'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'; a sentiment that no video game franchise embodies as succinctly as Pokemon. That shouldn't be taken as an insult, since even the people developing the series maintain that like any lasting sport or game, Pokemon doesn't need to change to stay relevant.
As the franchise closes in on twenty years - and prepares to add yet another Nintendo console to its resume - we thought we'd look back; not on the games or creatures that we most treasure, but the ones that keep us up at night.
Here are the 10 Most Disturbing Pokemon Facts.
Gothita Sees Dead People
It's disturbing enough that Gothita, this Pokemon's starting form resembles a baby that "stares at something only it can see," but once it evolves into Gothorita at Level 32, its creep factor gets sent sky high. With hypnosis mastered, the creature "steals people away at night." Whether it steals people away as offerings to the thing "only it can see" is impossible to know.
Once the evolution to Gothitelle is achieved at Level 41, this creature uses its psychic abilities to see the future, specifically the death of their trainer. While useful in combat, having this Pokemon in one's arsenal is just too creepy. You can always look on the bright side: if Gothitelle isn't hypno-kidnapping its trainer, it's probably only because it knows death is imminent.
Can't. Stop. Hopping.
If you're looking for a precocious and spunky critter to keep by your side, then Spoink fits the bill. Sure, it's a little weird that the pig-headed Pokemon uses a giant pink pearl on its head to amplify its psychic abilities, but the way it hops around on the spring it possesses in place of a body? Adorable!
Until you learn that the springing isn't a sign of Spoink's rambunctious attitude, but required to live. That's right; if Spoink stops springing, he stops breathing. Stops doing pretty much anything, really. Try to imagine what kind of paranoia results when death is just a misstep away, and it suddenly becomes easier to understand why Spoink is also a kleptomaniac, ever pursuing a bigger and better pearl.
Cry For Me, Child
Sure, ghosts are always spooky, and it's no mystery why this Pokemon - styled after the Grim Reaper - puts us on edge. But the single glowing eye sliding back and forth between eye sockets is just the tip of the iceberg where additional eeriness is concerned. Duskull is a nocturnal Pokemon, mostly inhabiting dense forests (obviously), but isn't interested in woodland creatures, only children.
This floating Pokemon is rumored to pursue kids who don't follow the rules. Why? Because it enjoys the sound of them crying. But hey, it's not all creepy; once Duskull evolves into Dusclops, it is capable of swallowing anything into its body cavity, never to be seen again. We'll let you use your imagination.
We don't know if there's something about Psychic type Pokemon that brings out the most troubling in the developers, but Drowzee is yet another hypnotizing critter that makes our skin crawl. The aptly-named Pokemon puts its enemies to sleep, so that it may more easily feast on its dreams. While that certainly places Drowzee under the 'odd' column among the series' more fun-loving Pokemon, it's actually based on the Japanese "baku"; spirits that fed on people's nightmares.
But what it loves most is the dreams of children. We don't know why, and don't want to either. In case Drowzee's powers weren't enough of an invasion of privacy, it also remembers every dream it's consumed, and shares them with those sleeping near them. How many pets can do that?!
Grimer a.k.a. Walking Death
It's disgusting enough that Grimer spends its time in polluted water, feasting on pollution and sewage to survive, but get this Pokemon moving through the world and it will never be the same. Literally; any time Grimer passes over the grond, its toxic slime (grime?) renders the earth incapable of ever again supporting life. If that wasn't hellish enough, the slime also sprouts new Grimers to continue the catastrophe.
It's not all bad, though. Once Grimer evolves into Muk, it gets bigger, and more poisonous; capable of rendering an entire lake toxic with a single drop, and infecting any human being if it desires. Why was a Pokemon this dangerous and unattractive created in the first place? Who knows. Maybe the developers thought Mother Nature should be as terrorized as actual people.
