by Gregory Gay - 08.29.09
Pokemon is a pretty crazy franchise. Sure, any series that has had that many titles is sure to get complicated, especially one full of hundreds upon hundreds of characters. There are bound to be tons of cool little facts and references that have fallen through the cracks.
Fortunately, I’m crazy enough to have put in the time and effort to research a few of the cooler ones. Did you know about the relationship between Pokemon and the Sega platformer Pulseman? How about the origin of Mareep’s name or the reason why certain Pokemon occupy certain Pokedex positions? Oh, and do you know truth of what lies beneath Cubone’s mask?
Do I have your interest? Read on, young Pokemon trainer.
Shocking Pulseman references
Anyone remember Pulseman? It was a sweet little platformer for the Sega Genesis. Did you know that it was developed by Game Freak, the creators of Pokemon? Well, it turns out that Game Freak has been hiding little references in their Pokemon games all along.
This is Rotom, an electric ghost Pokemon. Take a look at the picture of Pulseman. Now take a look at Rotom. The design look familiar?
These guys are members of Team Galactic, the antagonists in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Their Japanese name is “Ginga Dan,” or “Galaxy Gang.” The bad guys in Pulseman were also called the Galaxy Gang. Coincidence?
If that wasn’t enough for you, Pulseman’s special move is called the voltteccer. Pikachu’s final smash in Super Smash Bros. Brawl just happens to be the “volt tackle.”
Goldenrod City Gym needs a new decorator
Goldenrod City is pretty big. There’s tons of stuff to do, but I imagine the first thing that you did was run straight for the gym. Hey, I’m not blaming you. It’s pretty likely that I did the same.
So, you get into this gym. The first thing that you probably noticed was that they arranged a bunch of massive flowerpots in a maze that forces you to fight every person lurking in the place. How rude of them. Anyways, did you notice what shape those pots form?
Goldenrod City Gym’s flower pots have been arranged to form a Clefairy when viewed from above. It’s almost like they knew that you would have a flying overhead camera viewing your trainer’s every movement.
Oh, and girls, way to spread the stereotype that girls only like pink fluffy things.
Mareep dreams of electric sheep
I’ve always liked Mareep. Not in the Scotsman-with-a-fetish kind of way, mind you. Mareep is just a cute name. It’s catchy. Ever wondered where it came from?
Well, the most obvious way to look at the name is in a literal reading. Mareep is a combination of Mary (who I hear had a little lamb) and sheep. Of course, the scientist in me also digs that Mareep is an anagram of ampere, the measure of electrical current.
Speaking of interesting names, we have Girafarig, a giraffe with a head on both ends of its body. Appropriately, it’s name is a palindrome, the same both forwards and backwards.
Switched at birth?
Take a look at Venonat there. Isn’t it a cute little ball of fluff? Focus for a second. Take note of its eyes, nose thingie, and hands.
Now take a look at Butterfree. Butterfree is Metapod’s evolution, but if you didn’t know that, you’d probably swear that it was Venonat’s evolved form. All of those features that I told you to focus on appear to be almost identical on Butterfree. The same is true if you compare Metapod to Venonat’s evolution, Venomoth.
Were they switched at some point in the design process?
An obsession with numbers
So, you know the Pokedex, right? Every Pokemon has a number. Well, those Pokemon weren’t just numbered randomly. There is some interesting placement in there. For instance, take Pikachu. Yell rat, everyone knows who he is. Well, Pikachu is number twenty-five in the original Pokedex. By itself, that’s meaningless, but consider that Meowth is number fifty-two. Yep, twenty-five and fifty-two are opposites, as are the cat and the mouse. Clever. That also explains why Team Rocket used Meowth as their main Pokemon!
Want another one?
Meet Little Mac, the puny 107 pound boxer from Nintendo’s Punch-Out series. On the right is Hitmonchan. Anyone remember Hitmonchan’s Pokedex number? Yep, it’s 107.
Speaking of numbers, the Pokemon namers seem to have a slight obsession with the topic. Of course, there’s the obvious Mewtwo. He’s the clone of the god-like Mew. Slightly less obvious are the legendary birds. Remember them? Articuuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.
Oh, and who could forget the glitch Pokemon - Missingno!
Your tour guide to Japan?
Too poor to go to Japan? I feel your pain. Turns out that the Pokemon games (red/blue/green/yellow and gold/silver/crystal) might just be half-decent tour guides. Sure, everyone knows that the regions that you hike in those games are named after regions of Japan (Kanto and Johto, for instance). What isn’t so obvious is that their geography is also vaguely modeled after those real-world regions.
That image up there not enough to convince you? Here are a few more examples.
Oh, and it isn’t just the outlines. Certain landmarks correspond as well. Did you know that Saffron City is Tokyo? That Indigo Plateau is Mt. Fuji? How about that Cinnabar Island is the Oshima Volcano?
One more thing - did you know that there are only two real-world locations mentioned in the Pokemon games? If you read the diary in the mansion on Cinnabar Island, it states that the explorers were searching for Mew in Guyana. Also, the gym leader Lt. Surge has the nickname “The Lightning American.” Which, I guess, is an indication that America exists in the Pokemon universe.
Cubone is kind of messed up
[Note: This one is fully based on rampant internet speculation and likely has no truth to it. It stays in because it’s a fun theory anyways. So there.]
Yeah, I’m stating the obvious and all. The guy wears his mom’s skull on his head. Have you ever wonder what a Cubone might look like without that skull on? Prepare to have your mind blown.
Yeah. Cubone could be a Kangaskhan. Now, this should leave two thoughts in your head. If you’re me, the first thing that comes to mind is, “How does wearing your mom’s skull make you a separate species?” I’m willing to just let that one drop, Pokemon isn’t exactly something that you hold to strict scientific standards. I mean, Slowpoke evolves when a Shellder attaches to its tail? How is that a real change in its species? Also, why the hell are Dugtrio and Magneton considered evolutions when they just combine three Pokemon of the prior form? Why aren’t they just three Pokemon that like to hang out?
The second thought? “This is totally fucked up.”
Kids, that is why poaching is bad.