Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Gotta Review 'Em All, Part #27: Honedge to Sylveon

The second part of the Kalos pokedex, and we basically go through almost half of the Kalos pokedex in this go. What's left next is the rest of the dex, a short bit to cover the six legendaries of the region, and then we'll talk about mega-evolutions. I don't really have much to say in this opening. So let's just go straight to the pokeymans!

Click here for the previous part.
Click here for the next part.

Click here for the index.
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Honedge, Doublade & Aegislash

HonedgeOh hey, these guys! Man, I love these guys. I think I've gone on record on stating that Aegislash is my faovurite sixth-generation pokemon, and is a strong contender as one of my all-time favourite pokemon in general. See, my love for ghost-types is well-documented, and I had nothing but praise for the previous generation's kooky dual-typed ghost based on a lamp. Honedge is a haunted sword, turning him into a never-before-seen combination of Steel/Ghost, which in itself is pretty cool. He's a living sword! How is that not cool? And the design is pretty well-done, too, with Honedge looking chunky and cute. Honedge's actual blade looks rather plain, but I do like the somewhat intricate design of his scabbard, and I really love that his face is just a single blue eye at the hilt, but the exposed bit of the blade sort of forms a secondary 'mouth'-esque deal with the other two weird holes that form an angry set of eyes. I also like that they actually gave Honedge a way to actually emote and hold things with that blue sash...

Which, since this is a ghost pokemon, has her (my Honedge was a lady) own creepy backstory. See, if you're someone stupid enough to grab hold of Honedge and try to wield her like a sword will have Honedge wrap that sash around your hand, and then drain your life energy. "Completely", as the dex puts with unambiguous certainty. While not as explicit as Yamask, Honedge is also noted to be formed of a spirit that possesses a sword, meaning this may very well be another human-turned-pokemon story. Honedge and her evolutions learn a lot of moves that slice up the enemy, including Sacred Sword -- a move that makes so much more sense on a literal sword than the silly musketeers. 

DoubladeBest of all is how Honedge acts in Pokemon Amie, which I observed because Honedge was one of my main party members in my original playthrough of Pokemon Y. See, the 3D games, in addition to giving each of the 700+ Pokemon 3D models and brand new animations for attacking and all, also gave them happy-fun-time animations when you interact with them outside of battle. Depending on where you rub them, they'll be happy. A Honedge freshly caught off of the wild doesn't give a shit if you hold his life-draining sash, but raise your friendship and your love with Honedge, and it will straight-up get pissed and freak out if you, the trainer she likes, touches the sash. That's some neat stuff right there! I think Espurr or Meowstic has something similar programmed in with their ears, but I never trained one for a long period of time so I can't really say. 

I don't actually have much to say about Doublade. It's just a 'multiples of the base form' style of evolution, but I don't think it's done quite as well as the likes of Metagross or Weezing... although they did make the two lesser Honedges' scabbards are joined together to form a coat of arms of sorts. It's otherwise just two Honedges with pink sashes, with a particularly lazy English name to boot. Neat, but not as impressive as her pre-evolution or its final form. I guess the coolest bit about Doublade is that unlike most of these sort of "combined into one" evolutions, Doublade is explicitly stated to be a Honedge that splits into two. But overall, Doublade's just the transitional form before I chuck a Dusk Stone at her and have her achieve her final form... 

Aegislash
Aegislash! my god, even the name is so cool. An Aegis (the name of the shield of the Greek god Zeus) that slashes? Aegislash drops the second blade from Doublade (leading me to really wonder what the point of Doublade was, honestly) and becomes a gigantic claymore with two tassel-arms and an awesome-looking shield. Without going into full fanboy mode, I just really love most about Aegislash's design. It's not even pretending to be a sword for humans to hold, with its handle transforming into a pyramidal head. Its tassels have became arms crossed in front of him, with that intricate shield that calls to mind Honedge and Doublade's triple-circle-eye designs. And Aegislash has defensive stats that are highly respectable. Stats aren't everything, of course, but the way Aegislash makes use of those stats is ends up being really, really fun. See, Aegislash has two 'modes', and it can only have a single ability, Stance Change. When Aegislash attacks, it transforms into attack mode and holds its shield on one of its tassels, turning Aegislash from a tank into an insanely powerful glass cannon. When it uses a defensive move like Protect -- or better yet, its exclusive move, King's Shield, which is like Protect but debuffs the enemy if they hit Aegislash with a physical move -- Aegislash returns into his defensive stance, raising her defensive stats once more. 

