Pokémon Type Rants: The Legendary Recolors

The one-sixth-assed legendary trio

Written by ritabuuk and dubiousdisc
Posted on August 30th 2019
In action poses
The Legendary Recolors

It took Game Freak five generations to make a pure-Flying-type Pokémon, and they picked Tornadus.

First and foremost, let's just talk about this trio of legendaries, Thundurus, Landorus and Tornadus, because we're still... displeased, in disbelief, and disgusted, and unhappy. With other things that make us rant about Pokémon, we can be disappointed that a good idea got wasted in its execution, or that something wasn't developed fully and made as good as it could be... with these legendaries, we still can barely believe they exist. They look like failed hoax Pokémon of someone who was not even trying to really fool anybody. Factually, they are ugly recolors of each other. Even the sprites are identical, with swapped hair and tails.

Sprite for Tornadus from Black/White Sprite for Thundurus from Black/White Sprite for Landorus from Black/White
Give me an A
You're lucky to get a letter above Q.

It's like whoever designed this at Game Freak came into class to present their final project of the Legendary Pokémon they designed, and they were supposed to work all year on this massive project, but they ignored doing it all year and this is what they made right before the final class, without a care in the world... and after everyone else's good presentation that they each poured their hearts and souls into, this guy gets up without any shame and presents these recolored designs, pretending that they are three separate things and acting like he's going to get a passing grade, and the entire class is dying of second-hand embarrassment, and the teacher is just stunned and doesn't even know how to fail them hard enough.

In this case, we're the teachers, and we've not managed to fail them hard enough. Bad is an understatement.

Even if we manage to somehow ignore the fact that they all have the same recolored design, there are other problems about these legendaries. To start with, the coloring... it's like whoever designed them specifically set out to pick the most vile color combinations possible. You could have picked colors at random and gotten more reasonable color combinations. We imagine the designer patted themselves on the back for picking color combinations that were totally unique and never-seen-before, but... there was a good reason no one else was using these color combinations.

Yin Yang of Tornadus Colors Yin Yang of Thundurus Colors Yin Yang of Landorus Colors
They're awful!
Moldy Crayons
Why is it always this way?
(photo source)

Then, not only are they all using the same coloring book lineart, but they are just scribbled in, changing colors haphazardly, with these horrible colors. Like, do you remember needing to use the old crayon tin in kindergarten, and those crayons were approximately the age of all the children in the room added together? And sometimes, depending on whatever colors the crayon was scribbled on top of last, it had picked up bits of other colors, so you never got to use the nice fresh bright red, but rather, old, moldy-looking red with flecks of blue and green? That's what they used to color in these Recolor Legendaries.

Tornadus

So, with these gross scribbles, these legendaries just have random blotches all over their man chests. They all look diseased. Puke green with infected purple blotches. Sickly cyan with rotten violet scabs. Rancid orange with disgusting pink welts. And some of the blotches are shaped like magatamas, to confer the mystical quality of being magical deities and... they just have magical stickers on their elbows that you won't even see or care about. They have teardrops emphasizing their belly buttons, as if they're meant to be sex symbols. Actually, considered that they're all male, and Landorus in particular is supposed to be a fertility god, maybe that's even what was intended? Well, like with everything else about these Pokémon, they failed. They're not sexy, they're covered in oozing welts. And, even without the welts, there's nothing we want further from our bedroom than these Pokémon.

Thundurus

One of the few differences between them is their tails... or whatever those things around them are. Tornadus, representing wind, has a swirly tail, but one swirl wasn't enough, so it has other yellow swirls coming out of the first swirl, and this looks great and not hamfisted at all. Thundurus has an anal bead tail, although it is probably not very pleasurable, given those spikes... but to each one their own. And Landorus has a... turd log tail... branching into more turds, for fractal levels of shit. Except the turd branches were cut off, revealing the... blood within? Why are there red details? What even is that object? What is it meant to represent? Is it the sword with many branches? Made of shit?

Another difference is their hair. Tornadus goes to a good hairdresser, and has wonderful flowing hair. Maybe it's because it's the god of wind, so it has bishonen wind constantly blowing, in spite of being the furthest thing from a bishonen... or maybe it's the god of wind, so its hair is blow-dried... something. Thundurus, who is not the god of wind, has windswept hair. Probably it was just meant to look like a lightning bolt, but without any sharp angles, and sideways, in the wrong direction. And Landorus' hair... is... a log. Why is Landorus the god of logs? When people associate fertility with wood... they meant something else.

Logs
Landorus is rightfully proud of his little stack of logs. It's hard to chop wood while you're floating on a cloud.

