19 Eylül 2014 Cuma

Let's discuss Baby Pokémon again.

Because let's face it, we will need more filler for the future. And we need to fix the existing filler.

First of all, let us talk about why Baby Pokémon were created in the first place. There are three reasons for this, availability, marketability, and power.

For sake of discussing marketability, let's post Masuda's statement about Pichu from G4's past interview, released between Platinum and HeartGold/Soulsilver(but it was about Platinum):

G4: Masusda-san, you've said that you like Pokemon characters that are "well thought out" and used Pichu as an example. Pichu seems to have a special place in your heart. Why is that?

JM: Our art director, Ken Sugimori and I spend a lot of time talking about Pokemon. Since Pikachu is very popular, we wanted to create a Pokemon that was as cute as Pikachu, but we were having a very difficult time. Pikachu is so popular that it was hard to come up with something just as appealing. So we talked a lot and decided to come up with a Pokemon that would eventually evolve into Pikachu. We spent a lot of time designing Pichu and that's why I have a special love for this Pokemon.

Quite literally, Pichu was created to be clone and rival to Pikachu, which not only explains the future Pikaclones, but also solidifies Pichu's status as the true Pikaclone of Generation II(so shut up about the ArceusJudgmented Marill), as if the massive amounts of alternate Pichu in Gen II and late Gen IV weren't enough.

The second reason is availability. As discussed extensively in my previous blogs on Bulbagarden, almost all Baby Pokémon that has been created have been rare Pokémon and mid-game Pokémon. Be careful, "rare Pokémon" doesn't always mean "good Pokémon", as most of the rare Pokémon that had pre-evolutions have been atrocious. There is actually a good reason for that, as since these rare Pokémon were atrocious, they could only have lower value, or higher value through cross-generational evolutions(which have been replaced by Mega Evolutions). Take for example, Chimecho;

Chimecho, in Generation III, was only available in a specific section of a specific area, that is, the summit of Mt. Pyre. Not only that, you have %2 chance of encountering it. One area. One in 50 battles. It doesn't even learn Hyper Beam. What the Distortion World.

Now, there is actually a meta reason for this. Chimecho was inserted into Ruby/Sapphire after all of the other Pokémon were inserted. And considering its design and color scheme, it really should have been introduced in Diamond/Pearl. But it wasn't, so we have Chingling. Not only we have Chingling, but Chimecho has also been a common Pokémon, though it is still mostly post-E4.

This has been the defeault case for most other Baby Pokémon, the exception to this would be Togepi, Happiny and Riolu, as their Baby stages have declined in rarity, while their secondary stages are either not available in the wild or very rare. Happiny and Togepi's case are also very interesting, as both baby Pokémon have remained available mostly through gifted Eggs.

The last and most importantly, we need to discuss power. The power for pre-evolutions is important, as if the base Pokémon is far too weak, then the resulting pre-evolution will be ridiculed in comparison to other pre-evolutions. Similarly, if the existing Pokémon is only on par with pre-evolutions, there is no reason why the base Pokémon can't be available early on. While it is true that some of the second and third generation Baby Pokémon have been pre-evolutions of only first-stage Pokémon:

We should not ignore that these Pokémon have not only been created primarily for marketability and availability, but also we shouldn't ignore that their evolutions have gained some characteristics that would match them to lesser fully evolved Pokémon. Huge Power for Marill, Light Ball for Pikachu, and eventually the Fairy-type for Jigglypuff and Clefairy. However, there is a more subtle reason why this is acceptable.

However, the opposite is also true for the evolved stages. For all intents and purposes, they can't be too good to the point that having their pre-evolution right off the bat would make you instantly win the game. This is why most Baby Pokémon evolve into mid-game Pokémon, and not into late-game Pokémon... unless the said late-game Pokémon are very weak. There are few ways to balance it, by making the pre-evolution very rare, or only available in early-mid-game where they can't cause balance issues. This is the route Riolu initially took, and this is the reason why most Pokémon with Baby stages have ultimately gained hard to obtain cross-generational evolutions. The Baby Pokémon have brought their inflated value down, so their value had to be inflated through natural means.

