JAP(F)E - Grookey family, Scorbunny family, Sobble family!

By Blitzamirin, Codraroll, deetah, Estronic, JustoonSmitts, Kalalokki, lyd, Max. Optimizer, Pikachu315111, Rabia, Repu, Ryota Mitarai, Tiksi, and {Pokemon_Vigilante}. Released: 2020/01/28.
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Codraroll

Codraroll

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Judge-a-Pokémon Express! The eighth generation of Pokémon has arrived, and it has already been here for long enough that we have formed some opinions on it. For a start, there's a whole new region out there, a whole new Pokédex, with a whole host of new Pokémon for us to judge. For practical reasons, however, we can't comment on all the new designs at once. For a start, the Grammar and Prose crew would probably ragequit in protest, and such a long article would be a cumbersome read. So instead, we are going to address the new Pokémon a few at a time, like we always do.

It feels most natural to start at the beginning, with the starter Pokémon. After all, the starters are the first Pokémon we're presented to at the beginning of the adventure, and they're likely to stick around on our teams for the entire story. In that sense, the way the starters change through evolution is important to our impression of them. We're not just picking a single Pokémon companion as a starter, we're picking a whole Pokémon family to travel on an adventure with. And so, the focus on this JAPE will not be on single Pokémon in isolation, but on the whole evolution family of each starter.

Max. Optimizer

Max. Optimizer

Firstly, just by looking at it, one can already notice that Grookey has a big personality and that it can make for a very funny, bouncy, and overall playful companion throughout your journey across the Galar region. James Turner also playfully, yet skillfully, managed to combine its Grass typing with the "instrument" motif, simply by adding the little "drumstick" branch to its head. When I first noticed Grookey's relation to music, I immediately felt like this added even more to Grookey's already animated nature. I also wanted to mention Grookey's adorable smile that signals its amiable nature and that I also like to imagine as an impish smile that it makes while it already anticipates some of the funny pranks that it could play on you while monkeying around during their journey.

Secondly, there is not much to say about Thwackey. Much like the middle evolution stages of many other Pokémon, it is mostly forgettable and it makes you miss the first stage that originally made you pick it in the first place and it also makes you want to finally evolve it into its final stage. It does, however, not suffer from the "awkward puberty phase" symptoms that many middle evolution stage designs are notorious for. The most notable change is that Thwackey has grown up to be bipedal now. This design is interesting for people that managed to avoid the leaks of Rillaboom's design, since it leaves these people wondering if the final stage will remain bipedal, similar to how Monferno turns into Infernape, or if it will return to its roots again and become quadruped like Grookey, potentially adopting a more majestic body posture like Darmanitan, for example.

Finally, after seeing Rillaboom's design, it becomes clear that Mr. Turner cannot be accused of "monkey see, monkey do", since this kind of design had never been done before by any other illustrators before him. I will, however, say that I will be a monkey's uncle if Rillaboom's design, especially its mane, is not a direct reference to Goku's Super Saiyan 3 stage. Normally we would think that, by Generation 8, we had already seen it all, but Mr. Turner uses the capacities of the Switch as a console to his advantage to make the most out of this evolution family's potential to drum up an impressive final stage. While usually a lot of people's initial reaction to new Pokémon is "This does not look like 'Pokémon' anymore," I still find it great that Mr. Turner marches to the beat of a different drum here and brings something new to the table. While Grookey has undeniably grown up now, this does not mean that is has lost the slightest bit of its aforementioned personality. I like, for example, how this Pokémon was included in the credits scene, where it plays for an actual band with Obstagoon and Toxtricity to celebrate the new champion; after all, "making music" is a skill that is usually only associated with human beings.

Repu

Repu

To be honest, I was unsure about what to expect from Grookey. When I saw its first trailer, I was left wondering to what it was going to evolve into. Now, with its evolution line complete, the biggest problem I have with Grookey's family design is the sense of continuity on it. Grookey and Thwackey design's looks very similar, and you can clearly say Grookey evolves into Thwackey. But, when I look at Rillaboom, it looks like a very different Pokémon.

To me, starters designs need to have a good sense of continuity. Since they're the Pokémon with which you begin your adventure, you need to get the sense that, as you train them, they're getting stronger, but in order for that to happen, their evolutions need to share similarities. In Grookey's case, I have the same problem with Turtwig's evolution line, because, for example, if you showed me a picture of Turtwig and Torterra and asked me "are they the same Pokémon?" I would likely say "no, those turtles don't share the same shell;" their appearance is too different, and although they do share similarities, I believe they could share more, or at least their color palette could look a bit more the same. Its not like Grookey's evolutions designs are bad because Grookey and Thwackey share few similarities with Rillaboom; the main problem is that at least Rillaboom could easily fit in another evolution line if it had the chance. Its design is very good, but the sense of continuity in it should come first. Of course, thematically, the musical monkey concept is kept from beginning to end, but this concept itself isn't very interesting.

Honestly, I admit it must be very hard to not only make an evolution line looks similar from beginning, middle to end but also make a very good design at the same time. Treecko is one of the few good examples I have of it, but, as for Grookey and its evolution line, while I do not dislike them, they surely will be on my book of Pokémon examples that lack a fundamental continuity.

Tiksi'

Tiksi

Grookey is good. A grass, drummer monkey is a good (and interesting) idea. It's green, it's got a little stick in its hair tufts, and its hair tufts look like leaves. These things are good. Not everything has to be super complicated. Things can be good and not super complicated. Grookey gets it. Grookey is chill and it is good. I like Grookey.

Thwackey is not my favorite, but I respect its thematic consistency. Its irises are the color of urine. Its coat is the color of Grookey's coat after it has been urinated on. Its squatting stance suggests that it is urinating, while also looking at you with eyes of moderate scorn, dismay, and constipation. It complements this theme with arms and ears the color of feces, a tail reminiscent of a mighty clump of feces, the aforementioned look of constipation, and a name comparable to the sound of projectile spittle.

So... what were they thinking here? Each individual feature of Grookey seems present, but worse. Once this unfortunate simian's paws matched. Now the front paws are loaded with three strong colors that luridly clash against themselves and the Pokémon's light coat, but the feet reach the other extreme by being identical to said single-color coat. The tail went from cute and distinct to a... mound. The top of the head went from cute and reasonable to a… a lighthouse? A cutesy bow? An enormous, cartoonish spider creeping up to land a merciful fainting blow on this poor unfortunate soul? Everything about this Pokémon says "unnecessary." Like the fact that it is standing on two legs. Just why.

Rillaboom saves this though. It wisely ignores almost every concept ushered in by... "the above"... except for the mask pattern and gauntlets, and those look far more natural here. Almost as if Rillaboom was made first, and Thwackey was scrambled together once the line was designated as a three-stage starter line. Transitioning from a cute monkey to a barreling gorilla is a bit awkward, but Thwackey didn't bridge the gap much anyway, and we've seen worse. Remoraid to Octillery raises plenty of its own questions. Whatever that gap may be, Rillaboom's intimidating yet collected presence, along with its awesome drum, glosses over such things.

And it sort of stands on four legs. Sometimes? The bipedal model in-game is a bit of a letdown, but it works with the drum, I guess.

Kalalokki'

Kalalokki

From clatter to beats
Despite middle disaster
The surge will bloom

Estronic

Estronic

The Grookey Gang certainly was the most hype-filled squad before the release of the games. The little monkey struck the heart of many, with its cutesy eyes, stubby body shape, and trademark stick. Grookey got the attention it deserves, but does its evolution line hold up to the hype? Not too much. Thwackey, in short, is quite literally just a taller and sightly more angry Grookey. Everything about it just seems... wrong and mismatched. Its head seems too big for its body, which is really saying something, considering it doesn't even have a neck. Its body in general just looks poorly designed, making Thwackey look like a green sausage and thus a prime target for middle school students to inappropriately joke about. Luckily, Rillaboom's design gives the Grass-type starter line some redemption, but I honestly think it still isn't enough. It has a pretty good design, I would say; specifically, the leafage as its flowing is a pretty nice touch. However, overall, Rillaboom is pretty bland compared to past various other Grass-type starters. Even its name is an incredibly basic pun. The really named this thing so it sounds like you're saying "gorilla boom" when you send it out, but it's probably the cheesiest thing I've ever heard. Hell, gorillas don't even exist in Pokémon, so this makes no sense at all. Well, at least Grookey's still cute in the end.

