Written by Jonathan Wojcik
THE THIRTEEN SPOOKIEST NEW POKEMON (MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING!)
Next to Halloween, is any
major event in our civilization more pure and just than the introduction of new pokemon? Cities may collapse, species may vanish into extinction, nightmare political empires may rise and fall, but millenia from now, insectoid cyberchildren will be picking their favorites from the 3,000 Pokemon we left behind before we nuked ourselves into oblivion, and they'll grow up knowing that whatever we were, we must have had something resembling goodness nestled somewhere
beneath our brutal and ugly exteriors - that we were once so much more than the frightening, charred skeletons littering the dusty wastes of a scabrous and poisoned Earth.
What was this about again? Digimon?
Oh hey, wait, there's new Neopets or something!
If you've been reading my quasi-daily pokemon reviews,
you know I'm not usually a fan of most legendary pokemon. They usually feel like they're trying too hard, their designs a little awkward and their concepts just not all that charming. Lunala
, however, is a downright gorgeous design, just complex enough to have that "legendary" feel without feeling as cluttered up as beasts like Rayquaza
or those hokey Djinn things.
More importantly, it's a giant legendary bat
, with wings like a night sky, haunting luminous crescents, a tail like an ominous pendulum and an external skeleton. Of all the bat pokemon we have so far, I'd have previously chosen Gliscor
as the Halloweeniest
in its overall aesthetic, but Lunala easily knocks the scorpion-bat down a peg in the spook department.
From the moment it was unveiled, I loved
the idea of having a "fairy" type, and it honestly hasn't disappointed. While every single fairy pokemon has been "cute," it's typically in a mischievous fashion befitting the fae folk. This grass/fairy mushroom, for instance, uses its bioluminescence to lure unsuspecting humans and pokemon deeper into the forest to "sap them of energy," like the fifth generation's Litwick
or the mythological Will O' Wisp. I also appreciate Shiinotic's elongated, green fingers and simple, blank space-alien face.
The idea of a wolf pokemon has been so clamored for that I could never help finding it tiresome already, but now that one is finally here, I don't mind it at all.
Its quadrupedal, Sun-exclusive "midday form" is rather straightforward and predictable, but in Pokemon Moon,
it stands up on its hind legs - a reverse werewolf! - and takes on a cartoonier feel I find reasonably charming. Even sharing a few anatomical imperfections with the messy Lucario
, it manages to have just enough of a "Big Bad Storybook Wolf" vibe for my approval.
#10: Type: Null and Silvally
While Midday and Midnight Lycanroc are considered one "species" with two alternate forms, Type: Null
are considered two evolutionary stages, which is strange, because literally all that changes here is that the monster's helmet comes off. Even its stats remain the same except for an increase in speed
, having shed a few pounds of cumbersome metal.
With aspects of bird, mammal, fish and even insect, you can tell just by looking that this pokemon is a product of Frankensteinian science, and in fact, it seems to represent an attempt at recreating Arceus.
Just like Arceus, it can become any
typing in the game once it "evolves" into Silvally, and even its head gear in its first stage borrows a few characteristics from the god pokemon.
I will say I find this monster much, much cooler with its helmet on, but I'm glad even its unmasked griffon face has big bolts on the sides of its head, just so we don't lose as much of that Laboratory Experiment aesthetic.
A delightfully weird idea for a ghost/ground
type, Palossand begins its life as nothing but a Sandyghast
, said to be a heap of sand haunted by a powerful "grudge." By taking control of human minds - particularly children - it has more and more mass added to itself until it becomes a full-blown sandcastle.
...A sandcastle that kills
The pokedex assures us that buried beneath pallosand are all the bones of its past victims.
The unevolved form of this pokemon, Salandit,
is our first ever poison/fire type and possesses the unique ability "corrosion," which allows it to inflict poison status on pokemon normally immune to it, such as steel types and its fellow poison types. Already a dastardly little fiend, but its official lore also mentions that the females
are able to lure and control "males of all species" with the pheromones they admit.
Those females, and only the females, eventually evolve into Salazzle
- seductive lizard women whose markings resemble a frilly swimsuit and whose pokedex lets us know that they keep "harems." Maybe you thought I'd make fun of all this for being fetish bait, but you're only half
right, because while ot's certainly weird and funny in its own way, the concept of a sultry, hypnotic, acidic fire-lizard is also just plain wicked as hell. I could see Salazzle as enemies in a game like Dark Souls.
#07: TAPU LELE
Tapu Lele is one of four special "island guardians," each of them a sort of tiny, black pixie in an artificial-looking shell. When closed, these shells form the heads of four different animals, and Lele here, a fairy type, can close up into the head of a pink butterfly. This doesn't seem all that spooky, no, until you read some of her official lore, courtesy pokemon-sunmoon.com:
"There is a legend which says that long ago Tapu Lele once brought an end to war between the islands of Alola by scattering its scales and soothing the tired warriors. In truth, it's said that the war ended because the warriors, empowered by the scales, all fought to their final breath.
