Monday, December 19, 2011

47. Parasect

This is the last time I get to post about mind-control parasites, so I'll throw some more great videos out there: here are wasp larvae that burrow out of a living caterpillar and make the caterpillar defend their cocoons until it dies. Here is a fungus that makes snails climb to altitude and fills their antennae to look like swollen, throbbing caterpillars so birds will eat them and spread their spores. And my favourite is the Emerald Jewel Wasp, which does brain surgery on cockroaches to cut off their survival instincts and play a docile host to larvae. I mean, really. I have a friend who insists these things only seem evil and gross to us, and are actually perfectly innocuous as elements of nature. But no, I'm guessing those caterpillars and cockroaches would find them pretty evil and gross too. I'm still holding out hope for an Emerald Jewel Wasp pokemon; it could have actual emeralds in its design, and be really villainous, and have the first Bug/Psychic typing.

But until that happens, Parasect is the reigning king of creepy bug pokemon, and perhaps creepy pokemon in general. Like Sandslash, it's a great progression from a simpler pokemon base, except instead of getting all rad and capable looking, it gets deformed and demented. One highlight is Paras' cute Lenny eyes becoming big, empty disks. The message couldn't be clearer: the pokemon you loved and nurtured to level 24 is gone. Now it's got one giant mushroom taking up like two thirds of its biomass. And the parts of Paras' body most notably developed? Yep, its legs and foreclaws. Like the only use the parasite has for Paras now is sustenance, locomotion and self defense. Remind you of anything? Like... pokemon training? You are the real parasite, grinding down your cute bug friend for levels and speed EVs, instead of taking it to see a doctor about those growths on its back. You monster.

Parasect's predicament is so brutal it actually makes its pre-evolution that much cooler. This is the mark of a great pokemon: it complements its whole family. You train a Paras anticipating its gruesome evolved fate, and savour the tragedy. Would Paras be as appealing if it evolved into some healthy-looking insect adult, free of fungal hangers-on? It's doubtful. But I shouldn't have mentioned the possibility, because Game Freak is liable to make a pokemon like that now. Split Paras' evolution line to give it a more sunny option, like a new Bellossum. Blegh.

I'm not usually as enthusiastic about pokemon attacks as I am about pokemon themselves, but Spore is bloody brilliant and I would train any pokemon that learns it. And guess what: Paras and Parasect are the only ones who can learn it, by any means, until Generation III, and even now the only ones who can learn it before level 45. They own Spore, pretty much. Sleep is easily the best status ailment because it gives you up to FIVE turns of complete incapacitance. That's like an entire battle. And Spore gives you sleep with 100% accuracy. If you had a hypothetical fast pokemon with Spore, its opponent would basically never attack. My all time favourite, I-can-never-start-a-new-game-on-this-cartridge-now LeafGreen elite four team had a Parasect (and a Sandslash, come to think of it) on which I broke my no-held-items rule and gave it a Quick Claw, so it could at least burn through Lorelei's pokemon without always taking Ice Beams to the face. Its Spore-to-Solar Beam combo was a thing of poetry.

There is one pet peeve I have about Parasect though. Observe these two pictures of it, in its official Sugimori renditions:

Lovely, aren't they? Note the lack of mouths, which you see reflected in most of its game sprites. Now observe this abortion:

Suddenly Parasect is a Barney character. Why, anime? Having some trouble making an expressionless zombie pokemon be expressive? GOOD. Don't turn an awesome pokemon into a golly-shucks sock puppet. But this is exactly what artists do over and over now, including in the (big surprise) Pokemon Yellow sprite. Listen: something that is having the last ounces of its lifeforce sucked out of it by a commandeering parasite has no need for a prominent mouth. Unless it wants to go “Parasect! Parasect!” instead of making its haunting, alien cry which is one of the best in the game. If you catch someone drawing Parasect with a mouth, please give them a stern talking-to for me.

Lastly, when I was looking for cool Parasect pictures I found this little bumper below. I have no idea what it's from, but it looks like the logo to a brand of Parasect athletic shoe. Which I want now.

The Winner:

Aww yeah. You had to know Gold and Silver's heavily shadowed style would fit Parasect perfectly. Look at what they're able to accomplish with just two colours; look at the mushroom's spots! It's like the checker shadow illusion. Pokemon sprites never have that sense of depth to them now.

Silver's sprite barely edges out Gold's for me, because it's just so obscure and lurking. But they're both pretty fantastic. I also appreciate the sprites from Red, Green and Blue, for looking like alien motherships.


  1. Oh yeah, they have those pictures for a lot of evolutionary lines they're pretty cool

  2. You do know you can cancel the evolution or give it an everstone

  3. Pokemon - Emerald - Hack (all pokemons) GBA ROM+SAVE+CHEAT