Lyd

lyd

This gen was most definitely the most disappointing for me in terms of starters; don't get me wrong, most of the other non-starter Pokémon were nigh flawless, but the starters really didn't deliver, I think these are the only games where I'd consider boxing my starter. That being said, I feel like the Grookey line was definitely the best. Granted, there wasn't much competition, but they're still my favorite of the generation and still a Pokémon I enjoy.

Grookey is a really cute Pokémon, and I love the way they gave him a stick and incorporated it into its personality so much. Grookey is loud and curious and will slam the stick into anything to hear what it sounds like. The oversized face and the little twig on its head add a lot as details, as well as the colors, which also bring this humble and jolly vibe. It may not be a top-tier first stage starter, but it's a great one nonetheless.

Thwackey isn't the favorite of the internet, but I still really dig its design, and for me, it's probably the best of the three. The way it ties its "hair" with its drumsticks is really cute, and doubling on the number of sticks is a really cool move from its evolution from Grookey. On another note, I'm not a big fan of giving the middle stage starters this stereotypical teenager look every single time, I think it can work for some lines but not all of them. So it's pretty refreshing to see they didn't go that hard into that approach for Thwackey.

Last but not least is Rillaboom, which is, in my opinion, the weakest of the three. Which I think is true for the other starter lines as well, but at least Rillaboom is salvageable compared to Intelleon and Cinderace. The first thing that really unsettles me about Rillaboom is how the drums aren't incorporated into his chest but just a random piece of wood it holds. It would have been so cool if it had a literal belly drum, which is a stereotype of gorillas and all, but alas. The leafy hair comes off as super unnecessary to me as well, and the fact that I really dislike "humanizing" Pokémon for the most part may be why I dislike all three final stages as much as I do. Ultimately, Rillaboom is alright though. It has a cool motif about drumming, some nice colors, and a nice-ish look, which easily secures its line as the best starter line this gen; again, not like it's anything too hard to accomplish, though.

Ryota Mitarai

Ryota Mitarai

Grass starters have always been my least favorite ones in every game. Other than Snivy and Turtwig, I generally do not have a particular liking to them. Grookey, design-wise, doesn't enter the list of exclusions. I can't speak to how strong it is in-game or anything like that, but its facial expression + nose don't really fit well together, in my opinion. Furthermore, the hands being orange and not green like the rest of the body is also really weird and doesn't create a feeling of symmetry.

However, I like the way its evolutions transition, mostly because I came up with an amusing (for me) interpretation of how its life was changing with its evolutions. Now, we have Thwackey, having its arms crossed and refusing to be obedient (typical for a monkey, heh). Thwackey does not want to obey others because it knows they are not perfect. It always tries to find a loophole or the smallest mistake in someone's opinions or beliefs. It believes humanity has doomed itself and will destroy itself eventually. Design-wise, I don't really have anything to add.

Finally, we have the final evolution, Rillaboom. Rillaboom decided that it had no place in the imperfect and gross society and to escape on an uninhabitated island, where it'd spend the rest of its life playing bongos, eating bananas (more monkey references, heh), and wondering how the world ended up like this. While I did say I didn't like Grookey, I really like Rillaboom's design. Coupled with a very appealing physical structure and nice contrast of colors, it's fair to say that I really only like Rillaboom and not the rest of the line.

Rabia

Rabia

When we were first shown the starters in the original trailer for SS, I really loved Grookey; I can never forget the silly clip of it beating a rock with a stick that originally drew me to it. I can also appreciate the simplistic design to it; the color scheme works well, and the designers didn't go out of their way to make something way too elaborate. The problems I have with its evolutionary line, however, begin with Thwackey. I have similar issues with Thwackey that I do with Gigantamax Meowth; they literally just expanded Grookey and gave it some awful shade of yellow to get Thwackey. And then there's... Rillaboom. Anyone else familiar with the "uh oh, stinky" meme? Yeah, that's all I can think of when I see Rillaboom. The resemblance between Rillaboom and the primate from that video makes me cringe an unholy amount and has frankly ruined the entire evolutionary line for me. I think Rillaboom overall looks fine—it's about all I could expect from a Grass-type monkey. I just can't get past the echoing screams of "UH OH, STINKY" whenever I see it.

Pikachu315111

Pikachu315111

When the Galar starters' basic stages were revealed, Grookey was the one I wasn't sure about. The green bodysuit, its exposed brown ears and tail, and orange mouth and hands made its design feel messy. What made Grookey stick out was the stick that it carried that it would beat against the ground to make plant life grow. A small detail, but it sets the groundwork for its final evolution that everyone called immediately (yet GameFreak still tried to divert by outright lying that the stick had nothing to do with its evolution; yes, I'm still bitter about that because they outright lied when they could have just not answered).

Sadly Thwackey has "middle stage syndrome;" it doesn't look good. It also doesn't set up Grookey's transition to Rillaboom. It now has two sticks and green rings around its wrists, its long tail has shrunk to being bushy, and it has some green hair sticking out the back of its head; otherwise it's just a taller Grookey. I think it should have shed off the bottom part of its body suit and have the mask be more like a hood revealing its brown hair underneath.

On the flip side, I think Rillaboom looks the best out of the Galar starters' final stages. It's just a gorilla with green Saiyan hair (Broly?); it's simple but with what we've gotten the last few generations I like the simplicity. Rillaboom's complexity comes from something not seen in the stock art: it has evolved into a drummer, and it drums on a tree stump that it carries around on its back. The tree stump even looks like a drum kit a drummer from a rock band would use (like Ringo Starr from The Beatles or, maybe more keeping with the theme, Micky Dolenz when The Monkees started out). Also, extra kudos to the translation team who thought up the name. "Go, Rillaboom!"

Grookey family starts off as the balanced member of the Galar starters, but Rillaboom leans toward a slower, bulky, and physical role that hits hard. The lower Speed isn't a problem thanks to its signature move, Drum Beating, which always lowers the target's Speed. Nice effect, though Wood Hammer hits harder if you don't mind the recoil. Rillaboom's moveset is limited to Grass, Normal, Dark, Fighting, and Ground-type moves, but many have a high Power which accommodates its high Attack. The family's hidden ability is Grassy Surge, which, when released, could give them all a niche now that Tapu Bulu is gone for now (and Grookey can be used in Little Cup).

Grookey family comes in bringin' that jungle conga beat that'll leave you beaten and your ears ringin'.

deetah

deetah

When I first saw Grookey, I instantly fell in love. It is no doubt in my mind the cutest starter of Gen 8. It reminds me a little bit of Chimchar from Gen 4, which made me love it even more. Characterized by its tuft of green leaves held in place with small sticks, pale yellow mask design on its face, and short brown tail, I don't see how it is possible for anyone to dislike this little guy! I can easily imagine Grookey perched on my shoulder as I stroll throughout the Galar region and then jumping onto the grassy routes while using his sticks to play a melodious tune on the soil. A born performer! I see no faults at all with this little dude; I love everything about Grookey. Once Grookey Gang, always Grookey Gang.

Then we have Thwackey. Many people think that it is just a bigger, more bland design of Grookey, but I see the potential here. While the design hasn't changed too much from Grookey's except for a lighter-colored coat and slightly increased height, Thwackey has an admirable sparkle of determination in its eyes that is further emphasized by its crossed arms. It looks like it would belong to the "cool kids" clique in high school or thwack one of its siblings on the head with its sticks if they were being annoying.

Rillaboom is honestly the first gorilla-like Pokémon that we've ever had, with other primates like Oranguru, Primeape, and Passimian based on other species. The design is a big change from Thwackey, as it now looks even more menacing. Some attributes of its design like the leaf patterns on its stomach and chest as well as its thick, grassy hair are very well done and detailed. I also really like its Pokédex entries for Sword & Shield, which describe it as competing with one another in that the better its drumming techniques are, the more it is respected. This ties the concept together well with real-world animals, as often times animals will compete with one another in a pack or tribe to decide which one of them is fit to be the leader.

