The new Pokemon are absolute trash. Why do they keep making new ones?
With a new Generation of Pokemon looming in November, and the booming popularity of Pokemon GO, these words are something you’ve probably said at one point, or, at least, heard amongst friends. Yet, is that statement fair? I know many purists who swear by the first 151 Pokemon from 1998, and claim that the other ones released after that are unoriginal, ugly, stupid, and many other 10 year-old jibes. I don’t hold that belief myself. I believe that each iteration of Pokemon has many duds in them, but also many fascinating creatures. I will list two common complaints I see spring up on the internet and in conversation with friends, and address them with a hopefully suitable rebuttal. Onto the list:
COMPLAINT #1: NEW POKEMON AREN’T ORIGINAL
Let’s start off with something basic. My problem with this phrase is its vagueness. What is the definition of original here? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Original means something “that is the origin or source of something; from which something springs, proceeds, or is derived”. In other words, original Pokemon must be conceived out of pure inspiration, and not be derived off of other ideas. However, I can point to every single Pokemon in the first generation and say that they are derived off of something. Pidgey is a pigeon, Squirtle is a turtle, Charmander is a salamander, etc. etc. I can go on forever.
It is incredibly difficult to create original ideas. Pretty much anything I have created has been derived off of something, and that is perfectly okay. If one is able to add their own personal spin to an already established idea, then it could become something truly great and memorable. That’s why Pokemon resonate with people so much, because of their design and mannerisms. However, is it not unfair, to judge Pokemon from the second generation and onward for doing the exact same thing that the first generation did? The most revered Pokemon from the first generation are all inspired by real life or fantastical creatures. Again, I am not saying this is a problem. If a Pokemon is inspired by an animal, object, folklore, historical event, or anything, really, then I believe that can add another dimension of depth to the Pokemon. Take a look at Ludicolo:
This is Ludicolo, from the third Generation of Pokemon. This Pokemon was inspired by the Kappa, a Japanese troll that hides under bridges and kidnaps children. Now, the design of Ludicolo itself is hilarious, he looks ridiculous and I love it. The design itself is enough to sell this Pokemon to me. However, if I have that extended knowledge of its lore, then it becomes all the more fascinating, as it gains personality, and it resonates with me even longer. Pokemon from every generation take inspiration from something, and I don’t believe its a strong argument to say that ALL of the first 151 Pokemon are flawless and unique.
(Also, small, pointless tangent, but why do people call them the original 151? There were never any Pokemon that replace them in the National Pokedex. Maybe they’re referring to regional Pokedexes that have newer Pokemon take up those spots? But, that wouldn’t make sense, since you can still find Pokemon from the first generation in regional Pokedexes with completely different numbers than the national one and…i’m just rambling, moving on!)
COMPLAINT #2: THE NEW POKEMON LOOK STUPID
I think what sparked this loyalty to the first generation of Pokemon was the impending release of Pokemon Black and White in 2011. That’s when the screenshots of these two lovely Pokemon released:
May I present to you, Trubbish and Vanilluxe, a Garbage Pokemon (literally), and an Ice Cream Pokemon. These two Pokemon are from Black and White. Are they lame? Are they bland? Are they a metonym for the lack of creativity with each subsequent Generation of Pokemon? The answer to all of those questions is: maybe. It depends on the perspective of the viewer. Do you glance at these two without any knowledge of their lore or use in-game, and deem them stupid? Or are they so silly that they kind of gain some charm from their stupidity? It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
Personally, i’m under the firm belief that every generation of Pokemon has absolute duds and absolute studs. When people make comparison posts between generations of Pokemon, they always infuriate me, because they always cherry pick examples to fit their goal. Here, I can do it too, watch:
Pokemon, what happened, XD?????????
On the left, we have Muk. Muk is a first generation Pokemon. Muk is a pile of shit. On the right is Genesect, who is from Generation 6. Genesect is a robotic insect mech with a cannon on its back. That is cool as hell.
See how easy it is to make these comparisons? You can handpick examples all day. Not every single new Pokemon is stupid. There have always been stupid Pokemon. Judging newer Pokemon for problems that are still evident in older Pokemon is unfair and poor judgment.
Now, those are two big complaints I see constantly, but now it is time for me to complain about the complainers. Here we go.
This is purely anecdotal, and this is indeed a harsh generalization, but I have noticed that those who revere the first Generation tend to have never played any other Pokemon game in their life. This is important, because I believe that their connection to First Generation of Pokemon comes from the emotional connection to the video games, card games, and TV show.
This is solely my experience, but my favourite Pokemon stem from multiple generations, because I grew attached to how useful they were to me in the Video Games. The Pokemon Games, for those who have not played them and are reading this article for some reason, allow you to formulate a team of 6 Pokemon of your choosing. I know many people, especially young children, who create a team of 6 and roll with them for the entire game. Although they do not speak, the Pokemon create a connection with the player through Gameplay. Did a Pokemon clutch out a battle for you with a sliver of health remaining? Then that Pokemon is likely to be associated with a potent memory. Did a Pokemon get poisoned, and force you to run to a hospital to heal it, only to die mere steps away from the PokeCenter? Then that moment will remain with you. What I am trying to say is, stories are told through Gameplay. Having the ability to customize a team creates a sense of unity between the player and pixels. This allows for certain Pokemon to be revered more than others. I know this is a leap in logic, but there were limited useful Pokemon in the first generation. To create a useful team of 6, one would be limited to a few options. It is because of this, that I believe people have strong, nostalgic attachment to certain Pokemon, and overlook the stupid one’s because they did not serve the player well.
Furthermore, the TV show certainly paints specific Pokemon in favourable lights. Charizard, Pikachu, Mewtwo, any Pokemon on the main character’s team gets a lot of spotlight, and many opportunities to do cool and badass things. I’m not saying the newer shows are absconded from these practices whatsoever. Greninja is Pokemon X and Y’s wet dream. But the TV show does create bias, and as Pokemon was at the height of its popularity during the first generation, those who watched it praise it with nostalgia blinds. The most vocal Generation 1 fanatics are now likely adults and do not have the same openness and reverence for, what is still admittedly, a silly product.
And let’s not forget shiny Pokemon cards. I will not pretend that I was an avid player of the card game. I just collected the cards that looked cool because I was a dumb kid. And notice how the coolest Pokemon would also get the shiniest cards? Combine that with other variations like “Dark Cards”, or “cards specific to certain trainers”, and there is even more bias for certain Pokemon being fostered in minds. Some people like Pokemon because they had a shiny card of them, or it was their first rare card. I know I liked a lot of legendaries because they would always be shiny and holographic. I was played by The Pokemon Company.
What I’m ultimately trying to say with this article, is that it is very biased and rude to insinuate that the First Generation of Pokemon were the only good Pokemon. That is an incredibly close-minded mentality. I am under the firm belief that there were always dumb Pokemon, and there were always awesome Pokemon. This has been consistent across the generations. Pokemon is something for everybody. Adults, children, grandmas, they can all enjoy it. There is a reason that every subsequent Generation sells millions of video games, and rakes in billions of dollars annually. People still love Pokemon, regardless of their opinion of its designs.