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August 8th, 2013, 3:39 pm

The End is Nigh, Part XI

Alright, Nintendo. We need to talk.

At first I was okay with you bringing in Generation VI. It wasn't exactly unexpected, and so far it's proven to not be the worst thing you've ever done (pretty sure that one still goes to the Virtual Boy). I had reached a level of indifference over the starters, I'd actually gotten excited about a couple ideas (Vivillon), and the soul-crushing despair of seeing a new Mewtwo form was slowly healing. I thought things were going to be okay between us.

Well, eff you too.

As a couple of you so nicely pointed out to me on Skype this morning, the latest batch of news from CoroCoro is out, revealing a few new species designs, some minor details about the game world, and the new worst thing ever of all time: the Mega Evolution.

Let's build up to that one.

We're skipping Oorotto for the moment because I have yet to see the official Sugimori artwork, but we've still got a few new designs to talk about.

First off, we have Japanese name Meekuru, the pre-evolution of Gogoat. It looks exactly like you'd expect--a smaller-bodied Gogoat with shorter horns and a cutesier face. The real issue is that said face doesn't really look like a goat face. It's too straightforward and mammalian, if that makes any sense. It lacks some of the subtle shapeliness that gives Gogoat a more respectable, realistic appearance. But really, that's the only difference between the two Pokemon. I would have appreciated more discrepancy, but at least it looks like a logical evolution.

Next up is Dedenne, or Pikachu Version 7.0 or whatever we're at now. We've already had Plusle, Minun, and Pachirisu for electric rodents, not to mention the similarities of Pokemon like Marill, who was freaking called Pikablu for months. But for Generation VI, we get probably the most obvious Pikachu rehash yet. Just look at it--the red cheeks, the pudgy body style, the tail that explains exactly how it's related to electricity (in '96 it was a lightning bolt, in 2013 it's an antenna). I mean, it's way uglier than Pikachu, but yeah--it's the same thing. Do we need this again? Because I don't think so. You know what we DO need? a ThunderDolphin. It wouldn't even need a different name, because merely uttering that phrase is enough to strike fear into the hardest of hearts. I'm calling it now--ThunderDolphin 2016. Who's with me?

But seriously--I don't think anyone in the world has said, "You know what I need? More Pikachu. But uglier ones." But I guess the guys over at Nintendo/GameFreak/Satan's Conference Room decided that this is exactly what the world needs, and we're much worse off for it. There's really nothing else I can say, because this is just dumb.

It's also Fairy-type, if you care.

The next victim duct-taped to my killing table is Horubii, or the Bunny Bidoof. That's really the first thing I thought of when I saw it--something that should really be adorable, but just makes you cringe in discomfort. The coloring is too uninviting, the cheeks are too puffy, and the ears look like they just might reach out and smother you in your sleep. I don't know why I feel this way, but seeing this thing just makes me feel off. Can you please make it go away? Because I hate it. Maybe I'm wrong and this thing is actually cute or something, but I'm not quite gettin' it. Sorry, folks.

But that's okay, because we're through the new Pokemon. Now we get to talk about the REAL news.

So, if you've been keeping up with my rants thus far, you know I have lots of issues with Japanese media, primarily due to their overuse of certain tropes. Part of the reason I enjoy Pokemon (the games at least) stems from the fact that they avoid several of those gigantic pitfalls that ruin most other Japanese franchises in my opinion. Possibly the most prevalent of these is the Saiyan Syndrome (trademark pending).

The Saiyan Syndrome is, as I understand it (and also as I created it), the idea that, once a certain limit has been reached, it becomes exciting to exceed that limit. And then once THAT limit has been reached, exceed it again, and again... and again.... Eventually, you've moved so far away from the original limits that it seems silly that they were ever imposed in the first place.

The problem, however, is that limits are important. They establish a semblance of realism in the world of whatever you're reading/watching/playing, and they create more tension. There's a reason Iron Man is so many peoples' favorite Avenger, and it's not just because of his personality. He has limitations. As a man, Tony Stark has no outstanding physical characteristics. His suit is only as strong as the materials and resources built into it, and when it runs out of power, Tony has to drag it through the snow. This creates a sort of tension that you can't quite capture with someone like Dr. Banner. Sure, it's fun to watch him turn into a enormous green rage monster and smash Loki like a rag doll, but it's hard for him to stand on his own simply because he can't lose--not really. You can't kill the Hulk. You just can't. And while that means you have to be creative in how you DEFEAT him, you can't kill him. So there's not as much tension when he's out there fighting, because you know he'll come back--he HAS to.

My point in all this is that a lot of Japanese franchises don't seem to understand this. Do you remember how stressful it was to watch Goku struggle? Sure, he was an alien martial arts master, but he still had limitations. And then--he started glowing and his hair turned blonde. When he first went Super Saiyan, it was absolutely incredible. It was sooooo cool, because now he was the top dog and could crush his enemies like that *me snapping despite being alone in a room miles from any of you*. This is the approximate equivalent of finally evolving your Charmeleon into a Charizard, or your Dragonair into a Dragonite, or your other Pokemon into an even better other Pokemon.

But here's the issue--it doesn't stop there. Goku goes Super Saiyan and is able to defeat anyone who threatens his world... until an even stronger enemy appears and he's suddenly overpowered, despite the fact that basically nobody else can go Super Saiyan at this point.

