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6:01 PM on 09.07.2014

Unpopular Pokemon (And Why I Love Them!)

With a bestiary of  719 (and counting) different species, the Pokémon world is full of wonderful and amazing creatures.  Many of these monsters find popularity for their sheer power, awesome looks, competitive use, or adorable designs.  But not every Pokémon is a top-tier powerhouse or fan-favourite master of marketability; for every Gyarados, Garchomp, and Gardevoir you see, there's a Spinda, Stantler, and Seviper that nobody really seems to care for, living in the shadows of mediocrity.  Even if it can evolve into something better, some Pokemon can't seem to catch a break such as Noctowl, Lickilicky, or Golduck - Pokémon that became stronger but were still outclassed by similar, stronger, more popular monsters.

Some people complain about their "lackluster" designs.  Others insist that they have no place other than just to fill in space on the Pokédex.  Me? I love 'em all.  Even Stunfisk, as seen above here.

In fact, there's three big reasons why I love all these Pokémon -  that they're just as integral to the franchise to me as the most popular or powerful 'mons out there.

1) D.I.Y. Difficulty

Of course, if it's your first playthrough of any particular Pokémon game and you're not familiar with any of the series staples, chances are you're going to spend some time figuring out which Pokémon are strong and which ones are dropped early on in your adventure.  Typically, if it's a Bug Pokémon you found in the first patch of grass you found in the woods, you're probably going to dump it into Bill's PC about halfway through your adventure because the Psychic type you found 9 hours later is much faster, hits harder, and has better stats overall.  Same deal with the Rattata and Bidoof you found within the first 10 minutes of your adventure: they're not going to be sticking around for long.

So, you've beaten the game, don't care much about the Pokédex, and later want to start a new file to try something new.  Maybe you're a series veteran or maybe you're just tired of using your usual staples - whatever the case, you want to try something new.  This is where the lesser guys come in!

Tired of using Gardevoir? Try a Grumpig instead!
Bored of Empoleon? How about raising the strongest Lumineon ever!
That Sentret you caught in the first patch a grass? Use it against the Elite Four!

With different stats from what you might be used to and different type combinations, you may be surprised just how much of a difference it can make in your playthrough.  You might find certain Gym Leader battles slightly harder, especially when you're not one-shotting everything with familiar, more powerful Pokémon.  As a bonus, some of these less-powerful Pokémon gain levels faster than others, meaning you'll spend less time grinding levels in the grass or using the VS Seeker far less.  Finally, there's the satisfaction that comes from beating the game with a select team of weaker Pokémon; imagine being the person that manages to beat Red atop Mt. Silver with a Seaking, instead of Gyarados or Feraligatr or the like.

Push yourself to use your favourites instead of what you know as most powerful.  Challenge yourself to use the Pokémon others would not.  You might just discover a more fun way of playing the games.

2) Competitive Creativity

Chances are, if you're familiar with the competitive scene you'll know that there's plenty of commonly found Pokémon used by players.  Pokémon like Garchomp, Talonflame, and Kangaskhan are fairly common amongst competitive players, and for good reason: their high stats and excellent movesets propel them to the front of competitive battling.  More and more players flock to these powerful monsters and use them, often without fully utilizing their potential and sticking them in because they're strong.

Again, this is where our "mediocre mons" come in.

If my battles against Japanese players on Pokémon X and the people at Pokémon Showdown have taught me, sometimes the most dangerous Pokémon are the ones you least expect.  

You thought Miltank to be subpar, what with Pokémon like Mega Kangaskhan tromping around the battlefield? Watch one survive your Mach Punch and then completely decimate you with Counter, and then proceed to heal herself back up with Milk Drink.

Thought Quagsire was the least of your worries as you continued to boost your Tyranitar's attack and speed? Too bad your buffs are made moot with Quagsire's ability, Unaware, and she's about to outlast you with Toxic and Recover.

And then there's the 2014 Pokémon World Champion, Se Jun Park, and his awesome Pachirisu, who shielded her teammates in battle in a way no one saw coming, much to the delight and admiration of viewers across the world.  Not many electric rodents in the series can take the full brunt of a Draco Meteor and shrug it off like it was nothing.

None of the Pokémon I listed are extremely powerful on their own.  They are often outclassed by other Pokémon in similar roles when you line up their stats and numbers side by side.  But, in the right hands, their unpredictability in an environment full of common Pokémon gives them the game-changing element of surprise, especially against players unfamiliar with their strengths.

