Beldum, Metang, Metagross

#374 – Beldum

Heads up: I’m hugely biased in favor of this entire line, and Beldum is a great way to start it. Beginning a three-stage late-game evolution line with something so basic that it doesn’t even have limbs to express itself with? It’s like a little alien drone, hinting at a mothership somewhere to return to. That’s priming us for some explosive growth upward.

Speaking of, maybe I’ve been building too many model kits recently, but this sucker looks exactly like a robot’s arm with a ball-joint at the end.

(It’s not just me. That’s going to be important in a hot second.)

For something that’s clearly inorganic and even robotic, I love how uneven their surface is. Even Porygon had some regularity to their angular faces, but here it almost feels like Beldum was naturally hewn from stone. Except, y’know, he’s fully made of cold iron. They’ve even got a steel-blue coat to play off that turn of phrase.

Yup, the more I look at this guy, the more I like this electromagnetic child as a jumping-off point.

#375 – Metang

Still a little foreign-to-earth, but with a sensible structure now. It’s like some angry claw machine, or a flying saucer, or even one of those scrap magnets used in junkyards.

The line’s overall design theme is already coming together – you can tell that it’s a fusion of two Beldum, but it’s also more than that – the entire central body is a whole new creation, making Metang a proper gestalt. Magneton is fun, but feels like payoff (and remember, Metang was introduced before Magnezone would take a similar tact).

For some of the middle-stage dorks we’ve been through, it’s nice to have one that looks like it could properly stand on its own. On one hand, it’s not hard to imagine a steel bugger like this clamping down with its claws and literally ripping things apart. On the other, imagine this thing swinging its arms backwards and zipping around, shaped like a craggy, living U.S.S. Enterprise.

This guy is designed for the little nerds in the crowd.

Oh, and a quick note: that middle body looks nice and regular and smooth, but used to be drawn just as chunkily as Beldum’s head. That’ll knock it back down into “lovable chum” territory, but also creates another situation where Pokémon semi-harmlessly redesigned a Pokémon. Given the context, I kind of like the idea of revisions of a Metang line, like it’s continuously finding a more optimal chassis.

Oh, and you absolutely cannot convince me that this guy doesn’t have Tetsujin 28 vibes. The guys designing this region’s pseudo-legendries were just hopped up on manga classics.

#376 – Metagross

The Big One.

Spider-shaped mecha have always been cool. Metagross is very solidly cool, charging straight into awesome and any other pejorative you would use to describe the awe and power behind heavy machinery. We’ve seen other Pokémon look constructed and man-made up to this point, but Metagross feels properly industrial in the sense that I’d expect to see one of them tearing down an old building and munching on the rebar as a snack. It’s almost like nature tried to produce da Vinci’s fighting vehicle, and the results are brutal.

But, at the same time, they’re distinctly alien? Few living creatures look like this, and the closest that come to mind are invertebrates in general and crustaceans in particular – themselves often used in science fiction as a shortcut to “extraterrestrials not exactly shaped like humans”. With Hoenn having a few notes of space travel in its designs – more of that in the coming weeks – Metagross has the nice impression of otherworldly machinery – and even a dash of lunar lander – to it.

I think my only critique with this absolute unit is that, if they’re ostensibly the fusion of two Metang in the same way that Metang emerges from two Beldum, than the body should have four eyes. There are so many possibilities with this! You could throw a pair of eyes on the underside of that X-mark to eliminate a blind spot and give them transverse symmetry; flip this beast over and it just keeps going. Or add a pair to the back for the same lateral effect, letting them strafe and seek prey in all directions. Heck, just throw another pair onto the face and lean into that spider-mecha imagery.

Metagross being even halfway to any of these solutions still makes them super-rad and an absolute home-run of an addition to the lineup of late-game powerhouses. Even at a “modest” five feet tall and half a metric ton, this very much has that “charging rhino” energy where I would die of fright to be caught in its sights.

Metagross backs that up with some killer in-game ability, from fantastic physical stats – and only its speed lagging a bit – to a wide array of natural resistances (including a poison immunity) and a natural immunity to stat-reducing moves, Metagross is well-equipped both to punch through with its natural moves or cover all the bases as mixed attacker. A little unfortunate for main-game players that Beldum is almost exclusively found after the credits roll, but if you’ve got a friend to trade you one, Metagross makes for a super-sturdy way of stomping all over most the main game.

What makes this line even better is that it used to be something of a Magikarp situation – up until the Sword & Shield generation, Beldum could only learn the self-damaging Take Down move, making it an overly-simple and short-lived hammer until it finally evolved. Not that it wasn’t enough. Just take a quick look at this promo art featuring a shiny Beldum. Even the little floating-widget base form looks absolutely monstrous.

I do like how that ties into the idea of a Zerg Rush, tons of little creatures throwing themselves recklessly at an enemy to swarm them into submission. It’s a classic Starcraft strategy, and little coincidence that Beldum is from the first generation that wasn’t already released or likely in active development when the original Starcraft released.

Alien references just creeping out of every orifice with this line.

Even its supercomputer-like attestations in the Pokédex play off of this, claiming that it goes from one to two to four “brains”, operating in powers of two much like how CPUs typically go from one to two to four cores, and so on. Computer parts are, famously, constructed of silicon – and coincidentally, silicon has been called out by biologists as the next-most-likely element after carbon for life forms to use as a chemical base – though we haven’t seen this on Earth. So where would a silicon-based life form come from?

There’s also the much cleaner line drawn from “computer hive-minds” in pulp science fiction to Metagross’ fusion of worker-drone brains, but that’s a much shorter and less-fun walk.

All this pointing for a creature that has very little to do either the “little green men” or the “walking arthropod” interpretation of intelligent extraterrestrial life that pop culture loves so very much – or even directly calling it out in the Pokédex. It calls to mind how we’re three generations deep and the fossil Pokémon are still almost exclusively using nondinosaur inspirations. Yes, sometimes you get a seal named Seel. But sometimes you get a Pokémon that takes the scenic route to show you its influences, and feels all the more distinct for it.

You know what the Pokédex does call out, though? Hyperviolence.

Its intellect surpasses its previous level, resulting in battles so cruel, they’ll make you want to cover your eyes.

– Pokémon Ultra Sun

When it knows it can’t win, it digs the claws on its legs into its opponent and starts the countdown to a big explosion.

– Pokémon Ultra Moon

“When hunting, this Pokémon pins the prey to the ground under its massive body. It then eats the helpless victim using the large mouth on its stomach.”

– Pokémon Sapphire

Sweet dreams.

Sorry – an inorganic, potentially alien monster as the new psuedo-legendary is just a cooler concept to me than another, almost default dragon. It feels odd and even a little unfair that they’re naturally pitted against each other in this way, but even if they waffle in and out of a Reserve roster, they hover near the top of it in a way where I’d expect them to resurface much more quickly than their peers.

Plus, Metagross been in every Super Smash Bros. since its introduction – that has to be a vote of confidence for its longevity.

Any and all appreciation for Beldum, Metang, and Metagross is welcome in the comments!

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