EV yields.

This is a subset of the subject of power. EV yields are designed as such:

-All Pokémon give a maximum of 3 EVs, which are traditionally exclusive to third stage Pokémon, but there are many exceptions.

-The total amount of EVs increase by the stage of evolution.

EV yields are interesting as they only existed since Generation III, hence why the pre-Gen IV pre-evolutions have been so liberal. But since they exist now, they became a deciding factor for baby Pokémon. And since Game Freak is unwilling to change certain fundamental aspects of Pokémon, most EVs will forever remain as absolutes.

There are other criteria, such as EXP yield and height/weight. EXP yield works similarly with EV yield, and it is a deciding factor for Pokémon's value. However, unlike EV yield, EXP yields have been altered... for sake of the new EXP system of Generation V games. Height and weight work similarly with power, if the base Pokémon is far too light or small, the resulting pre-evolution will be absolutely tiny.

So what does this all mean? They mean that, for example, if they create another generation with 6 cross-generational baby Pokémon, Scyther and Onix for example won't be in the list, unless they are altered to have 2 EV yield, as they don't have high EV yield, nor are they particularly rare, in spite of their power, size, weight and EXP yield.

So why does this matter? Baby Pokémon have been terrible, why should we bother saving them? Well...

1.The in-game balance has went out of whack.
As discussed previously both in my base stats blog and cross-generational Pokémon evolutions series, the in-game balance of Pokémon has been very solid, viciously so. The in-game was so incredibly solid that it pretty much made any non-late-game Pokémon that weren't a gimmick Pokémon, or Breloom, pretty much obsolete. Not necessarily useless, but obsolete. Gen V tried to fix with disasterous results, and Gen VI continued in Gen V's footsteps. While we can discuss the poster child of this fiasco;
it is the result of a short-sighted balance granting evolution method. The point behind Riolu was that you would have to grind so hard after you obtained it after sixth Gym. Not only you had so few battles remaining, you also didn't have half of the generation to walk in. This meant that it was almost impossible for you to get a Lucario until Elite Four. On the hand, Riolu's evolution method is still difficult enough that you are unlikely to get a Lucario until around third or fourth Gym... in Black 2/White 2. Since you can gain EXP like candy in Gen VI, raising Riolu is not that difficult. This is ignoring the fact you are literally handed over one, fully evolved and with a Mega Stone.

On the other hand, the said EXP Share also brings down the availability of most Pokémon. In fact, let me compare the locations and levels you could catch Absol in;


Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald: Route 120, Rarity: %8. Levels available in: 25-27
Diamond/Pearl/HeartGold/SoulSilver: Post E4.
Platinum: Mt. Coronet, Rarity: %5, Levels available in: 38-40
Black/White: Post E4.
Black 2/White 2: Route 13,14, Rarity: %15, Levels available in: 34-36(Rt. 14), 35-37(Rt. 13), 38-40(Rt.14 Doubles Grass), 39-41(Rt. 13, Doubles Grass)
X/Y: Route 8, Rarity: %20 in Yellow Flowers, %10 in regular grass, Levels available in: 13-14(Yellow Flowers), 15(Regular Grass)

The value Absol has in X/Y is almost half the value of itself in previous generations. What has happened here? Absol has the widest level-up movepool of most Pokémon, and it has an incredibly large TM and Egg Move movepool. The only saving grace here is the fact that its Mega Stone is for post-E4.

And the thing is, this is not an isolated incident. This applies to most other single stage Pokémon and several first stage Pokémon. Granted, this started with B2/W2, but at least B2/W2 knew what it was doing and didn't gave you a horrible unfair advantage over NPC trainers.

2. The amount of new Pokémon WILL continue to decrease:

Ok, this will be a controversial subject, but I have finally accepted Sugimori's statement. There really is too damn many of these Pocket Monsters and their silly magic tricks. The worst of all, the power of the monsters are getting ridiculous. Not only the previous generation Pokémon are getting marginalized, the new Pokémon end up getting more overpowered to even barely touch to the levels of those who weren't marginalized. It is an endless cycle. As such, we have the current situation. Almost all of the Pokémon in Gen VI are marketable and useful in some fashion, but only in some specific fashion. As such, non-specialized Pokémon will decrease to match these new Pokémon(and Megas), which they can only do by increased quality, not increased quantity.

