thus far, without fail, i've found something to love in every new batch of Pokémon. even when the games themselves have left me feeling a little lukewarm, i've kept up with new releases from afar, just to see what gets added to the Pokédex. the induction of new creatures into this permanent record always feels like a big deal, like a changing of the guard, and i associate new generations pretty strongly with memories of where i was at in my life when i first had the pleasure of unraveling Game Freak's latest new creations.

with the release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, i've finally gotten back into the series properly. i certainly put together 'ideal' teams in my head for Galar, but there's nothing like getting hands-on and finding new favorites out in the wild, getting to bond with them and watch your team grow. perhaps it's recency bias, maybe it's just the thrill of playing one of these games for the first time in six years, but honestly, i think the 103 new Pokémon added with the launch of Generation IX are my favorite batch of new designs in series history. there's maybe a handful that i'm not too hot on, but when looking at the new Pokédex as a whole, i think there's something to enjoy in every single evolutionary family, and Paldea is home to some of the coolest, funniest, and most unique Pokémon i've ever seen.

so, as a bit of a lighter companion piece to my full overview of my experience with the game, let's go through some of my favorites out of this excellent bunch of pocket monsters. it's a bit of a top ten list, but really, i could easily shuffle the whole thing around - these are just ten Pokémon i find to be worth highlighting or saying something about. the whole thing is in proper National Pokédex order, no rankings, no scores, just some basic, sincere Pokémon appreciation. let's get started.

#919: NYMBLE / #920: LOKIX

The Pokédex picture for Lokix in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

When it decides to fight all out, it stands on its previously folded legs to enter Showdown Mode. It neutralizes its enemies in short order.

Lokix's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

from the moment leaks described Paldea's resident early-game Bug-type as 'looking like Kamen Rider', i knew it'd end up on my team, and it certainly didn't disappoint. i haven't put much of this front and center on HYPERFIXT yet, namely because i don't exactly go out of my way to watch a lot of tokusatsu, but i'm utterly enamored with the aesthetics of the genre and would gladly label Kamen Rider as, colloquially, 'Rad As Fuck'.

both Nymble and its evolution Lokix do an excellent job of tapping into that aesthetic without feeling like they've been lifted wholesale from another franchise. for as much as i get squeamish looking at real-world insects, i love Bug-type Pokémon, with Nymble being no exception, being an adorable little grasshopper with distinctive plus sign-shaped eyes and a pleasingly Rider-y palette of steely blue. the reference really kicks (ha!) into gear when it evolves, though, with Lokix sporting a more humanoid stature and even a sort of faux-belt pattern.

cultural references aside, Lokix is a very fun interpretation of a grasshopper's real-world traits. with its upright posture, it essentially 'walks' on what would actually be a grasshopper's middle pair of legs, while its hind legs - the ones that do the actual hopping - stay folded up on its back, waiting to be deployed for a powerful kick. it's a clever concept, one only strengthened by the switchblade-esque stylings on these back legs. the Pokédex calls this function out as "Showdown Mode", an incredibly badass name which unfortunately only sort of connects to any in-game mechanics, with Lokix sporting the rather common ability Swarm, boosting its Bug-type attacks when it reaches low health. i feel like some kind of signature Ability with unique flavor would have really pushed Lokix over the top into all-star status, but at the very least, it stands out as a surprisingly viable option compared to other similar beginner Bugs.

so, with all the jumping and kicking and even a new Fighting-type move that it shares with only two other Pokémon out of this game's roster of 400, i've seen many people jump to the conclusion that Lokix must be Bug/Fighting, right? wrong. it's actually Bug/Dark, and for some very clever reasons. i feel like this has become much more common knowledge over the past decade (for me, it was thanks to much more experienced Pokémon enthusiast Bogleech), but for the longest time, people interpreted Dark-type as representing literal, elemental darkness, as a sort of magical force. the truth of the matter, though, is that Dark-type is more about metaphorical darkness than anything else - it's the underhanded, cruel, villanous counterpart to Fighting-type.

Lokix, being a Kamen Rider homage, probably received its secondary type as a thematic note, more than anything else. across its constant reinventions, the thematic core of the Kamen Rider franchise has always been the idea that its heroes draw their power from the same source as the evil they fight, a concept which some crossovers have quite awesomely labeled as "the Cross of Fire". just as the original grasshopper-themed superhero was a cyborg fighting against his Nazi-adjacent creators, Lokix is essentially a noble example within a 'bad guy' typing, learning almost equal amounts Dark and Fighting-type attacks.

in keeping with this rather uniquely thought-out typing metaphor, one of the game's wild Terastallized encounters - which always spawn in the same place, with the same hidden 'third type' - is a Lokix with Fighting as its Tera Type, hidden away in the mountains. on top of being one of Paldea's coolest Pokémon visually, Lokix is also a fun little demonstration of a clear cultural influence upon Pokémon, showing how its artists still draw from all kinds of influences even when the franchise has become one of the biggest in pop culture history.


The Pokédex picture for Maushold in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

The two little ones just appeared one day. The group might be a family of related Pokémon, but nobody knows for sure.

