exactly that: you gather nectar from said flowers and feed it to your Oricorio to change its form.

4. It gives the player something to work towards. I'd be a lot more enthused about changing Rotom's or Deoxys's forms if I was thrown a bone that let me earn those transformations. A sidequest to gather appliances or meteorite shards one by one would be a lot more fun than just walking up to a certain place on the map and picking a form from the menu, which unfortunately is what we usually get for these types of Pokemon. This is one reason why in my Let's Go Eevee nuzlocke, I had a rule that I could only teach my starter one tutor move for each gym I defeated, so I could gradually watch my little fox/cat/tanuki thing turn into an unstoppable powerhouse. It's no fun just being handed everything on a platter. You don't play a game because it's easy, you play a game because you're engaged in it.

Another really good 'form quest' is the search for the Alolan Diglett in the Isle of Armor DLC for Pokemon Sword and Shield. Basically, a bunch of Alolan Diglett have escaped from their trainer, and the player has to find them by looking for their hairs sticking up from out of the ground. For each milestone of Diglett found, the player receives an Alolan form Pokemon. This fits all four of my aforementioned criteria for a really good quest: it's not too easy (you have to really look at the ground to see the Diglett hairs), it's not too hard (you get a list of how many Diglett you have left to find in each area every time you find one), it fits the lore of the Pokemon involved (Diglett dig!), and it gives the player something to work towards (e.g. finding Diglett). It also gave me a motivation to travel all throughout the Isle of Armor, which let me tell you, is pretty easy to get lost in.
Discussion questions: How do you feel about how Game Freak has handled form changing in the Pokemon games? How would you like them to improve? Let me know down below!
 
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So for those of you who were looking forward to my Charizard theory, you're going to have to wait a bit longer, because this article is, much in the way of the Bulbasaur article that preceded it, a compilation of the best Charizard family variants I have found on the internet. (Be glad that I did not make this a collection of the worst Charizard family variants. Seriously.)

Source

Lo0bo0's Charmander design is longer and a bit more serpentine than the canon construction, but somehow they manage to make it all the more endearing regardless. The big eyes, the round head, the friendly smile... I'd want one if it wasn't for the whole "everything my tail touches burns" issue.

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This Charmeleon by JoshuaDunlop has a rather unnerving gaze. Whoever came up with the myth that a basilisk can turn you into stone just by looking at you must have run into one of these babies. I mean, I'd be petrified too if a pseudodragon came up to me with an expression like that.

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This rendition by Chenks-R stands out for its head crest and toothy maw. Aww, he's smiling at us! Or does that mean he's going to eat us? Also of note are the arms, which are larger and slightly more muscular than one might expect from the dinky arms that the canon version has, but work quite well in this setting.

Source

Dekunobou-kizakura's Charizard profile wears a sinister expression, made all the more fearsome by the dramatic lighting. With the sparks flying from his mouth, it's obvious that this fearsome critter is already planning how to cook and eat you for supper. Those bright blue eyes are full of pure deviousness. If I were you, I'd run away as quickly as possible.

Source

Chiakiro's Mega Charizard X is graceful and sleek, two aspects that the canon design tragically lacked (I mean, seriously, Charizard isn't exactly the most physically fit of Pokemon regardless of what it looks like). That blue fire is seriously eerie.

Source

Finally, Aocom's Mega Charizard Y is glorious. Just look at that wingspan! The knights of ancient Kalos surely trembled in fear when a baron let loose this majestic beast. Even the sun shines ever brighter upon its appearance! (Hmm... maybe I should write a ballad?)

Source

For those of you who prefer a more scientific approach to your Pokemon biology, this X-ray of Charizard's skeletal system by Chibi-Pika should shed some light on its inner workings. Although now I wonder... does Charizard have hollow bones?
Surprisingly, it was hard for me to find true 'reboot' versions of the Charizard line that I actually liked. I expect that part of Charizard's popularity must have come from the fact that it's such a good design to begin with that you'd be hard pressed to improve it. (Which didn't stop it from getting two Mega Evolutions and a Gigantamax form, but I digress.) However, I did manage to get a hold of a few interesting reimaginings.

https://www.behance.net/gallery/81004713/Pokemon-Gen1-Starter-reboots

This set of starters, created by Toby Allen, are based on mythological creatures of Japan: the Kappa for Squirtle, the Blossom Princess for Bulbasaur, and the Japanese Long Dragon for Charmander. While completely unlike the canon versions, these three sets of starters have an airy, mystical charm of their own, and I particularly like the Charmeleon redesign that, rather than being a hot-headed dinosaur creature, is a sagely prince of dragons with beautiful blue antlers. I'd be interested in seeing what these three beings would Mega Evolve into, or how they would Gigantamax.

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Mega Charizard Sigma is a different take on Mega Evolution presented by Skallhati. Feral, somewhat ragged, and full of spikes, this is clearly not your Mega Charizard Y. I'm not quite sure how to compare it to the canon Mega Evolutions, except to say that this form probably would make a better Gigantamax form than Mega Evolution, if you ask me -- and it arguably comes close to the fearsome presence of the canon G-Max form. (Your mileage may vary.)

Source

On the opposite end of the edge-to-cute spectrum, this very fluid Charmander by Zebrafeet looks like a liquid. An adorable, highly flammable liquid whose snoot you just want to boop. There's really nothing I can say about it except that it is baby.

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Arvalis, known for his realistic Pokemon designs and work on the Detective Pikachu movie, isn't just interested in Pokemon. As a Monster Hunter fan, he's made three Charizard redesigns to fit the Monster Hunter universe: a base form, and the two mega evolutions. Also comes with sparkly flame versions in case you want a fireworks show.

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Shoyu-Rai's renditions of the entire Charmander line were hard to classify -- are they redesigns, or variants? Answer: they're Digimon, and they're phenomenal. If you think that modern Pokemon designs look like Digimon, well, you're wrong. THESE look like Digimon, and they're regular butt-kickers. (Also, this version of Mega Charizard X bears a notable resemblance to Zekrom, particularly with the tail.)

Source

Finally, in the 'this is scraping the bottom of the barrel but it's still AWESOME' category, here's Onikaizer's redesign of Charizard... as a mecha. An incredibly EPIC mecha. Seems like the best way to improve on Charizard is to turn it into a literal walking tank. TIL.

https://www.reddit.com/r/pokemon/comments/b0ybup/the_charmander_line_of_my_redesign_challenge/

I know I don't usually do cursed content, but I had to see this and now you do too. If you like it, great! But personally, I think Archemetis's design concept was fine until Charizard stood up to inflate its flame sac, because that pose is not doing it any favors. Maybe I'm just crabby right now because it's late and I'm tired. Maybe I'll think better of this snark in the morning. Maybe.
Source

This design by Linkonair depicts pretty much exactly what my upcoming Charizard theory describes: a variant Charmander line that Charizardite X is based off of. (Um, spoilers?) Interestingly enough, this line is quadrupedal, and Charizard doesn't even have much in the way of wings (he isn't a Flying-type, after all). The blue flames are wicked against the scorched black of its scales, though, and I'd definitely catch one of these guys.

Source

These adorable Charmander variants by LunaStar52 run the gamut from 'Raptor' to 'Mythical' to 'Magma' to even 'Firework.' Of special notice is the 'Blind' variety, which is clearly based off of blind cave salamanders, which gives it extra points in my book because blind cave salamanders are awesome. Amazingly, the artist has even drawn the entire family lines of these variants, so definitely check out their DeviantART gallery for more.