While Paras' symbiotic relationship with the mushrooms on its back isn't exactly normal, it is beneficial for both; Paras feeds the mushrooms with its body, and the fungus provides additional means of defense. Exactly how much control the mushrooms can exert over the Pokemon isn't clear, but odd goes to disturbing when Paras evolves into Parasect.
It's hard to say exactly what change takes place at Level 24, but for some reason, the mushrooms take their chance and merge into a single organism, taking over the Paras in the process. With heightened aggression and a pair of zombified milky eyes, anything cute or endearing about Paras is replaced by a demonic drone known as Parasect.
Name: DrifloonType: Ghost/Flying
How scary can a Pokemon based on a floating balloon be? Sure, it's got a pair of tiny hands, but what devious use could such a lighthearted creature have for them? According to the Pokedex, they're used to "steal children away," with the Japanese version clarifying that Drifloon is taking children to "the world of the dead." Were the developers given a bonus every time they created a Pokemon that would make parents uncomfortable?
The good news is that Drifloon doesn't remain a purple, harmless-looking balloon with an interest in kidnapping children; at level 28 Drifloon evolves into Drifblim, trading its spindly arms for... four stronger ones. And its eyes turn red. Sleep tight, kiddies.
There Will Be Tears
Name: YamaskType: Ghost
As proof that not every Pokemon has a complicated or inspired name, we give you Yamask. It's a ghost, holding a mask. We don't mean that this Pokemon is a Ghost type, it is an actual ghost of a human being who has died; the mask it carries is a representation of the one it used to have while living. That bit of character history creeps us out for obvious reasons, but the developers went into even greater depth.
Besides occasionally staring at the mask and breaking into tears, Yamask has an even more sinister side. Since the mask itself carries traces of the Yamask's human identity, someone wearing it will allow the Pokemon to possess them. To what end? Who knows. If trends hold though, we'd put our money on kidnapping children. Once it evolves into Cofagrigus, this Pokemon uses its sarcophagus body to lure in humans and Pokemon, and turn them into zombified mummies.
Name: BanetteType: Ghost
There's no need to explain why Banette gives us the willies, since the most apt description of this creature is "a doll-like Pokemon that is possessed with pure hatred." You see, Banette wasn't always a Pokemon, but a doll that was driven into being by the hatred felt toward the child that abandoned it. That's already the stuff of nightmares, but the creators went farther, making Banette poke itself with needles to generate energy for its attacks, and even sporting a zipper in place of a mouth.
What makes Banette even more disturbing is that it evolves from Shuppet - a fairly adorable little ball of grey that is drawn to peoples' feelings of envy. We guess it's poetic that evolving lets Shuppet turn that envy into action, but.... a zipper mouth? Do they know kids play these games?
Name: CuboneType: Ground
From first glance, Cubone is about as cool as a pet could possibly be. Essentially a dinosaur, Cubone walks on its hind legs, swings a bone club, and wears a skull over its face, peeking out from under it like a little kid trying to appear tough for his friends. But in the vast expanse of Pokemon, Cubone might just be the most disturbed of them all. You see, that skull isn't just part of a Halloween costume, or a trinket Cubone discovered while navigating a Looney Tunes desert. It belongs to its mother.
Apparently it wasn't enough for Cubone to simply cry in the night for his lost mother, and a more literal connection was needed. We're not going to ask how Cubone actually acquired the skull of his mother, but things get creepier when it evolves into Marowak. No longer simple ornamentation, the skulls fuses itself to the Pokemon upon evolution, meaning this creature is permanently attached to his mother in a way Norman Bates would envy.
We'll let those keep you up at night, and be sure to remember that the next time you stumble across a Pokemon that at first looks "adorable." Beware: that little fuzzy creature may have a twisted origin story of its own.
Which of the facts on our list do you find the most disturbing? Have we rounded up the 10 creepiest, or are there a few oddities you wish to add to the list?
Will Game Freak top their own disturbing track record with Pokemon X or Pokemon Y? We'll have to wait and see.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.