Friday, October 8, 2010

28. Sandslash

I have learned more about the natural world playing Pokemon than I ever did in school.

For instance, did you know that if you play Diamond and Pearl on January 12th (composer Junichi Masuda’s birthday) there’s a weather effect in Snowpoint City known as “diamond dust?”

This isn’t a made up thing to play on the game’s title, it’s an actual weather phenomenon. It’s when the air gets so cold, water vapor condenses directly into a solid, bypassing the liquid form that makes snowflakes all big and puffy. The result is a clear-sky, ground-level fog of ice crystals floating in midair. It’s incredibly rare outside of the Arctic and Antarctic circles, but also known to happen in Japan. Of course. This is even cooler than that one route in Ruby and Sapphire where it rains volcanic ash all the time.

So what does this have to do with Sandslash? Well, just as I owe knowledge of my favorite meteorological event to Pokemon, so too do I owe knowledge of my favorite exotic animal, the pangolin.


It is a real life Sandslash, oh my goodness. Mixed with a dragon.

If Sandshrew is the perfect pokemon (and it is), then Sandslash is the perfect pokemon evolution. The flat, brick-pattern plates become spiky, stegosaur plates. The cute forearms become seriously dangerous looking. The eyes are intensified. And yet it’s not overdone; you can still intuitively see the Sandshrew in it; it doesn’t become a big, overdesigned monster or anything (there are plenty of pokemon families that go down that road). I also love the one little plate on its forehead the same color as its skin. I have no idea why; it’s like this endearing imperfection.

Sandslash is pretty useful in the games too, it’s not just eye candy. Level 22 is like the perfect evolution level. It just feels right. Yet it’s still strong enough to last you through the Elite Four, both in stats and attacks; Slash and Dig are all you really need. I wish it would learn Earthquake or something by leveling up but There’s a TM For That. In Generation II it gets Sandstorm, which is an awesome attack conceptually if not practically, unless you train a lot of ground and rock pokemon (like me) or are playing Generation III or later and have Sandslash’s Sand Veil evasiveness bonus. Sand sand sand.

The Winner:

Did the biggest Sandshrew/Sandslash fan on the art team get assigned to do all the Silver sprites or something? Because they nailed it for both of them. There aren’t really any bad Sandslash sprites; even Red, Blue and Green’s are cool in their own way. But there’s one sprite that does an even better job with the claws and foreshortening and general badassery, and that’s Silver. Not only does it look ready to scoop out something’s liver, it’s also the only sprite that thought to show Sandslash running. Sandslash isn’t just an offense-defense tank, after all—it’s also got some speed to it. Perfect, as mentioned.


  1. I absolutely agree! I've always thought that the progression from Sandshrew to Sandslash is excellence. It's a great Pokemon, too.
    I'm not very fond of D/Ps and B/Ws sprites. Not sure why, but his face doesn't really look right for a creature based on a pangolin/shrew. It's not cute enough.

  2. I found your blog through reddit, and I have to say it's really really really awesome. I never knew someone liked to nerd out about poke-sprites as much as me. I love your little articles about them, I think this is my favorite, but the Pikachu article made me the most nostalgic. Subscribed to your RSS feed. Keep the posts coming. :D

  3. I was gonna say, if you don't pick silver I'm gonna be mad. This is my favorite Pokemon and silver definitely takes the cake on portraying Sandslash's epicness. That claw is jus coming right at you.

  4. that silver sandslash reminds me of a certain bear....

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