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Darksilvania's Kroelian Charmander line is Fire/Dragon (a common typing in Charmander reimaginings), and bears colors similar to the real-life fire salamander. Notably, its Mega Evolution is Psychic/Dragon type rather than Fire/Dragon, an interesting choice indeed. Kroelian Charizard also lacks wings until it mega evolves, on account of its life in an area where the air is highly toxic.

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The "Rogue Form" Charizard by IridescentMirage has a wingspan to rival that of Mega Charizard Y, but bears a more vivid red color reminiscent of Charmeleon and, most unusually, has no forelegs, making it more of a wyvern or pterosaur than the traditional Western dragon look. (And unlike the canon Charizard form, Rogue Charizard is most definitely Fire/Dragon.) Notably, its preceding evolutions look identical to the normal Charmander and Charmeleon, meaning that a trainer with a Rogue Form Charmander won't learn the truth until their Pokemon fully evolves. But, hey, it's not like those dinky little arms are good for much anyway.

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And now for something entirely different. Drawn for Princess-Sharkii by Witchin, these Grass/Fairy renditions of the usually fiery Charmander line are graceful and feminine. They are a joy to behold, and I find it incredible that such a fearsome species family can be rendered as something out of a princess storybook -- and not as the kind of dragon that captures the main character. No, these fairy creatures look like they would be perfectly at home rolling in a field of daises. (Just keep them away from poisonous plants. Double weaknesses are the WORST.)

https://wiki.p-insurgence.com/Delta_Charmander_(Pok%C3%A9mon)

Of course I can't do an article about Charmander variants without mentioning Pokemon Insurgence or the Ghost/Dragon line of cursed skeletons designed by EchoTheThird as part of the starter trio. If my Charizard theory has any merit, I'd like to imagine that these creatures are the spirits of the former Charmander line that birthed the creation of Charizardite X. Granted, neither these nor my theory are official canon, but hey -- let a fan dream. Besides, Game Freak themselves did pretty much the same thing with the Dreepy line, so it's not without possibility. (Which makes me think of the rumor of Galarian Ghost/Water Kabutops and Ghost/Dragon Aerodactyl, which almost certainly are never going to actually happy, but it'd be cool, now, wouldn't it?)
Source
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Direct from F.U.S.E. Corp itself, Dragonith's Charbok is a Poison/Fire type with its own ability and signature move. Said ability, Vile Blaze, is near identical to the canon Blaze, but also powers up Poison-type moves. Its signature move, Venoflame, deals both Fire and Poison damage, and hits with twice the power if the target is poisoned or burned. It evolves into Charbokleon and later into Charbokizard. Canonically, this fusion was created for a rich kid who wanted a special starter for his Pokemon journey. He certainly got his money's worth with this one!

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Not to be outdone, Seoxys6 has created a possibly even more fearsome Charizard fusion line, this time combining the Gible and Charmander lines with great effect. They even included both mega evolutions! The Charizard X fusion is particularly fearsome: those wings! Those scythes! That fearsome spiky chest! This is not a fusion you'd want to have to battle, especially considering that the added Fire-type has no doubt weakened the Garchomp half's usual vulnerability to frozen water.

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Technically, this is a fusion of all three Kanto starters, but its body shape most closely resembles Charizard, so I'm putting it here. Another excellent work by Seoxys6, this incredible creature has Charizard's wings, Venusaur's leaves, and Blastoise's armor and cannons. (Probably the weakest point of it is the cannons, which seem added as an afterthought -- but when you can honestly say 'Its weakest point is its cannons' about anything, you'll know it's awesome.) I didn't want to put too much emphasis on one particular artist in this section, but trust me -- this fusion must be seen to be believed.

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Mondlichtkatze made this Charmander/shiny Gastly fusion as a commission for Claire-Cooper, and however much they paid for it, they certainly got their money's worth. This eerie spectral fire lizard seems to be staring into my soul. I'm not sure I can pull myself away from its gaze. Please send help.

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Darksilvania's Charmander/Vaporeon fusion line is one of the more 'out there' designs to be sure, but oddly enough, it seems to work. Certainly the starting Charmander looks somewhat unsettling (I blame the eyes), but it's all uphill from there, culminating in an oddly charismatic Charizard/Vaporeon fusion, complete with webby wings and neck frills. I can see this as a catchable monsters in a fangame.

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Rather than a fusion of Charizard with another Pokemon, this is a fusion between two Charizards -- the two mega forms. While the original artist is Ultimatemaverickx, I was unable to find this artwork in their DeviantART gallery, so my link is to the gallery of SuprisePikeCHU87, the recipient of this comission. And let me tell you, that is one heck of a commission. The artist usually specializes in Mega Man artwork, and that influence is clear in how the Mega Charizard X elements are applied like armor over Mega Charizard Y. The split colors of flame are the icing on the cake.
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This feisty gal by Shi-Gure has fiery red hair, a flaming tail, and a two-tone dress that perfectly reflects Charmander's belly markings while adding its own flair with the pattern.

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KenjiCotton's set of three Kanto starter adoptables includes a chill, somewhat smug Charmander with dark skin, adventuresome clothes, and a neck scarf that any PMD protagonist would be proud of. While this Charmander was snatched up by Riuxio, the Squirtle has not been purchased, although I'm not sure if Kenji is still in the market for buyers. If you're interested, it couldn't hurt to ask.

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I'm not sure what's up with this girl's outfit -- she looks like she's been cooking something and got some soot on her for her troubles -- but this gijinka from Camaradepropof has no shortage of enthusiasm. I like the poofy edges on her boots. What are they, huge fuzzy socks? I wouldn't call myself a fashion critic, but I am a big fan of huge fuzzy socks.

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This guy by AJanime12 looks like he'd be right at home in an anime (which shouldn't be too surprising, given his creator's username). While most of the Charmander gijinka I've encountered have been female (some more decently clothed than others), I like variety in my articles, and this guy's shirt/vest/whatever it is is certainly unlike anything I can remember seeing before. The long, fingerless gloves are a nice touch as well.

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This WIP (work in progress) Charmeleon gijinka by Banan-chan has some serious sass -- you can tell by that grin. Her outfit certainly fits her personality -- a bracelet on one hand, a fingerless glove on the other, and a long vest and neck scarf to show her wild, unfettered existence. And speaking of existences, don't be surprised if she's about to end yours. The fire around her fingers certainly doesn't indicate otherwise.

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Iingo's Charmeleon gijinka has more of a fantasy vibe, with long, elf-like ears, more pronounced firebending skills, and an outfit that suggests some form of historical fantasy era. The spikes on the ankles and... loincloth? skirt? whatever it is are reminiscent of Charmeleon's claws, which is an evocative touch towards the character's origins. I can see this as being a player character in a D&D campaign.

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MahoxyShoujo's Charizard gijinka has a name -- Talon -- and a mega evolution to boot. He dresses in some pretty fancy duds, complete with armored gauntlets that wouldn't feel out of place in a gijinka version of Kalos. I do wonder how his clothes and armor transform upon mega evolution, but I'm guessing anime logic. And he'd look pretty good in an anime, although if the artists' notes are any indication, he'd be a pain to draw.
Discussion questions: If you were to redesign the Charizard line, which aspects would you change, and which would you keep? Are there any moves or abilities you wish that the Charizard line had?
 
