This isn't another Hammer devlog, I'm afraid. I'm still working on that, but it's kind of on the back burner right now; I'm putting most of my energy into job hunting!
This is just a blog post containing some thoughts on Pokémon - or, rather, one specific Pokémon, and the really nifty trick it almost pulled from a game-design perspective by blending mechanical edge-cases with the social nature of the Pokémon games.
Basically: it occurred to me recently that it's a real shame Shedinja
happened after the Pokémon games were A Thing instead of back during
generation I. Everybody just found out about it from external sources,
really; no one discovered it. And that's a shame, because it means that
Shedinja isn't half as cool in practice as it should be - but mechanically this thing is great, if you don't go and document exactly how it works before anyone actually finds it on their own.
So, you've got this creepy cicada-husk-ghost guy, right? And it evolves from Nincada:
...who's a generic cicada nymph.
Except, here's the thing: no matter what you do, Nincada never actually evolves into Shedinja. It evolves into Ninjask.
There is no direct way to evolve Nincada into Shedinja. Shedinja
is considered a Nincada evolution, but you can't just turn a Nincada
into a Shedinja.
Shedinja appears - unbid and unannounced - in your party after Nincada evolves into Ninjask, but only if there's an empty slot.
Here's the thing: Nincada can technically be obtained early
enough that you could conceivably have fewer than six Pokémon with
Nincada in your party, but it's not really likely, and (furthermore)
Nincada will not evolve quickly. It's in the Erratic experience
group, which means that it gains later levels really fast - it only
needs a total of 600000 experience to reach level 100, which is just 75%
of the first "normal" group - but those early levels are awful.
And Nincada ain't exactly hot shit. You're not going to get it to level
20, playing normally, and have fewer than six mons. It just won't
So, looking at how Shedinja is supposed to happen, it's kinda brilliant: if you evolve Ninjask in a particular edge case (non-full party) that is really
unlikely to come up unintentionally, this "new" Pokémon appears. And
it's not announced, remember! You don't know you have Shedinja until you
check your party and see it. It's completely conceivable that you won't
know you have Shedinja until you're in the middle of a battle, and it's
There's no NPC trainer in the game that uses Shedinja, either, nor any
way to encounter it in the wild. There is exactly one way to lay eyes on
And here's the fun part: even after you obtain it, Shedinja doesn't
behave like any other mon in the game. It has a fixed HP stat of 1. This
actually requires it to have a special case in the stat calculation formula, since under normal circumstances 1 HP is actually less than the minimum algorithmically determinable HP a Pokémon can have. (11 HP, for 1 base HP/0 IV/0 EV/level 1.)
Any attack that hits Shedinja - any damage it takes, period, for that
matter - will automatically knock it out. No matter what you do - level
100, perfect HP IV, full HP investment! - it will never get another hit
Here's the thing, though: Shedinja is the only Pokémon in the game to
have the ability Wonder Guard. What Wonder Guard does is cancel out any
damage Shedinja receives from attacks that don't hit a type weakness.
So, Shedinja dies to weaknesses - and Bug/Ghost has a lot of
those, to be fair; it's kind of a bad typing - and to indirect damage
from hazards and weather and status and... But hit it with an attack
that does neutral damage and it will never, ever die, no matter how
powerful the attack is.
This is the stuff of schoolyard rumors! This is a freaky, weird Pokémon with a freaky, weird design and a unique typing, and it completely breaks
a lot of core game mechanics and interacts with the game in ways that
nothing else does. I want you to imagine being in grade school, hearing
some kid talking about this thing at the lunch table. You don't believe
it! It sounds like bullshit. Shedinja doesn't pass the smell test - it exists in a land of Mist Stones and Mewthree and Venustoise and...
Except it's real. It exists. Evolve Nincada with that empty slot, and Shedinja just happens. And it actually is as weird and completely outside the way the game is supposed to behave in battles as it sounds.
And its ingame Pokédex flavor text amounts to "this thing is weird and
no one knows how it works, and also there's a hole in its back and if
you look into that it'll steal your soul." Again: this is the stuff of a schoolyard rumor.
Except it exists.
I think it's really sad that they didn't have this idea until
Ruby/Sapphire, by which point the franchise was already in full swing
and there was no way they wouldn't have detailed strategy guides
that told you exactly how to obtain Shedinja and what it did out
day-and-date with the games. Because that just makes Shedinja into a
curiosity, when the way it's actually built mechanically smacks of
something that was meant to interact with the playerbase and spread
almost as an urban legend, until marketing said "no, we want to sell
Shedinja figures and t-shirts and lunchboxes and cereal and condoms and
knee implants, you can't do that."
What a shame.