It’s good and right for a Pokémon to kick my ass

If I disturbed a wild animal, the most reasonable people would think it has a right to try and hit me. The more dangerous the animal, the more I probably deserved it. So let me ask you: Why would a Pokémon lose that right just because it’s a bug with a weapon sword or a duck that can do telekinesis? Why in 26 years has a Pokémon rarely been able to use its God-given right to kick my ass?

I’ve spent the better part of three decades infiltrating Pokémon’s personal space so I can try to push them into orbs. Wanting to completely end me in return is not only understandable; it is justifiable. But Pokémon has never had an option. Instead, they were forced to abide by an arbitrary social contract to which they benefited, expressing their displeasure in a ritualized turn-based fight against a proxy champion of my choice. select. It’s not fair. But luckily, in Pokémon Legend: ArceusIt was an injustice that was finally corrected.

In Arceus, you’ll hear people repeating a phrase: “Pokémon are scary creatures.” And they are not wrong to think so. The game is set many centuries ago in the Hisui region, before humanity knew how to build a peaceful coexistence with Pokémon. Unlike in previous games, Pokémon are killing people here. Some villagers were hurt by wild Pokémon’s attacks; others have lost entire communities. These are people who have endured tragedies, and their town has its own Security Corps to stop the rampage of the very real monsters just beyond their walls. Characters will casually warn you about how quickly you’ll be ripped off the mortal coils if you step into a Pokémon’s territory unprepared.

The message is clear: Making love to Pokémon is a great way to get chased.

A character from Pokemon Legends: Arceus expressed surprise when you survived your wild Pokemon encounter.

Image: Game Freak / The Pokémon Company, Nintendo via Polygon

They don’t exaggerate. Leaving Jubilife Village means journeying through a wasteland inhabited by hundreds of different little apocalyptic species. In ArceusWild Pokémon doesn’t waste time waiting patiently until I’m ready to fight. They targeted me directly. They reacted exactly as they should to a bare-eyed young man experiencing their natural habitat: not on my terms, but on theirs. Which, for those creatures with daggers for feathers and axes for hands, tends to involve immediate and relentless violence. Especially when the crook is just a certain guy.

But where villagers can be terrified, I’m happy. My mind is from the future, and my body is ready. I’ve been preparing for this for almost as long as I’ve lived. A quarter-century’s worth of Pokedex entries have taught me that Pokémon have truly amazing abilities, almost all of which are amazingly lethal to humans. In Arceus they can finally use those powers against me, and I wholeheartedly welcome that.

Startling Geodude meant having to avoid a sudden downpour of rolling boulders. Running too close to a Luxio pride gives me a chance to get paralyzed before being attacked by the electric lion. Even naturally docile Pokémon are not without risk. If I happened to run into Bidoof, one of the territorial Alpha variants, it wouldn’t hesitate to weaponize those oversized incisors against me.

Can Pokémon really kill me? No – if I get hit enough, I’ll be dragged unconscious back to the safe campsite. But I support they tried. They are defending their autonomy. They are leveling a power imbalance that has existed for decades. They are taking the opportunity to answer me for a quarter century of gentle torment. When I’m taken to an early grave by Alpha Snorlax’s Super Ray, I won’t regret it.

Maybe the new Pokémon’s willingness to attack vision isn’t a moral victory over others for me, but it certainly resonated with a lot of people. And they’re sharing clips of these terrifying encounters:

Meanwhile, fan artists and memesmiths have been taking the opportunity to commit through craft:

And Pokémon’s bloodlust has even proven that nothing brings people together like a common enemy – an enemy like our new arch-nemesis, Paras:

Pokémon games have played with different mechanics for years, so who knows wild Pokémon will be able to enjoy their long-delayed vengeance. But it’s an inclusion, I’m glad we saw, how long it lasted. It adds credibility to Pokémon – they are active forces in their world, not just passive collectibles.

Pokémon is clearly meant for children’s media. Tackling any kind of damage, let alone the deadly danger posed to you by over 900 types of extremely dangerous wild animals, is a complicated proposition. So to anyone in charge: Big thanks for letting Pokémon kick my ass. It’s good and right for a Pokémon to kick my ass


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