Pokémon designs and redesigns
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
Pokémon Sun and Moon, released last November, seem to be a pretty big departure from the previous six generations of main series games, and not just because they’ve finally broken away from D-pad grid movement. The games take place in the region of Alola, a tropical land based on Hawaii that’s made up of four islands. Being quite far away from the other regions, Alola has a unique culture, and the trainer challenge system is entirely different: Instead of eight gym leaders, there are trials where you battle Totem Pokémon and island bosses called Kahunas.
But of course, like every new Pokémon game, the most important part of what’s new is the designs of the creatures themselves.
Sun and Moon feature 81 new Pokémon, and for the most part they’re original without being outlandish. There are the starters, which all evolve into somewhat unique type combinations. There’s the generic bird with its final form Toucannon, which isn’t quite as badass as Gen VI’s Fire/Flying Talonflame but looks perfectly appropriate for the island environment. Normal-type rodents Yungoos and Gumshoos, while cute enough with their huge pointy-toothed grins, are pretty standard. The stock Pikachu stand-in Togedemaru looks about as Pikachu-like as expected.
Speaking of Pikachu lookalikes, Game Freak has managed to reach the genuinely creepy with the Ghost/Fairy Mimikyu. This Pokémon’s actual appearance is a mystery, because it always covers itself with a rag to disguise itself as the aforementioned Electric mouse mascot. With a face scribbled onto the cloth, Mimikyu is unnerving enough in its regular form, but it’s even creepier once you hit it—it changes from Disguised into Busted Form and its neck snaps.
Another interesting and faintly creepy critter introduced in this generation is the Sea Cucumber Pokémon Pyukumuku. It looks like a little black blob with pink spikes, and to defend itself it basically spews out its internal organs, spitting this large white arm-like thing out of its little mouth in some weird mix of adorable and abominable. Fittingly, Pyukumuku’s Ability is called Innards Out.
Being so geographically distant from the rest of the known Pokémon world, Alola has also introduced native versions of a few classic Gen I Pokémon, changing up their designs and types. While it does make sense if you think about (Darwinian) evolution and nature, some of these are so wonderfully ridiculous.
Right on the first couple of routes you can run into Rattata, which is now Dark/Normal type. Aside from being bipedal and black instead of purple, it doesn’t look vastly different from its Kanto counterpart, so it’s not a huge culture shock for well-travelled trainers. Meowth, Dark-type as well in Alola, also doesn’t look too dissimilar from the Kanto variant, except for having silvery-blue fur and an expression that has somehow managed to out-smug Snivy.
Diglett found in Alola might not look at all foreign at first glance, except for three little strands of hair on the top of its head. The fact that it can have the Ability Tangling Hair should probably hint to trainers that there’s something more to this version of Diglett—but nothing can prepare you for the luscious flowing golden locks that adorn the head of Dugtrio. Seriously, they are so luscious.
But by far, the most glorious Kanto Pokemon to receive an Alola variant is Exeggutor. On a tropical climate, it’s probably not surprising that a palm tree-like Pokémon would flourish, but it’s still a bit of a surprise to see that, instead of its rather stout body, Exeggutor has been endowed with a super long neck, reaching 10.9 metres tall in Alola. And the most awesome part: it’s Grass/Dragon. According to the Pokédex entry in Sun, the locals claim that this is Exeggutor’s ideal form, and according to the entry in Moon, this magnificent creature has grown so tall that it has “awakened the power of the sleeping dragon.”