Without the complete bestiary of the Pokémon series at your disposal, there would be no freedom of choice and everyone would truly be stuck to using the same powerful Pokémon over and over again.

3) Artistic Appreciation

Pokémon designs are often the subject of debate amongst fans.  For example, some people prefer the designs of the original 151 Pokémon over everything else, while others prefer the Pokémon found in later releases like Black & White.  Obviously, art is subjective and Pokémon designs are no exception, but I'll come out and say this: I love 'em all.  I appreciate all the work that goes into the designs, whether they're simple or complex, adorable or absurd, or downright fierce.  Big or small, short or tall, each new addition is welcome, as far as I'm concerned.

As a kid, monsters in RPGs I'd seen at that point usually came in a distinct flavor, bordering on a more Dungeons & Dragons or Tolkien-esque vibe.  This includes the likes of the Dragon Quest/Warrior series back in the day which, despite a  bestiary created with the distinct Dragonball-style of Akira Toriyama, draws many elements of traditional fantasy for its monster designs.  Back in 1996, I had my mind blown the first time I played Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, a game where I was attacked by orange guys with giant forks, a four-eyed cat/dog beast with a huge appetite, and a kleptomaniacal crocodile wearing a top-hat.   Then, two years later, I first laid eyes upon the original 151 Pokémon.
A frog with a plant on its back? A turtle with giant water cannons? A mouse that shoots electricity? A giant purple-bunny-lizard thingy? This blew my 12-year-old mind right out of the water.  And, for the years to come, the designs continued to impress and inspire me.  I emphasize inspire because it was these monster designs that fuelled my imagination, to constantly make doodles in class and at home when I wasn't too busy with homework, friends, or gaming.  From monsters to characters, fake-Pokémon or my own original creations, the series left a footnote in my inspiration portfolio.

As the original craze died down and the Pokémon franchise settled in as a main staple franchise for Nintendo, I came to learn and love each new generation of Pokémon games and the expanded roster that came with them.  While others balked at the designs of, say, Kyogre and Groudon for being "too much like Digimon," or that the likes of Starly, Staravia, and Staraptor had no reason to be with the Pidgey family already in place, I appreciated all new designs from an artistic point of view; in fact, they only served to fuel my creativity further, as well as expand my knowledge of mythology from around the world as I continue to learn what their designs and radical evolutions are based on.

Without the likes of Pokémon like Electrode, Granbull, Luvdisc, Bronzor, Basculin, or Swirlix, the Pokémon world would feel a lot smaller, as well as feel creatively devoid without their unique presence.


So there you have it!  While I enjoy using many popular Pokémon for my offline and online teams, I still appreciate the less-popular monsters that don't get a lot of love or attention.  Even today, I find it amazing what skilled players are able to do with them in battle, as well as the quirks in their designs that allow them to stand out amongst the hundreds of other Pokémon, be it artistically or their individual game mechanics.  While some decry their existence, I welcome them with open arms: to me, they're just as important to the games as the box-art legendaries themselves.

Pachirisu comic originally by 12M @; all other images courtesy of


8:28 PM on 06.05.2014

E3 Prediction: Pokemon Delta Emerald is an Actual Thing (on the Wii U)

Over the last decade, the developers at GameFreak have remade its older Pokemon games in-between its newer releases.  With significant improvements over their original incarnations and channeling the unstoppable power of nostalgia, the Pokemon game remakes have continued to win the hearts and minds of fans both new and old alike, with said games being among the highest-selling titles for each gaming system that houses them.  However, many of these older Pokemon games often have a third version release: an updated version that houses enough new features and a shuffled Pokemon roster to warrant a separate release.  While the Pokemon remakes have been of the original two games of any particular generation (Heart Gold & Soul Silver being remakes of the original Gold & Silver, for example), versions like Pokemon Yellow or Pokemon Crystal have not been given the same treatment; rather, elements introduced in these versions were incorporated into the remakes of their predecessors (the Suicune subquest from Crystal being integrated into Heart Gold & Soul Silver immediately comes to mind).

A single trademark registration changed, however, challenged this trend.

The Trademark

A week or so ago as of this writing, internet sleuths discovered that Nintendo had recently trademarked Pokemon Delta Emerald.  For much of the general gaming public, something like this went relatively unnoticed.  Even the webmaster of (one of THE most popular Pokemon fansites on the interwebs) stated that the trademark registration "is not likely to be indicative of a game release, but rather covering bases."  And while many of our fellow D-toiders were quick to call out the potential cash grab of a third game alongside the recently-announced Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remakes (and rightfully so), it wasn't immediately evident that Nintendo was planning on bucking the past trend of remaking *only* the original iterations of any particular pair of games any time soon.

