Tuesday, February 14, 2012

50. Diglett

I thought the Diglett Underground meme was sufficiently played out—elderly, in internet years—to only mention it in passing. But then JUST THE OTHER DAY Kotaku made a post out of this picture from 2008, and goodness, they get paid to be on top of these things. So yes, Pokemon fans: our own little Diglett is an internet meme now, with its own knowyourmeme page and everything.

What I really like about the mystery of Diglett's body is it's not just a fandom thing; the games point it out pretty explicitly! For instance, there's the Pokemon Stadium pokedex entry: “Its head pokes up approximately eight inches out of the ground. However, its real size remains a mystery to this day.” Apparently it manages to stump all manner of sonar, radar, and seismic equipment. And no one has ever caught one and put it in a glass terrarium. If there is a real-world equivalent for Diglett, it's deep sea creatures that cannot be measured, because they live at unfathomable depths, and only appear to us as ghostly bloated carcasses that turn up in the nets of fisherman and the nightmares of under-funded biologists, for their bodies are held together only by water pressure, and spite. I also like the Gold Pokedex entry: “Its skin is very thin. If it is exposed to light, its blood heats up, causing it to grow weak.” Aww, Diglett. It's the shut-in pokemon.

Then it got lampshade-hung in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, and lately games have been going to impressive lengths to have Diglett and Dugtrio make sense in the Pokemon universe. In Black and White, they're the only pokemon not to drop out of the pokeball when sent out; instead they just appear on the ground. In HG/SS's Pokeathlon (which by the way, is the coolest pokemon mini-game, beating Contests and Musicals by a landslide), you can place Diglett in the hurdles and instead of jumping it will dig under them. I think touches like that are great, but they're still not enough for some people. How does Diglett work indoors? This gentleman sums up his objections pretty succinctly.

Some of the artistic renderings of Diglett's true form resort to crazy, disjointed, Longcat-esque scrolls like in Kotaku's article. Far more common are the ones giving Diglett and Dugtrio sexy people bodies, which... I don't know what to say about, actually. I went through all Diglett's meme renditions (so you wouldn't have to), and here are some worth appreciating, methinks (click for full size).

In a way it makes sense for Diglett to be a giant monster, given that it causes earthquakes and everything. This one might be my favourite though, and is easily the most probable:

Simple. Or perhaps, given its ability to skirt around on floorboards, Diglett is actually nothing more than its head and a disk of dirt. I like that idea too.

Diglett for me has always sat on the Ground-type hierarchy a couple rungs below my spirit animals, Sandshrew and Cubone, but maybe I should reconsider. Really, those three together form a trio more legendary than any of the actual legendary trios (aand now I have an idea for my next LeafGreen playthrough). Diglett is more whimsical than my usual tastes, but that's not a bad thing. It has proven itself capable of capturing the imagination. Just look at all the silly places it turns up: furniture, books, cars, ceilings, instant messages, Paper Mario, Adventure Time. So silly! It's also got a Speed advantage over most pokemon, good Attack, and can learn Sucker Punch and Aerial Ace, inexplicably. In Gen II Diglett and Dugtrio are the only pokemon that can learn the one-hit KO move Fissure by level-up (actually a crappy move, but the stuff of schoolyard legend circa 1998), so we know they're cold-blooded killers.

I haven't even gotten to Diglett's trading card artwork yet, oh my goodness. This is one of the all-time greats, courtesy of the EX Crystal Guardians expansion:

Diglett's like "OH SHIT how did I end up here??"

But Diglett doesn't just bring the comedy. Look at its emotional range.

These really ought to be hanging up in a gallery. On the left, Emerging Powers Diglett is basically the most in-your-face Diglett you will ever see, threatening to jump out of the frame like it's Diglett EX. The holo foil only makes it more hilarious. It's a good card too; a stall move, and 40 damage for 2 energy! Below it, not to be outdone, pop art Team Rocket Diglett is apparently giant and destroying a city in grim irony. In the upper right, Skyridge Diglett is bloody gorgeous and appears to have just finished a pilgrimage to the Dead Sea. Next down, Secret Wonders Diglett also partakes in the splendour of nature. It is a gardener Diglett; if it were to burrow carelessly like its brethren, it might uproot the delicate beauty of countless flowers like this one. The last Diglett appears to be from a fan-made card, so I don't even know who produced the artwork. Whoever it was, they sure knew their rule of thirds. Its off-centre position, sad eyes, and tight framing give it a repressed, wayward feel. It's like you hand an artist a character design that is basically a semicircle and a face, and what they produce is a window into their soul.

Then of course there is the monolithic, crappily rendered 3D Diglett from the very first set, which someone astutely observed looks like it belongs on that old Windows XP background.

Finally, I need to briefly address a recent attempt to spur a new Diglett meme, drawing attention to the shine on a single picture of Diglett's nose:

No, no it is not. it doesn't look anything like that and you are stupid

I have no idea what they are saying, but these two comics are hilarious. Was I supposed to be writing about sprites? I should do that.

The Winner:
FireRed and LeafGreen

Now I will ask you to scroll up like ten feet of internet-space to see the images I'm even talking about. This is poor site planning, I know.

R/B holds a soft spot in my heart because its dirt is just so dusty and terrible. It's like a Diglett riding a R/B Gastly. I thought the Gen II sprites looked pretty good until I noticed the stark white highlights on their foreheads. High contrast is not necessarily kind to Diglett. Yellow's sprite isn't bad, but it looks a little too flat, like it's a thumb. Actually now they all kind of look like thumbs. Discard that mental image.

D/P definitely has the most detailed dirt/rocks, so I see why they reused it for B/W. I think FR/LG has a bit more character, though. It's all leaning back, self-confident. Or maybe, since it's such a weirdly fast pokemon, the lean is from acceleration. Fwoosh!

Honourable mention to the sprite animation from Emerald. I like how it pops up so alarmingly.


  1. this blog is genius. if no one else holds you to finishing all 151, you betchyerass i will. your adroit commentary gives me hope for my generation, and reminds me of my own sprite musings, equal parts poignant and deranged, much like your own.

    godspeed pokehero

  2. Oh man that's funny. XD Keep writing more!!!

  3. I've just found this blog and am loving it! I too, wondered what was under Diglett!

  4. i have to say this has been one of my fav blog of all time, the way you describe each sprite is just clever makes each pokemon special in their way, please keep posting more and more, its really interesting to read

  5. i agree with mole body how else it use sctatch/slash

  6. I always imagined that indoors or on water, it was in a flower pot.
    Also, in PMD Dugtrio claims that he can swim. I believe he also claims he can fly, though I'm not sure.

  7. Pokemon - Emerald - Hack (all pokemons) GBA ROM+SAVE+CHEAT
    DOWNLOAD LINK: http://gbabootup.blogspot.com/2014/07/pokemon-emerald-hack-all-pokemons-gba.html