Codraroll

Codraroll

Like many others above me, I too found Grookey to be my favorite among the Galar starters when they were first revealed. There was something about that cheerful smile and calm demeanor, in contrast to Scorbunny's spotlight-stealing personality or Sobble's whimpers. Grookey is a can-do type of creature that doesn't make a big deal out of it. It would be interesting to see how it changed, I thought.

Boy, how growing up changed Grookey. Thwackey has a perpetual frown, its arms crossed in a passive-aggressive posture, and it appears to have tied its hair up in such a tight knot it broke its stick. Its color scheme has gone from subtle green to sickly yellow, which is even reflected in the eyes. Thwackey has the attitude of a total sourpuss, in stark contrast to the happy and trusting Grookey. I also don't like how the arms don't match the rest of the design at all, or the way the legs are bent. Seriously, how does Thwackey walk, with its knees pointing out at those angles?

Rillaboom looks like the culmination of the sad story that began when Grookey evolved into Thwackey. It decided to quit all pretense of happiness at an early age, became an unruly teenager who rebelled against all authority, made a few unfortunate acquaintances, spent a few years at the fringes of society, tried out a few substances it would never have dared uttering the name of as a child, and during a short stint in jail came to the conclusion that materialism is the root cause of all the problems in society. So it decided to join an urban hippie commune and express its anger towards society through music, and it has finally found contentment in banging PVC pipes against old oil drums and only uses the aforementioned substances in moderation on rare occasions—although more often than it takes a shower. Because, well, when I see Rillaboom, the first thing I think is "stoner back-to-nature hippie drummer," and "Grass-type Pokémon" isn't the second thing either.

Rillaboom's design is too far removed from Grookey and Thwackey, and its posture and demeanor are so humanoid they start invoking stereotypes. But at least it's the least bad of the fully evolved starters this generation, I'll give Rillaboom that.

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

Let's get kooky with Grookey, or whacky with Thwackey? Heck, get a thrilla room with Rillaboom! I'm the kind of person who plays and is usually all about the great play on words to name Pokémon, but this family tree of names just makes me all pukey! (See what I did there?) Let's get to it though: they're well designed and the best looking family of Grass-type starter evolutions in quite a few generations in my opinion, just with poorly thought-out names. Grookey looks cute, Thwackey has attitude, and Rillaboom just looks ready to lay down the law. I appreciate the color scheme on Rillaboom most of all, because it looks like a perfectly tailored monkey suit! Ok, I'm done with the jokes now. Just remember that Grass-type starters aren't really known to look intimidating, and I think Torterra was the last to even come close. Solid A- design for the Grookey family!

JustoonSmitts'

JustoonSmitts

Grookey is pretty solid to me. Everything from its color scheme to its baby-like proportions to its little stick in its hair is just cute. It's sweet, it's simple, it's a design I can see work in the earlier gens. Another thing that Grookey's trailer did right is give these starter Pokémon some semblance of personality. Grookey, in particular, seemed to be fit for the fun-loving, playful bunch of people. I don't know what else to say. It's a good design.

Thwackey, on the other hand, is not a favorite of mine. First of all, I hate that pukey-olive green color they gave its fur. That shade of yellow for the eyes doesn't really fit it, and those wrist bands are not an appealing shade of green, either. It makes me wish they had stuck with some earthier shade of green to correspond with the next stage in its evolution line. Thwakey's color scheme seems more like a bad shiny to me. The design itself would probably be better to me if Thwackey had some sort of semblance to a neck. Right now, it just looks a bit stretched-out Grookey to me. However, I do think it has a cute face, and I kind of like how it keeps its sticks in its hair to make it look like a bun. Not a great design, but far from the worst middle stage this gen.

Rillaboom is a pretty okay design to me. I like that it gets a drum to play to really complete the music transition, but where does it keep it? In its groove-like hair? The hairdo is pretty fun, and I think the colors work for this design. On the other hand, I kind of wish they had kept it as a monkey. Something like a macaque would have been cool. I'm okay with the ape design, but I get more of a chimpanzee vibe from this than gorilla. Maybe make it more stylized, like give it bigger arm muscles and really exaggerate the chest a bit. But as is, Rillaboom isn't bad. I suppose some people will like its more even proportions, but it's just not a favorite of mine. Darmanitan is a more fun gorilla Pokémon to me.

Blitzamirin

Blitzamirin

Grookey is awesome! From its debut, we've all seen its core concept in the musical aspect with its stick, and that's combined the simplicity of a green monkey. This makes for a design that I quickly became fond of, and it only got better as its personality and Dex entries revealed more information about it. Not only is it energetic and endlessly curious, but it can also grow grass—indeed, this lore is backed up by it being blessed with the Grassy Surge ability, the only LC-eligible Pokémon to have a Terrain-setting ability, and while it is currenty unreleased, it is sure to make Grookey an even more attractive option for other Trainers out there!

Thwackey is unfortunately a downgrade to Grookey—hell, initially when this Pokémon was leaked, my thoughts were that it just looked like a convincing fake! While its design still isn't my favorite, Thwackey has some things going for it. For one, it can take the sticks out of its head and use them as weapons (just like Grookey), and the makeshift hair that the sticks create makes Thwackey look intimidating for a middle evolution, especially with the official art's pose. It's also a Pokémon that can go so hard in jamming that it doesn't even notice that the opposing Pokémon is already knocked out—whether this means it plays some sick tunes or it makes other Pokémon want to be put out of their misery is a question to be answered.

Rillaboom ties in its line's core concept in a way most didn't expect: it loses the visible sticks, gains a wooden drum while growing a beautifly flowing grass mane, and jumps into battle with a wooden drum. Additionally, some of its moves like Drum Beating, Boomburst, and Stomping Tantrum complement the theme while also adding to just how imposing it looks, and it makes for a really sick design overall. However, one has to question where the drum is stored, as Game Freak has shown us this yet—it would have been cool if the official art had it incorporated coming out of its hair.

Max. Optimizer

Max. Optimizer

Firstly, Scorbunny is yet another starter Pokémon where you can tell right off the bat that it will make for a vigorous, bouncy partner, bursting with energy and ready to kick off your journey across the Galar region. James Turner greatly managed to place the emphasis on this Pokémon's seemingly tireless stamina by adding the "band-aid" to its forehead. This reminds of actual football players that get fouled on the pitch and that normally get back up again after an injury and continue to play after a quick check by the team's doctor. Since football is deeply rooted in England's sports scene, it is not the least bit surprising that we ended up with a football-themed Pokémon in the Galar region.

Secondly, Raboot is the literal "warm up phase" of this evolution family, not just because they're all Fire-type Pokémon, but also because it is wearing the typical clothes that football players wear while warming up before a match, including the sweatband that has now replaced the "band-aid" from before. I also interpreted this design choice as a way of showing that Scorbunny has trained and matured enough to the point where it is not injured as easily anymore. Again, Mr. Turner greatly managed to playfully, yet skillfully, fit in as many references as possible to the real-life motifs that these Pokémon are based on. Sports, much like music making in the case of Grookey's evolution family, is a characteristic that is typically associated with humans and I do not see any reasons as to why Pokémon should be excluded from partaking in these activities. In this sense, Mr. Turner is also making a reference to Tyrogue's evolution family and Passimian, other fun Pokémon that are known for partaking in sports like martial arts and rugby, respectively. Unlike Thwackey's case in Grookey's evolution family, it is not the slightest bit surprising that Raboot stayed bipedal, and it is also pretty much guaranteed this far into the evolution family that the final evolution stage will stay bipedal as well.

Finally, Cinderace is the last element that perfectly rounds off the football leitmotif that can be found in every corner of the Galar region, ranging from the Gym battle stadiums, the singing fans, and the troublesome hooligans to your customized football jersey. Cinderace gets to shine the most when it uses its signature move Pyro Ball, during which it skillfully dribbles with a rock before kicking it, just like an actual football player. Even the way in which it celebrates on its knees is similar to how football players celebrate in front of their fans after scoring a goal for their team. Ultimately, I think that it is not a coincidence that the football player starter is a bunny, I am inclined to believe that it is a reference to "gym bunny", a term used to describe people that exercize religiously to improve their physique. All in all, if you are a football fan, then this is the perfect starter for you.