But beyond these insignificant details, they look mostly identical to each other. And these Pokémon are even recolors of each other more than just visually. Thundurus and Tornadus in particular share most of their learned moves, and have the same exact stats. No expense was spared in designing these legendaries, huh?

Designs aside, let's talk about their roles and types. Although these Pokémon are part of a trio, and couldn't be any more related to each other, what with being essentially identical... they are not even together in the Pokédex, as it is convention for other groups of legendaries.

This seems like such a minor thing to point at besides oozing welts, blatant recolors, and meaningless logs of shit, but it just further shows how ill-thought-out and impressively pathetic these Pokémon are. Actually, when you see the National Pokédex list, it goes:

...So, Landorus is for some reason split apart from Tornadus and Thundurus, and it's even interrupting the trio of Reshiram, Zekrom, and Kyurem. This trio is so fucked up, it fucks up other legendaries by its mere existence in proximity to them. Wow.

Hilbert bringing Tornadus and Thundarus to the Abundant Shrine to get Landorus
Apparently Unova was having a Buy Two, Get One Free sale on Recolor Legendaries.

We think they did this because of Landorus' slightly different role in comparison to its fellow recolors. Landorus seems to be something of the leader. While the other two have identical stats and a similar movepool, Landorus has a slightly higher stat total and a mostly different movepool. According to the legend told in the game, Landorus stopped the other two from wreaking havoc across the land. Landorus is also acquired differently than the other two: Tornadus and Thundurus are roaming Legendary Pokémon, each being exclusive to the Black and White version respectively. If you catch the one in your game and manage to get the other traded to you, you can put them both in your party and go to the Abundant Shrine to encounter Landorus, too.

But, for as much as Landorus is the supposed leader, it looks just the same as the other two, not any more majestic, not any more exciting... just, the same. If something, it's the least impressive, what with its logs. If Game Freak wanted them all to be the same, they should have made them completely the same. If they wanted one to be different, shouldn't it look... different?

By the way, one other slight difference between each member of the recolor trio is the number of horns on their head. Thundurus has one, Tornadus has two, and Landorus has three. Similar to how Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres have numbers in their English names representing the order you are supposed to encounter them, Thundurus is first, because you're supposed to be playing... White? And trade from Black to get Tornadus second? And then get Landorus third. But doing this one-two-three doesn't make any sense, because, if you're playing Black, you are most likely going to get Tornadus first. Why have this number concept when there is no defined order?

Horns
Thundurus is the unicorn.

Now to their shitty types. Although Landorus is in concept more separate and more important than Tornadus and Thundurus, the one that breaks the pattern type-wise is Tornadus. Because Landorus is Ground/Flying, Thundurus is Electric/Flying, and Tornadus is... just... Flying. Yes, Tornadus is notable for being the only pure Flying-type Pokémon so far.

The sky and land full of bird-like Pokémon
So many brown birds of normalcy.

This breaks every convention of the Pokémon universe. Among all the types, Flying is a bit of a special case in which it was treated more as a modifier than as a type in itself. Up until that point, Flying was always paired with something else, and always the second type. In the case of a Pokémon without any particular element but which is capable of flight, their type would be assigned as Normal/Flying. This is the case of many of the basic Pokémon birds, such as Pidgey, Spearow, Farfetch'd, Hoothoot, Taillow, and so on. There is not really an important reason why this is so - it's just how Game Freak did it back in Generation I, so, it became the accepted convention. We bet it's a holdover from an earlier idea they had, before they invented the Pokémon types. There is no reason why Pidgey needs to be Normal/Flying rather than pure-Flying, but that's the way it is, so, that's how it went, and that's how was consistently done for four generations.

And then there's Tornadus. It's pure-Flying. Why? Because. They realized they hadn't done it yet, and that asshole doing his homework at the last minute didn't bother to think about why they hadn't done it yet, so, he just did it, for cool points. Except, once you get past the shock of this being a new and convention-shattering type... actually, that makes Tornadus the loser of the Recolor Trio. It's the only single-type Pokémon of the three, and they all are Flying-types. So, Landorus is the fertility god of the land, who sits on a cloud and flies... despite being the god of the land... well, okay. Thundurus is the thunder god, who sits on a cloud and flies. And Tornadus is... uh... sits on a cloud and flies. Wind? Maybe?

This more so shows that the Pokémon games are missing the Air element. Flying is not the same as Air, and Pokémon concepts such as Tornadus and a few others really point the finger at this missing type.

Rayquaza in the sky with Altaria
Groudon rules the land and is Ground-type. Kyogre rules the sea and is Water-type. And Rayquaza rules the sky and is... Dragon/Flying.

