Judge-a-Pokémon Express: DLC Legendary Edition

By Blitzamirin, Codraroll, Estronic, Kaiju Bunny, Kalalokki, lockjaw, lyd, Max. Optimizer, Pikachu315111, Rabia, Repu, Ryota Mitarai, and {Pokemon_Vigilante}. Released: 2020/05/02.
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Codraroll

Codraroll

For the first time ever, a Pokémon game will be expanded with downloadable content. The Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra expansions for Pokémon Sword and Shield will arrive later this year. With this announcement, we also got news of a slew of new legendary Pokémon. And you know what that means! We've gathered the Judge-A-Pokémon Express panel to give our opinions on the new designs. Without further ado, let's see what the panelists have to say!

Lyd

lyd

Kubfu is probably my favorite of the bunch; it looks cute, it looks determined, and the hair in the shape of a bandana is a really nice touch. It's just simple yet effective, and to me, that's part of the problem with it. You see, Kubfu is a legendary Pokémon, but it doesn't look like one at all. Sun & Moon introduced pre-evolutions to legendaries, and I'd say Cosmog, Cosmoem, and Poipole nailed it. They have great attention to detail, and their more alien vibe surely helps to differentiate them from your average Pokémon. But Kubfu just looks like a normal bear. If it were a normal Pokémon I wouldn't mind this design choice at all, and I still like Kubfu, but it just doesn't look like a legendary to me.

Kaiju Bunny

Kaiju Bunny

Not gonna lie, my first impression of Kubfu was: “It's a teddy bear Marshadow!” Even now, I don't think I can confidently say my viewpoint has changed. They're both small, they're both Fighting-types, they both have similar shapes to me for some reason? All of that aside, while I'm not the biggest fan of Kubfu's design, I'm always a sucker for small legendary Pokémon, so I guarantee I'll learn to love it over time. This might become especially true if it has interesting battle animations (like Mienfoo's, to name an example). Moving points to how it's a legendary that evolves, I'm not sure how I feel about that either to be quite honest. On one hand, I think it's cute and interesting that a legendary can evolve into one of two formes, but on the other, it just loses its ability to be considered a “legendary” to me, but maybe that's my inner Pokémon boomer voice speaking. All in all, I've got high hopes for this little guy. If Kubfu can receive a good story like Zacian and Zamazenta, I'll be more than happy.

Max. Optimizer

Max. Optimizer

Initially, Kubfu immediately reminded me of Pancham. Not only are they both Fighting-type bear Pokémon, they are also both related to the Chinese culture: Pancham, as the panda (熊猫/xióngmāo), representing China's national symbol and Kubfu, as the "Wushu Pokémon", being a reference to the homonymous Chinese "Wushu" (武術/wǔshù) martial arts style name that has existed ever since the Liang Dynasty from 502AD until 557AD. However, while the Pancham line are known for being notably belligerent, the fact that 武術/wǔshù is composed of the two characters 武/wǔ and 術/shù, respectively meaning "martial" and "technique", implies that Kubfu does indeed train hard to master an actual technique in order to defend itself, as opposed to blindly charging into battle and relying on raw power alone. In this sentiment, Kubfu is not a discount Pancham by any means. As a matter of fact, I would actually be pleased to find out that they are actually rivals, similarly to how Seviper and Zangoose and Tyranitar and Duraludon have rivalries going on as well, with "rivalry" being a leitmotif that is notably consistent with how animals will literally fight in order to defend themselves and their territory after all. In this sense, I am inclined to believe that, much like Obstagoon, Kubfu might invite its opponent to strike first while literally "bearing" the hits, especially with Inner Focus being its ability, until it eventually finds an opening, allowing it to effectively strike back. In the words of the famous martial artist Bruce Lee: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times".

Pikachu315111

Pikachu315111

Just when you thought Cinderace was the most shonen protagonist Pokémon. Of course, that's probably on purpose; in The Isle of Armor Expansion the player is going to be given a Kubfu to train alongside with through Mustard's dojo. As you progress and grow, so will Kubfu until it evolves; in other words, you're helping Kubfu go through a training arc! Though, what is Kubfu training up for?

Kubfu has strange lore connected to it. Once native to Galar but no longer, they went into uncharted territories with people who were traders and explorers. It's specifically noted the Kubfu in The Isle of Armor is one from a group that live on mountains in a faraway land, descendent of Kubfu that became naturalized to the distant lands they journeyed to. Does this mean Kubfu did not originally practice the Chinese martial arts of wushu? Are there other variations of Kubfu that practice different martial arts? Why did all the Kubfu leave Galar?

By now you can probably figure out I don't have much to say about Kubfu. It's interesting Kubfu is another legendary that evolves (and to separate it from the Cosmog family, it's a two-stage branched evolution instead of three-stage branched evolution) and it's based on wushu; though it's Kubfu's evolutions that do the most with the concept. But as for Kubfu itself, I'm sorry; to me it feels like another bland mono Fighting-type. It's not even that cute. Obviously it's too early to tell whether it'll actually be good or not, though Inner Focus isn't doing it any favors. At least it can fight unlike Cosmog, meaning it'll be the first legendary actually usable in Little Cup. That's something, at least until it's banned. Oh, who am I kidding, it's probably banned by default; cursed fate of a legendary.

