Dead coral and toxic gas: even Pokémon is talking about the climate emergency

The Pokémon universe is more than video games, cartoons, books, toys, posters, backpacks, T-shirts and costumes. Based around creator Satoshi Tajiri’s love of insect collecting, Pokémon deals with species extinction, ecosystem destruction, sustainability, and community development.

The newest entry in the Pokémon franchise — Pokemon Sword and Shield on Nintendo Switch released last week — features a creature based on dead coral that was “wiped out” by global warming. In the region of Galar, where the new game takes place, something strange has happened; some Pokémon, known for more than 20 years, have suddenly changed their appearance.

pokemon sword and shield corsola

The latest generation of Corsola in Pokémon Sword and Shield has been “wiped out” due to sudden climate change.

Among these changes, some suggest that the climate of this imaginary world has been subject to major disruptions, similar to those which our planet is being exposed to. Thus, Corsola, which was a cute pink coral, is now grey and ghostly.

“Sudden climate change wiped out this ancient kind of Corsola. This Pokémon absorbs others’ life-force through its branches”, a description of the Pokémon, which is found exclusively in the Shield version of the game, says.

One of the first-generation Pokémon, the highly toxic Weezing, now has a factory chimney on its head, and a green moss around its mouth. It definitely looks like an industry tycoon from the nineteenth century. According to the Pokédex:

“Galarian Weezing consumes polluted air and poisonous gases for sustenance. The air and gases absorbed will have toxins removed before being spewed out again from the tops of Weezing’s heads. Apparently the air produced through this purification process is very clean!”

These regional forms of Pokémon are not new, they date back to the previous game Pokémon X and Y. These games were held on an island with a particular climate which had changed the type of certain creatures. In areas of extreme cold, some Pokémon had become iced. Others, like the waste pile Grimer, had been brought to the island to deal with garbage and had become even more monstrous.

Social issues have always greatly influenced Pokémon. In the Black and White versions released in 2011, the villainous Team Plasma’s goal was to liberate all Pokémon from their trainers, an allegory to animal cruelty.