We’re still well in the middle of Gen VII, and it looks as though we’re already getting some new games just a short while after Sun & Moon initially dropped. With it came a whole 81 new kinds of Pokémon and alongside that, 18 regional variants for select Gen I Pokémon. Now, we already know that Gen I, while still popular, wasn’t as perfect as some might remember it being. People tend to overlook some of its shortcomings, especially with certain Pokémon designs. These new Alolan variants were a chance to breathe new life into some of the weaker designs from that generation. But the bad looking Pokémon somehow got worse.
Funny enough, the better-looking designs from that generation (Marowak, Vulpix, etc.) somehow turned out better than ever in their Alolan forms, while other Pokémon were just ruined. Change is sometimes a good thing, and it has been for a few of the Pokémon you’re going to see – but the vast majority of these Pokémon shouldn’t have been touched. But the idea of implementing regional variants into the game was still a good one, it resulted in some memorable new designs and should continue going forward. So here is every Alolan Gen I Pokémon variant ranked from worst to best.
At some point during the creative processes, someone had to have put their foot down and aired some grievances regarding this design. Of all the Alolan Pokémon designs, this one is hands down the worst. Is Golem the perfect Pokémon? No, it’s not – its original design doesn’t exactly wow you by any means. But this new Alolan Golem is infinitely worse looking than the original, to the point that it looks like a child drew the extra features on with a marker. Is seems that all the Pokémon in the Alolan Geodude evolution line have a weird thing with facial hair. It’s a really off-putting design that leads you to question why they just couldn’t let a good thing be.
Rainbow vomit. The first thing that should come to mind when looking at this Muk is rainbow vomit. Look, Muk is a pretty disgusting looking Pokémon, of that we can all agree. When you’re looking at the embodiment of pollution, it likely isn’t going to be a fantastic experience visually. But Muk’s new design just assaults your eyes. With mixtures of green, pink, yellow and blue all coming together as one smorgasbord of nonsense, Muk looks more like an abstract painting come to life rather than an actual Pokémon. Then there’s those little chunks of rocks or whatever all along its body. Is that necessary? It seriously does start to resemble bile after a while.
Persian has one of the stupidest Alolan variants in the game. The original design for Persian has it looking regal, poised, and graceful. You could tell why they chose it to be Giovani’s right-hand Pokémon in the anime over its base form, Meowth. But this new Persian is just awful. The sickly grey skin isn’t so bad when you compare it to Persian’s new, deformed looking face. Put the two designs together, and you feel like you’ve just seen something age way faster than it should. It looks like a completely different Pokémon, to be honest. A terrible, hastily made Persian knockoff you’d find on DeviantArt. With its fat head taking up most of the design, it’s not that hard to really just focus in on that one, glaring design flaw.
The first evolution in the Geodude evolution line, Graveler doesn’t look that much better than its evolved form, Golem, but the lack of facial hair and unnecessary accessories to its design make it somewhat more tolerable for use to look at. Out of everyone in its evolution line, the Alolan Graveler is the most similar to its counterpart, but it’s still a pretty noticeable difference from the Graveler we’ve all come to know. Again, the unnecessary hair makes an unwelcome appearance along with those weird gold dots we see on Golem. Graveler proves the age-old adage "less is more" is as true today as ever.
Both Raticate and Rattata are some of the most vanilla-looking Pokémon you’ll see. They aren’t exactly pleasant to look at, but they aren’t the ugliest Pokémon in the world either. They’re boring. Perhaps it was for that reason that they were each chosen to receive Alolan variants when Sun & Moon came out. But no amount of reimagining could help out these two. Among the worst of them is Raticate, who looks virtually the same aside from a new black coat of fur and what looks to be a terrible case of the mumps. If you weren’t originally a fan of Raticate, then this isn’t going to sway your opinion very much.
Among all the Alolan variants in the game, the Diglett and Dugtrio ones have to be the laziest ones you could’ve come up with. It was as if they were added in last minute after a five-minute brainstorming session. Alolan Dugtrio looks like a culmination of weird uncles you stay away from at a party, all wearing Hawaiian shirts, and their uncomfortably long hair swaying in the breeze. At least they’re all sporting a different kind of hairstyle. Though funny enough it looks like one of them got stuck with a terrible bowl cut. So while they might not be the best looking Pokémon out there, or even best-looking variant Pokémon, you can at least get a good laugh out of the poor sucker who got stuck with that awful hairdo.
And with this entry, we come to the end of the Geodude evolution line’s Alolan variants. Thank goodness we’re getting these out of the way now. Seeing as all of them appeared within the first half of our list, you can guess that these particular Alolan forms just weren’t all that great. Though they all have their fair share of problems aesthetically, Geodude itself is the best of the bunch – but that’s not saying all that much anyways. Alolan Geodude goes in heavy on the eyebrows and arm hair. Again, who thought this would be a good idea? Facial hair doesn’t look good on most people, and you’re going to try and stick that stuff on a Pokémon? C’mon.
Unlike Muk, Grimer isn’t a colorful canopy of repulsing vibrant colors, and sticks with a sickly green as its main tone, with a slight yellow highlight around its jaw area. That’s a good thing. Though the color choice in this case still isn’t that great, compared to its evolved form, this is perfect. Still, Grimer wasn’t one of the strongest Pokémon designs, to begin with. So this subpar color pallet swap isn’t doing it many favors. It boggles the mind that this version of Grimer is still more aesthetically pleasing than it' evolution, Muk. Speaking of color swaps, let’s check out our next entry.