Aegislash is just honestly pretty goddamn cool, and that's not even before getting into its dex entries. See, the Pokemon Y entry notes that Aegislash can "apparently detect the innate qualities of leadership. According to legend, whoever it recognizes is destined to become king." Cool, so like a sentient Excalibur, then! But then you read the Pokemon X entry, which, I quote, "generations of kings were affected by these Pokemon, which used their spectral powers to manipulate and control people and Pokemon". So Aegislash is an Excalibur-style sword that is widely believed to be a wise mystical symbol of office for kings, but actually they're the evil chancellors and viziers that manipulate the kings, presumably with their mystical powers!

So yeah, while deceptively simple -- a haunted sword that gets bigger and gains a shield -- Aegislash is honestly one of the best designs and that duality between the attacking and defensive stances isn't just manifested in-game as part of the mechanics, but even in the lore where Aegislash swaps between two roles of advisor and manipulator very effortlessly. So yeah. Cool typing, cool lore, cool design, awesome mechanics that actually work... yeah, Aegislash is effortlessly my favourite sixth-generation Pokemon, and this is a generation that already has a couple of really strong contenders.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.png 5/5.

Spritzee & Aromatisse

Spritzee
Okay, we're getting more fairies! Spritzee forms a bit of a cross-counterpart duo with Swirlix below, both being pure Fairy-types that evolves after being traded with an item (a Sachet, for Spritzee's case). Spritzee is exclusive to Pokemon Y. Spritzee is pretty awesome, and she ends up being the big darling of the fandom over poor "ooooh another food pokemon" Swirlix, and what's there not to love? Spritzee is adorable, being a cute little pink bird with an adorable tuft of hair, but her face is unmistakably a plague doctor's mask with two adorable red eyes and gigantic lashes, and this juxtaposition of the inherent creepiness of a plague doctor's mask and the general cute design of Spritzee caused everyone to instantly fall in love with her. Hell, Spritzee is even perfume-themed, basically having its entire lore dedicated to its ability to secrete perfumes, and that's what actual plague doctor masks are for -- back during the black death, their signature beaked masks aren't just a fashion statement to look steampunk-y and cool and shit, but rather the actual masks are stuffed with sweet-smelling herbs under the misconception that these nice smells could counteract the 'miasma' of disease. Or, if nothing else, help the doctors to ward off the stench of the dead. 

I remembered everyone speculating what Spritzee would evolve into. A flamingo? That makes sense. A plague doctor bird? That's badass, but doesn't feel particualrly Fairy-like... but then, this might be what Pokemon is doing, introducing some creepier members of the fair folk alongside the cute. 

AromatisseAnd then when Aromatisse was revealed, I remembered every single forum I visited being filled with shouts of "WHAT THE FUCK" and... it's not hard to see why. The fans clamouring for a plague doctor angel or something along the lines expected some aspect of Spritzee to be expanded upon. The plague doctor mask, the perfume gimmick, the bird gimmick... Spritzee is a very good design, but not particularly bent towards my aesthetic, but I can see why people are disappointed. Since, Aromatisse is a can-can dancer showing some leg and... and honestly? She has no real business being the evolution of the clearly bird-based Spritzee. Her design isn't entirely unpleasant, since she keeps Spritzee's face to form some kind of masquerade ball mask, and I don't mind the weird horn-ears, but honestly, dropping nearly everything that makes Spritzee likable and turning her into this weird fat muppet that is provocatively showing some leg in her official artwork and her 3D sprites... I dunno. She's probably not going to be that offensive to me on her own, even with her weirdly provocative stance, but at the same time Aromatisse is just such a weird design to evolve from Spritzee, and that disconnect in themes make me end up not liking this evolutionary line at all. It subverts expectations and 'trolls' the audience, but that's not always good if the payoff is, well, something like Aromatisse.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.pngPoké Ball battle I.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 2/5. (4/5 for Spritzee, 1/5 for Aromatisse)

