Written by Jonathan Wojcik
The Thirteen SPOOKIEST
For those of you who wished the Pokeween countdown hadn't descended into a thinly veiled alternate-reality creepypasta, you'll be happy to know that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Only the last thirteen pokemon in the countdown deviate from your simple grey-zone reality, and I planned from the start to eventually write an XY-specific countdown of the game's thirteen freakiest beasties, which, as you might have guessed, is also exactly the same as doing a countdown of my thirteen personal favorites. Really, guys, hold your horses now and then.
I didn't even know how much material I'd have for such a list until the last of the new pokemon were leaked, but boy did they ever deliver. I'm still rather disappointed that there were only around seventy new species this time around, and it's almost unforgivable that the only new bug-type in the whole generation is another butterfly, adorable though it may be, but never before has a single wave of new pokemon been this monstrous, nor have the games themselves ever been this overwhelmingly delightful to play, and I say that as a die-hard fan of sprite-based graphics.
I've played almost every generation of this series since Red and Blue, but playing X and Y honestly feels like truly experiencing Pokemon for the very first time. It's the vibrant, lively, interactive monster-raising fantasy the franchise was always building itself up to become, and it's just a shame the central plot is so damn short, because for once, I actually care more about it than I care about breezing through the gyms to get into more hardcore collecting and breeding. I wanted these games to just never end.
Official Sugimori artwork has yet to be publicized for the entire generation, so for the time being, we'll be using the same small graphics created by Serebii and what are mostly my own screenshots of my own precious, beautiful babies, as except for the two megas we'll be going over, I made it my business to find and raise every last one of these spookemans in time for this very article!
A ghost/steel sword pokemon is one of those concepts we've been seeing in fan-made pokemon ever since the steel type was first introduced, and I'd say it was worth the wait. Aegislash is exactly as cool as a flying, haunted sword is supposed to be, even wielding its own circular sheathe as a shield. It's also another addition in the elite ranks of cycloptic pokemon, which I'm sure everyone expected, because all proper sword monsters are also one-eyed sword monsters, or at the very least, only one eye per side.
Pokemon has brought us a prehistoric ammonite, a cannon-like octopus and multiple jellyfish, but one of the most famous of all tentacled sea life has been a no-show until now. At long last, there is a squid pokemon, and it's the very squiddliest we ever could have hoped for. Its transparent skin and luminous patches give it a distinct deep-ocean vibe, and its psychic/dark typing, rather than water, feels incredibly appropriate for a representation of such intelligent, formidable and otherworldly predators.
Of course, Malamar's most noticeable characteristic is its unusual stance, completely defying our expectation of cartoon squid to walk on their tentacles. Instead, Malamar leaves all of its limbs free for attacking, and it's not as if the tip of a squid's mantle can really be considered either its "top" or its "bottom." Cephalopods tend to move whichever direction is convenient at the time, and who's to say a giant, psychic land-squid wouldn't walk on its fins?
If I have only one nit-pick, it's that I don't quite understand why they stopped at "Malamar" instead of going all the way and calling it Malamari.
Pokemon X and Y have tricked me. For five generations, I found virtually nothing all that interesting about any of the dragon-type pokemon, and I was certain I was just never meant to be a dragon-type kinda guy. Even the insectoid Flygon was never a fraction as cool to me as its immature form, Trapinch, which doesn't even acquire dragon typing until it evolves.
XY, however, introduces at least three dragon-type lines who range from very nearly to completely up my alley, and Noivern, the bat-based dragon, falls somewhere between the two. It's not quite strange enough to be one of my go-to team members, but it's one of the most beautiful additions to Pokemon's diverse selection of Chiroptera. As much as I love Zubat, Golbat, Crobat, Woobat, Swoobat, Gligar and especially Gliscor (who definitely is on my list of team material), none of them capture the weirdness of an actual bat's face quite as perfectly as Noivern's forked, fleshy nose, yellow eyes and sonar-dish ears. It's also our first predominantly black bat, which as you know is the most correct type of bat for Halloween.
#10: Mega Houndoom
The sixth generation seriously shakes up the concept of Pokemon evolution with the addition of "mega" forms, which a select few pokemon can temporarily manifest during battle. On the downside, most of these have been given to fan favorites that were already fairly powerful, but a lot of them are reasonably interesting and a couple have been handed out to long-time underdogs like Mawile, Pinsir and Kangaskhan.
