Gotta puzzle 'em allPokémon Puzzle League was a Pokémon title released at the height of popularity of the “original” Pokémon. As Pokémon Silver/Gold was just dribbling out, this Panel de Pon reskin for the Nintendo 64 included the most popular of the original 151 Pokémon alongside stars of the first handful of seasons of the anime series. Remember Ritchie? Pokémon Puzzle League does!

Butch & Cassidy or Tracey Sketchit may be immortalized exclusively in Pokémon Puzzle League, but their Pokémon are forever. Even if they have not appeared in every single Pokémon generation, the likes of Scyther, Charmander, and even Rattata have had significant staying power over the last 25 years. But not all Pokémon are remembered equally! Of the original 151, many have had new forms, evolutions, or unique moves over the years. There are 1,025 Pokémon now! And tentacool got a weird roadrunner buddy! Yet some among the originals has not been that lucky.

So, without further ado, presents…

Definitive List of Pokémon of the first 151 that have never been revisited with a new evolution, “baby form”, gigantamax, mega, regional form, regional “variant”, or unique Z-move after 1,025 Pokémon have been catalogued in the Pokédex
(and Ditto absolutely does not count)

The Bird Brains

The go birdUnto every generation, we get a “trash” normal type, and a normal/flying type. Going back to the beginning, our tutorial rat got a regional variant, and Pidgey eventually earned the ability to mega evolve. But we have an odd bird out! Spearow, the dark (but not dark type), edgy alternative to Pidgey has not been revisited in later Pokémon titles. And that’s fine! This is a trash bird for trash people. Let Fearow fly off into the sunset.

But it is miraculous that no one over at the Pokémon Company has identified the solid gold that is Doduo & Dodrio. Yes, this is another “boring” normal/flying type with no distinct abilities or moves. But it is a flightless bird with two heads that evolves into a flightless bird with three heads! How could you say no to such a creature!? Pokémon Company did see that this was some level of awesome, as amazing Hydreigon stole this concept wholesale, but nobody is mistaking that dark/dragon monster for a bird. Bring back Dodrio! Maybe give it another head! Successive heads have worked so far!

Poison Was a Mistake

The grass!Pokémon Red/Blue/Green was the fledgling start of the Pokémon megafranchise, so it is only natural they were ironing out a few significant kinks in those early days. Due to weakness/advantage distribution and a very poorly considered “defense” stat, psychic type Pokémon dominated all comers. It is no coincidence that dear psychic Mewtwo was the prime legendary to start all legendaries at their debut. On the other side of the coin, you had types that were damned to never accomplish anything. Bug types were intended to be early-game critters to match the late-game (and limited) dragon types. Bugs could potentially have a type advantage over psychics, but their moves and stat distribution seemed to be intended for early game encounters, so good luck utilizing a Butterfree to take down Sabrina.

But who could bugs beat in those early days? Poison types!

Poison and bug were weak to each other before Pokémon Silver/Gold rebalanced the world. There are also 33 Pokémon in Generation 1 that have poison typing in some fashion. 9 out of the 14 grass types available are part poison. All of the ghost types are part poison. Nearly all Team Rocket Pokémon are poison type, and you fight a lot of Team Rocket opponents. The first Pokémon ever in the Pokédex is poison type! Generation 1 had more poison type Pokémon than any successive generation, and more poison types than every generation combined through Pokémon Sun/Moon. Bug could have been a contender! Those insects had so many enemies!

My bugs!So with all those poison types running around, here are your eternal losers. Bellsprout does not achieve victory(bel), likely because Bulbasaur is sucking up all the oxygen in the room for poison/grass Pokémon, and Oddish is getting fat on the leftovers. Paras is a bug/grass abomination onto Arceus, and the Pokémon designers have decided to go in another direction with mobile mushrooms (please say hi to Ammongus and their paradox form). And Venonat & Venomoth, the theoretical third man of the triangle that contains beloved Butterfree and tolerated Beedrill, has been so ignored by future generations, they did not even appear in a regional Pokédex for 22 years. Venomoth was a contender in Crystal on the Gameboy Color, and did not have a featured return in anything but a remake until the Nintendo Switch carried Pokémon Scarlet/Violet.

So, sorry, poison types, nobody wants that toxic relationship anymore.

The Fossil Gang

ALL GLORY TO THE HELIXThese prehistoric monsters are more of an edge case than anything. Aerodactyl miraculously gained a Mega form, but their fossil buddies, Omanyte and Kabuto, have never officially been revisited. However! The method for obtaining these weirdos (finding a pair of rocks somewhere in the world, and then bringing them back to life with mad science) has been repeated continually throughout the series. So, yes, Omastar and Kabutops have not distinctly returned with greater forms, but their spirit lives on in every Lileep, Rampardos, and Tyrantrum.

They do not spiritually live on in Dracovish, though, because Darcovish is an eyesore.

Mistakes were made

Let’s talk about Gamefreak’s dirty little secret: the Nidoran family.