Swirlix & Slurpuff

SwirlixSpritzee's opposite-version counterpart is Swirlix, who, like Spritzee, is a cute pink blob with a typing of pure Fairy-type and evolves when traded while holding an item. Specifically, the Whipped Cream Dream. Spritzee was well-beloved by the fandom when she was revealed, and Swirlix was more... mixed. See, it's because Swirlix is another pokemon based on food, but clearly the fandom has deemed Vanillite to be the pinnacle of unacceptable designs. For my part, I've always found Swirlix to be absolutely adorable, this weird little floating cotton candy puff with a tail and cute little ears, and while its official artwork shows it floating like a cotton candy, it's a Hoothoot situation where it's actually hiding a pair of Furby-esque legs underneath. Apparently Swirlix's "yum yum" tongue sticking out is an indicator of its dietary habits, because it exclusively eats sweets, leading to its fur being as sticky and sweet as cotton candy. Oh, and it can weaponize this fur, shooting them out like some sort of crazy cute little Spider-Man to entangle its opponents. Like Spritzee, it's a weird and unconventional idea for a 'fairy', but I like it.

Slurpuff
It evolves into Slurpuff (which I can never get the spelling right -- always thought it was Slurfpuff), which is known as the meringue Pokemon. And Slurfpuff is adorable! It's a jiggly little fairy thing that looks like a cake, and it actually jiggles around like one of those fancy puddings. It's pretty adorable, even if I really wished they had built up on the cotton candy thing... but I guess the theme is 'sweets' and they didn't want to do another Vanillite/Vanillish/Vanilluxe situation. And I can respect that. Slurpuff is cute, and its lore just talks about how its main way of perceiving the world is with its dog-like nose. Best of all is Slurpuff's shiny colouration, which keeps the 'cherry' (or raspberry-flavoured ice cream? Mmmm) and the bib, but changes the rest of Slurpuff to taste chocolatey. Mmm. Swirlix and Slurpuff aren't my favourite pokemon, not by a long shot, but they're adorable enough and a very fun little addition to the games, and at the same time somewhat shows just how utterly insane the design concepts of Fairy-types can reach.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 4/5.

Inkay & Malamar

InkayIt took us six generations to reach a squid pokemon, which is honestly an animal that's as overdue to be made into a pokemon as much as a lion. And, yes, Tentacruel does have some squid-like aspects to his design, but Tentacruel is a jellyfish! That's not quite the same. And something that I don't really expect is turning Inkay and Malamar into Psychic/Dark types and have them be squids that float around, existing on land instead of on the water. That's so bizarre! Inkay is a little darling baby squid, with the cutest beaked face and a very pleasing combination of pink, blue, yellow and white colours. The squid's two longer arms being portrayed as part of Inkay's "hat" is also extremely adorable. It also shows off the squid's bio-luminescence, as those yellow dots actually flicker on and off. Pokemon has chosen to interpret this as part of Inkay's Psychic abilities, with Inkay able to hypnotize its prey with the light-emitting spots to steal his enemies' will to fight. Some real-life cuttlefishes are actually able to 'stun' its prey with the aid of undulating colour patterns, and I thought that it's pretty clever.

Judging on Inkay's Japanese name, Maaiika, we can actually get a hint at why, exactly, Inkay and Malamar hover around on land despite being based on aquatic creatures. Maaiika itself might be a combination of "Ma" (demon) and "ika" (squid), but a different set of kanji refers to Maika, otherwise known as the Japanese Flying Squid, Todarodes pacificus. As their name implies, the Japanese Flying Squid is able to shoot out of the water and glide some 30 meters above the water surface like a manta ray. Only instead of being a flying-type like Mantine, Inkay does so all the time, permanently, with psychic powers.

