Remembering Project Pokemon Creation Russ Whiting July 7, 2012 Pokemon, Video Games Cover image courtesy of artist Moonshaft, for a Pokemon-inspired game, Terra Monsters. Ever wanted to create your own Pokémon? Of course you have. That’s the stuff every kid under the age of twelve has dreamt of after being tucked into bed at night – visions of fecal-flinging simians, six-legged sand emus, loquacious rodents, and radioactive, bow-backed, cloven hoofed, red-furred, duck billed, liver spotted, narwhal-horned komodo dragons dancing some nameless ballet of Poke-battle in their heads. What if I told you I had lived this dream? Whoa whoa, keep it down; what are you trying to do, cause utter pandemonium? Rioting in the streets and baby-punching and people all hopped up on bath salts chewing off the probosci of hobos? I did live this dream. And the best part of it all? I was a grown ass man when I did it. Did I say best part? Sorry, I meant more along the lines of ‘most irrefutably humiliating.’ But hey, at the end of the day, I had a great time, learned absolutely nothing about myself, and squandered hours upon hours that would have been better served studying, attempting to better humanity and procreating with horny college coeds; and that’s all that matters, right? Uhh… not that kind of Pokemon dream. Project Pokemon Creation It all started with a guy known only by his mysterious and immodest cognomen: Brain. As most love stories go, I met him in the dark world of online Pokemon battle simulators. (A world I’ll explain another day.) Brain was a quiet guy. Kept to himself. A little weird, sure, but he was French-Canadian, so I didn’t hold it against him. He told me about a special project he was working on called PPC. Not angel dust (that’s PCP), but something equally as addictive; a bot he was making for IRC (Internet Chat Relay) that would let us pit our very own Poke-creations against each other… all for our sick, sick gratification. My interest was piqued; I was tired of playing as the same old baker’s dozen or so Pokemon in the Overused metagame, and playing with ubers like Rayquaza or Kyogre got old fast because I was over the age of eight. I needed a breath of fresh Hoennese air. He called it Project Pokemon Creation. Sure, making up Pokemon was nothing unprecedented. But the biggest advantage that separated Brain from you run of the mill Fakemon creating dope scribbling on his 5th grade Life Science book cover? Brain could actually turn our mere conceptions into the real deal. Well, as real as the myriad lines of code and data that represent a fictitious pocket monster could be. Changes and New Types Here’s the Project Pokemon Creation type chart, which featured a few key changes from the Ruby/Sapphire one: The white blocks represent normal effectiveness. Red – Not very effective. Blue – Super effective. Black – Immune. First, Grass type was renamed to Plant and Steel to Metal. Cool. Those changes made sense. They were both less pigeonholing and more logical descriptions, and just sounded better to boot. Then Brain went and made Poison super-effective against Water. Wait… what?! I disagreed with the adjustment at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was for the better; in the Ruby/Sapphire Overused metagame, certain water types were a little too good. Bulky ones such as Milotic, Swampert, Vaporeon, and Calm Mind Suicune ran rampant because they were nearly impossible to kill, their lack of physical weakness being the main attributor. The counters they did have in the Plant and Electric families? Not exactly powerhouses and few and far between. And for those that wanted to get all scientific – oil spills and pollutants contaminate large bodies of water on the daily. You have to look no further than Sherriff Woody for ample proof of that. Or the BP oil disaster. And of course, then came the boldest move – the addition of three new types: Crystal, Light, and Wind. Before you shitcan these new types as some sort of puerile Captain Planet fanfic fodder, hear me out: they were actually solid, imaginative ideas, as well as conducive to the overall battling experience. Crystal was another defensive type; resistant to 9 types and weak only to itself, Electric, Poison, and Light based moves. Having a tank resistant to Normal and Fighting moves, as well as being completely immune to Water based attacks meant stimying some of the more commonly used offensive Pokemon from the R/S metagame for completely new ones, which opened up a ton of unique play. Crystal also gave Metal another physical weakness and was a requisite to defend against Glaude, a Brain-created Pokemon with the extremely powerful Fighting/Flying type combination. Light, seemed an obvious concept, and a natural antithesis to Dark. Though unable to hit Metal or Plant, they served as a much-needed additional special counter to Ghost types. Along with Electric, they were the only special counter to Crystal. Wind mostly served as another type super effective against Ghosts, but with an immunity to Flying moves, and resistances to Fire, Fighting and Electric, they could serve as a switch in against a variety of staple Overused Pokemon. The odd thing about the Wind type was that even though it was completely immune to Flying moves, its own attacks were ineffective against Flying, which was an interesting deviation from the usual, “If I’m strong against you, then you’re not strong against me” mentality prevalent in the Poke-type configuration. New Moves: 94 moves were added to the MoveDex, many of them type-based equivalents of already existing moves (Helixir a Wind version of Recover, Aquacolor and Fusain :: Transform, Quartz Claw :: Slash, etc.), but some actually brought distinctive flavor to the table, such as: Gamble: “The user recovers from -50% too 100% of max HP.” So, just as with real life gambling, either you hit it big or you were stuck blowing dudes in the nearest bathroom stall for cab fare back to the hotel. Sponge Magic: “If the foe uses a non-touch attack, it is unaffected by the attack and copies it.” Spongross was one of the new Pokemon that made use of this. His motto: “If you use sleep, confusion, or status changing moves against me… you’re gonna have a bad time.” Hyper Spin: A base 80-power Metal type version of Rapid Spin. Spinners were in short supply in Ruby/Sapphire, so this move evened the playing field a little against Spike Laying/stall teams. Its biggest benefit however? Because Rapid Spin was a normal type move, certain Ghost pokemon like Dusclops could come in and ruin your shit if your opponent was good at predicting. Therefore, Pokemon like Lethalen became the best spinners in the game because Hyper Spin couldn’t be negated by a simple switch/class type. Malice: Malice inverted the foe’s physical and special stats. This move could wreak absolute havoc on pure special attackers like Starmie, Alakazam; or imagine hitting a Pokemon like Heracross with it and switching his insane base 125 attack for his feeble base 40 special attack? Not so tough now, are ya jerk? Oh, what’s that Heracross? Haha, hey cut that out, your Megahorn tickles, little guy. To check out a full list of the moves, click here. The New Batch of Pokemon: And of course, what would a Project Pokemon Creation be without myriad Pokemon that people dreamt up themselves? A total of 136 new ones concocted by 13 contributors, to be exact. The character creation process went like this; you thought up the Pokemon, along with its base stats, a list of moves, a description and a fake Pokedex entry, and submitted it. Brain would review and if everything seemed copacetic, then it was on. Everything was a work in progress of course; if a created Pokemon seemed too powerful during gameplay, the matter was discussed throughout the group and facets were adjusted accordingly. So if little Billy Ubermaker from Pwnville wanted to devise a combination of Mewtwo riding Lugia bareback with a cowboy hat on called Mewgiaboythree, that wasn’t happening. Despite how absurdly hilarious a visual that would have been. Oh, wait: Somewhere, little Billy Ubermaker is smiling. Among the notables were: The new starting Pokemon, who followed in the storied tradition of grass, fire, and water trios: Plant/Light starter: Synthosol -> Rosol -> Blossol Fire/Wind starter: Embreeze -> Volcado -> Flamicane Crystal/Water starter: Tadflowle -> Brinewt -> Sealamantr Mercurium, a Metal Pokemon with the Fluid trait, which made it unaffected by Normal and Fighting moves. This thing was like a slightly less bulky Metal version of Snorlax, sporting high HP and defenses and low speed; if you could get him set up with Curse and avoid Fire and Ground moves, the other team was in a world of hurt. Eoleo, the wind type counterpart of the three legendary beasts Entei, Raikou, and Suicune. Eeleo “runs blindingly fast. When it attains a certain speed, it is said that its body becomes pure wind, and that it can even go through thick walls without being hurt, and without breaking the wall.” There’s a Drake joke in this guy’s name, isn’t there? Allegant, a play on ‘allergant’ and ‘Tangela’ spelled backwards, who was the evolution of perennial scrub Pokemon, Tangela, obviously. (A whole five years before we got Tangrowth in Diamond/Pearl.) Its Pokedex entry described it as, “A dark green Tangela with thorns covering its vines. It looks it is wearing black shoes.” Also, it was a huge asshole. Its ability, Regenerate, made it recover 1/16th of its max HP per turn; combined with Leftovers and after planting a successful Leech seed, this gnarled douche became a Lernaean Hydra-level of hard to kill and the fuel for some of the most obscenity-laden tirades I’ve ever had in my decades of gaming. Despite this incorrigible