Sinister pink gremlins with metal mallets, graffiti artist monkeys, and puppies made of pastries – the batch of newly-added Generation 9 Pokémon in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is one of the most diverse ever.
With any new generation of games, the line-up of never-before-seen Pokémon is both one of the biggest talking and selling points. With Pokémon Scarlet and Violet – arguably two of the best Nintendo Switch games to release this year if you put those launch bugs to one side – that’s no different. We’ve got a new set of starters, striking box art legendaries, paradox Pokémon that give older Pokémon intriguing new designs, and a couple of regional Paldean forms too. Throw in all of the other newly-designed ‘mons to fill up the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Pokédex, and you’ve got a lot of new names to learn and love.
But which are my personal favourites – the ones that will stand the test of time and will hopefully return in future Pokédexes – and which miss the mark? We’re not talking about battle prowess here by the way – for The Loadout’s thoughts on the strongest picks for your playthrough, you’ll want our best Pokémon Scarlet and best Pokémon Violet team guides. This is purely based on aesthetics alone. That means their inspiration, design, name, typing, and all other manner of things are taken into account, but the strength of their moves and their stats are not.
So, let’s take you through my favourite and least-favourite new Pokémon from Scarlet and Violet.
Favourite new Pokémon
One of my absolute favourites from Generation 9 is Paldea’s regional bird evolution Kilowattrel. I like that it’s based off of two types of seabirds (petrels and frigatebirds), but avoids a cliched Water typing in favour of being Electric/Flying-type instead. Similarly to ‘starter Pokémon’ or ‘pseudo-legendaries’, regional birds are one of those offshoot subsections of the Pokédex that every region must have, and Paldea now boasts one of the best. While Talonflame may still edge it as my all-time favourite regional bird, Kilowattrel comes a close second.
Who knew that with a quick colour palette change, one of Generation 1’s most forgettable Pokémon would be transformed into one of Generation 9’s coolest. I rate Paldean Tauros for a number of reasons. Not only does it look far more intimidating and slick in its all-black paint job, but I always love a Pokémon that’s been designed with the region in mind. In this case, it’s the iconic black bulls from the bullfighting scene in Spain – the main inspiration for Paldea.
I also love its alternate forms that give it additional Water or Fire typings and subtle design twists, depending on which version of Scarlet and Violet you own. The only drawback is that shiny hunting Paldean Tauros is extremely difficult, but I’m just happy that a rather boring old Pokémon got an exciting new twist.
The final forms of starter Pokémon have, in my opinion, been very hit-or-miss in recent generations, with a lot of them being very forgettable. Skeledirge, however, doesn’t fall victim to that.
The Fire/Ghost-type final evolution of the adorable Fuecoco is one of the most distinctive third-stage starter Pokémon in recent memory. I can imagine there are countless fans out there who, on their first playthrough, had their jaws on the floor when the slightly derpy Fuecoco and Crocalor ended up looking like this (if they dodged spoilers, of course).
While its original form and its Mega Evolution are both epic, Roaring Moon is definitely the greatest version of my personal favourite Dragon-type, Salamence. While it does borrow the crescent-shaped wings of the more futuristic-looking Mega Salamence, Roaring Moon finally gives it the prehistoric appearance it’s always longed for. As Roaring Moon, Salamence finally looks like a true dragon.
While I definitely prefer Pokémon Scarlet’s ancient paradox Pokémon over Violet’s futuristic ones, Iron Moth is the outlier. Aside from the colour palette, it’s hard to describe exactly why I love Iron Moth’s design, but I just do. Its ancient counterpart in Scarlet, Slither Wing, is also excellent, by the way.
However, while most other Pokémon that got the ‘Iron’ treatment in Violet have actually been made worse, this futuristic take on the elegant Volcarona is the kind of standard the rest of Violet’s paradox Pokémon should have been at.
Honourable mentions: Ceruledge, Slither Wing, Great Tusk, Chien-Pao, Kingambit, Arboliva
Worst new Pokémon
Tandemaus and Maushold
My long-standing Pokémon pet peeve is when an evolution of a Pokémon is just ‘more of the first Pokémon bolted together’. Magneton, Klinklang, and Vanilluxe are among those I dislike for that very reason. Another thing I hate is when a group of creatures is considered an individual Pokémon, such as Falinks from Generation 8. Well, Scarlet and Violet has introduced a family of Pokémon that manages to trigger both of my biggest annoyances in Pokémon design.
Tandemaus (two basic white mice) and evolution Maushold (three or four basic white mice) suck. Plain and simple. I have not been this annoyed at a Pokémon design for a very long time. They’ve even got boring shiny forms too. Just horrific all round.
Coming in a close second for Generation 9’s most annoying Pokémon is Dudunsparce, which I can only think was added to the Paldean Pokédex as a light-hearted attempt at trolling the Pokémon fanbase – but it actually feels like a big old middle finger.
For years, an evolution or alternate form to Generation 2’s hopeless Dunsparce has been awaited and speculated, with theories and fan art transforming it into elegant dragons or majestic dragonflies. What do we get instead? Dudunsparce – the exact same Pokémon as Dunsparce, but with extra body segments.
I loathe it.
It looks like the mascot for Cheese Strings and I can never un-see it.
Pokémon has proven countless times over the years that it can make plants cool, but with Brambleghast the mark has been well and truly missed.
I usually don’t mind a first-stage Pokémon like Bramblin being a bit basic and uninspiring if it turns into something cool, but Brambleghast is pretty much the exact same design with just a few more thorns and bigger eyes. If an evolution is going to be that similar to its pre-evolution, why not just make it a single-stage Pokémon and be done with it?
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t really like the designs of most of the paradox Pokémon from Pokémon Violet, and I could have easily put Iron Hands or Iron Jugulis in this section.
However, Iron Bundle is definitely the worst of the bunch. Here was the perfect opportunity to take a distinctive but heavily-memed Pokémon in Delibird and turn it into something cool. What we got instead was just a robot version of the goofy Christmas penguin, with a very safe Ice/Water typing to boot. It’s the laziest paradox Pokémon of the lot, and, like Dudunsparce, feels like a poorly-executed joke.
So those are the best and worst new Pokémon designs in Generation 9’s Paldea Pokédex. While I would not be upset if the likes of Maushold were completely erased from my memory, I hope to be battling with Kilowattrel and co. many more times in the future.