Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Pokemon of Unown Potential; Part 3

Unown Shuriken Forme
This week I have been exploring the implications of giving Unown a new forme. The reasons why, at least in terms of battle strength, are obvious. Unown couldn't Hidden Power its way out of a wet paper bag that also has a giant hole in it. I would go so far as to say that Unown's Hidden Power is so well hidden that not even Unown itself can find it. It's sad, because I think the lore and mystery of this pokemon warrants at least SOME battle potential, if only for the sake that it's just so weird. Over the last two days, I have written why I think it deserves a new forme and to be considered legendary as well as how I think those new formes should be handled. The final thing I want to touch on is moveset. This will be brief, as there's isn't anything to change... just attacks to add!

STRENGTH IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Actually, it's not. It's put up or shut up. Good thing Unown lacks a mouth, because it'll be really easy to shut up. Yesterday, I talked about how I think the Unown should change formes based on the words they spell. I'm not going to reiterate that, so if you missed it just go back and read yesterday's article. I make some good jokes. Instead, today we are going to focus on Unown's laughable movepool.

Did I say laughable? I meant nonexistent. Unown can only know Hidden Power, which itself is pretty weak coming in at a low 60 base power. The type is variable, depending on the stats (IVs) of the individual. On the right pokemon, and with the right type, Hidden Power can cover a weakness or increase coverage of other types. Many electric types that are used competitively are bred to have Hidden Power (ICE) to cover Ground types. Unfortunately for Unown, the only type that matters is Psychic. It needs that type so it can at least hit for the STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus). With the addition of new formes that add a secondary type, however, then having Hidden Power of other types become somewhat worth it. The new formes would also add new attacks, which is something Unown desperately needs.

BY THE POWER OF GREY SKULL!!

Unown is a gimmick pokemon. If you go and change it to be some amazing crazy battler, it takes something away from it. It needs to still be gimmicky, but could be somewhat formidable in certain scenarios. To extend it's gimmickyness, I think it should only learn 3 kinds of moves: Power moves, Eye moves, and Battlefield moves. Basically, it will be able to learn different types of "power" like Hidden Power, Secret Power, or Nature Power. Next, Unown is all about being a giant eyeball so I think we should play that up, and show everyone that Unown is really good at staring. Finally, as we saw in "Pokemon the 3rd Movie", Unown is really good at creating different mirage-like environments, so moves that change the terrain or weather would be fun. Most of the time, this would likely mean Unown Incantation (the name I gave the new forme(s) yesterday) would probably be used often as team support. Below is the list of moves I think Unown Incantation should learn, regardless of which particular Incantation it is.

Level                                     Attack                           Type                 Physical/Special/Status
-                                             Decipher                      Normal                           Special
-                                             Hidden Power              Normal                           Special
-                                             Leer                             Normal                            Status
-                                             Mean Look                  Normal                            Status
-                                             Baby-Doll Eyes           Fairy                               Status
15                                          Ancient Power             Rock                              Special
20                                          Glare                            Normal                           Status
25                                          Electric Terrain           Electric                            Status
30                                          Nature Power              Normal                            Special
30                                          Secret Power               Normal                          Physical
33                                          Power Split                 Psychic                            Status
39                                          Miracle Eye                Psychic                            Status
39                                          Future Sight                Psychic                           Special
40                                          Grass Terrain               Grass                               Status
45                                          Power Whip                 Grass                             Physical
47                                          Power Trick                Psychic                             Status
47                                          Power Swap               Psychic                              Status
50                                          Misty Terrain               Fairy                                Status
53                                          Earth Power                Ground                             Special
56                                          Super Power               Fighting                           Physical
63                                          Stored Power              Psychic                             Special
65                                          Decipher                     Normal                             Special

As you can see, the only new move that I have come up with is "Decipher". In my mind, this would be Unown Incantation's signature move. It would be similar to Arceus' Judgement in that it would depend on Unown Incantation's type, in this case it's secondary type. It wouldn't be as powerful as Judgement though with only a base power of 90. At least it would always give Unown Incantation a second STAB move behind all of it's Psychic moves and allow it to be offensive if need be. In terms of TMs or Tutor moves, I doubt Unown Incantation would be able to learn many. In my mind, it would only be able to learn certain energy based attacks similar to pokemon like Kadabra. In that case, I wouldn't be surprised to see it being able to TM for things like Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, and Psyshock as well as a few status moves like Calm Mind. Unlike most pokemon, however, it wouldn't be able to learn any moves for recovery and have to rely on items.