Tapu Lele scatters glowing scales that physically affect others—providing stimulation to their bodies and healing their illnesses or injuries. But these scales can be dangerous as well, because a body can’t withstand the changes brought about by contact with too many scales at the same time. It will scatter its scales over humans and Pokémon for its own enjoyment; while it is innocent in one sense, there is also cruelty in the way it casually brings others to ruin."
part was even completely left out of the English version of the site, one of the first times anyone has caught a pokemon's description getting toned down for a non-japanese audience. Like I said, fairy pokemon really trend toward the sinister, and if you know the first thing about authentic fairy lore, you're not even surprised.
Yes, there is a pokemon called BUZZWOLE, and it is a hulked-out mansquito whose "muscles" seem to be sacs of absorbed blood. I've longed for a mosquito pokemon since the original red/blue, but I never would have expected something this utterly bonkers. It isn't just any regular pokemon either, but one of the new "ULTRABEASTS" - mysterious menaces from a parallel dimension!
I'm sure you know I've also waited eagerly for a cockroach
pokemon since basically day one, and like Buzzwole, we've gotten one with a highly unexpected twist. This cockroach is also known as the "beauty" Ultrabeast, a delicate and angelic looking creature said to "avoid touching anything" because it finds our world "unclean."
I'm sure this was supposed to be an ironic twist, but the real irony is that this more
accurately represents a cockroach than their unfounded reputation for filthiness, so while I might have loved some scuzzy, sleazy dark/bug or bug/poison Blattodean, I can just as easily embrace Pheromosa.
#04 ALOLAN MAROWAK
In a highly unexpected twist, a new "Alola form" for the classic Marowak
ditches its original typing completely, going from a ground type to a ghost/fire
type. Why? You may
recall (just maybe
) that the bones carried by Cubone and Marowak are supposedly those of their own dead mothers. How every single member of this species has a dead mother and still exists at all, we won't get into again, but in the case of Alolan
Marowak, the soul
of its dead mother is said to awaken
in her old bones, assisting her offspring in battle with her ghost-type powers.
Another of my new favorites and easy main-team material, Dhelmise appears to consist mostly of a ship's anchor and helm, but its grass/ghost
typing betrays its secret; the pokemon is only the algae
encrusting the anchor, our first-ever pokemon consisting of completely faceless, formless ooze. It was about damn time! Seriously, GHOST ALGAE. How cool is that?!
This ghost/fairy pokemon was one of the first Gamefreak officially previewed, and it rightfully became a fandom darling overnight. Its true form is said to be so horrifying
that those who see it can fall ill or simply drop dead from shock
, but the poor little thing only wants to be loved. It wants to be loved so much, it made itself its own adorably crude Pikachu disguise and attempts to approach human children. This
is how you make something irresistibly lovable: by making it sad and pathetic and completely messed up and just trying its best, damn it.
The very first "ultrabeast" ever revealed, Nihilego's fascinating design resembles both a jellyfish and a disembodied, ghostly hairdo with a flower hat on top. Though animated cutely and said to behave "like a little girl," it's also our first ever rock/poison
type, because it's apparently more "crystalline mineral" than "jelly," and the pokedex also calls it "The Parasite Pokemon."
We don't know exactly what's up with this creature just yet, but the dex goes on to mention that it somehow infests
people and makes them violent.
It's an adorable, girly silicon-based jellyfish hat phantom with no eyes that came from another universe and creates rage zombies.
As far as Pokemon go, I think this ultrabeast easily wins as the scariest of all time
...but though small, Alola is still an exceptionally
spooky pokemon generation, so we're not going to end just yet:
Just barely pushed off of our "spookiest" list, Golisopod is based on the giant, deep-sea isopods that have enjoyed increasing media attention over the last ten to fifteen years. What's really fun about this hulking sea-roach, however, is its personality gimmick. It evolves from Wimpod
, whose unique ability, "wimp out," forces it to flee (or switch) as soon as its hit points drop to 50% or less.
Once it evolves into the mighty, menacing Golisopod, "wimp out" becomes "emergency exit," which...does the exact same thing, only now it sounds cool. Big, scary Golisopod is still a coward who runs away as soon as it's in any real danger, but it wants you to think
it's merely a strategic mastermind.
As soon as I saw this one, it started climbing up my list of all-time favorite Pokemon designs, possibly finding its way up there next to Gloom
Representing the invasive, highly destructive Crown of Thorns Starfish,
Toxapex is a brutal water/poison type that apparently devours poor Corsola
alive, leaving a trail of their half-eaten bits and pieces wherever it goes. I love that entire nasty little body just dangling under the relatively huge Echinoderm limbs, actually right where a real starfish would extrude its stomach!
I appreciate that most "Alolan" forms were given to less popular, less respected first-gen pokemon instead of a bunch of starters and legendaries. There's even Alola Raticate! In Muk's case, the story goes that Grimer
were imported to Alola and modified to consume solid garbage, rather than liquid sludge, in an effort to clean up the islands of trash and, yes, cut down the wild population of Trubbish
, because it's always a totally sound idea to combat one invasive species by introducing another, right? Worked for Australia all those times?
If you ask me, almost every wave of Pokemon has only gotten better, with the fifth, sixth, and now seventh each significantly
better overall than the batch before it. There isn't a single Pokemon in the Alola region I find boring, and when we get around to re-reviewing these and the rest of their generation in my daily reviews, we'll have a lot of fun delving into the likes of Toxapex
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