At least, that's what I thought.

Back when Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green were being released, "Pokemon Water Blue" was actually trademarked by Nintendo despite such a game never seeing the light of day.  Given the obvious connection between the original Red and Blue and the thematic naming elements for the remakes, it was pretty obvious that Nintendo's choice to trademark "Pokemon Water Blue" was to keep it out of the hands of would-be bootleggers, giving the Big N the absolute legal right to pursue anyone who tries to publish such a game, black market or otherwise.  So when "Pokemon Delta Emerald's" trademark made the news, I initially thought Nintendo was just repeating what it did years ago.

But the more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder:

"Why Delta?  Why specifically Delta? There's a load of Greek symbols to choose from, but Nintendo specifically trademarked Delta.  It'd have made sense if they trademarked every Greek symbol in the book and attach Emerald to it, but they only chose one..."

In any case, with the announcement of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire being direct remakes of the original Ruby and Sapphire, the trademark registration of Delta Emerald kept on a low profile was all the more interesting, especially given the fact that E3 was less than a month away and that Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire's announcement was made THE very same day that Nintendo published its third year of operating loss in a row, obviously to soften the blow and keep people distracted from the news of Nintendo's dwindling profits.  Even more interesting is the nature of the original Pokemon Emerald version and its relation to Ruby and Sapphire, and what it means if such a remake was released today. 

Back in the day, many people whined that these guys looked more like Digimon than Pokemon...

An Emerald Legacy

When Ruby and Sapphire were released back in 2002 in Japan, GameFreak designed both games to feature a similar plot but with one key difference between the two versions; while you tackled the villainous Team Magma organization to thwart their misguided release of the earth-shaper Pokemon known as Groudon in Ruby version, you combated their archrivals, Team Aqua, in an attempt to stop their resurrection of the ocean lord Kyogre in Sapphire.  Pokemon Emerald, released in Japan in 2004, combined the stories of BOTH versions, creating a scenario where you fought both Team Aqua and Team Magma, preventing the annihilation of Hoenn from their foolish attempts to gain control over the forces of nature, leading to your character calling upon the game's flagship monster Rayquaza to quell the fury of both Kyogre and Groudon.

Where Pokemon Yellow and Crystal were slight upgrades to Red/Blue and Gold/Silver respectively, Emerald became THE definitive version to the Ruby/Sapphire saga, combining the story of both games into one cohesive plot in addition to adding a more expansive post-game quest in the form of Battle Frontier, alongside the usual myriad of upgrades and shakeup of the in-game Pokemon roster. 

From a business standpoint, a remake of Emerald released as-is alongside Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire would result in cannibalization. Why produce a game that's essentially better than its brethren at the same time on the same gaming console? Simple: you don't.

You put it on the more expensive platform instead.

An Ace in the Hole

Nintendo wants to make more Wii U sales.  In fact, one of the leading culprits behind the third-annual operating loss for the company was the Wii U's low install base.  Simply put, the less a system is sold, the less games being bought for said system, which snowballs to Nintendo getting less money.  A main-series Pokemon game release usually results in a major boost to any particular handheld's sales (relatively early on in a system's life cycle, at the very least), so why not put a main-series Pokemon game on the Wii U?  A Pokemon adventure fleshed out for the Wii U (remake or otherwise) could significantly improve the system's sales, as well as be a game that really bridges the 3DS hardware with the Wii U together.

Basically, the 3DS handhelds get the remakes for Ruby/Sapphire, and the Wii U gets the superlative remake of the definitive Emerald version - a console Pokemon adventure fans have been asking for, in addition to being a remake of a game people have been wanting for years.  You kill two birds with one stone.

I'm jumping to conclusions so soon, aren't I?  A trademark suddenly appears, and rather than dismiss it as mere copyright protection, I instead attribute it to be an actual third-version game of a set of remakes - a Wii U game, no less.  A pretty bold claim with not much to back it up with, right?

Perhaps.  But then I remembered a particular video I saw nearly a year ago.

The Truth Behind the Teaser?

Watch this video footage from a trade event in Japan, featuring a Pokemon gaming montage leading up to Pokemon X/Y's release:

Did you notice anything after the release date for Pokemon X & Y was shown? Right around the 2:12 mark on the video, a mysterious clip featuring Blaziken and Lucario squaring off against each other is shown.  This footage made its rounds throughout the Pokemon community when it first came out, with fans speculating on what game it was possibly hinting at before the video was forgotten over the months that passed.