Anyway, I hope that you all have enjoyed my articles on Unown's untapped potential! I don't expect any of this to ever happen, but I can always hope!

Go to Part 1 | Go to Part 2

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Pokémon of Unown Potential; Part 2

They see you when you're sleeping...
Unown is a weak alphabet pokémon with as much mysteries lore as Arceus or Rayquaza. Why, then, is it treated like such a weakling? It has stats on par with pokémon like Magikarp and learns only a single move. When it was released, it was nothing more than a gimmick to get kids to print them out and spell with them, often being words they shouldn't be spelling. It would made sense that after the loss of the Game Boy Printer to time and space that the story of the Unown would be done. However, in Diamond and Pearl two new Unown were added! Why?! If anything, it simply begs for them to be revisited a final time and elevated to the legendary status they have longed for. Previously, I explained why I think they deserve it, now I'm going to talk about how I think it should be implemented.

THE SPELL OF THE UNOWN

The punnyness of this title is without question. I think you should "spell" out a word to produce a "magical spell". Many legendaries have been afforded new formes when new areas, items, or mechanics are introduced. Giratina gained the Origin Forme when the Distortion World/Griseous Orb were released in Platinum. Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus can now change to their Therian Formes using the Reveal Glass. The list goes on an on. It would make sense that, maybe as of Gen VII that a new item be released that allows Unown to change formes. However, I think it should be more complex than simply changing when selecting a key item.

Unown are known for one thing: spelling words. I think to change their forme you should have to take them to a particular ruin and interact with a stone tablet or similar item to the puzzles from the Ruin of Alph. When you do, it would allow you to arrange the Unown in your party to spell a word. Obviously, this opens up a lot of possibilities, so it would have to be toned down. First, the word should be 5 letters long to represent 5 spots in your party. I'll get back to the importance of the sixth slot. Next, the forme change can only occur when certain words are made. For example, if you spell "POOPS" text indicating "Nothing Happened" would occur. If you spelled out a correct magical word, however, then things would get interesting!

Next, that empty slot on your team. If you have 5 Unown for spelling, you have one spot left to bring someone else. In my mind, that should be a legendary. Unown seems to take power from other legendaries or at the very least is attracted to their power. A key example of this is when Arceus activated the Shinjo Ruins (see previous article). Rotom). Either way, I would assume like fellow fusions Black Kyurem and White Kyurem, this means you couldn't deposit Unown Incantation into Pokémon Bank or trade it. While in Incantation forme, the IVs, Nature, Shininess, Pokéball, etc would be determined by the properties of the first Unown in the word.
If that is the case, it would make sense that you have to have a certain legendary on your team to help the magic word work. Depending on who that legend is would affect the ability and secondary typing of the new Unown forme, which I will from now on refer to as "Incantation" forme. As Unown is a simple pokémon design, I'd expect the concept for Unown Incantation to be equally simple. I've played around with a couple different ideas. First would have the Unown simply spelling a word then basically becoming "one pokémon" the same way Magneton or Dugtrio are one pokémon. You still have the individual letters, but they now only count as one pokémon on your team. Second, perhaps they would merge with the object or puzzle that you use to make the forme. In this case, the word would still be present on the Unown Incantation, but including the merging item as part of the pokémon would open up opportunities for additional design concepts.

Unown Incantation isn't a complex design,
but then again neither is Unown. 
CH-CH-CHANGES

Looking at Unown's ability, I've always found Levitate to be both equally useful and boring on the pokémon that have it. Many are Psychic, so obviously they Levitate I guess. It keeps every floating pokémon from ending up half Flying type (Dragon/Flying Latios? No thanks..) or to end up weirdly floating yet skill get hit by Earthquake as if it was on the ground (Ugh.. Magnezone actually needed Levitate but didn't get it...). Perhaps if it wasn't thrown around so much, I wouldn't be so burned out on it. That being said, I think giving Unown Incantation other abilities would add to its novelty and set it apart from other Psychics. I did my best to choose abilities that exhibit the choice of magic word and the elemental power being drawn the corresponding legendary. I also decided that statistically speaking, it should be on par with things like the Articuno or Registeel which sit at a 580 stat total. Perhaps the stats would spread out differently depending on forme, maybe they wouldn't. However, I feel that 580 at least puts Unown Incantation, depending on typing and moveset (discussed later), in the playable realm without being incredibly overpowered. I may address the stat options in the next article.