Not to mention, higher quantity makes everything more difficult. Which one of these are going to get which move? Which one of these Pokémon are going to be overhyped? Which one of these are going to be in which location? So on and so forth.

Another issue surrounding the new generation Pokémon is marketability. The problem with new generation Pokémon is that they are only marketable once. And that is during the early release/pre-release period. This is the period when the speculation and hype runs wild and everybody thinks even the smallest of additions can make a great splash in the metagame... only to find out that these were just common critters and one trick ponies at best.

For the three generations, this issue has been attempted to be fixed by two different methods, event Pokémon and alternate formes. Both cases effectively introduced new Pokémon, without changing the elements of the cartridge. The alternate formes were previously only usable in their respective games until they became a standard part of the metagame. The event Pokémon were more flexible, but they were still exclusive to the new games.

In this generation, we have a completely different beast:

The Mega Evolutions are completely different from alternate formes, because they not only completely change how efficient the Pokémon is, if not outright how the Pokémon plays, but also because unlike alternate formes, they rely on the established fandom of the older Pokémon. For example, Normal Kyurem is specifically designed to be incomplete:
On the other hand, Sceptile is designed to be complete:

So you have completely different outcomes with their alternate formes. When you have alternate Kyurem, you are completing a design you have intentionally left incomplete to create hype. When you have Mega Sceptile, you are leeching off the established popularity of Sceptile, and feed off the dreams of fanboys and fangirls who used Sceptile a decade ago.

This means that none of the newly introduced Pokémon has any hopes of matching the older Pokémon, because the older Pokémon are simply more profitable than any new Pokémon. Unless the new Pokémon are ridiculously overpowered or unique. This means that you can't introduce a bunch of forgettable Pokémon, unless they are the pre-evolutions of the new fully evolved Pokémon, or pre-evolutions of established Pokémon.

The other effect of the Mega Evolutions is the fact that they are designed to replace cross-generational evolutions, as such the likes of Dusknoir and Lickilicky can't happen anymore, unless they are Mega Evolutions. This is also a massive impact on even generations, whose bulk relied on such additions.

So, you can't have Dusknoir or Carnivine. Which means that you'll either evolve sideways, or evolve downwards. In other words, the future of Pokémon is;
What a depressing though. I guess I'll have to do a seperate blog for side evolutions.

3. They still exist.
The harshest truth of all is the fact that Baby Pokémon still exist, and are slowly and surely taking their places as the true default formes of their evolutionary lines. While Pichu and Igglybuff still have a long way to go, others have successfully invaded into the thrones of their evolutions, and Togepi and Riolu simply don't allow their evolved brethen to reach to their promised kingdom of wild availability.

So, what do we do now? First and foremost, we need to discuss the failings of the existing Babies. Starting with;

1.Incenses and the Breeding Confusion:
Inceses are the biggest complaint regarding the Baby Pokémon, and are very obviously the least important issue. I'm not exactly going to bash fanbase further by stating how incenses are necessary to avoid retcons... since I kind of agree with the sentiments.

Incenses in the past have been difficult to find items you could only get once. This was eventually changed, as Incenses became purchasable items in exclusive shops. However, they are ridiculously expensive. While all incenses have an additional effect, these effects are not necessarily unique to the items, at all. In fact, Sea and Wave Incenses literally have the same effect.

However, the biggest issue behind incenses is not the fact that you have to go out of your way to obtain them and give them to Pokémon so they can give you inferior versions of their current stages. It is the fact that both stages are effectively different Pokémon.

For example, let's say you want an Aqua Jet Azumarill. Of course you'd want an Aqua Jet Azumarill, since it is the only worthwhile Azumarill has. So, you want to start with and Azurill and... it doesn't learn Aqua Jet. At all. There is no move tutor for Aqua Jet, so the only way to get an Aqua Jet Azumarill is through Marill. This immediately devalues the pre-evolution, because it actually actively hinders your ability to get the superior version of the Pokémon.