Last edited:
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Trollkitten

Trollkitten

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Due to my dad having to work from home and needing special conditions to run the programs and networks he needs to run to do his job (he's an electrical engineer at Panasonic), my computer is having severe problems accessing the internet for most of the day. Because of this, I am temporarily putting both my blog and my nuzlocke on hold until the situation improves. This situation is not ideal, but hopefully we will find a way to adapt around this and I will be able to resume posting on at least a semi-regular schedule.
 

No-name

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https://wiki.p-insurgence.com/Delta_Charmander_(Pok%C3%A9mon)

Of course I can't do an article about Charmander variants without mentioning Pokemon Insurgence or the Ghost/Dragon line of cursed skeletons designed by EchoTheThird as part of the starter trio. If my Charizard theory has any merit, I'd like to imagine that these creatures are the spirits of the former Charmander line that birthed the creation of Charizardite X.

Insurgence flat out says that the Delta Charmander line was made by the Perfection Cult to be a Mega Evolution test subject. I wouldn't fault you for not knowing that since this information is only available very deep into the Post-game.
 
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Trollkitten

Trollkitten

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Insurgence flat out says that the Delta Charmander line was made by the Perfection Cult to be a Mega Evolution test subject. I wouldn't fault you for not knowing that since this information is only available very deep into the Post-game.
Okay, fair. I haven't played all of the postgame for Insurgence, so yeah.
 
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Trollkitten

Trollkitten

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This... is hard for me to say.

I've enjoyed doing this blog. I really have. It's been time-consuming, but it's been a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it's the time-consuming aspect that's made me rethink my priorities, and realize that I can't just work on every single project that strikes my fancy. I have to prioritize.

I have two major projects I've been working on besides this blog. One of them, the Secrets of Aetherai series, is something I've been posting on a semi-regular schedule. The other one, my Pokemon Burst homebrew roleplaying system, is something I've worked on behind the scenes for a couple of years and plan to make public once it's got enough content to playtest it.

Originally, Pokemon Burst was to debut in beta form somewhere around Holiday 2020. However, during the time a couple of weeks ago when my internet was down, I came up with a new concept for the Burst RPG that's 1. really cool, and 2. would take quite a bit of extra work from what I've already got planned. This would set back the premiere to Summer 2021 at best, Holiday 2021 at worst -- and that's just an estimate. While I firmly believe my concept is worth the extra effort and will make my system even more exciting, I have to admit that if I want to make it happen in a timely manner, I need to cut back on my other projects.

Unfortunately, that other project is this blog.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to write articles from time to time. And maybe I will. But I can't possibly commit to regular updates AND work on my Aetherai series AND work on Pokemon Burst. I need to pace myself on productivity, and that means knowing my own limits. It's especially painful when I've promised that great big Charizard theory and suddenly find myself in a situation where I can't quite justify taking the time to write it... the short answer on that one is that I'm currently working out ideas on how to summarize the theory in a manner where you'll understand it but it doesn't take forever to write it down.

Please understand.
 

RubyClaw

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Prioritizing your projects is important @Trollkitten , don't take it too hard. Like you said you can write here once in a while, maybe once a month or just whenever you feel like, or just move on to other projects and return to this project one day. My first posted run on the forum was one I had to end in the middle, which I hated doing. Since then I have done many projects, still currently Kantonian Fables for example is on an unofficial hiatus until I'll have more time to properly work on it as it is too important for me to do it half baked, and therefore I channeled my limited spare and creative juices into a new more casual posted run. It's the natural course of creation to channel your energies from one project to another. It is important to know your limits, and not push yourself too much. I really enjoyed reading the entries you posted here, so thanks for that!
 

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that's perfectly valid @Trollkitten and i wish you luck with the rest of your projects xD i can't believe i haven't commented until now but i just wanted to say that i really like these super detailed articles and the compilation of the really cool fanart! my favourite piece of fanart has to be the little fluid charmander babey, and the detailed articles are really useful for helping me to see these pokemon in a new way. imma bookmark this so i can come look back at it if i ever want some art/worldbuilding inspiration xD
 
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Trollkitten

Trollkitten

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Dex Entry Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Loves music, worldbuilding, anthropomorphism, horrible puns, and Masquerain.
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Prioritizing your projects is important @Trollkitten , don't take it too hard. Like you said you can write here once in a while, maybe once a month or just whenever you feel like, or just move on to other projects and return to this project one day. My first posted run on the forum was one I had to end in the middle, which I hated doing. Since then I have done many projects, still currently Kantonian Fables for example is on an unofficial hiatus until I'll have more time to properly work on it as it is too important for me to do it half baked, and therefore I channeled my limited spare and creative juices into a new more casual posted run. It's the natural course of creation to channel your energies from one project to another. It is important to know your limits, and not push yourself too much. I really enjoyed reading the entries you posted here, so thanks for that!
You're welcome! I think for future posts, I'm going to have to cut back on how detailed I make Pokemon writeups, since those take an awful lot of time to write. I do want to do a Squirtle line writeup in the style of the Bulbasaur and Charmander writeups at some point, just to fill out the set.
that's perfectly valid @Trollkitten and i wish you luck with the rest of your projects xD i can't believe i haven't commented until now but i just wanted to say that i really like these super detailed articles and the compilation of the really cool fanart! my favourite piece of fanart has to be the little fluid charmander babey, and the detailed articles are really useful for helping me to see these pokemon in a new way. imma bookmark this so i can come look back at it if i ever want some art/worldbuilding inspiration xD
Thanks! I'm happy you're happy.

So, here's something to be thankful for: a new blog article! This is one I wrote a while back in response to a Bird Keeper Toby video, but never posted anywhere. Well, I'm posting it now. Enjoy!

What if I was a recurring character in the Pokemon games?

This question was posed by BirdKeeperToby in his video on the subject (not on me, of course, but on what he'd be like as a rival in the Sword/Shield games), so naturally I was curious. Not just involving the most recent games, but the franchise as a whole. My original hope was to write articles describing how I would approach placing myself as a recurring character in all of the mainline games, in chronological order. (That is, the commonly accepted chronological order of the main series games, with Kanto/Hoenn taking place at the same time and Johto/Sinnoh taking place at the same time, and not taking branching timelines/universes into account because that just adds a whole new canon of worms.) But in the end, I felt that the later games already had enough rivals to them that they didn't need any new additions, so I stuck to Kanto and nothing else.

Here's the link to BirdKeeperToby's original video:

The challenge in writing a completely new character into an already existing canon is not only avoiding certain negative tropes, but avoiding content that can easily be misconstrued as one of those tropes. It's especially difficult with a female character, as there are two main tropes that one wants to avoid: the 'damsel in distress' trope, and the 'Mary Sue' trope. These two are diametrically opposed by definition: the Damsel is defined by her inability to defend herself, while the Mary Sue is defined by being too good at everything. Add that to my intention to use this character to be honest about my personal struggles (namely my anxiety and my tendency to freak out while under pressure), and there runs the risk of my character being labeled as a stereotypical "overly emotional female" and swept into the "bad stereotype" corner despite actually being a very real struggle that I deal with constantly and wish to address in an honest (if somewhat toned down to be more appropriate for a children's game) manner.

So how about it? Let's see how this goes.

My character, Eureka, starts out in Pallet Town as an assistant to Professor Oak, and aids him in Pokemon research. She has long, wavy auburn hair and wears long black pants, a black T-shirt with a Poke Ball symbol on it, and a beanie resembling a Poke Ball. (I actually have this outfit in real life.) As a rival to the player, she's about the same age as the player character, being somewhere around ten to eleven years old. Her trainer class is "JR. ASSIST" in the Gen 1 games, and "Junior Assistant" in later generations. Her battle theme is Glitchtale's "Bring It On!"