Repu

Repu

Scorbunny isn't a risky design. It's cute because it was meant to be cute. I would say its design is the safest among Generation 8 starters, since players are more likely to choose it. But, at the same time, this is quite sad, because Scorbunny's design doesn't make me want to jump from my chair and say "this Pokémon looks awesome!". Fire starters are well known for usually being associated with the Fighting type, which makes Scorbunny design looks less creative. Another negative point I have against it is that I was expecting it to be Fire- and Electric-type, since it seems to be a very energetic Pokémon. But that's a dream I apparently have to forget, although Libero does make up for it (not much, but just a bit).

Interestingly enough, I don't have anything against Raboot's design. In fact, I strangely like it, although its color scheme could easily match Scorbunny's and Cinderace's more. A fun curiosity about it (and this really caught my attention) is that Raboot uses its fur as pockets to avoid using its hands while attacking or training his kicking skills. This really reminds me of Inazuma Eleven's crazy training sections, when the characters trained into cramped rooms or used barrels around themselves to train their mobility. It was pretty nonsense to me at the time, and I used to ask myself if it actually worked, but it was fun to watch anyway. Inazuma Eleven was an anime that used to appear on TV here in Brazil around 2009-2011, and it leaves me with a warm feeling of nostalgia when I feel Raboot is just like a character of that show.

As for Cinderace, it's needless to say its athletic body type clearly could be of a Fire / Fighting type, but Gamefreak must be aware fans already had enough of this combination and therefore made it only Fire type. It surely will be in a lot of football-related Pokémon artworks and, although I'm not a football fan myself, I really dig its concept thematically, especially because football is overly present in my country. Yet again a warm feeling catches me off guard, and while I'm writting this, Cinderace made more goals while I wasn't looking.

Tiksi'

Tiksi

I liked Scorbunny a bunch at initial reveal. But the more I look at it, the less I like it, and the more it looks like your generic cutesy rabbit made excitable to the brink of heart failure by some mixture of caffeine and illegal drugs. Except add random color patterns with no rhyme or reason besides general fire theming. Why does it have the feet stripes and a band-aid on its forehead? They're pads that emit enough heat to set the ground on fire? Well, good thing they put the lobotomy bandage right next to the most meltable parts of its exterior! If you divert your eyes from fire safety, someone else could lose theirs. I guess. Thanks for the nightmares.

Overall rating: Not Awful, But Not Compelling Or Coherent, And This Region Has So Many Amazing Designs So Why Bother Unless You Know The Final Evolution Already? / 10. It's fine.

You'll notice that I said "final evolution" and not "future evolutions". There's no need to mince words here. Raboot is a 13-year old Scorbunny that became a ninja for no reason, and it doesn't do it well. The only "boot" present will be my boot to its forehead as I banish it to a new home across the Channel. Not out of true hatred, just from general contempt.

Cinderace, as the final evolution, rescues the line from the terrible middle evolution and wisely abandons basically all of Raboot's ideas. After examining Grookey's line, this feels familiar... But while I merely entertained the idea that Grookey's middle evolution was shoved into a planned two-stage line, here the disconnect between Raboot and the rest is flat-out jarring.

Similarities between Scorbunny and Cinderace: white body, tall center ears, yellow pattern on ears, open mouth, body exposed below neck, monochrome arms, tufts of hair on face, kicking in their poses, boisterous air.

Similarities between Raboot and Cinderace: black legs, eyes that aren't circles... having a center tuft of hair at all, I guess? I'm stretching here.

Enough about context, let's actually give Cinderace the spotlight itself, because it deserves one. Making a football kicker Pokémon that isn't ridiculously dorky and lame is hard! Yet it carries its difficult concept and ambitious color scheme with the perfect amounts of poise and flair. The in-game model doesn't do it full justice, but it still exudes a calm yet determined focus. And a pinch of fun excitement in that smile. If you aren't convinced (it does look a bit unassuming, I thought it was the intermediate at first), go watch it use Pyro Ball. You see the solid groundwork and foundation of this Pokémon shine through as it does a routine that is so close to being cliché. But it isn't. Gorgeous.

Kalalokki'

Kalalokki

With a kick of flame
Energy never dying
Liberation now

Estronic

Estronic

I promised myself to pick Scorbunny as soon as the starters were revealed, and I'm pretty happy that I stuck with it in the end. Sure, the evolution line has its flaws, but I don't think they're particularly glaring compared to the other two. Scorbunny is rather generic, but it think its design is still pretty good, though the thick arms and spaghetti legs don't really pair well together. Otherwise, I don't really have much else to say. Moving onward, Raboot is the most unique out of all the starters, as I believe it's the most "human" out of all of them. Is that a good thing? Not really, considering Pokémon are supposed to be pocket "monsters;" however, Raboot for some reason clicked with me. The fact that it looks like it's wearing athletic wear is pretty funny to me, and it honestly fits well with the evolution line. It reminds me of a high school soccer player who really doesn't want to be there but just really wants to play. Again, though, its arms are just not a good vibe. Cinderace tops it all off, and I think it's a pretty good one. It definitely has the most energy out of the other final evolutions, and that's what makes it interesting. The little details in its design aren't really flashy, but there's just enough to convey its uniqueness and give it a personality. Maybe I'm rating Cinderace so highly because of my bias from choosing Scorbunny, but when you look at Rillaboom and Inteleon, the soccer rabbit stands out pretty significantly. Once again, however, those arms will always bother me to no end.

Lyd

lyd

The Scorbunny line is an interesting one, I'll give you that. Somehow one of my favorite Galar Pokémon and one of my least favorite Galar Pokémon are all in the same line. Yes, I'm one of those people who hate Cinderace... But more on that later, I think Raboot and especially Scorbunny are amazing Pokémon, and it really disappoints me to see where they went with Cinderace. Now let's go more in depth about each.

Scorbunny's design is simple, but it doesn't need much. It's charismatic, jolly, and cheerful, and the white color scheme looks great with the bandages as extra design features it just works flawlessly. The little flames it leaves behind when running and the bouncy battle animation are just icing on the cake (kind of a tangent, but I wish more Pokémon had a battle animation like Scorbunny, Game Freak we all know you can do it). It's definitely up there as one of my favorites this gen, and for a good reason.

Raboot goes on the edgy teenager phase I hate about middle stage starters, but it's not that bad this time around because Raboot still looks really nice. The three tuffs with the lowered ears are just such a vibe, lol. I appreciate the direction with the color scheme a lot too; hard to go wrong with red, white, and black. Such a triumphant color scheme. Still, the direction Raboot seems to be going at doesn't please me. Like I've said countless times, most humanized Pokémon really aren't my thing, and Raboot surely goes in that direction.

Now Cinderace is the culmination of the needlessly humanized starters. I understand the soccer player motif and it's definitely a cool one, but did they really need to give it fur pants and almost a tank top?! Really? It looks awful! Its face also just doesn't look right to me; I really don't know what throws me off so much about it, but it just really doesn't look good. While that shade of blue is great and would probably work well with the red and white, when you mesh it with the yellow highlights it just comes as awkward to me. I think they could have made a much better starter with this motif, but alas, Cinderace just straight up looks bad to me.

Ryota Mitarai

Ryota Mitarai

Scorbunny has always been my favorite Gen 8 starter, and it continues to be. I find the colors to fit well together, and I generally like the yellow-orange spectrum (sorry Grookey's hands, you are an exception). Scorbunny is also very cheerful, which makes you want to have it as your companion. If you were to put it in a school society, Scorbunny would be the kind of student that is attractive through its positivity and is liked by everyone but is generally regarded as "not intelligent" and "gullible."

Scorbunny's evolutions are my favorite for this starter lineup. Similarly to Grookey, I can come up with an interpretation on how its life changed with its evolutions. After evolving into Raboot, it realized how gullible it was and that one can only trust themselves. It decided to roam at night and to rob a store or two sometimes, merely for the fun. However, it was always wondering if it would be ever able to trust someone again. I like how its colors change to darker upon evolution, something like illustrating how a very happy child is facing the difficulties of teen life and slowly but surely is turning sadder and colder upon growing up.

