I Review All the Fighting Types: Part 4 Gen IV
by, 10th March 2011 at 11:08 PM (2448 Views)
Yes! I've finally decided to finish this! Why? Well, I realized, I start too many projects (Gen V Project, Smash Project, Top Ten Worst Designs Project, etc.) and never finish them so, eh, why not go ahead and finish this up?
Monferno and Infernape
And here's where Gamefreak's "trolling" began.
Actually, I really think the term "trolling" has become a bit overused in today's internet world, as it seems whenever a company does something that a fan dislikes it is instantly labeled as an attempt to "troll" them. I honestly don't know why Gamefreak decided to have another Fire/Fighting Pokemon (and another), but I definitely don't think it was a purposeful attempt to crush the hearts of the fans, however.
That being said, I can understand fans being upset with a second Fire/Fighting starter. Sure, we've had same-type starters following each other in the past - Blastoise and Feraligatr, Meganium and Sceptile - but those were mono-types. For some reason a dual-type being used twice just angers people more. It also hurts that Infernape was introduced alongside Torterra and Empoleon, two Pokemon who had new type combinations not simply unique among the starters, but unique (and still unmatched come Gen V) among the entire collection of Pokemon as a whole. It makes Infernape's repeat typing look a bit lazy, especially as there are way more unused Fire combinations than there are Grass and Water combos. Why not take advantage of the higher intelligence associated with monkeys and make them Fire/Psychic? But, alas, it's pointless to complain about this at this point in time. It's a Fire/Fighting Pokemon for good.
Anyway, despite Monferno and Infernape sharing the same type combination as their chicken forefathers, they're pretty different in terms of aesthetic and inspiration. First off, they're monkeys which may or may not be a good thing. Monkeys (okay, they're part ape as well too, but you know what I mean) are cool animals, don't get me wrong, but we have quite a bit of them in the series even before Gen V gave us the monkey trio. And a Fighting-type monkey isn't new either, what with their being Mankey and Primeape. But, to be technical, we've never had a mandrill which, judging by the markings on Monferno's face (which led some people to think it was meant to be a clown, thus it had an acrobatic fighting style basically), the line appears to draw from. Second of all, Infernape pays tribute to the classic Chinese Epic "Journey to the West", particularly the central protagonist Sun Wukong, known as Son Goku in Japan, which is pretty neat. The Gen IV starters all have a pseudo-mythical quality to them (Torterra is the turtle holding the earth present in multiple myths, Empoleon has tridents on his head likening him to Neptune), so this makes sense. Plus Journey to the West is really popular in terms of inspiring characters in Japan, be it the early cast of Dragonball, or Robot Masters in Megaman and Bass, so having a Pokemon based off a character from it isn't too far-fetched.
Some people complain that Infernape's design is a bit too "elegant" but, given that many Fighting Pokemon have rather human-looking appearances, I think it fits the typing. I also like, for some reason, the fact that it's really small and lithe for a starter. So I think, typing aside, it's a rather cool Pokemon all around. Particularly, for you anime fans out there, the storyline attached to it in the show was rather satisfying and probably gives Charizard a run for his money in terms of coolest Fire Starter in the show.
So, I've held this off long enough, and I'm giving Monferno and Infernape a lower score than Combusken and Blaziken simply on principle that they're the second Fire/Fighting and not the first, but you may be wondering which Fire/Fighting Pokemon I prefer? Well, out of these two, I'd have to probably say Combusken and Blaziken. I like chickens better than monkeys! But either way, I think both of them are rather solid Fighting Pokemon no matter which you prefer, so you can chill with the chicken or mash with the monkey!
Score: 8 Fists out of 10
Riolu and Lucario
Lucario is one of those Pokemon that people either really love, or they really hate.
For the lovers, he's a bad-ass Fighting Jackal capable of blasting out Rasengans/Hadoukens/Kamehamehas at whoever stands in his way and his movie was awesome. For the haters, he's some over-hyped furry-bait who Gamefreak forced Sakurai to include over Mewtwo in Brawl simply because he had a movie out around the time the game was being made. For me, I'm on the fence with Lucario. He's not my favorite, but I don't hate him by any means and in fact I rather like his taste in pants. Despite never ever using him within an actual Pokemon game, he was my favorite character to use in Brawl and I much prefer him to Mewtwo as well. I think the hype for him is somewhat annoying, but I also think he gets an unfair amount of hate as well. But no matter, haters going to hate and what not.