Blitzamirin

Blitzamirin

Kubfu joins the fray as another legendary Pokémon that can evolve, and I'll admit, it definitely doesn't look like a legendary. Its lore is that has a unique organ that can create something called "fighting energy", whatever that is, and helps people in their travels when it can... still don't see the legendary in it. Additionally, as a pure Fighting-type, Kubfu joins Tyrogue, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Hitmontop, Pancham, Machop, Machoke, Machamp, Timburr, Gurdurr, Conkeldurr, Farfetch'd, Sirfetch'd, Throh, Sawk, Riolu, Passimian, Falinks, Clobbopus, Grapploct, and Zamazenta in the Galar Dex... and you still want me to consider this a legendary? It's at least cute, I'll give it that.

Codraroll

Codraroll

Well... this exists. Like Blitzamirin above me and lockjaw below, I'm kinda surprised that Kubfu is even a legendary. Sure, it has a prominent role in this game which probably warrants the "promotion", but it's not going to do Kubfu any good in future generations. It's a nice, simple design, reminding me of Teddiursa or Pancham, even with a bit of Tyrogue. Kubfu would probably find itself right at home on a route somewhere around the third Gym in a future Pokémon game, becoming a bit of a drag by the seventh Gym but then evolving into something you could comfortably take to the Elite Four. However, Kubfu's status as a legendary means it will be assigned to the postgame at best, maybe even be event exclusive. Its design suggests a generic early- or mid-game Pokémon to me, but being relegated to the exclusive group of legendaries means it can never play where it was supposed to. It's a bit of a shame, being a legendary just because it's a mascot. Pikachu is a mascot too, and in-game it's a Pokémon like any other.

Lockjaw

Lockjaw

It's kind of hard to believe this Pokémon is part of the legendaries. It really looks like one of those rare Pokémon you have few chances of finding in a certain Route; it's basically a Mienfoo with a more relevant lore. There is nothing special to Kubfu's design, being technically an angry distant cousin of Teddiursa, although it has “I'll punch you 'til death” look as an advantage. Game Freak finally went deeper into the Kung Fu universe, and when I see Kubfu's personality I think the relationship with this Pokémon is the same as a master with its student. Another fact that made me share sympathy with this Pokémon is its ability to evolve into two alternative forms, something unique for a legendary Pokémon. This helps to give more attention and prominence to this little bear. It's probably going to get some reputation on lower tiers; it's a legendary after all (sorry Cosmog and Cosmoem), so Kubfu, welcome to Type:Null group of first-form legends that can get very useful in competitive play. I can see it in the role of a bulky Eviolite tank or an offensive killer; the official stats probably will reveal to us what's going to be its main role.

Rabia

Rabia

Kubfu is easily my favorite design out of the new legendaries/mythicals. It's just so wholesome, and I enjoy the overall looks and theme of the Pokémon as well. I am a bit irked by us already having a Fighting-type bear in the form of Pancham, but that's excusable enough given when Pancham was released.

Lyd

lyd

I dig the Ying Yang approach here, (although that has been done before, shoutouts Zekrom and Reshiram) and it's a clever duo of legendaries especially tying in with the different ways you may choose to train your Kubfu. However, I just don't think they look nice. Something about these two just looks really wack to me, although I can't quite put my finger on it. It's probably the color combination, as their Gigantamax formes look much much better. Not to say I don't like white, grey, and black together, I'm a big Obstagoon fan, but it doesn't look as nice here. And speaking of their Gigantamax formes, I'm not a huge fan about how similar these two are until they Gigantamax, I really feel like the two could be more different and go full on the Ying Yang approach, like Zekrom and Reshiram did.

Kaiju Bunny

Kaiju Bunny

I actually think Single Strike Urshifu is super cool looking. His pose just screams sheer power, which, while it can be a bit redundant, works out really well for it. Its flavor is also something I'm a fan of, as according to the Official Pokémon website: “When enraged, they will mercilessly attack an opponent until it is utterly crushed.” This pairs pretty well with its secondary type; Dark. Though I mentioned I'm not too sold on having legendary Pokémon evolve, I'm pleased that the evolutionary method at the very least is something a bit different with Kubfu's evolution being based on the decisions you make in-game, and it almost reminds me of the choices you made in Gen 2's Dragon's Den with the old man (though of course, I'm hoping it's going to be much more interesting than just answering a few questions).

Rapid Strike Style. This is what I consider to be Single Strike Style Urshifu's ugly twin brother, unfortunately. I speak with full bias, however. I appreciate that Rapid Strike is meant to be a different style of Wushu and I think Game Freak pulled it off very well, but I personally don't like how the only real difference I see between the two Styles is the hair and band. Another thing that confused me was the type. I'm most likely missing key information about the history of Wushu, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but why make it a Fighting / Water-type? I'm pretty excited we get another type combination like that, sure, but I can't find a reason why this would work for Rapid Strike Style Urshifu. Keldeo is loosely based on a kelpie, so you could slap on the Water typing and Poliwrath is an amphibian, so being a Water-type makes sense for it, but Urshifu? Is it because some black bears like to swim and enjoy hunting in bodies of water? We'll probably learn more once the Isles officially release, but for now, I'm still confused.