When the main character receives their Pokedex, Eureka challenges them to a battle with her partner Pokemon, a level 5 Eevee. When the player wins, she promptly freaks out over seeing Eevee unconscious, then has to compose herself when Oak reminds her that fainting is natural in Pokemon battles. After a few deep breaths, she receives her own Pokedex from the professor and sets out into the wild to have an adventure.

The player next meets Eureka in Viridian Forest, where she's researching Pokemon habitats. When she challenges the player to a battle, she now has a Pikachu as well as an Eevee, and in her in-game text, she confesses that she has an eye for rare Pokemon. Once again, she freaks out a bit upon losing, and runs off to the nearest Pokemon Center.

Eureka's next appearance is in front of the fossils of Mt. Moon (replacing Super Nerd Miles), where the battle reveals that she has caught a Clefairy as her next party member. Her team is now Eevee, Pikachu, and Clefairy. At the end of the battle, Eureka offers the player one of the fossils, and picks the other one. She also mentions that the suspicious group of persons in black tried to steal the fossils from her, and also attempted to kidnap her Pokemon. She's a little embarrassed at how she basically yelled at them and they ran away. Not really the best precedent, and even she admits it.

Notably -- and this has little bearing on Eureka's character arc -- as the professor's assistant, Eureka replaces the periodic NPC aides scattered across the Kanto map that give the player little gifts based on how many Pokemon they've captured. In LGPE, this includes the scientist outfits for the player and their starter, although it's not the only outfit Eureka gives out (more on that later).

At the northern end of Rock Tunnel, Eureka is there once more, this time with a team of Eevee, Pikachu, Clefairy, and Farfetch'd. After battling the player, Eureka offers to accompany them through Rock Tunnel, admitting that she's kind of nervous about it being so dark and practically anything being able to jump out at her. In versions of Kanto that allow for double battles, this turns the entire Rock Tunnel journey into a Multi Battle scenario.

When Eureka and the player reach the end of Rock Tunnel, Eureka admits to the player that the reason she gets so upset easily is because she gets anxious easily. Because of this, she'd been afraid to start out as a Pokemon trainer, going out into the world and having battles. So she'd worked with Professor Oak in the lab for a few years, so she could be with Pokemon without having to battle them. But when Oak needed young blood to fill out his Pokedex, she'd felt like this was her big chance to actually DO something, so she decided to take a journey of her own. And now she's nervous about the whole Team Rocket situation, and whether she can truly protect her own Pokemon... but seeing the way the player battles, seeing their confidence in the face of danger, has made her feel stronger as well. So she thanks the player for that.

As the player's journey continues, they next find Eureka at the Celadon City Game Corner, where she's freaking out at a Rocket grunt, screaming at them that as if it's not bad enough that they tried to steal her Pokemon and her fossils, but she watched them murder that poor mother Marowak. Unfortunately, said Rocket grunt has his Pokemon knock her down and is about to seriously hurt her. The player steps in and defeats the Rocket grunt, and Eureka thanks the player, then leaves in a mixture of fear and embarrassment.

When the player reaches Giovanni at Silph Co., they see that Eureka has come there before them, having just lost against Giovanni. The Rocket boss chides Eureka for rushing into battle so quickly, remarking that while her Pokemon have no lack of skill, she herself is a wanting trainer because she lets her runaway emotions cloud her judgment. Giovanni then orders a subordinate (Archer in LGPE) to seize her before she can just up and punch him herself, and the player has to defeat Giovanni to save Eureka. While this does appear to put her in a 'damsel in distress' trope, it's not intended as a sexist depiction, as most traditional damsels in distress aren't in their distress because they tried to punch the Big Bad.

Eureka resurfaces at Cinnabar Island's Pokemon Mansion, where she's investigating the creation of Mewtwo. Before the player can get the key to Blaine's gym, they have to fight her, and they learn that not only has she revived the fossil she got back at Mt. Moon, but she's also evolved her Eevee into the form best suited for taking on the player's starter Pokemon: Flareon for Bulbasaur, Vaporeon for Charmander, and Jolteon for Squirtle. She's also evolved Pikachu into Raichu and Clefairy into Clefable. Upon losing, Eureka looks as if she's about to freak out again, but takes a deep breath and admits that this is part of being a Pokemon Trainer, allowing the player to obtain the key. Before leaving, Eureka mentions finding an old sea map among the scattered diary pages, and considers trying to decipher it.

In FRLG, Eureka has a role in the Sevii Islands as well. After the player defeats Blaine, unlocking islands One, Two, and Three, Eureka appears alongside Bill, revealing that she's worked with him in the past as part of her job as Oak's junior assistant. On Three Island, she reacts with shock to hear that the Hypno of Berry Forest have been leading children astray, revealing her fear of Hypno. (Hypno is my least favorite of practically every Pokemon to exist for several reasons, most notably that it's basically a creeper.) Eventually Eureka does overcome this fear and enter Berry Forest to rescue Lostelle, but happens to arrive just shortly after the player has already defeated/captured the Hypno in question. This frustrates her, making it feel like she conquered her fear for nothing, but she agrees to take Lostelle back to her family while the player continues exploring Berry Forest.

At the entrance to Victory Road, instead of encountering the male rival (Green/Blue/Gary/Trace), the player encounters Eureka, who now has a full team, with Ditto taking up the final slot. Eureka admits she's learned a lot on her journey, and that her Pokemon and her 'rival' the player have helped her with her anxieties. She declares her intention to head to Hoenn next, to look into becoming a Pokemon Coordinator (remember, the commonly accepted 'canonical' timeline of Pokemon has RGBY and RSE happen at the same time). At this point in LGPE, Eureka gives the player and their starter a costume set based on her own clothes, Poke-beanie and all.

At the end of the game, during the credits roll, the player, the rival, and Professor Oak see Eureka off at Port Vermilion as she sails to Hoenn. Because of this, Eureka has no further role in the Sevii Islands quest, but she does appear in an event distribution in the postgame regarding Mew. After the player captures Mewtwo (and defeats Green in LGPE), Blue (regardless of whether he or Trace is the rival this gen) appears to the player outside Cerulean Cave to tell them that his gramps just got a call from Eureka, who's discovered a trace of a newly discovered Pokemon in the Guyana region. Blue gives the player the option to either accompany him down to Port Vermilion (warping the player there immediately), or travel there by themselves.

Once the player arrives in Port Vermilion, they encounter Mr. Briney on his boat, with Peeko by his side. Mr. Briney tells the player how Eureka brought him the old sea map she found in the Pokemon Mansion, and he brought her to a place called Faraway Island in the Guyana region. While there, Eureka caught a glimpse of the mysterious Pokemon Mew, but was unable to capture it. According to legend, Mew will only appear to the 'pure of heart,' and Eureka suspects that she's not pure of heart enough for Mew to deem her worthy. So she asked Mr. Briney to take a certain other trainer she's traveled with to Faraway Island in hopes that they will be able to encounter Mew. That trainer, of course, is the player.

Upon the player's arrival on Faraway Island, they discover wild Pokemon in the tall grass: low-leveled Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, and Eevee. Further into the island's jungles, they find Eureka waiting for them, and they have one last battle together. After the player defeats Eureka, a strange hum is heard in the forest, and Mew appears for the player to battle and capture.

So how exactly does Eureka know Mr. Briney, anyway? Well, at one point I was planning on writing a concept for Eureka appearing as a rival in Hoenn... but I'm not sure if that'll ever see daylight.


