Lunatone is a rock in the shape of a crescent moon.
That’s it, that’s the Pokémon.
Humans have attributed supernatural happenings to the moon for ages (and to the sun, for that matter), which makes a mysterious, vaguely-creepifying psychic moon pretty reasonable, all things considered. Doubly so since these two explicitly popped out of a meteor impact crater and started wandering the Earth, defying people to make sense of them. That’s some classic invasion-movie material, except because this is Pokémon, it’s all technicolor playtime. Well, except for the part where it levitates into the sky to bewitch its victims. Fun!
I generally kind of like this vein of weird little barely-organic monsters. Lunatone’s clearly got something going on inside that rocky shell, what with the inner eyeball. Or is that just a polished, colored rock in the shape of an eyeball? And what’s the purpose of that little beaky mouth, with the dark crease running across its center? Does it fire moonbeams out of that thing?
Fascinating little chunk of space-rock.
Solrock doesn’t have any features quite as obviously-odd as Lunatone’s “beak”, but that doesn’t make it any less unsettling. Those eyes are definitely worse; fully closed, they might mimic wide peepers with sparse lashes, but as-is they’re open just enough for the creature within to stare and judge any onlookers.
Squint into the sun, the sun squints back into you.
I don’t know if it’s better or worse that its eyes don’t quite line up with Lunatone’s for lack of pupils. They definitely weren’t born from the same source, then, despite presenting as a pair. And, you know what? That’s perfectly in-line with how often the sun is placed opposite to the moon despite them being very different objects. But hey, we look at them, we decide that they’re a matching set based on circumstance, and so they’re linked together forever.
It’s fitting how Solrock’s design is less even than Lunatone, too. Where Lunatone is pretty clean and symmetrical aside from its “craters”, Solrock’s “rays” are all just a little bit different from each other, and the pebbles on its “face” don’t quite follow a pattern. Neat reflection there of how the moon is a fairly solid body of rock, where the sun is an ever-shifting orb of plasma. The more I look at them, the more they’re playing into the “opposite-but-unequal” reading of the sun-and-moon relationship. Good stuff.
Less good is how they behave in the main game. Stats all at or below average, and not a particularly defensive type combination despite being ominous, seemingly-implacable stone idols. They do get some fun type coverage – Lunatone has some icy moves in its back pocket while Solrock is predictably a fire-wielder – but I don’t think that’s enough to make many people want to pick one up unless they’re going for a themed team.
I do appreciate that these two keep furthering the “Pokémon come from space” theory that Clefairy and its Moon–Stone friends started back in the very first generation, even if they’re particularly blunt about it. We’ll see a fair bit more of that this generation, but I suppose it’s nice to have more obvious poster children for it given the series’ target audience.
Speaking of Moon Stones, neither this literal moon stone nor literal sun stone interact with those evolution items at all. Not gameplay-wise, not lore-wise. A shame; for every good step these two take, they seem to hit a dead-end. It keeps them from being more than a novelty for me, which I feel is a little disappointing given how strong and clear they are as representative symbols.
One thing that I did expect to see for these two – and am surprised that I didn’t – is some tie-in to astrology. The sun and moon have been used in fortunetelling for thousands of years now, and Lunatone’s power waxes and wanes with the phases of the Earth’s moon. Especially given the kind of people who gravitate toward Psychic-types in-universe, surely there are those trying to derive readings from the behavior of readily-accessible, empathic astral entities?
Side note, did Lunatone have a different “power cycle” wherever its ancestors came from, since a different planet would have different moons with different orbits? For that matter, would spacefaring colonies have different astrology practices to adapt to how the constellations change depending on your cosmic location? Questions way above Pokémon’s asking point, sure, but it’s fun to pretend that they’re relevant here.
If there’s one damning thing about this pair, it’s that they didn’t show up in Sun & Moon of all games.
If there’s a second, it’s that the “Pokémon derived from a meteor” schtick is going to get passed around a lot, which makes the field crowded even for the literal icons of the two most ubiquitous celestial bodies. I want to give them credit here, but if they hadn’t been the collective ace of a Hoenn gym, I wager they’d be even more forgotten by the fanbase than they are now. They’re a neat little curiosity, and I certainly appreciate them, but it’s hard to argue the series couldn’t get away with Retiring these two given how little it’s done with them in the last decade.