hatred, I thought Allegant was a more befitting evolution than the eventual Tangrowth, in terms of proposed character design: Thorn-covered vines sound a whole lot more menacing than inexplicable and buffoonish Stretch Armstrong penguin flippers, but what the hell do I know? We’re talking about the same people that made the fetish pandering Lopunny, after all. (Link NSFL.) Aluminus looked like the offspring of an Eevee and a derelict can of sardines. And just like his adorable counterpart, he forcibly evolved when subjected to a Leaf Stone or Water Stone. So you took this little guy: Shined that sumbitch up real nice… and came away with either: Lethalen, the Metal/Plant evo described as being, “very agile, [it] builds its nest on treetops. It is made of an alloy of aluminum and chlorophyll – each of the spikes he has on his back reflects light inside his body and gives him energy to jump to amazing heights.” Or; Trident. The Metal/Water evolution “made of aluminum and titanium, [whose] back has many spikes that help it to swim faster by constantly oscillating back and forth.” Solarion, was an interesting example of the new Light type. And by interesting, I mean ugly as original sin; being a grotesque, yellow felid head surrounded by a spinning helix with a little grinning duplicate trying to break its way out via aberrant mitosis, this thing would have been pure nightmare fuel if it ever made it into the anime. “Burn the ugly bastard with fire! Even though it’s only a 1x weakness.” Tyephem, derived from the words Type + Ephemeral, was exactly as its etymology implied. It would change into a different Pokemon type with each turn. Sound pretty-bad ass right? The only catch: its Mystic Power trait made it able to use only STAB moves. He had 255 base attack, 255 base special attack, and his movepool consisted of 20 moves total; the base 100-120 most powerful moves of each class type. (Blizzard, Thunder, Hydro Pump, Hurricane) For players who wanted complete unpredictability on their team, this dude definitely provided some of the most capricious and stupidly fun games ever. Randhax, another unorthodox, and amusing Pokemon. It had a unknown (???) typing and its Brainstorm trait gave it the ability to gain four random moves each turn. Earthquake and Recover for the first two turns? I love you, Randhax. Four Splashes the next turn? Damn you to hell, Randhax. Vineon, I’m only including because before Generation IV gave us Leafeon, there was this dude always lurking in the chat rooms with the cognomen of ‘Vineon.’ He was apparently like the mayor of RSbot and friends with every Pokemaniac under the sun, because whenever he decided to come back from idle, the room would erupt with cries of of “hey vineon” or “sup vineon,” or “oh hai there vineon, what’d you eat for brunch, may I jerk you off?” for about 10 minutes straight. I never knew what the fuck the significance of his name was until I put two and two together one day after someone called him Vinny. So apparently, the guy’s name was Vinny. And since Vineon was a portmanteau of his God-given name and the Eevolutions, (Vine + Eon) he partially named himself after a Pokemon; while at the same time, had a Pokemon named after himself. Which is kinda cool, I guess. And something fun to think about while high, I imagine. Then came PPC, and like some strange parody of Pinocchio – Vineon became a real boy… er, Pokemon. And last, but most certainly not least, the Pokemon which I created, my babies (who I unfortunately didn’t have the artistic ability to create images for. So if any of you artistically inclined AiPT readers out there want to help out, wink wink): Aipound, an evolution to Aipom that preceded D/P’s Ambipom. Instead of a monkey with dual tails and hands on each, I envisioned Aipound as a hulking gorilla, with Intimidate as a befitting trait: “When an Aipom reaches maturity, it will relocate from its environment in the trees, and seek habitat on the jungle floor. It has no natural predators, using its incredible brute strength and the extra fist on its tail to pound foes into submission.” Promethium: The inspiration for this Pokemon was one part Tyranitar and the other Doomsday, the mindless killing machine comic book villain who punched Superman to death. According to the PokeDex entry: “PROMETHIUM is of prodigious stature, with the appearance of an enormous, humanoid autamaton etched from granite. It is light grey in hue, with a multitude of semi-rigid crystalline growths that protrude from its body and line the surface of its torso like armor. The exo-skeleton seems to be the amalgamation of diamond and various unidentified minerals, explaining its incredible durability. It is said emerged from the chasm created by an intense meteorite collision.” I wanted Promethium to be the ultimate hard-ass. Literally. I gave him Deflectangle as a trait, which meant