Pokémon is back on a lot of gamers’ radars with the recent launch of Pokémon Go and the impending release of the next proper games, Sun and Moon for the 3DS. One of the most exciting parts of the buildup to a new Pokémon generation is the slow reveal of all the new characters players will be able to encounter on their journey. Sometimes Pokémon designs are unpredictable and wildly creative, and other times they are closely based on real-world influences. Here is a list of some of those real-world subjects we think would make the perfect Pokémon.

This feature was originally published on July 14, 2016.


Dolphin

One of the most widely recognized and common marine animals, dolphins are a perfect candidate to appear in the upcoming Pokémon Sun and Moon. The Alola region is based on the Hawaiian Islands, set in a lush tropical paradise. Players will end up traversing an open sea to reach the multiple islands depicted on the area’s official map. While exploring the ocean, wouldn’t it make sense that trainers need a strong, speedy companion?

A dolphin Pokémon would obviously use lots of water-based attacks, but there are also other possibilities for its attacks and abilities. Dolphins are said to be some of the most intelligent animals on the planet, so maybe this potential Pokémon could make some use of the psychic type. They are also extraordinarily playful and mischievous, traits that a lot of recently introduced fairy-type Pokémon seem to have as well.


Jaguar
Jaguars may be closely related to leopards and tigers, both of which have been the inspiration for a few Pokémon, but they’re distinct in a number of regards. They are larger than leopards and typically make their homes in dense rainforests. As an apex predator, the jaguar finds itself at the top of the food chain and is known to stalk areas near open water to ambush prey. Nearly every generation of Pokémon game has some creature based on a predator, like a lion or a tiger, so maybe this time it’s the jaguar’s turn.

One interesting aspect about the jaguar is the creature’s prominence in Aztec culture. While the Aztec empire was primarily located in Central America, not the Pacific islands, Pokémon games have never been the most exact about the accuracy of their cultural influences. Jaguars were used as symbols of power and strength in the education of young warriors. As a military symbol, jaguars were anthropomorphized to appear in depictions of battle and religious ceremonies. A jaguar warrior could make for an interesting and formidable Pokémon to add to your team.


Flamingo

Birds tend to be a big inspiration for Pokémon designs, but the flamingo is one distinct animal that remains untouched. The way these birds stand around on one leg could play into a unique design for a Pokémon. They spend a great deal of time near water, which may influence the type of or availability of moves it could use. Alternatively, the name flamingo comes from Portuguese, meaning “flame colored,” so we could see some fire-type ideas based on this bird.

While bird Pokémon found early in the game are usually not the strongest options to add to your team, the flamingo could come with a number of unique gameplay mechanics. Most notably, the animal is commonly recognized as a plastic lawn decoration, and the flamingo Pokémon could be memorable if this association is implemented into the game either in or out of battle. An ability that allows for transformation into a plastic decoy could prove frustrating and helpful in competitive situations. Another distinguishing characteristic of the flamingo is how they are known to group up in large colonies, which could take advantage of Pokémon’s new horde battle mechanic.


Naked Mole Rat

While they may be a little tough to look at, naked mole rats are actually remarkable animals. They lack pain sensitivity in their skin, can control their own body temperatures, are highly resistant to cancer, and live incredibly long lives for members of the rat family. All of these attributes, combined with their inclination for underground habitats, would make for an interesting Pokémon.

A cave-dwelling mole rat that is incredibly hard to defeat could annoy explorers at first but might make a good addition to your team, if given the chance. The naked mole rat is also closely related to the star-nosed mole, another unique creature. The star-shaped appendages that grow from the mole’s face act as sensors in the darkness and help the animal find food and avoid danger underground. Both of these dark-dwelling moles could make for some new Pokémon with creative abilities.


Narwhal

We’re going underwater again for this next suggestion, the narwhal, which already looks like it should be a Pokémon and not an actual animal on our planet. They are well-known for the massive horn that protrudes from their heads and are commonly referred to as “the unicorn of the sea.” These small whales live in cold water, and would make for an excellent ice-type Pokémon.

Narwhals are naturally social creatures, making small pods to travel and hunt with. An evolutionary chain based on this animal would be pretty interesting, as a newborn calf weighs up to two hundred pounds. Watching the creature’s tusk grow before your eyes as it evolves would be a rewarding experience before obtaining a full-grown Pokémon with serious strength.

