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Special thanks to Helix Chamber for providing the canon backsprite!
tell me your secrets, electric rat
Gorochu is, in my opinion, the most intriguing beta Pokemon. Having a third evolution for Pikachu would’ve changed people’s entire perception of the line, as Pikachu would’ve been the baby and Raichu the transitional stage between the two. It’s crazy to think that there’s effectively been a missing link to the most iconic Pokemon this entire time, and one that was merely scrapped to just save data to boot.
But the other thing that makes it intriguing to me is that we simultaneously know exactly what it looked like and have no idea what it looked like. We have the back 1/4 of it and a quote from the designer, Atsuko Nishida, that describes the general vibe and some front features... but we have no clear idea as to what the rest of it was like. With most betas, we either have their entire sprites or they’re a complete mystery. This is basically Schrödinger’s Gorochu.
Anyway, the point is that I wanted to try to recreate what I feel it may have looked like, as there aren’t really any designs out there that I agree with (Helix Chamber’s gets the closest). Keep in mind that this is merely my interpretation, and it’s no more or less valid than any else’s designs.
I was also trying to recreate what I think the official art may have looked like, not the sprite, which is why there are some inconsistencies (Gen 1 sprites were woefully inaccurate, especially the backsprites).
I’ve included a massive section on my design rationale for this thing under the cut, just in case anyone was curious why I gave it two horns or stuff like that.
Body: For some reason people tend to make Gorochu really muscular, I guess to make it look stronger? Personally, given how fat the original ‘chu line is I find it hard to believe Gorochu wasn’t as chubby as its predecessors.
Side note, Helix Chamber gave their design claws. It fits with the raijin theme (though they don’t always have them), but it’s hard to make them work with the round paws, so I left them out here. Very plausible that they were there, though; if it did I’d think they’d just be on the front paws, like an inverse Growlithe.
Horns: The single horn is the biggest contention I have with the Helix Chamber design. Unless Ms. Nishida was just misremembering things, she says it had horns plural (and in one translation, a “pair of horns”). And Gorochu is based off a raijin (Japanese god of thunder), which usually have two horns.
Thing is that if you look closely at the sprite, there’s something between the horn and the whisker. It could be an eye, as some of the Gen 1 sprites had bug eyes, but it looks to have a sharp tip. So based on that I believe it had two horns stacked on top of one another.
Whiskers: The reason I changed the shape of them is that Horsea’s backsprite shows it with very similar whiskers... which turn out to be flat fins against its face in the official art. The other reason I think they might’ve been flatter in the front sprite is that it gives them more of a resemblance to Raichu’s ears.
As a side note: seeing as they seem to be a continuation of the ‘chus electrical pouches I don’t think it makes sense for the original circles to still be there. They could’ve been pointed at the bottom as well; I went with rounded because it connects them with the pouches visually.
Spikes: Good lord I hate these spikes. Popular interpretations:
Clouds: Clouds would be raijin-esc, but I think if they were mean to to be clouds they’d be... you know, round.
Back Stripe: The spikes start right about where the stripes start on Raichu and Pikachu’s gen 1 sprites. However, they’re clearly dimensional, and they don’t seem to wrap around the body (there’d need to be another few triangles for that to work).
Electric Mane: This was my original thought (think like Jolteon), but the spikes are far too big, and are facing the wrong direction.
Tail: Gonna have to agree with Helix Chamber; a tail seems the most likely, especially because it’s at the back of the neck, where a raijin’s ribbons flow. Given Raichu’s long tail, it would make sense for this to be the direction the line was going in.
It seems unlikely (in the official art) that its tail would be shorter than Raichu’s rather than longer, so I tried to make long and flow naturally around the body. Also, if it was this long it could arc over the head during attacks to make it even more raijin-esc.
I also disagree that the tip 'hooks’ around the neck. Aside from feeling unnatural, it doesn’t actually seem to wrap as noted above; rather, I think it was being held several inches or even feet away from Gorochu, and it only looks like it’s directly against the neck because we can’t see the bottom. Cover up the bottom in my illustration and you’ll get the same effect.
Finally, it has distinctive pyramid-like shading that I can only interpret as folds in the tail, which makes sense when you consider that that would make it zigzag lighting style across the top as well as the sides. There’s no guarantee the zigzag ran down the base like I have it here, but it felt unique so I left it.