Max. Optimizer

Max. Optimizer

The fact that Urshifu has two different forms, Single Strike Style and Rapid Style Strike, makes this evolution line genuinely interesting. This was most certainly a deliberate choice to reflect the dual nature of martial art styles: one being more belligerent, relying on ending the battle in one swift strike with all of one's pent-up brute force, and one being more passive and defensive, relying on a bit more of a strategic approach, allowing one to defend themselves thanks to a series of skillfully placed hits. The Single Strike Style form, with its Fighting / Dark dual typing, seems to follow the footsteps of Pangoro, in the sense where it literally gives into the darkness inside its heart, fighting mercilessly like a berserker in a frenzy while primarily relying on brute force. This can be interpreted as both a strength and a weakness, since, to quote Morihei Ueshiba, the Japanese martial artist and founder of the aikido (合気道) martial art style (meaning "the way of harmonious spirit"): "To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is the art of peace." However, the Rapid Style Strike form is the exact polar opposite: while its Fighting / Water dual typing may admittedly seem random at first, taking a closer look at its more reserved and flexible nature, always allowing it to be in full control over its literal inner "flow" of thoughts and emotions, can help us understand it a little bit better. The iconic song "I'll make a man out of you" from Disney's Mulan for example places the emphasis on the fact that "being swift as a coursing river" is a concrete prime competency to have as a fighter. It also reminds me of how Hariyama learns the Water-type move Brine, involving salty water that is a reference to the salt that is traditionally used to "purify the arena" and "to ward off demons" during sumo wrestling matches, as evidenced by fellow user TMan87 in one of his own articles. All in all, I am curious to see which style I am going to end up using.

Repu

Repu

As a fan of Chinese martial arts movies, I can't deny that from the new DLC's legendaries Urshifu was the one who caught most of my attention. Their design and stances pairs really well with their concept, and when I look at them I can't stop thinking of references starring Chinese martial arts like Bruce Lee's and Ip Man's films. I'm really drawn to the philosophy that "Kung Fu isn't just about punching people in the face, but a style of life itself" sometimes quoted into these kind of movies, like some sort cliché. Despite this, there's some fun facts we can talk about both forms, and I hope I can share some of the little knowledge I have.

First, we have to remind that Urshifu is the Wushu Pokémon, and Wushu is known in the West as Kung Fu, which means "Chinese martial arts". So it's fair to say its forms are based on kung fu styles, not just kung fu like it was one single style. As we know, Urshifu Single Strike is more merciless compared to its counterpart, attacking with straightforward movements and all its might. With that said (and actually a Portuguese translator mentioned this to me), we can relate Urshifu Single Strike fighting style with Bajiquan, which is more focused on short-range explosive strikes, most known by using the elbows and the shoulders. For those who never heard of it or can't picture it in their heads, Bajiquan is the same fighting style Kotomine Kirei from Fate Zero and Fate Stay Night uses in both series.

On the other hand, Urshifu Rapid Strike has a more calm demeanor. It analyzes its foes' movements and avoids getting hit while measuring their strength. From this (and the same Portuguese translator told me about it), we can say Urshifu Rapid Strike fighting style is under the Neija Kung Fu styles, which is a term used to list styles more spiritually and mentally focused. It follows a philosophy more centralized in "being as free as water", and to illustrate this I'll use one of Bruce Lee's famous quotes as an example. If you fill a cup with water, the water becomes a cup. If you put water in a bottle, it becomes a bottle. If you put it in a teapot, it becomes a teapot. Flexible and not stale, always taking a new shape without limitations. "Limitation" was something Bruce Lee struggled with while developing his own fighting style, and when he found a solution for it, we could say Kubfu followed his example and, when evolving to Rapid Strike Urshifu, became just like water.

Pikachu315111

Pikachu315111

And at the end of the training arc, Kubfu not only learns how to fight better but also learns more about itself, unlocking a new power elevating it from what it was before. Luckily in Pokémon that's easily shown through evolution. But the learning about itself part is an important factor here, as Kubfu can evolve into one of two styles of Urshifu. It does so by reaching the top of one of two towers, the style of wushu martial arts that tower represents learned by Kubfu as it ascends. And Urshifu does show its inspirations more clearly.

Single Strike Style is in the Ma Bu stance, also known as the “horse stance”. It's a fundamental stance that equally distributes the practitioner's weight between their feet, making them very stable. That makes sense for this style, as with its footing stable Urshifu can focus on putting all its focus into a powerful strike (likely with the drawn-back right hand, its left arm being used to defend against its opponent's attacks).

Rapid Strike Style is in the Xuan Ji Bu stance. This stance notably frees up one of the practitioner's legs so that they can immediately start kicking and be more evasive. That makes sense for this style; combined with its arms also poised for striking it has three free limbs to consecutively attack while relying on its standing foot for balance and pivoting.

But what would an anime training arc be without the protagonist getting either a super technique or, better yet, super form? Both Urshifu get their own Gigantamax form and presumably G-Max move that fits their preferred style. But that's really all I can say for now. I do like their Gigantamax's designs; its dark grey fur turning white and its black and white fur now a bright red or blue makes it look like an anime super form. If nothing else it makes them easier to tell apart.

That takes us into Urshifu's designs. First off, let's get this out of the way: it's based on an Asian black bear, not a panda; it's still a kung fu bear though. I like the base design, but I wish they did more to make them look distinct; right now the only difference is their hairdo-headband and the way their knee fur is pointing.

