We’re out of the original 151 and finished with the starter lineup, which means we’re now in the Danger Zone. Here we may tut-tut at the fifth domestic cat design or some botched attempt at an on-edge design before properly dismissing them as non-essential personnel.
Fortunately for Sentret, he’s precious.
As was made previously clear, I love it when Pokémon makes a successful chimera, and Sentret is near the top of that list for me. He’s an amalgamation of seven varieties of woodland creature, from rabbit to flying-squirrel to meerkat to tanuki. And yet he’s none of these things; he feels like his own, internally-consistent mammal within that same woodland-critter family. He’s not a direct analogue to anything, but we know exactly where he fits in the series’ ecology, which reeks of a great concept.
For all of Sentret’s many ringed, winged, and altogether charming features, the best is his simple little scrunched-up face, a perfect recreation of an emoticon from ye olde chatroom days. It’s the cherry on top of an already-delightful critter.
He had to grow up sometime. Furrett isn’t a bad follow-up, all things considered; Sentret’s biggest feature was clearly his tail, so that had to show through in his evolution. And what critter looks like one long, fuzzy tail from snout to tip?
I like how they’ve kept the ringed pattern intact, but lightened up his color palette so that Furret doesn’t feel like a visual repeat of Sentret. His fur pattern in general is just a delight, from the cream tips of his ears to his fore and rear paws being in opposite colors to those little whisker-like marks on his cheeks. My major complaint here is that he’s a bit too ferret-y, which is a shame after Sentret’s uniqueness. It’s especially troublesome since Sentret’s baggy skin implied that he was going in more of a “flying squirrel” or “sugar glider” direction, which really would have set this line further apart from its predecessor in its game function.
Still, Furret isn’t exactly terrible to look at. He even keeps Sentret’s charmingly quaint face, with simple rounded eyes and a neat little mouth held agog. It’s so nice to see monsters that don’t get grumpy when they evolve; Furret looks just as cuddly as Sentret does, just a bit more grown-up.
It’s pretty unfortunate for Furret that he’s probably the least compelling of the “first-route rodent” monsters in the series as a teammate. All of his stats end up at or (mostly) below-average, her typing and movepool aren’t very interesting and she doesn’t even get the fun chance-for-a-free-item ability that is Pickup. He does get some useful utility moves like U-Turn and Sucker Punch (the latter being very helpful in Gold & Silver‘s Ghost gym since they have a hard time hitting Normal-types), but overall he’s less exciting to play than to look at.
The most fun gag around Furret is that he’s apparently six feet long by the in-game measurements. Assuming that’s a tail-to-tip measurement, that’s way bigger than a normal musteloid, but not ridiculous for a large-ish woodland mammal. It puts his body around a foot wide, so he’s approximately just a chunky cat in girth that’s gotten very long.
Of course, the games aren’t that nuanced. Back in the Gameboy Advance games, the in-game Pokédex would show the size comparison between a given Pokémon species and a human (locked at around 5 feet tall, because the audience skews young). Because it was flatly taking the Pokémon’s listed height and applying it to the pixel art, this meant that the in-game Furret standing on its hind legs would be shown as a full near-six-feet, when given the creature’s built it would be more like half that. More modern tools have fixed this scaling, of course, but the damage has been done and the popular image of Furret is it being a massive, cuddly monster.
He is surprisingly nimble, though, especially for something of his size. Most of his in-game text mentions him being nimble enough to get under fences and readily outrun other rodent Pokémon as prey. This is probably helped by being so light – 71 pounds is absolutely featherweight for anything nearly six feet long, even if he is fairly slender. Maybe most of his apparent size is just fur, leaving a little rodent-y skeleton underneath? Pokémon seems to have a generalized problem with its sense of scale.
While Furret is clearly a ferret, doing ferret-y things like burrowing a nest and generally being a slinky sucker, Sentret’s overall skittishness and penchant for standing on his tail puts another spin on this. With the combined Furret Tunnel Network™ and Sentret’s natural scouting mechanism, the pair takes after another variety of small mammal: the meerkat, with their nature of posting sentries to warn of predators approaching their burrowing nests. Neither Pokémon looks especially like a meerkat, but it’s nice that they’re wrapping the idea into a more composite creature, since it makes for such a fun bit of ecology.
Of course, Sentret still isn’t built for that life; his wing-body is altogether too round for most burrowing animals, and yet he has to form packs or else he becomes too anxious to sleep (not unlike a certain exotic pet). Poor thing. Maybe he gave up his winglets in the evolution process because he decided that living underground is safer? That inherent fear and need for attachment at least explains why he has that cream-fur circle on his chest that would make him an easy mark – it also makes companions easier to find and return to. He really just wants to stick with his buddies, huh?
While it’s much less of a visual inconsistency than some other Pokémon, we do occasionally see Sentret with cream-colored toes popping up in the show and some spin-off games. It’s a cute idea, but I think the generally-agreed-upon design choice to leave them off is for the better; it helps his chest fur stand out as a feature, and I personally prefer the simpler look of the mono-color body coat with fewer key accents.
It may sound like I’m pulling punches here on a super-common monster when Ratatta already fills that gameplay niche, but I’ll be straight with you: Sentret feels leagues more interesting as a concept than Ratatta. I’d drop the rat for a Sentret any day of the week, even if Furret sadly lacks the oomph to shine in the series’ gameplay. Needed? Definitely not. Possibly my favorite of the recurring normal-type rodents? Sure is. Reserve him for a rainy day.
Any and all appreciation for Sentret and Furret is welcome in the comments!