While the number of Pokémon has ballooned to well over 700 since the original Gameboy games debuted twenty years ago, every different type of pokémon players encounter in the games–including Pokémon Go–look the same. Sure there were nods to sexual dimorphism in the first generation with Nidorino and Nidorina (eventually a few dozen pokémon would get minor variations between genders); and a handful like Unown, Deoxys, and Furfrou would get many different forms, but these were typically gimmicky in nature. At the end of the day, it was up to fans to imagine the kinds of species and individual variations that exist in real life. Nintendo is finally set to address this phenotype faux pas in Pokémon Sun and Moon with aloha forms. Classic pokémon like Raichu (now surfs), Meowth (looks sexy), and Exeggutor (gives off fernwave vibes) get makeovers to fit their new island biome, but we can’t forget that fans did it first.
There are dozens of Pokémon fan artwork getting granular with representing their favorite pocket monsters in a new light. Whether it’s different types of mushrooms that could have invaded a Parasect’s body, or different environments that have shaped Mareep’s wooly coats, artists like Clear Jello and Rainey J take their cues from real life. It’s a testament to fans’ scientific and creative interests that show up in art by Sarah El Sherbini and her representation of Scyther as various different species of praying mantis, or Anneke Gillette and her Wartortles taking on the forms of a box turtle, a sea turtle, and a snapping turtle respectively. Spaded-Square’s takes on the iconic Pikachu are subtle (the mountain runner feels a bit stockier and has more brown tones whereas the prairie runner looks sleeker and angular), but feel right. Artist Ama Wilson even gives Charmeleon a few fresh coat of paint with different skin patterns and coats options. Paired with our recent look at Christopher Stoll’s PokeNatomy pieces, and you’ll become a regular Pokéologist in no time.
With Pokémon Sun and Moon going all Darwin on players with its Galápagos island approach (newcomer Oricoro looks different depending on which island you find it on in the game), it’s the art made by fans that show the unlimited potential of this long running game franchise. You can see some samples in the gallery below. Considering millions of people are still wandering the streets playing Pokémon Go and interacting with these digital sprites, how cool would it be if future games made every encounter unique with pokémon assigned randomly generated traits so that every time you ran into a Zubat or Pidgey it would feel fresh and exciting? No Man’s Sky is doing just that right now with planets filled with procedurally generated alien creatures. Nintendo and Niantic, take note. We’d be even closer to melding the world of Pokémon and ours into one. For now, take a look at the art below and soak in the possibilities.
Share your favorite Pokémon fan art with us! Are you still playing Pokémon Go? What would you want to see in future Pokémon games? Let us know in the comments below!
Header art by Ama Wilson