Below is the list of Unown spells that would merge the 5 letters into a new forme, the legendary type required, and the ability it would gain. Should the legendary have a dual type, I'd suspect the game dialog would go something like, "The tablet is exuding a strange aura. It almost feels like it is..." then you would chose a type from the two the legendary has.

Unown Incantation Spells: Spell the corresponding words using the Unown on your team and have a corresponding legendary/mythical of the right type. All Unown Incantation are still Psychic and gain the secondary typing of the spell type you use (exculding Psychic) and a new ability.

  • FIRE SPELL: BURN! + Fire Legend = Flame Body
  • WATER SPELL: FLOOD + Water Legend = Storm Drain
  • GRASS SPELL: PLANT + Grass Legend = Leaf Guard
  • ELECTRIC SPELL: SHOCK + Electric Legend = Volt Absorb
  • GROUND SPELL: DUNES + Ground Legend = Sand Force
  • ROCK SPELL: STONE + Rock Legend = Solid Rock
  • FLYING SPELL: WINDS + Flying Legend = Pressure
  • FIGHTING SPELL: VIGOR + Fighting Legend = Sheer Force
  • PSYCHIC SPELL: SOZEN + Psychic Legend = Inner Focus
  • BUG SPELL: STING + Bug Legend = Adaptability
  • GHOST SPELL: SCARE + Ghost Legend = Cursed Body
  • DRAGON SPELL: QUELL + Dragon Legend = Multiscale
  • ICE SPELL: FROST + Ice Legend = Snow Cloak
  • POISON SPELL: TOXIN + Poison Legend = Poison Touch
  • DARK SPELL: SHADY + Dark Legend = Pickpocket
  • STEEL SPELL: METAL + Steel Legend = Sturdy
  • FAIRY SPELL: CHARM + Fairy Legend = Friend Guard
  • NORMAL SPELL: LOOK? + Normal Legend = Frisk
When you're done with the obvious in-game dialog and checked your party, you would then only have 2 pokémon on your team: Unown Incantation and the legendary that tagged along as part of the spell. I would like to point out since the Unown do seem to have a connection with Arceus that you can use Arceus to activate any spell you want, so long as it is holding the right plate (ex: Toxic Plate Arceus can help activate a Poison Spell).

Some of these abilities, and therefore some Unown Incantation, are obviously better than others. However, I did my best to balance that aspect. If every spell resulted in an amazing ability, it wouldn't seem very genuine. Also, I wanted them to fulfill different roles. Normal and Fairy Spell Unown Incantations are better at team support. Rock, Dragon, and Steel Spell Unown Incantations can take a hit, whereas Ground, Fighting, and Bug Spell Unown Incantations can dish it out.

I'd also like to point out that every Unown letter and punctuation is used at least once. This means if you want to be able to potentially cast any spell, you are going to need all 28 Unown. Gotta Catch 'Em All! Of course, if you just want one particular spell for a tournament or something, you just have to go catch the five you need and only the stats of the first one in the word matter.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Pokémon of Unown Potential; Part 1

Alphabet soup has never been this trippy before.
Unown is a weird pokémon. I'm suppose it's that weirdness that has always left a soft spot for them in my heart since their introduction in Gold and Silver. I even remember the first time I learned about them. It was from a leaked image in a gaming magazine, Beckett's Pokémon Collector, with them being misidentified as Ghost type. My first thought was, "heiroglyphic pokémon, neat!" Sure, they aren't true heiroglyphs, just being essentially a different font for the English alphabet, but I was intrigued. I enjoyed unlocking them in the Ruins of Alph and collecting each letter. In fact, I just did this in Omega Ruby last night using a Mirage Cave I got from Streetpassing people.

Unfortunately for the Unown, after I get the full alphabet they are essentially just box filler. Their battle prowess is basically non-existant since their stats are so bad and they only learn one move (Hidden Power). Plus, you can't even effectively use them in side games like Contests or load them with a few HMs. It would seem that their inclusion in Gold and Silver (and eventually Crystal) was just to give players things to print from their Game Boy Printer. I have a personal tie to the Unown as I used them to propose to my wife. I had a team of Unown I battled her with on Pokémon Battle Revolution nicknamed "Will", "You", "Marry", "Me", "?". When they popped up in team preview I'm sure the first thought that popped in her mind is, "Well, I'm going to win this match pretty easy."