Maushold's Family of Four Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

when it came to early leaks describing some of the new Pokémon we'd be meeting in Paldea, it was easy to overlook this little family of mice. they sounded like pretty basic Normal-types with a pretty basic quirk they were built around, and even when we got our first glimpse at their designs through an unintentional glance at a minimap in trailer footage, it was easy to say 'oh, cute' and move on. in the end, though, just like the mice themselves, i just kept inexplicably finding more and more little reasons to love these guys.

Tandemaus feels like almost a throwback to a few Generation 1 designs, in some ways, back when some Pokémon like Dugtrio and Exeggcute existed simply as little self-contained groups that counted as an individual creature in your party. Tandemaus also fits into a separate niche, though, seeming rather artifical and doll-like with the stitches on their bodies and the faint impression of clothes colored onto them. none of their flavor text calls this out - these are simply Mice That Look Like That. as much as i wish that they maybe leaned into their patchwork aesthetic a little harder, there's a simplicity to them that's very endearing.

so, how do you build on that simple charm? more mice. out of nowhere, too. this evolutionary gimmick is what really sold me on the whole concept of this Pokémon - once they're past Level 25, the Tandemaus pair will evolve 'invisibly', forgoing the usual fanfare of a new form and simply surprising you by multiplying. this method obviously has certain implications that are easy to joke about, but it's also a clever twist on the usual expectations of Pokémon evolution. Tandemaus, in the most literal sense in years, evolves by simply duplicating, and they do it in a way that can completely slip by the player's attention until they're sent back out into battle.

on top of having one of the best bits of wordplay in all of Paldea, Maushold is also charming in the sense that, much like with other forms of Pokémon multiplication, nobody can tell where the small ones came from. they're not even explicitly babies, necessarily - the Pokédex insistently refers to them as "the little ones" being protected by "the bigger pair", and notes that they live "like a family". even with all the stubborn tip-toeing around addressing what's going on here, Maushold has even more tricks up its sleeve, since you have 1/100 odds of receiving a family of three rather than four. the fact that the smaller number is so rare feels odd to me, like maybe some wires got crossed in development, but it only adds to the fun knowing that there's some obscure, rare, purely coincidental thing that could happen with this blink-and-you'll-miss-it evolution.

like many other Pokémon on this list, Maushold isn't just a clever concept, either. it has the energy of a one-off Normal-type that'd be easy to forget, but this family also happens to be in possession of some of the most powerful tools in the game, if played right. it's a niche strategy, easily countered by things like Rocky Helmets or the ability Rough Skin, but Maushold's signature offensive technique, Population Bomb, is an attack that can hit up to ten times, with low enough base power to be boosted by Maushold's Technician ability on each individual strike. as if this wasn't enough, Maushold also gets a second unique move, Tidy Up, which pulls double duty as a hazard cleaner and a stat buff equivalent to the ever-famous Dragon Dance. this silly little family of mice is packing moves that powerhouses like Garchomp could only dream of having.

Maushold might be a bit of a one-trick Pokémon with its simple design, but i really do find myself liking it anyways. not only is it absolutely adorable, but describing it as 'just some mice' really isn't fair to it. it feels like a fresh take on multiple unrelated Generation 1 designs all at once, combining the multiplication of Dugtrio with the familial connections of Kangaskhan, but it also showcases something i've noticed a lot in recent generations that i really love - Game Freak is really willing to give any Pokémon something memorable. even things that seem like they exist to go over a checklist are given charming designs and/or powerful tools to make them worthwhile in battle, and Maushold really does feel like the champion(s) of the modern underdog Normal-types refusing to be overlooked.

#932: NACLI / #933: NACLSTACK / #934: GARGANACL

The Pokédex picture for Garganacl in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

Garganacl will rub its fingertips together and sprinkle injured Pokémon with salt. Even severe wounds will promptly heal afterward.

Garganacl's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

Rock-types have had a rough go of things, haven't they? there weren't even any Pokémon with only Rock typing in the first generation, and while i'd definitely rank a few Rock-types amongst my favorites like Aggron or Barbaracle, they have a tendency to possess some utterly debilitating weaknesses keeping them from the spotlight. they're a common typing for the first Gym, too - a move that's certainly easy to understand, given its function as a teaching tool about type matchups, but one that's never left Rock looking like the strongest type to keep in rotation.

historically, i've hardly even used any Rock-types on my team, a fact that i really only noticed once Nacli came along and made itself one of the core anchors of my entire Scarlet playthrough. being the only three-stage evolutionary line to make this list, Nacli and its bigger, badder forms are a delightfully fun and creative trio of salt blocks, transitioning between three very distinct body-types while still maintaining their rough, rugged, post-Minecraft-y vibes.