Anyway, Lucario was first introduced as a silhouette a few years ago in CoroCoro. In addition, for some odd reason, the magazine pointed out the similarities to Mewtwo and Blaziken which led people to think, for quite awhile mind you, that Gen IV was going to introduce Pokemon fusions and this was perhaps some unholy Mewthree. Thankfully (or, maybe you wanted Mewthree?), this proved untrue as Lucario was revealed to be a completely unrelated Pokemon to either of those, although he was co-starring alongside Mew. Furthermore, due to his starring status in the movie, he was regarded to be a Legendary for quite awhile, even into Diamond and Pearl's release, until that theory was tossed out when the 3rd Gym Leader used him. Furthermore, it was also revealed that he had a pre-evolution, a rather cute Pokemon named Riolu, and thus people realized that Lucario was simply a rather strong semi-rare Pokemon and not an actual Legendary.
In terms of Fighting-style, Lucario introduced "Aura" into the series. Due to the Physical/Special split in Gen IV, pretty much every Fighting type move would be a Physical attack, and thus in order to alleviate this, Gamefreak created Fighting moves that basically were manifestations of fighting energy. This really isn't anything new, and was probably inspired by the fighting energy you see in Street Fighter, Dragon Ball, Naruto, every SHONEN SERIES EVER basically, especially as the Japanese name for Aura is "Hadou", as in "Hadouken!". Lucario is also the first Fighting-type who can really make use of his Special Attack stat...sure, Medicham kind of did that, but with Pure Power, only an idiot would actually give it Special Moves. It was all about pure power baby! So, Lucario is pretty unique, and he even has the unique (pre-Cobalon) combination of Fighting/Steel. No one quite knows why he's part-Steel though, as the only really Steel part about him is his frontal spike. But this isn't a review of Steel Pokemon, so it doesn't affect his score much! Riolu, on the other hand, is pure Fighting, and LACKS the frontal spike, so maybe that really is why Lucario is part-Steel...
Design wise, Lucario, as mentioned before, is kind of a mixed bag...he definitely appeals to the creepy Pokemon fandom, and his design seems a bit too "focus test" for my tastes, but in terms of the style of Fighting Pokemon, he fits the mold alright. He's got some stylish clothes-looking fur, including some odd pants, but he isn't the craziest looking Fighting-type out there. One thing I don't quite get is why they chose to make him a jackal creature (or Anubis, as some people say, despite not sharing much with the Egyptian God of Death apart from the same animal basis), as I don't really think of Energy Blasts and Jackals going together, but whatever. Dogs are animals liked by most everyone, so maybe they just wanted to increase its popularity that way.
Uh...you may have noticed I didn't mention Riolu much and that's because I feel Lucario completely overshadows it in every way possible. There's a rumor that Riolu was the last Pokemon created for Gen IV, and I can definitely see that. Probably why they shoved it in the cave with Gen. To this day, in fact, I have NEVER completed the quest to obtain the Riolu egg in Diamond, Pearl, OR Platinum simply because Iron Island + Gen healing you is the best training spot in the entire Sinnoh Region in my opinion.
Score: 6 Fists out of 10
Croagunk and Toxicroak
What an unassuming yet, oddly popular Pokemon Croagunk is. Introduced in Diamond and Pearl as a weird frog who hung out in the Great Marsh, he didn't seem all that special in terms of popularity. Yet then, out of nowhere, he popped up in the show and was caught by Brock and, from there on out, he became this weird Tertiary Mascot alongside Pikachu and Piplup, which was kind of unexpected. The most well-known Pokemon usually aren't guys like Croagunk...you don't see Exeggcute or Dunsparce much, do you? No. The ones Nintendo hype the most are either the super cute ones that people will surely adore, like Eevee and Jigglypuff, or the super powerful ones that people also adore albeit for different reasons, like Charizard and Lucario. But yet, here he is, an ugly and quirky Pokemon hanging out with the likes of Pikachu and Piplup. It's not as obvious outside of Japan but within Pokemon's home-country, the little frog has quite a hefty amount of its own merchandise and was given out over Dream World during Gen V's release for no real reason. His status as a mascot was even alluded to in Platinum's Pokedex. In a way, you can see this as the Pokemon Company forcing his mascot status yet I myself liked him from when I first saw him, and he has a simplistic and quirky design that doesn't seem as "focus test" like Lucario. So, whether or not he earned his popularity, I certainly think he is a cool Pokemon all around.