that it had a 20% chance of halving physical attacks. This, coupled with a 232 base defense, (which to this day, remains the highest in the game) meant he could shrug off Normal, Flying, and Wind attacks with his 4x resistances. With Crystal being immune to water, he was also one of the few Rock types that had no problems switching in against a bulky water. Along with 100 base HP, and 95 base Attack Power, Promethium was a force to be reckoned with. Sindustry, the Ghost/Metal Pokemon. I imagined him as a spectral looking black T-800 exoskeleton floating around enveloped by gloom. I created his trait, called Emulate, an automatic Psych Up which let him copy all stat boosts, and made him a pseudo-Hazer of sorts. New Traits Traits, which were introduced in Ruby/Sapphire, brought a whole new element to gameplay. A powerful Pokemon with a lackluster trait could often be a bad fit for a team based around a more useful Pokemon’s trait. The more interesting created traits in PPC were: Invertype. “All super effective moves become not very effective when used against the user, and all not very effective moves become super effective. The user’s normal immunities are still immunities.” A nice little mindfuck trait that could be used to trick the opponent into using the wrong maneuvers. I could see this being featured in an episode of the animated series, with Ash wanting to commit suicide after trying to have Pikachu Thunder a Flying Pokemon for three days straight and still not realizing the error of his ways. This trait worked especially well for Voodolite, a ghost/light Pokemon that looked like a strange analogue of Banette with Tinkerbell wings, benefitted most from Invertype; with many of its 2x weaknesses being negated by the unique type combination and it’s 4x weakness to Dark now a 4x resistance, it now had only a weakness to Plant type moves. Royal Crown tormented the opposition, which meant no two moves could be made in a row. Royal Pain in the Ass more like it, am I right? strong>Vanity meant that an opponent could only use a move if it was super-effective against the target. Although no Pokemon during PPC’s tenure had the move, it would have made for some interesting forced switches. In Closing Overall, it was interesting to see how many of the ideas that germinated in Project Pokemon Creation made it into later iterations of the game. I’m not saying that Nintendo actively scoured our mIRC PPC game logs and instituted ideas directly after being inspired by our creativity and propensity for genius, but it was nice to see things like Tangela and Aipom evolutions, and PPC moves like Malice being instituted in slightly different forms with Power Swap, and Power Trick. Some of the unconventional Pokemon like Tyephem and Randhax might have been better served for the online bot play, but I think the Wind, Crystal, and Light types, or at least one or two of them would fit in just fine and really serve to benefit the balance of the game. As of this writing, the page is still up, so if you’re morbidly curious, have some time to kill, or need suitable punishment for someone who just lost a bet, head on over there: Project Pokemon Creation. And Brain, if you’re out there somewhere and happen to stumble upon this article, thanks for the memories, pal. (As well as another reason to neglect my ex-girlfriend.) Let’s go get a poutine sometime, eh? Ever wanted to get paid to play video games? Game testing jobs are currently in demand. Get paid to review new games for up to $30 an hour and participate in focus groups for up to $150. Don’t miss your chance, sign up here now before it’s too late. AlwaysCrossesTheLine Well, you guys were a bit more creative than I was. All I did was draw pictures of Misty getting pleasured by Onix while Psyduck looked on in horror. AlwaysCrossesTheLine And all he could say in response was… “PSYDUCK!?” Icalasari Dark Type is known as the Evil Type in Japan (or roughly that, anyways), and the Fighting Type was equal to a Hero Type So Dark never needed a light type counterpart as Fighting always was a “Light” type http://twitter.com/Athleticka Athleticka Well, that makes a bit more sense. Was Dark-Type released in the 2nd round of Pokemon games like they were here in the states or did they exist simultaneously from the beginning? Icalasari In the second gen http://www.facebook.com/joshua.elkington Josh Elkington Those drawings/designs are fucking terrible. http://breuleux.net/ Olivier Breuleux Well… it took two years, but I did stumble upon this. It was an unexpected read but I must say it’s a nice feeling to see other people remember my weird little project You know, I still received e-mails with new Pokemon suggestions up until 2010, some from young children (which is kind of adorable). These designs are pretty bad, though, in retrospect. Except Solarion. It’s the *best*. Lovecraft would be proud.