Just look at Surskit. She’s so far removed from a normal body plan that the only “human-like” feature we have to latch onto is a pair of round eyes and what appear to be blush marks. Beyond that, she’s just a bulb on four spindly legs, which sounds horrifying but ends up cute as a button. Simplified shapes and bright colors will take you a long way.
What’s better yet is that more creative usage of zoology lets the game move into more interesting type combinations. Nothing else as of yet is a Bug/Water combo, which is just fun to think about, let alone play with. And doesn’t a bug literally walking on water just feel like a fantasy critter?
I’m decidedly more middling about Masquerain.
Its not that weird that a water-strider evolves into something that flies, especially since Masquerain apparently still water-strides. I’m more bothered by how she loses the Bug/Water type to become yet another Bug/Flying monster, which the roster is already lousy with. What’s worse is that the designers have a way to imply that she’s flying while letting her maintain the Bug/Water type, so this was an avoidable loss.
Well, at least she’s good at what she does. Masquerain is another one of those composite monsters, taking the best parts of a couple different insects and putting them together into a cute little chimera. The big, obvious one is those false eyes – something that the series has already touched on before, but is most at-home with moths’ eyespots. There’s a bit of dragonfly in there, with the translucent lower wings and its pond habitat, but we also already have dragonflies.
I think the main problem with Masquerain is that while she definitely smells like a new design, I don’t feel like she adds any new elements or story to the world. It can help add depth that more than one creature in this world has the same survival strategy, to be sure. But it’s also a mark against her as an important piece of the tapestry they’re weaving here.
Unfortunately, Bug/Flying is weak to everything under the sun, and Masquerain is on the frail side on top of that. She does make some good use of her Special Attack with just enough of a movepool to be useful, so she can definitely pull her weight. She’s just… not quite as spectacular as some of the other options out there.
One thing I will give to Masquerain is that she leans much harder into her eyespots than most of the monsters so far. Apparently they emote, changing form to look angry when threatened and upset when rain is imminent. With animals in general being more sensitive to weather patterns – Pokémon explicitly so – and Surskit’s generation leans really hard into “weather” as one of its core themes.
It’s a shame we don’t actually see this play out, though. Maybe I missed one of the 1,163 episodes of the show or 73 volumes of the manga, but it’s still a shame that so much lore for the series ends up just being flavor text, especially when it’s a standout feature that could make a Pokémon feel unique.
Surskit does make the most adorable little noise, though, so there’s that.
Surskit is adorable, and Masquerain isn’t half-bad. But when was the last time you honestly thought about these two? They appear surprisingly often, but they still don’t have a lot of brain-share for folks; that makes for the definition of a monster that can be Retired.
Any and all appreciation for Surskit and Masquerain is welome in the comments!