Because they're two forms that practice different fighting styles, it's hard to say whether they'll share the same stats or not. And though we know they have a new signature ability called Unseen Fist, we aren't told what it does, so they might as well have left it as “???”. Their Typing is interesting and odd, especially Rapid Strike as it's Fighting/Water. A good offensive typing, but it doesn't really look like a Water-type. Is it because its movements flow like a rapid stream? Single Strike's Fighting/Dark also feels a bit off; they're contradicting types, and you wouldn't expect a Pokémon that practices martial arts to have a deceitful side. Maybe it attacks just that savagely?

Estronic

Estronic

Generously, the judges here were given the luxury to write more about Urshifu than the others, since it has two formes. Funnily enough, I could probably do it in less than a hundred words if I wanted to due to how bland it is, let alone how identical its two formes are. Urshifu doesn't really have anything special going for it; its seemingly emotionless face and incredibly dull color palette barely do it any favors. The yellow sprinkled on it may not be the worst color, but did they really have to put it on its mouth, especially if it looks like a beak? It makes it look like a weird bipedal bear-duck hybrid. And for a Pokémon with two formes, don't you think they could've made more differences between them, or at least more prominent differences? And you're telling me one of them is a Water-type? Are you serious? It's amazing how such boring, simple designs can puzzle me so much.

Blitzamirin

Blitzamirin

Turns out that, when you train your Kubfu in a specific way, you get an evolution into a Pokémon whose typing and lore vary depending on this. Urshifu immediately catches the eye with a battle stance that seems focused and determined to jump out at you from the screen, and it takes on two unique styles: Single Strike is your typical brazen fighter that does not hold back and is as merciless as ever. It also sports Pangoro's typing— the two probably wouldn't get along! Rapid Strike instead opts to be patient and gives its opponents a sense of relief before it strikes. As it sports two unique Gigantamax formes that further augment the traits in both styles, Urshifu ends up being a rad concept. Let's see how it plays out in execution! That being said, there's one question that boggles the mind: what about Rapid Strike screams Water-type that Grapploct doesn't?

Codraroll

Codraroll

I think Urshifu does a very interesting take on the concept of alternate formes. At first glance, the two formes look similar but different enough that you see they are two distinct forms. Upon closer inspection, you may notice the differences, such as the way Rapid Strike Urshifu wears its headband over its shoulders, or the tuft of hair at the back of the head, or the way the fur at the knees bend... and then you realize that the differences are all in the posing. The two Urshifu formes are the exact same creature, just moving in a different way. Hence why they are referred to as "styles" and not "formes". It's a great example of how important posture is to our perception of a character. Or in this case, two characters... or just one? I haven't quite made up my mind yet.

If I were to criticize Urshifu for one thing, though, it's how drastically it differs from Kubfu. I think the line overall would have benefited from having a middle evolution, to bridge the gap between the infant Kubfu that hides behind its trainer's legs in one of the cutscenes, to the full grown, badass, could-stop-a-cement-truck-with-one-punch Urshifu. As is, the transition is a little too abrupt. Also, remove ten points for being a set of humanoid Fighting-type Pokémon. Gen VIII had done wonderfully in this regard so far, with none of its six Fighting types (G-Max Machamp excluded) remotely resembling humans.

Lockjaw

Lockjaw

Despite the hate of Urshifu's design, I actually liked it overall. For a bear Pokémon, it really is well detailed and stylish (I don't expect less of a legendary) in comparison to other bear Pokémon with fewer details, like Ursaring's “ring”, Beartic's “beard”, and Pangoro's leaf. Speaking of Pangoro, I've noticed some similarities between it and Urshifu: they're both Dark / Fighting, they're both bears, and in their Pokédex description it's mentioned that both are aggressive and violent, with the latter not fitting much with Urshifu since it usually has a neutral expression. Sorry Pangoro clone, I just prefer your other version. But relax, I'm sure you will be a strong Pokémon in competitive world.

Game Freak could have made the design of the Rapid Strike forme look more different, besides its “hair” and stance. Its Gigantamax forme is just a recoloring, and we already had enough of this laziness before with Mega Latios and Mega Latias (they just changed their eye colors). I think its typing is interesting, making a reference to the classic Kung Fu quote “be like water”, which makes me believe this Pokémon can be so fast and experient it can walk through the water. I personally liked this form more in terms of design and typing; I have no idea which forme is going to have a greater effect on the competitive world, but I'm cheering more for Rapid Single Style. Sorry again Single Strike, but I want Urshifu Rapid Style in my team.

Ryota Mitarai

Ryota Mitarai

Clearly, Pancham and Pangoro failed to be the panda fighters Game Freak intended them to be, so they thought that adding Kubfu and Urshifu to replace them would be a good idea. Kubfu and Urshifu look like a Netflix adaption of Kung Fu Panda that would be called Konfu Panda, because, honestly, they really look like some rip-offs of our original panda fighters.

Now, my real question is, how does the style of fighting even affect the typing in the first place? We know that Single Strike forme prefers to attack mercilessly, granting it the Dark typing, while Rapid Strike forme prefers to observe and calculate its opponent's moves while avoiding their attacks, granting it the Water typing. But how does a calmer approach to fights make a Pokémon suddenly weak to Electric or Grass moves, while merciless approach to fights make it weak to Fighting-type moves? I wish I was able to change my state of matter just by concentrating on a specific fighting style.

So yeah, we've got rip-offs of our (already cool) panda fighters, and I am waiting for an explanation of the type changes. Netflix, uh I mean, Game Freak, you are not fooling me!