The only real gripe about Inkay is that I don't really see why it's Dark type. The Psychic typing makes sense, but Inkay doesn't look evil or even have any particularly nasty bits in its pokedex entries until it fully evolves into Malamar. I guess they didn't want a repeat of "gains Dark type when it evolves" like Pangoro did? But Inkay is adorable, and while I didn't actually use one in my Y playthrough, I ended up using one in my Ultra Moon playthrough and it actually became the longest-running members of my party, elevating a pokemon I already like into one of my all-time favourites. I mean, cephalopods are already one of my favourite animals, makes a lot of sense that this creepy psychic one ends up being one of my favourites, right?

MalamarThe sixth generation is one for wacky and crazy evolutionary methods, and Inkay evolves into Malamar if you reach level 30 and flip your Nintendo 3DS upside-down. It plays into the theme of Inkay and Malamar using wacky moves like their signature move, Topsy-Turvy, which reverses all stat changes, and while it perhaps could be communicated a bit more in visual design, I do think that it's pretty awesome. Malamar is totally not what I expected a squid monster to look like, but it's definitely a striking, creative design. It is now upside-down, with its shorter tentacles forming a wreath of medusa-like hair, and its two longer squid arms being defined arms that end in blade-like appendages. The squid's head-wing things end up becoming like its legs, and the long, elongated 'head' of a traditional squid ends up being like some sort of fancy dress for Malamar. It's such a unique take when what I expected was just a larger squid or maybe something Cthulhu-esque, but even them going somewhat humanoid still gives us a pretty unique and interesting design. Malamar drops Inkay's pink and switches it to a more sinister purple, highly appropriate for a Dark/Psychic type (and also coincidentally similar enough to the default colouration of a Japanese Flying Squid).

Malamar is described as a vile hypnotist, luring prey with its psychic and hypnotic powers, then "wraps its tentacles around it before finishing it off with digestive juices" according to Y, and according to X, "forces others to do whatever it wants". Malamar is just such a cool-looking design and one that subverts how a squid monster's tentacles tend to be depicted as legs or mustaches, that I can't believe that I never ended up using one in the generation it debuted in. Malamar's awesome. You know what's more awesome than Malamar? Its English name. Which is a corruption of calamari and I just find it hilarious whenever I see one.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.png 5/5.

Binacle & Barbaracle

BinacleYeah, after the fifth generation utterly fails at giving us any interesting oceanic creatures, the sixth generation is trying to compensate by introducing a bunch of pokemon based on sea creatures, huh? Binacle and Barbaracle form our second evolutionary line that's based on an aquatic creature we've never seen as a pokemon before, and Binacle is based on the goose barnacle, members of the barnacle order Pedunculata that are characterized by having prominent stalks. Barnacles are highly interesting creatures in real life, being actually crustaceans instead of corals or molluscs... but it's probably very hard to adapt them into monsters in a video game since all they do is just latch on to boats and piers and just kind of eat... and Binacle is just... that. It's a Water/Rock creature and it's got two stalks that end in spiky horns that resemble arms. I... I really wish I could be excited over a honest-to-god barnacle pokemon, but Binacle just isn't that exciting and visually the faces they decided to use for Binacle is just so odd. It's not the worst thing I've ever seen, but doesn't make me happy to look at the way that Inkay or Clawitzer or Skrelp does. Still, I respect them for what they're trying to do here.

Binacle's whole deal is that it's actually two organisms in a single rock, and the way they move around (something that real-life barnacles, to my knowledge, isn't able to do) is apparently by the hands stretching and contracting, dragging along their little rock body along like some sort of wacky snail. I still can't say with a straight face that I love Binacle, but it's a pokemon that I... don't mind.

