Wooderon’s Hot Takes – On Pokemon

As it turns out, my writing of this article was quite fortuitously timed. Because no later had I finished drafting it, Nintendo went ahead and announced the game I’d been waiting for them to announce since this time last year: Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. In the meantime, before I jump on the band wagon and break down every meaningless detail of the new Pokemon game, I’ll go ahead and do something a bit different.

There been a little trend I’ve seen popping on social media these past few months. People putting up a popular or well loved franchise, and challenging others to give their most unpopular opinion regarding it. It’s a literal tinderbox of butthurt and lines being drawn in the sand. And thankfully, so far, it’s all been in good humour. So I thought I’d give it a go. I don’t know if this will turn into an ongoing series on various topics, we’ll see. But for now, I’ll give some of what I feel like less than popular opinions regarding Pokemon.

Baby Pokemon were a waste of time

Wooderon's Hot Takes - On Pokemon

Not every Pokemon is created equal. Despite the many lines of dialogue in the games and the anime arguing to the contrary. That you can succeed with any Pokemon as long as you can love hard enough, it’s nonsense, some Pokemon just suck. For example, this entire subset of Pokemon that exist for no other reason but to be cute and suck at a Pokemon’s main purpose in life: to battle.

The thing that defines something as a Baby Pokemon is being the first Pokemon of an evolutionary line that cannot breed, where as the evolved forms can. There are some weird exceptions to the rules that you could throw back at me, like Nidoqueen, but that’d just be childish. Also, Nidoqueen isn’t especially great either.

Now, I’ve got nothing against gimmick Pokemon, Shedinja and Castform all bring some unique sense of risk and fun to the game. But baby Pokemon are just bad. Using them, even in the easy progression of the game’s story, is the equivalent of making a team of Dan Hibiki’s.

To make matters worse, in later generations, Game Freak retroactively added baby Pokemon to evolutionary lines that were able to previously breed without any issue. Meaning that players had to actively go out of their way to get the baby Pokemon. A Snorlax without a full intense will just lay an egg that will hatch another Snorlax as opposed to a Munchlax. An occurrence I cannot understand being preferable in any way, unless you want to teach it Zen headbutt, which is kind of arbitrary.

 

Entry hazards are the worst. As is the competitive meta

Wooderon's Hot Takes - On Pokemon

I’m not sure if I’ve made this obvious before when talking about Pokemon, but for as much as I enjoy the franchise, I really don’t like the competitive scene. Pokemon has this huge cast of variables in which your options to make a team are nearly limitless. However, if you want to battle other, real life people and not get royally trounced, you’re limited to interacting with only a thin sliver of your overall choices when it comes to building and battling with a team.

The complete necessity to dedicate an entire member of your team entry hazards is the prime example of my problem with the state of competitive Pokemon. Entry hazards are so strong that if you don’t use them, you’re at a huge disadvantage. Stealth Rocks in particular can completely neuter some teams. The sad Charizard meme is true.

It means that, as much as I enjoy Pokemon, I cannot interact with with the competitive scene thanks to the high number of try-hards and the fact that I can’t use Muk and a Dragonite on the same team without come tier purists giving me a hard time. It’s something you need to research and prepare for. It’s just not fun for me, which I suppose saves me a lot of time in the long run.

 

Pokemon Black/White are hugely under appreciated

Wooderon's Hot Takes - On Pokemon

This is a drum I will continue to bang on for all time. Black and White were amazing games, and yet reading the room surrounding their release, as well as looking up some random lists online, these games are always languishing around the bottom of everyone’s shit list.

There are some legitimate reasons for this;

  • They were games that came out on the very tail end of the DS’s lifespan and shortly before the 3DS’s release, meaning that people were about done with the platform when this came out.
  • The animated sprites were probably slightly too ambitious for the device, being ballooned up to a point where the large pixels made the movement look pretty bad.
  • The back to basics approach with there being 150 new Pokemon and no older generation Pokemon included until after finishing the game rubbed a lot of the “genwunner” crew the wrong way, as they often judged the games on how much they pandered to nostalgia of the earlier games instead of trying to do anything new.
  • It was the generation with the Ice Cream Cone Pokemon, the Trash Bag Pokemon and the Key Chain Pokemon.

And yet, all of these things are reasons that I love the 5th generation. The mainline games always toe a thin line between being too derivative of what came before, but also doing something fresh and original. Black and White removed themselves entirely from the nostalgia driven crew, maybe thinking it would make the game a good jumping on point for newer fans. While it didn’t bother me, it backfired in the long run.

I’ve already spoken on multiple occasions on how the story regarding Team Plasma is the best story told in a main Pokemon game, one that resolves with the ending of the game rather than half way through the story. I also appreciate the Game Freak’s attempts add new features such as seasons, rotation battles and triple battles. And while there is a certain silliness to the designs of the Pokemon in Black and White, on the whole they’re really great. and I’m not biased because of how many new bug types there are.

My only real let down from the game is that it probably overreached graphically. The sprite work, while impressive, suffered from the changes in perspective size changes that came with it. It’s not the prettiest game, but everything else about it is great.

 

Will-O-Wisp is the best move

Wooderon's Hot Takes - On Pokemon

Burn is the best status effect. Ongoing damage and a reduction to the attack stat. Once upon a time, there was no reliably way to inflict burn on a Pokemon, now, the TM Will-O-Wisp exists, which means any and all Pokemon that can learn it will be learning it on my team.

Not to give away my master strategies when it comes to raising Pokemon, but I’m a huge status effect fan, and would rather have a team of Pokemon poisoning, leech seeing and burning you than the pure focus on speed and high damage that seems to be everyone else’s obsession.

It goes hand in hand with why I don’t like competitive Pokemon, my preferred strategy of battling is to draw things out, debilitate my opponent and chip away at them little over time while keeping my big and bulk walls healthy. A strategy that the most trusted resource in competitive Pokemon; Smogon University outright bans in its own run tournament. All in favour of high attack and high speed meta.

I’ll just be over here burning leaves on my own I guess…


I had a few more, but this post is long enough already. I might return this with a few more in the future. Although I do have some thoughts regarding Sword and Shield I’m going to have to air out soon.

 

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