“What would the first Pokémon generation look like if they were introduced today?” To answer that question, Pokéfans infinipede and ShedSimas embarked on a project to redesign the original 151 Pokémon, with their first targets being, of course, the original starters.
As the introductory post on the New 151 Tumblr blog states, the pair of artists’ aim is to bring the first 151 up to the modern standards of the modern games and move them closer to their original concepts. The redrawn starters debuted on Pokémon Day last Saturday, and the project’s current plan is to introduce one new evolutionary family per week.
Here’s the concept art the sprites at the top are based on, accompanied by commentary from the blog:
To start with, the original Grass starters. Physically, Bulbasaur and family are based on Dicynodonts, so we made them less pudgy. Their Japanese names are all plays on “strange grass” — not a lot to go on, so instead we brought in the “bulb”, “ivy” and “venus” parts of the English names and gave them characteristics of climbing ivy, poison ivy and Venus flytraps.
Charmander is of course based on the mythical salamander, a fire spirit often depicted as a lizard, but the original Charmander doesn’t have much in common with the real-world salamander. The black-and-orange pattern is loosely based on the spotted salamander. At the other end, Charizard takes several cues from its two Mega forms. Charmeleon serves as the in-between form, offering a bridge between the salamander and the dragon. It also gets a head crest reminiscent of chameleons.
The original Wartortle’s fluffy ears and tail are a reference to the minogame, a Japanese mythical turtle that is 10,000 years old and has seaweed growing on its back. We used that idea of age and gave the family increasing amounts of white seaweed-hair. The red and yellow stripes are based on the red-eared slider, and also harken back to war paint. Wartortle’s single cannon reinforces the idea of war. Blastoise’s design also takes a few hints from Mega Blastoise.