For more bugs, birds, and some of our crazier ideas, head to page two.

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Hello Games is halfway through a multi-part video series that seeks to answer its game’s big questions. The latest shows off the game’s combat.

The previous video, Explore, showed off – you guessed it – the game’s exploration. You can find it here. The video below, Fight, shows off the game’s combat, both on the surface of many planets, and out in space.

No Man’s Sky comes out on August 9 for PlayStation 4 and PC.

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To learn and watch even more about No Man’s Sky, click on the banner below to enter our cover story hub.

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It’s an annual rite like being hazed in training camp: EA Sports has released the ratings for some of this year’s notable rookies, and the reality can be harsh. Welcome to the NFL, rookies.

Big-name rookies like 1st overall pick and Rams’ QB Jared Goff fall for the age-old setup: Tell us what you think you’re rated, and we’ll give you the real numbers. The results are humbling.

On the flipside, EA has posted its list of the top 10-rated rookies on its EA’s official blog, and it’s not exactly the draft order from earlier this year.

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[Source: Madden NFL 17]

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This feature was originally published on July 15, 2016.

They seem to be everywhere: People, young and old, hunched over their smartphones, mumbling about gyms and balls and Snorlaxes. As impossible as it sounds, we’re in an era of peak Pokémon, where the collectable creatures are hotter than they were even when they debuted a few decades ago. Pokémon Go has captured our imaginations, but it’s increasingly clear that the technical framework underneath it all simply can’t handle the traffic.

Let me be clear: I think that Pokémon Go’s success has been amazing to watch, and I love hearing about how strangers are bonding over the game. People are exploring their neighborhoods (and getting exercise), and also learning new things about the places around them. Business are using the app’s popularity to draw in new customers, putting Pokémon-baiting lures on nearby points of interest and grabbing foot traffic. It’s great, as long as you aren’t getting robbed or too distracted to notice your proximity to the edge of a cliff. What’s not great? How Pokémon Go has become an unstable, janky mess.

I played in the beta, and I was impressed with how smooth the experience was. I went on walks with my kids and we took turns adding to my phone’s Pokedex. Catching the creatures was as simple as flicking a finger and waiting for the animation to trigger. Now that it’s out in the wild, the experience is different – and far less satisfying. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve missed out on a rare catch because the game stuttered to a stop in the middle of a capture. That’s if I’m even able to get the map to refresh in the first place. Thanks to the game’s popularity, the game’s servers have been bombarded with players from around the globe, turning it into an unreliable disappointment. 

Yesterday, Reiner dropped a lure into a Pokestop that’s right outside our offices. For the next 30 minutes, Pokémon should have flocked to our area putting us up to our elbows in the critters – but that’s not how it worked out. The next half-hour was filled with annoyed groans and sighs as six players’ phones froze, stalled, and crapped out. Fortunately for me, I was merely trailing off someone else’s lure; I can only imagine how annoyed I would have been if I’d personally bought the lure from the store using real cash.

Niantic has released several updates for the game, and it’s likely these issues will eventually be addressed. Meanwhile, we’re stuck playing something that is, at best, unreliable. The joy that I might feel seeing a new creature doesn’t come near to eclipsing the frustration that accompanies having to reboot my phone – again – just to get the app working. 

I understand that the app’s success probably took the development staff by surprise, but ultimately that’s not the player base’s responsibility. If you’re going to hold your hand out and ask for money, it’s only fair that the game can be reliably played – frequent freezes or gym-battle glitches shouldn’t be accepted. 

We asked Niantic founder John Hanke about the server issues a few days ago, and he said that, as far as the short term goes, “[T]he plan is to keep the servers up and to launch in the rest of the countries that we’re not in yet.” That’s great news for people who live in countries that don’t have it yet, but let’s be clear for a moment: It’s not working reliably here. 

Nobody knows how long people will continue checking their phones for Pokémon, but I am certain that my own interest is sapping with every bug. There’s a lot of potential with Pokémon Go, and I absolutely love the idea, but it doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere close to being ready for release right now. If anything, I wish I could roll back to the beta. At least I could temper my expectations there.

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