With Pokémon celebrating its 20th anniversary and a mysterious Pokémon-related broadcast imminent, there is certainly no shortage of content to keep fans engaged and excited about the future of the series. We've seen that the Pokémon fandom is capable of some truly amazing feats, including fanart and other impressive projects. That's exactly why a particularly ambitious undertaking from NeoGAF user Watch Da Birdie caught our eye.
In a compilation titled The Pokémon. All 721 of them, and counting, Watch Da Birdie has begun the arduous task of cataloging a massive amount of information about each and every known 'mon, all in the name of appreciating and evaluating each individual Pokémon (including Mega Evolutions).
The effort is equal parts careful examination and critical discussion, with other NeoGAF users contributing their thoughts as well. Each Pokémon is discussed in detail including media appearances, competitive use, design origins, general trivia, and more. The compilation is a work in progress, and currently the project has made it to the Pokémon introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
We were fortunate enough to have Watch Da Birdie answer some questions about the process, and gain some insight on the progress of this undertaking.
Nintendo Life: What was the inspiration for starting something this huge?
Watch Da Birdie: To be honest I was bored and dealing with some personal issues - a recent event in my life sort of set my plans back and I found myself with a lot of free time on my days off from work. It's something though I've thought about doing for the longest time, and this was finally a good chance to do it. It's been very therapeutic for me too and is a nice way to get back to writing, I'm an English Major though for the last couple of years I've felt I haven't really put that to good use - undertaking a project such as this has gave me an outlet to express those skills and I hope following this to perhaps utilize them in more lucrative, perhaps some might say "important" ways beyond discussing a beloved video game series.
What was the intent of this endeavor? Was your primary goal to share your own thoughts on each Pokémon, or did you anticipate other Pokémon fans getting so involved in the discussion?
A lot of times I've seen the claim that Game Freak are churning out Pokémon without really thinking about them. Now as I've made clear in the actual thread, I try to be fair to both fans of the old and fans of the new and examine common complaints from both sides - for example, I try not to be too harsh on the new ones, but I also criticize the classics when I see fit. And to be honest I do think overall the original 151 are the most aesthetically consistent overall, though many of my favorites are from the later Generations. But I've always felt the majority of Pokémon Game Freak produces across the Generations do in general have enough basis in interesting real-life animals, plants, objects, or myth that some fans are a bit too quick to dismiss one on a superficial level and by examining them slightly deeper I hope to provide a new perspective so fans can discover new favorites.
I'm glad to see the feedback though from other fans, and how different opinions can be - and I'm pleased for the most part the thread has been mainly constructive criticism without delving into "Generation Wars", as can be common in many discussions involving Pokémon. Though I went into this endeavor feeling confident in my Pokémon knowledge, after all I've been a fan since its inception and have basically stuck with it all this time, there are many new facts I've discovered myself that have changed my perception of certain Pokémon, for better or for worse, and in general it's also helped me increase my knowledge on a wide variety of topics such as biology and Japanese mythology while researching the basis of Pokémon. I was feeling a bit ambivalent towards the franchise due to some flaws I felt with Generation VI, such as the low amount of New Pokémon and Mega Evolutions which to be honest aren't necessarily my cup of tea, but my love for the franchise has been reinvigorated through this project.
Obviously this is not intended to serve the same purpose as something like Serebii or Bulbapedia, but is rather a place where people can share their thoughts in a procedural kind of way. Does you consider your effort a successful one thus far in terms of giving Pokémon fans a platform for seeing these monsters from different perspectives?
Definitely. Most Pokémon threads tend to go the same route - you have people who like the new ones, and people who like the old ones, and often things turn ugly pretty quickly with drive-by posts from both sides. Very rarely do posters tend to really go into detail on why they feel that way, and it makes it hard to empathize with either side. I wanted to make a thread that wasn't a shelter for abused modern Pokémon fans or anything like that, but rather a "safe space" that both parties could enter and discuss their love of the franchise - all parts of it - without delving into the usual mudslinging. And for the most part things have been fairly positive, though I also don't wish to discourage those who have legitimate complaints about the direction of the franchise. I try to make my entries fairly casual, with a few jokes thrown in here and there, but I feel I've given every Pokémon a fair shake, and thus I try not to influence opinions too much, though of course I'm only human so sometimes I don't hold back when I feel there's a legitimate problem with a Pokémon. On the other hand, I also have to curb my love for many of the unorthodox Pokémon I enjoy and try to imagine how the majority of fans likely feel about them.