Finally, we have Cinderace, which has got its bright colors back, implying that it got over its teen issues. Cinderace now fights for the good people; it does not tolerate liars, cheaters, or manipulators that try to take advantage of the good people in the world. It is now much more open to others, but is still cautious about trusting someone too much. In addition, it is always liked, just as always, but this time due to its beliefs and values. I already mentioned that its colors turning bright again is my favorite part of the final evolution. As a whole, I think Scorbunny line is the best starter line design-wise.

Rabia

Rabia

God, I was so upset when I first saw Scorbunny entirely because I thought it would be a Fire / Fighting type Pokémon come its final stage. And yet somehow, I was left even more disappointed by it lacking any sort of secondary typing. I mean, there's nothing inherently wrong with this line, I guess, but the designs of the three don't really match up. Scorbunny and Cinderace look similar enough, but then there's Raboot just kind of thrown in there. Why did we go from a ninja to a soccer player? It just doesn't make any sense to me, and to top it all off the evolutionary line as a whole is really bland. Competitively, I appreciate the new move Court Change we got from these guys, but design-wise I feel the mark was missed.

Pikachu315111

Pikachu315111

I'm biased toward the Fire starters, so I was all on board with Scorbunny. I do think it looks like the best Galar starter in its basic stage. Simple design, good color balance, and no part feels tacked on. Like many of the first-stage Fire starters, it doesn't have a visible flame but alludes to one with its orange-tipped ears. Still not convinced? Its Dex entries explain that the yellow patches on its feet and nose generate flames once it's warmed up and ready to run. "Run" being the key word here; many predicted the route its evolution line was going to take, so let's not delay any longer.

Raboot drops the pretense by growing body markings that looks like a tracksuit and through its nose strip rising up to become a sweatband. Looking at both side by side, I wouldn't blame you for thinking they were part of different families. However, I do like the design even if it's a sudden shift; it definitely sets it up for the final stage, as it's now literally training to become it. I also like the track suit details, such as it having a high collar and a stomach pouch it can put its hand in.

But playtime is over. Rillaboom may look like a Saiyan and Inteleon may be a spy, but Cinderace is the true shonen protagonist. It's now a full-fledged soccer... What? I'm from the US and that's what we call it. Yes, I know Galar is based on the UK. Does it matter? *Sigh,* fine... it's now a full-fledged football star! I like it! Its tracksuit has turned into a fiery-looking uniform, and the yellow sweatband has turned into a face ornament that resembles a torch (you know, like the one the Olympic flame is transported in). I think it's the combination of both that's giving off that "shonen protagonist" vibe people are getting from Cinderace; the standard article of clothing with a standout detail that marks a character as the main character (like Goku's orange gi with the "Turtle Hermit" emblem). It kicking fireballs also doesn't hurt. And no, that's not mascara under its eyes, it's strips of glare-reducing grease you've seen athletes wearing called "eye black". Come on, get your head in the game!

From the start, the Scorbunny family focuses on being fast and physical attackers. Cinderace comes with not one but two signature moves. Most famous is Pyro Ball, a physical version of Fire Blast but more accurate and with one of the coolest animations Pokémon ever produced. The second is the last move it learns via level-up, Court Change, which switches field effects (notably entry hazards; notably Stealth Rock). Cinderace still isn't done; it has a signature hidden ability, Libero, which is a copy of Protean! Sadly, Cinderace's movepool is lacking in power, but all its signature skills may well make up for that.

Cinderace runs up to the target, kicks a Pyro Ball, KNOCK OOOOOUUUUUTTTTT!!!!! And it's not even part Fighting type (though is still bipedal)!

deetah

deetah

Scorbunny is honestly my least favorite design of the three first stages. It looked like it could potentially be another candidate for the dreadful Fire / Fighting typing in its later stages. Many of us were hoping for a unique typing for its final stage; I myself thought it could potentially sport a Fire / Electric typing. While Scorbunny is a bit cute, it has quite a few bandages across its body. Because of this, I can't help but imagine it as an extremely clumsy bunny with dreams of being a ninja, but it lacks the stealthiness necessary to be one and keeps injuring itself. Overall, I get the vibe of an extremely energetic little kid that is lost in their own imagination, acting as a superhero or villain. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.

Raboot is a large improvement from its pre-evolution, with its design being a big transition. The bandages have been ripped off, and Raboot has been gifted a full-on tracksuit. After years of training, it has finally become stealthy enough to pass as a soccer player with the skills of a ninja. I can now see Raboot training constantly, with dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. The tracksuit looks very handy for when it is practicing in colder temperatures. Its Pokédex entry for Pokémon Shield describes its method of training by juggling Berries from trees with its feet in order to practice its footwork. This reminds me of a game we used to play sometimes in school using a hacky sack. Basically, you use your feet to juggle the hacky sack and pass it to other players.

Cinderace completes this starter line, with its years of training finally paying off. It has made it BIG, and by big I mean to the big leagues. After juggling Berries from trees with its feet every day for years as a Raboot, it has managed to develop a signature move utilizing this technique: Pyro Ball. Cinderace kicks a small stone into the air and ignites it, using its juggling skills to pass it around and then kick it full speed at the target. I must admit, that's pretty sick. I wasn't the biggest fan of Cinderace at first when I saw its design, but it slightly grew on me as time went on. I can definitely see people and Pokémon alike sitting down on a chill afternoon and watching a soccer match between dozens of Cinderace, them kicking and passing a flaming Pyro Ball to their teammates and trying to score.

Codraroll

Codraroll

Before the games were even announced, I suspected that the Fire-type starters would be the hardest designs to sell to me. For literally as long I have followed Pokémon news, fully-evolved Fire-type starters have always turned up in the form of a bipedal design, usually resembling a sort of martial artist, no matter what the first stage looked like. First stage is a chicken? Have a martial artist. First stage is a monkey? Okay, I can tolerate a martial monkey. First stage is a piglet? Surprise, have a martial artist. First stage is a desert fox? Have a magical artist! First stage is a housecat? Martial artist again, as if the minuscule change to the formula the generation before would excuse going back to the habits we've all grown so tired of. By this point, I was really fed up with humanlike martial artist Fire-type starters. So when Scorbunny was announced as an energetic, bipedal bunny, bouncy and athletic from the onset, I immediately gave up. There was no way its final evolution wouldn't be exactly what I had feared.

And to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Cinderace delivered on that promise. Predictably as clockwork, the designers deliver a humanoid, human-size rabbit furry focused on kicking. Presumably, the only thing stopping them from giving it a secondary Fighting typing was the prospect of figurative crucifixion by angry fans. But honestly, that would simply have been the cherry on top of a cake nobody wanted. The problem extends deeper than the typing of the starters. It's the humanization of the starter Pokémon that has gone way too far at this point. The starters look less and less like the pet pal you trained from puppyhood, and more and more like a guy in a fancy costume. Cinderace is first and foremost a soccer player with rabbit characteristics. It has a human face, human limbs, a human posture, and exaggerated human proportions. The animal it's based on only provides secondary characteristics, like a tiny bunny tail and giant ears. It is too job-ified for me to like it. And so are both the other fully evolved starters this generation. I suspect it is because the designers want them to convey certain attitudes or moods, and doing so through human facial expressions and gestures is easier than it would be for, for instance, Torterra or Serperior. But it seriously diminishes my impression of these Pokémon.

Oh, and Raboot who?

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

It's better to be lucky than good, right? Not usually, but in Scorbunny's case, that may be the only thing left to work with. Obviously a runner, and not a fighter, Scorbunny's family looks like a group of cross country runners looking for a runner's high. The color scheme to this entire evolution line is nasty, bland, and lacking in imagination. I understand the concept of trying to keep with the fire theme based on their names, but there are more than three of four colors of flames, so I'm fairly certain they could have shifted colors and made Cinderace REALLY stand out. Make the soles of Cinderace's feet look like a bright blue flame, or make the front of the body sunset orange. There were so many options left on the table to get great colors of fire for this family, and instead, they all look like used charcoal ready to be tossed aside.

