If we discard anything that has to do with competitiveness, a good Pokémon design should accomplish one of two things. The Pokémon should either be the cutest thing this side of a cloud covered in baby otters, or it should be so menacing that every trainer in the Pokémon universe feels immediately intimidated. The first would best be exemplified by Pikachu or Rowlett. The second is perfectly illustrated by Charizard, Gyarados, or most of the other dragon-looking Pokémon, really.
Sometimes, a new Pokémon will not achieve full fierceness or complete cuteness, but the good intentions of the creator can be seen in some design elements. Then, you end up with something like Dragonite, the most squeezable dragon ever created. Occasionally, things go completely wrong, and you simply wonder how a Pokémon made it off the drawing table and into a finished product. The first generation of games is mostly exempt of this, except for Mr. Mime, Jynx, and possibly Lickitung (we can’t decide if it’s cute or terrifying). However, these abominations became more prevalent in later generations as it’s becoming harder and harder to think of a real-world animal that has not been ripped off yet.
This is the kind of mistakes we will be focusing on in this article. I am sure that some of the Pokémon we will be singling out are completely redeemed by their usefulness in combat, but that is of no concern to us right now. All we want to do is take a look at the twenty-five most ridiculous designs Nintendo has churned out after Pokémon Red and Blue.
25 Gulpin’s Gas Problem
You know it’s a winner when the Pokédex calls it the “Stomach Pokémon.” Gulpin will eat anything in a single gulp and let out “overpowering gases” when it’s digesting. Most of us do that too, except that we don’t claim it as a superpower.
It doesn’t make you special, it just makes you gross.
When we get to the actual design of Gulpin, well, it’s nothing but a green blob with kissy lips. When it evolves, it becomes Swalot, a purple blob with kissy lips. Gulpin can be drawn accurately by a pre-schooler with four of five strokes of a pencil.
24 Two Heads Aren’t Always Better Than One
Girafarig almost accomplishes being cute enough to become a good Pokémon. The front is like a baby giraffe, which has got to be up there with a miniature pony on the list of adorable animals. Then you look at the backside and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT. The entity which took possession of its rear end is basically a bowling ball with the mouth of a great white shark. Ponyta got to be a simple fire horse, so why couldn’t Girafarig just be an elemental giraffe? Did its rump need to be consumed by an abomination from another world?
23 What Went Wrong With Porygon?
Porygon made sense as a “virtual” Pokémon in the 90s because computers were still mysterious. However, I have a problem with its evolutions, Porygon2 and Porygon Z. When Porygon2 was created, it was supposed to represent a smoother, less pixelated version of the original. Instead, it just looks like a pink rubber duck. Porygon Z also looks like a pink rubber duck, just seen through the eyes of someone suffering from a heavy concussion. The whole purpose of the Porygon series is that they are supposed to be man-made, so couldn’t they put some fangs or some spikes on it?
22 Behold The Almighty Washing Machine
The initial form of Rotom is cute enough. It’s like a little spark that I could honestly see as the star of a Kirby-style platformer. That Pokémon can also change shape just like the pink puffball, but it does so when it comes in contact with home appliances. Therefore, it can become a washing machine, a lawn mower, a fridge, or a microwave. Those are some lame transformations. Would you want to walk into battle with a washing machine by your side? I might in an ironic hipster way, but no one takes the washing machine trainer seriously.
21 An Unwieldy Compass
Nosepass is supposed to be a take on the Easter Island heads, and that’s fine. However, instead of adding to the design, like maybe giving it functional arms and legs or something, Nintendo just superglued a big red nose on its face.
It looks like it has a permanent cold with only sandpaper to blow its nose.
The Pokédex does say that the nose always points north, like a compass, but also says that Nosepass weighs 213 pounds, which makes it pretty annoying to carry. Maybe Pokémon trainers should just get a smartphone instead or, I don’t know, an actual compass?
20 Sometimes, Pokémon Go Extinct For A Good Reason
Lileep is a fossil Pokémon, extinct for 100 million years, but have you seen that thing? It’s like Tim Burton remade the Sarlacc from Star Wars. It looks like an octopus stuck in a wine glass. Or like a mop made out of tongues. Or like the Facehugger from Alien, caught upside down in a plunger. It’s a disaster which is made from the parts of other, better Pokémon. It has the tongues of a bunch of Lickitungs sticking out of the face of a Tangela which is camping in the hollowed out body of an Arbok. It's terrible.
