Varoom and Revavroom

Today is a special one...but one that I also have some slightly mixed feelings about.

Back during the earliest (real) leaks for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, we learned that an upcoming Pokemon was going to be a poison/steel "car engine," and already my interest was pretty strongly piqued.

This is because my absolute favorite trend in this series, for those who are new around here, are the poison type Pokemon born from man-made pollution. Creatures formed from toxic waste are even one of my overall most beloved fiction tropes in general, with this photo representing only one tiny fraction of my whole trash monster collection. We were gifted two of these at once in Pokemon's first generation, the Grimer and Koffing lines, who remained the only "man-made" poison types until the beautiful gift that was the Trubbish line, and later, the Alolan Grimer regional form. In 25 years and around a thousand monsters, that makes my favorite subcategory much rarer than you may have even remembered it being.

So I pretty much knew I was going to love the poisonous engine monster before I ever saw the design, and finally, a bit of promotional art already spoiled that design, as Paldea's "villainous" Team Star actually use this Pokemon to power their gigantic, tricked-out "Starmobiles:"

What we could see of this beautiful creature was indeed a big metal car engine, but with a big slimy tongue in a jagged set of jaws above its single, yellow eyeball, and multiple exhaust pipes stained with purple slime. An almost Yo-Kai Watch kind of design, which is something I would personally only ever say as praise. The question only remained of how this Pokemon looks and functions when it's not plugged into a vehicle... Love.
The first of two stages is Varoom, and I definitely adore its entire look. It doesn't have the "jaws" yet, but it has a proboscis-like intake in the front, almost like a seahorse's mouth, yellow eyes on the sides and a single poison-splotched exhaust pipe. What we didn't expect here were the "wheels;" the whole engine is attached to some rotating chunks of blackish stone. That's cute! The Pokedex says the first Varoom resulted from an "unknown" poison Pokemon that possessed an old engine at a scrap-processing facility. Maybe this was an undocumented species that now exists only in the form of Varoom, or maybe it was one of my other buddies, like a Grimer, evolving into a brand new species?

The Violet dex entry goes on to say that it actually feeds on the rocks it attaches to, converting the minerals into its fuel energy. I like that there's a logical reason for this, and that in the process, it molds those rocks into a makeshift "car!"

It's nice to have a Pokemon with wheels after the bait and switch that was Rolycoly, although, there's still a little issue we'll be getting to soon enough.

So then we have Revavroom, the thing we already saw attached to the Starmobile, though that artwork covered up the little intake hole beneath what is now its single cyclops eye. I love how this gives the creature two different things you can interpret as the mouth. The only thing I'm not too big on is that the rocky "car" has become so much larger, it kind of distracts from the "engine creature" aspect. It now has four big wheels as well as a rear end evoking a hot rot, all hewn from chipped blackish stone it collects and digests into a toxic gas it "detonates in its cylinders."

It's still pretty interesting, though. I always wondered when a Pokemon would finally be based on a car or truck with functioning wheels, and it's a nice surprise that this turned out to be the first completely new pollutiomon since Unova. There's just one problem, and it doesn't take away from the aesthetics of the design itself, no, but it still bothers me so, SO much.


Yes, the entire concept of this Pokemon is that it's a car engine, it collects rocks to build itself an imitation car body with wheels and everything...and then it doesn't actually use those wheels. It hovers off the ground and zooms through the air like a spaceship, which is never actually acknowledged by its Pokedex or concept in any way. It doesn't even have the "levitate" ability! It just learns "magnet rise," which is true for lots of steel types anyway. Maybe this is my neurodivergence talking but it just bugs the heck out of me that they gave this Pokemon wheels that don't actually do anything, especially because I already would have liked it better as the engine alone. I even would have liked it hovering and flying as the engine alone! They just had to pick one or the other!

The fact that this Pokemon defies gravity does seem to be a built-in concept, since the "starmobiles" are animated kind of floaty, but why? It is kind of interesting that this creature forms the car "arbitrarily," yes, like it has an understanding that it's supposed to be connected to some wheels but it doesn't necessarily need them, but in terms of creature design, that's simply too obtuse even for me. I don't think a Pokemon should have a major design feature that's entirely nonfunctional for non-obvious reasons, and having something float off the ground while it rotates four wheels just "looks wrong," basically. Maybe this is just me, but I think the coolest possible option would have been if Revavroom's two long tail pipes were flexible enough for it to walk around on. I might be biased here because I've loved chunky things with a single long pair of legs since my time as a Star Wars kid in the distant past.

When I first saw the Pokemon's design, I even wondered if it would flip over when removed from a Starmobile, putting the "jaws" beneath the eye, and I'd have accepted that too, though I'm definitely glad its "face" is always "upside down." I do feel bad devoting this much of its review to a single point of contention, but the hovering even bugs me enough that it made me slightly less enthused to use it in-game.

Its addition is also bittersweet, because Pokemon's new limited compatability model means I can't even make a team out of Revavroom with the rest of its cousins; Weezing isn't transferable to Scarlet or Violet, and it's the very first region to ever exclude Trubbish and Garbodor since their debut. This isn't Revavroom's fault of course, but I thought I'd mention again that it still ruins what I consider to be the entire core goal of the franchise and the reason I look forward to new Pokemon at all (unlimited team building). The way things are headed, I may never be able to play with my favorites together outside Pokemon Go, unless I guess I ever finally get into the TCG.

It's also a bit of a let-down that they didn't make Revavroom all that good in-game. It has the signature move "Spin Out," a steel-type attack that lowers its own speed by two stages, but steel isn't considered all that advantageous of an offensive type, and the combination of poison/steel is defensively a little worse than steel or poison on their own. The steel side adds a lot of resistances and an immunity to psychic attacks, yes, which are one of poison's two weaknesses, but it adds a weakness to fire, which is more commonly used than psychic anyway. Worse, poison and steel compound one another's vulnerability to the ever-popular ground type moves, causing it to take quadruple damage and die instantly if a Diglett gets dirt on it. A Pokemon that levitates would be immune to ground attacks, but like I said, Revavroom's levitation is just an arbitrary visual.

And if it looks like it levitates, but didn't get the levitate ability, that must be so they could make room for more important abilities, right? NOPE. While a Pokemon can have up to three possible abilities - two default, one hidden - Revavroom just has the default ability "Overcoat," which makes a Pokemon immune to powder moves (such as stun spore) and the damaging effect of sandstorm. Powder moves aren't terribly common, however, and steel Pokemon are immune to sandstorm already. Its hidden ability, Filter, reduces super effective damage by 25%, but that just means an Earthquake murders it three times over instead of four. It's like this Pokemon's entire implementation into the game is making fun of it at every turn.

Wait, wait, ONE more thing: I love the organic tongue that comes out of the metal jaws, but in some animations these jaws stretch wide open, and they modeled the interior as just this big black cylinder instead of any actual opening for the tongue to come out of, so the tongue inexplicably "clips" in and out of what looks like a solid surface.

I still won't let any of my gripes subtract from the score this Pokemon inherently deserves. It could have been handled better, but it's unavoidably one of my new all-time favorites, and I guess that's simply why its flaws stick out to me as much as they do. Despite the series of bizarre dev team pranks it's evidently been subjected to, it's still a fantastically weird, fun and unique idea for a Pokemon, another clever new conceptual niche for the poison type, a rad looking spooky critter with creatively quirky anatomy, and a fully worthy addition to my collection of plastic slimes if it ever gets a minifigure.

All Scarlet/Violet sprite animations ripped by adamsb0303!