Color: What we know from the backsprite is that it had a similar palette to Raichu; darker fur with light (presumably yellow and white) accents. Because the ‘chu line darkens as it goes, many people make Gorochu red, but I’m not fond of this as it makes it look too much like a fire type (indeed, there are almost no red electric types presumably for this reason). And given that Raichu shares Pikachu’s yellow, a warm brown seems likely--especially because Ms. Nishida also designed Alolan Raichu, which has a brown palette to differentiate it from regular Raichu.
Markings: Markings are made up and your feelings don’t matter. Some raijin art depicts them with decorative bracelets, which is where the stripes come from. The pattern and colors are meant to look like a more advanced version of the dark points Raichu introduces, as I’m assuming they were going somewhere with that. And I’d assume the underbelly stays, seeing as the white from the horn would need to be pulled through somewhere.
Anyway, the point of this was that I have no idea what Gorochu looked like at all. thank you for coming to my TED talk
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Reviews of All Scrapped Spaceword Betas
Exactly what it says in the title. This is also for my reference, as I might redesign some of these later for funsies.
I’m only including Pokemon that were 100% scrapped (we’re not here to argue what might have become what) and aren’t evos/pre-evos of existing Pokemon. Also, I’m using the English fan-translations for the names because I don’t speak Japanese.
Our original fire starter, and yeah, I can see why this was scrapped. For starters (heh), it looks more like a rodent that evolves into a lion than anything resembling a bear. And secondly... it doesn’t really have a clear focus, nor a memorable design. It’s just kind of a rodent-bear thing with flames tacked onto it.
The best Pokes usually have a "catch” to them, and these guys lack that. For example, this got replaced by Cyndaquil, which has the concept of flaming spikes that form out of its back. That’s memorable. This, well, isn’t.
Possible reason for being scrapped: Lack of focus/interesting design
Pokes to fill the void: Teddiursa and Ursaring are probably the closest in terms of being bears. Something about it also reminds me of Growlithe/Arcanine, probably because it’s a fluffy fire thing that evolves into a bigger fluffy fire thing with a mane and black markings.
This has the same problem as the Flambear line, just less extreme. It’s okay, being a little plesiosaur that evolves into a bigger plesiosaur, but it also lacks an interesting catch to it. The pearls are maybe something, but they’re not really emphasized, just kind of tacked on. Plus Dragonair kind of has the crystal neck ornaments on lock. And the horn. And the underbelly. And the water theme...
I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to a plesiosaur water starter in the future, but it would probably have to be completely redesigned.
Possible reason for being scrapped: Lack of focus/interesting design; too similar to Dragonair
Pokes to fill the void: Dragonair, as mentioned above. If you want a plesiosaur, Lapras is always a thing.
Putting the rest under the cut for length.
This is one of the most chaotic beta evolutions out there, aside from beta Girafarig. I can see the resemblance between Sunmola1 and Anchorage to some extent--counter-shaded blue fish with two fins and a short body--but the anchor part of the evolution comes out of nowhere. Then it sporadically turns into a gulper eel, which has nothing to do with the previous two evolutions at all.
I’ve heard some people suggest that Sunmola1 basically gets dragged into the depths and turns into a deep-sea creature due to its anchor, which is a fantastic idea. However, if that’s what they were going for here it’s not really clear, and I think it could be executed much better.
Individually, Sumola1 is a little plain. Not terrible, but I think they could do something more interesting with the little head thing. Anchorage is memorable, but there’s something very un-Pokemonish about it. I think it’s just the fact that it’s basically cut in half--I keep expecting the backsprite to show its organs or something. Grotess is also a bit too plain.
It’s also worth noting that at some point, this was the evolutionary line, which is more consistent but much less interesting (save for the middle evo’s eyes, which are pretty great).
Possible reason for being scrapped: Lack of evolutionary consistency; some designs plain or not very fitting for Pokemon
Pokes to fill the void: Alomomola is a sunfish Pokemon. Sharpedo is a shark crossed with an object, and Grotess almost certainly became Huntail and Gorebyss.
These two... are pretty good. They have a simple catch--black cats with bells--and the designs are nicely executed and memorable.
If I had one complaint, it’s that they maybe seems a tad unfocused in the backend of things. They’re dark types, but have a bunch of “cutesy” moves, and it’s not clear why’d they be dark apart from being black cats. They seem to have a magical girl vibe (Bellboyant looks a bit like Luna from Sailor Moon, which is probably not a coincidence), which also has nothing to do with the bells or the dark theme. I do think that the designs themselves are fine though, and that if you just focused on the sound concept a hair more you’d have a pretty great Pokemon.
Possible reason for being scrapped: Not entirely sure, these definitely would’ve been popular. Might’ve just been a balancing thing, or it lost the dev popularity contest.
