Welcome to Looking Forward- a new weekly column where I will be evaluating and speculating on news about the upcoming fifth Generation of Pokémon, from the perspective of a fan who’s been there since the days of Red and Blue.
Details on the fifth generation of Pokémon have leaked out at a steady pace ever since Pokémon Black and White versions were announced in April. We’ve been titillated with the promise of a new region, revamping in-game battle displays, new options for trading and battling other players online, and graphical advances unlike anything seen before in the handheld main series.
Yes, I didn’t mention the obvious one.
Anyone who doesn’t assume the single most anticipated aspect of a new generation is the new monsters is delusional. Pokémon has been and always will be about the titular creatures, they are the first and last 493 (a number about to dramatically increase) words in the franchise. Settings, forms of media, and presentation all change; but it will always be recognizable as Pokémon if the pocket monsters are present.
This brings me to my point: judgment of the newly revealed Generation V Pokémon as they slowly are revealed and how it’s often unfair.
I'm a lifelong fan of this franchise, ever since the days of Red, Blue, and Yellow. When Gold and Silver loomed overhead, most diehards rejoiced. The incredible collection of 151 was getting a 100-monster expansion, new things to train, new things to conquer, and new things to collect. For us, it was a godsend, but to outsiders, it was something that started as ridiculously large getting more ludicrous. My stepsister told me at the time, “There’ll be 500 before you know it.” Generation II came and went and we all loved the Johto Pokémon.
Then the divisions began. Ruby and Sapphire versions were released, and 251 swelled to 386. Some loved the 135 Hoenn Pokémon, while other fans began criticizing the designs as either unoriginal or becoming too extreme compared to the simplistic designs of Generation I. At the same time, the natures of the Legendary Pokémon were elevating as well. No longer were they simply exceptionally rare and powerful creatures, we were now approaching deity status with gods of Land, Sea, and Air who supposedly shaped the Earth eons ago. One of my friends, in regards to Duskull, said they were now coming to resemble the gritty and extreme designs of Digimon. Even to this day the Generation III Pokémon still have left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth of gamers, as any mention of Ruby and Sapphire on a forum will still ignite flamewars.
Diamond and Pearl increased the number to a whopping 493 species, and brought more controversy over designs, and more debate about the ‘best’ generation. The monster designs were getting as complex as ever, and in the eyes of some, a creative low point (look no further than the endless bile streamed by the fans at Bidoof). Criticism was directed at complex Starter Pokémon families (all of them having unique typing, Infernape aside), seemingly lazy/unnecessary additions to evolution families (Porygon-Z, Probopass), and legendary Pokémon that now ruled Time and Space, even having the Creator of the Universe being something you can catch. We cried they went too far and ran out of new ideas, and we wondered how they’d go from there.
Enter the revealed Generation V Pokémon we've seen so far. Aside from the legends and starters, we’ve seen a chinchilla, a pair of gears, an electric zebra, a strange sand crocodile, and a mad fire gorilla, among others. Already some people hate the new designs, and some love them. Some love Zoroark; some consider him a lame, dark Lucario. The bile cannon have been aimed at the starters, too. One poster I saw was horrified at the thought of starting his Pokémon journey with a pig, while others (including myself) embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Some think the sea otter Mijimaru is adorable, while others roll out the oil spill jokes. And don’t even get me started on that smug snake Tsutarja. As for the Legendary Pokémon Reshiram and Zekrom, they seem to have a Yin and Yang theme. Are they going to be above Arceus somehow? Some fans love their unique typing, while one commented that Pokémon had “broken the Yu-Gi-Oh barrier” with the design of these two.
Personally, I always welcome more species of Pokémon. Each region makes the world larger, and the Pokémon residing there characterize them more than cities or people. If Pokémon are supposed to be the equivalent of animals in our world, wouldn’t it be logical for there to be possibly thousands of species in the world?
As the months draw closer to Black and White’s releases in Japan, more and more new Pokémon will be revealed. No matter how original or terrible the new monsters will be in the end, there will always be those who claim this newest batch is the worst. There will always be the haters; there will always be those who join Facebook groups loudly proclaiming there are only 151 Pokémon. Decide for yourself what you think of them.
GodofPH, AKA Pat Hessman, is a student at Montana State University and writer for the MSU Exponent. He has a blog, Raptor Rants, and is currently in rehab recovering from a terrible Pokémon Mystery Dungeon addiction.