With any video game, there is fantasy aspect as opposed to reality. As such, it’s probably fair to say that no one honestly expects the epitome of realism from the franchise of a particular video game series-Especially Pokemon. But even the most outlandish games set themselves a certain level of logic in relation to the real world that they must stick to in order to maintain the player’s suspension of disbelief and throughout the many generations of Pokémon games, there have been more than a few instances where this logic has been stretched, broken or outright ignored. Putting aside the obvious – wild animals battering each other using grass, bubbles, lightning, etc – this list looks at some of the times the Pokémon games decided to leave its own rules and logic at the door and do things that simply wouldn’t fly in real life.
For each reason listed, I will offer a possible explanation.
1. As a prepubescent kid, you get to go on a worldwide adventure
Starting your Pokémon adventure is surely an exciting time. You get to pick your first companion, battle your new rival and finally hit the road on your journey to becoming a Pokémon Master. But it can’t have escaped many players’ attention that the set-up of this franchise is a little bit weird. The protagonist is, after all, usually around eleven years of age and their parent(s) is/are quite happy for them to leave home and explore the world. For the sake of argument, let's assume the kid in each Pokemon adventure is twelve years old. Most parents don’t even trust their children to clean the dishes by themselves, let alone travel the globe alone. And whilst you’ll likely encounter a Pokémon school on your travels – and it’ll helpfully teach you about the various status changes – at no point is there any mention of actual school. It seems that in the world of Pokémon, the only education you’ll ever need is how to battle your pets. In the case of the first generation Pokémon games, the story is extra suspicious as the main reason for your leaving home is to fulfill the wishes of the old man who lives next door.
As if letting young children venture around the world on their own wasn’t irresponsible enough, the Pokémon games also allow players to indulge in a spot of gambling at the various Game Corners dotted around the franchise’s maps. Essentially casinos, these establishments allow you to play for money at Pokémon themed slot machines, card games and roulette wheels. Unlike most entries on this list however, the Game Corner element of the franchise has actually caused problems for Game Freak, the developers of the Pokémon video games.
Possible Reason: As with most video games, the series began in Japan, and given the country's extremely low violent crime rate, perhaps it's socially acceptable to allow kids to travel everywhere without parental supervision?
2. The top criminal headquarters concede after losing Pokemon battles
Team Rocket might be somewhat of a running joke in the Pokémon anime but in the games, they – along with all their copycats in later generations – are obviously a very well-funded and highly organized criminal enterprise. It’s a little odd then that the whole gang would fold just because your plucky protagonist beats them all in a Pokémon battle. This is like a top gang member of the "Bloods" hip-hop gang conceding to a kid, just because that kid beat him in a game of one on one basketball.
Whilst the gamer is undoubtedly brave in single-handedly challenging the dangerous group of adults that is Team Rocket, the gang seems to overlook the fact that, after having his Rhydon flattened, Giovanni could’ve just tied you up and locked you in a secret room. After all, no one would ever find out because your mother let you go off exploring on your own and doesn’t give you a phone until Generation Two.
Possible Reason: Perhaps these crime organizations are secretly cowards, and would never actually hurt a human? Maybe they solely want to steal Pokemon, and leave it at that?
3. Diglett can use the "Scratch" attack(And other odd movesets for Pokemon).
Diglett is a brown lump with eyes and a nose that pops out of the ground and yet the first move it’s able to use is Scratch. The fact that the Pokémon – and its evolved form Dugtrio – can go on to learn both Cut and Slash later in the game proves this isn’t just an oversight either. Quite how it performs this move is anybody’s guess, although some have theorized that the hidden portion of Diglett’s body may – like a regular mole – include a set of claws. This theory remains unconfirmed however and, as such, Diglett using Scratch goes down as one of the many examples of Pokémon using moves that defy their physical features.
Other examples include Doduo being able to learn Fly despite being a flightless bird – and we’ll get to the other problems with Fly in the next entry – or Tauros learning to use Surf in Gold and Silver onward.
Possible Explanation: The graphics in the games are inaccurate, and these Pokemon actually have the appropriate body parts to do as such.
4. Small Birds can carry humans everywhere
Doduo’s lack of wings makes its ability to use the Fly HM very strange indeed but that isn’t the only example of Pokémon being able to escort human beings in the air when they shouldn’t.
HM02, Fly, allows a Pokémon to ferry the player from city to city and whilst this makes perfect sense for the likes of Charizard and Pidgeot, there are a handful of Pokémon who simply aren’t big enough to carry a person – even a child – who can still learn the move. These include Pidgey, Spearow, Farfetch’d, Pidove and Fletchling. The smallest of these, Pidgey and Fletchling, are 11.8 inches(0.3meters) in height and weigh less than five pounds(About two kilos) meaning that the prospect of them flying a human being over any length of distance is laughable. Pokémon trainers may have been willing to ignore the fact that all monsters can use HM moves even after they’ve fainted but the thought of Pidgeys carrying people is just a step too far.
Possible Explanation: Despite the fact these birds are tiny, they are super strong.
5. Many gym leaders have under-leveled, and weak Pokemon
The Gym Leaders in the Pokémon universe are supposedly the cream of the crop; the best of the best other than the Elite Four. Why then, are the early ones you meet so very weak? Brock’s status as a Gym Leader is swiftly undermined by the realization that his level 12 Geodude and level 14 Onix could easily be taken out by any random trainer you meet after Lavender Town. Literally over half of Kanto is stronger than Brock.