Nacli was the first of the three to leak, both through the same minimap trickery as Tandemaus and once the game made its way into people's hands early, and it's hard to resist its silly little mushroom-esque body. there's a nice contrast between the stark, cubic edges of its salt and the more naturalistic stone it seems to have been carved out of, with bands of color calling to mind the similarly sediment-y Crustle. i imagine some people might not be huge on its sunken-in, perfectly rectangular eyes, but it adds to that contrast and emphasizes how weird Nacli's whole deal is. it's not a little guy made out of salt, or a little animal made out of salt, it is just some salt that happens to be a monster, in the same way something classic like Geodude is a very literal living stone.

when it evolves into the delightfully named Naclstack, our salty monstrous buddy takes on an entirely different shape. while its name might make you expect height, Naclstack is actually very broad and low to the ground, with a posture that reminds me of a frog more than anything else. it looks a little more awkward, with its inward pointed 'claws', but in a way that only makes me like it even more, in the way all middle Pokémon evolutions tend to gravitate towards 'endearing dork'.

it's also in this state that Naclstack learns the signature technique that made it such a powerhouse of my team, a new move called Salt Cure. mechanically, this move chips away bit by bit at enemy health, with added benefits such as dealing additional damage to Water and Steel-types that would normally make short work of a Rock-type like the Nacli family, or, more indirectly, stacking with poison damage since 'being salted' isn't a codified status effect. textually, the game doesn't pull any punches about what Naclstack does to its foes -

This Pokémon dry cures its prey by spraying salt over them. The curing process steals away the water in the prey’s body.

Naclstack's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

ouch! brutal!

finally, Naclstack evolves into the walking pyramid pictured above, Garganacl. normally, when such a weird Pokémon stands up for its final form, i find myself liking it less, but Garganacl maintains all the unique and awkward elements that made its pre-evolved forms so lovable. there's a bit more of a gradient between its hard cubed edges and the smoother stone it's encased in, but little diamonds of salt are scattered over its whole body, and its shape is still far from outright humanoid, especially when those massive layers of salt on its shoulders simply spin around on a swivel.

with its stats maxed out, Garganacl is an absolute defensive powerhouse, shrugging off even super-effective damage and being able to fight back pretty well too, especially once Salt Cure is chipping away at the enemy's HP. with access to Recover, Garganacl became the go-to defensive wall on my team, able to tank through just about anything when i needed an opportunity to pivot. arguably its greatest defensive tool, though, wasn't even available to me until the post-game, when i got my hands on an item to switch it to its new signature Ability, Purifying Salt, which protects it from all status effects and throws in a free Ghost-type resistance as a cheeky 'circle of salt' joke.

overall, the Nacli family is easily one of my favorites in all of Paldea, to the point where i might even label Garganacl as the Paldean Pokémon i'd single out for an 'all-star' team. aesthetically, they feel almost entirely unique and pull off one of my favorite Pokémon tricks by focusing on a theme that then adapts to three entirely different shapes rather than the other way around. mechanically, they've wound up with probably the clearest niche on my team and finally fulfilled the long-lasting tough reputation that Rock-type has always tried to live up to.


The Pokédex picture for Toedscruel in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

It coils its 10 tentacles around prey and sucks out their nutrients, causing the prey pain. The folds along the rim of its head are a popular delicacy.

Toedscruel's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Violet

over the past several years, Pokémon has dabbled more and more in figuring out how to revisit old concepts, beyond just including classic Pokémon in a region's local lineup. Generation 6 arguably kicked it all off by giving classic fan-favorites new Mega Evolved forms, but Sun and Moon took things even further, forgoing any new temporary forms and instead introducing regional variants, raising the question of how Pokémon adapt to different environments. it's a fun concept that's opened up a lot of doors for new ideas, flipping old Pokémon on their head by changing their typing or giving them whole new personalities.

Paldea still has a few of these, but it also introduces two new lines that take the concept even further, touching on the real-world biological concept of convergent evolutions. Meowth, across all its variants, is invariably some kind of cat - these two new convergent Pokémon, though, essentially switch their habitats entirely and earn new names and Pokédex numbers entirely. the first of these to be introduced was the Water-type Wiglett, an eel Pokémon that fills the same ecological role as Diglett and similarly evolves into a matching Wugtrio, but leaks had already confirmed that we'd be seeing this concept go the other way too, with a classic Water-type Pokémon adapting to a land-based lifestyle.

there were plenty of Water-types who could have fit the bill, but it really shouldn't be too much surprise that Tentacool would be the one to earn this spot, taking its omnipresence from the ocean to terra firma. this new convergent species, Toedscool, reinterprets that strange helmet-esque head as being the cap of a Grass/Ground-type mushroom Pokémon.

the whole convergent evolution thing was already exceedingly fun to me, conceptually, but what really sold me on Toedscool was seeing it in motion. how does the jellyfish-esque Tentacool body-type work for a Pokémon on land? by keeping the tentacles and reinterpreting them as utterly adorable legs, letting Toedscool frolic around like some kind of rubberhose-era mushroom freak.