BarbaracleBarbaracle, on the other hand, is definitely a huge surprise the moment I saw one in-game, because apparently a bunch of Binacles got together and fused into this insane "I am legion" humanoid whose torso and waist are huge rocks, and everything else are just barnacle stalks sticking out and forming arms, legs, shoulder-arms and a face that looks like a humanoid hand. Barbaracle is a design that I liked a lot more when seeing it in motion and realizing that each of the lesser hands end in a single eye, making this possibly some sort of weird Hydreigon situation where the lesser 'heads' have degenerated into specialized limbs, with the dex noting that "two Binacle multiply into seven". The dex also describes interestingly that each of the lesser barnacles have their own minds and are capable of moving independently, but they still follow the central head's orders, which is a very cool feature. We've never really gotten a hive-mind creature pokemon, have we? Plus it works with the real-life fact that barnacles do form large colonies, with a particularly huge clump of goose barnacles once thought to be some weird sea monster. It's an insanely neat concept, a humanoid made up of barnacles, and it looked like a creature that moonlights as an Ultraman villain on weekends. It's weirdly pleasant-looking for what could easily be a cluttered design. Binacle and Barbaracle aren't the best that the sixth generation has to offer, but the more I think about it, the more I appreciate these utter oddballs and just how weirdly creative they went with Barbaracle. They're not my favourite, but they're very much neat and get way, way too much hate.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 3/5.

Skrelp & Dragalge

SkrelpMore sea creatures! This time around, we've got another pair of version-exclusives, with Skrelp and Dragalge being exclusive to Y, while Clauncher and Clawitzer below being exclusive to X. Skrelp is a seahorse pokemon, which we already have in Horsea before... but boy oh boy Skrelp is so, so different. Whereas Horsea, Seadra and Kingdra were handsome and regal, Skrelp looks positively diseased. It's tail-fins are ragged, its head looks like it's dirty, and even its snout is bent! Best of all is its eye, which is bloodshot and has that extra line that makes you just want to go 'awww' and pat Skrelp in the head and offer it a macaron. The design's only really ruined by the chunks of blue fins that really clash with Skrelp's design. Skrelp is a Poison/Water pokemon, and it's based on Phyllopteryx, the weedy seadragon, relatives of seahorses that have fins resembling seaweed to aid in camouflage. It's such a weird bugger and its design, again, has personality despite just being a funnily-drawn seadragon. Skrelp uses its resemblance to rotten kelp to ambush their prey and spray them with poison, while at the same time hiding from its predators.

DragalgeSkrelp is a pretty neat concept, and then it evolves into Dragalge, Pokemon's first and, at the moment, only Poison/Dragon. Following the trend set by Kingdra, Dragalge continues the pun that it's based on a seadragon to gain the dragon type, which I thought was hilarious. Plus, Dragalge is one hell of a badass-looking creature, dropping Skrelp's silly-looking baby blue fins and exchanging them for a more elaborate set of leaf-like fins that seem to take inspiration from the leafy seadragon. It's also gotten a set of extra leaves and antennae on its head, and the way Dragalge's body is bent in the middle looks so, well, grungy and weird that it really suits a creature that's adapted to camouflage itself among large reeds of seaweed and kelp on the seafloor. Dragalge is a beautifully elegant design that still communicates that it's hiding in rotten seaweed most of the time, but its face shows off a confident badass that sells the dragon half of the equation. I love Dragalge a lot, even if it takes me some time to actually pronounce its name properly and not just go Draglglglglgl.

Dragalge's dex entries are really awesome, too. Its X entry notes how its poison is strong enough to eat through the hull of a tanker, and that they're highly territorial (while at the same time, being, y'know, camouflaged) and its Y entry notes that "tales are told of ships that wander into seas where Dragalge live, never to return." Man, between creatures like Dragalge, Jellicent and Gyarados, the pokemon world's seas are not safe, huh? Dragalge is a pretty badass creature, and I really do love the fact that they're going for a balance of unexpected dragons and the classic badass reptile dragons in this generation. Overall, I really do like Dragalge a lot.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.png 5/5.