This void started to become evident with certain Pokémon of Generation II. Suicune is a legendary Pokémon meant to represent the north wind, but it's a pure-Water type. It has a connection to water, too, since it can purify lakes and whatnot, but... something is missing here. The other two Legendary beasts, too, could have had a Wind type to represent their speed. Sneasel is based on the sickle weasel, which is a wind spirit, and the folklore explanation for mysterious wounds caused by the cold. It ended up being Dark/Ice, and we guess that Ice is a good enough attempt to encode this characteristic, but it would have been better if it could have been Wind-type or Air-type or whatever. For a similar reason, Ninjask could be part of this type... Altaria... Drifloon, and by extension Jigglypuff... and, most importantly, Rayquaza, who gets to be the ruler of the sky and not even have a type that really encodes that. Moves of this Wind or Air type could be Razor Wind, Extremespeed, Air Cutter, Gust, Whirlwind, Aeroblast...

Maybe the Flying-type and the Air-type should have been separate. It probably would have been better to make the Flying-type just an attribute in the first place, kinda like how there's now the concept of floating vs. grounded. Then, there could have been an Air-type for all those Air-ish Pokémon, and just let Pidgey etc. be Normal-types that are not grounded. But if there's one thing we know that Game Freak hates to do is retcon things and especially types, and this would be a massive change to everything, so we're not expecting this to actually change. It's a bit too late for such an overhaul.

But, missing type aside, what makes Tornadus any more Flying than any other Flying Pokémon, and any more pure-Flying than anything else?

The lower half of its body is wrapped in a cloud of energy. It zooms through the sky at 200 mph.
Pokémon Black

Okay, it's fast. Ish. Actually, not even that much. Real life, "normal-type" birds can be faster than that. The Peregrine Falcon is known for reaching the fastest speed of any bird, and has been recorded hitting 242 mph while diving.

Tornadus is actually not even faster than the fastest tornado. Tornadus is only a 4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. Big deal.

So, a Legendary Pokémon reaching 200 mph is not really that impressive. And even among Pokémon, we can think of multiple that can beat it:

This Pokémon flies at Mach 2 speed, seeking prey. Its large talons are feared as wicked weapons.
Pokémon Yellow

Who's that Pokémon?

Pidgeot

It's Pidgeot! The final-stage brown bird of normalcy in Generation I. Mach 2 speed is 1,534.538 mph, so Pidgeot can fly 7.6 times faster than Tornadus, as a quintessential good old Normal/Flying Pokémon. Pidgeot can fly laps around Tornadus.

But wait, even land Pokémon can beat Tornadus!

Arcanine
Arcanine is known for its high speed. It is said to be capable of running over 6,200 miles in a single day and night. The fire that blazes wildly within this Pokémon's body is its source of power.
Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire

If Arcanine travels 6,200 miles in 24 hours, it has an average speed of 258 mph. And that's as long-distance running. We imagine it could sprint even faster. Now that's a "legendary Pokémon".

So, we can't think of any reason why Tornadus would be any more pure Flying than any other Flying-type Pokémon. If we had to pick a Pokémon that might have made sense to be pure Flying, we'd pick Crobat, as we mused in our article on the Poison type.

A few years after the initial appearance of Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus, we suppose their designer retook the class and tried to actually bother to attempt to design these Pokémon with the Therian Formes, which were tacked on in Black2/White2.

Tornadus Thundurus Landorus

We suppose that with the new forms at least now they have three separate designs, but they retain the same vile color schemes as their genie forms... and just... they're extremely unimaginative. Landorus looks like a diseased ugly Raikou. Thundurus looks like some sort of strange merman dragon with little feet. And Tornadus is a bearded man in a bird suit. And they're all wearing bras. With visible cleavage and all. And they have belly button gems... which, in the case of Tornadus, looks more like a red dick. And did it need to be red?? Surely they could have thought about this better? Then again, this is the generation of Reshiram, with its furry phallus.

Now, instead of having shocked disbelief at the fact that these recolors exist, we can just plain dislike these half-assed designs. Originally, these Pokémon had one half-assed design shared through all three... so... in total, they were one-sixth-assed. Now at least each one is half-assed, separately, bringing the total to 1.5 asses. Not a passing grade, but the improvement must be acknowledged. With some effort, this guy can graduate the character design class in 30 years.