Toedscool does lose a bit of that charm when evolving into Toedscruel, but only in service of trading it in for something just as funny in its own right. just like Tentacruel posesses more tentacles, Toedscruel has ten mycelium stalks, and its primary form of locomotion is to spring itself around on them. Wiglett and Wugtrio are fantastic designs in their own right, and could have just as easily been on this list, but seeing these faux-jellyfish mushrooms in action really sells the idea that these are, in the truest sense, convergent lifeforms - living mushrooms with their own unique vibe that through sheer biological happenstance also look distinctly like a type of Pokémon we already know.

unfortunately for Toedscruel, its viability in battle is a bit of a mixed bag. its Grass/Ground typing gives it an intense weakness to any Ice-type attack, and its unique Ability, Mycelium Might, sounds better on paper than it actually is in practice. Toedscruel is capable of throwing around status moves onto any Pokémon, regardless of any other Ability that might make it immune - lowering the accuracy of an opponent with Keen Eye, for example - but in return, its status moves have lowered priority. this gives it some useful interactions, especially against literal golden child Gholdengo and its untouchable status immunity, but it's such a narrow niche that it can be hard to deploy, and relegates Toedscruel firmly to hanging back and trying its damndest to support its teammates, even if it has to eat a KO along the way.

only adding to this sideliner status is the fact that Toedscool and Toedscruel's very existence seems to be a bit of a fluke. in the game's internal files, the pair are referred to by names roughly translating to "hill Magikarp" and "hill Gyarados". Mycelium Might, out of all Abilities, is the final one listed in the game's index. unlike with Wiglett, its 'original' counterpart isn't even available in Paldea. it's very rare to get a glimpse at the creative process that brings Pokémon into the world, with fans having to wait over 20 years to even begin cracking into the secrets of the original Game Boy titles, but Scarlet and Violet have left some telltale clues that Toedscruel was, for whatever reason, a last-minute choice, perhaps even a second fiddle to Game Freak's real favorite Kanto Water-type.

knowing all this, though, i only love these two even more. i'm ultimately quite glad that they wound up where they are - they're fantastic, creative designs and they've even given me a little more appreciation for the original Tentacool, after years of resentment for how common it was when surfing the Kanto seas. with a franchise as big as Pokémon, it'd be easy to keep playing the hits, but i'm glad creatures like Toedscool are out here reinventing the classics in their own way.


The Pokédex picture for Scovillain in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

The green head has turned vicious due to the spicy chemicals stimulating its brain. Once it goes on a rampage, there is no stopping it.

Scovillain's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Violet

for as long as people have been speculating about the concept of new Pokémon, people have been trying to fill out the increasingly narrow list of type combinations that haven't seen official usage yet, and there's always been a near-universal expectation that our first Grass/Fire Pokémon ought to be some kind of spicy pepper. now, nine generations in, Game Freak has delivered on that idea, and even as someone who was already primed to love this concept, i love Capsakid and especially its evolution Scovillain way more than i could have expected to.

when Scovillain first leaked, it and fellow newcomer Orthworm were presented in a slightly different format, from a slightly different source, which made it unsure for a while if they even were really new Pokémon. i'm very glad they ended up real, though, because i can't get enough of this odd two-headed dork. its pre-evolution, Capsakid, is perhaps a little less charming - i find its 'hat' makes its design a little too busy and i'm not a huge fan of its yellow beak - but it's still cute enough with its leafy arms and perpetual grumpy eyes. it's also an example of a good old-fashioned Fire Stone evolution, which i'm always down to see, on some level. there's definitely an ongoing 'power creep' in terms of how evolutions tend to function, so it's nice to know some of the very first evolution items introduced still have a bit of utility even this deep into the Pokédex.

once evolved, Scovillain becomes infinitely more charming to me with its more cohesively colored dual pepper heads, each one sporting its own gnarly expression. there's a fun dichotomy there, where both heads seem to have their own personality, but they're both just massive jackasses in two different ways. the grinning green head, as described above in Scovillain's Violet Pokédex entry, has 'turned vicious' by soaking up too much of its own naturally-produced spice, and the red head seems to be where all that new Fire-type power comes in, rocking a mean snarl and firing off flames.

everything i liked about Capsakid works even better when scaled up for Scovillain, and i really dig its odd posture, crouched over with a short tail and some massive single-toed stompy legs. i've seen many people compare it to the look of an actor wearing an old-fashioned rubber monster suit, and i can definitely see that kind of appeal to it. Scovillain fits into that classic Pokémon niche of really, truly being "just some monster", evoking some reptilian traits but mostly living up to its nature as some kind of plant creature with its leafy arms and twin stems.

in terms of battle utility, Scovillain lives up to its two-headed nature by having pretty decent offensive stats on both fronts, albeit perhaps held back a bit by a lack of good physical options for both of its main types. it gets a signature move, Spicy Extract, which drops a target's Defense while raising their Attack - i didn't find much utility in this move, but i'm sure there's some niche for it somewhere in the vast field of Pokémon battling. honestly, though, one of my favorite things about Scovillain is that, intentionally or not, it makes for an excellent poster child for this generation's Terastallization gimmick. adorably, only one of its two heads receives the signature crystal hat, but mechanically, i found that this made for a fun bit of flavor, allowing Scovillain to lean hard and fully embrace one of its two types. will your Scovillain be a good boy and embrace its Grass-type roots or succumb to its own spice with Fire-type? or, hell, take a third option and go true neutral with Dragon-type Terastallization, embracing neither good nor evil, but simply The Part Of Scovillain That's Lizardy.

it'd be easy to call Scovillain low-hanging fruit, conceptually, but Game Freak really elevated this concept and took it from a 'yeah, obviously they'd do that at some point' to a 'wow, this is actually really great!' by following through on more than just its pepper theming. this pepper-y Pokémon goes right up there with classics like Tangrowth and the various cacti and mushrooms in the plant monster hall of fame, showing that for every 'elegant' Grass-type like Leafeon or Gogoat, there's just as much room in the category for creatures that skew a little more mean and vicious. the slight bits of characterization we get from the Pokédex - implying a good kid driven mad by both its own Jokerizing capsacin supplies and a bad influence literally attached as a second head - only do more to seal the deal and secure Scovillain a place in my heart.

#963: FINIZEN / #964: PALAFIN

The Pokédex picture for Palafin in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

This Pokémon’s ancient genes have awakened. It is now so extraordinarily strong that it can easily lift a cruise ship with one fin.

Palafin's Hero Form Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

dolphins might be the most infamous example of a real-world animal eluding any representation in Pokémon, to the point where 'dolphin', in and of itself, without any additional twist, had become a staple of both fanart and fake leaks. at long last, 26 years in, Game Freak has found their own hook for how to make a dolphin Pokémon interesting, and in doing so, have created an unexpected favorite of mine and an absolute menace of a battler.

at first glance, Finizen is perhaps the most default-looking Pokémon imaginable. it is a cute cartoon dolphin with some bright colors and patterning on it. when i first saw it leaked, i was mostly just fine with it - it was checking off a long-time omission in the franchise's animal kingdom, good for anyone who really like dolphins, and that was about it. imagine my surprise, then, when the Pokédex continues leaking, and we see that image up there.

i honestly broke out in laughter when i saw Palafin for the first time. partially because it reminded me of some very specific fake leaks from years ago, but also just out of sheer astonishment that any dolphin enjoyers were going to inevitably be greeted with one of the weirdest Pokémon i've ever seen. this comedic factor really only grew as it became clear that nobody on the internet knew how to evolve a Finizen, trying all kinds of obtuse bullshit all over Paldea to see what made it tic.

the answer, in hindsight, is incredibly easy to overlook, especially given how many of these leakers were playing using emulated copies of the game. Finizen evolves by being leveled up during co-op play, a method which feels like it should be much more common, but is entirely unique to this line. even stranger, then, is that Palafin, when you first see it, doesn't even look like that barrel-chested beluga when it first evolves, instead looking exactly like its pre-evolved form, with only the addition of a heart emblem on its chest to hint that anything's changed.

Palafin is a real thinker of a Pokémon, and once it all clicked, my appreciation for it immediately skyrocketed to the point of considering it a must-have for my first playthrough. with how abundant pure Water-types are, i feel like Game Freak has made a very intentional effort to make sure that any new ones have some kind of interesting mechanic that makes them stand out, and Palafin's is, without a doubt, my favorite yet. Palafin enters battle as an unassuming dolphin, but when swapped out and brought back in, it changes into its 'hero form'. this is an entire Pokémon based on the classic superhero trope of rushing off to switch into costume, codified as a battle mechanic.

This Pokémon changes its appearance if it hears its allies calling for help. Palafin will never show anybody its moment of transformation.

Palafin's Zero Form Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

suddenly, it all makes sense, with the exaggerated muscular proportions, the huge emblem on its chest, the bravado in its animations. in a way, it almost feels complementary to Lokix - in the same new batch of Pokémon, we have two 'superheroes', one based on tokusatsu and one based on Superman. in addition, as part of the odd mythos that sprouted from the search for how to evolve Finizen, people took to interpreting Scovillain as a sort of 'nemesis' to Palafin, a headcanon which has no real in-game basis, but one which i deeply hope someone at The Pokémon Company picks up on.

on top of being one of the most clever gimmicks i've ever seen implemented for a single Pokémon, Palafin also happens to be one of the most 'broken' monsters added in this generation, to the point of getting quick-banned by long-time competitive community Smogon. its low stats in its civilian form are meant to provide a bit of a hinderance to using it, much like fellow unexpected bruiser Slaking, but not only is this an incredibly low bar, but Palafin gets immediate access to a Water-type move that lets it deal damage while switching out. with this single pre-requisite filled, you now have a superhero dolphin capable of throwing hands with a staggering base Attack of 160.

before Generation IX, i could hardly care if there was a dolphin Pokémon or not, but the end result is not only full of irresistible personality and flair, but it's also so powerful that it was seen as a higher priority than most actual Legendaries to get it shuffled out of mainstream competitive play. you go, Palafin.

#969: GLIMMET / #970: GLIMMORA

The Pokédex picture for Glimmora in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

Glimmet's toxic mineral crystals look just like flower petals. This Pokémon scatters poisonous powder like pollen to protect itself.

Glimmet's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Violet

this line was one of the first in Paldea to be leaked visually, through a small, tightly cropped screenshot of it being Terastallized, and when i first saw it, i didn't feel like i quite 'got' Glimmora. leakers continually described it as a sort of poisonous flower, and i just sort of accepted it as a mid-tier middle of the road addition meant to make sure there'd be solid type representation within Paldea's native Pokémon. little did i know that those leaks weren't doing it any justice, whatsoever.

for starters, Glimmora is hardly a flower at all, being our first Rock/Poison combination outside of the Ultra Beasts. i absolutely see where that's some easy quick shorthand for what it looks like, but it's just as much some kind of weird, levitating sea creature. perhaps the biggest thing that turned me around on this Pokémon, though, was in seeing it at an angle. the leaked images had implied simply a circular void for a face, with two yellow eyes - which would have certainly been cute, but not exactly a standout feature - but seeing it properly, it becomes clear that Glimmora actually has a large, transparent cone over its non-face, reading almost as some kind of massive beak. i'm not sure why, but this immediately made the whole thing click so much more for me.

that appreciation only increased as i saw people with much more expertise than me pinpoint what this Pokémon's true inspiration might be. with its Rock/Poison typing and its unique Ability, Toxic Debris, which allows it to scatter poisonous spikes when taking any physical hit, Glimmora seems to be based on real-world fibrous minerals that cause mesothelioma. Glimmora isn't just a flower, or a sea creature - it's a big flying asbestos monster.

of course, i also shouldn't neglect its adorable pre-evolved form, Glimmet, which keeps the same cone-face i love so much and contributes to the vaguely plant-like nature of this evolutionary family by having a floating body like some kind of hanging bulb. these Pokémon actually prove surprisingly rare, spawning only in the deepest caves of Paldea, and the 'Top Champion' of the region's Pokémon League uses Glimmora as her final team member (and seems to maybe style her hair after one). sure, using the fragile hazard-setter as her last resort rather than opening with it is a poor tactical choice, but it gives Glimmet and Glimmora a certain vibe as being 'special' Pokémon, not quite what we'd traditionally label as 'psuedo-legendary' but having a certain mystique not unlike something like Metagross or Volcarona.

that mystique runs even deeper, though, when you start to dig into some of the lore around these Pokémon. Glimmet can spawn rarely in most caves, but wild Glimmora can only be found in the deepest depths of Area Zero. one of their Pokédex entries states -

Glimmora's petals are made of crystallized poison energy. It has recently become evident that these petals resemble Tera Jewels.

Glimmora's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Violet

- while the other highlights Glimmora as 'opening its crystalline petals' and firing beams, a visual which some astute fans have tied back to the 'ultimate weapon' from Pokémon X and Y, which was central to a rather mysterious subplot that the series has never quite circled back around to. the further you go, the harder it is to pinpoint how intentional these connections are, but there's certainly a vibe that something is up with Glimmora, moreso than most 'normal' species of Pokémon. with such a bizarre real-world inspiration and a bit of mystery being spun around it, Glimmora has gone from what could have been a forgettable Pokémon to a real standout of Paldea.


The Pokédex picture for Annihilape in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

When its anger rose beyond a critical point, this Pokémon gained power that is unfettered by the limits of its physical body.

Annihilape's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

Pokémon Legends: Arceus laid the groundwork earlier this year with new creatures like Wyrdeer and Ursaluna, but Scarlet and Violet truly cement the return of a long-missed sight in the Pokédex - full, unambiguously connected, cross-generational evolutions. Generation 8 dabbled in providing classic Pokémon with new evolutions for the first time since Sinnoh, but limited these new evolutions to regional forms, meaning that while, yes, Farfetch'd finally had an evolution, only the new Galarian Farfetch'd could take advantage of it.

while Paldea does have one such regional evolution, it's given to this region's variant of Wooper, making it more of a branching path than an outright upgrade that might deny your old favorite its true final potential. instead, most of its new evolutions are all available to the original, non-native forms of these Pokémon, and it was honestly a hard call picking which of the four would make this list. Farigiraf finally follows up on the quirky promise of Girafarig and gives it a properly giraffe-scaled neck, Kingambit cleverly reinvents perennial Unovan badass Bisharp as a commander so attached to its seat that it's just another body part, and Dudunsparce came extremely close to making the cut, with its 'barely changed at all' body-type and bizarrely rare variants perfectly fitting the original little tsuchinoko's vibe.

when it comes down to it, though, i'm too charmed by Annihilape's entire schtick to pass it up. Primeape's never topped any list of mine, but it's always been on my radar as a solid little Fighting-type weirdo, with its strange pig-monkey body and perpetual anger. it's never quite been at the front of my mind - even within Generation 1's limited roster, Hitmonlee will always hold my heart as Kanto's best martial artist - but it's definitely a Pokémon i've always appreciated as a solid B-lister, representing how this franchise has never been afraid to get a little weird, even from the beginning.

finally, though, being the oldest Pokémon to get a new evolution in this batch - and thus, by default, ever, as of this writing - Primeape gets its due, by finally knowing the sweet release of death. or, rather, by not knowing it, because transcending this mortal coil seems to have only unlocked even stronger, deeper, untapped reserves of hatred in Primeape's heart. Primeape, who is always capable of tapping into even more anger, gets so angry that it dies, but dying only makes it stronger and angrier.

and 'stronger' is a real understatement, because while it hasn't quite hit critical mass and gotten banned yet, Annihilape is certainly looking like it could be heading for the top tiers of power in Paldea. the new signature move that facilitates its evolution, Rage Fist, is a fairly standard Ghost-type attack, except for the fact that it gets stronger the more times you hit Annihilape. combine this with its increased defensive stats and access to attacks like Drain Punch, and you suddenly have a Pokémon who'll tank your hits, steal your health, and only end up all the more powerful for it. i picked up an Annihilape as a rotational member of my team as i challenged the Pokémon League in Scarlet, and i honestly ended up having to put him on the bench before he made steamrolling through Gym Leaders a little too easy.

