Entertainment

Why Pokémon Fusions Are Suddenly Taking Over Your Social Media Feeds

pokefusion
My son, the Dragonew. | Alex Onsager
My son, the Dragonew. | Alex Onsager

Wigglydos. Growlee. Gasnyte. These are the mostly adorable, sometimes nightmarish, Pokémon that, perhaps in another dimension, fledgling trainers started their journeys with on their way to catch 'em all. Unfortunately, these aren't the unused "beta" Gold and Silver Pokémon that surfaced in 2018, or even any of the newly announced starter Pokémon for the upcoming Sword and Shield game. They're amalgams of existing Pokémon dreamt up by the Pokémon Fusion generator, created by Alex Onsager, a developer from Colorado who now lives in Japan. 

Though we've been seeing more and more fusion screenshots on Twitter and Tumblr lately, the Pokémon Fusion generator isn't a new craze, not by a long shot. Like any good meme worth its salt, it's just jumped back into the public eye once more. It's been floating around the internet since Onsager launched the original Pokémon Fusion site in 2010, but the project didn't take off until 2013 when it spawned the side-splittingly funny "be strong for mother" meme comic, wherein the Doduo head of "Weepinduo," the combination of Weepinbell and Doduo, looked particularly forlorn in its unnatural situation with its dopey second head. 

Following that, the generator has popped up here and there after viral posts -- usually timed around Pokémon news or game releases -- began taking over social media. The story behind how Onsager brought the PokéFusion trend to life in the first place, which he lays out in detail in a blog post, might be more intriguing than the monsters it makes.

The generator takes two random Pokémon and forcibly smushes their usually disparate characteristics together to create an insane new mashup, new name and all. You can also manually select the two monsters that comprise your new creation, but it's much more fun to let the fusion machine work its magic with the 151 original Pokémon in its database. You can get different results based on which Pokémon you plug into the equation, of course, yielding thousands upon thousands of ridiculous results. The first monster you select will provide the head, coloring, and first half of the name for your fusion, while the second monster offers the body and name suffix. That's why you can change the order of the Pokémon in the fusion and get different results; the generator does the rest of the work.

A dizzying amount of work went into ensuring you get, at the very least, a viable split between one Pokémon's head and another's body. Not only did Onsager have to manually separate each Pokémon head from its body and set up custom scripts to shade the resulting Pokémon, but he also had to run code that would properly resize the monster's head on the new body and ensure it looked somewhat plausible. 

As Onsager writes, some of the results are "less impressive the others," but that adds to the fun and makes the ones that do work well "much more satisfying." 

For example: Try a cross between Meowth and Machoke, named Math. (Interestingly enough, Machop, Machoke, and Machamp all result in differently-colored Meowth fusions all with the same name.) You might also get Weenair, the sinister dragon-like cross between Weezing and Dragonair, two very different pocket monsters that make a surprisingly good combination. There's also Mr. Dactyl, a disturbing cross between Mr. Mime and the prehistoric Pokémon Aerodactyl. And then there's Farter, a mix between the bird-like Farfetch'd and the Ghost-type Haunter. Very chill. Don't mix any of the poison plant evolutions of Oddish, lest you're comfortable with a red, beady-eyed monster, possibly drooling, staring you back in the face.

pokefusion
That's a nope!!!! | Alex Onser

It also has a field for you to enter your name so it can "assign you" your starter Pokémon. One Tumblr user took this idea and ran with it. Earlier in June, user ijustreallylikeeevee posted a cross between Venusaur and Mew, stating "Whatever Pokémon appears when you load Pokéfusion is now your government-assigned starter." Above the viridian-hued abomination, they wrote "I got Venuew."

From that simple yet hilariously effective post, other Pokémon fans were dying to see what they could come up with. Then, some ridiculously talented fan artists jumped in on the joke, working up some legitimately incredible artwork of the fake monsters and sending their visions of their hybrids out into the world. The fusion meme spread like wildfire. And just like that, as it is with the cyclical nature of the internet, what's old was new again. 

If you somehow grow tired of making Poké-abominations with the original 151 Pokémon, there's an updated generator (not created by Onsager) that includes a massive amount of Pokémon to play around with, with monsters from Generations 1 through 8. These tend to deliver the creepiest results, so if you’re into the more lighthearted fusions, stick to Onsager's. 

We're months away from Pokémon Sword and Shield, and with the disappointing announcement that not every monster will be making its way into the game, we've got to get our kicks playing with the rest of them somehow. What better way to pass the time until November 15 than splicing two totally different Pokémon together for fun?

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Brittany Vincent is a contributor to Thrillist.