This is supposed to make sure that you'd use both evolved stage and the pre-evolved stage for breeding, but it actually makes the evolved stage superior and pre-evolved stage insignificant. This issue becomes even more significant if the pre-evolved stage is actually the less common stage.

As such, the incenses unnecessarily complicate the things. Not only they are too many, expensive and unimportant, they actually hinder the value of the baby Pokémon, not expand upon it.

The solution to this would be to abolish the incenses and retcon Baby Pokémon as the new default stage. This way, there doesn't need to be a difference between the Egg Moves of now second stage Pokémon and Baby Pokémon, as the second stage Pokémon simply can't get Egg Moves on their own anymore. Not to mention, the unnecessary additions the incenses brought in, the exclusive shops and item slots, would be abolished as well.

The second solution would be to decrease the monetary value of the incenses and not grant exclusive Egg Moves to the evolved stages. While this would not fix the other issues regarding the incenses, this would fix the biggest and most relevant ones.

2.Insignificant Move Additions:
This is related to the previous issue. You see, in theory having an Azurill baby should be as good as having a Marill baby. But here's the differences between their Egg Moves:

Azurill's Egg Moves:
Body Slam 85 100 15 30 Details
The user drops onto the target with its full body weight. It may also leave the target with paralysis.
Camouflage -- -- 20 -- Details
The user's type is changed depending on its environment, such as at water's edge, in grass, or in a cave.
Copycat -- -- 20 -- Details
The user mimics the move used immediately before it. The move fails if no other move has been used yet.
Encore -- 100 5 -- Details
The user compels the target to keep using only the move it last used for three turns.
Fake Tears -- 100 20 -- Details
The user feigns crying to fluster the target, harshly lowering its Sp. Def stat.
Muddy Water 90 85 10 30 Details
The user attacks by shooting muddy water at the opposing team. It may also lower the targets' accuracy.
Refresh -- -- 20 -- Details
The user rests to cure itself of a poisoning, burn, or paralysis.
Sing -- 55 15 -- Details
A soothing lullaby is sung in a calming voice that puts the target into a deep slumber.
Slam 80 75 20 -- Details
The target is slammed with a long tail, vines, etc., to inflict damage.
Soak -- 100 20 -- Details
The user shoots a torrent of water at the target and changes the target's type to Water.
Tickle -- 100 20 -- Details
The user tickles the target into laughing, reducing its Attack and Defense stats.
Water Sport -- -- 15 --
The user soaks itself with water. The move weakens Fire-type moves for five turns.

Marill's Egg Moves:
Amnesia -- -- 20 -- Details
The user temporarily empties its mind to forget its concerns. It sharply raises the user's Sp. Def stat.
Aqua Jet 40 100 20 -- Details
The user lunges at the target at a speed that makes it almost invisible. It is sure to strike first.
Belly Drum -- -- 10 -- Details
The user maximizes its Attack stat in exchange for HP equal to half its max HP.
Body Slam 85 100 15 30 Details
The user drops onto the target with its full body weight. It may also leave the target with paralysis.
Camouflage -- -- 20 -- Details
The user's type is changed depending on its environment, such as at water's edge, in grass, or in a cave.
Future Sight 120 100 10 -- Details
Two turns after this move is used, a hunk of psychic energy attacks the target.
Muddy Water 90 85 10 30 Details
The user attacks by shooting muddy water at the opposing team. It may also lower the targets' accuracy.
Perish Song -- -- 5 -- Details
Any Pokémon that hears this song faints in three turns, unless it switches out of battle.
Present ?? 90 15 -- Details
The user attacks by giving the target a gift with a hidden trap. It restores HP sometimes, however.
Refresh -- -- 20 -- Details
The user rests to cure itself of a poisoning, burn, or paralysis.
Superpower 120 100 5 100 Details
The user attacks the target with great power. However, it also lowers the user's Attack and Defense.
Supersonic -- 55 20 -- Details
The user generates odd sound waves from its body. It may confuse the target.
Water Sport -- -- 15 -- Details
The user soaks itself with water. The move weakens Fire-type moves for five turns.