What was your first Pokémon game?
Pokémon Red. Of the main series games I've played Red, Blue, Gold, Ruby, Emerald, Leaf Green, Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Heart Gold, Black, White, Black 2, Y and Alpha Sapphire. I've also pretty much played almost every spin-off game, especially the Dungeon and Ranger series which I enjoyed almost as much as the main series.
From the way you speak about the competitive aspects of Pokémon battling, it seems as though you're a seasoned trainer. How long have you been interested in the competitive scene of Pokémon?
This is actually the one part I worried about, the competitive discussion, and how it's actually my biggest weak point. I've raised a few Pokémon "competitively" - my first being Medicham in Pokémon Platinum - but I always relied on the basic sets provided by Smogon and just went with my favorites as opposed to researching and putting together a competitive team, and I mainly use those competitively trained Pokémon for the in-game battle facilities such as the Battle Frontier and Battle Maison. My knowledge of the competitive scene is rather weak and a good amount of my research for each Pokémon is quickly reading up about them on Smogon, though I'm sure truly seasoned veterans of the competitive scene can find a lot of mistakes in my competitive summaries, and that's the one part I definitely like to get feedback on. I know for example I greatly underestimated the power of Ho-Oh in my write-up for it, though for the most part I feel I got a decent handle on how each Pokemon is generally seen by the majority of players.
On the same token, you seem to know a good bit about the Pokémon animated series. Is that firsthand knowledge? How long have you been a fan of the show?
I'm like one of the anime's biggest defenders I think - I won't lie, I realize it's not a good show for numerous reasons, but it's always been a great source of comfort for me due to how easy you can jump into any episode and spend a nice 22-minutes feeling like a kid again. It was my first exposure to the games like many American fans I imagine, and I've watched it on-and-off to this day, mainly through the Japanese version since to be honest I'm just not a fan of dubbed anime in general anymore, though I don't mean to diminish how much I enjoyed the 4Kids dub back in the day. I can also claim to have seen almost every episode except for the second half of the Black and White season, which I'm actually watching right now to prepare for my Generation V write-ups. I legitimately hope if I ever have kids, the Pokémon anime will still be around because I'd love to introduce it to them since it was a big part of my childhood.
In terms of general trivia and knowledge, there's a good bit of information in your posts. Do you have to do your research to find some of the more obscure facts?
Since I've been a fan for so long, I've learned a lot of little facts and trivia, and I've always been one to examine what a Pokémon was based on, though I do use sites such as Bulbapedia as a starting point, though I try to not simply copy what they say and form my own opinions and ideas. I also spend a fair amount of time once I've identified what a Pokémon is based on reading up online about that basis, such as an animal, and seeing what neat little facts I can share - it doesn't even necessarily have to related to the Pokémon, sometimes it's just fun to share an obscure biological factoid. I feel like I've learned a ton more about a wide array of topics though, perhaps more than the people reading the thread.
If you had to choose, which generation is your favorite overall?
I wanna say it's definitely Generation III, specifically Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. My love of Pokémon actually diminished in Generation II due to Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh catching my eye, but once I borrowed a copy of my brother's Ruby version I ended up hooked again, and became a bigger fan than ever - I have extremely fond memories of exploring Hoenn at my grandma's house in the summer, and many Generation III Pokémon to this day are still classics in my eyes. But actually, I think I might have to go with Generation IV. I ended up importing a Japanese copy of Pearl, since that was back when Japan got the games like half-a-year before everyone else, and loved it so much I made sure to buy Diamond when it hit America and then later Platinum, and I probably put at least fifty hours into each. I also consider the Diamond and Pearl anime the greatest series of the entire show, and Generation IV brought us amazing spin-offs in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia and Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky, which I still consider the peak of Pokémon spin-off games. It was also a fairly good time for me in life as I was graduating High School, so Generation IV overall has a lot of nostalgia for me, so I'll say as a Generation, it wins out.
Okay, we've saved the toughest for last: choose your number one favorite Pokémon.
Not gonna lie, I'm not really a fan of "countdowns" of the best Pokémon that a lot of sites seem to do, I think it misses the intent of the franchise that every player is encouraged to use what Pokémon they like, so I've avoided doing any lists in my threads. I also find it extremely hard to decide which one is my favorite, even within a Generation. But if you're putting me on the spot like this, I have to probably go with Generation III's Medicham. That was the first Pokémon I seriously raised, and I was greatly impressed with its strength, so it's sort of become my signature Pokémon.
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