Welcome to Lorekeeper’s Logs! This series hopes to delve deep into the strangest lore of the Pokémon world and investigate the unexplained, the unanswered, and the unknown.
For our second Pokémon mystery, we’re taking a journey into the stranger regions of the Pokédex to investigate an anomaly that’s existed since Generation I—Artificial Pokémon. How exactly do they work? What implications do they have on the origins of “natural” Pokémon? Does anyone even remember Magearna? Get your RKS Systems ready, trainers, as we dive into the world of man-made Pokémon!
Ancient Artificial Pokémon
Ancient times in the Pokémon world are a strange time filled with mystery. While recent games have attempted to fill this murky history in with details such as the battle between two brothers in Unova and the great tragic war in Kalos, a great deal is left unknown; the three Pokémon known to be created in these times, unfortunately, simply deepen these mysteries.
Chronologically, the first artificial Pokémon to be created were Golett and Golurk. Across all of their Pokédex entries, it is explicitly stated that these Pokémon were created by an ancient civilization thousands of years ago using methods and energy modern science cannot understand.
It is said that Golurk were ordered to protect people and Pokémon by the ancient people who made them.
Golurk’s Pokédex entry, Omega Ruby
Golett and Golurk can be found primarily in Dragonspiral Tower in Unova, a tower constructed several thousand years ago to be the resting place of either Zekrom or Reshiram. Golurk’s Pokedex entries occasionally state that it was used as a laborer; is it possible that this line was in fact created solely to construct, and then guard, Dragonspiral Tower, hoping to prevent another tragedy like the war between truth and ideals from occurring again?
Quite a long time later, the next artificial Pokémon to be created, and the last confirmed to be active in the ancient world, is the mythical Pokémon Magearna. A strange case, Magearna is not actually the Pokémon we see, but an unusual artificial consciousness known as the Soul-Heart, synchronized with a mechanical form.
The strangest part of the Soul-Heart is that no attempt is made to discuss what exactly this consciousness is. It is explicitly stated to be artificial, but unlike Golett and Golurk, the question of how it works isn’t even raised; Magearna simply exists, and has for 500 years in this exact form. Why is it even in Alola? What possible reason could there be for its existence? Even the anime made no particular attempt to reconcile this, leaving Magearna a strange, mysterious Pokémon with a muddled origin… unlike our next examples.
Modern Artificial Pokémon
The creation of Pokémon in the modern world is a well-known fact. While not exceedingly common, the few Pokémon that have been created in modern times are generally very well-known thanks to their positioning in the storylines, and have quite a bit of notoriety as a result.
We have to begin, of course, with Mewtwo. The most well-known artificial Pokémon, and perhaps one of the most well-known in general, Mewtwo was an attempt by scientists on Cinnabar Island to replicate the primordial power of the progenitor Pokémon, Mew.
Implied to be an attempt to create a powerful weapon—possibly funded by Team Rocket, as the anime would lead us to believe—Mewtwo was cloned from Mew with its template’s extreme power and adaptability. In order to grant it the aggression necessary to engage in combat (as opposed to the relatively playful and whimsical Mew), a modification was made, the genetic alteration dubbed the Berserk Gene; this gene drives its possessor into a vicious rage when it enters combat.
Unsurprisingly, it backfired.
Diary: Sept. 1 Mewtwo is far too powerful.
We have failed to curb its vicious tendencies…
Cinnabar Mansion Journal Entry 4, Pokémon Origins
Science refuses to be stopped, however, and artificial Pokémon continued to be created. The next attempt was a much more peaceful, benign creature than the vicious Mewtwo— this one would be a living barometer, the tiny sprite known as Castform.
Constructed at the Weather Institute on Route 119 in Hoenn, Castform is a very simplistic Pokémon in appearance and purpose, but its abilities lie in its amazing ability to predict the weather. Its cells automatically shift to suit the current climate, allowing it to take on various forms based on the weather. Interestingly, despite its artificial nature Castform is capable of breeding with other Pokémon, and has apparently propagated itself enough to create small colonies in Unova and Alola.