Houndoom was definitely one of the coolest of the "dark" pokemon introduced in the second generation, and even today, it's remained one of the nastiest-looking of the type, a fire-breathing rottweiler with a demonic bone motif. Like many of the megas, its transformation basically turns what it already had up to 11, even turning the small, decorative skull on Houndoom's neck into more terrifying body armor and twisting its horns into what is, scientifically speaking, a 40% more unholy angle.
The second of my new favorite dragon-type pokemon, Dragalge evolves from the utterly adorable, dead-eyed Skrelp, whose design I personally find a little more appealing, but a poison dragon was a long time coming, and I'm glad it turned out to be something as inventive as a toxic, withered-looking weedy sea-dragon. Allegedly imitating a mass of dead kelp, Dragalge are said to have their own special territory out at sea where few ships ever return intact. In other words, hordes of these things serve as Pokemon's equivalent to the sargasso sea!
Besides the bad-ass concept and typing, it's nice to have a frillier, more "elegantly" terrifying poison type, even if that's usually not my style. Just the fact that it pretends to look like rotten algae is sweet enough.
This hovering keyring is possibly one of the weirdest, most unexpected concepts in the generation, which naturally means that a vocal chunk of players have copped an attitude about it. They're fine with having a fire-type fox for the ten thousandth time, but keys?! As a pokemans!?! Not that! Not something DIFFERENT!
I digress. With its spooky little keyhole-skull-face, I'd have pegged Klefki for a ghost type, but it's actually a steel/fairy pokemon, which makes for an adorable if possibly accidental pun when you realize "Klefki" is derived from "klepto" and it presumably lives to pilfer keys of every sort. Get it? Steel? Get it? Huh? Get it?! It's also a remarkably appropriate theme for a "fairy," considering how many traditional pixies, gnomes and goblins specialized in causing such common, everyday inconveniences as missing keys.
I don't think anybody would have expected a dragon pokemon to be a pale, gooey gastropod, but Sliggoo here is now the number-one dragon-pokey to win my heart, and its design is positively flawless. I love Magcargo, I love Accelgor, I like Gastrodon well enough and I'll always hold out hope for a Leucochloridium pokemon, but otherwise, this is the snail-based pocket monster of my dreams. It's pale, it's goopy and I can think of few things more adorable than the combination of its wonky mouth and blank, dull eye-spots, which are, according to the pokedex, degenerate and nearly blind. It's not only everything I wanted (besides a parasitic infestation) in a snail pokemon, but everything I wanted in a subterranean, troglobytic pokemon, even if this little critter actually inhabits shady swamps.swamps!
Unfortunately, Sliggoo's adorablosity makes it the only thing in this generation to break my heart more than the lack of bug types, because eventually, the blind little bog-snail evolves into Goodra, and I know there are people who will want to beat me up for this, but I just...don't really care for Goodra. I've tried hard to let it grow on me, but it basically just resembles a fusion between Sliggoo and Dragonite, with the same watery anime-eyes, and that does nothing but severely detract from Sliggoo's incomparable perfection. I definitely appreciate that one of the most beloved and "cute" new pokemon is dripping with mucus, but Goodra only just makes my "pretty neat" pile, while Sliggoo makes my "I would trade both my arms and up to half of my brain to really have this for a pet" pile.
Alright, so we may have jumped the gun a bit when we all presumed Spritzee was themed around a plague doctor. It seemed like a pretty solid theory at the time, but its evolution definitely leans more towards a masquerade dancer, and the creepy, bird-like white masks of masquerade dancers are not to be confused with those of plague doctors, which is worth taking into consideration when building a Halloween costume. I suppose I should be disappointed, and I know a lot of people were, but this fluffy, fabulous fairy is just the sort of fiend I was hoping the type might entail. Its intense red eyes, pointed nose, tiny claws and elongated ears give off a solid "goblin" or "troll" vibe, and I can't help but be reminded almost immediately of the movie Labyrinth, seeing as its menagerie of fairy-folk included a number of fuzzy, long-eared goblins and it had a pivotal ballroom scene with those creepy masks.
Labyrinth is now a pokemon. The entire movie. A pokemon that also reminds me, for some reason, of the Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine, only I guess this is what a "pink meanie" would look like if those were a thing.
#5: Mega Banette
Probably my favorite of the known megas, this little freak is basically just Banette with a whole lot more zippers on it and a never-before-seen inner body peeking out. Like most megas, it's not an enormously drastic change, but it takes what made the base pokemon interesting and expands upon it.
It also looks more than ever like some sort of fetish gimp suit. In fact, fetish gimp suits actually exist where the wearer's arms and legs can be zipped up into large, cumbersome spheres for some other party's amusement, not that I know from experience or anything. Obviously I'm not going to declare Mega Banette's designer a hardcore kinkster, I mean, it could still be pure coincidence, but it's still one hilariously bent coincidence.
