The 8 Worst Pokemon Generation 1 Sprites
In 1996 Japanese video game fanaticist and developer Satoshi Tajiri realized his dream of turning his childhood hobby of bug collecting into a machine that automatically prints money in denominations that make the coveted $500 from Monopoly look like petty cash. I don’t know how bug collecting became such a cultural staple of Japanese childhood but my best guess is children became fascinated with discovering if the fallout from Truman’s rude awakenings in the forties gave rise to any strange mutations. Pretty sure they did, and because of it we now have hentai like Inyouchuu. If my logic is correct then 2011’s Fukushima power plant disaster will not just ensure a new generation of mutated bug hunters but what future snarky bloggers will refer to as a “pornography nightmare”.
And that insensitive joke, folks, is my segue into talking about the world of Pokemon, Tajiri’s ticket to an early retirement and masturbation fodder for thousands upon thousands of pasty permavirgin furries. Originally billed as Red & Green in its initial Japanese release the North American markets wouldn’t see this cultural phenomenon until 1998, two and a half years later (as Red & Blue). The series caught fire in the States and its popularity exploded; exploded like a poorly maintained nuclear reactor supervised by delinquents distracted with lolicon tentacle porn. Now that I’ve had my fill of completely tasteless humor at the expense of an absolute tragedy I can move forward with the centerpiece of this feature: the graphics from the first generation of Pokemon titles for the Game Boy were total ass. Mutated, radioactive, ass.
Some of you may not be privy to the following trivia but the original Game Boy lineup features three distinct sets of Pokemon art. The first of which is of course the original from the Japanese “Red & Green” release. These graphics were then retooled (read: completely fucking ruined) for the international “Red & Blue” release that you and I are likely most familiar with. Finally, the graphics were revisited once more for the worldwide “Yellow” edition. Across all of these releases each Pokemon was drawn a total of three times, usually by different graphic artists at Nintendo. Because of this none of the images look the same and in many cases are substantially different from the other two corresponding samples. In this feature article I’ll be covering what I consider to be the eight absolute worst examples of graphic design in a Generation I Pokemon title.
I have yet to figure out what the hell Nidoran is supposed to be since its species, “Poison Pin”, explains exactly nothing. I actually know less about these abortions after having “learned” that factoid. I’m assuming by their official art of the era that Nidorans (Nidoren?) are meant to be rodents though in Red & Blue I get the implication that the male of the species is a crackhead and the female is one half of a pair of novelty animal slippers.
Golbat is a creature that has never looked flattering in any Pokemon game, ever. Period. As I write this feature there is exactly zero porn of this Pokemon in existence (and yes I checked, you’re welcome). Nobody likes Golbat which is probably because its first evolutionary stage is a Pokemon whose cry is synonymous with Tumblr-diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. The international version of Golbat is pretty terrifying, but the gold star of failure here has to go to the original Japanese version that looks like some kind of cyclopic cock ring. With teeth.
Fuck everything about Rattata. It’s an entirely worthless Pokemon and its evolved form Raticate is equally as trite. The only time anything from the Ratt lineage has ever been useful was when the original Raticate TCG card showcased the Hyper Fang attack that instantly halved your opponent’s health. Other than that? Worthless. Red & Blue’s incarnation of Rattata is exceptionally bad in that not only does it resemble a dressed up vacuum cleaner with a blowup doll’s mouth but its pose implies the mouse is letting someone have a running start at its mouseflower.
Ditto is an animated mass of primordial ooze that can theoretically become any other Pokemon, I think that’s something we can all deduce just from learning its only move is Transform. Not only is this cop-out a blatant act of what I call “out of ideas syndrome” due to its simplistic nature you’d think it wouldn’t be hard to draw. Despite the fact that the sprite artists at Nintendo drew Charizard – a dragon – three times it seems nobody could master the art of drawing a squiggle. When not acting as a stunt double for Earthbound’s “Master Barf” Ditto enjoys a career of resembling a cross between a spitwad, a load of spooge, and the Nickelodeon logo.
With the worldwide success that was the Pokemon phenomenon Nintendo kept a close eye on the art featured in the third issue of Generation I. A Game Boy Color-enabled game, Yellow featured separate palettes for each Pokemon graphic enabling designers to give each Pokemon their actual color instead of a standard four color mess of crap. The QA department must have let Tangela slip through the cracks, however, because there is something seriously wrong with this dancing head of tentacle lettuce that emanates a sense of sheer terror. I’m pretty sure it’s the eyes and their ability to invoke bad memories of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Our resident “reptile inside of a rock egg”-ish friend Geodude looked like a total disaster until it received a much needed facelift (literally) in Yellow. I almost gave the title of worst sprite to Red & Blue’s familiar thumbs up toting snarky rock but the Red & Green version instead secured itself a place in this list for the sole reason being WHERE IS ITS FUCKING FACE? Dear god, it’s like a diseased basketball with flailing arms that’s just been checked to you. The original Geodude looks like a floating tumor with arms.
Arguably the jolt of life that rejuvenated the Pokemon franchise and sent it into overdrive, Mew was at one point the most elusive and secret of all known Pokemon. Thanks to MissingNo people began searching for other “PokeGods” but Mew was the first ever “newcomer” confirmed in the game. Normally I’d rag on the shoddy artwork in the international release of the game but believe it or not in my opinion the first revision of Mew is better than the Japanese original! Mew truly is a miracle. In the international release of the game Mew looks quite elusive, but in Japan’s it resembles a Pez dispenser with feet and a seashell face.
The original set of Japanese graphics were redrawn for international release and the entire roster was subsequently redrawn again for Yellow but did you know that throughout the entirety of Generation I the catalog of Pokemon “back sprites” never changed? Not once. Absolutely no revisions to this set of art whatsoever and every single one of them look like absolute shit. Part of the reason they look so trashy is because each graphic is a 16×16 tile blown up to the standard resolution of 32×32 instead of four separate tiles put together meaning that every individual pixel instead becomes a chunky block of four pixels.
Virtually none of the back sprites match the pose of its corresponding front sprite unless you’re playing the original Japanese version and for all the mostly decent work seen in the front sprites of the Red & Green release the back sprites were a total mess. Mew, for example, still has its grotesque brainiac-sized skull. Zapdos is probably a logo for a shitty telecommunications company. Ekans is Charlie-fucking-Brown and Mankey looks like the three-legged bedside table your grandmother had except flipped upside down. Poliwag has managed to lose its tail and I have no idea what the hell is wrong with Horsea and Porygon. Also, Kabuto resembles a haunted saddle.
You can’t blame it on the limitations of the cartridge because Nintendo found a way to improve and replace every single front sprite by the time Yellow rolled around. Perhaps it was a mere production oversight? Whatever the reason may be you have to admit the backs of every Pokemon left something to be desired. Like, I don’t know, bodily features.
But it could be worse. At least Generation I didn’t have Pokemon based after retarded shit like ice cream cones. (inb4 “Voltorb argument”)