Discussion questions: If you became a new rival in any of the Pokemon games, which region would you be a rival in? How would you interact with the player and the other characters? What would your Pokemon team be?
 
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Trollkitten

Trollkitten

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Another Wednesday, another new blog article. This was meant to be the first in a series of articles, but honestly, now that I have the concept of turning the initial idea into a future RP campaign, I probably won't spoil much from it.

So I had this idea a while back for a Kanto sequel, because it's not like we haven't already had Kanto shoved down our throats ever since Gen 6 or anything. I'm considering turning it into an RP campaign at some point, separate from the RP campaign I'm currently running (which I may discuss in future blog posts), but until that happens (God willing), I'm just gonna be taking notes and using some of them as blog posts.

Starting with the most obvious element to draw from: the gym leaders. We all know them. However, since this sequel takes place shortly after Pokemon Sun and Moon, which is twenty years after the events of Red and Blue (this the title Kanto: Twenty Years Later), some of the gyms have changed hands. In addition, my reimagining includes Pokemon species not usually found in the Kanto region, which means that the gym leaders' teams could be drastically different from what we're used to.

Be warned: once we reach the sixth gym leader, we go into fan fiction territory and there is no going back. They're all characters that actually exist in the games, but they're gym leaders now. Try to guess who they're gonna be! (Which is why I'm not splitting this article up into sections with headers -- so you can actually guess and not be spoiled. Also because I'm tired.)

1. Brock, the Pewter City gym leader

Brock is older, hopefully wiser, and still a trainer of Rock-type Pokemon. One thing I noticed upon researching his canon teams is that he's used several fossil Pokemon in his time, including Omastar, Kabutops, Aerodactyl, Rampardos, and honorable mention Relicanth. Also, in the anime, he raised a Bonsly into a Sudowoodo, so I wanted to pay homage to that in his new team.

In Easy Mode, Brock uses Bonsly and Cranidos, with Cranidos as his ace. Normal Mode gives Bonsly a Sturdy/Flail combo and Cranidos a Sheer Force/Headbutt combo, in addition to giving Cranidos the Rockium Z. Hard Mode evolves Bonsly into a Sudowoodo and also gives Brock a Mega Aerodactyl with Bite and Wing Attack.

Upon defeating Brock, he gives the player an Accelerock TM and a Rockium Z. Yes, some exclusive moves have become TMs in my reimagining, although not every Rock-type Pokemon is going to be able to learn Accelerock.

In the postgame rematch, Brock has Sudowoodo, Rampardos, Mega Aerodactyl, Lycanroc-Dusk, Stonjourner, and Gigantamax Coalossal. Lycanroc-Dusk holds the Lycanium Z and can use the move Splintered Stormshards. It's heavily implied that this is actually Ash's Lycanroc-Dusk and that Brock is taking care of it for him.

2. Misty, the Cerulean City gym leader

Misty was a popular character in the anime and a recurring antagonist in Twitch Plays Pokemon (guys, we need to beat Misty), and she's still training Water types like nobody's business. She tends to prefer beautiful Pokemon in the games, so I decided to make that a priority in determining her team composition.

Easy Mode gives her a Luvdisc and Staryu. Normal Mode gives Luvdisc Rain Dance to activate Swift Swim and a Waterium Z for Staryu, and Hard Mode adds Gorebyss to Misty's team (also with Swift Swim) and evolves Staryu into that infamous Starmie. Unfortunately there were no readily available Water-type Mega Evolutions to draw from at this level of the game, so I'm thinking that giving Luvdisc a Mega Evolution could work well. Or maybe give it an evolution that has a Mega Evolution, since its stats are so bad that it'd need some serious help even with Mega Evolution.

Hmm... if I were to Mega Evolve Luvdisc, I'd probably give it the Water/Fairy type with Pixilate. Its attack stats are complete and utter garbage, so I'd probably want to pull a Mega Beedrill and make one of its attack stats super powerful at the expense of the other. But since most of its Normal-type moves (which would benefit from Pixilate) are physical attacks, it might be better to drop its defensive stats in favor of buffing both its attack stats. Buff Speed as well, give it moves like Hyper Voice that take advantage of Pixilate, and it could actually be somewhat usable. But in all seriousness, it probably needs a regular evolution that can Mega Evolve, because even with +100 to its based stats, it's still pretty pathetic.

Upon beating Misty, the player receives a Life Dew TM and a Wateruim Z.

Misty's postgame rematch team adds Milotic, G-Max Lapras, and Ash-Greninja to her team. As with Brock's Lycanroc-Dusk, it's heavily implied that Ash-Greninja is in fact Ash's Greninja and that Misty is taking care of it for him. At one point, I was going to have G-Max Kingler instead of G-Max Lapras, with the intention of saving G-Max Lapras for Lorelei, but then I remembered that Lorelei has long retired from the Elite Four, so there's not much point saving it, is there?

3. Lt. Surge, the Vermilion City gym leader

While Misty prefers beautiful Water types, Surge prefers tough-looking Electric types.

In Easy Mode, Surge uses Magnemite, Voltorb, and Alolan Geodude. In Normal Mode, Alolan Geodude is evolved into Alolan Graveler, and Magnemite holds an Electrium Z. In Hard Mode, not only is Magnemite evolved into Magneton (and still holding that Z-Crystal), but a Pincurchin with Electric Surge is added to the front of Surge's party, and it knows Volt Switch, a move it couldn't normally use in the official games. In addition, this Pincurchin can Mega Evolve, gaining the Surge Surfer ability, lots of speed, and the appearance of a great big glowing burst of electricity. So, yeah, I'd pack some Ground-types if I were you.

Upon being defeated, Surge gives out an Electroweb TM and a Electrium Z.

In the postgame rematch, Surge has fully evolved Magnezone, Electrode, and Alolan Golem, and has added Electivire, Luxray, and G-Max Toxtricity-Amped to his team.

4. Erika, the Celadon City gym leader

Like Misty, Erika prefers beautiful Pokemon, and she uses the Grass type.

In Easy Mode, she uses Budew, Cherubi, and Morelull. In Normal Mode, Budew evolves into Roselia, Cherubi evolves into Cherrim with Sunny Day, and Morelull evolves into Shiinotic. In Hard Mode, Budew fully evolves into Roserade and learns Grassy Terrain, and a Mega Lurantis is added to her party that gains the Bug type upon Mega Evolution and bears its hidden ability Contrary as its Mega Evolution ability. In addition, both the Normal Mode and Hard Mode battles are double battles, making full use of Cherrim's Flower Gift.

Upon defeating Erika, the player receives a Strength Sap TM and a Grassium Z.

Erika's rematch team includes a Bellossom and a Gigantamax Venusaur.

5. Janine, the Fuchsia City gym leader

As a poisonous ninja master, Janine's best choices for Poison-type Pokemon are those that are sleek and sneaky.

For her Easy Mode team, she has Ekans, Golbat, Croagunk, and Ariados. For her Normal Mode team, Ekans evolves into Arbok and Croagunk into Toxicroak, and Golbat holds a Poisonium Z. In Hard Mode, Golbat has evolved into Crobat, and she has a Mega Galarian Slowbro with a shell side-arm that resembles a massive cannon and the Mega Launcher ability, as well as a few moves that are new to it, such as Dark Pulse and Snipe Shot. Also, her Pokemon set up Toxic Spikes on the field, so be careful.

