Nidoran! Or the female version, at least, which counts as a separate Pokémon entirely in this case. She’s got a mix of inspirations from all sorts of small mammals in there, but with some off-coloring that tells that she’s venomous. She’s even got spines everywhere to help sell the poison-rabbit look, and her having no apparent fur on her skin makes her look a bit reptilian or amphibious, which also helps with the poison association. Apparently she most closely resembles a Hyrax, which I’d never heard of before this article, which is an excellent pull. Even without that knowledge, the look really works as something of a venomous mutt.
I don’t know what about her makes her look simultaneously more feminine while she also looks more aggressive, but there you have it. She’s Nidoran, but more so – the spikes are spikier, she’s got fangs and a beaky mouth, and that thing looks very ready to pounce on your face. Sharp-looking bugger, if one that’s a bit more ambigious in nature. Pokémon as a series was more willing to just shrug its shoulders and go “ambiguous monster” than to derive all its designs from any real-world parallels, which is kind of nice in its own way.
Okay, Nidoqueen is really silly, let’s just call it out right now. It’s got some more interesting monster traits, like her gorilla-esque arms for clubbing with, or how her toes are a bit webbed now, or how she’s explicitly scaly going by the Pokedex, or that her spines have been de-emphasized a bit to give way for her new Ground typing. It’s really cool that she looks like a big, chunky Kaiju – an impressive get considering that you could reasonably have one on your team by the quarter-way point in the game. But there’s no getting around the fact that she has visible breasts drawn on her, which is very very weird for the most reptilian of the whole line and just in general. Still, she’s big and hefty, and it’s no surprise that one of the big bad villains of the original games used one. Odd-looking, but distinctly powerful-looking, as well.
And reasonably so – as noted, she shows up surprisingly early for turning into a freakin’ movie monster, can serve multiple roles between her poisoning and access to the mighty Earthquake move, and has access to a lot of attack options of varying elemental types while having the right stats to serve as a tank. She’s just a very strong choice all-around.
She and Nidoking are two of the more generically-powerful-looking monsters that don’t have overly complex designs or are obviously a different take on some real-world object or animal, so they show up a fair bit when the advertising needs something big and intimidating-looking. I’d say Nidoqueen gets her time in the sun.
The in-game flavor text suggests that Nidoran♀ has smaller barbs than the male variant, but that its toxin is actually more deadly for it. Take that as you will.
Also of note, apparently only the most juvenile, unevolved forms of both this line and its sibling Nidoran line are able to produce eggs, which is ultimately a way more uncomfortable thought than two Kaiju-monsters reproducing.
I’m going to call this (in conjunction with her sibling Pokémon) the only case where a Pokémon has ever been re-named, because my browser keeps insisting on rendering her name using the emoji version of the “female” sigil rather than the text version. All in all, the Nidoran evolutionary lines are a weird artifact from the before the concept of Pokémon being gendered was introduced to the games. You can bet your bottom dollar that if they were introduced today, both flavors of Nidoran would count as different forms of the same species, with them being a split evolution rather than treated as totally separate.
This is another weird case where nobody really much bothered to come up with localized names for the evolutionary line, aside from the Chinese translators. Nidoran/rina/queen just worked out for everybody.
She’s more of a non-specific kaiju monster than having any identity in particular, which actually kind of makes her more distinct in a series where most common monsters you can pretty much figure the thing or three that it’s based on. It’s a pretty good all-arounder design, so while I can see her being swapped out for the Chunky Monster De Jour in games introducing new monsters, I can definitely see her kicking around at the Reserves table.
Any and all appreciation for Nidoran♀, Nidorina, and Nidoqueen is welcome in the comments!