Perhaps we have finally found our answer.  Not a Pokemon Stadium game, not a Tekken-styled brawler...but the hinting of a full-fledged console Pokemon adventure.  And what better a match would it be than the recently-trademarked Pokemon Delta Emerald version, a release that would capitalize on the significant demand for remakes of the journey through Hoenn.  

I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that this isn't just a series of coincidences at this point.

The Recap

So, let's break this whole scenario down shall we?

1) Mysterious footage shows up at the end of a Pokemon game montage during an event show in Japan
2) Nintendo announces Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire the same day that it announces its third year of operating at a financial loss; hastily put-together Youtube video announces the games will be coming this year for the 3DS.
3) Pokemon Delta Emerald suddenly trademarked nearing the release of E3 2014.  
4) Because of significantly better graphics shown during mystery clip, footage hints at a game not on the 3DS but on the Wii U console
5) During E3 2014, Nintendo announces Pokemon Delta Emerald as the ultimate version of the Generation III Pokemon remakes, exclusively for Wii U

Meanwhile, Fox reminds Rayquaza that Star Fox really needs a comeback on the Wii U...

Of course, all of this speculating is just that: speculation.  If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong - I'm taking this with as much a grain of salt as you should be taking after reading this, along with any sordid rumors you'll likely read from now until E3.

That being said, I think I might be onto something, and I thought I'd share it with you guys.  In any case, thanks for taking the time to read this!

~ Ghalheart   read

4:37 PM on 01.09.2014

Re: Hardware Hardship

A few weeks ago, I posted a response to a fellow gamer's blog on Spine Online on the perception of female gamers today.  While I understand what she was trying to say, I argued that her post was a myopic viewpoint on an ultimately dated issue.  However, the biggest point of contention I had with her blog was with her very first post, "Hardware Hardship."

What's worse than trying to promote a blog that goes to bat against the ways "we" judge a gamer? How about making a blog that generalizes these "rules," coyly draws passages from a work that doesn't even exist, gets one of these generalizations completely wrong, and uses a comic completely out of context to make a point.

Before you think I'm being harsh on some teenage blogger from high school, realize that this is the work of a 28 year-old college student promoting a journalism blog to further a career.  A blog she posted that's open for everyone on the internet to see.

A blog I just happen to disagree with.

In response to Wren Guilmain's blog "Hardware Hardship" on Spine Online found here:

Most gamers you see talking on websites or chatting online or speaking in real life don't make it a point to own every console - the average person usually sticks to one brand and maybe, if they can afford it, buy a second console sometime down the road.  Even then, why would you buy more than one console? The vast majority of games can be found on nearly all the major consoles at the same time.  The make-or-break point of which console you own depends mostly on the exclusives; you can't get Halo on Playstation, you can't play God of War on the XBox, and you only get to catch Pokemon on Nintendo's machines.

The actual problem arises from vocalizing over the internet what consoles you own.  Depending on where you go, you'll get a very wide range of results ranging from "i like playing the wii, love playing smash bros" to "the wii is a joke, only grannies and kids play it."  Fanboys/Fangirls exist because they subscribe to the brand (Nintendo fanboys, Sega fanboys, Sony fanboys, etc.) to justify their purchases and to fulfill the need to belong with like-minded people.  THESE are the people screaming about, spewing garbage about why their console is the best, insulting and arguing with everyone, and otherwise acting like spoiled children.

In fact, I doubt that these console fanboys/fangirls would even exist if they had the opportunity to own every console or, barring that, if every game was available on one console.

What about those who own every console? Does that make them more of a gamer than you or I? Of course not. Realistically, it means they (or their parents) had lots of money to burn, but I think we can all agree that a gamer is somebody who spends their leisure time playing games - nothing said about "what" games or "how many," but that they play games as a means of enjoyment.  

It certainly helps, however, to foster a more open mind to the many different games and genres out there on the market by owning all the major consoles, because then there's no risk of blind fealty to any particular brand and you're able to try any game you want with the console-exclusive barrier-of-entry completely removed.  But good luck actually affording them all, let alone all the games you want with each.

And that's just it: you don't hear people saying they're "real gamers" because they own every console, but that they're "real gamers" for owning a Playstation or an XBox or a Wii. They can't afford them all, so they stick to one brand and proclaim it's the best thing ever, because they want to validate their purchase by any means necessary, as well as join with like-minded individuals who also seek validation for their purchases.  Even then, for those occasional few that brag about owning every gaming device on the market, the usual response is either "cool story, bro" or "nerd."