A Nidoking PNGNidoking was designed by Ken Sugimori, and is one of the first Pokémon ever created. As anyone who played through Pokémon Red/Blue can attest, a great many sprites and statues scattered around Kanto generically look like Nidokings. And that makes sense! Nidoking has a general “kaiju” thing going on with its bulk, teeth, and horns. So if you are trying to parse a “pocket monster”, something like Nidoking would probably spring to mind.

But, as we all know in the year 2024, Pokémon is not about kaiju. Monsters like Charizard and Nidoking may have been created in the early days to appeal to “cool” conceits, but the once and future star of Pokémon is Pikachu. Every generation gets a new cool bro to appear as a legendary on the box, but we also have a new electric rodent with each game. And “cute” seems to be a tremendous design factor in the Pokémon credo, as the “scary” legendary Pokémon are humanized over and over again with plots that contain sympathy for these digital devils. Koraidon is a badass fighting motorcycle dinosaur… that is just a smol bean that got kicked out of their home by an angry big brother.

So if we must include tragic backstories for our behemoths, what hope do those poor nidos have? And once you include the whole “first gendered monsters in the franchise” thing with “Nidoqueen is inexplicably and consistently sterile”? It’s all over, buddy. And they are another poison type? No. Just no. If we need an original like a Nidoking, we have a horn Pokémon in Rhydon. That other family can just stay in the old neighborhood, and never leave.

This Cannot be Right

Snake backwardsEkans & Arbok have not been revisited in the Pokémon franchise. They were one of the most dominant Team Rocket critters in their debut game, their terrible wrap attack defined many a battle, and they appeared in the Pokémon anime for nearly 300 episodes. Weezing has earned a jaunty little hat since their debut, but our favorite snake has been left to languish alone. Occasionally we get some reference to how Arboks have different “faces” in different regions, but that’s about it. Come on, guys, bring back the original serpent in the garden of Pokémon. Jessie earned this.

And speaking of snakes, Dratini & Dragonair & Dragonite have not seen another form in nearly thirty years. One could argue that Dragonite is already perfect, and could not be improved in any way. But you could also say the same of Metagross and Tyranitar, and they both got mega evolutions. Hydreigon even got to be a robot! So show a little love to the first dragon we ever nailed with an ice beam. Remember when Dragonite used to simultaneously be a mythical creature and a little orange guy that delivered the mail? Dude has paid his dues.

It's duckyBut no Pokémon has paid their dues more than Psyduck. One of the most cursed/popular Pokémon in the entire pantheon, Psyduck has been delighting us for years with perpetual torment that powers psychic abilities. And they are a cutie! But despite having their own freakin’ Netflix series (two, if you count Orange is the New Black), Psyduck has not been revisited in any significant way within the main Pokémon titles. Friggen’ Primeape gets a ghostly evolution, but Psyduck is still the same old yellow friendshape. Good enough to block Route 210, but not worthy of a gigantamax version? Juichi Masuda loves this duck, why doesn’t everyone else!?

We Can Do Better

It's in the cardsAlright, let’s knock off the water also-rans.

Seel? They added one letter and gave us Spheal (please do not examine this statement). Spheal is prime round boy, and superior to Seel in every way. What were they even trying to do with that thing? Some kind of seal-dog? Was the key art supposed to be followed to the letter, so they were always supposed to be balancing on their head? Because if Seel is just Seel, it is up there with Voltorb for laziest design. And at least Voltorb got a regional do over…

Shellder is infamous for their evolution, Cloyster, appearing in every Rorschach test going back to 1921. Luckily, there have been a number of shell Pokémon in later generations (and even this one, if you count Omanyte), so we do not need to revisit this clam that always reminds us of our mother for some reason. And Cloyster could maybe qualify as having “other” forms, as they are still involved in Slowbro/Slowking evolutions. They are not distinctly named as the dominant species there, but partial credit.

We will give no credit to Goldeen, though. We have enough generic fish. We do not need to fill our oceans with yet another watery opponent. Keep our seas safe, keep Seaking in Generation 1.

Staryu is the only water Pokémon ignored by future generations that has no obvious replacement. Mind you, that is yet another “well, actually” case, as there are any number of star Pokémon out there, just no more starfish Pokémon. So we probably won’t see any Staryu upgrades until we inevitably see the “Space” type introduced. In the meanwhile, we have a little weirdo that can learn attract in Generation 2, but is genderless, so everyone just has to stand around as confused as a bidoof. Keep making it awkward for everybody, Staryu!

Something has gone horribly wrong

And who is left among the ignored originals? Well…

You are getting sleepy…

Very drowsy…

Give us more of the best Pokémon. Do it. Do it now. All glory to the Hypno.