It’s only natural, however, that scientists would look at Mewtwo and attempt to replicate its sheer power without the concerns of its aggression. Needing a Pokémon for its top-secret “Beast Killer” program, the science wing of the Aether Foundation began to take genes from some of the most powerful and adaptable Pokémon, creating an unquestionably obedient chimera capable of striking down even the otherworldly Ultra Beasts.
Thus, Type: Null was born. This fearsome Pokémon is limited to only three specimens, one of which was quickly stolen by Gladion, the son of Aether President Lusamine. The helmet it wears is in fact to suppress exactly the same problem that was found with Mewtwo; Type: Null possesses a powerful enhancement known as the RKS System, designed to allow it to change types under various circumstances to be a fiercer foe. The stress of this system, however, causes it to become berserk, and the helmet simply suppresses it entirely.
Bizarrely, and apparently against the designs of its creators, Type: Null can in fact evolve. When shown affection and trust by its trainer—first witnessed, again, by Gladion—it can suppress the anger brought upon it by the RKS System and remove its helmet, allowing it to embrace its full power and evolve into the Pokémon that Gladion dubbed Silvally. While Mewtwo is capable of temporary mega evolution, this is the only example of a genetically-altered Pokémon that is known to evolve. The fact that it apparently does so despite its creators being unaware it could shows that its adaptability was even greater than they planned, and also shows the terrifying potential power of artificial Pokémon when left to surpass their own limits.
Of course, as strange as Silvally’s existence is, it gets stranger. In fact, for the strangest artificial Pokémon of all, we have to look back into Generation I, before even Mewtwo, to one of the most infamous Pokémon of all time.
The Porygon Problem
What can be said about Porygon and its evolutions? Even the slightest glance at this Pokémon’s nature raises more questions than can possibly be answered.
Porygon is, somehow, a digital Pokémon. Created by Silph Co. entirely from computer data, Porygon primarily exists in cyberspace, which is something we can wrap our heads around. It’s like that little paper clip that helps you write letters; a virtual assistant, something to make navigating our computers easier and friendlier.
Only it doesn’t stay in the computer. Porygon is a Pokémon made entirely of data that can exist in the real world. It was, in fact, designed to leave the computer from the very start; created to work in hazardous conditions that organic beings could not handle, Porygon was even made in the hopes that it could operate in deep space.
So, okay, Silph Co. has the technology to bring an artificial Pokémon into the real world. Maybe it’s just 3D printed or something, right? Maybe it still makes sense. Haha, nope. You see, Porygon can breed. Sure, it’s only with Ditto, but Ditto is an organic Pokémon. It can replicate the DNA of other species, but it still has to have something to turn into. Ditto cannot transform itself into computer data. Porygon, as well as its evolutions Porygon2 and Porygon-Z, can somehow manifest themselves in the real world as living physical beings. Silph Co. has somehow programmed life itself.
Now, this is not the only time that the concept of Pokémon and data has arisen. We have, of course, been depositing Pokémon into computer systems since Generation I. While the possibility has always existed that there’s just some kind of pneumatic tube attached to Pokémon Center computers leading to an actual, physical storage space for Pokémon, the fact that we can send them directly to the computer after catching them would imply otherwise. While the creator of the Pokémon storage system, Bill, seemingly has no connection to Silph Co., the storage concept is universal enough that Silph Co. could have easily worked with similar properties to create Porygon. It’s fully possible that digitizing Pokémon in some form goes back even further; Poké Balls are still unexplained, after all, but are consistently shown to store Pokémon in spaces that cannot possibly accommodate their physical forms.
While other artificial Pokémon exist—Trubbish, Garbodor, Yamask, Banette, Baltoy, Claydol, and Genesect all exist thanks to human intervention—these Pokémon are the ones that were intentionally created by humanity. Their origins vary, but one thing is for sure: Porygon is by far the wildest, y’all, and one of them is an actual artificial soul.
Which artificial Pokémon do you think has the most interesting origin? What mysteries of the Pokémon world should we tackle next time? Let us know in the comments, and until next time, remember…