So Pokemon Black/White isn’t due to release in Japan until this Saturday, September 18th, but leaked screenshots and other goodies have been trickling online gradually all week as Amazon and other retailers began shipping things out early. As there isn’t a lot of shipping distance to cover in a small country like Japan, this meant that people were getting games way ahead of schedule. Today, poor-quality photos surfaced online of all 156 new monsters, bringing the full Pokedex total to six hundred forty-nine.
I am so excited.
Seriously. For me, the build-up to Black and White has been very similar to the build-up to Gold and Silver, which, as the very first new generation, was the Most Exciting Thing Ever. Sure, by now — generation five and almost fifteen years old — the franchise’s new additions are pretty predictable: new island (based off New York City, baby!), new trainers, new attacks, season changes, three-way battles, more Wi-Fi stuff, and of course, new Pokemon. But as tried as the formula is, I am still most excited about the new Pokemon. I like having new things to collect. Monsters were cool when I was eight. Monsters are still cool, dammit.
Not surprisingly, the starters were among the first Pokemon revealed after Black and White was announced back in April. I am starting with Grass again for sure. (He kind of looks like Excalibur, doesn’t he?) Tsutaja, though he’ll undoubtedly be renamed for the overseas release, actually doesn’t look all that different from Treecko, but instead of being gecko-based, he’s apparently snake-based… ’cause his final evolution looses all limbs. It has always, always bothered me when Pokemon loose appendages when evolving (Kadabra’s tail, Graveler’s arms, Zorua’s tail, etc), but snakes are freakin’ awesome, so I guess I’ll get over it. Firepig is cute, but I’ve never really liked Fire-types. His final evolution looks like he’s gonna be best buds with Infernape though. Otterthing got a lot of hate originally for looking so damn derpy, but his popularity has grown over the months, and he’ll probably get even more popular with its awesome second evolution, though I reaaaaally don’t like his final form.
Progressing through the new ‘dex, we have the new versions of the Pokemon we get repeatedly: new annoying Normal-type for early on in the game based on some rodent (#504-505), new dog- and cat-based Pokemon (#506-510), new Normal/Flying bird based on a pigeon (#519-521). I usually don’t care all that much for these, but despite already having the Pidgey line, the new pigeon Pokemon is adorable and I like it so much better than the Starly line of the previous generation. We also have a new Pikaclone to join our army of Pikaclones! Emonga (#587, right) joins Pichu (2nd gen), Plusle, Minun (3rd gen), and Pachirishu (4th gen), and is probably the most adorable of the lot. It’s also Electric/Flying, making it the only non-pure Electric-type of the group, and the I am ridiculously excited to have another Electric/Flying aside from Zapdos because having legendaries on your team is lame.
There’s actually another new Electric/Flying for Black and White (#642); it seems to be part of a trio, along with a Ground/Flying (#645; the third of that type combo, after Gligar and Gliscor), and a straight-up Flying (#641). Aside from seeing more Pokemon fitting into certain type combinations, I am also really, stupidly excited to see some of the brand spankin’ new type combos, including Fire/Psychic (#494), Ground/Steel (#530), Ground/Dark (#551-553), Dark/Fighting (#559), Bug/Steel (#589, #632), Bug/Electric (#595-596), Grass/Steel (#597-598), Ghost/Fire (#607-609 — left, dude, it freakin’ looks like you set Driftloon on fire!), Electric/Ground (#618), Ground/Ghost (#622-623), Dark/Steel (#624-625), Dark/Dragon (#633-635), and a ton of others.
I am so glad they are finally adding more mixed type Electrics, Ghosts, and especially Dragons because Dragons are ridiculous with their single-type weakness, Ice, which is a pretty rare type to begin with. Pairing them with another type will hopefully make them a bit less overpowered. Then again, one of our box-cover legendaries, the white dragon that’s on the cover of Black, Reshiram, is Dragon/Fire… which means they probably aren’t weak to Ice, which means it’ll join the Dark/Ghosts (Spiritomb, Sableye) and have no freakin’ weakness! Maybe it will be weak to Water, but I kind of doubt it, even if Water is neutral to Dragon. There is also a new Dragon/Ice (#646)… which is definitely not weak to Ice. Tangentially, I’m still waiting for a Grass/Fire type, which would presumably not be weak to Fire, Ice, and Bug. Single-type Grass Pokemon have the second most disadvantages in the whole game (after Rock), and while there are already a lot of mixed Grass-types, I’d like to see more because I love Grass Pokemon and it sucks that they’re weak to everything!
But back to Reshiram… I am having a terrible time deciding whether I should get Black or White. On one hand, I like how Reshiram (above left; cover of Black) looks a lot better. On the other hand, even though Dragon/Fire would theoretically not have any type disadvantages, I much prefer Electric-types to Fire-types, and Zekrom (above right; cover of White) is Dragon/Electric. But I also like Reshiram’s name better, and I feel they’ll keep both names in the translation since they’ve kept most other legendaries. Other version differences thus far revealed include an exclusive area in both games — White gets White Forest and Black gets Black City. Kind of indifferent to this since I don’t really know what we do in each. Other than the legendaries, the only version-exclusive Pokemon known right now are two Psychics, #574-576 for White and #577-579 for Black. The latter trio (final form to the left) looks much better.
I guess I still have another half year to figure that out though, since the North America/Europe release is set for sometime Spring 2011. Oh, there seem to be no new Eeveelutions! I am not particularly surprised, considering they also skipped third gen. So I guess that means we’ll get another pair of new Eevees in uh… three years or so, when sixth rolls around. (I’m hoping for Ghost and Ground; how about you?)
But yeah. All in all, I am incredibly pleased with the new Pokemon for the fifth generation. The fandom, as always, seems to be very conflicted for the moment. Some people love them all; some people hate them all. A lot of people feel the new designs resemble Digimon a lot more than Pokemon, and while I can definitely see why — Reshiram and Zekrom in particular remind me a lot of Digimon because of how needlessly complex they are (and maybe also because they both have generators on their butts) — I don’t see why that’s a reason to be upset? It isn’t really as if all Pokemon before this have been entirely consistent in style. Just compare, I dunno, Pikachu with Machamp with Magnemite. All first generation originals; all very different Pokemon. Besides, you can’t simultaneously complain that we’re repeating too many animal species (pigeon-based Pokemon, tadpole-based Pokemon, bat-based Pokemon, etc) and that we’re diversifying too much.
Some people are also upset at the number of inanimate object-Pokemon like IceCreamConemon (#582-584) and Coffinmon (#563) and Gearmon (#599-601). Admittedly, I didn’t used to like animate object-Pokemon either, but they’ve kind of grown on me, especially after having used Bronzor/Bronzong in Platinum… and especially because Lawnmower!Rotom exists and is adorable (right). As long as they manage to make the designs either 1) badass, 2) adorable, 3) reasonably aesthetically pleasing, then I’m all right. You won’t like every single Pokemon in every single generation. I am personally not a big fan of most of third and fourth gen, and there are certainly Pokemon I don’t like in the first, second, and fifth, but hey, you win some, you lose some.
As such, I am preeeetty tired of people whining about how the first generation how the best Pokemon designs by virtue of being the first gen. Really, guys?
It’s a TURD WITH A NOSE, a RACIST DEPICTION OF A BLACK PERSON, an EXPLODING INVERTED POKEBALL, a PUDDLE OF SLUDGE, and THREE MAGNET BALLS STUCK TOGETHER. You cannot convince me that they are more awesome than:
So there. I can’t freakin’ wait until this comes out Stateside. In the meantime, I really need to finish up SoulSilver. <_<