JustoonSmitts'

JustoonSmitts

Scorbunny was probably my favorite from the get-go. I had a hard time choosing between this and Sobble as my favorite, but I think Scorbunny's line as a whole is much better. To begin, I think Scorbunny's color scheme is what allows it to stand out from the other Fire-types. Instead of yellow or orange, it's primarily white with yellow and orange accents. I also like it's slightly more exaggerated proportions. It feels like it has some inspiration from Max of "Sam and Max" fame. I also enjoyed its energy from the trailer and the fact that it makes fire by running. That was creative to me. I only wish it was Fire / Electric, but alas. C'est la vie...

Even though I don't like it's name, Raboot is easily the best middle evolution of the starters this gen. I know a lot of people see it and think it's a ninja doing the Naruto run, but to me it looks like a hoodie. It even has fuzzy pockets! Again, the color scheme is nice and I like that that yellow band-aid on Scorbunny's nose has turned into a training band, making it feel as if it's getting a bit stronger with every stage. It even has this personality in-game that makes it seem like it's more concentrated on training than anything. I just really dig this one.

Cinderace is easily the best of the final evolutions. It keeps Scorbunny's color scheme, and I love it the idea of it becoming a soccer (or football to all the non-American readers out there) player. It's weird, but I always had a hunch that this was what Scorbunny's theme would be. It's pretty great. It's cute, it's got personality, it's just plain good. The only thing I would update are the hands. I personally would have given it small, anthropomorphic hands to match its anthropomorphic design instead of bunny feetsies, but I guess it's okay. It looks better in the artwork than it does in-game.

Blitzamirin

Blitzamirin

Scorbunny is easily one of the worst Gen 8 designs. I love most of the new designs from Generation 8, but this thing was ruined for me from the get-go. That ridiculous band-aid that doesn't look natural, those feet that still have more dumb bandages and the ugly buckteeth... not to mention the combination of some of these traits making people believe it would be another Fire/Fighting starter (and one of the dex entries doesn't really help in this regard). Upon witnessing its evolutions, Scorbunny just got worse for me because of what it COULD have been...

Raboot is my ideal Scorbunny—when I saw this evolution, I was absolutely floored at how much of an improvement it was over its base forme. Raboot adopts a ninja-esque appearance with a headband, red scarf, and black fur that makes it look like it's ready to do espionage. To this, add the soccer element that is still very much present and you get a design that's multi-purpose while being elegant. Arguably my favorite of the line, and I wish this was the concept they went with for the whole line.

Cinderace loses the ninja-esque attributes of its pre-evolution but also improves on the obnoxious features present in Scorbunny and emphasizes the soccer aspect exponentially with its animations. It also gets a colorful moveset that showcases this with moves like Pyro Ball, Court Change, Double Kick, Counter, Headbutt, Electro Ball, Shadow Ball, and Focus Blast. Additionally, its hidden ability in Libero serves as both a term that manifests its soccer-theme and makes it an even more powerful Pokémon.

Max. Optimizer

Max. Optimizer

Firstly, just by looking at Sobble, it becomes clear that it stands in great contrast to the other two Pokémon that the Galar region's starter lineup has to offer us. While Grookey and Scorbunny are without a doubt playful bundles of energy, Sobble is more of a reserved and vulnerable scaredy-cat. While many people initially poked fun at Sobble for being a crybaby, I still feel like it was a good design choice, since having another, third, sportive bundle of energy would have made the trio look too unimaginative. After having had a monkey that "branches out" as an aspiring musician and a "gym bunny" that "warms up" while training to become a football player, James Turner greatly manages to complete and balance out the starter trio that was predominantly energetic and cheerful up until now with the help of a Water-type that is notorious for tearing up easily.

Secondly, Drizzile is unfortunately one of these middle evolution stages that suffer from the aforementioned "awkward puberty phase" symptoms and reminds me a lot of Dartrix in a sense. Its hairstyle is without a doubt a direct reference of the "emo" hairstyle that used to be popular among certain groups of teenagers over a decade ago. This is a rather fitting stylistic choice, considering how notoriously angsty and emotional Sobble is. The bipedal body posture that Sobble adopts when growing up to become a Drizzile is also suddenly a lot more aggressive, pretty much confirming already at this point that the final evolution stage was going to be bipedal as well.

Finally, Inteleon is where Mr. Turner genuinely subverted my expectations. I would have never expected to see Sobble, a literal crybaby, turn into a secret agent or hitman. The slick design that is without a doubt a reference to James Bond already implies that Inteleon is an incredibly fast Pokémon, and I was fairly surprised to find out that it stays mono Water, as opposed to becoming a Water / Dark dual type Pokémon, in order to fit the predominant themes of "stealth" and "mystery" that are related to secret agents. Fittingly enough, Inteleon actually uses finger guns in order to perform its moves like Snipe Shot that are further complemented by its hidden ability Sniper, allowing it to give it its best shot to take out its targets with critical hit moves boosted to 225% damage. In this sense, Inteleon strongly reminds me of Greninja, another incredibly fast slick amphibian Water-type starter that is based on the concept of yet another kind of mercenary after all: the shinobi. Unlike Greninja, however, Inteleon has neither access to Protean as a hidden ability, nor to Camouflage as an Egg move, two elements that would have reinforced the motif of the stealthy agent. Ultimately, you cannot judge a book by its cover, and Inteleon turned out just fine in the end, starting by tearing up as a Sobble and ending with reducing opposing Pokémon to tears for a change as an Inteleon later on.

Repu

Repu

Speaking about Sobble, if I were to describe how I feel about it, I share with it the same feeling I have towards Totodile. Totodile has a great design in its evolution line, but it suffers from a terrible and rather common case of "oh, but it evolves." Totodile is cute, but "oh, it evolves." Sobble is cute, but "oh, it evolves." You get the idea. While I find Totodile's and Sobble's designs really great, when I look at their evolutions, they're a downgrade in comparison to their first stage. Sobble is a very good example of "becoming bipedal doesn't necessarily mean becoming better."

When I first looked at Drizzile, I was afraid it would become a copy of Froakie's evolution line. Greninja is a very popular Pokémon after all, and I wouldn't be surprised if Game Freak tried to play safe and mimic a more successful Pokémon concept and design. After I saw to what Game Freak was going for with Inteleon's spy theme, I started to think Drizzile is less like a ninja and more like a REALLY cautious chameleon. Just by looking to how its eyes and composure were drawn, I would say Drizzile would be the kind of guy that, when it's walking to the other side of the road, hasn't looked to both sides enough. While it's walking, it keeps looking to the right and the left constantly, so much at the point of being quite annoying. I'm really relieved Game Freak hasn't copied a much better Pokémon evolution line and in fact brings to us a quite funny concept of Pokémon to make jokes about.

Following Drizzile's logic of being too cautious, Inteleon surely is the definition of cautiousness. Since it's a spy Pokémon, its design and composure certainly must help it hitting targets without calling too much attention. Also, I definitely can't make enough comparisons between Inteleon and Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho, one of the few old animes blessed with a good dubbed version in Brazil. This is something I can't be blamed about, since Inteleon can shoot water from its fingertips at Mach 3 speed, according to the official Pokémon Sword and Shield website. I'm not an expert when it comes to physics, but I can tell that if a Formula 1 (F1) car and Inteleon's finger shots were to race, Inteleon not only would always win, but also cause some PRETTY hefty damage to whatever is in front of it, reaffirming the phrase "eliminate your targets before they can even notice what hit them." The only qualm I have about Inteleon is the fact it's really hard to compare it with its first stage Sobble, leaving me to guess that the only characteristic they share is that, while reloading its finger guns, Inteleon must use its tears to recharge them.

Tiksi'

Tiksi

OK, I should probably just confess that Sobble and its family are three out of my four favorite starter line Pokémon this generation, and I picked Sobble whilst playing Pokémon Shield... With that done, though, we're starting off with Sobble, the adorable little ball it seems I'm definitely not in the minority to love. And really, what else needs to be said? It is precious. It is. Accept it!

