Friday, April 22, 2011

42. Golbat

I just finished an essay for school about Thomas Nagel's “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” and now I get to come here and write about bats. Look people: it's not that mysterious. Imagine you weigh just a few ounces, are primarily driven by needs to feed and copulate with little capacity for reflection, can fly, eat fruit or bugs or blood, and have your entire neural system adapted to orient yourself with the hypersensitive reception of bouncing sound waves. That is what it is like to be a bat.

Golbat is something else though. For some reason, I had written off its design as boring. Crobat is really to blame for this. When was the last time you trained a Golbat for more than a level or two, before it evolved again? It has become this forgettable middle sibling in the bat family, with features that have nothing to do with its evolved or pre-evolved state. Why does its body and mouth go from huge to small again? And what are those, legs?

But looking at it now, I love almost all of these sprites. I invite you to wipe from your memory, for the moment, the fact that it easily evolves into something better and more streamlined. Think back to Red and Blue. Golbat was king of its domain then. Similar to a Raticate or Arbok, but stronger and scarier. The consummate bad guy pokemon. And to continue my mission of finding something cute about every pokemon: look at its itty bitty little ears! Awww

The mouth is the main attraction here. There are other pokemon notable for their enormous maws that never seem to close (Gyarados, Exploud), but Golbat's takes the cake in terms of mouth-to-body ratio. In fact, it could probably take a couple dozen cakes. At once. My favourite interpretations of Golbat are the ones that don't even make an effort to have its mouth look possible in three-dimensional space. Its first several sprites take this route, as well as the anime version.

(Yeesh, you could lose your whole person in that thing)

Instead of showing the mouth at an angle where there's a clear recession, it's shown full on and stark black. I like the idea of an animal with such a thin, depthless body (which you can see even in its HG/SS overworld sprites)

nonetheless having a mouth from which light can not escape. Golbat is a black hole with wings and feet.

And those feet, while goofy, actually kind of tie into the vampire bats on which Golbat is based. Did you know vampire bats are the only bats adapted to run on the ground? I always figured they swooped down upon victims, but apparently they land stealthily a ways away from their target, then bound forward on all fours, using their wing muscles for propulsion. That sounds amazing. Although I'll never understand how a vampire bat gets away with feeding. Mosquitoes and black flies you can understand, but how does anyone not notice getting mounted by a whole bat.

The more I think about it, the more I wish Crobat had been an alternate evolution of Zubat, rather than the final evolution. Then Crobat would be like the fruit bat lineage (small mouth, wings, high speed stat) while Golbat retains its thunder as the carnivore bat (huge mouth, feet, high attack). I would proudly roll with Golbat in that arrangement. Extra speed is useless anyway once you're already faster than everything.

The Winner:
Red and Blue

Yellow's sprite is pretty darn amazing. I like Silver's silly walk. Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum's look again like they're ready-made animation for Black and White. Although D/P is the best out of those, because its lower jaw is out of line with its skull, which they decided to fix in B/W. Look, with a mouth that big and loose you can't expect everything to be symmetrical.

Red and Blue is a very special kind of horrifying though. Normally Red and Blue sprites try to look less bizarre than Red and Green's, but not here. The eyes extending past its head. The extreme angle. The tongue to rival Lickitung's, seen on no other Golbat, unfurling horizontally out the side of its mouth, from in front of its teeth. It's like everything is mis-oriented. It's a work of surrealist art, made specifically to induce nightmares in Red and Blue children.



    oh my god seriously why

    1. I did to, but I eventually got red, even though I already knew what the sprite looked like.

  2. Golbat scares me XD

  3. great to see you back! i missed the regular updates of pokemon :D i grew up with the early versions and i actually liked Golbat. i like really creepy stuff XD

  4. I love golbat's enormous tongue. I wish they showed more of it.
    Also, the last time I trained a golbat for more than two levels without it evolving was... every time. I've never played a game with crobat.

  5. Rofl oh jeez your sense of humour... You're a hilarious bro/chick, keep it up.

    "Mosquitoes and black flies you can understand, but how does anyone not notice getting mounted by a whole bat."
    Well, if I remember right, vampire bats mostly attack cows and such on places they can't reach. Get their fill, fly off, come back the next night, pick off the scab. Rinse, repeat.

    An interesting fact about vampire bats: if one is too sick to go out and feed for itself, another vampire bat will vomit up the blood it drank into the sick one's mouth! Isn't that just precious? :3

  6. those are indeed legs! crobat's pokedex entry: how does crobat fly so fast and quitely? it's legs turned into wings.

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