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

Here we have the coolest-looking karate style Pokémon in recent memory, if not ever. I may be crazy, but it looks to me like Urshifu Rapid Strike Style looks like as though it was trained by Mr. Miyagi himself!! I can't imagine having to go toe to toe with this beatdown-ready beast. Now, I know some will say that Urshifu doesn't look any better than Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan, but I feel like the Rapid Strike Urshifu would be more well rounded, as opposed to the one-dimensional approaches of the Hit-mons. I think I can safely say that many players will gravitate to this roundhouse kicking phenom in its gorgeously black and gray color scheme. The head wrap is certainly a nice touch, but I'm sure Urshifu would still look dope without it. The only thing I have a problem with is the size of Urshifu's claws, as I feel they don't emphasize speed the way we're led to believe that Urshifu is supposed to have.

Lyd

lyd

Calyrex seems to take inspiration from a lot of places. The Moon rabbit is the big one, with its crown having a very spherical shape and the horns being inspired by the Wolpertinger or the Jackalope. So yeah, Calyrex has a ton of inspirations and lore behind it, probably more than your average legendary, but there's a problem... it just looks ugly, so so ugly. Unsalvageably ugly. The disproportionate head, the legs and arms... This Pokémon is a complete mess! I tried to like Calyrex, I really did, but I simply can't.

Kalalokki'

Kalalokki

Besides having a truly unique design, Calyrex also stands out by being a Psychic/Grass type legendary that is associated with time... Wait a second, you're trying to sell me another Celebi, aren't you!? At least Psychic/Grass is known for being an excellent typing and Unnerve is the pinnacle of competitive abilities and... What, really? You're telling me that neither of those attributes are good? What the hell do I have to look forward to then? You're giving me a top-heavy maracas of a creature that is quite literally a "big brain move" by whoever designed this, and this was supposed to be the king of the entire Galar area in the past? Maybe a king of fools, whose subjects didn't know what U-turn was yet.

Kaiju Bunny

Kaiju Bunny

YES. Oh my gosh, I absolutely love this thing. It feels like it was taken right out from a druidic fantasy world. I love the calming aura it gives off as well. The typing only slightly disappoints me? I'm not that big on having another Psychic-type Legendary, but it feels good to have more Grass-type legendary love, at least. I also can't really tell if it's gonna be a quick hard-hitter or a quick bulky Pokémon..? Its skinny legs suggest it has to be quick in some regard, and normally quickness is followed by strong offense, but then the big bulb on its head might suggest it's surprisingly bulky maybe? Either way, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to learn more about this thing, as I can only imagine the story and setting where you first meet it and maybe interact with it, etc. is rather beautiful and peaceful (somewhat similar to the mini-event we got for Celebi in HGSS). My bias is probably striking hard here, but I'm always a sucker for nature-based themes, and I truly feel Calyrex has hit it right on the nose and gives itself a more serious and mature feel, something I've always enjoyed seeing in a Pokémon game. I can't wait to use one of my own and have ‘em on my team!

Max. Optimizer

Max. Optimizer

I welcome the opportunity to start my judgment regarding Calyrex by complimenting the clever idea behind the choice of its name. As a matter of fact, "Calyrex" is a portmanteau composed of the two words "calyx" and "rex": "calyx" being a word derived from the Greek "κάλυξ" (kalyx), meaning "bud", and the Latin "rex", being the word for "king". As the literal noble "King Pokémon", not only does Calyrex proudly wear the majestic bud on its head like a crown, its overall body structure also bears a certain notable resemblance to the royal scepter, another symbol of royal sovereignty, hence making it a literal "reign deer." While the Grass typing from its Psychic / Grass dual typing is pretty much self-evident the Psychic typing is a lot more interesting, and you will understand why this is indeed the best possible dual typing par excellence for this Pokémon. The Psychic typing is most definitely a reference to the deer being a recurring symbol in spirituality: its crown-like antlers allow it to literally branch out and get closer to the sky and they will fall off and grow again numerous times during the deer's lifetime. "Renewal" and "regeneration" are two notable leitmotifs that can be found in the domains of spirituality (Psychic type) and botany (Grass type). This leitmotif of the phases of life, or "seasons", that nature continuously goes through has also been adequately anthropomorphized with the help of Deerling and Sawsbuck Pokémon three generations ago. Oh deer, I have almost used up my entire word count for this entry already, so I want to conclude by pointing out that Calyrex's crown and Psychic typing also strongly evoke the idea of a large "brain", allowing it to see all of the events from the past, the present, and the future!

Pikachu315111

Pikachu315111

Let's talk about this design. When Calyrex was revealed, everyone's immediate reaction was “what in the world is this?”. Now months later, when the design had time to sink in, a lot of people are STILL asking “what in the world is this?”. Breaking it down, I think the main issue with the design is the head and legs. They may have worked separately, but together it just doesn't look right. Either the face needed to be simpler or the legs needed to be shortened (possibly matching the designs of the arms).

((1) Short legs. (2) Simpler face. (3) Short legs & simpler face. (4) Simpler face & recolored legs. (5) simpler face & recolored short legs. (6) Recolored short legs)

Calyrex is likely based on horned rabbit-hybrid cryptids that exist across cultures: jackalope, wolpertinger, and skvader to name a few. Its head's giant bulb head looks like a European imperial crown. An odd inclusion are the beads around its neck, which depict the symbol of the Hojo clan (yes, it looks like the Triforce). Wikipedia says the Hojo clan promoted Zen Buddhism throughout Japan, so it's fitting (ignoring Galar is Poké-UK) for a super intelligent Pokémon that can see past, present, and future (and they must mean inevitable future, since it's the former ruler of Galar; that or it can see multiple futures and decided the one where it's no longer ruling was the best one, which would make me question its leadership skills). But let's not be quick to judge; the Crowned Tundra expansion should may (hopefully) reveal more on its history.