Now, I understand the idea of bringing in an even stronger villain to a degree. If you brought in a villain with the same strength as the previous, then you'd know Goku would have no trouble defeating him. But by making the villain stronger, you have to think of a better way to take him down. But that's not how it went down. Akira Toriyama didn't sit around and think about alternative ways to defeat... I don't know, Cell or Majinn Boo or... I'm going to be honest guys, I never finished the Dragon Ball series so some of the specifics of this description are a bit fuzzy to me BUT THE POINT IS there wasn't a moment when the villain wins permanently, or he's defeated through something other than some sort of final showdown. When it comes down to it, he's defeated because somehow, not only is Goku able to go Super Saiyan, he can do it again. And again. And again. He reaches unbelievable levels of power and hair volume, and you begin to wonder what the point of it all is. Is there a decent explanation for all this? Is there an ending point? And how are there villains that can still take down a Super Saiyan 3 character? It all becomes too much.

I've seen similar things happen in Naruto, and One Piece, and Bleach, and a whole host of other stories where somehow there's a new level of power that few can attain. And then a level above that. And a level above that. It's no fun after a point. It just seems really stupid, and is definitely poor form on the writers' part.

Pokemon managed to avoid this with two very simple concepts: Level 100 and Stage 2. No Pokemon can exceed level 100, with the exclusion of hacking or MissingNo. manipulation. And no Pokemon gets past the Stage 2 form, no matter what. There may be a split evolution like Eevee, and there may be a Stage 2 introduced years after the Stage 1, but Pokemon never get to evolve again once they hit that limit. This allows for other things, like strategy and creativity, to determine who is truly the better trainer.

That is, until now.

Today it was revealed that certain Pokemon will have the ability to MegaEvolve--that is, temporarily evolve in battle into a more powerful, uglier form. This finally sort of explains what the new Mewtwo form is--a MegaEvolution. The other Pokemon shown to be capable of this are Blaziken, Absol, Ampharos, Mawile, and Lucario. Each species looks mostly like itself, with a couple differences. They all experience some color changes, such as Blaziken getting darker or Lucario gaining red hands and feet... and they almost all sprout inexplicable manes.

Sound familiar?

Yes, that's right--Pokemon just went Super Saiyan on your butts.

These MegaEvolutions, from what I understand (which I'll admit isn't a lot), is a form change that happens only during battle, which gives your Pokemon some sort of super-boost for the rest of the battle. It's basically Dire Hit on steroids. After the battle, I assume it wears off, and your Mawile loses its third mouth and your Absol stops having its Victoria's Secret Angel wings and Emover of the Ages.

This is the worst idea ever, and I'll tell you why.

A long, long time ago, I can still remember... there was a franchise much similar to Pokemon. It featured strangely-mature ten-year-olds on adventures in dangerous worlds where they learned to befriend strange creatures and use them in battles against other strange creatures. It was called... Digimon.

Before I continue, I'd just like to admit to you all that I've seen The Digimon Movie more times than any other movie in my entire life. And yes, I've seen it within the last year. Shout out to Diaboromon.

But I'm going to be honest here.

Digimon is stupid.

For one fundamental reason--there's too much. Tooooo much. There was never any feeling that Digimon were anything really special, because they were all special. There was no feeling of, "Wow! It's a legendary Digimon!" because they were all about equal. And they also lacked any sort of logic in their designs. You could have a dragon, a vampire, and a boxing cactus standing side by side and they would all be equally Digimon-y to the characters, and that just seemed strange.

Also, they could freely Digiolve and de...Digi..volve...ify... basically at will. And they could go VERY high. Champion... Ultimate... Mega....

Hm... Mega.... Have I heard that before?

Now, Digimon isn't dead. in fact, the US distribution rights were just re-purchased six months ago, so they're still trying to make it a thing. But it'll never attain any real stability simply because it's too much.

Pokemon, meet Digimon, the thing you never were, which is why you survived.

NO. BAD POKEMON. STOP HUMPING DIGIMON'S LEG. NO. STOP.

Pokemon, I'm taking you away from Digimon. Say goodbye.

But the damage has been done. Taking a page straight from Digimon's virtual manual, they're adding in these temporary evolutions that severely damage the logic and integrity of a franchise whose logic and integrity have been slowly deteriorating for the better part of a decade.

I'm not saying that MegaEvolutions won't necessarily be cool or fun. But they are distinctly un-Pokemon. By removing the self-imposed limitations of the franchise, they severely risk running everything into the ground by breaking down the structures that kept the franchise from becoming too much to deal with, especially for casual fans who are still having a hard time figuring out how to strategize in double battles. Eventually, what this leads to is a complete overhaul of the system that results in too many rules and too many overpowered contenders, pushing the casual player aside. It happened to Digimon, it happened to Yu-Gi-Oh (seriously, what in Francis's name is a Synchro?), and it just might finally happen to Pokemon.

Guys, I wish you the best, but I'm prepared for the worst.

Comments:

Pokemontrainergigi, August 8th, 2013, 3:50 pm

Some of the new Mega Evolution designs I like (Mawile's especially, Absol's, and somewhat Lucario's). But I don't like the Mega Evolutions idea. Heck, the three I just mentioned could have just been evolutions!

Making Mewtwo's new form a "Mega Evolution" makes no sense because Legendary Pokemon aren't suppose to evolve. I don't care if it's a temporary evolution, the word evolution is in there.

And I just don't even want to talk about Blaziken or Ampharos. Why is Ampharos part Dragon? Why?

I'm fine with Mawile getting Fairy typed. We need something not 100% cuteness getting that type (sure Xerneas got there first, but for later generations Mawile is the first).

Zelkova, August 8th, 2013, 6:40 pm

I thought One Piece stick true to the adventuring heroes that stay (more or less) human? I haven't read the manga but I was told it was the best thing to read that isn't Ichigo from Bleach finding out he have like 3 different powers or Naruto having the power to destroy the landscape fighting Madara who can do it even better.

Gleem, August 11th, 2013, 8:40 am

At the world championships For the VGC and TCG, they revealed Kangaskhan will also Mega evolve...by taking it's baby out of its pouch and being able to attack twice.

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