The Nacli Family

It's Paldea's signature mineral monster! Who doesn't love the common first-stage rock types? They're always such strange little critters, rarely humanoid or even particularly animal-like, and often come up with a fun new kind of "rock" to represent. Nacli is a fine example of this tradition: it's a little white cube with rectangular, glowing orange eyes, capped with a large crumbly hunk of stone that makes the whole thing look an a lot like a Super Mario mushroom. There's one more white block sprouting off the top of its rocky helmet, and if you hadn't put it together, this is a salt Pokemon! NaCl is the chemical formula for sodium chloride, and under natural conditions, rock salt or halite really does form into perfectly straight-sided blocks!

My only little critique is that the Pokedex says it leaves a trail of salt wherever it goes, which makes me think of a snail, and how perfect would a snail be as the basis for a salt Pokemon?! Can't win them all, I guess, and in terms of gastropoda, at least this generation will have us covered later.

This line's signature ability, Purifying Salt, amusingly grants immunity to not only all status conditions, but adds resistance to ghost-type moves.

Naclstack unfortunately feels a tad less weird than the creeping mushroom-like Nacli, but that's alright. Even becoming a quadrupedal beast, it's still quite weird that it's made primarily of salty blocks with its cubical legs, big brick-like chest and cracked white block head, retaining the simplicity of orange, blocky eyes with no other facial features. Now a slow but relentless predator, it's said to use a salt spray to rapidly dehydrate and "dry cure" its prey. It even gets a great new signature move, Salt Cure, which continuously damages the target by 1/8 of its maximum HP each turn, just like poison status, until they either die or they switch out to a different Pokemon. The real fun however is that it does twice the damage to both water types and the notoriously durable steel types, as though rapidly rusting the latter!

I must say I'm unfortunately not 100% sold on Garganacl, though only because I feel like a humanoid finale is rather conventional. Still, it keeps the charm of the same face and the core gimmick of the salt blocks, so I'm glad this is no Rolycoly situation that abandons everything unique about its first stage. It's a fairly cool humanoid rock type, too, with a stripey sedimentary pattern to its long, blocky limbs, its giant chunky hands reaching to the ground with their square-tipped fingers. Huge white salt blocks form its back and shoulders, surrounding its relatively smaller face and torso in what almost looks like a "stone temple" of salt. The salt cube head is still present from Naclstack, but sandwiched between angular chunks of brown stone, almost like it's peering out of a hooded robe.

Garganacl apparently likes to sprinkle injured Pokemon with salt to help heal their wounds, and a lot of Pokemon follow it around to lick its delicious surface. No further mention of it mummifying things to death. Does it become more of a pacifist at this stage? Maybe it's just more choosy about what it murders, or maybe it prefers nosy humans.

Everyone who sees this line immediately notices a resemblance to Minecraft graphics, and while blockiness is natural to actual salt, I'm sure designer Hitoshi Ariga was fully conscious of that resemblance, having done illustration work related to a number of indie games. It should also be noted that, with the exception of the Alolan Geodude line, almost every single Pokemon designed by this guy has been one of our 4/5 or 5/5 reviews, including a couple of my personal 6/5's! Past Ariga Pokemon include Panogoro, Honedge line, Inkay line, Mega Beedrill, Grubbin, Corviknight and all four of Galar's mixed-up abomination fossils, among others. Even if I didn't like his Alolan 'dude, he also designed the Alolan Grimer and Muk! Dang! This guy just knocks it out of the park!

The Nacl's aren't for all tastes, but they're definitely unique and they make interesting use of rock typing as a theme. They're also this generation's Toxapex; so obnoxiously durable that the competitive meta has had to restrict their use. Like Toxapex, it's not just that their defenses are so beefy, but that they learn multiple regenerative moves, and worst of all, the trapping move Block, forcing you to watch as it just lies back and slowly turns your best fighter into delicious jerky.

All Scarlet/Violet sprite animations ripped by adamsb0303!