From a game-play perspective, this feature is obviously a vital component of the game. It provides players with a natural difficulty progression and gives the game its structure of ‘bosses’. Thinking in terms of the real world however, having such drastically weak Gym Leaders would make no sense, particularly for a trainer beginning their journey somewhere with a strong Gym like Saffron City. The Gold and Silver games somewhat remedied this discrepancy as, when the player returns to Kanto, the Gym Leaders are using much stronger Pokémon with reasonably even strength.
Possible Explanation: Maybe each Leader changes their Pokémon depending on the challenging trainer’s skill level?
6. When you win a Pokemon trainer battle, you are entitled to their money
Whilst this may be understandable in a bout between adults – or even during Gym fights – it also happens when a grown-up trainer defeats a child. The real-life equivalent would be an adult challenging a child to a thumb war in the street – ignoring the weirdness of that in itself – and then demanding their cash after winning. In the eyes of the law, that’s called mugging and no amount of jaunty, catchy battle music is going to change that.
Possible Explanation: Maybe, in the Pokemon world, it's a law to give up your money if you lose a Pokemon battle?
7. If beating all eight gyms is difficult, why is Victory Road so busy?
Throughout your Pokémon adventure, trainers are constantly reminded of the difficulty in challenging the eight Gym Leaders and taking the Pokémon League challenge. Making obtaining all eight badges even more difficult is the fact that Giovanni – Viridian City’s Leader – only returns to his post at a very late stage in the game. Additionally, only you and your eternal rival are even seen to be challenging the Pokémon Gyms. All this considered, you’d expect the path to the Elite Four, Victory Road, to be pretty quiet. You’d be mistaken.
Despite Giovanni only being an active Gym Leader for a very short time in the game, Victory Road is littered with trainers who would’ve needed eight badges in order to get past the strict Pokémon League security. Even more baffling is the fact that, despite the abundance of trainers in the area, none of them manage to find the Legendary Bird Moltres loitering down one of the dungeon’s many ladders.
Possible Explanation: This is a tough one. Perhaps the gym leaders are weaker than people think they are, nobody thought to go down the ladders to find Moltres?
8. How did the ship fit in the bottle?
The invention of Pokéballs goes a long way towards making the Pokémon universe feel more believable. After all, whilst a Bulbasaur or Eevee would be able to run alongside you with no problems, Pokémon such as Goldeen or Onix are unsuitable for land travel due to their size or type. This makes perfect sense and Pokéballs help circumnavigate the issue, however the logic is seemingly abandoned when it comes to battle sequences.
No matter if you’re fighting in a small cabin aboard the S.S. Anne or an office at the Silph Company building, you’re able to battle with Pokémon who simply aren’t suitable for that location. Whether that’s using a water-bound Pokémon like Seaking on dry land or whether you summon a giant such as Gyarados in a room no bigger than a gas station bathroom, anything goes during battle mode. In all fairness, having restrictions on which Pokémon are able to battle in which area would be highly annoying for gamers and would force needless alterations to a trainer’s Pokémon party. In the real world however, good luck using a 21 foot(6.5 meter) Gyarados in a ship’s cabin.
Possible Explanation: I guess they just cram them in, and make the Pokemon miserable.
9. Useless Moves Which Seem to Affect Strong Pokemon
During a trainer’s first few Pokémon battles, some moves are intuitive. Techniques such as Tackle and Scratch are self-explanatory physical attacks that are the foundation of your initiation into Pokémon battling. Often accompanying these moves however, are techniques such as Growl, Leer and Tail Whip which are significantly less simple to understand. These types of moves tend to lower either your opponent’s attack or defense stat but the mechanics behind this are a little muddled.
Most gamers would buy that growling at a level 3 Pidgey might make it less lethal in attack but strangely, the move would be equally as effective if that same Pidgey used it on Mewtwo. Realistically, Mewtwo should laugh at being Growled at, mentally tear the offending Pokémon to shreds and then go about his business as if nothing noteworthy had happened. As the strength between two Pokémon widens, the weaker monster’s attacks become less effective and the same should occur with moves like Growl and Tail Whip. Not that anyone really uses them anyway.
Possible Explanation: Perhaps Pokemon are more psychologically vulnerable than we think? And we all know a bad mental game leads to a bad physical performance.
10. Female Mr. Mimes
Really, I shouldn't need to explain this one...
Not only is this the most illogical part of the series, it might be the most illogical thing in video game history.
Pokémon had flirted with the idea of different genders in the first set of 150 beasts with the two types of Nidoran but took the concept to the next level in Generation Two with male and female versions of virtually every Pokémon. Whilst this new addition to the franchise was universally well-received for adding an intriguing new element of game-play, the new specified genders didn’t make sense in all cases.
Most notably was Mr. Mime, a Pokémon defined by his gender, now available in both male and female forms. Without wanting to delve too deeply into modern gender politics – this is just Pokémon after all – it surely would’ve made more sense just to include a Mrs. or Miss. Mime. An explanation for this oddity can be found in the Pokémon’s original Japanese name which actually has no reference to gender at all. Mr. Mime’s original title translates roughly to ‘Barrierd’, meaning that the ‘Mr.’ part of the name simply wasn’t part of the original game design.
Possible Explanation: In 1995, I have no clue. In 2005, transgenders may have influenced this decision. In 2016/2017, you can be whatever you want to be-Even a can of olives!