ClauncherClauncher & Clawitzer

Clauncher is a neat little bugger! We've had many, many crustaceans in the previous generations like Corpish, Krabby and Dwebble, but Clauncher is a neat little addition to the Pokemon roster, as we've never actually had a pokemon based on a shrimp or lobster before, with the closest thing being Corpish and Crawdaunt being based on crawdads. Clauncher's not just any regular shrimp, though, since he's actually based on the Pistol Shrimp (family Alpheidae). On the surface, the pistol shrimp might look like... well, Clauncher. It's just a shrimp with one claw that's larger than the other... but it's a rather insane animal that feels like it crawled out of a D&D bestiary or a pokedex instead of being a real-life animal. You see, the pistol shrimp is less than 5 centimeters long, but it competes with sperm whales and beluga whales for the title of the loudest animal in the ocean. The pistol shrimp is able to create such a loud noise because, well, true to its name, one of its claws has transformed from a normal-looking pincer into a "pistol", where thanks to a combination of joints which, thanks to how it's able to basically act like a powerful spring-loaded hammer, is able to snap and unleash enough force to create an underwater sonicboom able to crack any shell of its desired prey, break the finger bones of silly divers... and also both create temperatures over 4700 degrees Celsius (in comparison, the surface of the sun is 5500 degrees) and create sounds in the water louder than the largest whales. Yes, it's a real-life shrimp that has a built-in shockwave cannon, and the sheer insanity of the real-life pistol shrimp (and its cousin, the mantis shrimp) ends up being super-duper fascinating, enough to be a pokemon. And to its credit, Clauncher's basically just a cartoon shrimp with a cute enough set of lazy eyes and an attractive set of proportions. The real-life pistol shrimp is weird and fantastical enough that Clauncher's honestly just a copy-pasted version of the creature, with the slight alteration of the bubble-shockwave cannon into an honestly less interesting water cannon-claw. Yes, the pokemon actually is less interesting than the real-life creature!

ClawitzerThey could've gone the lazy way and pull off another Gogoat or Pyroar and just make Clauncher's evolution a bigger version of a shrimp, but just like Barbaracle, they thankfully go on a more fantastical route in exaggerating the real-life basis, and Clawitzer is one helluva awesome-looking monster. Its cannon-claw has evolved into a far, far more gigantic-looking thing that the actual body is dwarfed next to it, and I love this design. Clawitzer's gigantic claw looks so badass, like someone lugging around a gigantic missile launcher or a bazooka, and I absolutely love the fact that even Clawitzer's antennae has migrated onto the claw, which itself is shaped like the head of some sort of underwater draconic creature, and I really, really love it. Add the fact that its colour palette is a very pleasant combination of blues and yellows with black stripes, and Clawitzer quickly became another favourite design from the sixth generation.

Hell, even Clawitzer's biology is neat! Apparently the giant bazooka claw is equipped with nozzles that allow Clawitzer to move around by using his giant claw as some sort of underwater boat engine, allowing it to move around underwater. It's presumably the same set of systems that allow it to unleash gigantic pulses of water as well. The seventh generation hilariously add the detail that Clawitzer's giant claw, when fallen off, is a delicacy. And while Clawitzer is a pure-Water type, it can actually learn any move that is remotely a beam or a pulse, which is given an extra oomph by Clawitzer's signature ability, Mega Launcher, which allows it to boost the power of Pulse-type moves. Overall, another very, very solid addition to the aquatic roster.


Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 4/5.

Helioptile & Heliolisk

HelioptileHoo. Are we done with the wacky bunch of aquatic monsters? Well, we now move into Helioptile, one of the very first monsters revealed during the buildup to the sixth generation, who is a pretty adorable Normal/Electric lizard. Why is Helioptile part-Normal and not just pure-Electric? What makes Helioptile more animal-like than Pikachu or Shinx? Who knows? Helioptile's cute, even if I never quite liked the weird mass of pencil lines between his eyes, which looks hideously artificial and toy-like. Helioptile and his evolution, Heliolisk, is based on the frill-necked lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii, a lizard native to Australia with the distinctive ability to open up a fold of skin around its neck to intimidate predators -- something that is popularized by the attribution of the frill-necked lizard's frill to the Dilophosaurus by the movie Jurassic Park -- real life Dilophosaurus most definitely did not have a frill-neck structure. Helioptile doesn't quite have the majestic frill that Heliolisk has, instead just being some sort of weird bunny-lizard. I suppose Helioptile's "ears" are supposed to be based on how the frill-necked lizard's frills look when they're not deployed, but it's not that similar.

