The other Nidoran! These guys are going to have a lot of overlap with their counterpart line ending in Nidoqueen, to the point where I almost could have collapsed them into one article. Anyway, this guy is a bit leaner than his female counterpart, which helps accentuate his larger and more-numerous spikes along with his horn. Definitely looks more prickly than the other Nidoran, up to the glare in those big ol’ eyes and what looks like a single pointed buck tooth. He kinda looks like a boy too big for his britches, but still one that’s gonna stick a quill in ya.
Nidorino’s even more stockily-built, and with that horn he absolutely seems poised to charge into you head-first at all times, especially with his backward-facing spines and his better-defined bony skull. He’s like a prickly, poisonous dagger ready to go, which is a natural progression from stubby lil’ Nidoran♂. About as solid-neutral of a design as you’re going to get for a quadrupedal monster.
Here comes the big man on the block! Big, heavy-looking build with squat legs, a flattish facade, and a powerful tail; he doesn’t look especially speedy, but when he gets a hold of you this fella looks built to crush yer bones. Plus, even more spines than before! Forehead! Ears! Jowls! Claws! Dorsal ridge! Teeth! Elbows! And this is after his re-design – back in the first generation, this guy was the inverse of a pincushion!
He’s big and chunky, he’s accessible fairly early in the games that he’s in, he gets lots of varied options for tearing into opponents – especially for the main campaign, there’s no denying that this guy is just a powerhouse. There’s a reason why most beat-the-game-as-fast-as-possible runs of the Red and Blues revolve around using him as a main attacker. He’s not even as slow in practice as his build suggests, so you could do worse for an offensive lead – even if he isn’t exactly geared toward taking advantage of the Poison status he can dish out.
As the male counterpart to Nidoqueen, he similarly gets thrown around a lot when the ad materials need a big ol’ generic monster. Bonus points to this line, though, for being a major presence in the opening sequences to the very first game and, by extension, the anime. He’s also a really common pick for major villain and rival characters like Gary in the anime and Giovanni in pretty much everywhere. Very present in the series’ identity, this one.
If we have to point at one Toho / Godzilla-adjacent Kaiju that he and to a lesser extent Nidoqueen are based on – although their hunched and heavy-set build could allude to a lot – it’s probably Baragon. Similar head structure, horn, and big ol’ rounded ears, and just like the evolutionary line he goes from prowling on four legs to rearing up on two. Everything else about the Nidos is pretty run-of-the-mill for a kaiju-ish beast, but then again Baragon’s a pretty run-of-the-mill kaiju as they go.
Point of interest: the Nidorino line’s alternate “shiny” colorations are all blue-on-blue numbers taken straight from their counterparts in the Nidorina line – likewise, the Nidorina line’s “shiny” colors are lifted straight from the Nidorino line’s purple-on-purple… except for Nidoqueen, which has a bronze-y green as its rare coloring. Way to break theme, Nidoqueen!
Nidorino is one of the few Pokémon that can be pretty directly traced back to the original pitch given to Nintendo for the series. He’s one of the original-original generation – probably part of why he and Gengar are the very first Pokémon presented in the main games proper.
There’s some more trivia adjacent to this guy already covered under Nidoqueen and her juvenile forms, but otherwise that’s about it for Nidoking and its line. He’s a solid baseline for big, powerful monsters, and he’s even tied pretty strongly to the series’ early identity. He’s really close between the Must-Have and Reserve buckets in terms of how much the series needs to hold onto him, even if it can and will go to more distinct places with its more from-the-ground-up monster concepts.
Any and all appreciation for Nidoran♂, Nidorino, and Nidoking is welcome in the comments!