With Calyrex's ability being Unnerve (I wonder why) it's already a step behind its main competition: Celebi. They're going to need to give it very polarized stats if they don't want it being a lesser Celebi clone.

Estronic

Estronic

I can't take this thing seriously at all. Calyrex looks like a glorified fourth grader's Fakemon scribble in their math notebook. The lore behind it is also just too hilarious alongside its design. A Pokémon with high intelligence that can see in the past and future? I can get behind that, but when you give a brain tripled the actual size of it to represent that combined with its pretty stupid anatomy, I can't help but cry laughing, which would slowly turn into just crying. I honestly thought this thing was some sort of deer. Was I wrong? Well, if deer had two legs, short mitten hands, and butterfly wings, maybe I would almost not be wrong, but alas, that is not true. Calyrex is simply just hard to look at and take seriously. Nothing else to add there.

Blitzamirin

Blitzamirin

Now, if you ask me, Calyrex truly embodies what being a legendary is about: it has been said it used to rule the Galar region, and it also possesses the power to see the past, present and future. If that's not a show of power, what is? Calyrex's design very prominently focuses on its head, with its massive brain and its glaring eyes just showing how imposing it is. To me, it's oddly similar to Mewtwo's portrayal in that it carries an ominous aura around it and you don't want to mess with it. Speaking of messes, those legs are probably the only part of its design that look "off," but I think it matches: this thing's got brains but no brawns.

Codraroll

Codraroll

I'm definitely in the "What the heck is this?" camp. Calyrex is a mess, and it takes an immense effort of goodwill on my part not to see it as such. The head bubble is comically large, but it appears to be attached as a sort of balloon on top of Calyrex's head rather than actually being the head. Tethered between four ears, no less. The dangling legs are comically long and floppy. The body of the creature is way too small to instill the sort of regal feeling the designers might have been going for. The Triforce necklace is so big and unwieldy it sort of buries the whole head. And it has what appears to be pixie wings.

Maybe it looks better in motion, in 3D, with the appropriate particle and lighting effects applied. Maybe the way it moves or acts makes it seem less ridiculous. But the artwork of Calyrex only serves to raise eyebrows. It's distinctive, though, I'll give it that.

Lockjaw

Lockjaw

Ok, I admit, I thought this Pokémon was interesting in its trailer debut, although it just showed its face. When I saw Calyrex's artwork I laughed for a moment; it's really bizarre how this little fellow looks like it came from a Legend of Zelda game (just notice the Triforce in its necklace). Its body doesn't suit its face, having a stoic face in a fairy's body, just like if you mixed Pikachu's head with Machoke's build. Despite Calyrex's design, I find its lore very interesting, being something new in the franchise: a king Pokémon, a wise leader; its description reminds me a bit of Urshifu's description regarding wisdom and dignity or Xatu's about seeing the future. A fun fact is that Calyrex is the first legendary Grass / Psychic that shares powers and traits regarding time similar to Celebi, which would have Calyrex's spot if it wasn't a mythical instead of a legendary Pokémon. Particularly, I liked the Pokémon, and I hope to see how it battles and performs in the game, as well as in the competitive scenario, since Grass / Psychic is one of my favorite typings.

Ryota Mitarai

Ryota Mitarai

Oh my goodness, what the hell is that thing? I know Game Freak is a fan of hybrids and extravagant designs, but I can't even pinpoint this to any living creature that I know of. It resembles some sort of humanoid deer? But I am not even sure. But now, putting aside my shock, Calyrex would make the perfect paintball player. I mean, look at its neck, it has paint bombs equipped already and it has its psychic powers to shoot them without even needing a gun! I gotta admit, it feels tempting to try and "burst" the balloon-like thing on its head. If it can indeed burst and cause some splatter, then that might prove that Calyrex is a passionate paintball player.

Rabia

Rabia

This thing looks like a fusion of Megamind, Sawsbuck, and Tsareena. It's a nope from me.

Kalalokki'

Kalalokki

The song you're listening to is Zarude - Leaf Storm, and as if Psychic/Grass weren't enough of a mediocre typing, now we also have a Dark/Grass type Mythical that's similarly also 4x weak to U-turn, great start. At least I can get behind the design of this thing a bit more than Calyrex: sure, its tufted head is a bit silly looking, but otherwise it's quite a menacing beast of a Pokémon with its giant claws and trendy green scrunchies just below them. But, similarly like they did to Calyrex, they also decided to give it Leaf Guard of all abilities, an ability that is incredibly inconsistent and vastly inferior to its rain equivalent, with sun not boosting the power of Grass-type moves for example. Fortunately, it also had its unique move revealed early on, with Mythical Pokémon as of late having some pretty powerful moves. So, let's see what we got with!.. Jungle Healing... restoring HP and status effects from itself and allies... great, just great. A supposed tanky healer with 7 weaknesses, maybe it will have a sky-high Special Attack as well just to spite me even more.

