Pokémon sprites, art evolve over the years, Part 2

Readers point out Arbok differences
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  • Tuesday, January 30, 2007

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This editorial has been written by Argy. It expresses the views of the writer, not necessarily those of Bulbagarden networks.

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Argy is the former editor in chief of Bulbanews, a style editor at Bulbapedia, and an administrator at Bulbagarden forums.

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This is an editorial by Argy.
About the author
Avatar argy2.jpg

Argy is the former editor in chief of Bulbanews, a style editor at Bulbapedia, and an administrator at Bulbagarden forums.


Thanks to LaprasBoi for his invaluable research on the evolution of Jynx's design.

In 2000, Carole B. Weatherford, a poet and author, complained that Jynx's dark skin, wiggly hips and blonde hair were demeaning caricatures of black women. Soon after, Nintendo and/or Game Freak changed Jynx to have purple skin. One can read a detailed account of the entire controversy at Dogasu's Backpack.

As to the changes in Jynx's design, I'll let LaprasBoi explain:

"It appears that there are two versions of the Gold/Silver/Crystal sprites for Jynx (or six, depending on how you look at it, since each game has her in a different pose). During North American localization, they changed her skin from black to purple, as you might expect. What is more interesting is that that was not the only change. In Japan, her hair was normally blonde with a white glare, and her 'costume' had yellow around the chest area, and because of the limitations of a Game Boy Color, the glare on her 'dress' was also yellow. With a shiny Jynx, all those yellow bits would be silver. During localization, however, in addition to the skin-color change, they took all the yellow out of the sprite, leaving her hair and costume accents completely white in both normal and shiny sprites- and for no reason I can discern, they shortened her hair a bit in the front, but only in the Silver sprite.

"You may also note, though I doubt it has anything to do with the race issues, that while Jynx is always blonde when non-shiny, the shiny-Jynx-hair (and chest plate) went from silver in G/S/C to a darker gray in Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, but the hair is now platinum blonde in D/P."

It is also worth noting that Jynx's eyes have become smaller over the years. Compare even the Emerald sprite's eyes to those from Diamond and Pearl.

"Of more interest than the shiny hair is the official artwork: In Generation I art, Jynx's face was originally black and was later re-inked to a very dark purple (much darker than in the localized games) in Generation II. Though they were always black in the games (once again, it was presumably due to technical limitations), in the Ken Sugimori art, Jynx's hands were distinctly blue! That actually seems to support the ice-princess theory Dogasu is fond of but which is unfortunately unreferenced. And with the slightly bulbous, whitish fingertips, they looked not entirely unlike Mr. Mime's hands. Yes, some other artwork, including the anime, made this ambiguous by using very dark blue, gray or black for its hands; however, the anime also colored her forearms red instead of white. In the Generation III sprites and artwork, however, her hands were re-colored bright purple to match her face (and Smoochum), the bulbous fingertips were discarded and the exaggerated shoulders which also linked her to Mr. Mime were covered by her hair (perhaps because Mr. Mime can now be female and no longer needs a feminine counterpart)."


Again on the subject of Arbok, several readers mentioned that the snake's own PokéDex entries state its chest designs vary from region to region. However, when an Arbok from Hoenn is traded to Kanto, its design changes and vice-versa. So, Game Freak apparently went out of its way to create different designs, yet it neglected to keep the designs once Pokémon are traded.

Red and Blue: "It is rumored that the ferocious warning markings on its belly differ from area to area."
Yellow: "The frightening patterns on its belly have been studied. Six variations have been confirmed."

If the markings vary depending on area, and there are six variations, where are the other designs? So far we have seen only Hoenn Arbok with different markings, and those in Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh and Orre are the same.

Up until now I have only discussed Generation I Pokémon. However, some Generation II and even Generation III Pokémon have changed in the past few years.


Raikou's design changed even within its original generation. In the original Gold and Silver sprites, its fangs were part of its white adornment and the spikes on the decoration near the mouth were nearly nonexistent. In addition, its back mane was orange rather than purple. The Crystal sprite corrected these to match the Sugimori art. Even the current anime art has slightly different colors than the Generation IV sprites.

Shuppet and Banette

Shuppet and Banette look quite different in the transition from Generation III to IV. Advanced Generation anime versions of the Pokémon looked more like their Diamond and Pearl renditions. Notice in the Generation III sprite of Banette the reduced prominence of its "horns."

More will be added to this list of changed Pokémon in upcoming editorials. Please feel free to discuss further possibilities and give suggestions at Bulbagarden forums.