Today I’ve decided to write an article commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Pokémon video game series; that most wonderful collection of JRPG titles created by Japanese developers Game Freak, which has become ever more sophisticated, deep and enjoyable over the past two decades. Entertaining as these games are, however, in this feature, I’ll be expressing my affection for the Nintendo exclusive series in the manner of a schoolchild on the playground i.e. by mocking it. The flaw I’m highlighting is one of the few facets of Pokémon that hasn’t seen the consistent improvement obvious in other elements of the series, which debuted in 1996; what I’m talking about is the design of the adorable critters themselves. Without any further ado, here are (in my opinion) the five most absurd Pokémon in the series.
- Vanilluxe – Pokémon Black and White 2010
Shaped like an ice-cream crowned with a water-flavoured flake protruding from the left-most of its two heads, Vanilluxe looks utterly preposterous and lacks even the minutest ounce of appeal. Worse still, given its positively unthreatening visage, is Vanilluxe’s inexplicably robust array of attributes. Boasting substantial HP, special attack and defensive stats, this unsettling frozen treat is a viable option for competitive online play. Ultimately, like many of the entries on this countdown, Vanilluxe is a prime example of the decreasing creativity and, dare I say, laziness of the developers.
- Gulpin – Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire 2002
The oldest Pokémon on my list, Gulpin first appeared in the third generation of games which marked the jump in hardware from Gameboy Colour to Gameboy Advance. Essentially a sentient stomach, this poison-type pugilist is nothing but a gelatinous green sphere purportedly filled with extremely powerful digestive juices, that produce an overwhelmingly acrid stench. While the preceding portrayal describes an unpleasant, rather than a dangerous creature, if you think about it (which of course I do, incessantly) Gulpin must also have a rather difficult life given its lack of usable appendages, which make it less independent than a foetus and of absolutely no assistance to its trainer; after all, at least Vanilluxe can keep your drinks cool.
- Klefki – Pokémon X and Y 2013
Though Klefki possesses the signature charm that suffuses the beautiful art design of the series, it is, nonetheless, a ridiculous creation. First introduced in the most recent generation of games (not counting the remakes of Ruby and Sapphire), Klefki resembles a floating key-ring with a penchant for collecting mislaid keys. You’d be hard pushed to find a less intimidating Pokémon even if you scoured the entire roster and, indeed, its description in the Pokédex reinforces this benevolent image. Detailing the strategy Klefki employs during battle, we’re told how it deters its enemies by ‘fiercely jingling its keys at them’. So unless you find yourself fighting an opponent with a key phobia at any point in your playthrough (there’s no scientific name for such a fear, I checked), it might be best to choose one of the other 721 Pokémon for the more challenging sections of the campaign.
- Klang – Pokémon Black and White 2010
Klang is quite possibly my least favourite Pokémon, though it doesn’t take the top spot for reasons that’ll become abundantly clear shortly. Klang is literally composed of two floating gears inextricably linked by some arcane force, that drifts around the world like the most complicated balloon animal ever produced. A steel-type Pokémon, this rotating oddity doesn’t even possess the electrical prowess of the admittedly similar, yet infinitely more elegant Magnemite, to mitigate its lacklustre design. On the plus side, it is easy to maintain; regular applications of WD40 should be sufficient to keep Klang spinning smoothly for years to come.
- Trubbish – Pokémon Black and White 2010
Less endearing than a bird-eating spider or Piers Morgan’s personality, Trubbish pushes the limits of affection to breaking point; simply put, it’s a bag of rubbish brought to life by radiation. Perhaps a subtle parody of traditional super-hero origin stories or a cheeky exercise to discover exactly what level of farcicality Game Freak can get away with, Trubbish is surely the most absurd creation in the long-running franchise. One can only hope that the progenitor of the species wasn’t, originally, the refuse of a 14-year-old boy with access to an unfiltered internet connection and a freshly opened box of Kleenex (if you’ll pardon the graphic expression).
There we have it, the most spectacularly ludicrous creations in the history of Pokémon according to me; though there are plenty of contenders who wouldn’t be out of place amongst this illustrious company. However, despite the increasing frequent examples of poor creature design (you’ll notice the majority of my selections are from more recent titles) Pokémon remains one of the most accessible and entertaining series in video games, beloved by children and adults alike.