A deep dive into Galar’s new mysterious species.
So, a lot of people have been talking online about something weird that Gamefreak did recently. The curious and highly popular gaming company is known for having a pretty good grip on how they want to market and release their games alongside the anime and card games.
Up until the seventh generation, many prior installments typically have more gradual promo runs, favoring a steady release of information with several events taking place online or at central locations giving us more content and Pokemon to experience. This is generally favored over a complete content explosion all at once — that is until Pokemon Sun and Moon.
Lately Gamefreak has gotten a bad rep for completely overhauling fans with loads of new info about the games, essentially spoiling the entire plot and Pokedex of Sun and Moon before they even came out. So… what gives here? And what exactly.. Is this strange and enigmatic Pokemon image anyway? Is it even a Pokemon, or is this all some sort of gag?
My guess is that the internet is definitely onto something with this juicy little tidbit of information given to us by the Pokemon Company, but people may be overreaching a bit with what they think it *actually* is. Let’s talk about how Sword/Shield is being marketed currently. It all started with Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. We received word that the aforementioned Let’s Go games would be coming to us onto the Nintendo Switch sometime in 2018, roughly a year after the “Ultra” installments of Pokemon Sun and Moon debuted. These would be regarded as the next mainline installments of Generation 7, specifically.
This was all done via a press conference in May of 2018, detailing the release of several games such as Pokemon Quest, a mobile game that crossed over onto the Nintendo Switch; Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee; as well as an announcement that there would be a “core series” Pokemon RPG to complement Sun and Moon due out on the later half of 2019. There had only been a few trailers of Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee around that time. The most Gamefreak chose to show us of the games was the return of Mega evolutions, Alolan forms, and the addition of “Master Trainers.”
Meanwhile in the realm of Pokemon Go, Professor Willow makes a scientific discovery — a strange little critter no bigger in size than that of Ditto, and also very similar in composition — which followed up with a series of small events that led to the discovery of Meltan, the very final mythical Pokemon of Sun/Moon. Shortly after, Meltan (and its evolved form Melmetal) would then be covered extensively in the anime!
This was a stark return to the direction Gamefreak was often known for in the past. The element of surprise, discovery and exclusivity was duly bestowed upon Pokemon trainers worldwide, just as we trainers have desired the experience to be. Every single generation of Pokemon since the initial Red, Blue and Green release would have us look to the anime, Pokedex, and the wild in order to find and catch all of these formerly unknown and unsought Pokemon.
And in each successive part of the series, there’s always a rare glitch or mythical monster for us all to behold — the likes of Mew, Missingno, Celebi, Deoxys and the subsequent Pokerus virus being early examples. In a way, the promo run of Meltan was Gamefreak’s way of redeeming themselves from the notably “hand-holding” process of Pokemon Sun and Moon, where even the legendary Ultra Necrozma was far from a mystery to us!
Fast-forward to Generation 8. We’ve gotten a grand total of six info releases for Pokemon Sword and Shield in the form of extensive gameplay trailers, and this seems to very likely be the end of it: three early trailers showing the fans this new world of Galar as well as surface level gameplay mechanics such as Dynamax evolution; and three later trailers introducing brand new characters, and diving slightly deeper into some of the gameplay mechanics such as Gigantamaxing (an alternate style of Dynamax evolution) as well as “Poke Jobs.”
And now, only two short months away from release of these games, on a mysterious and rare Friday the 13th, September 2019, we get another nod of mystery in the same way we received Meltan. It all started as a brief tweet from the official Pokemon Twitter account, leading us to a strange, glitched out image on the homepage of the Pokemon website, and a message.
The linked tweet leading to the main Pokemon website left us with even more questions than answers…
That blur… at the bottom left corner of the screen. That’s not supposed to be there. At least, a fan that isn’t deeply into Pokemon’s social media accounts would think “ this isn’t supposed to be there.” So, what in the world is it doing there? Clicking on the image leaves us with this:
And at the bottom of the image:
“Only —— that have survived many battles can attain this —-. When this Pokemon’s —— —–ers, it will retire from combat.”
The Pokemon’s Pokedex category and even height are completely obscured from sight. The only thing we are left with is the knowledge that this Pokemon is some odd 257.9 lbs (about almost as heavy as Abomasnow!), as well as its ability, “Steadfast.” Hmm… now which Pokemon have the ability Steadfast?
The ability Steadfast is known to raise the speed of a Pokemon who have been flinched upon by other Pokemon. Some species known for having the Steadfast ability include Hitmontop, Lucario, Lycanroc (midday form) and… the Machamp line. The mystery Pokemon (and topic of discussion) is a fighting type. All of the aforementioned Pokemon listed are fighting type as well. The only Steadfast Pokemon known in the Pokemon Universe that *isn’t* fighting type is… Scyther. But it can’t be Scyther; Scyther is *definitely* a bug type!
Even more interesting is the weight of this Pokemon. Using this information, we can try to come to a solid and firm conclusion of what this Pokemon “could” be related to (if any). The only Pokemon in the aforementioned list who weighs in at nearly this many pounds is… again, Machamp, weighing approximately 286 lbs. So, an alternate form of Machamp, possibly? Well I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion so quickly.