19 It’s Not Even Shaped Like A Disc!
Luvdisc is a sentient heart which might also be a fish. That explains the “luv” part, but where is the “disc”? It’s a heart! Not even a three-dimensional one, just a flat, plane surface that floats around aimlessly in the oceans of the Pokémon world. “Luvplane” or “Luvflat” might not roll off the tongue, but at least it’s accurate. I feel like the market is pretty cornered when it comes to cute pink Pokémon, so maybe a little bit more effort than just throwing eyes on a heart shape would have been required to make it stand out.
18 Will Someone Help Poor Combee?
Depending on what your stance is on being stung, bees can be terrifying, even more so if you are allergic. If you don’t have any of these problems, bees can also be cute, because they’re hairy and kind of chubby. But what if we just made bees look silly instead? That’s pretty much what Combee is: it’s a bunch of clumsy bees that got their fat heads stuck in a honeycomb and flew away with half of the beehive. And all of us are monsters, because we are just pointing and laughing instead of helping.
17 Stephen King’s It Without The Scary Clown
The day that the designers at the Pokémon Company ran out of animals to rip off is one that signaled a turn for the worse for the series. The gameplay is still there, but now they have to get inspiration from everyday objects for their new creatures. Have you looked at poor Drifloon here? It’s just a balloon. And what about its evolution? It’s a bigger balloon. So what’s Nintendo’s idea to make it scarier? The Pokédex suggests that it disguises itself as a balloon to steal away children. It doesn’t make Drifloon better, just weirder.
16 Just A Fancy Frisbee
Bronzor is just a flat disc with eyes. That’s all it is.
I can’t even think of a joke to write about it, because I would be putting in more effort than the people who created it.
And wait, I’m being told it evolves into a bell. I’m pretty sure there are other, better-designed Pokémon that look like bells, such as Chimechoo. I've made doodles more elaborate than Bronzor, scribbling on a notepad while talking on the phone. It looks like a placeholder for something cooler.
15 Silly Smirk Wastes Spiritomb’s Scary Story
I appreciate that Spiritomb’s hustling to look as threatening as possible, but when it comes down to it, it’s just a rock which projects something that looks like a face in the middle of a fart. Its backstory is a lot better: The stone which projects its form is composed of 108 spirits which are trapped in it for leading a bad life when they were corporeal, and they are out for vengeance. This could be the single scariest Pokémon ever created, so why give it such a silly look?
14 A Pet Rock With Stubby Legs
I would love to make fun of Munna, but I am not even sure what it is supposed to be. Is it a flowery piggy bank? Maybe it’s a headless pot-bellied pig? I feel like the designer had a good idea going but was interrupted by its coworkers because they were going on a lunch break, but they ended up going to a nice place and spent too much time there, and when they came back the idea was gone so they never finished it.
13 Either That Or It’s A Concussion
Nintendo was going for something like a rabbit mixed with a panda when they created Spinda. A fine effort, but all I see when I look is an intoxicated Pikachu.
A Pikachu which has had a very long night and should have been headed home a long time ago.
The only difference? A few spots, and its eyes are spirals, to signal to the player that Spinda is constantly dizzy and confused. If being unable to walk in a straight line was an effective fighting strategy, I would be world champion by now.
12 Roggenrola's Missing A Few Parts
Roggenrola is simply a rock, with two other unrelated rocks serving as feet, and a big hole in the middle. The Pokédex says that the hole is a super sensitive ear, which is both strange and impractical. Where are the eyes or the mouth? It’s just one big rocky ear walking around, which supposedly blindly follows sounds. Its two evolutions at least answer the question: its eyes were inside the ears all along. That’s freaky stuff, like Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin in Beetlejuice.
11 I’m Not Even Sure How To Pronounce This
I mean… have you seen Sigilyph? It has a vague Native American art feel to it, but the disposition of its limbs, and its markings? Other than being symmetrical, it looks completely random. I could have bought the feathery parts being wings, but then there's three of them. It’s like a 3rd grader’s art project made with pipe cleaners. It looks like someone glued a bunch of forks to a lamp.
10 Throw Trubbish In The Trashcan
I have issues with both Trubbish and its evolution, Garbodor. One’s a garbage bag, the other one is what happens to a garbage bag when you leave it out in the sun for too long: It starts leaking, and maggots start oozing out. Once you go to the garbage bin to design Pokémon, then what's next?. We are still waiting for “the recycling bin is overfilling” model and the “I forgot to take out the compost and now the banana peels are stinking up the kitchen” Pokémon.