"But what about that comic that was posted?  The one with the Zelda-fairy and that cat?"

Context helps.

If you read "The GaMERCaT" (great comic BTW, wished it updated more frequently), you'll know that Annoying Fairy (styled after the infamous Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) does everything in her power to try to get GaMERCat (and eventually, Glitch) to buy stuff.  Not only does she play the role of the smart aleck and trickster in the comics, she also serves as a parody to the nature in which many businesses goad you into buying superfluous products (Doritos and Mountain Dew with bonus experience-point multipliers, I'm looking at you).

In the case of that comic shown, Annoying Fairy was just manipulating Glitch into trying to spend more money on things he didn't need.  Considering Glitch is new to the gaming scene and is very naive, this leaves him wide open for her trickery.  This isn't some commentary on some popular trend of gamers berating others for not owning gaming device, but yet another ploy by Annoying Fairy to coerce others (read: you) to buy into the game industry's schemes of having to buy everything to get the most out of gaming - something you actually don't need to do to have fun, much to the industry's chagrin.


Soon after the responses came pouring into her blog, she decided to delete the entire comment section.  Perhaps she was trying to save face in front of her peers; however, she didn't even respond to any of the comments that were made, let alone refute any of my claims.

That's fine.  However, I will not tolerate wannabe journalists manipulating sources and pulling out passages from non-existent works to prove a point.   read

2:11 PM on 12.14.2013

Re: Battle of the Sexes

Note: The comment section for the blog I was responding to was deleted.  Instead of allowing hours of writing go to waste, I figured I'd share it here.  Saving on Word pays off!

In response to Wren Guilmain's blog "Battle of the Sexes" on Spine Online found here:

The "fake gamer girl" trend really needs to stop. It's a terrible stereotype propagated by trolls, misogynists, meme-spammers, 13-year-olds, and people with a terrible sense of humour. Sadly, this isn't a problem that's mutually exclusive to gaming, however - look no further than the jocks who sneer at the mere sight of women posing with their favourite NFL jersey, or the basement troglodytes who harass women that support their favourite series by dressing up (cosplay or otherwise). Heck, even TCGs like Magic: The Gathering are not without hecklers, such that Wizards of the Coast has punished offending players in the past by banning them from official tournaments for life.

The last few years have been "interesting" (to say the VERY least) for gamers, as several stories wound up on major gaming sites regarding women and video games. From the disheartening sexist remarks made by Aris Bakhtanians to Miranda Pakozdi during the Cross Assault event hosted by Capcom, to the debacle created by Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter campaign for exploring "video games from an old-school academic radical feminist philosophy based on the partriarchy" [Thanks, Elsa!], to the short-lived controversy over the art-style of The Sorceress in Dragon's's been a real eye-opener for a lot of people.

Yet, for all the bad it brought, for all the negativity caused by both online and real-world miscreants, so many people spoke out against these issues. Aris Bakhtanians issued a formal apology some time after the event, Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" was fully funded, and The Sorceress made it over to our shores completely unaltered, with Dragon's Crown becoming a cult-classic.

So when you say that "In the current state of the gamer community, if you want to have ovaries and also be considered a gamer, you’re going to have to pull a Mulan," I can't help but shake my head.

Ironically, you're generalizing the gaming community as a whole in the same way that the "fake gamer girl" premise generalizes "sexy" women in gaming apparel as attention-seeking posers. For the many girls and guys who get together to play Mario Party on weekends, the grandparents who play Wii Sports, the husbands and wives playing World of Warcraft that top the damage meters, you're unintentionally painting them with the same brush as the online bullies who do whatever they can to make everyone's lives miserable, the trash-talkers who make it a point to bring their opponents down by any means necessary, and the downright lowest of lowlifes who put people of other races and genders beneath them.

Bullies exist no matter where you go...but for every 2 or 3 you come across in an online game, there's about 10 more people out there who just want to play to have fun. Never forget your friends and loved-ones who share and enjoy gaming, too, especially the ones who play together with you.

The gaming community isn't a forum, nor a chat room, nor a blog. The gaming community is a microcosm of society; it can be scary at times, and sometimes you get hurt, but it is filled with so many wonderful places and people that makes being part of it all completely worth it.

Edit: More clarification of Sarkeesian's study focus for "Tropes vs Women in Video Games."  Thanks again, Elsa!   read

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