Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A New Beginning: The Starters of Unova 
 While it's possible I am a little late in doing this, I would like to take some time in analyzing the three new starters of Generation 5, Snivy, Oshawott and Tepig, as well as their evolutions. While I'd say we've all come a long way in speculating since their introduction in the form of silhouettes all those months ago,  I think it's safe to say these little guys have actually grown on me. 
 My first thoughts about the three were the unexpectedness of them all. Surely we never know what to expect at the beginning of each Generation of Pokemon, but I felt a bit differently about these than I had about any other rudimentary trio in the past. They were new, they were fresh, but something about them all seemed as if they had been done before. Maybe that's what you get when you're five Generations and over 600 Pokemon in. 

The Grass Snakes: 
Almost immediately, for some reason, my attention was drawn quickly to the Grass-type starter. 
 "That thing looks exactly like Treecko" was essentially the first sentence I found I could say about it. I mean, look at it. What more could two bipedal, green, Grass-type lizards have in common? Not to mention the willful, almost smug expression plastered across the faces of the two lizards. Their eyes each seem to say "I don't care what anybody thinks, I'm a badass!" For these reasons, and that they are both starter Pokemon, I was turned off to Snivy from the beginning. That is not to say I don't like smug little lizards, but I feel that when Nintendo tends to release a superfluous amount of a certain species, so much so that it becomes almost exhaustive (*cough* Electric rodents! *cough*), there isn't much fun or excitement in discovering these new Pokemon. I was, however, soon proved wrong. 
 The evolved forms of Snivy do in fact live up to the species' name. More particularly in the last stage (dubbed 'Jalorda', 'Jarooda', or 'Smuglord' as of yet), it is clear that this evolutionary line is based on a snake of some sort. With regal curving patterns down the length of its body and the retention of the self-controlled, smug
My original thoughts: Grass/Dragon type
glare, this final form reigns superior over any other snake Pokemon introduced to date. I must say I am impressed with Snivy's evolution and I will gladly accept it into the family of other Grass starters. Better still, it resembles Sceptile by no means whatsoever and adds a refreshing touch to my personal standards for starter Pokemon. Its stats are interesting as well, but we will touch on those another time. If I had to rate this on a scale of 1 to 10 for coolness (10 being the best), I would give it an 8.

Another Fighting type??!?: 
   Tepig, of all three starters, instantly became my favorite of the group. Its with a unique design, awesome coloration, and a legacy to live up to in being a Fire type starter, I felt that this thing had the potential to be an amazing Pokemon, both stat-wise and species-wise. Of the three, he was the funnest to speculate about, and even still is, despite us knowing quite a bit about him now. Of course, the whole pig thing has been done before (see Spoink, Grumpig and....Mankey?), but this was a completely new attempt at it. Seriously, this thing is so awesome that it doesn't even turn into bacon despite the presumably hot temperatures its body must exceed. All in one this thing looks fierce, especially with its awesome typing. It even retains the cuteness factor of being a little piglet. I am certain to choose this as my starter once Black and White come out in the U.S. A fire-breathing pig...Go figure. 
A Ham that cooks itself! This could have easily been Fire/Dark or Fire/Ground!

Now, contrary to Snivy and its final form, who went from disappointing to royally awesome, Tepig's last stage was welcomed a little differently. Design-wise, it lives up to my expectations of the Fire Pig, and possibly even surpasses the coolness of its Grass counterpart. What let me down, however, was the fact that it stands, once again, as another Fire/Fighting type starter. As if two isn't enough the designers of the new Pokemon must have felt like a tradition had been started with its fiery predecessors, and perhaps didn't want to let the Pokefans down. Otherwise they were at a complete loss for ideas with the 15 other types they could have used to enhance this thing's uniqueness. Overall, this Pokemon does look cool, and I will keep my word that it is my favorite of the other new starters, but I really do hope Gamefreak doesn't begin to make a pattern of this. Even another pure Fire-type starter would be ok. All and all, it is out of my hands to make up the types of Pokemon, and is therefore futile to complain. Design-wise, this thing nets a hardy 8.5/10 in my book. Just don't ask me to judge its typing. 

**On a side note, an interesting observation I have made is that Enobuu, along with Blaziken and Infernape, in fact share more things in common than are categorically obvious. Being a chicken, a monkey, and a pig, I have noticed that the three Fire starters of the past three generations have been based off animals that reside in the Chinese Zodiac. While this may be a minor coincidence, it is still something fun to discuss and speculate about. Maybe we can come to expect a Fire/Fighting ram in future games?**

Wait, so what is that thing??
    Oshawott, the sea otter Pokemon. What a cutie. Yes, we've seen the otter thing done before in Buizel and Floatzel (or were they weasels?), but Oshawott by no means resembles these two, and is unique in its own right. With a white face, a large, round orange nose, and a ruffly neck, my first thought of this otter was that it would evolve into some sort of clown/mime/sea otter hybrid. Yes, the idea sounds a bit creepy, but I can't say I wouldn't like it. In fact, I would gladly trade in Wott's actual evolution for a clown, a mime, anything but this!
Probably my least favorite of the three,
but I've seen worse Pokemon.
Meet Daikenki (current Japanese name), the Dignity Pokemon. Complete with oldman-like mustache/beard combo, a honeycomb as a headpiece, and a jet/shark-looking fin for a tail, this thing is far from the cutely huggable otter it is supposed to have evolved from. Where exactly is its dignity?
All joking aside, this is actually a decent-looking pokemon. Odd, yes, but let's be thankful we weren't given another Water/Steel bird, or yet ANOTHER Electric-type rat (wait....nevermind...). Fierce, swift, and dog-like, I personally wouldn't mind raising one of these myself. That is even taking into account the fact that every time I look at it I am reminded of the delicious Summer treat, Otter Pops. Here's to hoping this guy makes a splash in the coming games. 7.5 out of ten.

The Verdict:
I think it is now safe to say that, based off the starters' appearance alone, we are in for an exhilarating, visually refreshing adventure when Pokemon Black and White come out in North America. There are always going to be those unappealing Pokemon; the ones that make you think, "WHAT were they thinking?!", but overall I think the designers over at Gamefreak have really outdone themselves this time around. It may take some getting used to, but once we truly familiarize ourselves with these new monsters, they will be just as much our favorites as Pikachu or Arceus.

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