Kaiju Bunny

Kaiju Bunny

Haha ecks dee, ZARUDE Sandstorm xd. Even though the joke already is a bit overused, that's literally the first thing I could think of with the name. This poor monkey is just riddled with problems for me. The name, which I already mentioned, will just never sit well with me. The fact that it's yet another monkey is also a problem for me. It'd be one thing if it was an interesting monkey, like say, Aipom, but no, it's just… A monkey with interesting colors. Despite my dislike of the name and the fact that it's another monkey, though, I at least like the eyes and typing. The eyes give it a wild and aggressive look, which I'm sure will reflect in its movepool and stat spread, and the typing is pretty interesting to me. Considering the last Grass / Dark-types we had were lackluster at best, I'm interested to see how Zarude shines this gen and presents itself as a new hyper offensive Grass-type.

Max. Optimizer

Max. Optimizer

Initially, Zarude's countenance and color palette strongly reminded me of Grimmsnarl. In addition to this, not only do they both live in a similar habitat (at the deep heart of dark forest), their battling modus operandi is also very comparable: the way in which Zarude is capable of letting vines sprout from various parts of its body, specifically from the wrists and from under its feet, strongly reminds me of how Grimmsnarl uses its hair, not only to enhance its muscles, but also to ensnare opponents. However, while the Dark / Grass dual typing it shares with Shiftry may be adequate lore-wise, since it is obviously supposed to represent the shady areas deep inside the forest in which it lives, I cannot help but feel like it will be counterproductive in competitive play, where common opposing U-turn users could for example easily exploit the glaring Bug weakness of its dual typing, all while maintaining the momentum on the opponent's side of the field. However, the literal Rogue Monkey Pokémon's notably able-bodied anatomy and its antagonistic posture and appearance all suggest that it will most likely have high Attack and Speed stats, potentially allowing it to threaten opposing Pokémon that could try and take advantage of its aforementioned Achilles heel. The fact that it can spontaneously grow vines from its body in order to swiftly swing from tree to tree is a notable concrete prime indicator of its swiftness and preparedness after all. Furthermore, considering the fact that Zarude are pack animals, I feel like it would not have any troubles while monkey-pawing its integration into a new "pack" consisting of five other teammates that cover each other's weaknesses. However, because of the paucity of official information, you will have to hold on by the monkey tail for the time being.

Pikachu315111

Pikachu315111

Zarude is the first (unarguable) mythical Pokémon for Gen VIII, so it has some weight on its shoulders. However, I think it should have no problem carrying that weight if first impressions are to go by. Zarude is a monkey but doesn't look to be based on a specific species. That could be because Zarude's design basis is rather based on the idea of a primate swinging from tree to tree using vines. Being part Grass type, Zarude grows vines from its wrists and the soles of its feet that it uses for its tree swinging or any long-range grappling. The closest monkeys you might be able to compare it to are the mandrill and baboon because of the face markings (mandrill), long fangs (both), and aggressive behavior (baboon), which could be the reason for its Dark typing.

Calculations of its HP from one of the screenshots reveal Zarude is respectably bulky. Combined with the status protection of Leaf Guard, Grass having a lot of healing moves, and Dark having a lot of utility moves, this could make for an active supportive Pokémon. Granted, Zarude doesn't look like one on the surface, but all its appearance tells me is that it should have a high Attack stat, so as long as it has that it should be good on matching its appearance. But it's not all good news; Grass/Dark comes with a lot of common weaknesses, so even with significant bulk it may not last long in battle for any supportive role to matter.

Still, I hold high hopes for Zarude. I like its design, and it looks beastly in the new Coco movie. And there, I went the entire analysis without mentioning Darude - Sandstorm. Wait, does mentioning it now count for being in my analysis? It does?! Darn it.

Estronic

Estronic

I could tell by the silhouette teaser Pokémon put out that Zarude was going to be a very ugly Pokémon. Surely enough, I was right. Zarude reminds me of when Zeraora was released last generation: both are mythical Pokémon that no one really asked for, nor did a majority of the community actually enjoy their presence. A grass monkey is fine by me, more so if Rillaboom wasn't in the same generation as it, but something about its design itches me the wrong way. None of its features really stand out and make it special, not to mention how what I believe are supposed to be vines on its wrists look like those pencil grips you used back in elementary school. Its hands really bother me as well; they're just so unnecessarily huge compared to its rather lanky body features. Overall, Zarude doesn't hit the mark at being a memorable mythical Pokémon, but perhaps it can follow Zeraora's footsteps and become a great Pokémon competitively. Wait, what do you mean it has Leaf Guard?

Blitzamirin

Blitzamirin

Despite the countless of memes on the internet its endured, our first mythical of the gen in Zarude is finally here. For what is essentially the first time, it's a mythical we don't actually know about before it is revealed! So, kudos to Game Freak. That said, Zarude joins the fray of grass monkeys we already have and tries to do something different by focusing on vines: interestingly, why hasn't this been done before? It makes so much sense! Just imagine in the upcoming movie that will star it... how it battles Ash and friends by swinging from vine to vine and using them to attack, or even growing vines to get food for itself or protect others in its vicinity. This is a Pokémon I definitely want to see in action to really highlight aspects of its design further, and the movie can answer one question for us: what does Zarude use those green floaties for?

