Nintendo’s running a bit low on new Pokémon ideas
Have we run out of animals to base new Pokémon on? The existence of a sentient set of flying keys in the latest game suggests to Steve Hogarty that yes, yes we have
With the release of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y there are now more types of Pokémon than there are real kinds of animals. For example, here on Earth we have one type of pigeon, maybe two at a stretch. In Pokémon, there are no fewer than seventeen legendary Pokémon based on pigeons. In real life we’ve got something called a horse, but in Pokémon there are horses with their hooves on fire, fairy horses with psychic jetpacks and horses that can turn into jelly and slither underneath doors to get at sugarlumps.
This ever unfolding catalogue of creatures in Pokémon touches on the very fringes of human imagination, pushing the exhausted developers to create ever stranger and more bizarre kinds of monster just to fill the ranks of each new game in the series. But now, seventeen years since the very first Pokémon game was released, Game Freak has simply run out of real animals to base new Pokémon on. Its method of going to the local zoo on their lunch break and imagining what the animals might look like with cabbages on their backs or faces made of static electricity simply no longer works. Pokémon itself is still a wonderful thing, but when it comes to new critters Game Freak is creatively parched.
Don’t believe me? The last Pokémon game introduced a washing machine Pokémon, an ice-cream Pokémon and a candlestick Pokémon. The latest pair of games, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, usher in what must be the most tenuous species yet: a sentient set of hovering keys that, once captured and tamed, will fight battles on your behalf and become your best friend for life. I’m not even joking, Game Freak is quite literally searching their pockets for new ideas, sticking googly eyes on assorted office stationery before calling it a day.
But that’s not even the worst of it! While foraging for discarded meat in the bins behind Game Freak’s office, I unearthed two previously unseen Pokémon designs that never made it into the final game. If you thought a flying, screaming keyring was the worst the Pokémon universe had to offer, count your lucky grapes you never had to contend with any of these definitely real (but, in a more accurate and legally aware sense, definitely not real) Pokémon designs, replete with notes from their designers!
Translated designer notes: “Look you guys, I’m not going to lie. These are the slightly crumpled instructions from a packet of paracetamol on my desk that I just drew some eyes and arms on. Let’s be honest here, we peaked with Pikachu in 1996 and it’s been downhill ever since. Now it’s Friday, it’s almost half past five and we’re all really thirsty. Let’s call it a day and start again refreshed on Monday morning, alright? Paracetamolasaur has a papercut attack and is dangerous in large numbers. There. Done. See you later”