Upon defeating Janine, she gives out a Baneful Bunker TM and a Poisonium Z.

In Janine's postgame rematch, she's added a G-Max Salazzle to her team, which glows with a vivid hot pink flame pattern and has the exclusive move G-Max Flameromone, a Poison-type move that causes all male Pokemon on the other side to become attracted to it. (Yes, it's a Poison-type move. With Flame in the title. What can I say, I couldn't resist the pun.)

6. Koichi, the Saffron City gym leader

Given that Sabrina has apparently left for Unova to become an actress by the time Black 2 and White 2 occur, that leaves an opening for the previous occupant of that title: Koichi, the Black Belt that runs the Fighting Dojo. In his original appearance, he trains only Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan. But that's boring, so let's see what else we can give him.

Koichi's fight is a Double Battle regardless of what difficulty mode you're playing. In Easy Mode, he uses Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan to start, with Machoke and Gurdurr as his backup mons. In Normal Mode, Machoke and Gurdurr are evolved into Machamp and Conkledurr, with Conkledurr holding Fightinium Z. In Hard Mode, Throh and Sawk are added, and instead of a Mega Evolution, Machamp is given its G-Max form (with the player also being able to Dynamax).

Upon being defeated, Koichi gives an Aura Sphere TM and a Fightinium Z. His rematch team is pretty much the same as his Hard Mode team, but with higher levels and trickier strategies. If any of his Pokemon were made able to Mega Evolve, I think I'd choose Conkeldurr, since it's the counterpart to his G-Max Machamp. Not sure what that would look like -- maybe it carries around two entire concrete towers that it whacks people with, and probably has a ton more muscle.

On second thought, I don't think I wanna imagine anything like that.

7. Green, the Seafoam Island gym leader

And now we get to the more fanfictiony parts of the roster. Green (known to some countries as Blue and to some games as Leaf) is the female player character of FRLG and made a cameo in LGPE. In my reimagining of Kanto some twenty years later, she's grown up just like Red and Blue, and is currently the Fairy-type gym leader of the Seafoam Islands, which have developed into a glistening city to replace what was lost in the Cinnabar Island eruption. She takes Blaine's spot as a gym leader, Blaine having since retired from his position (and it's left up in the air as to whether or not he's even still alive).

For her Easy Mode team, Green uses Clefairy, Granbull, Togetic, and Jigglypuff. Her Normal Mode team has Clefairy and Jigglypuff evolved into Clefable and Wigglytuff, Clefairy knows Misty Terrain and Metronome, and Togetic holds the Fairium Z. In Hard Mode, Togetic has evolved into Togekiss, and Green also has a Galarian Rapidash and a Mega Gardevoir.

When defeated, Green gives out a Crafty Shield TM and the Fairium Z. Her rematch team replaces Granbull with a G-Max Alcremie.

8. Trace, the Viridian City gym leader

And now for a blatant confession: I don't hate Trace.

Sure, he didn't have all that much personality to him, but neither did Blue in his original appearace (no, being constantly antagonistic towards the player does not count as 'having personality'). And Trace did get some character to him, in that he takes in the orphaned Cubone from Lavender Town and adds it to his team. I can't say he was a developed character on the level of, say, N Harmonia, but I can't say the same for RGBY's Blue either -- he didn't get any personal growth until GSC, and to be fair, so far Trace hasn't had that chance.

So with old rival Blue being in Alola at the time of this hypothetical sequel, who better to fill in as temporary gym leader than new rival Trace? Unlike Blue, he doesn't brood over his loss, instead being determined to be the best gym leader he possibly can, and still dreaming of being Champion once more. But like Blue, he's a lot older than when we last saw him, and a good deal more mature. As it so happens, he's been traveling the world himself, and got back just in time to take up the position of temporary gym leader while the cat's away.

Like Blue before him, Trace has a varied team, and it sticks mainly to the Pokemon he trained back in LGPE -- but with a twist. His Pidgeot is still Mega Pidgeot, and his Vileplume is swapped out for a Grassium Z holding Leafeon, but he bears the regional variants of Marowak, Rapidash, Slowbro, and Raichu. His Easy Mode team lacks Pidgeot, while his Normal Mode team's Pidgeot is unable to Mega Evolve.

Upon defeating Trace, the player gets the Last Resort TM and several Z-crystals. His rematch team varies, with him unpredictably switching in his original team members over their regional counterparts. Maybe his new team members are related to his older mons? Also, Trace could potentially Dynamax any of his team members, except for Pidgeot and Leafeon, who hold a Mega Stone and a Z-Crystal respectively. It all depends on who's still standing near the end of the battle.

As for the Elite Four and Champion... I'll be honest, I haven't really thought that far in advance yet. But I will say that true to the original RGBY Elite Four, this Elite Four will have their teams comprised of themes rather than strict type limitations. I would make the gym leaders themed rather than typed, but 1. most of these gym leaders are canon characters that already have type themes, and 2. the idea didn't occur to me until Lockstin posted his gym leader ideas to YouTube, by which time I'd already written almost all of this article and I didn't want to go back and change it all. So ya got what ya got.
 
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Trollkitten

Trollkitten

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Dex Entry Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Loves music, worldbuilding, anthropomorphism, horrible puns, and Masquerain.
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208
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And this is the final Wednesday of the brief Ori's Gift hiatus that I'm filling with blog articles! Which isn't to say that I'm entirely through with blog articles, just that this could be the last one for a while. But it's a doozy!

If you were hoping for my Charizard Theory, well, I'll be blunt, I'm not sure I'm ever going to get around to hammering that thing out into something usable. But with the holiday season upon us and Crown Tundra recently released, meaning that Game Freak has finally completed the full game that we should have gotten for 60 dollars from the beginning, everyone is thinking: "What will Pokemon do for their 25th anniversary?"

Well, this is what I want, generally speaking. I have more specific requests pertaining to certain potential games (Sinnoh remakes, Let's Go Johto, and a new Gen 9 region), but I don't want to get into writing them all down until I know for certain what we'll actually get in 2021. So until then, here's a list of things that I just... want. Regardless of what type of game they appear in. In no particular order.

1. More evolutions for existing Pokemon (including branched evolutions)

I should think this should be obvious. The last time we had an honest-to-goodness new evolution of an existing Pokemon was way back in Gen 6 when Sylveon waved her flesh ribbons in our faces and taunted us with the possibility of more cool evolutions for old Pokemon in Gen 6.

Which we didn't get.

Okay, sure, we got Mega Evolutions, which were awesome and I'll mention them later. But they weren't true evolutions. The Pokemon remained the same species, they reverted after battle, and you could only have one Mega Evolution occur per battle. And then we got branching "regional variant" evolutions such as Exeggutor, Raichu, Marowak, Weezing, and the one whose name I dare not speak because one of my best friends is terrified of clowns. Heck, in Gen 8, we even got evolutions for regional variants of Pokemon who couldn't even evolve before, like Cursola, Sirfetch'd, Obstagoon, and that one whose name shall still go unspoken for the aforementioned reasons. We even got regional forms that evolved into entirely different mons, like Perrserker and Runegrigus.

But meanwhile, the original forms of Farfetch'd and Corsola are still languishing in the 'I will never ever qualify for Little Cup' hall of shame. I mean, come ON, Game Freak. You literally were sitting on an actual Farfetch'd evolution for twenty-odd years and we know it. Why? Because of the leek. (Okay, that pun was horrible, but I'm not sorry.)

