This is going to fan out into a family similar to Eevee‘s, where you have different members representing the different types within the game, so it’s nice to start out with something more literally-grounded.
It’s also going to cover more classical, physical elements in general, so it’s nice to start out with good ol’ rocks.
A moving pile of rubble isn’t remotely a new idea – in fact, it was such a not-new idea that Galaxy Quest had already used it for parody material. But this feels like a nice version of the that concept, a heavy-set and broad-shouldered golem with big ol’ clobberin‘-arms.
Speaking of – the lowercase-g “golem” is different from the uppercase-G, first-generation favorite; but we’ll get to that later.
For now, I love those little eye-lets it has in place of a face. They definitely read as inorganic and robotic, but especially with no other obvious computer-y-parts, for lack of a better term, there’s no reason they can’t read as gems infused with an ancient power. Or even some alien technology found and borrowed to animate a pile of stone into a friend. And the way they’re set up here is nice, wide, and balanced; a nice little encapsulation of a stone monster.
Regirock is a solid way to set up this collection.
Regice is a lot more distinct than Regirock in concept, and so has a more distinct execution. It does amount to a lot of plain prismatic crystals stuck together, but hey – it reads clearly as an ice construct and is much more interesting than trying to make an uneven, chunky golem look disparate from its sibling Regirock.
The pointed little feet on this fella always made it seem the least plausible to me – balancing 400 pounds of ice on two points seems tentative at best – but its anime appearances suggest that it can somehow float, which kind of throws this whole thing into the air. That must come from whatever same alien/mystic/Atlantean force is making its arms not immediately fall apart, so I guess we’re playing Calvinball with how these semi-artificial legendary monsters work.
Either way, the combination of sleek and chunky here really works for me. Great follow-up.
I don’t know why I never noticed the extra bits on Registeel’s knuckles before. This suggests to me that whatever forbidden juice is souping up these titans is super-souping up Registeel, and is the only thing letting him exist and move within a body made of hard metal. And if those power stones are meant to be alien, that sure dovetails into an explanation on why its apparently-solid-metal arms can flexibly swing around.
This one is just cool to me. The curved and more deliberate body plan, the symmetry and lack of extraneous bits hanging off, the clean and focused array of face-sensors – it all just works. I think it’s maybe a little less Classic than the other two, but hey – we love our Laputa robots for a reason.
It’s a nice way to round out the original trilogy. But then come the sequels:
If we had three representatives of physical matter, it doesn’t seem totally out of the question that we could have an energy-based golem.
I love the little rings it has to bind it and give it form; it’s a lovely way to combine the “sealed away” aspects of the titans’ lore and the fact that this thing needs some sort of direction to keep it from just dissipating into a cloud of lightning. I’m less enthused about the little pigeon-toed feet made out of cartoon lightning-bolts, but I think I can stand for it as one element out of place compared to those barely-contained arms and the light-bulb body.
For an addition to a family that didn’t necessarily need or want for an addition? This isn’t so bad.
I’m just annoyed at the name, though. If we had Regice rather than Regiice, surely this name could be shortened up to Regileki? Those repeating vowel sounds are awkward as all get-out.
I’m less enthused about placing Dragon as a core element on the same level as Ice or Rock, though. It’s always seemed like an odd-one-out of the type system to me to begin with, so to see it here alongside more classical elements is… not what I expected.
There’s always the fun idea of re-animating dragon bones and all that, and you could definitely necromance a fun golem out of a half-completed skeleton. The mystic dragon’s orb in the middle even gives it some credence, leaning into the whole “forbidden sorcery” angle. But man, necromancy just does not feel like it plays into the Pokémon universe in the same way, especially given the deep respect the series wants you to believe that its humans have for the nature and the circle of life.
I can see why people like Regidrago – the form it takes for its signature move is even pretty darned cool. The base idea just doesn’t necessarily work for me in this setting.
On that note, you’re almost invariably encountering these guys right around the Elite Four, at which point your team is already formed. The classic trio is more defensive than offensive, anyway, but the Galarian duo stack what’s basically a double same-type bonus on their same-type attacks to become a glass cannon and a plain-ol’ cannon respectively. Fun to play around with, but unless you’re looking at a formal competition, I don’t see these ending up on many in-game teams.