9 Nintendo Has A Brain Freeze
Vanillite is just a cone of soft serve ice cream which was unfortunately gifted with beady eyes and a creepy smile. Other than making people uneasy, I am not sure of how it is supposed to be any threat at all in a Pokémon battle. Unless I have missed an anime episode where Vanillite gives Pikachu the mother of all brain freezes, this Pokémon isn’t really doing it for me. Its evolutions offer more ice cream (maybe you wanted two scoops instead of soft serve?) but doesn’t do anything in the credibility department.
8 Doesn’t This Look Familiar?
When we say that Nintendo ran out of ideas, this is exactly what we meant. Klink, as well as its evolutions Klang and Klinklang, are nothing new. It’s just a bunch of metal parts that stick together as they evolve.
They are just repurposed versions of Magneton and Magnemite.
Just because Nintendo used gears this time around instead of magnets doesn’t mean that we are being fooled. Magneton wasn’t exactly the Pokémon that set Red & Blue on fire anyway, so a derivative of a lame Pokémon doesn’t make for something exciting.
7 Just Don’t Forget To Put It Out Before Going To Bed
Litwick, all the way to its final form Chandelure, is once again just a bunch of boring household items. If I didn’t want to have a fridge on my team when Rotom was around, why would I have more interest in my lighting fixtures? Chandeliers are only dangerous when Robin Hood or some other medieval hero cuts the rope connecting it to the ceiling in those old movies so that it takes out all the bad guys at the same time. I’m half expecting a spatula Pokémon in the next generation.
6 Now With Twice The Nonsense
My big problem with Pokémon shaped like objects is that Pokémon takes place in a world where we are supposed to believe that all those living creatures have evolved to take on the exact shape of all these things that humans created, some of which have not even been around for 100 years. Honedge at least tries to look like it could win a fight, because it’s shaped like a sword. However, Doublade squanders all the goodwill accumulated by just sticking two Honedge together. It’s lazy. Aegislash thankfully gets it right; it’s the same sword, just fancier.
5 The Unown Coincidence
What makes Unown stand out is how convoluted its existence really is. It’s a Pokémon which lives in its own weird dimension. When it’s in the regular Pokémon world, it floats around aimlessly. In a crazy coincidence, it also just happens to have enough variations in shapes to exactly match our alphabet. Even with all the build-up and mysticism surrounding it, it’s still just a single flat eye with metal pipes sticking out every which way. Despite all the effort, it must have taken to program 28 different variations of the same Pokémon, it still comes off as lazy.
4 Watch Out For The Keys
I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say this, but if you are going to shape a Pokémon like an existing object, at least choose one that’s interesting, or which can at least do some damage. Now someone did throw their keys in my face when I was in elementary school and it did hurt, but I still don’t cower in fear whenever someone takes out a key ring. Klefki is just that, a stupid key ring, which is up there with a melon baller as the most boring item in my house.
3 Ghost Stories Used To Be Scarier
Nintendo thought they could make a sand castle scary by making it a Ghost-type Pokémon. It’s a nice gamble to take, but it didn’t really work, so now we have Sandygast: this haunted sand castle which is supposed to be the Alola region’s answer to Gengar and honestly, I’m not convinced.
If I was a ghost and I could possess anything, living or not, I probably wouldn’t choose a sandcastle.
I probably wouldn’t choose a pumpkin either, but at least Pumpkaboo somewhat pulls it off. Remember how people couldn’t take Sandman seriously in Spiderman 3? It’s the same problem.
2 Bubble Boy Syndrome
First of all, Solosis looks like a chickpea stuck in a marble. The substance covering it is supposed to be there to isolate it from the outside world, allowing it to live in any condition. I’m sure it’s supposed to make it smart; Iron Man also has a crazy suit which protects him from danger. However, Solosis’ design is more akin to that of a sentient bum stuck in Jell-O, looking alternately surprised or angry. Probably because it has been detached from its poor, now bumless owner.
1 In The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time
Lunatone and Solrock are literally just two big rocks shaped like the moon and the sun, respectively. Why are they so bland? We know for a fact that Nintendo has a knack for creating intimidating celestial bodies. Just look at The Moon from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask to see how truly scary Nintendo can make a lifeless piece of rock look if they put their mind into it. I’m not even mad that they designed something lazy, just that they wasted them on Ruby & Sapphire. They might make sense if they were in Sun & Moon.