Pokemon Beta Designs That Game Freak Should Revisit


With Pokemon set to release its latest ninth generation with Pokemon Scarlet and Violet this November, Game Freak should revisit some of its series’ earliest beta Pokemon designs that never made it to a final release. As the series continues to grow with the total number of Pokemon looking set to hit the thousand mark, going back into Pokemon’s history of beta sprites could help capture the interest of nostalgic players while also reviving good designs that arguably should never have been scrapped. Even if some old ideas were reworked, there’s still ample potential left unchecked.

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One of the most famous instances of leaked beta designs came in 2018, when an early demo of what would later be Pokemon Gold and Silver resurfaced online. This demo, showcased at the Nintendo Space World ’97 trade show, offered the first glimpse at Game Freak’s plans for its Pokemon sequel. While many of the Pokemon featured in the demo eventually made it to the final game, plenty of others were cut. Ranging from several new baby Pokemon from one of Pokemon Gold and Silver’s gimmicks to completely unique designs that have not been seen since, these beta Pokemon deserve a second chance.

RELATED: 10 Beta Pokémon That Are Better Than Their Official Versions


Baby Pokemon

To start off, Game Freak should address the bulk of these beta designs with the numerous baby Pokemon it initially created. Baby Pokemon were synonymous with Pokemon Gold and Silver when the games introduced gender and breeding mechanics. The majority of baby Pokemon that were introduced were typically for existing Pokemon from the first games, leading to the fan term “pre-evolution.” Pokemon players will be aware of memorable baby Pokemon such as Pichu, Elekid, and Magby, but a whole host of others had been planned and ultimately cut before the final release.

Understandably, not everything single baby Pokemon has a good design, as baby Grimer was little more than a blob of ooze while baby Paras is more mushroom than bug. However, some designs were great, such as baby Meowth which used 5-yen coins as inspiration connecting to the Pokemon’s relationship with money or baby Tangela which would have revealed more of the actual body hidden beneath the vines in later evolutions. Since no further pre-evolutions of existing Pokemon have been introduced since Gen 4, Game Freak could capitalize on this and revisit these baby betas for new inspiration.

Bomushikaa

If there is one beta design that deserves to be revisited then it is Bomushikaa. With its name derived from “bomb” and Japanese for sea lion “ashika,” Bomushikaa would have been the very first Water/Fire type before Volcanion all the way in Gen 6. Its sprite artwork depicts Bomushikaa’s unique gimmick where it would balance a magma ball similar to a circus sea lion, leading players to believe this concept was later reworked for the Popplio line also from Gen 6, albeit without the Fire-type. However, Popplio’s line arguably misses out on the most distinctive elements that Bomushikaa has, meaning the beta’s potential is going unnoticed.

Honoguma, Borubea, and Dainabea

For Pokemon Gold and Silver’s starters, only the Chikorita line remained after the early demo. But while the beta seal-like water starter line is theorized to have eventually become Popplio’s line, the beta fire starter hasn’t yet been revisited. Instead of the Cyndaquil line, a different line of bear-like Pokemon was originally planned. With their names using Japanese “kuma” and “bea” for bear with the words fire, volcano, and dynamite, it’s easy to see the similarities between it and Cyndaquil’s line. But a Fire-type bear has not been seen in Pokemon yet, so these beta designs could inspire new Pokemon or even possible variants.

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Kotora and Raitora

Oddly enough, while Manectric’s mega evolution design is speculated by fans to be tied back to Raikou’s original beta design, it looks like Raikou’s official design appears to have also been taken from another beta Pokemon line: Kotora and Raitora. Appearing to be based on tiger-shaped clay bells, Kotora and Raitora were a line of electric tiger-like Pokemon whose bell when rung sounded like thunder. Adorable as they are unique and with so few tiger Pokemon currently, Kotora and Raitora could be reintroduced to the games, if altered slightly to distinguish between them, Raikou, and Chingling.

Norowara and Kyonpan

Given Pokemon Gold and Silver’s lack of Ghost-type Pokemon with the Gastly evolutionary line returning and Misdreavus’ introduction, it’s not fully clear why Norowara and Kyonpan were cut as new Ghost Pokemon. Some suspect it’s due to the voodoo doll inspiration, but the design isn’t too dissimilar to other Pokemon like Banette. However, since the Pokemon were designed around Curse as their signature move, they represent wasted potential that could be lost if not revisited. Conversely, some believe Norowara and Kyonpan were the inspiration behind the likes of Shuppet and Mimikyu.

Porygon2

While Porygon2 did make its way into Pokemon Gold and Silver, its final design was radically revised. Arguably more befitting Porygon’s evolution, Porygon2 shared the same base look of Porygon but reflected how computer graphics improved from blocky polygons to smoother textures. Porygon2’s original beta design, however, saw the Pokemon evolving into a toy-like lion. But while this lion design wasn’t a good fit for Porygon2, it’s still a unique design that could feature in future games with one or two tweaks. It could be its own stand-alone Pokemon or possibly a unique evolution branch to Porygon.

Taaban

Pokemon fans should instantly recognize the familiar design of Taaban, as its design is the unusual Shellder that attaches to Slowpoke’s tail when it evolves. The bizarre look of Shellder between the Slowpoke line and the actual Shellder line has been a point of contention among fans as it continues to go unaddressed by Game Freak, even when faced with the opportunity to do so with the latest Pokemon Sword and Shield introducing new Slowpoke line variants. Therefore, introducing Taaban as a Shellder regional variant or its own Poison-type Pokemon mistaken for Shellder could help put the issue to rest.

Urufuman and Wa-urufu

As another beta design that’s seemingly had parts of its design redistributed elsewhere, Urufuman and Wa-urufu on their own could be reworked as their own independent line. Apparently inspired by yeti, Urufuman and Wa-urufu were originally designed as mimics disguised with wolf pelts. Why the design was scrapped is unclear, but the disguise mechanic was later seen with Mimikyu while Abomasnow would take after the yeti inspiration. However, the disguised Pokemon concept has become a staple of the series, meaning these two should return to Pokemon as new disguised Ice-type Pokemon.

MORE: Dataminers Discover Cut Content from Pokemon: Let’s Go



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