Look at that picture of Snorlax. Doesn’t it look cool as hell? Bad news, though: According to the official lore of Pokémon Go, our favorite large buddy is in pain while in this form.
Earlier this week, Pokémon Go added Team Rocket grunts who are taking over Pokestops around the world. Beating these grunts will allow players a chance to capture “Shadow Pokémon,” spooky-looking variants of the iconic critters. These monsters have dark auras, and have slightly weaker stats — until you purify them. Most people go on to purify their buddies, as doing so helps complete research tasks. Also, most folks don’t want lesser versions of their monsters.
Some, however, are into the whole Shadow Pokémon aesthetic.
“I wanna keep my shadow Pokémon,” one fan Tweeted at the official Niantic account. “Ever since the Celebi movie I’ve wanted dark Pokémon.”
“They look much cooler as Shadows,” another said.
“I want to keep my Shadows,” one Redditor wrote. “I know the purified version is more powerful … but the Shadow looks so sweet! I’m taking looks over stats here.”
Some fans I spoke to said that they plan on collecting shadow Pokémon.
“The dark bois are so damn cute,” player Joe Tirado said on Twitter. “Embracing the darkness mostly other than for quests.”
“My collector brain says ‘one of each,’” said fan Herman Lilleng on Twitter.
Why is this noteworthy? Well, the official Pokémon Go account had one of the team leaders discussing the shadow monsters, stating, “Not only does Purification heal the Shadow Pokémon from its painful state, it also makes it stronger. Purify the Shadow Pokémon you catch, and you’ll create a powerful bond with a Pokémon that’s been through so much.”
Confronted with this reality, some players are genuinely having a moral crisis over what to do with their awesome-looking buddies.
“I want to keep one of each shadow Pokémon but I feel guilty not purifying them,” said a player on Twitter.
Pokémon has pulled stuff like this before. Back when Mega Pokémon were released, Game Freak quietly made the lore surrounding the mechanic terrifying. Pokedex entries for these evolutions had gems such as “The excess energy from Mega Evolution spilled over from its mouth, breaking its jaw,” and “Mega Evolution also affects its brain, leaving no other function except its destructive instinct to burn everything to cinders.” At this point, I’m becoming conditioned to believe cool-looking Pokémon are probably getting hurt somewhere down the line.
For many, though, this story doesn’t matter. Players around the world are reporting that others are placing Shadow Pokémon in gyms, like so:
“Think I’ll keep him suffering,” one player said in response to Pokémon Go’s reveal that monsters are hurt in Shadow form.