PokéMyths: Mad Mad Mad Evolutions
Hello there, PUCLonians. Ok, let’s face facts. At this point, the introductory paragraph is pretty superfluous. But hey, it adds a little bulk. So unless it really bugs people, I’ll just keep it around for continuity’s sake. Let’s do this thing.
Well, for this “superdupulous” week (forgive me, I just viewed Pokémon 2000 for the first time in 12 years), we’ll be taking a gander at strange evolutions. But, I don’t mean strange in the vein of Trapinch to Vibrava. I mean strange as in questionable methods and peculiar backstories. You’ll see what I mean.
Let’s take aim at the first fully evolved Bug-Type Pokémon, Butterfree. You’ve all undoubtedly heard the story before; Butterfree was not intended to be a part of the Caterpie evolutionary line. It’s very apparent when you take a closer look through skeptic eyes. Speaking, of eyes those are a great place to start in terms of comparison.
Yeah, the eyes are just where the comparisons start. Look at the mouth, the antennae, the little claw-like appendages, and the coloration. Hell, even the feet are slightly similar. The thing is that gnats don’t go through metamorphosis; especially not into something considered to be as majestic as a butter fly. So, that is most likely why Venonat was switched to a pre-evolution of Venomoth (hopefully, the names were different before this change).
The similarities are much more subtle between Venomoth and Caterpie/Metapod. Mostly just the eyes and the crest stick out. But the lower section of Metapod is similar to that of Venomoth. Not quite as obvious, but you can make it work. Another big reason for the change would probably have been to prevent both of the first bugs from being Bug/Poison.
Let’s keep knocking out the Generation 1 oddities, let’s look at that really dopey water Pokémon. Well, one of them at least. That Pokémon is Slowpoke; he has been the butt of many jokes since 1996. It has a high tolerance for pain due to its exceedingly slow-working brain. The bottom line was, it was a ditz of a creature, much like a lingerie model.
More interesting than Slowpoke’s tendency to strike a seductive pose, is its very odd evolution. Now, to be fair, evolving it into Slowbro in the game is pretty straight forward (just reach level 37), but the Pokédex suggested a much more unconventional method. The original entries suggested that in order for Slowpoke to evolve, he needed to be assaulted by a giant affectionate clam. In Pokémon terms, that clam would be a Shellder. Once a Shellder bites onto the tail of a Slowpoke, the bivalve would force the dopey to evolve into a Slowbro, or so the tale goes (pun only partially intended). The problem is that you weren’t required to sacrifice a Shellder to evolve it; you didn’t even have to own a Shellder, or even be near a body of water. On top of that, there’s another problematic piece of the Poke Puzzle.
That thing looks nothing like a god damn Shellder. I don’t know if Sugimori was using pharmaceuticals in a recreational fashion or if he just forgot what Shellders look like. But, something just went plain wrong here. Ok, I’m being a tad hyperbolic, but this thing bears no resemblance to its previous form. Yes, it is still the same Pokémon; it just adopts a new form. When attached to a Slowpoke’s tail, it takes on what is known as the ‘Spiral’ form. Yes, forms weren’t even introduced as a game mechanic until late in Generation 3 with the introduction of Deoxys. But, since this thing is still referred to as Shellder, it is technically the first instance of an alternate form in the series. A very similar thing happens when Slowpoke evolves into Slowking.
Slowpoke evolves into Slowking via trading while holding a King’s Rock. Once again, no Shellder required. Where do these things even come from? Were there Shellder in our link cables (if half of you people even remember those) waiting to latch on to passerby Slowpoke? Once more, I digress. In this case Shellder adopts yet another form called the ‘Crown’ form. I assume this whole transformation would work in a fashion similar to that of Mantyke evolving into Mantine when accompanied by Remoraid. But with the Shellder transformation, they didn’t even fully acknowledge it. Whether the Shellder attaches itself via the front or rear, we will always wonder just where the hell it’s supposed to have come from. It’s one of those really weird subjects that don’t get brought up in the games often and fans have pretty much given up on explaining it themselves. I personally prefer to think of that creature on the tail as some sort of parasite that is pre-existing in Slowpoke and becomes mutated by evolution. But, if you prefer the Shellder route, that’s all on you. I’m not saying that it is a parasite; I just think that would have been a better explanation.
Alright, I’ll be the first to say that they’re really is just a sense of magic when I think about Generations 1 and 2. From the memorable locations and characters to the kick-ass monsters, there was not a more complete handheld experience at the time. But, I’ll be damned if there weren’t a couple of odd Pokémon evolutions. Some were just flat out lazy. Take Magneton and Dugtrio for example. I like them just fine, but they are absolutely poor designs. Both are nothing more than three of the pre-evolution combined into one. And if you want to group Dodrio with this troop, you could possibly, just maybe, make a case for it. It sprouts another head, complete with functioning brain, from one small spherical body. But this is actually a mildly common occurrence in the Pokémon universe. It really doesn’t irk me as much as those other two (or six?).
This problem is very similar to the whole Slowpoke/Shellder dilemma. These add on creatures seem to just appear out of nowhere. Like I said, these designs were very lazy. Not to say that were not likeable. There were plenty of lazily designed Pokémon in Generation 1. Seel, was just a seal that had an Acme anvil dropped on its head. Rattata was… a rat. But, the Pokémon like Dugtrio and Magneton just create confusion. As a result, they have caused very strange questions to arise.
Where do the other bodies come from? Can Pokémon create matter? It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch considering that most of them can summon fire balls, blizzards, or lightning storms on a whim. But being that there is a god-like entity (Arceus) in this continuity, let’s assume that the thought of that is sheer blasphemy. So……
You know what? Fuck it. It’s all divine intervention.
The Verdict: Praise Arceus.