It’s a popular theme for a lot of the bad Alolan variant designs. The base forms are just better looking, even if they aren’t all that strong designs. Why this is might be a mystery, but the truth is, it feels like a lot of these designs just had too much work done on them. Too many drastic changes and too many added features made some of the variations come out pretty terribly. Rattata kind of comes out somewhere in the middle here. Unlike its evolved form, Rattata was lucky enough not to get a case of inflated cheeks and instead just had to deal with a new black coat and – once again for some reason – some new facial hair.
Lazy, lazy, lazy design on this one. The only reason it ranks so high is that the Alolan Diglett is pretty much a normal Diglett with a few, faint strands of hair sticking out of its head. If you had to make the comparison, it looks like a kid growing its hair out for the first time – while Dugtrio looks like someone who cares a little bit too much about how things look up north. But seriously, compare both designs, the original and the Alolan variant – they’re the same, right? It’s so weird that while so much effort was put into making these Pokémon look as different as possible, Diglett’s only changes were a few whiskers added to its scalp.
Ok, so here’s the point in the list where things start getting much better compared to the first half. While not perfect, Alolan Meowth is a decent looking Pokémon that doesn’t stray too far from the original design. Liker Persian, Meowth is sporting a new grey coat of fur while keeping the iconic gold coin on its forehead. The most noticeable thing here is in Meoewth’s smile. The original design had it flashing a wide mouth grin, but the Alolan variant has kind of a smug smirk on its face. You could tell it has some attitude, which is fitting considering this is a Meowth we’re talking about here. It’d be fun to imagine what an Alolan Meowth teamed up with members of Team Rocket like Jessie and James would be like.
See, this is what the Alolan variations should have all been like: quirky, weird, and fun. While some might have been a little off put by Exeggutor’s Alolan design at first, after taking in all the other ones and playing the game, it really wasn’t that bad. Actually, it is one of the more enjoyable things in the game. Though Exeggcute doesn’t have an Alolan form of its own, sure enough, it’ll turn into this long-necked monster %110 of the time. Though it’s always been kind of an intimidating Pokémon, Exeggutor looks much more fun loving with this design, and that’s part of why it fits it so well. If you think about it, it never really had a neck before so this is kind of making up for that.
While it seems as though Nintendo was a little weary with messing around with the design of their most recognizable mascot character, Raichu received its own Alolan variation along with a dual electric/psychic-typing when Gen VII came along. Though not as popular as Pikachu, Raichu is still a pretty well recognizable Pokémon to most fans. Its variant design is absolutely fantastic. The darker shade of orange as its body color along with its hypnotizing blue eyes and surfboard-like tail design are all home runs. It still looks like a Raichu, except it feels like something else entirely. That’s what most of the variant forms should have been, not simple color swapped pallets.
Like Raichu, Marowak received a new Alolan form while its base form Cubone didn’t. While we’re curious to see what an Alolan Cubone would’ve entailed, getting an Alolan Marowak variation is incredible, especially since it turned out so well. It’s a little bit thinner looking than its Kanto cousin and has a darker skin tone to it while its skull is embroidered with some kind of birthmark. But that’s not even the best part. The first thing that really jumps out at you has to be the eerie green flames at the tips of its bone. Cubone’s skull was its signature in previous generations, but in Alola, it’s the flame lined bone that jumps out.
We’re getting to some top tier Pokémon designs right now as we close in on the end of our list. Sandshrew is one of the most changed of the Alolan variations, going from a Ground-type to an Ice-type. But it’s not just the typing change that’s welcome with this Pokémon, it’s the whole new design that accompanied it. Alolan Sandshrew is completely blue, save for its stomach area. What’s so great about this design is the subtle little differences added in. Most notably, the little igloo-like head and ears it now has. Though there was nothing wrong with the original design, this just kind of feels like it fits better. But let’s wait a few years and see what we think then.
Not that many differences to note here, aside from the obvious type change of course. Like Sandshrew, Vulpix is an Ice-type in its Alolan variation, and we’ve got to say, it looks adorable. Vulpix has also been a cutie, but its Alolan variation really takes the cake. The pure white coat, bushy tail, curly hair, and deep blue eyes make it one of the most aesthetically pleasing Pokémon to look at in the entire game. Don’t let the looks fool you though, this Vulpix is a force to be reckoned with in the new games, especially due to its ability to evolve into Ninetales (more on that particular Pokemon later). Be it for looks or battle, the Alolan Vulpix checks all the boxes.
If Vulpix was the cutest of the Alolan variations, then Sandslash is the most badass of them. Not too different from the original Sandslash, Alolan Sandslash is distinguishable from its ice blue hide and ridiculously large ice covered quils, which are bigger than a normal Sandshlash’s and give the Alolan variant a very intimidating look. Though they look nearly identical from a body type perspective, the aforementioned changes to Sandslash’s physical traits give the Pokémon a whole new life. They really hit the nail on the head with these variant Ice-types, and should they ever do the whole regional variant thing again, should definitely use Alolan Sandslash as an example for what to do when redesigning a Pokémon.
While we’ve been singing the last few Pokémon’s praises, the absolute best design for the Alolan variant Pokémon has to be Ninetales. We went over what made Vulpix so great, comparing it to its original Kanto version. Well, it’s pretty much the same story for Ninetales. While Vulpix is cute, Ninetales’ new design gives it an incredibly majestic image. The cool blue and massive swaying tail instantly capture your attention and draw you to the Pokémon. It might anger some older fans of the series, but this variant actually improves upon the original design. It makes it better, by changing and adapting elements of it into a whole new look for the exact same Pokémon. Just beautiful.