Magnemite! It’s a magnet, and he’s tiny (a mite). Possibly made of magnetite! It’s kind of a mish-mash of various metal bits and bobs: a ball-bearing, screws, and the cartoony variety of horseshoe-magnets. The one thing it doesn’t have is a Coil, its original Japanese name – it doesn’t even seem to necessarily operate as an electromagnet. But it is one of the delightful few that’s missing elements of a complete face, which makes it all the more adorable in its simplicity and purity.
A whole eighty monsters we’re finally getting to one that isn’t expressly based on an animal or plant, and its artificiality feels like a breath of creative fresh air as something that doesn’t have to adhere to biology in any traditional way – its nature also marks it as the first explicitly genderless Pokémon in the listing. I love the idea of a critter born of discarded factory parts and machinery that came to life either by coincidence or some creative spark or what have you, and this is a pretty appealing way of conveying that. Just don’t think too hard about how it gained whatever level of sentience it has
Magneton is… three Magnemite stuck together, minus some shared parts. A lot of people rag on it and Dugtrio for having the appearance of their pre-evolved forms stuck together, which sounds like an uninteresting design on paper, but I feel like that’s unfair in both cases. I mean, what is the one thing a magnet is particularly known for doing? Attracting metal and especially other magnets. It makes an incredible amount of sense that Magnemite would naturally attract and stick to each other, and a system of multiple magnets and parts will naturally be more complicated and powerful than just one or two magnets stuck to some junk. A shame that you don’t have to actually fuse three of the suckers together in the games, but 1989 tech can only get you so far. Even if you don’t like Magneton personally, it makes for a great logical follow-up to Magnemite. If I have one knock against it, it’s that the way Magneton is drawn and rendered is always with the blue poles of its magnets lining up closest to the blue poles of its “teammates”, and likewise with the red poles. These three bodies should be repelling each other, goshdangit!
Jumping ahead almost 400 numbers and a decade later, and Magneton got a follow-up in this thing. It’s definitely a more organized, coherent construct as opposed to Magneton’s more “jumble-of-scrap” design, and while Magnemite and Magneton had its charms, this looks like and industrial bot who’s operating with purpose. Plus, we get another “U.F.O.” design, but with a “killer robots” bent and more explicit references to the extraterrestrial angle in the Pokédex; it’s nice to see him as a B-movie-alien counterpoint to Tentacruel‘s “invaders from the stars” take. The bright yellow antenna is a bit much for me, though – maybe it could’ve been another screw? – but it’s hard not to appreciate a bit of scrap-future sci-fi.
Magnezone is pretty great in a fight – it’s got solid defenses and great special attack, plus it resists a lot of common types. He’s also weak to a few common types, though, and his Magnet Pull can conveniently trap enemies in unfavorable positions. It’s pretty great overall, even if its attacking options aren’t super-broad.
The Magnemite family is just a titch above average as far as its visibility goes. The first-generation guys are usually some of the more visible ones, anyway, and Magnemite’s line has gotten some increased visibility in the show over the long game. They’re also the last set of Pokémon to appear naturally in every single region since the original games aside from Zubat and Psyduck, which has to count for something.
We’ve seen this already with the Clefairy and Jigglypuff lines, but Magnemite and Magneton were the first Pokémon to have their types retroactively changed (since Steel didn’t exist until the second Generation). However, they were not given the inherent ability to Levitate when passive abilities were introduced (despite always being shown levitating), so clearly retcons could only help them so much. Do you know what did get the Levitate ability, though? Gengar, who has legs and is typically seen standing on solid ground. The world is unfair at times.
The flavor text around the origin of this little thing is frustratingly inconsistent. Newer entries reference it hatching, despite it being explicitly unable to hatch from an egg due to how breeding mechanics work. Others reference it appearing as though out of nowhere, which makes for a delightful bit of speculation about it forming spontaneously under certain conditions when all the right parts are magnetically drawn together. Well, that makes for a more interesting visual and is actually more in-line with what the series allows for, so I’m choosing to believe it, anyway.
It’s also naturally drawn to power lines, circuit breakers, folks using their portable electronics, and even minor solar flares like some sort of magnetic moth, which is simultaneously utterly precious and also very pestlike, since they spew radio signals that fatally screw up electronics in their wake. Apparently the warning sirens in certain cities are used as an emergency response to Magneton outbreaks, and they’re not allowed outside of their Pokéballs in a lot of urban areas. That follows well enough, but also starts the train of thought about just how many contingencies the humans in this world have to be able to plan for.
Rather than requiring a metal surface for Magnemite to float, apparently its magnets are unique in that they negate gravity in the immediate vicinity. It might logically follow that humans in the series have reverse-engineered the few floating devices and transportation devices that we see from Magnemite’s magnets in the same vein of how Velcro imitates burr seeds, planes imitate bird wings, and sonar imitates the echolocation of bats and certain sea life. Since Magnemite is ostensibly created from parts of human machinery, the whole inspirational cycle here feels a bit chicken-and-egg, but I love how it plays off of and with industrial design as one of the Pokémon more directly attached to human society.
Instead of introducing the umpteenth new evolutionary stone to explain away Magneton’s apparent inability to evolve in the first three sets of games, it evolves by leveling up only in a very specific location, namely a “special magnetic field”, which has appeared in every subsequent game except for one of the remake titles. Sometimes this makes sense (a specific power plant or a cave where Electric-types spawn), and sometimes it really doesn’t (an island canyon where the resident Dragon-type challenge is undertaken). It was a nice idea when Magnezone was first introduced and the gimmick was tied to Sinnoh’s defining geographical feature, but with time it’s one of those allowances that the games have to keep making, and taken all together these things amount to an awful lot of cruft that the series has accumulated over the years.
Also, there’s this adorable music video on the official Japanese YouTube channel, featuring Magnemite in a series of playful “Where’s Waldo”-style situations. Adorable.
What’s not to love about Magnemite? Well, its evolutionary process, mostly. Its continued involvement means that the series has to either keep integrating an Electric-type dungeon or one-off location where Magneton can evolve in every single game where it’s featured, or else include a Pokémon that’s impossible to get to its final form on a single game file. That alone is enough that it should definitely end up in the Reserve lineup for logistical reasons.
Any and all appreciation for Magnemite, Magneton, and Magnezone is welcome in the comments!