THE MYSTERY MONS


As many of you know, the recent beta discoveries also yielded several dozen scrapped Pokemon from the first two generations with no known names, no known pokedex entries, no known data whatsoever. Originally, I planned to give each one its own devoted review page like I have for any other Pokemon, but with so little to go by, there's really no hope of fleshing any of them out enough. It is with mixed feelings, then, that I present all of the most noteworthy on just a single page, very roughly in order of my "least favorite" to what I think is the most striking and surprising. Enjoy!


So, first up, we have this peculiar little thing that only reminds me immediately of the many awkward, hasty Pikachu imitators we saw from other video game studios at the peak of Pokemania. This is neither necessarily an insult nor a compliment. It's a "curiosity," but doesn't generally intrigue me.


Ugh......what? What is this? I'm already not sure why I ranked this higher than "Pikawho" up there. It's like a little...badger? Squirrel? With a star thing on its head and a belt? This most certainly does not feel like a Pokemon, I'm sorry.


A fox with no hind legs? I guess it could float around or something, maybe? Well, I'm afraid I just don't like it. It's a very generic fox head with a tail on it and there's not much else it's offering. Digimon has done the same thing better.


Would this have been an evolved form of the tail fox? It's marginally better, despite technically being more conventional. I guess I just like its facial expression more.


This one, maybe a final evolution, isn't too terrible at all. Kind of like if Ninetales were fatter and meaner.


A little thingy with no arms and big, giant ears. It kind of feels like the ears can possibly close up around it like a clamshell, which I like. Actually, this is a really cute one. We are already in "decent" to "good" territory now.


Hm. Alright. Not bad, but, this feels like a very pale imitation of Oddish. I almost want to say it's an ice type, a cute little snowball, but I know I'm wrong, because it has an evolution.


See? It got some leaves on its head, so it's apparently an underwhelming grass type.

UPDATE: NO IT ISNT I was right the first time. That was a snowball! And this is a snow bunny with leaves for ears!!!


So, is this an evolution or is this a whole new Pokemon? It looks like it could follow from that last one, so if it's a snow creature with leaf hair it's honestly pretty fun. If it's an unrelated Pokemon, then it feels like a knockoff Vileplume.


...And how does THIS fit in now? If that was a Snowplume, then is this another evolution? Now the "snow" would be all gone, and it's a full blown tree creature with nubby roots. I have no idea what I'm supposed to think of this thing now.


Then we have yet another take on a Tsuchinoko, and it's pretty cute, but what's with the feathery headdress? Is this supposed to be like, a baby Quetzalcoatl?


I don't know what this bird is supposed to be. It's got a pole instead of legs, and a basket thingy on its head. Seriously, NONE of these look like Pokemon.


Huh? Wait, didn't we see you before? This sunfish was in the first round of betas! I only repeat it here because, interestingly, it has a different and much more straightforward evolutionary line at this point in development:


Yep, it was originally going to evolve into nothing but a much more startled sunfish. I like that, actually. I really like this thing's face. It's hilarious.


Stage three underwhelms me, though. First it was happy, then it was high as a kite, now it's just grumpy? Boring! MOST Pokemon back then just got grumpier!


Oh! A bug type! And...it isn't bad I guess. Not terrible or anything. It's quite plain, though, plainer than either Beedrill or Butterfree. I can't quite tell what kind of insect it's going for, either. A wasp? A beetle?


Hey! This is a pretty good one! I really love this goofy long-armed, long-tongued frog! I like its little snoot and what appear to be horns, too, almost more like those of a chameleon than an amphibian.


Oh. Huh. That's...that's just Komala! They apparently wanted a Koala Pokemon gripping onto a stick or a log for nearly twenty years before they finally dug it back out of their archives. Does that mean there's hope yet for some of these others?!


Another take on an elephant Pokemon. Not nearly as interesting as the bipedal one they scrapped later, nor as interesting as the tire-like Donphan. Not terrible, but at the end of the day it's just an elephant that's kind of spikier than usual.


A pretty interesting one, as it's hard for me to decide whether this looks more like a fish or more like a plant creature. Are we seeing a flying grass type of an aquatic animal?!


We've then got what may be a beta version of Qwilfish, or maybe another take on its scrapped evolution. I'm not quite as into it as either of them, though.


I like this. Remember when I might have said that Pokemon were cooler when more of them were ambiguous hybrid animals? This is like a deer, but it's also like a fat boar. That's a fun combination! You don't see a lot of deer-based creatures that go for a chunky design or a pugnacious scrappiness.


This reptile seems to be a fan favorite, and I can see why. It's got a fun, goofy dragon head on a simple, round body with big chicken legs, frighteningly long claws and a tail that almost looks like a big, crescent blade!