Pokes to fill the void: Skitty kind of has the same vibe as Rinring. They also remind me a bit of the Meowth line, being cat Pokemon with metal attached to them. The Purrloin line takes over the “dark-type cat” aspect.
I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, it’s a very plain looking Pokemon. The idea of it balancing a fireball/bomb on its nose instead of a ball is clever and memorable enough... except that it’s dependent on it being on that pose. It can’t balance that 24/7, and once it stops all you’re left with is a plain sea lion with dark points.
However, it’s fire/water. The only fire/water we have right now is a legendary, so it would be sweet to have one that’s just a regular poke. So it’s not that the concept itself is bad, using a water-based animal and adding a fire type; it’s just more that the execution is lackluster. Give this guy a hook not related to the fireball and make the seal itself more interesting and I think you’d have something here.
Possible reason for being scrapped: Lack of interesting design
Pokes to fill the void: Volcanion is our only fire/water Pokemon for now. In terms of seals/sea lions with a circus theme, Popplio is a decent enough match.
Someone at Gamefreak hates tigerballs, because this line was planned for Gen 1, scrapped, then planned for Gen 2 and scrapped again. Which is strange, because while it’s not the best design it’s not bad either. It’s very very cute, and could definitely find an audience.
However, I’m not really sure what the premise is here. If it’s based on tiger clay bells, then it doesn’t really play into the bell theme much at all. And if it’s not... why is it so round? It’s not that the roundness is bad, but it would usually form the hook for this Pokemon, like it collects static electricity in its fur that makes it puff out or something. Maybe some dex descriptions would’ve made this clearer, who knows.
Also, Electiger is literally the exact same design as Tigrette, just bigger. It would either need a completely new final evolution or would need to show up as a single evo.
While that sounds harsh, I do really like this design. Fix the evo, figure out/build on the hook of it being round or bell like, and maybe refine the markings a touch and it would be pretty perfect.
Possible reason for being scrapped: Not sure. Might’ve been too similar to Pikachu (both being yellow round electric type Pokemon with zig-zag tails, and og fat Pikachu was also very round). The need to rework the evolution also might’ve turned GameFreak off of it.
Pokes to fill the void: Spheal and Rowlet are both pleasantly round. Pikachu is cute and electric themed in a similar way. In terms of tigers, Raikou is also electric-type. The exact way the stripes are done here is also very similar to Litten.
GameFreak. GameFreak, you are telling me that we almost had a voodoo-doll Pokemon based off of Ushi-no-Toki-Mairi that evolves into a fucking jiangshi panda?? You are killing me here.
A few interesting things to note here:
Kurstraw evolves at level 1. How? Why? No idea. It could just be a placeholder, but...
The fact that Kurstraw was set to have Curse as its signature move (then called “nail”) and that it only learned this move at level 100 makes it evolving at level 1 seem intentional.
To make things more confusing, it almost seems like (and this is speculation on my part) GameFreak’s intention was to encourage players to not evolve this thing. Stats are comparable, Kurstraw only gets its signature move if you level it up to where it can’t evolve, and Kurstraw has the better moveset (getting frigging destiny bond at lv. 16, while Pangshi gets... splash (which. makes more sense when you consider it’s called “hop” in Japan but it’s still useless). If that was what they were aiming for, then that’s a really unique mechanic that would really make this poke stand out.
Design wise, Kurstraw is... well, it’s a doll with a nail rammed through it. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not very Pokemon-ish. Meanwhile, Pangshi is maybe a little too much like a Jianshi rather than being reminiscent of one, right down to the little hat. The pose, fangs, and panda colors (which resemble Jiangshi mandarin robes) are more than enough to get the hook across.
What I really love about these two are the expressions. They are just like, so dissonantly happy. Kurstraw is literally like
and Pangshi has the dead-eyed thousand-yard stare of Espurr, except unlike Espurr it looks completely and utter deranged. It looks like if this Pokemon ended up in Mystery Dungeon, it would respond to every question with “my favorite color is blood”. Amazing.
Possible reason for being scrapped: I think these two might’ve been scrapped just because they were too scary. I mean, it’s a voodoo doll impaled on a giant nail that evolves into a literal actual corpse. The implied violence was probably just a bit much for GameFreak.
The reason I think this is, beside the fact that they have fairly solid designs, good hooks, and all of their stats and moves in place, most beta Pokemon have had their premises revisited at some point. But we’ve really never gotten a voodoo doll Pokemon since this, and we definitely haven’t gotten any jiangshi Pokemon either, which suggests the problem lied in the very concept rather than the execution.