Anyway, moving beyond his popularity, it's worth noting that Croagunk and Toxicroak are the first Poison/Fighting, a fun combination that's a hurt a bit considering it now has a 4X weakness to the dreaded Psychic-type. On the other hand, given their characteristics and move set, the Pokemon are almost a Dark-type, and thus they can counter that. One thing I like about the line is that they dispel that old rumor that Fighting Pokemon are "noble" and stuff like that, and because of that we would never get a Dark/Fighting Pokemon. And that's bullshit. Sure, I guess the Fighting Pokemon might have the whole "honor in a fight thing going on", but guys like Machamp and Primeape look like mean motherfuckers. And the Dex even points out how Croagunk rarely fights fairly but then again, when you're up against giant nuclei, devil goats, and all the other crazy Psychic Pokemon out there, who cares about fighting fair? So thanks Gamefreak for giving us pragmatic Pokemon!
As a Fighting-type, Croagunk and Toxicroak are pretty good because they mix a normal animal with a real-life fighting style in a neat and quirky way. In terms of their animal inspiration, they're poison dart frogs. Unlike the Poliwag line, they skip the tadpole line and go straight to the ass-kicking frog state, so I don't think anyone would dare call them clones of our previous frog line. I also like how Toxicroak has that huge sac on its throat like real frogs do, unlike that pussy Politoed. It makes it really threatening looking. And then in terms of fighting style, they draw from Muay Thai, or so most people say. I don't know much about the style, but I'll take people's word for it. Like most Fighting Pokemon, they've got a humanoid style to them, and some "clothing", in this case markings which makes it look as if they're wearing gloves, and the cool bandages. The bandages wrapped around Toxicroak's groin reminds me of the style of dress natives wear, and I assume their Fighting-type was partially derived from the fact some tribes utilize the poison from dart frogs when going to war.
One other small note: Croagunk's cheeks are pink in the sprites, but orange everywhere else. Personally, I think the orange looks way more striking and kick-ass, but you may not agree. Either way though, Croagunk has a delightfully creepy grin and for that I thank Gamefreak for showing us his mug time and time again!
Score: 9 Fists out of 10
From my own observations, out of all the new evolutions introduced in Gen IV, I think Gallade may be the least hated apart from Honchkrow. Why? Perhaps it's because he's an elegant looking Pokemon, compared to the quirky evolutions Gen IV was full of, and people tend to like elegance in the fandom. Being a relative of the extremely popular Gardevoir line doesn't hurt either. On the other hand, perhaps because he's an alternative evolution to the equally divisive Gardevoir may also help his popularity. Either way, true to his Dex Entry, Gallade is a gallant and charismatic Pokemon who looks impressive.
As a Fighting-type, though, Gallade is quite interesting beyond the fact he's simply Psychic/Fighting. That's been done by Medicham, although, in my opinion, while Medicham represents the Fighting-type more so, Gallade is more representative of the Psychic-type which brings me to my main point. He's not quite a martial artists. Sure, Fighting can indeed include swordsmanship, which is Gallade's entire motif given that he resembles someone you might see fencing in a Shakespeare play, but it's just kind of jarring considering the rest of the Fighting Pokemon all utilize the more "rough" forms of fighting as opposed to a fencing style. Along that, none of the other Pokemon who utilize blades, bar the introduction of the Legendaries in Gen V (and I'll get to them later), are Fighting type, so I kind of wonder if Gallade should be one. To add to that, there are no actual Fighting moves that utilize blades (once more, not when Gallade was introduced at least) and, indeed, the only Fighting-type move it naturally learns is Close Combat. What I guess I'm trying to say is I think I liked it better when Fighting was more so associated with Martial Arts, Wrestling, and non-weaponized combat and that introducing a Fighting-type Pokemon who is a renaissance sword fighter just kind of bothers me. On that same note, I wouldn't be completely against say a Fighting-type who utilized a bo-staff or nun-chucks, but those just scream "Fighting" more so than fencing. Fencers don't fight, they duel!
Anyway, that's just my two-cents. Apart from that, I don't have too much to add about Gallade. It's an abstract creature like its pre-evolutions who nobody can figure out exactly what it's supposed to be, which fits as a Fighting-type, and it technically practices a type of combat, however non-contact it may be, so its a good Fighting-type I guess. But still, I don't see why fencing necessarily equals Fighting-type, but perhaps you may disagree?
Score: 5 Fists out of 10.
For Gen V I'll have two entries due to the large amount of Fighting types...one for the normal Fighting Pokemon, and one for the 5 Legendary Fighting Pokemon! Enjoy!
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