I do like Helioptile's whole deal of living in the desert and basking in the sun like real-life reptiles, only instead of warming up their bodies, they use solar energy in order to power up their electricity-generating cells like solar panels, and at the same time apparently it's also able to feed off solar energy, making its feeding habits a variation of photosynthesis -- something that the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is able to do with the aid of a symbiotic relationship with algae. Combining a reptile's sun-basking habits with solar panel is neat, and using the frill-necked lizard's frills to act as solar panels is pretty creative! I just wished Helioptile didn't look so strange and more like an anorexic bunny with a weird bandana than a lizard.
Heliolisk
Heliolisk is a lot more lizard-like, even if that lizard head looks either like Batman or Kermit the Frog depending on whether the mouth is open or not. The frill is definitely more sun-shaped both when closed or opened (appropriately, Helioptile evolves with the sun stone). I kinda-sorta expected more, but Heliolisk's design is pleasant enough and honestly a very likable look after many dinosaurian or reptilian pokemon looking generically cool and badass. Plus, y'know, the whole solar-panel-frill idea is still pretty neat. Helioptile and Heliolisk have access to the exclusive move Electrify, changing the next move its target uses into Electric-type. Heliolisk and fellow sixth-generation electric type Dedenne are also currently the only pokemon able to learn the move Parabolic Charge, which is a health-draining explosion of electricity... not sure how that works. Heliolisk is also the pokemon that's closely associated to Lumiose City's gym leader, Clemont, who's one of Ash's travelling companions in the Kalos saga of the anime. Overall, a pretty neat concept, and honestly I feel kinda bad for overlooking Heliolisk a lot over the years.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 4/5.

Tyrunt & Tyrantrum

TyruntFossils! We're back to dinosaurs, now, and this evolutionary line adapts the one, the only, Tyrannosaurus rex, the king of tyrants and the most famous dinosaurs in existence bar none. I mean, you could make a case for Tyranitar, Groudon, Haxorus or Charizard being based on T-rexes as well, but the sixth generation is sort of trying to check off all of the obvious "animals that hasn't been made into pokemon". And while I've made it clear that I really kind of want weirder prehistoric animals to be made into fossil pokemon, the T-rex is iconic enough that I find it neat that we got one of those into a fossil. Revived from the Jaw Fossil, Tyrunt is a Rock/Dragon pokemon (the Japanese and Chinese word for 'dinosaur' contains the word for dragon in them), and, well, described as the 'royal heir' pokemon, Tyrunt is a spoiled little prince that throws tantrums when something doesn't go its way. Tyrunt is a very adorable little baby theropod, with gigantic legs and a gigantic set of jaws, teeny-tiny hands and just enough accessories like the weird frill (feathers, maybe? Generation VI came out when 'feathered dinosaurs' end up being the new status quo) and the orange eyebrow-horns to make him distinct from 'just a cartoon dinosaur'. Tyrunt's pretty well-proportioned, looking more like a real-life theropod, and I appreciate that a lot.

TyrantrumUnfortunately, I never could get behind Tyrantrum. A huge T-rex is in and of itself really cool, but Tyrantrum's design is so utterly messy that it actually turned me off when I first saw it. And I'm a big, big dinosaur fan! But between the mismatched set of teeth, the weird beard, and the weird white neck-frill that looked grossly under-detailed, Tyrantrum looks absolutely messy and cluttered, and not at all like the badass T-rex that I wished he could've been. I do appreciate the crown-esque set of head spikes to play with the 'king' theme. I think Tyrantrum is reasonably popular in the fandom because he's a Tyrannosaurus, and I really appreciate the fact that we have a proper T-rex pokemon... but in the same vein, I dislike Tyrantrum's messy design so much that when you say "T-rex pokemon" I default to thinking about Tyrunt before going "oh yeah, it evolves into this mess." They're neat and I don't mind them existing, but Tyrantrum really could've gone through a couple extra redesign processes, honestly.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 3/5. (Tyrunt is 4/5, Tyrantrum is 2/5)