Pokes to fill the void: People say that Kurstraw was reworked into Banette, but if anyone Pokemon resembles it to be, it would actually be Mimikyu. They both have cloth bodies with drawn-on smiley faces that resemble something cuter than them and they both want to curse you for existing.
For Pangshi... well, there’s Pancham if you’re looking for tiny pandas. If you’re after a jiangshi though, you’re out of luck.
This Pokemon has a great hook. I mean, a Pokemon that wears a pelt that transforms it into a werewolf? Hell yeah. Not to mention it might be a reference to an obscure Nordic tale about people donning wolf pelts to turn into wolves for ten days.
Design wise, it... well, Wolfman looks almost exactly like Venonat. I’m not the only one who sees this, right?
That aside, I think the idea could be played up a little more. Wolfman is fine, save for its Venonat-ishness, but Warwolf doesn’t do much for me, basically just being a larger version with claws and fangs. If the idea is that it turns into a werewolf by wearing the pelt, what if its evolution looked somewhat like a wolf? Or better yet, the actually body of the thing changes to fill the wolf skin more, so it looks like its a part of it? That would really elevate this Pokemon to a new level.
Possible reason for being scrapped: I’d guess that it’s the same problem as Kurstraw and Pangshi--too scary. I mean, that is a dead pelt of some kind, which means that it killed and skinned some kind of Pokemon, and that’s not getting into questions of what Pokemon they got that from.
It’s also worth noting that when we did finally get a werewolf Pokemon via Lycanroc, it was minus the pelt concept.
Pokes to fill the void: Lycanroc as our werewolf Pokemon. In terms of design, Venonat is very similar as noted above. And something about it really reminds me of Snorunt, being little critters with glowing eyes that wear a cloak of some kind and live in the cold (this line was ice-type).
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Dragine (Dragon + Serpentine + Brine, a type of saltwater)
Evolves from Dragonair with water stone
Height: 22′ 9″ (7.0 m)
Weight: 248 lbs (112 kg)
Gender: 50/50 split
Ability: Drizzle/Shed Skin
These reclusive Pokemon live in deep ocean caves. Their crystals glow in low-light conditions, which helps them navigate in dark waters.
Their whiskers are very sensitive. They use these to feel the location of cave walls.
Dragine frequently rescue people and Pokemon who become lost in underwater caves. Because of this, it’s revered by cave divers.
Dragine live in underwater caves, and only surface during the fiercest of gales. They use the crystals on their body to turn massive storms into gentle drizzles.
A Dragonair completely loses its ability to fly upon evolving into this Pokemon. What causes this evolution is unknown, but exposure to a water stone is vital.
Dragine caves are easy to spot, as the entrances are often covered in jewels and gold left as thank-you gifts from divers.
This Pokemon usually has a calm disposition. However, they can become quite dangerous if enraged.
A newly-evolved Dragine has ten crystals on its underside. It gradually grows in more crystals over time, resulting in them forming one new orb about every five years.
This Pokemon channels energy through its crystals and uses it in powerful attacks. Some reports claim they’ve even attacked Gyarados who have wandered too close to their young.
Design rational and thoughts on Dragonite under the cut:
People who love Dragonair tend to hate Dragonite. I love Dragonite personally, and it actually bears much more of a resemblance to Dragonair than people seem to realize. It even makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint when you consider that it’s probably based off of an imugi.
However, it’s also true that Dragonite feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the line. This is because there are one too many changes made to it, ranging from the baffling color change to the body type. Even the personality changes, going from elegant and calm to friendly and doofy, so it’s understandable why people would be disappointed by Dragonite.
With that said, I’m surprised Gamefreak hasn’t done a branching evo for this line, as it would satisfy everyone. Prefer Dragonite? It’s still there. Prefer Dragonair? Now there’s an evo that resembles it more. Like both, like me? See if you can obtain two Dragonair and evolve them differently. Everyone’s happy.
The idea behind my design is that if a Dragonair evolving is similar to an imugi becoming a dragon after catching a jewel (yeouiju), then this branch is based off the idea that many imugi fail to become dragons and stay serpents. Dragonair both flies and lives in the water, whereas Dragonite gains a flying type, so I figured the evolution should lose its flight abilities and take to the seas, becoming part water-type.
Design wise, it’s based off a few deep-sea animals as well as Eastern-style lung dragons. It also bears a resemblance to Dragonair’s beta design, though that was unintentional (I already had started sketching when I found out what it used to look like).
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