Are the Unown being summoned by Arceus or
are they attracted to it's power? Maybe they
just heard it was Palkia/Dialga/Giratina's
birthday and just showed up for cake.
If the only reason to have Unown was to try to sell a feature that doesn't even exist anymore (printing), what purpose do they serve now or in the future? Within the Pokémon universe, we've been led to believe the Unown are legendary. In the "Pokémon the 3rd Movie" they are shown to be able to make tangible illusions and basically re-word reality. It's easy to write this off (LOL), since the movies can make any pokémon seem super important (ex: Munchlax, Bonsly, etc.). I'd even be willing to do so if the games and anime didn't keep throwing their legendary status at us. In the Ruins of Alph, there are various messages written by ancient humans using the Unown text. Various Pokédex entries seem to suggest that their power increases the more you have, stating that an "odd power emerges" when there are "two or more". In "The Rise of Darkrai" the Unown appear to inhabit the same dimension as Dialga and Palkia or maybe Dialga and Palkia somehow entered their dimension. If the latter is true, why do the Unown need their own dimension? Who do they think they are... Giratina? Another weird tie in with Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina also involves Arceus. If you take Arceus to the Ruins of Alph in Heartgold and SoulSilver, the Unown send you to the Shinjo Ruins. They appear again when you allow your Arceus to enter the Shinjo Ruins to create another Dialga, Palkia, or Giratina. These instances seem to present more questions than answers, which is what intrigues me about them so much. They aren't some overpowered creature that controls time, builds continents, or expands oceans. They spell things. Over the next couple of days, I am going to make a case for 1) why the Unown SHOULD be considered tentatively legendary and 2) why they should receive some new forme to raise their abilities to that level. I'm also going to talk about how I think the forme change should be executed to fit in with the lore of other legends as well as the stats and moves Unown would gain. Yes, I said MOVES (plural).

LEGENDS ARE BORN FROM THE STORIES TOLD

"Come on guys.. Can you let me
in the legendary club? Please?"
In terms of lore, the Unown have the most curious lore of all the legends. For the most part, they are simply a way of recording those legendary tales. They have ties to ancient human civilization due to this. Additionally, there's the earlier mentioned ties to Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, and Arceus. In their current forme, they have a lot in common with the odd "maybe it's a legendary/ maybe it isn't" Phione. They are legendary/mythical simply because of their associations. It's like they are trying to use their "in" to become a member of the club rather than actually earn it on their own. However, I think that Unown at least does a slightly better job of earning it for themselves than Phione, simply due to their lore. What's Phione's lore? One night Manaphy made some bad decisions with a Ditto? That's not exactly a legendary story. Even if Unown is essentially just a more offensive version of Wingdings, at least they have a cool story to make them seem like a threat. When you consider some of the other legendary or mythical pokémon, some have far fewer credentials than Unown. For example:
  • Shaymin helped some flowers grow in a field one time. 
  • Heatran may or may not have formed a big mountain in Unova. 
  • Mew is the first pokémon, but not really, and it can learn a lot of stuff. 
  • Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres are birds that aren't Normal/Flying (a rarity at the time) and have good stats. Also they may or may not work for Lugia. 
  • Lugia lived in a tower, but it burned down so now it lives in a cave like a hermit (see: GSC Blaine). If the bird trio gets cranky it may step in, fail, and have to be helped by a 10 year old.
  • Deoxys is an alien virus that hijacked a meteorite ride to Earth and got shot with a laser. 
In terms of story and mystery, these guys don't have much. What they do have that Unown doesn't is power and more than one attack. This is where I think a forme needs to be introduced to fix this little problem.

SPELLING OUT TROUBLE WITH A NEW FORME

I do want to point out I understand it's odd to suggest that we should give a new forme to something that already has 28 different formes, but hear me out. Compared to other formes, the Unown forms add absolutely nothing to it. No type changes, no ability changes, no stat changes, nothing. In fact, they are more akin to gender differences. The different Unown formes are purely aesthetic. In fact, it seems even the Pokédex recognizes this as it refers to each letter as "One Form" rather than calling it something different. So in that regard Unown are just variable, like Spinda, and only posses a single form, the form of a particular letter or punctuation. Adding an additional form would just give it a second form. For this second form, I suggest a word... a word that will unlock the potential of the Unown that spell it!