As you can see, ignoring the few good moves like Soak and Encore, Marill's repertoire is simply superior to Azurill's Egg Moves. Almost all decent moves like Refresh are learned by both stages, and the best moves like Aqua Jet, Amnesia and Belly Drum are only learned by Marill.

This issue bleeds into its regular level-up moves. Here's the unique level-up moves Azurill brings in:

Splash -- -- 40 --
Lv. 1
The user just flops and splashes around to no effect at all...
Charm -- 100 20 --
Lv. 10
The user gazes at the target rather charmingly, making it less wary. The target's Attack is harshly lowered.
Slam 80 75 20 --
Lv. 20
The target is slammed with a long tail, vines, etc., to inflict damage.
Bounce 85 85 5 30
Lv. 23

Splash and Slam are simply terrible. Charm is decent and Bounce is too. But the problem is, you can get Bounce simply through Move Tutor. You don't need Azurill at all. So the only decent move you're getting is Charm... which isn't that good because Azumarill is neither exceptionally fast or exceptionally defensive.

However, Azurill is something of the poster child of terrible Baby Pokémon. So let's look at a line that's not too different from each other, Mantyke and Mantine:
For all intents and purposes, Mantine and Mantyke have effectively the same moves. There are only two differences between their Egg Moves,

Signal Beam and Tailwind.

Signal Beam can be learned by Mantine through Move Relearner and Move Tutors. Similarly, Tailwind can be learned by Mantine through Move Tutors as well.

In other words, even though Mantyke doesn't actively hinder your ability to get the best Mantine possible, it is utterly pointless, as far as movepools are concerned.

However, there are cases where having the Baby Pokémon is beneficial. First batch of the baby Pokémon, Wynaut and Riolu don't hinder your ability to gain superior moves. However, this is mostly because either they are not obtained by incenses, and are the default stages of their lines, and Wynaut is mostly good because Wobbuffet has no moves and one single gimmick. 

And what's worse, most baby Pokémon don't even have full movesets. Pichu, Cleffa and Igglybuff's movesets end around Level 18. And those who have full movesets like Bonsly and Togepi don't have a lot of good moves to rationalize their existence. Togepi's best moves are Encore, Follow Me and Wish(all of which are available for Togetic anyways). Bonsly's only unique move is Fake Tears. And that's terrible.

And let's not get started on how most Baby Pokémon learn Uproar but their evolutions don't. The bottom line is for that is Uproar is not a good move. At all. Nor is it unique enough to be exclusive for specific stages.

Unfortunately, there are a few to feasibly to fix this issue. Making the moves such as Magical Leaf, Charm, Fake Tears and Nasty Plot instead of selectively picking one of them to give Baby Pokémon could help, but what they need most are new high-tier moves that they can feasibly gain. But first and foremost, they need to gain actual full movesets.

3. They are not strong enough:
This is an issue that has been fixed for the new Baby Pokémon, but it still lingers on for older ones. Pichu, Cleffa, Igglybuff, Azurill, Tyrogue, Togepi and to some extent Happiny have all base stats that would make standard first stages look competent. They are so abysmal it is not even funny. Tyrogue's 210 BST is lower than Poochyena's 210 BST, even though Tyrogue's value should be higher, since it evolves into an actual Pokémon and not into an early route fodder. On the contrast most of the new ones like Mime Jr. and a lot of the older ones like Wynaut and Elekid still have stats that are somewhat acceptable for first stage Pokémon, though they too would appreciate boosts.

While this is not an issue for those who are barely affected, for others, since they are also affected by some of the previous issues, it makes them complete jokes of organic monsters.

To fix this, all Baby Pokémon need a complete BST revamp, with their evolutions getting similar boosts to turn them into actual second stage Pokémon or fully evolved third/second stage Pokémon.

I thought I had more to say, but yeah, I actually believe in the necessity of Baby Pokémon now. Normally I would advocate against it, but yeah, I actually agree with the rhetoric I presented. That's kinda sad.

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