Saturday, December 31, 2011

49. Venomoth

so pretty

If you have spent any amount of time on Pokemon-related tumblrs or fansites, you may have seen an image like this:

Let's just put this to rest right now. Venonat and Venomoth were made for each other's bizarre, incongruous selves. Venomoth being Metapod's evolution just wouldn't work. Butterfree and Beedrill work together as the early game 3-part bug evolutions like peanut butter and jelly. Beedrill is sharp and angular; Butterfree is round and cuddly. Insert Venomoth's design into that and you have peanut butter and hummus or something. Which looks more like an advanced late-game pokemon: goofy, cartoonish Butterfree or regal, realistic Venomoth? And can you imagine Ash getting all teary-eyed after the sundering of his emotional attachment at the end of Bye-bye Venomoth? The fact that Venomoth has a head crest like Caterpie and Metapod is just a coincidence. Just like Butterfree having Venonat's exact eyes and antennae. And hands. And feet. And mouth. All coincidences. But anyway, isn't the point of metamorphosis that the initial form bears little resemblance to the end result? Yeah. Questionable Game Freak designers, I got your back.

Though it never really occurred to me until now just how similar Butterfree and Venomoth are. They share most of each other's move sets in Gen I: Confusion, Stun Spore, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Supersonic, Psybeam. And they're both Lepidoptera. Can you imagine the fan response if there was a pair like Butterfree and Venomoth in a new Pokemon game? “new pokemon are terrible there all just faggy butterflies and shit LOL” Of course, I love it; Pokemon was inspired by bugs, and no bugs are collected as avidly as butterflies. They're like real-life pokemon. And Butterfree and Venomoth lack the clear butterfly/moth binary of, say, Fluttershy and Muskox Beautifly and Dustox, which is also cool. Venomoth's Japanese name is Morpho, which might just be a play on morph, but it's also a family of butterfly! Venomoth's wings also resemble these.

Apparently their wing scales have weird light-bending properties that aided in the development of holographic anti-counterfeiting stuff. Almost makes you want to give their namesake pokemon a bunch of psychic attacks, eh?

There's plenty of moth in Venomoth too, though; it's not just an invention of localisation. Here's a quick butterfly/moth dichotomy primer, to refresh your Magic School Bus knowledge: moths tend to have rounder and fuzzier abdomens (check), feathered antennae (ehh), and less vivid colouration (Venomoth had the ghostly look going on way back in Sugimori's Red and Green artwork). Butterflies at rest hold their wings folded in the air, while moth wings are spread parallel to the ground. Moths are more likely to be nocturnal and have fuzzy caterpillars (like Venonat!). But the line is often pretty blurry and you can find exceptions to all the rules above. I for one hope they never stop introducing new Lepidoptera pokemon; they're always cool. Look at Volcanora for goodness' sake. It's some kind of moth god that can replace the sun.

Just to continue the “these should have been Psychic pokemon” thread, I love love love how Sabrina battles with a Venomoth in Generation I—at least until Yellow, when they give all the Venos to Koga like lame-os (although I guess it's pretty cool that the Venos can hold down a gym leader team all by themselves). Have I mentioned how much I like off-type gym leader pokemon? It's like, yeah, Sabrina takes her psychic types seriously, but Venomoth is so good at using psychic attacks it beat out Hypno for a spot on her team. It's the not-so-little moth that could.

The Winner:
Black and White

One unfortunate thing about Venomoth sprites is their eyes have gone from big, creepy Venonat-worthy globules to the current little beady things. But part of the reason their eyes look so small now is because their wings are HUGE. Yellow, Gold and Silver have nice shapes to them, but they can't compete with the sheer sprite space the DS allows Venomoth's wings. Butterfree this is not. This is a moth bred with an eagle. HG/SS's are the biggest (a pixellation of Sugimori's newer artwork), but I like B/W's positioning better. There's something more sleek and delicate about it.

You may have noticed that B/W is basically D/P in reverse. But in fact, they are slightly different! I put the two over each other in a gif, with D/P flipped:

Oh dear. Now Venomoth is making a crude gesture at us. And it has a wild look in its eye.

This is good, because D/P flipped is pretty much the best I could have asked for in a new Venomoth sprite, but it again raises the question why so many 1st Gen pokemon in D/P are facing backwards in the first place. It's meant to highlight their being out of place, maybe? I almost wonder if they actually appear that way in-game, or if some sprite ripper made a weird mistake and us lazy internet mobs have propagated it, depriving many a good sprite of their just recognition. I haven't collected any of said pokemon in D/P myself, so I wouldn't be able to tell you. Such are my blog-writing qualifications.


  1. Love the blog! Just found it. Keep going! :)

  2. Hi!! I have to second what Nathan said. I just found this blog, and I really like your humor and writing. I'm learning about the "natural world" as well as thinking that I need to become more of a Pokemon nerd. I was a Pokemon Blue girl myself.


  3. I love this blog! Write more! :D

  4. Just found this blog too! I love Pokémon sprites so I'm looking forward to more updates! :D

  5. please come back spriteguy!! x

  6. I've heard that they accidentally switched the sprites, but there's no way Butterfree would have been named Venomoth and Venomoth would have been named Butterfree. I've also heard that they switched them because they wanted something cuter for Ash's Caterpie to evolve into, but that doesn't make sense either since the first games came before the anime.

    1. they planed out the anime before the games and origanaly were not going to make a game.

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

  8. *leaves comments on several year old posts*
    Bred with an eagle, you say? Did you mean a.............................
    /hawk moth?/ ;D