power aside, Annihilape also just happens to be one of the coolest new designs of the generation, perfectly building off Primeape to convey its core concept. the strange shackle-like bracelets that have always been a part of its design have cracked, its eyes have gone blood-red with slight white spots that could be read as either a gleam of light or a pupil shrunken in pure rage, and its fur grows long and ghostly, levitating over it in a display of its new undead strength. even the thing's cry sounds like maybe its bones are breaking, which caught me WAY off-guard using it in battle for the first time.

i'm always excited to see an old Pokémon learn some new tricks, and Annihilape is one of the most pristinely executed cross-generational evolutions in the history of the franchise. if you already loved Primeape more than anything else, then congratulations, it's now half Ghost-type and can channel that iconic anger into being one of this game's strongest Pokémon. i can only hope Game Freak takes note of this thing's growing fanbase and gives this level of satisfying new strength to all kinds of old one-stage and two-stage Pokémon in the future.


The Pokédex picture for Sandy Shocks in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

It slightly resembles a Magneton that lived for 10,000 years and was featured in an article in a paranormal magazine.

Sandy Shocks' Pokédex entry, Pokémon Violet

speaking then, of reinventing old classics, i couldn't let this list end without a look into the so-called 'Paradox Pokémon'. to make a long story short, this group of Pokémon, further split into version-exclusive sets of seven, are sort of a part of these games' true ending, acting as a demonstration of a supposed time machine. their actual origins are muddled a little by further in-game revelations, and many expect an eventual expansion to confirm that they're moreso imaginary representations of what misinformed scientists might have thought time-displaced Pokémon would look like, but for all intents and purposes, i'm willing to treat them as real parts of the world of Pokémon, or at least, real enough now that you can go put one in a ball and make it your friend.

my choice of version this time really did come down to these two groups of Pokémon, and i may eventually need to do a writeup of all of them, because they're all very fun ideas. while Pokémon Violet receives a set of 'future' Paradoxes interpreting classic Pokémon in new robotic forms, i ended up going with Pokémon Scarlet, with its 'prehistoric' Paradoxes reminding me of pulpy science-fiction that imagines hidden oases of dinosaurs. half of this top ten could easily be filled with Pokémon like the flightless moth/dinosaur hybrid Slither Wing or the feathered Fighting-type elephant Great Tusk, but i think the standout example that tips the prehistoric Paradoxes to be my favorites has to be Sandy Shocks.

if there's one unfortunate thing about the entire set of Paradox Pokémon, it's their rather clinical names. i understand the vibe they're shooting for, and it does call to mind the codenames for the similar 'post-game extradimensional weirdos' archetype, the Ultra Beasts, but the difference is that there was a sort of joy to seeing UB-02 Absorption turn out to be called Buzzwole, and that beat is missing from the Paradoxes. naming aside, though, i have nothing but nice things to say about Sandy Shocks.

the rest of the Paradoxes, for as charming as they are, present a pretty direct path from 'ancestor' to modern-day counterpart. Scream Tail is like a Jigglypuff with wild hair, Great Tusk is a distinctly more mammoth-y take on Donphan, and so on and so forth. Sandy Shocks stands out, then, because it's taking advantage of the fact that there are more mechanical Pokémon in the franchise's history, and turning that on its head. it's easy to ask "what if Donphan went feral", but Sandy Shocks posits the infinitely more funny/interesting/exciting question of "what if Magneton went feral".

the end result, then, is a very unique Electric/Ground Pokémon with a ton of clever design cues. the most immediately noticeable is, of course, the way its lower magnets seem to droop down and form a set of legs for this floating creature, meaning that, yes, this is a Magneton that can chase you on foot, which is surprisingly terrifying. in addition to this, its upper magnets are coated in metal shavings, forming its equivalent to 'caveman hair' much like Scream Tail. the main unifying element between the prehistoric Paradoxes to denote their wild nature seems to be exaggerated tails, and Sandy Shocks gets one by having several screws hanging behind it. even subtle changes, like changing its eyes to a piercing yellow color and giving it what seems to be a strange perforated 'mouth' along its top sphere really build up a sense of this being some kind of ferocious, untamed take on what we'd normally think of as a purely mechanical monster.

arguably even more odd, outside of any of its individual design traits, is the choice to give Magneton this treatment in the first place. much like fellow prehistoric Paradox Flutter Mane, Sandy Shocks is based on a Pokémon that received an evolution after its original introduction, perhaps implying a time before the presence of the magnetic fields that cause Magneton to evolve into Magnezone. this meta-textual layer of subverting expectations only adds to the strange appeal of Sandy Shocks - in all senses of the word, both biologically and in Pokémon's own lingo, we're looking at an ancient, unevolved specimen.

the entire Magnemite family was already some of my favorite endearing weirdos in all of Pokémon, with their distinct identity as some of the few inorganic creatures (and only retroactive Steel-types) in the original 151 and irresistible (dare i say magnetic?) charm, but now they have a weird feral 'cousin' who can come running after you and only gets stronger if it's sunny outside. what's not to love?


