Every generation, we get a customary “early-game rodent” Pokémon in the spirit of Ratatta and Sentret, which is all fine and dandy. Gotta ease the player into the game with some softballs.
I just don’t see why he’s necessary when Poochyena already fills that role in a slightly more mechanically-unique way.
I totally get the appeal of Zigzagoon; he’s got that same “cute, indistinct mammal” design that Sentret had, which I adored. But his body style is more predictable, something of a chunky ferret or very short dog, which makes him feel less striking than a Sentret.
On the other hand, I do appreciate the designers picking a tanuki for the base (the real one, mind you). A mundane animal with a dash of folklore around it feels like ripe for adaptation as a Pokémon. Problem is, Zigzagoon borrows almost nothing from tanuki lore, so again we’re left with a critter that’s kinda flat lore-wise.
Well, at least he’s cute.
Linoone is even trickier to nail down, since he kind of abandons the tanuki theme. Badger, weasel, ferret – all sorts of contributors in here that make him even more of a mishmash Pokémon, but again, in a way that feels more “aggregate mammal” than “new, exciting hypothetical”.
It’s a sleek look, and in isolation I like Linoone as an idea; where I think Sentret is a more interesting base form, Linoone is a more unique occupant of the same “long mammal” niche that Furret occupies. But it’s another monster that’s betrayed by the “we’ve already seen something similar” hook, since even at the third generation we’ve fallen into a very recognizable pattern.
Plus, “runs in a zig-zag” evolving into “runs in a straight line” just doesn’t feel super-exciting to me as a schtick for these two.
In case you haven’t been able to tell yet, this whole family is squarely in the “okay monsters, but just they don’t excite me” club.
A more aggressively-colored Zigzagoon is square in the strike zone for that.
I do like that we get a little hint of “glam rock” flavor in Zigzagoon’s “mask” here, but having a star fur-pattern just feels a little cartoony to me. And yes, Pokémon are pretty solidly cartoony overall; there’s a boundary to being tacky about it, though. Galarian Zigzagoon is toeing that.
Oooh, it’s Linoone but sharper.
In this case, the war paint works in its favor; the sharp teeth and long tongue are very Gene Simmons, which makes for a playfully-ferocious critter. But that feels like an odd reference for the design team to make considering that the Galarian variant of this family is more or less playing on Glam Rock’s origins in the U.K. This whole line so obviously screams “Kiss”, which is distinctly a U.S. band. Close, but no cigar.
Okay, reader, I’m gonna be honest with you.
I really don’t like most of the “human-shaped animals” Pokémon designs. Obstagoon is a prime example of that.
He’s not even a great fit for the family, to boot.
I get that he’s supposed to be a delinquent crossed with a badger or a gnoll or whatever, sure. But there are so many smoother ways to go from “long critter darting through the underbrush” to “upstart blocking your path”. For a start, why not make him look more like the fantasy interpretation of a tanuki, and save him for a region where that would make sense? Or base him on the Grim or a heraldic badger or any number of canid animals from English folklore.
Literally anything more animalistic than “guy with a badger-head folding his arms”, please.
Gameplay-wise, you can kind of tell that Linoone really doesn’t pass muster when they had go back and give him a whole new evolution just to keep up. Obstagoon does much better – he’s tooled to be a very straightforward attacker with fairly straightforward moves, which is gonna make him a winner for just plowing through NPC trainers. Exciting? Only sometimes. But solid? You bet.
Plus, while it may be risky and a pain to use, it’s pretty neat lore-wise that he naturally learns the one-two punch of “Taunt” and “Counter”. Cocky blighter.
The saving grace of Galarian Zigzagoon is that it gives the line some character. Not only are they the original variant of the species – implying that Pokémon’s U.K. is as great as introducing invasive life as the real U.K. has done in the past – but they’re given the character of a provocative little terrier. That is to say, no, they’re not acting up just to look cute or get attention – they quite seriously just want to pick a fight with everything in eyesight. Lil’ rascal.
I still think they look a little silly, though.
Like I keep saying, I don’t mind Zigzagoon and Linoone in isolation. I just don’t think they do anything that other Pokémon in the series don’t already have covered, and I’m really not a fan of the Galarian line’s inconsistency. This is one of those families that, pressured to cut critters to implement, I don’t think the designers should think too hard about Retiring.
Any and all appreciation for Zigzagoon, Linoone, and Obstagoon is welcome in the comments!