Pokemon Sword is not the sort of video game I’d usually get into, but the days are getting shorter, it’s cold out, and I’m as much a sucker for the little digital vermin as the next girl. It’s essentially the same as every other Pokemon game: kind of repetitive, but charming, and with enough cute/cool monster designs to lure you through however many hours of beating Woopers unconscious in a field. Without a doubt the real draw is building interesting teams of the titular creatures, and to the game’s credit new features like camping and playing fetch really can manufacture fondness for your Pokemon.
Unfortunately, the game’s long running time and tedious grinding process also fosters other, less wholesome feelings toward the creatures which populate its fictional world. There’s only so many times you can fight the same chirpy little gremlinoid before boredom turns into malice, before irritation curdles into something uglier. After ten or so hours of Pokemon Sword the thrill of watching my enemies faint isn’t cutting it anymore. I want something more intimate. More visceral. Simply put, I want to kill the Pokemon, and I think GameFreak should let me do it. Here are the five I’d start with.
5. Yamper, The Smiling Wretch
This thing so transparently wants my approval, but behind its vacuous grin I see only hunger. What does it want? Walkies? Treats? I am unmoved. Let my Liepards run it down and feast on its flesh.
4. Shuckle, The Worm that Walks
Shuckle is the wrong kind of cartoon, as incongruous among the anime denizens of the Pokemon world as Roger Rabbit in real-life Los Angeles. It looks like something Jim Woodring would draw if Jim Woodring sucked at drawing, but it writhes with mute vitality, its tendrils squishing and deforming through the holes in its shell. I want to kill Shuckle in the same way I want to kill cockroaches: not because I hate it, but because I’m afraid of it and my hindbrain registers it as unclean, evidence of nearby putrescence. I want to stomp on it in a panic and then scrape it off my shoe.
3. Stufful, The Laughing Beast
To off-quote Frank Reynolds, I do not like this Pokemon. Its smug aura mocks me. Those big, dead doll eyes, those nubby limbs, that body with the awful plush rigidity of antique stuffed toys from the 1960s and 70s; stufful just looks and acts unappealing on absolutely every level. Every time I encounter one I want to strike a match on its button nose and watch its polyester body burn, dripping wiry little runnels of synthetic textiles before the sawdust and yellowed stuffing inside all goes up in an acrid-smelling flash.
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2. Palpitoad, The Chuckling Louse
I hate this thing. I hated it the second I saw it. I wanted to punt it into a tree. The worst part is that its expression is just so relentlessly cheerful, like it’s happy to see me and it’ll keep smiling in confused optimism as its spongy little body folds around the toe of my boot. Killing palpitoad would absolutely make me feel worse about myself; I feel soiled just writing about it. I’d still do it in a heartbeat.
Ed: Master Shake-looking ass Pokemon.
1. Galarian Mr. Mime, The Whispering Nightmare
Just imagine this thing’s wet, lipless mouth sputtering through crude imitations of human speech when it thinks you aren’t listening. Imagine its beady little eyes following your every move. Mr. Mime doesn’t want to imitate you. It wants to be you. Its dream is to wrap those long, clammy fingers around your throat and twist until vertebrae splinter and break and your eyes watch, unseeing, as it strips your corpse and tugs your clothes awkwardly onto its stick-limbed body, as it gathers up your fallen Pokeballs and makes them its own, its long servitude to you having taught it only that the weak must serve the strong. Putting two in the back of this thing’s head is simple self-defense.