Amaura & Aurorus

AmauraIn the same vein with the Tyrannosaurus argument up above, we've had a couple of dinosaurs based on sauropods, like Tropius and Lapras... but Amarua and Aurorus are based on a specific sauropod in mind -- the slightly more obscure Amargasaurus, who has a distinct set of spikes running down its neck, which some paleontologists think is part of a rigid frill of sorts. Definitely appreciate that they're adapting this more obscure dinosaur over the obvious Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus or Diplodocus, and they even put in the spin that Amaura's frill are actually themed after the aurora borealis, turning these pair of dinosaurs into Rock/Ice types. Pretty neat! Amaura's cute enough, being a baby Amargasaurus with big baby eyes and aurora eyebrow-sails, and while I don't have much to say about Amaura, it's a cute enough baby dinosaur and is a nice contrast to the temper-tantrum-throwing Tyrunt.

AurorusAmaura evolves into the more majestic Aurorus, who, unlike a real Amargasaurus, has her sail split into two wing-like structures down its neck. I'm not sure if it needed to have the beads of ice diamonds running down its body, but I do find Aurorus to be pleasant looking regardless. Both Amaura and Aurorus cause aurora borealis to spontaneously appear in the sky when they walk past. Amaura and Aurorus, for a short while, are the only pokemon with the ability Refrigerate, which turns all of their Normal-type moves into Ice-type, guaranteeing a STAB. There's really not much to them beyond that whole ''dinosaurs that are able to control ice" thing, but I appreciate the two of them for what they are. I mean, they're still dinosaurs and that's still pretty cool.


Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 3/5.

SylveonSylveon

The sixth generation once again brought us another Eeveelution... but interestingly enough, Sylveon was announced before the Fairy-type was, leading to hilariously rampant speculation about what Sylveon was going to be. The most common votes at that time was that Sylveon was either going to be the pure Normal-type (since a lot of the 'pinkums' are Normal-type, after all) evolution, although I've seen some theories noting that Sylveon might be Bug (butterfly ribbons) or Ghost (pale blue eyes). Of course, Sylveon ends up being revealed to be part of a brand-new type... Fairy! And that a lot of the older pokemon ended up being retconned into this Fairy-type as well. And, well, Sylveon embodies the Fairy type pretty well. It's innocent-looking, it's pretty, and it's gloriously pink, with bunny ears, a slender body that fits it, huge pale blue eyes, fangs (it has them) and... and a bunch of neat little ribbons that you take a moment to realize that they're most likely to just be fleshy extensions more akin to tentacles than actual ribbons, and the dex describes them as "feelers". Most anime and manga showings have Sylveon manipulate these like whips or tentacles and I find that really cool.

Sylveon, more importantly, distinguishes itself neatly from Glaceon and Leafeon by not just being "Espeon with elemental typings stuck onto it". I think part of it is giving Sylveon a unique face and just kinda looks really unique while still looking like it's part of the same family with the other Eeveelutions. The way you evolve into Sylveon is by having it have a couple of hearts in the "Pokemon-Amie" feature by playing and feeding it, and then leveling up the Eevee with a Fairy-type move. I think that extra step is a precaution if they ever were forced to get rid of Pokemon-Amie (or its seventh-generation counterpart, Refresh) in a future generation, so Eevee-with-a-Fairy-move can be the simple solution to making a Sylveon and we don't have to go through a huge change like Feebas.

Sylveon's neat. It's described similar to many other Fairy-types as being protective and attuned to its owner's emotions, and I absolutely love its seventh-generation dex entries that note that Sylveon's actually a savage predator that uses its ribbon-feelers as a distraction, while unleashing an aura that weakens hostility to make the prey drop their guard, before pouncing. So yeah, Sylveon might be a faithful pet and companion, but it's still a predator! It's favourite meal? DRAGONS. Sylveon's a neat, cutesy design, and the only non-mega-evolution in the sixth generation dex to be an evolution to a pokemon introduced in a previous generation. Overall, Sylveon's neat. I like it.

Poké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball Love Ball battle II.pngPoké Ball battle I.png 4/5.