Pokemon Needs To Start Experimenting With Alternate Typings
I think the first regional Pokemon I ever saw was Alolan Rattata, which honestly made me feel a bit sick to my stomach. I was not a fan of this moustachioed rat or its filthy, gold-toothed older sibling. To be perfectly honest, I may have briefly entertained the idea that Pokemon Sun & Moon were secretly designed to be horror games. Bloodborne has scary rats? Mate, wait until you see what pops up out of the sewers in Pokemon Hawaii. That’s the real Nightmare of Mensis.
Anyway, regional variants eventually began to grow on me. I fell in love with Alolan Marowak and Alolan Ninetales, and I’m a big fan of the Galarian Legendary Birds. The idea of the same Pokemon species having an alternative typing based on its local geography offers a fascinating spin on the way we engage with the Pokemon world. For example, Vulpix apparently came to Alola at around the same time as humans, but opted to hide in the snow-capped mountains in order to avoid the local Pokemon. Eventually, it adapted to its surroundings and its coat changed from red to a pale, icy blue. In Galar, Shellder bite Slowbro’s arms instead of its tail, while rapid changes in temperature wiped out the local Corsola population and converted them all into Ghost types. Alolan Raichu apparently changed because they started eating too many pancakes, which is… interesting.
This has all introduced a brand new dimension to Pokemon – you can have two Exeggutors who are completely different from one another not only in appearance, but also in type, moves, and even stats. I understand that, as it stands, regional variants are interesting almost solely because of the fact that they are in uniquely short supply. And yet, I can’t help but think that Pokemon is missing a trick by not expanding on the possibilities that could arise from something that has already established itself as a successful experiment in contemporary Pokemon. If you look at some of the concept art fans have been posting online since the introduction of these alternatively-typed ‘mons, you’ll see that there is so much room to convert this idea into something far larger.
Check out some of these designs, which are my favourite ones I’ve come across so far.
A Psychic-type Typhlosion – in this instance, the user suggests introducing Pokemon who can take on an alternative typing after mastering a move. I think this would be a little bit silly if you just taught them via a TR, but if there were an in-game challenge designed specifically around the idea of a Pokemon earning a move through great adversity, this could make for an amazing mechanic in future games.
A Fire-type Pikachu – this one is more straightforward. I reckon it’s interesting to consider the idea of Pokemon having different typings based on their immediate surroundings. We have “Alolan” and “Galarian” types, but they represent entire regions like the US or the UK. What if a certain breed of Pikachu was indigenous to one specific volcanic area of a much larger map, but the Pikachu encountered elsewhere in the game could be standard? The lore possibilities here are immeasurable – did these Pikachu adapt on their own in a place inhabited solely by Pokemon, or did human industry gradually instigate the change over hundreds of years? Either way, I reckon a Pikachu who’s swapped its Thunderbolt for Flamethrower could pack a pretty mean punch.
A Water-type Cubone – this one is amazing. I know Marowak already has an Alolan Fire/Ghost-type form, but look at its skull – it’s made of coral! If we ever get a region that’s based on water again, I reckon this kind of design could translate to a whole host of ‘mons – it doesn’t necessarily need to be Cubone. The lore opportunities here are endless, so I’ll let you speculate to your heart’s content.
A Charmander design for every type – this is my favourite idea of the lot. I understand that this is way too much to consider if you’re discussing every single Pokemon in the whole series, but starters are rare and you only get one in each game. Being able to train the buddy you meet at the beginning of the game with a specific typing end goal in mind sounds like a huge undertaking, but I think it could be phenomenal if executed right. It’s a lot to ask, and probably a bit unrealistic, but if Grookey was a Water-type I wouldn’t have given Sobble or Scorbunny a second look.
Someone went and made Mr. Mime even more terrifying than it already was – that’s it, scrap the whole idea. I’m never playing Pokemon again. Game’s cursed.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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