This is the only specific pokemon on our list that I'll have already featured on Pokeween, so I'll be reiterating some things I've already written, but don't worry - I'll be making up for it in the next few entries.
Meowstic is one of the cute little anthro-critters I'm normally impartial towards, but every time this psychic type uses a psychic move in battle, its ears flare open to reveal an additional set of eerie, vertically-aligned eyes referred to as their "psychic organs," instantly propelling them into the ranks of the most inventively unsettling creatures in the franchise.
Finally, an adorably fluffy, bipedal mammalian pokemon earns my full support, and it only took the addition of hauntingly yonic devil-eyes on the ends of stalks.
...On the other hand, if there were exactly one and only one thing that could have compensated for both Sliggoo's anticlimax and the great 2013 bug-drought, it was this. Anyone who has read more than five pages of Bogleech either already knows or could reasonably guess that barnacles are among my very favorite things to ever exist on our planet, and I'd be damn surprised if anybody pined for a truly barnacle-like pokemon any harder than I always had.
Now, I might have slightly preferred something a little less anthropomorphic, but Barbaracle's humanoid stance is just a ruse, anyway. It's only a roughly man-shaped colony of one-eyed goose barnacles following the commands of an exceptionally large, two-eyed and terrifyingly hand-shaped boss. It is a Voltron of barnacles. Barnacles with giant talons. This is the one. This is my Garbodor of the sixth generation; the single new addition I could never, ever rightfully build a team without for as long as I continue to live or they continue to make pokemon games, whichever ends first.
#2: The Phantump Line
Though Barbaracle is my hands-down favorite of this wave, I can't rightfully top this list with anything but the Halloweenest new monsters, and Gamefreak, in their infinite wisdom, blessed this global October release with not one, but two Hardcore-halloween evolutionary families, both of the long awaited grass/ghost type combination. In both cases, I really can't get away with reviewing only a single evolutionary stage. Every step in the life cycle of these boo-tanical beasts (you're welcome) is simply too gloriously ghostly to elevate above any other.
Phantump, easily one of the cutest and most pitiful little specters I have ever laid eyes upon, also just so happens to be one of the darkest Pokemon ever conceived. I know we all thought the last generation held that title when it introduced Yamask, a pokemon said to literally represent the spirit of a dead human being, but Phantump goes a step further; Phantump, according to legend, is specifically the spirit of a human child who died getting lost in the woods.
...And then, it evolves into Trevenant, a devilishly horned, spider-legged rotten tree with the same eye as the Dusclops line and at least two things that might function as jagged mouths.
And what does Trevenant spend its un-life doing?
Why, getting people lost in the woods, of course! It even learns its own unique move, "Forest's Curse," which transforms an enemy pokemon into a grass-type! Do they know that they're creating more Phantump when they prevent some innocent little kid from ever leaving the forest, or is the vicious cycle an accident? It's pretty much straight out of classic Japanese ghost-horror.
#1: The Pumpkaboo Line
Finally, we come to what is not only XY's spookiest, kookiest newcomer, but the most Halloween-appropriate pokemon we may ever witness in our lifetimes. Half the fandom has been anticipating a ghost-type Jack O' Lantern since almost the beginning, but I'm glad they waited until October 2013 to unleash one upon us. It almost feels deliberate.
With the best name it could have ever possibly had, Pumpkaboo rolls multiple Halloween symbols into one perfect, darling little package, simultaneously resembling some sort of black cat, bat and bird with a pudgy, luminous pumpkin body, and like Trevenant, it boasts a unique signature attack capable of changing the opponent's type. In this case, it's called trick or treat, and it transforms the opponent into - you guessed it - a ghost type.
Does...does Pumpkaboo actually kill other pokemon!?
When traded, the little vege-cat-bat evolves into Gourgeist, sporting another lovable English name. I have to say I don't find its design exactly as endaring as Pumpkaboo's little fluffy vampire look, but it at least retains the fangs when you catch its mouth open. The resemblance to a melting candle is also fairly interesting, and then... then there's this:
Screenshot by Sixthrock
Wait...I thought there weren't any "evil" pokemon? I thought they were all just misunderstood sweethearts, doing what they naturally need to do for their survival? Do you feed on torture, Gourgeist? Do you just have to keep up your sadism-meter to hold your ectoplasm together!?
You know what this is? You know what this all is?
This whole generation?
There's a song for it: