Did you know that Pokémon Black and White come out this Sunday and that there are now 649 Pokémon in existence? I remember back in the day when I would watch the anime on television and hear that familiar Pokérap song at the end of each episode naming all the Pokémon that, at the time, totaled 150. I'll admit, I was one of those people who tried to memorize their names, and I also went even further by researching their origins and how they were thought up. And guess what? I still do. This is the 17th of my many I Choose You! articles where I will span over five generations of games writing about each Pokémon and what makes it special. That's right - all 649 of them.
After four generation of Pokémon games, we are used to familiar elements that appear in every game. For example, everyone knows you need eight badges to face the Elite Four; most towns have Pokémon Centers; and there is always a group of bad guys trying to rule the world. Another known fact is that at the start of your game, a friendly professor will always offer you either a Grass, Fire, or Water-type Pokémon to use on your journey to be the next Pokémon League Champion. Each Pokémon has unique characteristics and stats, so your gaming experience might differ depending on which one you choose. Pokémon Black and White is no exception. Hit the jump for Unova's Fire-type starter, Tepig!
Tepig's silhouette, like Snivy's was revealed on the May 9 2010 showing of Pokémon Sunday, a Japanese variety show devoted to giving fans news about recent Pokémon movies, games, and anime episodes. The show promised to fully reveal the Pokémon a week later, but within that week, fans tried their best to come up with their own representations of what each Pokémon would look like and Tepig's silhouette's curly tail made it easy to speculate it would be based on a pig. Well, they were right. I remember that following week people had already picked their favorite based on looks. Snivy was the cool one and Tepig was the "cute" one.
When I first got glimpse of Tepig, I noticed how happy and energetic it looked. Its official artwork shows it sporting a big smile and its curly tail makes it look adorably spunky. I've always liked the Fire-type starters because they are based on different types of animals that you would not associate with fire, but then when you read their Pokédex entries, their relationship makes sense. Torchic, instead of the having a normal bird's crop sac for food storage, for example, has a heat sac that keeps its body warm and supplies it with fire. And in this case, Tepig's nostrils can spew fire when it's healthy, but when it's feeling sick, black smoke comes out of them like from a muffler.
Tepig, the Fire Pig Pokémon, with its long ears and striped coloration, resembles a Saddleback piglet. What I really like about Tepig's design is that it has subtle symbolism too. The black band around its loin can actually represent a baby's diaper and the black coloration on its ears and head give it the appearance of someone wearing a bandana. The yellow mark above its snout also looks like a flame from a lighter. As it evolves into its second and third evolutions, it gains more decorative designs that, according to Ken Sugimori, are inspired by Chinese art and folklore. Its name is a portmanteau of the words tepid and pig, while its Japanese name Pokabu also means the same thing. It comes from the words pokapoka describing being nice and warm and bu meaning oink.
Fire-type starters were always the most reliable Pokémon in previous Pokémon games simply because the Fire-type is surprisingly rare. Most versions only introduce one or two Fire-type Pokémon. Diamond and Pearl, for example, only gave us Chimchar's evolutionary line, an evolution for Magmar, and the Legendary Pokémon Heatran. I was very tempted on choosing Tepig as my starter because of this fact, but I ended up not choosing it. I did, however, receive it later on via trade and it grew on me as soon as I heard its cry and saw it shake its little foot during battle. It later evolves into a dual Fire/Fighting Pokémon, but unlike previous versions of this combo, Tepig's evolutionary family is a lot slower but it's also the only one that can learn the new move Heat Crash. This move does a lot more damage to Pokémon that weigh considerably less than the user.
I was torn between choosing Tepig and Oshawott. I really like Fire-type moves, but I figured a more unique Fire-type Pokémon would appear as I made my way through Unova. I also did not want to train a Pokémon that would later become another dual Fire/Fighting-type since I had already done this for the past two games in a row. I guess, I just wanted some more variety in the Fire-type Pokémon I would train. But, will Tepig's cute design and curly tail sway you to choose it?