SBC #42 Mewtwo & Pokémon Puzzle League

Mewtwo in Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Hit 'em hard

  • They any Good? Are we still pretending this isn’t an excuse to sneak Frieza into the roster? Mewtwo is an amazing fighter just so long as you avoid ever getting hit. And that is difficult, as Mewtwo is blessed with significant height and a tail. The perfect Pokémon has the same hitbox as a Snorlax! But assuming you can dodge like a madmutant, you’ll be just fine (you will never be fine).
  • That final smash work? Mega Mewtwo Y appears for all of three seconds and launches a Psystrike that obliterates everything in its path. Good! Mewtwo needed a move that didn’t rely on careful positioning. And it’s not a generic “beam”, too. Excellent work, Mewtwo.
  • The background work? Mewtwo will dwell at Unova Pokémon League, as N’s Castle is easily the most dramatic reveal in the Pokémon franchise, and Mewtwo is a drama queen. It is a basic stage with irregular steps at the sides. Kind of boring, but the random Pokémon popping up and adding some spice to the proceedings are appreciated. And nothing is so dramatic as Dialga and Palkia on other stages, so you do not have to live in continual fear of giant laserbeams. Just, ya know, regular-sized laserbeams.
  • Classic Mode: Mewtwo has mastered Psychic Control. Beat an opponent, control an opponent as an ally for the next round. This classic mode mostly exists to remind us how an overwhelming number of Smash Brothers have been victims of mind control. You are just a puppet, Cloud Pikachu. Square off with some hands at the end.
  • First Appearance: Mewtwo feels pretty similar to their later incarnations in their debut appearance. “Weird floaty psychic monster” was a lot more unique in Melee, though, so it is understandable if they were never your first pick. Even if it did take 20 hours to unlock the weirdo…
  • Smash Trivia: Mega Mewtwo Y is represented through a final smash and spirit battle, but Mega Mewtwo X is nowhere to be found. This is confusing, as Mega Mewtwo X is literally a fighting type, and you would expect that to come in handy in a game that involves a lot of fighting. Maybe Lucario is all the Pokémon franchise needs for fighting representation.
  • Cankles?

  • Amiibo Corner: One of the angriest Amiibo. Look at that creepy hand motion! And congratulations to Mewtwo on having such pronounced ankles. I understand that is a status symbol… somewhere.
  • Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? Mewtwo is the final boss of Pokémon Puzzle League’s story mode, so we could claim Mewtwo’s prominence as a worthy pick among the many Pokémon of the franchise was thanks to Pokémon Puzzle League. Or it was all based on the fact that he had a movie. Whatever! Not like any Pokémon in Smash are associated with block puzzles.

Mewtwo in Pokémon Puzzle League

  • That was fastSystem: Nintendo 64, and now available on the Nintendo Switch. I understand the reason it’s there (Pokémon!), but if you ask me if this is an essential Nintendo 64 title for an online service, I will probably rank it ten spots below Space Station Silicon Valley.
  • Number of players: We only have two players this time, right? It seemed like the N64 wedged four players into everything, but only two controllers available here.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: It’s Tetris Attack Panel de Pon! And Panel de Pon is good! I admit that I was just going to play this game for thirty seconds as an excuse to have a Mewtwo-based article, but then I finally turned off the Switch after I had recorded two continuous hours of panel de pon’ing. Godamned shocker of the year: good puzzle games are addictive! And given this game doesn’t modify the gameplay to accommodate the Pokémon license, it’s all good. There is an alternate universe out there where Panel de Pon is married to Pokémon “type matchups”, and we are all worse for it.
  • A sign of the times: There is a 3-D mode included where your towers become vaguely conical. It… surprisingly isn’t bad! It doesn’t really add anything beyond a wider play area, but it actually looks like something that wouldn’t be possible on an earlier system. And it doesn’t have that N64 grossness going on! It is unnecessary, but not bad. Hooray?
  • The People You’ll See: Pokémon Puzzle League is 100% based on the anime, not any of the games. Jesse and James may have snuck into Pokémon Yellow, but we have Butch & Cassidy, Tracey, and Ritchie here, too. None of them ever made it into a universe where you have to worry about levels. Couple that with every lick of the music being a remix from the television show, and it is entirely possible the producers of Pokémon Puzzle League do not even know Pokémon Blue/Red exists. Oh! Wait! They got “Prima’s” name right.
  • I have questions!Favorite Character: I am going to have to pick Lorelei, because I wrote fanfic about her back in the day. What? I had to get ideas out of my head somehow. Is it more socially acceptable that I stopped writing about the Ice Champion and moved on to Ice Climbers today?
  • For the sequel: Technically this is the first Pokémon game where two Generation 2 Pokémon were playable (insomuch as you play “as” any Pokémon in this game). Marill and Togepi both sneak into the cast. Remember the ol’ rumors of Pikablu? Good times…
  • Did you know? Approximately 1,200,000,000 living human beings, about 16% of the global population, have never lived in a world where a Pokémon anime was not airing.
  • Would I play again: I am genuinely surprised I had so much fun playing this for the first time in a few decades. I might play it again! Or I might forget about it! Depends on how many more years are in this Switch…

What’s next? I have a short attention span, so the Smash Brothers Challenge is taking a sabbatical to bring back the Fustian Gaming Challenge for a few weeks(/months). And if you want more information on the how/why of that happening, well… Please look forward to it!

So shiny
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