June 23, 2015

Baby Pokémon

The concept

Many fans forget that Riolu
 is also a baby-Pokémon
When Gold&Silver introduced new evolutions for existing Pokémon, they also naturally did the opposite, introducing new pre-evolutions for existing Pokémon. Gamefreak decided to go even a step further, making baby-Pokémon even more distinct by making them all unable to breed in those stages (which means that there can also be baby-Pokémon that are not necessarily new pre-evolutions for previous Pokémon, like is the case with Togepi and Riolu, who were both introduced along with their evolutionary-line).

However, unlike the evolutions, which get mixed reactions by fans as any regular Pokémon, these "baby Pokémon" often get instant dislike and are brushed aside as "pointless Pokémon" or some similar wording.

So, I realize that I am in the minority when I don't say that "baby Pokémon suck and shouldn't exist", but I am convinced that much of this talk is undeserved, rash and often hypocritical.

The looks

One complaint is that some (and out of 18, "some" isn't many) baby Pokémon don't add anything to the evolutionary-line of a Pokémon, being just smaller cuter versions of the already cute original. The prime example is probably Cleffa.

But that's not the rule. There are baby-Pokémon who do genuinely try to do something unique and fresh that makes their evolutionary line more interesting, meaning if they would have been released alongside the rest of their stages, no one would have an issue with their existence, as with Chingling for example:

They aren't all pre-evolutions of Pokémon who are already small and cute to begin with either. Some can be very deserved and make you wonder how come they weren't made initially already, for Pokémon like Snorlax:


Baby-Pokémon do tend to give access to one or two egg-moves or Level-up moves that a line doesn't have access to otherwise, but often, the moves they get aren't very important ones.
Pichu learns the very important set-up move
Nasty Plot if trained to Level 18
before being evolved to a Pikachu
Azurill for example can learn 7 egg-moves
that Marill does not
The more important aspect baby-Pokémon bring to the evolutionary line besides fleshing out the family design-wise and thematically, in my opinion, is early expanding accessibility. A Pokémon like Electabuzz and Magmar cannot show up in a game too early as an option for your in-game team, due to being relatively strong already, whereas their pre-evolutions Elekid and Magby make perfect candidates, adding some elemental options early on your journey, as was already the case in Black 2 and White 2, where they were version exclusive encounters in the Virbank complex around the second gym.


I've often seen baby-Pokémon called a "waste of dex-spots", as if their existence somehow prevented Gamefreak from adding other standalone possibly cooler designs. "Oh damn, we need to exclude this awesome Pokémon-design because the baby pokemon are taking up all the space we limited ourselves to" said no one at Gamefreak ever. That's just ridiculous.

Besides, so far, there is only 18 baby Pokémon so far (compared to 53 legendaries, 48 mega-evolutions, 35 cross-gen evolutions, 54 starter-Pokémon... at least they aren't outnumbered by eeveelutions...yet?), so it's not like the concept has been overdone, it has barely even scratched the surface!

If pre-evolutions are pointless, whatever anyones logic might be for thinking so, it is equally applicable to ALL not fully-evolved stages of ANY Pokémon in existence. If Smoochum is pointless, that would mean that Ralts and Kirlia are too.

Two of the weakest Pokémon in existence..
..including Kirlia, who has lower stats than Bonsly, despite being a middle stage.
If they would have simply put Ralts into the No-eggs egg-group, it would make for a better typical baby-Pokémon example than half of the actual baby-Pokémon.

Potential candidates

It's not like there aren't any Pokémon with potential for pre-evolutions.
A diverse selection of interesting candidates for pre-evolutions
Don't tell me you aren't curious about what at least a few of these Pokémons pre-evolutions would look like.

Unexpected twists!

There is one specific baby-Pokémon that deserves it's own mention: Tyrogue. Not only did it connect two separate but related Pokémon, Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee, by being the pre-evolution of both (to this day still the most interesting evolutionary twist since Eevee), it even added a third alternate evolution to the family, Hitmontop.
There is even other counterparts that could be put into the spotlight with the same gimmick, from the popular Tauros-Miltank idea, the too obvious gen V Hitmon-homages Throh and Sawk, to other very similar counterparts like Pinsir and Heracross.

There is room for improvement.

I do have a few issues with how baby-Pokémon have been handled so far though. One thing most people are annoyed by is the fact that (9 of 18) half of them require high friendship to evolve. And while the idea makes perfect sense especially for the most baby-like ones (they need extra care to evolve), I feel like they should also make the Base friendship much higher than normal for baby-Pokémon so they don't take too long. Since the beginning of generation VI with XY, there has been an incentive added for why going through the tedious process of friendship-evolving a caught Budew might be worth doing over just catching a wild Roselia. Namely because baby-Pokémon always have 3 guaranteed perfect IVs, just like legendaries do, because they are all in the No-Eggs group.

The other thing that bothers me are all the Breeding Incenses that are required to be held by the parents to produce a newly introduced pre-evolution. I understand that this is for the sake of consistency, but it is not an elegant solution. For one thing, they prevent you from using other breeding-related held items (Everstone and Destiny Knot), and the other potential issue is that they're yet another set of extremely specific purpose Items that are piling up as the number increases... but actually, Mega stones
alone currently far overshadow any such items, and I wonder how they intend to clean that up. The solution should be viable for Incenses when they come up with one.

There is one more interesting thing worth contemplating in this topic,

Legendary pseudo-baby-Pokémon

More than likely, instantly, Phione comes to mind. It's not really clear what the reason for creating Phione was, other than for the sake of showing that pseudo-pre-evolutions are not completely out of the question for Legendary Pokémon. And it's actually neat that someone who has a Manaphy but cannot share it, has at least the gimmicky option of distributing as many weaker versions of it as they want.

Also, if the Manaphy you get happens to be complete garbage competitively, with Phione you can at least try to breed towards a better one. Although Phione really is too weak for that to be of interest.

But what if suddenly some of the Legendaries that are so powerful that they're usually banned just for their sheer stats would gain a pseudo-pre-evolution?

In those cases, weaker versions of unique and cool legendaries might actually allow them to be viable options for serious competitive battling in at least some form!

Here is some random examples:
100-120-120-150-100-90 ---> 80-100-100-130-80-70
100-120-120-150-100-90 ---> 80-100-80-130-100-70
100-120-120-150-100-90 ---> 86-70-110-70-134-90

They'd still have a stat-total higher than most regular Pokémon (560), which is 40 lower than pseudo-legendaries like Dragonite and Garchomp, and 20 lower than minor legends like Suicune and Tornadus.

I'd certainly be interested to see how that would turn out! And of course how those lesser versions of epic legendaries would look.


I'll end this post with a group picture of all baby Pokémon so far ;D