At the time of writing, I have not played Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. By the time you read this I will likely be knee-deep in the long grass looking for a Bounsweet to transform into my beloved Tsareena, but for now, I'm in the dark. Somehow completely in the dark. While I've spotted a couple of vague, out of context leaks of random Pokemon I've already forgotten, I pretty much know nothing about Scarlet & Violet that wasn't in the trailers. As much as I decry our reverence to spoilers in favour of regurgitating marketing in our critical analysis, I have also said Pokemon leaks are almost universally boring, and it's refreshing to go in cold like this. It also means rather than having to tiptoe around spoilers and leaks and embargos, I'm free to write nonsense like this.
The three starters for Pokemon Scarlet & Violet present a quandary for me. I loved Legends: Arceus and, especially, New Pokemon Snap. Both were a reinvention of what it means to be a Pokemon game and had original thought and reverence for Pokemon as characters within a world, not just battle droids made up of stats and meta and counteractive movepools. They saw Pokemon as creatures thriving in the wilderness rather than potential fighters, and gave each 'mon a chance to shine. At least, they did for the Pokemon allowed to show up. With 1,000 different Pokemon to choose from, cuts have to be made – especially in an experience as curated as New Pokemon Snap. But for me, that meant cutting Tsareena. We will be reunited in Paldea, but that means a Grass slot on my team is taken, which in turn means bad news for Sprigatito.
Usually I play as an all-native team for my first run, but I just can't be apart from Tsareena again, so that plan has been scrapped. Unfortunately, as Tsareena is Grass like Sprigatito, that may mean having to choose one of the other two starters. Sprigatito though has always been my favourite, and while its evolution has leaked, I have managed to avoid it. So then, let's guess what the evolution looks like. Sprigatito is a cat, sure, but there's a distinctly feminine edge to its wide eyes, especially compared to Litten. When Litten evolved, it anthropomorphised into a wrestler. With Sprigatito, I expect the middle stage to be a version of Raboot, taking on a more humanoid aesthetic with a bratty vibe. While everyone thinks the final stage is going to be body pillow fodder, I'm betting on a bait and switch. The middle stage will continue the feminine tones, a la Kirlia, then bam – Gallade.
Fuecoco is probably the most interesting one to guess. While I might be backing Pokemon to throw us a curveball, Sprigatito's evolution feels telegraphed. Fuecoco? Not so much. It's a little crocodile, but it's already standing up. Considering the complaints over the years about quadrupeds becoming bipeds, maybe Fuecoco puts that thang down, flips it and reverses it. Rather than growing into yet another humanoid final evolution, Fuecoco gets thicker, girthier, and clambers around on all fours like a fat, beastly, fire-breathing crocodile. Or maybe it just gets taller, who knows?
Quaxly is my least favourite starter Pokemon here and I'm not sure that will change. For one thing, as a 'Stacey' who is always called 'Stacy', Quaxly's spelling vexes me. But also, it's a duck. We have duck Pokemon. They all turn into bigger ducks. Psyduck is cute for its simplicity and importance in the anime, but mostly the ducks suck. There's clearly a naval sailor aesthetic going in (suitable for Iberia), so let's say he turns into a big cannon or something. A Water starter that becomes a big blasting cannon. That's original, right?
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