I’m not going to try to overstep my bounds on the actual interpretation of a golem here, but that’s very clearly what this set of constructs is meant to evoke, much more so than the Pokémon named Golem. The idea is that Jewish-folklore golems were something of a clay doll (no, not that one) in the shape of a human, animated to life by (in most stories) writing a Hebrew letter on a sheet of paper and inserting it into the mouth or sticking it to the forehead.
Considering that the patterns on their “foreheads” consist of an array of dots, very much like braille text found on the walls of their prison-chambers? This is possibly the most to-the-letter interpretation of a real-life folklore-being so far.
In many cases, the golems are meant to be simple servants, set to obediently complete chores and simple tasks. In a few, they develop their own human-like will, but in many more, they become violent either from their creators’ rejection or by some other corruption of the animation process. The last of these is what we see in Pokémon; a set of automatons that got loose to wander the earth and became self-sufficient before being sealed away.
Imprisoned by their own creators? Possibly, but that part of their in-universe backstory is for another time.
I’m also not going to re-tread the exact path of the subquest to find Regirock, Regice, and Registeel here, but it’s well-loved as a proper string of riddles. It feels like real schoolyard-rumor stuff while you’re playing, but made just obvious enough – including a lightly-obscured in-game cipher – that a young player will feel dead clever for figuring it out. In fact, it felt odd to see the group bring actual puzzles in the Crown Tundra of Sword & Shield to find these guys when world progression has gradually been made so simple in the main games.
For that matter, this manages to not be another Unown situation where an English-speaking audience has a much easier time deciphering a linguistic puzzle than a Japanese audience would. Normally, the braille that appears in the Sealed Chamber used to set the Titans loose was conceived for the Latin alphabet. But, as it turns out, the world of Latin languages isn’t the only place with reading-accessibility problems. Most written languages have some form of the system – and there are, blessedly, international standards on how they conform – meaning that every language has a shot at using the same puzzle. Hooray, language equity!
(Here’s where I’d love to have done some hands-on research on whether, say, the Korean instance of the Sealed Chamber actually uses consistent Korean braille. But considering that the Regi-Titan subquest opens up pretty late in the game, I’m gonna trust Game Freak on this one.)
That does leave open the question of whether the characters in-universe can interpret the writing on the chamber walls, since in context it’s intended to be some sort of ancient language, but I’d hope and expect must be some manner of blind-compliant equivalent for the Pokémon world’s bespoke alphabet. But hey, the braille itself appears in text boxes rather than the world itself (not counting the manga), so I think it gets a fair hand-wave.
There’s another interpretation beyond “physical elements” of how this set of legendary titans is ordered, and that’s that the three-now-five represent different eras of the Anthropocene. The first three are fairly obvious – the Stone Age, the most recent Ice Age, and the Iron Age, which even happened arguably and roughly in that order. Regieleki follows in-step with the Modern or Industrial Age, but Regidrago is an odd one out. You could take it two ways – either the Mesozoic Age, looping back around to prehistory; or the Middle Ages, where dragon-related folklore abounds. Either way breaks the pattern somewhat; another reason for Regidrago to feel like a fifth wheel.
The legendary titans are probably our first harbinger of the “too many legendary Pokémon” complaint that we’re going to tangle with for a few generations. And that, in turn, is a bit of a sticky wicket considering that scope creep in general is an ongoing pain point for the series.
It’s a bit uneasy knowing that this isn’t necessarily even the core legendary trio of the generation, but for what it’s worth, I feel like this set is genuinely well-conceived. I have a personal bugbear about including legendary Pokémon outside of the region they originally appeared in – keep them rare beasts and all – but I look forward to seeing them come out of Reserve for future romps through Hoenn and Galar.
P.S. – Yes, these five have a close relative. He’s not billed as part of the core group, though, so we’ll get to him later.
P.P.S. – Check out the noises these guys make in the eighth Pokémon movie. Art.
Any and all appreciation for Regirock, Regice, Registeel, Regileki, and Regidrago is welcome in the comments!