Bramblin and Brambleghast

This is the first one I have to say I'm pretty excited about! My tastes have evolved a bit over the past couple of decades, but around the time Pokemon Red and Blue first arrived, I had an odd little fixation on the entire concept of thorny vines, stinging weeds or stickerbushes, all the rude spiny and sticky plants that hate you to touch them. I really wanted there to be a Pokemon that was purely spiny vines or branches with as little else as possible, and I even really loved the word "bramble." I still do! It's just such a fun little word, it rolls so pleasantly and it somehow really feels, to me, like it communicates the experience of getting snagged by prickly tangly foliage. Ouch! Don't get brambled! Oof! Brambles!

So Pokemon #436 just reaches STRAIGHT into my 1990's brain. It's name is Bramblin, and it's entirely a branching mass of pale, thorny, twiggy branches in a basketlike globose mass, a pair of large black seeds hovering within it as its "eyes!" You may have already guessed that it's not just any thorny bush, but specifically a tumbleweed, a term referring to a number of different species that actually detach themselves from the ground as they dry up and bounce around in the wind to disperse their seeds, which is also why this is a grass/ghost Pokemon! Did I also mention I always wanted a dried up "wilted" grass type?!

As a tumbleweed, this is also the first Pokemon to have the ability "Wind Rider," which causes all wind-based attacks to boost its attack stat instead of damaging it. Its attack also goes up during the Tailwind effect, instead of only its speed!

Bramblin' evolves when it's followed you around for enough in-game steps, which is actually annoying as hell because your following Pokemon will go back in its Pokeball if you start to run too fast. Wow what fun. Stellar design. Fortunately, if you keep at it you finally get Brambleghast! It's mostly just a bigger, chunkier, thornier Bramblin, but a couple of smaller thorny bramble chunks encircle the seed eyes, and the centermost branch has a couple offshoots evoking a "smile" with thorny "teeth!"

Besides being such a spooky cool plant monster, Brambleghast was actually given two of my top favorite Pokemon moves of all time: Leech Seed AND Infestation! The latter is sadly no longer available as a TM and was cruelly retconned off of many Pokemon that could originally learn it, but I'm quite happy the dead bramble can riddle its opponent with both bloodsucking vines and some kind of Pokemon lice.

This elegantly simple but very cool line is notably similar in many excellent ways to Dhelmise, to the point that some question whether it may have been related in some way at some point in development. Perhaps it is a tad redundant in that sense, having both the same typing and such a similar design principle, but I say the more the merrier. In both cases I love that such a technically faceless and truly nonhuman thing can still be your friendly little pal on your silly adventures, especially given their weird ghostly nature; naturally this Pokemon is said to entangle prey and suck out of their "life energy!" I'll also say that I personally think these two also have a very "classic" Pokemon feel. Some might disagree, but I don't think Bramblin and Brambleghast would have looked too out of place in the first or second generation.

Our very next review is for another grass type Pokemon, and actually one I'm even more delighted by!

All Scarlet/Violet sprite animations ripped by adamsb0303!