I've seen fewer people on the Drizzile train, though. And even if it is the weakest in the line, to me it is definitely serviceable in its own right, perhaps even solidly above average. Unlike the painful and jagged transitions faced by the earlier two lines, Sobble's metamorphosis into this derpy, beloved (by me!) lizard feels perfectly natural. The perky sea spray color to match Sobble's aggressive need for protection and care fades into a deeper blue-and-green set, now echoing a leisurely marsh or fen as well as the slightly more low-key angst of Drizzile's teenage years. Just like its younger self, Drizzile feels perfectly at home squatting about as a pseudo-biped or getting along on all fours.

Speaking of bipedalism... last is one among my five favorite new Pokémon, Inteleon. Yes, I like it more than Sobble. Yes, I love that it stands on two legs, even though I spent plenty of time criticizing Thwackey and Rillaboom for that, and even though imagine this beast crawling towards you at top speed across floors and walls alike is pants-wettingly terrifying. But here, it flows. It makes perfect sense that a cool sniper would stand in the way to best survey their opponents on the field, its gangly legs mesh perfectly with its calm, unassuming vibe, and seeing it descend from the air using its cape is much more powerful when it assumes more height on descent. And we can't forget its tremendous poise and stage presence. Just look at it cackle upon Dynamaxing! Its claws, its pale yellow eyes (seeing Inteleon get its eyelids in order for Snipe Shot's animation is still so cool), its spindly tail... all of these perfectly tuned touches give it heaps of panache without becoming garish or overconfident. Indeed, my Inteleon would never be overconfident. He just has a superiority complex because he knows he is better than you.

Kalalokki'

Kalalokki

Drops of tears turn sly
With a sight to snipe the foe
It will all rain down

Estronic

Estronic

I had hope for Sobble. I knew that its evolution line was going to be the least popular, but my gut was telling me it was going to be a grand dark horse. But when I saw Sobble's middle and final formes, I could see why it always cries. Sobble is probably the best design out of the three Water-types, and even then it still has some flaws. Its face is hilarious humongous for its body, and its arms and legs looks like wishbones. Its charm still got to many in the community; however, I wouldn't be surprised if those people abandoned it upon it evolving. Drizzile looks like someone took Sobble and stretch it out like dough, and it going through an emo phase doesn't really help. It's just so incredibly bland that there's barely anything to talk about. When we move on to the final evolution, though, things get interesting. Well, interestingly bad. Inteleon drops being emo and becomes a secret agent somehow, and while that concept is cool on paper, it might've been best to save it for a different Pokémon. There's literally nothing besides their color palette that clearly shows that Inteleon is in the same evolution line as Sobble; its head goes some way to big to way to small, its torso is so abnormally stretched out, and the development from being sad all the time to being a sassy secret agent barely has any correlation, especially considering the emo phase in between. There's really not much to say other than that this evolution line is probably the biggest disappointment in Sword and Shield for me. I might join Sobble and cry myself.

Lyd

lyd

Last and probably least as well is the Sobble line. The change of body shape from Drizzile to Inteleon is remarkably odd, and the sob gimmick seems to be left out for Intelleon, which is pretty lame as well. But the main problem I have with this line is that none of these Pokémon spark much of an interest on me in their own merits, and there are a couple cohesion issues too.

Sobble on its own isn't that bad, though, the least bad of the three for sure. But it just feels bland and uninteresting to me; other first-stage Water starters like Popplio, Froakie, Oshawott, and others manage to show way more personality than Sobble, which is literally just a crybaby. The color scheme is nice though, and I suppose the thing about it camouflaging on water was nice and foreshadowed its evolution; they definitely should have expanded more on that, though, I feel.

Drizzile has that typical emo middle evo teenager look, which I actually think it's fine-ish here, because it evolves from Sobble after all. The body shape is coherent with Sobble's, the color scheme is still interesting, and the water balloon thing was a really clever thing to foreshadow the water gun spy. But that still doesn't help the fact that Drizzile just feels like it's a link between two super different Pokémon in Sobble and Inteleon. and it's just trying to act as a weird link, keeping a bit of the characteristics of both but just feeling pointless because of it.

Inteleon is the main problem of the line in my opinion. The body shape change is super jarring and just looks plain bad. If there's any Pokémon uglier than Cinderace, it's this one. I guess the color scheme is still alright, and the idea of a water gun Pokémon is rather clever, but that's it for positives.

Ryota Mitarai

Ryota Mitarai

Sobble definitely didn't win me when I first saw it either. I feel like people could end up just replacing the shocked Pikachu meme with this fella's artwork. But now, onto the interpretations I have created for this line, Sobble was the type of student that was scared of socializing with its peers. So in the end, it ended up being distanced from the others. No one really bothered to become friends with it, which made Sobble calmer, as it didn't have to socialize now.

After getting into its teens, Drizzile stopped caring about what others thought of it and preferred either listening to music on its headphones, completing the Pokédex in Sword and Shield, or just doing something on a handheld console. It was also, for unexplained reasons, attracted to techno music and did weird robot dances every time it heard some techno music. In terms of the design, I agree that it is original in that it gives off the impression that I described in my mini fanfic, but it isn't something that really attracts me or looks appealing to me.

Finally, Drizzile evolved into a water version of Randall from Monsters, Inc. Its lack of care for anything, its life included, attracted the CIA's attention and made it into a top secret agent! However, it is also very strict to rules and will raise its finger as soon as it sees, hears, or senses that a rule has been broken. I do like the "costume" that they gave it, but it'd have been more interesting if it also had a secondary typing so we could create more specific interpretations on what this "costume" is. I also don't like its finger pointing, it always gives me bad vibes. I guess it was so ignorant that it never learned that it was rude to point fingers like this.

Rabia

Rabia

There is almost nothing redeemable to these Pokémon, at least in my eyes. First we have Sobble, which looks fine enough? I still don't really know what it's supposed to be quite frankly; I've been told it's a lizard of some kind, but it just looks so... odd. Drizzile is quite frankly an abomination. Like, I have absolutely no idea what they were going through here. It's almost as if they viewed Sobble as a crybaby child and Drizzile as the same child in a middle school emo phase. And dear lord is the color palette AWFUL; that nasty baby barf green on its extremities is so abhorrent, and the weird dark shade of blue just doesn't do it for me here. Then we get to Inteleon, and in a vacuum I can sort of appreciate its design; they went with a spy theme here, and it overall looks fine enough. The problem is... we just had a humanoid lizard. Literally last generation. Did they just forget Salazzle existed? I'm not against recycling similar ideas, but the fact it was in Generation 7 that we got Salazzle upsets me a little bit. I would've been okay with Inteleon in Generation 9 I think, and frankly I'm not super against it per se in the current generation. I just think it would've been nicer to have a bit of time between the releases of the two.

Pikachu315111

Pikachu315111

Sobble I was neutral on. I liked how the fact it was based on a finned chameleon gave it some visual identity, though the fin part of its design looks a bit tacked on. Its shy nature and trigger crying gave it the "woobie" status, and, while I'd want to protect it, I wouldn't want to bring it into battle (even if its tears produced enough syn-propanethial-S-oxide to leave its foe wanting to wring their eyes out).

Drizzile looks like a natural evolution for Sobble and a transitional bridge from it to Inteleon. For that alone I actually like it, so I am declaring the Sobble family the best looking of the Galar starters' middle stages. And, oh boy, does Drizzile look like a teenager. Its fin combed down into the eye-covering emo hairdo, the "whatever" expression, and its Dex entries adding that it can be clever but lazy and that when it goes to its [S]room[/S] territory it sets up traps so it can be alone (and those traps are water balloons, because it's still immature). Before I would have said that Quilava is probably the best "teenager" representation of the starter middle stages because of the flame mohawk, but now Drizzile has taken that title and angst-ing all over it.