Oh my god...it's a kiwi! Both the bird AND the fruit! Look at those ridiculous little eyeballs! I positively adore this. Some have hypothesized that it was a prevolution for Doduo, but I wish we had it as its own Pokemon.


Wow. A ghost? Like, literally just a straight-up regular pop culture ghost? Kind of jarring to see as a Pokemon, honestly, like they really hadn't had the idea of the series quite down yet. I like the hitodama having their own little eyes, but I'm glad ghost-type Pokemon have instead been so weirdly and wildly monstrous.


Meanwhile, we also have this straight-up cartoon Tanuki. I kind of do like this, it's funny, it has a lot of personality, but it also doesn't feel very Pokemon-esque. It feels like at this point they were just throwing in a bunch of everyday, commonplace creature ideas before they took a step back and realized they could raise the bar.


That said, I have positively no idea, not even a vague guess, as to what the heck this unfortunate soul was going to be.


This one is clearly some kind of psychic type, though. It's a little Charmander-like reptile with an egg on its tail and another big, cracked egg on its head like a "brain!"


I strongly like this little flower puff with one grumpy eye on it. This DOES feel like it could have been an iconic Pokemon.


I haven't shown you early takes on many actual, recognizable Pokemon here because most of those aren't terrible interesting, but I want to take a moment to say there's something special about this Mr. Mime. I really, really like it. I wish it had remained a little fatter like this.


Eh, kind of a cute little quail thingy I guess.


Would this have been the quail's evolution? What am I looking at? It's like a duck made out of...tubes? I want to say it's supposed to be some kind of musical note or musical instrument.


And is this related as well? A weird, staring bird with a megaphone for a beak? Funky. I don't use that word too often. I'm just running out of adjectives here.


Aww, this is a really good one! Why'd they scrap it?! It's some kind of armored, reptilian sea monster, and if you take a second look at it, you realize it's also a xylophone! It's not a literal xylophone creature, but its shell is meant to evoke one and it would clearly use its tail to play the keys. That is WONDERFUL!


IT'S THE SQUID!!!! We saw a backsprite for this one years ago, but we could only guess as to what the drill-squid really looked like! Turns out it's adorable!


Awwww. It's a stork! With a baby and everything! But that's its own baby I guess? Or...does it actually "deliver" it for other people or Pokemon to raise? Wait, would that make it like a cuckoo bird? Oh my god. Now I want a cuckoo bird stork. It could even be a fairy type so you have some "changeling" in there, right?!


Wow, another sea beast! But this one evokes a viking longboat, with multiple oar-like fins! This creature, the Xylophone thing, and Lapras feel like they could have formed a trio together. The legendary birds are neat and all, but I wish we got the timeline where the legendary trio were all nessies.


This scorpion is really interesting for how little of a Pokemon style it exhibits. It's so serious. It looks like a generic enemy monster from just any old fantasy RPG. That's kind of a point against it as a Pokemon, but also would have made it stand out as a Pokemon, if you get me.


Aaaawwww! We could have had a fish bird!? I mean just a totally normal, realistic looking fish, like barely a cartoon fish, with equally realistic bird wings and bird feet?! Again, "generic RPG creature" feel, but still. Tragic loss.


One more "generic monster" I wish we actually had as a Pokemon. This is like, a worm with bug wings, and that's it. A worm with bug wings and big dragonfly eyes. Love that! I can't imagine what its concept might have been. A "flying rod" sort of critter, maybe?


Now, the one that KIND OF stings, but...only kind of. This is clearly some sort of fly or mosquito, and that's something I have always wanted in a Pokemon, and it is adorable, and lovable, and perfect, but...again, kind of missing that special Pokemon magic, you know? I'd have loved this little cutie and probably used it, but, I'd kind of look more forward to seeing what sort of gnat they might make under Pokemon's current artistic principles.


And last, but not least.......dang. Wowsers. Can you imagine this nightmarish exoskeletal dinodemon as an actual Pokemon? A "gen one" or "gen two" Pokemon at that? It's cool as hell, I adore the goofy feel of its big overbite and obviously I respect just how totally totally NASTY it is, but yeah, even I have to admit, maybe this just isn't what a Pokemon is supposed to look like. Maybe a Digimon, kind of, maybe one of my Mortasheen monsters, but I'm genuinely having a hard time seeing this design fitting in with the setting.

As many interesting notions as there are on this page...I get it. I get why every last one of them were left on the cutting room floor, or in Komala's case, at least left to percolate for a few years. If our overall selection of Pokemon had looked more like this, I hate to say I'm not even sure the game could ever have found such an audience. It wasn't just about the gameplay mechanics. It was the unique, original charm of the creatures themselves! I can obviously appreciate a one-eyed scorpion, a fish with wings, a squid with a drill on it or a cyclops flower, but they're by far no Slowbro, Porygon, Weezing or Tangela.


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