By the way... Therian formes. The dictionary says a therian is a marsupial mammal. But that's probably not what they meant. They probably meant therianthropy, which means shapeshifting like werewolves, and, according to urban dictionary, someone who identifies with an animal spirit can call themselves therian. But this usually applies to shapeshifting into a mammal, and Tornadus looks like a bird. Maybe the mammal part is the man in the bird costume. And if they only meant shapeshifters, it's almost a moot point to refer to genies as animal shapeshifters - shouldn't they be able to take about any form? (Please don't make any more of these).

And this makes the genie-recolor formes the Incarnate formes. But incarnate means taking flesh. Are the animal formes not made of flesh? They seem more flesh than the genie formes, which notably have clouds shrouding the place where the nethers may or may not be. If they are half-cloud, they're only half-incarnate.

Fujin and Raijin Inari
Fujin and Raijin are on the gold screen; Inari is shown on the woodblock painting.

Bulbapedia says that these Pokémon may be based on the Japanese kami Fujin, Raijin and Inari. We hope they're wrong, because, if so, Game Freak made these interesting and beautiful deities into these pathetic failures. We're especially annoyed if Inari was the inspiration for Landorus. Inari's gender changes tale by tale and can be male, female, or genderless, but Landorus is one of the few Legendary Pokémon with a solid gender, assigned specifically as male. Inari is closely associated with foxes, often shown riding a white fox and having foxes as messengers. In various stories, Inari can transform into a snake, dragon, or spider. But Landorus's Therian form is none of the above, but rather some... diseased tiger thing. Whoever designed these Pokémon should be be struck by lightning for the audacity. Way to go piss off your gods (and specifically your thunder god).

One does not simply go into regionals unprepared for Landorus-T
A problem that reached Boromir-meme proportions.

We wondered if maybe we were being too harsh on these Pokémon, and maybe there's a reason to like them that we hadn't considered. So we did a Google search to try to find if anyone was publicly admitting to actually liking these things. In the search results, instead, all we found were people saying why this trio just might collectively be their least favorite Pokémon ever. The only positive thing we saw that anyone had to say about them is that apparently Therian forme Landorus is very good in battles... as in, completely unbalanced for competitive play, to the degree where at some point, everyone had one on their team, and the entire meta-game was focused on figuring out how you were going to counter everyone else's Landorus with your own Landorus - usually with such fun methods as making sure your Landorus has an Ice-type Hidden Power. Considering we hate this sort of boring competitive team building, we'd call this one more reason to dislike Landorus, and, by association, the whole Recolor Trio.

Different colored slime monsters from Dragon Quest
Green, red, blue...

Back on the thing about them being recolors... if you're not too deep into Pokémon, you might not understand why we are making such a big deal about that. Lots of games have recolored enemies in them. You can pick up an RPG and encounter poisonous green slime monsters in the first forest, and later see fire-breathing red slime monsters around the volcano, and no seasoned gamer would bat an eye at that. So, why are we harping on the Recolor Trio so much?

Because, before the Recolor Trio existed, Pokémon never had recolors in this sense. There being different species of creatures each presented essentially identically, in the same poses but with different colors, is directly counter to all that the Pokémon games set out to achieve. Even while making the first games, which were beset by space limitations and schedule problems, Game Freak knew that it wasn't an option to cut a corner and have there be recolored Grimers or Eeveelutions or Legendary Birds. Catching each species is meant to be a reward along the path of completing your PokéDex, and every new monster you encounter is a potential new ally and best friend for you to bond with. It wouldn't do for the next challenge to be catching just a recolor of something you already have, and it doesn't help the player bond with their team if they are seen as interchangeable with their different-color cousins.

Somehow, in the Generation V Pokémon games, Game Freak forgot what we thought they already knew, and they had not just recolored Pokémon but recolored Legendary Pokémon - Legendary Pokémon being the final challenge and final reward for completing your PokéDex and the monsters that are supposed to be the most compelling. Game Freak thought this one design duplicated across three Pokémon was suitably exciting to get us to play both games and catch two Legendaries and trade them across games to catch yet another Legendary that also looks essentially the same. Why should we care, if one's the gross green genie, and one's the gross blue genie, and one's the gross orange genie?

So, nothing about these Pokémon makes any sense or is remotely acceptable.

References

Notes

  1. With a few reasonable exceptions. For example, Regigigas was added one whole generation later than Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, so it has to appear much later than the other Regis in the National Pokédex. There's also the case of Keldeo, who, while being introduced in the same generation as the other musketeer horses, was an event-exclusive Pokémon, and as such was officially revealed later than the others, which is why it's at the end of the Pokédex. There was probably a smarter way to place all of them so that they wouldn't even need to be separated, but, as we're discussing, the overarching theme of Generation V was "whatever".

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