Get a job Drizzile. "Fine, I'll become an international spy and then you'll respect me!". And so it did. Now physically I can see how Drizzile evolved into Inteleon, it's just the jump from angsty teen to spy that throws me off. The theme of the Galar starters' final stages looks to be popular UK phenomena. Rillaboom is a British Beat movement rock band drummer, and Cinderace is a [S]soccer[/S] football star, so I guess that means Inteleon is James Bond. It has the sleek and sophisticated look (which I initially had an issue with, but I think the in-game model in motion looks better), the "gadgets" such as membranes it can use to glide or pinpoint its target weaknesses, and the license to kill, as it can spray water from its fingertips at Mach 3 (that's the same amount of speed that allows a water jet cutter to cut through steel).

The Sobble family are fast special attackers; Inteleon is even faster than Cinderace! However, this does come at a cost, as it's even more fragile. Its signature move, Snipe Shot, is a bit disappointing; it isn't all that powerful, and its secondary effect just means it doesn't get redirected by moves like Follow Me or abilities like Storm Drain. You may want to stick with Surf (more power) or Scald (more useful secondary effect). Its movepool is limited but gives it all the options it needs to get the job done, but its hidden ability is Sniper, which I don't think would be making any waves when released (and also makes me curious why Snipe Shot doesn't have an increased critical hit ratio).

Code number: 818. Cover name: Karma Chameleon. License to knock out: Approved.

deetah

deetah

Sobble is my second favorite starter of the three. It looks so curious and innocent; honestly adorable. As you could probably tell from its name, it cries constantly, especially when scared. You can't help but feel bad for this little guy and want to scoop it up and comfort it. My favorite aspects of Sobble's design are its yellow fin, curly blue tail, and big doe-like eyes. These attributes add to its innocence and peculiar look of curiosity. I also am fascinated with the idea of it being able to camouflage itself by changing its color when wet. I can imagine Sobble trying to camouflage itself underwater if it becomes scared or intimidated by a predator or even a human.

From here on, it gets worse. Quite a bit worse. Sobble evolves into Drizzile, and honestly, the design is quite bland. Nothing about it sticks out to me, and it's really just meh. It looks as if it has cried so much as a Sobble that its tear ducts have dried up. It looks miserable! Despite this, it is known for being quite intelligent and keeping its enemies away by setting traps.

Last and most certainly least, we have Inteleon. This is by far the worst-designed Pokémon in all of Gen 8. Growing in height and becoming extremely skinny, there is something about it that is just extremely offputting and almost creepy. I know it's supposed to be a spy, but its design isn't doing it any favors. It looks like a thrift store version of Salazzle. All that being said, I will give it and Drizzile credit for some good techniques and skills that these two have access to. These include the ability to shoot fierce blasts of water from its fingertips and a hidden blade in its tail. The hidden techniques also boost its identity as a spy, which its design failed to do.

Codraroll

Codraroll

The development of a character from a crybaby weakling, through an edgy teenage phase and into the role as a competent secret agent would be an interesting one to follow as part of a game's story. It reminds me of Wally from Gen III, the sickly kid who grew into a strong battler through a journey with his Pokémon, a journey we barely got glimpses into from the lines of other NPCs who used to know him. It is, in concept, an interesting and pretty cool story to explore in a game.

However, exploring it through the design of a Pokémon is a big mistake. Of all the three starter Pokémon families this generation (and arguably, ever), Sobble's is definitely the most typecast one. Its design allows Sobble to have only one personality, that of a weak and timid crybaby. Your Sobble will be crying over trivialities, your sibling's Sobble will be crying over trivialities, your friend's Sobble will be crying over trivialities, and if you breed and hatch another Sobble, it will be crying over trivialities too. No matter whether its nature is Timid, Relaxed, Bold, or Adamant, Sobble will express the exact same behavior. Likewise, these Sobble will all express the same edgy behavior upon evolution into Drizzile, and the same confident suaveness when they evolve into Inteleon.

When the design of a creature always tells the same story of character development along a set path, it takes away opportunities for players to imagine stories of their own. Every Sobble is locked to the same personality, every Drizzile will go through the same "it's not a phase!", every Inteleon will end up a secret agent with a license to KO. Pokémon has always been a game that lets you play an adventure with a team of your very own, with each team member being unique and distinct from all other Pokémon of its species. That's why we have natures, IVs, and EVs. With Sobble, the designers have given too much direction to the story of your pet. I understand that they want to convey personality with their designs—it must be boring to only design neutral creatures all the time—but a big part of the appeal of Pokémon is that you define your journey. In the case of the Sobble family, the story is already written and acted out.

And of course, the designs of Drizzile and Inteleon are just... ugh. Did I say in the Scorbunny family's entry that the fully evolved starters this generations all resemble a guy in costume? I take it back, Inteleon resembles a creepily skinny guy in body paint. How I'm supposed to be attached to this... chap... the same way I was to Sobble is a great mystery.

JustoonSmitts'

JustoonSmitts

Like I said earlier, I had a difficult time choosing between this and Scorbunny as my favorite starter, but Sobble is still a precious lil' baby to me. It seems to represent all the anxiety I have as an adult, and it just makes me want to keep it safe in real life. I was hoping for a more chameleon-like vibe from its evolution, as it does camouflage itself. In fact, I was hoping for a more Loch Ness monster-like evolution line than what we got, but I guess that's why Lapras survived the Masuda snap.

I straight up do not like Drizzile. I don't like it's name. I don't like its mitten hands. I don't like the vibe I get from this thing like it works part-time at Hot Topic. I also don't like that shade of green and purple on it. The original color scheme of blues and yellows was fine. Why change it only to revert in the next line? I don't get this one. It makes me not want to start with Sobble. But then, the last stage happens.

I don't understand why, but I really dig Inteleon's design. Looking at this thing, it's hard to imagine that this cool, suave-looking thing ever came from something as timid and Piglet-like as Sobble. I really appreciate the transition from the shy little kid into a confident adult. Inteleon's color scheme is nice, the fins are cool (it apparently can kind of glide with the ones on its back), I like that it shoots water out of its finger guns, I like its more stylized and goofy proportions, and I felt that the spy angle was kind of clever. The only issue I have is that that theme doesn't seem to correspond with the other two stages in its line.

Blitzamirin

Blitzamirin

Sobble must be protected! This is honestly the cutest of the three base starters, and the poor thing gets bullied by the other two constantly—tons of media from official artwork to the TCG shows its crying motif in full effect, and you can't help but feel sorry for it. Aside from the crying, though, Sobble has another cool attribute, like being able to camouflage itself in water, which is basically stealing Vaporeon's shtick... except on a cuter Pokémon!

Drizzile grew up. Crying? Get that garbage out of here! Sobble has entered its teenager phase, and I feel Drizzile encapsulates what a middle evolution is about: it has a completely different demeanor to Sobble, and its Dex entries state it is a lazy but highly skilled combatant that can lay traps and uses water balloons on the offensive. That said, a lot of its design additions end up being dropped or weirdly transitioned for its evolution, which makes it awkward and adds to the line's charm in my eyes.

Inteleon and I have a rocky relationship. The first leaked still image of this thing was the apocalypse: I absolutely loathed how feminine it looked and completely changed my mind on what starter I was picking (Grookey instead)—the fanbase was similarly mad for many days... Over time, however, the fan art for Inteleon started showing it in different angles, and we also started seeing more animations. This completely changed my perspective on Inteleon and made me stick with Sobble as my starter choice—and I don't regret it. Inteleon adopts a spy theme and incorporates so many neat hidden gadgets: its gloves allow it to shoot water at insane speeds, its cape allows it to glide, and even its tail conceals a knife it can use on any opponent. Plus, its pose looks so sassy, yet ready to strike at any given opportunity! Moral of the story: don't judge a book by its cover.


^ Return to main menu

Codraroll

Codraroll

That was a bit of a different format for JAPE than we were used to, and I hope you like it! Judging more than one Pokémon at the time lets us draw some more parallels and comparisons than just seeing the isolated designs in a vacuum. I for one liked to see how people's thoughts on the starters changed as the Pokémon evolved.

You may have noticed that Gigantamax formes of these starter Pokémon (as well as those from—big surprise—Kanto) have been announced while we were in the middle of writing this article. We decided to not compare the Gigantamax formes to their base just yet, because most panelists had already submitted their entries when the news dropped, and it would make the already-long article even longer, but you can look forward to such comparison in the hopefully-not-too-distant future! Until next time, everybody!

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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