Codraroll

Codraroll

Let's talk conspiracies. Which of course is shorthand for "I have nothing to back this up but my gut feeling, there probably is evidence to the contrary out there, and I don't know all the relevant information, but I think it would have made for a nice story if it was true, so I'm going to pretend that it is." Zarude is probably a leftover design from Rillaboom's creation. Once the starter concepts were nailed down as Fire bunny, Water chameleon, and Grass monkey, the designers must have made dozens of grass monkey designs, and although this one lost out, it was probably some designer's pet, and so it was worked into a legendary role instead of being a starter evolution. It makes sense, too: with Grookey receiving a Dark typing and the chameleon spy Sobble presumably evolving into a Ghost, one secondary typing stands out clear as day for Scorbunny's final evolution, to create a sort-of-logical type triangle— guess which type, and why they dropped it. Hint: it involves a mob of fans chasing the designers with torches and pitchforks.

Anyway, Zarude. It's... ew. A cartoonishly evil face on a generic body, as if the villain/monster of the week for a Saturday morning cartoon had to be slapped together around ten o'clock Friday evening. It probably got assigned the Grass typing around five minutes before a deadline, when the designers had a Dark-type design that already worked and neither the time, inspiration, nor sobriety to rework it. Cue green wrist warmers. One could make an equally convincing Fire/Dark type out of Zarude by changing the green patches to be red. Sure, information on the website says it has the ability to summon vines and the power of the jungle and whatnot, but this was presumably decided after the design was submitted. Adding flavor via text entry is cheaper than changing an animated 3D model. In short, just like Pokémon Sword and Shield in general, Zarude reeks of being the last-minute rushed implementation at the end of a process where way too much time was spent in the concept phase and way too little on actually making things that looked good.

Lockjaw

Lockjaw

Game Freak really is interested in completing its collection of primate Pokémon, but unlike these other Pokémon, Zarude is a mythical Pokémon. Although I still think it is more like a distant relative of Rillaboom and Passimian than a mythical itself, I liked Zarude's design, and I'm not sure if it's because of its colors (I love black) or other details from its appearance, but it's just really beautiful. Its role in the franchise probably is similar to Celebi's role as guardian or protector of the forest. I'm happy to see after six generations we finally got a decent Dark / Grass Pokémon. Though existent Pokémon with the same typing aren't that famous outside lower tiers, I believe Zarude will change that; Game Freak surely is going to give great stats to Zarude in order to compensate for its horrible ability and signature move. I thought Jungle Healing was awesome and annoying at the same time, because I never liked playing against healing status moves. Now we'll have an Aromatherapy that gives damage, and I hope I have the patience to what is yet to come. Without doubt Zarude is on my top 3 mythical / legendary Pokémon of the franchise.

Ryota Mitarai

Ryota Mitarai

If you think about it, Japanese often say "za" when they say "the" (if you have watched JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, you would know). And Darude sounds like "The Rude". So you can 100% match Zarude to Darude Sandstorm. Although, funnily, its ability matches the wrong weather... but anyways, memes aside, Zarude looks to me like some mashup of Decidueye and Incineroar; it has its arm lifted just like Incineroar, has sharp teeth, and it's a Dark-type, while it is also a Grass-type and the dominating feeling of the style is sort of dark and mysterious, just like Decidueye. I am wondering if Zarude will end up as the "evil" Pokémon as both Urshifu and Calyrex don't look so evil and hit it super effectively.

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

I think we may have a howler monkey with insomnia and rabies here. I can't understand the attraction to this Pokémon at all!! Sure, its typing has a decent amount to do with color scheme, but that doesn't mean that the design and colors scheme have to stay mundanely standard. Over the years, I've grown more and more curious as to why the standard of Pokémon continues to get slightly more basic in typing and coloring situations, as there are 15 Steel-types and 21 Psychic-types among all pseudo-legendary, legendary, and mythical Pokémon. Guess what folks? They all look plain and basic, relative to their typings. Now don't think I've gone off the deep end here, but there are JUST FOUR Dark-types in those same groups! But the worst part is, Zarude could have been something better if it had more green on it than just weird armbands. Give us something more exotic than Dark/Grass, like a Dark/Fairy typing!! The design that should/would command would be worth seeing in every way imaginable. Knowing what we know, though, the design would have been a black howler monkey with a glittery mane or ears. And I'm sure it still would have looked like a rabid insomniac...

Rabia

Rabia

I like absolutely nothing about this Pokémon, awful memes aside. My first issue stems from the last time we got a Grass-type monkey Pokémon being... this generation. And we got three of them. I just don't see what they were hoping for here design-wise either; Zarude looks like a rabid mistake of a creature. I don't understand the purpose of this Pokémon; ideally, it would have some connection to Zeraora, but I'm sure I'll be disappointed on that front as well.


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Final thoughts

Codraroll

Codraroll

The DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield really promises to deliver some interesting new content to play with. As you can see, even these first four Pokémon can be seen and enjoyed from several perspectives, with interesting backstories and inspirations put into their designs. And these were merely the first four Pokémon that were revealed; we know from glimpses that more is coming— including several new formes of Pokémon we already know and love. While it's still a bit early to do a proper JAPE panel on them (for one, we'd like to have names for the Pokémon we discuss), we're already looking forward to talking more about these new Pokémon designs. Until next time, have fun and stay safe!

Planned by Codraroll | Avatars by Bummer, Cretacerus, Spook, JustoonSmitts, Kaiju Bunny, LifeisDANK, lyd, Reiga, Shaymoo, and tiki | HTML by The Dutch Plumberjack | Script by Quite Quiet | CSS by ant | Official art by Ken Sugimori.
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