Thus far, the internet has been highly speculative of the image, flipping it and transcribing its details to try to decipher what it *could* be. Many speculate that this Pokemon (by appearance) could be Farfetch’d. The typing suggests that it could possibly be an alternate Galarian form of the rare bird. The green lining atop the supposed creature appears to be a large leek-like sword, and the dark green bulbous figure at the bottom side being some sort of onion shield.
Presumably, Gamefreak has flipped the actual image of the Pokemon around as to enshroud it with even more mystery, so the internet took to realigning the image in the attempts of making some discoveries about it. Flipping the image over, we can seem to make out some sort of bird or duck-like Pokemon.
^^^ I’ve darkened the image so that we can focus on the figure itself. The darker object on the lower left is the “shield”, with the short and stubby white duckling in the center holding some sort of tall object on its right hand. Can you see it?
Now, I will say outright that I believe this conjecture to be a bit of a stretch. A bit… Far Fetched, if one could call it that! With that being said, others have in fact suggested that this Pokemon could indeed be something completely different, in that this image could possibly be that of Cubone, or some variation of such. And I find the precedent of this to be quite fascinating, actually!
From the normal, upright, intended perspective of the image, the lower body of the creature appears to be green, and what looks to be a white “skull” or cranial object sits atop, with some sort of bow or ears adorned just above the cranium. The brown inside of the white cranial object appears to be the actual color of the face where the eyes are potentially located. This colorway is notably very similar to Cubone itself, with the exception of the green lower body.
The green and white line perpendicular to the cranial figure is what I believe to be a line of text containing the Pokemon’s actual name, so the idea that this Pokemon is holding some sort of tall, green object goes almost completely out the window with that in mind. The only thing to dispute the idea of it being Cubone is contextual information we’ve been given otherwise. Said information completely debunks everything that we’ve postulated thus far. And that information is in fact this entry’s weight, the ability… and the description.
“Only —— that have survived many battles can attain this —-. When this Pokemon’s —— —–ers, it will retire from combat.”
The way I’ve translated the description, I personally read the description as “Only *Cubone* that have survived many battles can attain this *form*. When this Pokemon’s *helmet* *shatters*, it will retire from combat.”
Let’s first talk about what makes me convinced that this thing is a Cubone. For one, the appearance of the image, of course, is convincing enough already. In support of this, common folk lore suggests that Cubone, a lonely species often left without a mother, is forced to fend for itself in the wild. Some Cubone go on to evolve and become Marowak; some fade away completely and become ghosts (a fable intensely covered in the Pokemon Tower of Lavender Town); other Cubone have been discovered fully evolved in the Alola region as an *actual* Ghost/Fire type Marowak!
With this information in mind, I see this elusively foreshadowed Pokemon as sort of the Alpha Cubone, exclusive to Galar, one that possibly had to fend itself from the likes of vicious wild Pokemon such as Obstagoon and Drednaw, in a culture where the Pokemon and children are seen to be more hyperactive, aggressive, and hostile in the wild. Once Cubone has survived many tough battles, it attains a brand new form — a new evolution, so to speak. From there it continues to fight ever onward until it’s headpiece eventually shatters, thenceforth retiring from combat forever.
There are many things to dispute this concept, however. Again, we have to look at the evidence. What immediately *shatters* this claim and tosses it out of the window is the sheer weight of this Pokemon. Weighing in at over 250 lbs, this monstrous fighter dwarfs even the likes of Cubone’s fully evolved form Marowak, sitting at a pretty 99.2 lbs… So, in that regard, there’s almost NO way that this Pokemon gained this much muscle purely from fighting other Pokemon. And there’s also CERTAINLY no way that there’s a version of Farfetch’d that weighs this much. Imagine a Farfetch’d as buff as a Machamp!
It also does stand to reason that Gamefreak just simply would not choose to deliberately stretch the Kanto region and Kantonian forms *this* far into the new games. We’ve already gotten a new Cubone — getting another one yet again would just come off as repetitive, at best. In the end, it’s really just incredibly hard to tell what exactly this Pokemon is.
I think that it’s interesting that Gamefreak has decided to release these details in such a mysterious way. Looking back at the anime and how it ties in with the rollout of the video game series, Ash Ketchum is currently in his last battle of final stages of the Alolan Pokemon League, so this season seems to be reaching some sort of conclusion.
Likewise, the recent announcement of the next generation of the anime has occurred only a week into September. I believe that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this new “Pokemon” really soon in the animated series, similar to how we’ve received Meltan in the latest games — first, with an air of mystery; and then even more in the anime.
Given the evidence, a Machamp form that is native to Galar seems to be both the most unexpected yet subsequently the most plausible answer to this tall tale. It’s really, *really* difficult though; having its height obscured also makes it even harder to draw solid conclusions. But there is plenty of reason and contextual evidence to suggest that this is in fact a relative of Machamp, given they are both fighting types, both are Steadfast, and both have similar weights.
On the other hand, the image itself doesn’t really resemble any sort of Machamp however, so it’s kind of hard to give that argument any credence beyond the base context. Nothing really tips the scale in either direction. What I believe to be the most sensible scenario is that this Pokemon is neither a regional variant or a new evolution, but a completely new Pokemon entirely. We’ll just have to wait and see, though. It is indeed very fun to speculate. Congrats, Gamefreak, you got us all talking again!
Keep your eyes peeled on all that there is to discover out in the world, and I’ll Catch You All, Later!— Quinn
*Images from the Pokemon anime, Pokemon website, and Bulbapedia