There are countless Pokemon that could benefit from new evolutions. Delibird. Smeargle. Dunsparce. Spinda. (And don't get me started on Luvdisc.) I mean, imagine Castform getting a split evolution family for each of its weather forms. Heck, imagine Castform getting new weather forms, period. Or go look up Lockstin's relatively recent video about his ideas for a Castform of every type, because it's awesome.

(Just for the record, and I'm only saying this because I feel the need to get it off my chest somewhere. I've enjoyed most of Lockstin's fakemon videos, but I question his decision to mix fakemon designs with real-world political issues here and there, because quite frankly, politics are pretty nasty these days and I don't watch PokeTubers with the intent of being subjected to them. I don't even want to discuss the specific fakemon I'm referring to because that would involve discussing real-world politics on a Pokemon blog, but as an example, I will say his basing the Excadrill variant on 'healing crystals' is fine on its own, and it's a good design, but openly tying it in to anti-vaxxers is in extremely poor taste during a worldwide pandemic, even if the design was most likely conceptualized before the pandemic started. Fun fact, Game Freak themselves scrapped a Pokemon concept based on Dolly the cloned sheep because they thought it would be too political. So there's precedent for not treading those waters in designing weird elemental fighting monsters.)

On the topic of branched evolutions... they're cool. Having more than one option for your Pokemon is always fun, whether it's in regular evolution or Mega Evolution (although it would have been nice if Venusaur and Blastoise had also gotten two Mega forms, for the sake of consistency). So I think Game Freak should go with what they did in Gen 2 and create new evolution branches for old Pokemon, like how we got Politoed and Slowking.

Especially Drowzee. It deserves to evolve into something that's not Hypno. I despise Hypno and all it stands for. I'm not sorry.

But on the note of new evolutions for existing Pokemon:

2. No more ridiculous evolution requirements, for the love of Arceus

Pokemon likes to be weird. That's evident in many of its designs. However, there is one area in which I firmly believe that it gets quite a bit too weird, and that is in its evolution requirements for certain Pokemon, which have mainly gotten worse over the years. I mean, having a certain Pokemon type or species in the party isn't too bad (Mantine and Pangoro), and in fairness they did fix the location requirement Pokemon (like Leafeon and Glaceon) to be evolutionary stones instead, but some of the evolution requirements are still pretty obscure.

Holding the system upside down to evolve Inkay? Getting three critical hits in a row to evolve Galarian Farfetch'd? Losing a certain amount of HP and then walking under a stone arch to evolve Galarian Yamask?! And don't get me started on how many Pokemon have to be evolved with high friendship at certain times of day for no clear reason. (Why, Snom? Whyyyyyy?)

Basically, I want any needlessly obscure methods of evolution that require Internet research to actually execute to go the way of the dodo. With no fossil revival machine in sight. And if they absolutely must make some, then for Pete's sake, at least put something in the game itself that tells you how to evolve the darn thing!

3. New regional variants/regional evolutions (including regional legendaries/mythicals/starters)

This could've fallen under #1, but I decided to make it its own thing, because regional variants are awesome. Of all my wishes on this list, this is the one I feel is the most reasonably sure to happen, because Game Freak did it twice in a row with Alola and Galar and it allows them to add new Pokemon to the Pokedex while still playing to old gen nostalgia. Even regional legendary variants are possible now that Game Freak has already done it.

On that note, I find it amusing how the fans who were previously like "All legendary Pokemon are the only ones of their kind" are now bending over backwards trying to explain the Galarian birbs, when I'm like, "People, did you not play Pokemon Snap and see the legendary bird eggs?" But that just leads into questions of which games are 'canon' or not, and while I can understand different forms of media being their own separate canons, when you get into whether the spin-off games are canon or not, that's when there's no clear answer and thus it's more open to interpretation than anything else. (But I will say that the TCG line of all things had differently-typed Pokemon and "calling for help" long before Alola was a gleam in Game Freak's eye, so it's not Farfetch'd to imagine that spin-off games do have an impact on the main series games. Even when those spin-off games aren't even video games. Although the TCG did have a couple of video games to their name, which makes it even weirder.)

But while regional legendaries are now a thing that we know is possible and can happen, Game Freak has yet to do what countless Pokemon fans have already created: regional starter Pokemon. To be clear, I'm not saying that Gen 9 needs to start the game out with regional forms of Pokemon we all know and love. I still enjoy seeing the new and unique Pokemon that Game Freak comes up with for us to choose from (even when they make another water frog, another fire fox, and another grass hedgehog for no clear reason when we already have at least one of each in the existing dex). We don't need an official game that starts us out with Delta Bulbasaur, Delta Charmander, and Delta Squirtle (we already have Pokemon Insurgence for that).

But if they did what they did in XY with the players getting to choose a regional starter a little later on in the game, then I'm all for that. And quite honestly, I wouldn't so much mind if Gen 9 only gave us regional variant starters as our first Pokemon. I would however mind the inevitable fan controversy that would erupt over it, because we all know there's an 99% chance that said starters would be the Kanto starters, and that's a good way to start the "Gen 1 shilling" argument all over again.

(To be fair, I didn't really mind the focus on Gen 1 Pokemon until Gen 8 came out and almost all of the G-Max Pokemon were either Gen 1 or Gen 8. And depending on how you view Melmetal's place in the Pokedex, there was either one G-Max form not in either gen, or two. And one of those was, of all things, freaking Garbodor. Now, don't get me wrong, I actually like Garbodor and other inanimate object Pokemon, but I find its inclusion in the highly exclusive G-Max club absolutely hilarious.)

Which leads to my next point:

4. Shill some other generations for once

I don't mind 'nostalgia shilling' per se, especially when it gets us new regional forms and evolutions (I love you, Obstagoon). But it's reached the point where even I am sick of Gen 1 tunnel vision. The Kantonian starter trio has gotten enough special forms already. We still need G-Max forms for a variety of different Pokemon regions. And don't get me started on how Unova has only one Mega Evolution, and it's... pretty, and that's basically it. And its one G-Max form doesn't even have the pretty thing going for it because it goes in literally the opposite direction.

I mean, I actually like Garbodor, but HOLY HECK, GAME FREAK. That G-Max form is messed up, man. It's literally the biggest pile of trash ever seen in a Pokemon game. (Yes, that was low-hanging fruit, and I'm not sorry.)

Okay, now that I've finished that short rant that basically everyone already agrees with anyway, let's get back on topic.

5. Expand on already existing battle gimmicks instead of tossing them out for new ones

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not against new battle gimmicks in Pokemon. Dynamax is fun, especially in double battles, even if Smogon doesn't like it. I'm just kind of not happy with Gen 8 tossing out Mega Evolution and Z-Moves in the process. Combining different 'gimmick' mechanics, including new Mega Evolutions and new Z-Moves, carries with it the potential for discovering new battle strategies to screw your opponent over with, because who can honestly say they've never had fun on Pokemon Showdown completely cheesing a battle?

Okay, okay, so that might not be the best way of articulating why I want Mega Evolution and Z-Moves to return. And I should qualify my position with the statement that if I were the inmate running this asylum, I'd make it so that Pokemon holding Mega Stones or Z-Crystals would be unable to Dynamax/Gigantamax, because otherwise it could be broken as heck. (I mean, imagine Extreme Evoboost G-Max Eevee, and tremble at your fluffy doom. Or worse, Mega Charizard X attempting to Gigantamax on top of it all. What would it even look like? Galarian Moltres with blue flames?)