The Pokédex picture for Iron Bundle in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

Its shape is similar to a robot featured in a paranormal magazine article. The robot was said to have been created by an ancient civilization.

Iron Bundle's Pokédex entry, Pokémon Scarlet

i might have ended up leaning harder towards the prehistoric Pokémon of Scarlet, but i have to give Violet credit where it's due. it feels distinctly easier to make robotic duplicates of classic Pokémon 'cool', in a way that strays away from the off-the-wall creativity that leads a person to creating Sandy Shocks, but somewhere between the no-brainer Mechagodzilla parallel of Iron Thorns and the immediate fan-favorite appeal of Iron Valiant, you find this little weirdo. of all possible candidates for Paradox reinterpreation, Generation 2 got a surprising amount of love, and that shines through most obviously to me with Iron Bundle, a mechanical counterpart to Delibird.

Delibird, much like many of its Johto kin, is a Pokémon that i enjoy, but on a fairly surface level. it's an Ice/Flying bird that plays Santa, right down to its signature attack being Present. it's cute, it's fun, i enjoy it, and it certainly has its place, but it's not jumping out at me when i sit down and think about Pokémon, if that makes sense. that this semi-obscure single-stage Pokémon would receive this treatment at all is already worth props, in my book, and i love how that treatment has refreshed it.

the futuristic Paradox Pokémon of Violet all share a more cohesive aesthetic than their prehistoric counterparts, but with Iron Bundle, it feels like there's maybe a few more layers to its whole deal than just 'Dr. Robotnik finally caught Delibird'. with its shiny red body and the sharp geometric pattern of what was once Delibird's 'beard', Iron Bundle ends up reminding me of both a Christmas ornament and a classical 'toy soldier' aesthetic. its little ski feet are a fun practical trait for an Ice-type machine, and the massive blue bundle that earns it its name hints at its unusual secondary Water typing. on the whole, i find the secondary types of a lot of the Violet Paradoxes to be a little strange, but i also adore that these machines aren't all just predictably Steel-types, instead taking on strange new elemental traits seemingly as a side benefit to now being robots.

Iron Bundle's whole deal only gets stranger in motion, though, as its primary attack animations show two wildly different forms of offense. it can sling its faux sack of presents around like a whip, but mostly uses it as a sort of cannon for launching off Hydro Pumps and Ice Beams. no, when Iron Bundle needs to get up-close and personal, it launches its own head forward on a similar-looking 'stem', like some kind of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot. even when just moving around, it, in the game's own words via flavor text in the Occulture magazines, "fire[s] huge blasts of ice to propel itself through snowy lands". pretty much everything about how Iron Bundle moves around and functions as a machine is just delightfully weird.

Iron Bundle only gets more bizarre if you do choose to dig into those magazines, or the opposite-version Pokédex entry i've included above. according to these texts, leading cryptozoological experts theorize that Iron Bundle was built by a lost civilization, and unlike every other Paradox Pokémon, these claims line up with 'ancient writings that describe the design and usage of machines resembling Iron Bundle'. all of the other robots in the Violet Book are described in Scarlet as if they came out of B-movies or sci-fi manga, but Iron Bundle is, all at once, some kind of imitation Santa-bird from the ancient past who somehow ended up lumped in with all these future weirdos.

i fully understand that there's probably going to be some kind of explanation that says all these Paradox Pokémon were never real until the 'time machine' and/or that mysterious unknowable disc creature made them real, but that's no fun, and for as long as Game Freak will let me, i'm choosing to believe in a world where Iron Bundle is simply the weirdest little future-past bird who ever roamed/will roam the Earth.

all-in-all, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are absolutely packed with interesting new species. as i said at the beginning, these are just ten i felt like talking about right now. there's plenty of other new Pokémon in this game that i love too, even if i have less to say about them. whether it's the psychic fish that uses its telekinesis to filet its own flesh to gain strength, or the living engine block squid with its mouth perched above its cycloptic eye, or the terrible little hammer gremlin who loves to hit birds out of the sky - and i'm still omitting a few all-time greats in this summary - Paldea is full of fascinating creatures to train and befriend. more than ever, you really can't go wrong when building your team.

designing such a distinct cavalcade of creatures really is core to the appeal of Pokémon, and i always find myself impressed with how far new creative voices are able to push the series. it's a tale as old as time that every new generation comes with naysayers, and there always tends to be a design or two that i have to really take time to fit into my mental image of what 'feels like' a Pokémon, but even now, 26 years and 9 major iterations deep, the character designers at Game Freak are always bringing their A-game.

i'm just about sure i'll have to revisit this concept at some point, whether it's to go over another ten great designs, or when it comes time for the seemingly inevitable DLC expansions for Scarlet and Violet. the game already has threads left to follow up on, with perhaps the most enticing being the possibility of even more of those fantastic Paradox Pokémon. as it stands right now, though, these are the ten newest additions to the Pokédex that i can't get enough of, and i find myself more excited than ever to see what the next big batch brings us.