We’re starting to fall into a comfortable pattern with these early-game find-’em-everywhere birds; the last two running have been progressively-more-wholesale adaptations of actual birds, and Starly keeps that trend going into a pretty identifiable cartoon (white-cheeked) starling.
That said, she’s good at what she does. I’m pleased as punch at the round shape here – probably the only more spherical bird we’ve had is Hoothoot, a cute little blob to see roosting around fantasy-towns is a welcome addition to the scenery. Not daring, certainly, but harmlessly pleasant in its Normal-ness.
Staravia certainly has that middle-stage lanky-teen look, which is pleasant to see as a natural-looking growth from something so circular as Starly. I’m especially digging how its head plumage is growing into a sort of mantle, that cowlick is growing into something a bit more aggressive, and we get a double-play on its own name with the five-pointed mask of white face-feathers, looking something like a smooshed star.
Plus, those blank eyes are a great reflection of birds’ actual eyes and their apparent darkness. Nice to see the balance of cute and grouchy here.
I know that Staraptor is a favorite of many, and I can get behind that. She’s certainly the bulkiest of these common birds so far, and strikes a fun balance between ornery and appealing. Plus, it’s fun to see a common songbird re-imagined into a bird of prey, borrowing from as many in turn as Pidgey but layering it on top of the original Starling. On paper, she’s great.
Maybe it’s just that this is yet another Normal/Flying bird, though, but I never got especially excited about Staraptor. Maybe it’s just one too many repetitions in a row – guidelines for writing do say that sets come best in threes – or that Normal/Flying is a bit of a plain type combination that we don’t see as much off-the-wall variety with as we do so many purely–Normal Pokémon.
And all this is a bit unfair to take out on Staraptor in particular. It’s just that, starting from here, we’re going to need to see new designs bring a lot more to the table to stand out in existing niches.
Luckily, Staraptor is also great on paper in that department. She’s built like a bit of a glass cannon, but one speedy enough to not need to take hits if you’re staying far enough ahead of the campaign’s level curve. Unfortunately, she’s let down by her movepool – a very narrow seleciton of TMs and level-up moves that seem to funnel her into using moves with recoil, which is good for quick-and-dirty KOs but tedious to maintain in the main game where you’re expected to fight many opponents in a row. Not bad by any stretch; she just doesn’t quite live up to her numerical potential.
And I think that’s the story of this line as a whole. There’s very little in the way of trivia or errata to talk about with this family, which speaks to how it seems designed to fill an expected, routine role. It does that well, to be certain, but it’s hard to argue that it’s strictly necessary in a roster of now-over-1000. Outside of revisits to Sinnoh, this seems like one of the candidates to Retire from re-appearing in future games – though a quick shout-out to its appearance from Reserve in Scarlet & Violet, taking the place of what might have been a design. Reuse & Recycle, GameFreak.
Any and all appreciation for Starly, Staravia, and Staraptor is welcome in the comments!