But still... I want more Mega Evolutions. I want more unique Z-Moves. Heck, I want more weather and terrain options as well; those could be pretty cool. And I also want more battle styles from previous games that weren't quite so billable as Mega Evolution and Z-Moves, but still led to new strategies. Triple battles, horde battles, inverse battles, Pokemon calling for help... these all added new wrinkles to the Pokemon gameplay that I'd love to see explored further. How would triple battles be affected by Dynamax? What if legendary Pokemon called in regular Pokemon as allies when you fought them? What if Pokemon hordes called in allies as you fought them? (Okay, okay, that last one was entirely sarcastic -- Pokemon hordes should not be able to replenish themselves if you don't have a move that hits everyone at once. That's just evil.)

If I was making my own dream Pokemon game, I'd include all sorts of old battle mechanics and expand on them further. Imagine a Gym Leader that does triple battles, or inverse battles, or has an unique Mega Evolution that's never been seen before. Or pulls all three at once (let's call that Hard Mode). Wouldn't that shake up the formula just as much as a new gimmick could?

Which leads to the next point:

6. Add difficulty modes, and make them accessible from the beginning

Granted, there are already ways to add difficulty to Pokemon games. This is the Nuzlocke Forums, after all -- we've all been there. Even without the prospect of permadeath, there's still the option of not using healing items in battle, or going into settings and switching to Set Mode (a little-known secret outside of the internet that makes the games that much harder).

And Game Freak did do difficulty modes in one generation... in BW2. Beating the game granted you a key that, depending on which version of the game you had, you could trade to another player to unlock either an easy mode or a hard mode. But this had a couple of problems to it. One, it was hard to get these keys to begin with, especially if you didn't know anybody who owned the right copy of the game. And two, due to the way leveling works in Unova, it's actually harder to level up in Easy Mode than it is in Hard Mode, because lower leveled Pokemon give off less experience points.

My suggestion? Make difficulty modes actually mean something. A 'hard mode' shouldn't just have higher leveled Pokemon -- it should have smarter AI, improved movesets, and added battle gimmicks to boss battles that make them that much more of a challenge to beat. Maybe even inflate the prices of healing items while you're at it. I can't say much for an 'easy mode' because a lot of the more recent Pokemon games are the easy mode, but I know I'm preaching to the choir here, so I won't.

And for crying out loud, make the Exp. Share able to be turned off again. Possibly have there be NO Exp. Share in the hardest difficulty.

7. Return Pokemon following you/riding Pokemon

This should be a no-brainer by this point. It happened in Let's Go, it happened in the SwSh DLC, and if we get Diamond/Pearl remakes, Amity Square is a thing. Let's have our pet monsters out of their balls and exploring by our sides.

8. Return Amie/Refresh

Given Let's Go's aspect of being able to pet your starter Pokemon, I'm surprised that SwSh completely replaced that mechanic with the camping mechanic, which was to me a great disappointment. Amie/Refresh was and still is one of my favorite gimmick mechanics in the game, even if its bonuses were and are somewhat overpowered. I want to be able to pet, brush, and clean my Pokemon once more.

9. Don't rush the game

I think there's a general consensus among many, many hardcore Pokemon fans that the yearly serialization of Pokemon games have led to sizable quality drops. And that's not okay. Pokemon is literally the biggest multimedia franchise on the planet, and yet Game Freak still isn't giving the games the time in the oven that they need to be something truly special. I mean, it's even affecting the quality of the Adventures manga, since the rapid-fire production of one Pokemon game after another means that the manga gets rushed as well. (Unless it's the BW2 manga, in which case a certain character's fate after the end of the BW1 manga has become a running meme among the fans. Yes, I'm aware he's free now, but it deserved mention.)

I'm well aware that 2021 is the 25th anniversary of Pokemon and that anniversaries aren't something you can delay another year. But please, Game Freak, please give us games that aren't needlessly rushed. SwSh could have been something special if it had been polished enough to shine.

10. Story matters. Yes, even in a Pokemon game.

There are several reasons why Gens 5 and 7 are my favorite Pokemon generations to this day. The locations, the Pokemon selections, the characters... the stories. Gen 5 was the first main series game to have a story that was truly deep, or at least deep compared to what Pokemon had been doing up until that point (not counting the Adventures manga, obviously, which already had a Team Plasma-esque team all the way up in the Yellow chapter). And Gen 7, while its story did have flaws, did go deeper and darker than we'd seen up until that point.

And I loved it.

I want a storyline that subverts expectations, but leads up to them in a convincing manner -- or if it does make them a stunning revelation, does so in a way that makes sense (coughcoughnotyouSwShendgamecoughcough). Storyline-wise, I want more of Gens 5 and 7 and less of Gens 6 and 8. (Although to be fair, the Calyrex quest in the Crown Tundra was a good example of a legendary story done right. Certainly better than the chop job of USUM's attempts to paste Necrozma over SuMo's story.)

11. More open-world elements, but not at the expense of the story

I don't really have all that much to say on this topic, but I will say that the SwSh DLC is a good example of how having open-world environments doesn't mean that you can't have coherent story beats.

12. Interesting rivals with dynamic personalities and coherent story arcs

Can I just admit here that I've never seen the appeal of "jerk rivals good, nice rivals bad"? For me, it's not the inherent personality type of the rival that makes them 'good' or 'bad;' it's how well they portray that personality and how their character arcs run. Trace wasn't a bad rival because he was nice; he was a bad rival because he had no personality growth despite being given several clear opportunities for said growth in the Cubone/Marowak quest and the Silph Co. raid. And the original Kanto rival was no better, at least not in the games until the Johto sequels gave him actual character development. (There, I've said it. You can rant at me now. But please don't.)

The SwSh rivals... were basically a mixed bag of meh, which was made even sadder because each one had their own mini plotline that, had it been handled better, could have made them really memorable. Hop had a storyline, but it didn't really end satisfyingly because there wasn't all that much buildup to his decision at the end as to what he wanted to do with his life. Bede had several good elements in his plot arc, but like a lot of things in SwSh, there was definitely room for improvement in how it was handled. (Although the thought of him basically having to go through Fairy Boot Camp is greatly amusing.) And Marnie, while her arc with Piers and Team Yell and her hometown could have been something great and even topical, still suffered from the general unpolished state of SwSh's storyline. All things considered, it's sad that these three characters that could have been some of the greatest rivals since N Harmonia wound up shafted as victims of poor planning and rushed production. (Although I don't think very many people would peg Hop as having that potential. In fairness, my friend Bytemite really likes him as a rival, so he does have his fans.)

Basically, don't do our rivals dirty this time, Game Freak. Please.

13. Give mythical Pokemon a reason to exist other than selling movies

I mean, seriously, Game Freak. Give them actual lore and events like the new legendary Pokemon got in the DLC and don't just hand them to us when we enter a code. If you need some advice on how to do this, then check out Bird Keeper Toby's YouTube videos on the subject. (I tried to find a playlist for them but couldn't, so I'll just link to the most recent one and see if you can find the others from there.)

 

ActiveTransport

The Light that Shines in the Darkness
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Dex Entry Through Evernight he back was borne...until he heard on strands of pearl, where ends the world, the music long...
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Feb 5, 2021
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It's taken me a few days between classwork and other obligations, but I just finished reading all your blog posts! I'm impressed that you wrote out all these thoughts the way you did. While we may have to agree to disagree on some points (Gen V is still my least favorite), you've obviously put a lot of passion into this project and it was enjoyable to read your take on some of the Pokemon lore!

What do you mean Luvdisc needs an evolution, that's what Alomomola is for
 

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