|File:Incineroar official artwork.png|
|First game||Pokémon Sun and Moon (2016)|
|Designed by||Ken Sugimori|
|Voiced by||Unshō Ishizuka|
Incineroar (ガオガエン Gaogaen, // in-SIN-ə-rohr) are a Pokémon species in Nintendo and Game Freak's Pokémon franchise. It was introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon and has since appeared across a wide variety of Pokémon media. They have the appearence of a bipedic tiger with bright red and black fur. They are mainly based on heel wrestlers.
Outside of the main series games, Incineroar appear prominently in the "Sun & Moon" series of the anime, where both Ash Ketchum and the region's professor both owned a prominent Incineroar of their own. Incineroar was introduced as a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as one of the Pokémon series's many representatives.
Concept and characteristics
Incineroar is a Pokémon species in Nintendo and Game Freak's Pokémon franchise. It is a Fire/Dark type Pokémon. and the final evolution of the Litten type of Pokémon, once the Litten has already transformed into its quadruped first-generation evolution, Torracat. Incineroar is a bipedal feline creature, with a muscular build. He showcases a distinct red-and-black stripe design on his arms, legs, and tail, as well as fur spikes around his head and shoulders. The Shiny Pokémon version of Incineroar changes his color scheme to orange fur with white stripes.
The Incineroar's personality and design are based upon the "heel" concept in professional wrestling, which refers to a wrestler who plays a villainous or antagonistic role in the storyline. Its set of aggressive combat moves and attacks are also inspired by this heel premise. A key component of the character's design is belt of fire around his waist resembling a professional wrestling championship belt, known as a "flame belt". This flame of this belt becomes stronger as Incineroar's fighting spirit increases, and as crowds around him cheer for him during battles. It can also be utilized to unleash flames at opponents during combat, and Incineroar will often finish opponents by spewing fire from the belt after attacking with ferocious punches and kicks. The design of Incineroar also drew some inspiration from the Hawaiian wildlife.
In terms of personality, Incineroar tends to act cold and abrasive, and has been described as unlikeable and attention-seeking. It outwardly presents a cold attitude when praised by young Pokémon and children, even though it secretly enjoys this encouragement. The Pokémon itself can be rather violent at times, often ignoring a trainer's orders if it doesn't feel like listening. It prefers challenging, no-holds-barred battles, and often gets pumped up to battle stronger opponents. However, despite his violent behavior, there appears to be a softer side to the creature. What's more, the Pokémon prefers a fair fight, and often loses morale when battling a weak or injured Pokémon. Incineroar is taller than the average Pokémon, standing at 5 feet and 11 inches.
In the Pokémon game series
Incineroar debuted in Pokémon Sun and Moon, which was released internationally on November 18, 2016 for the Nintendo 3DS. As is the case for most Pokémon evolved from starters, Incineroar is rare except from choosing Litten at the game's beginning and fully training it until its evolution at Level 34. The Pokémon can also be obtained in the same manner in the games' upgraded versions, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, which can then be transferred over to the online storage systems of Pokémon Bank and Pokémon Home to bring the character into the latest installment, Pokémon Sword and Shield. Though very rare, Incineroar has a Shiny variant obtainable in the games that changes the black stripes and areas on his body to white.
It has the highest HP of all the final evolutions of the starter Pokemon in the game, as well as good Defense and Special Defense statistics. It has an exclusive Dark-type physical move called "Darkest Lariat", which lets it deal damage while shielding the effects of stat changes that would normally affect its target. Incineroar is easily susceptible to the atmosphere around in Pokémon Sun and Moon. For example, when the crowd's cheers become less enthusiastic during battles, it tends to lose focus or fight more poorly. Incineroar has been incorporated in spin-off Pokémon games as well. It serves as an event Pokémon in Pokémon Shuffle and is the boss of the Incineroar Grassland / Cave stage in Pokémon Rumble Rush.
In other Nintendo games
Outside of the Pokémon series, Incineroar also appears in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series, appearing as the last newcomer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was revealed alongside Ken Masters and Piranha Plant in the Super Smash Bros. Direct on November 1, 2018. Incineroar's inclusion in the game marked a tradition of Super Smash Bros. adding a new fighter from the lastest generation of Pokémon each time a new sequel is released. Incineroar was the only newly-added character not decided upon in the project plan stages. Instead, because Ultra Sun and 'Moon were not released until after the original early drafts of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate were written, a spot was left in the Smash Bros. for a new Pokémon character, and he was chosen later in the process. Decidueye, the evolution of Grass-type starter Pokémon Rowlet in Sun and Moon, was originally planned to be featured as a playable character in Ultimate, but was replaced by the Fire-type Incineroar instead. Masahiro Sakurai, the game's director, said he chose Incineroar because he wanted a wrestling character for the game.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Incineroar's moves are inspired by professional wrestling, reflecting the inspiration for its design. Incineroar was unique among other characters in the game, because it features grapple attacks not normally prevalent in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. Incineroar also taunts other players after some successful attacks in the game.
In the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Incineroar is voiced by Unshō Ishizuka, who also voiced Professor Oak in the Pokémon anime. It marked one of his final voice-acting appearances before his 2018 death a few months before the release of the game. H.D. Quinn provides the character in the English version.
In the anime
In the Pokémon anime, Incineroar debuted in the 2017 film Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!, under the ownership of Cross. It was used in two battles against Cross's former Charmeleon, which was now under the ownership of Ash; Incineroar emerged victorious in the first battle, but lost in the rematch when Charmeleon evolved into Charizard.
Incineroar is a Pokémon owned by Professor Kukui in the anime and the games. In the anime, Professor Kukui uses it under the alias of the Masked Royal and It developed a rivalry with Ash's Litten. Incineroar would later be owned by Ash Ketchum by the end of the Sun and Moon series by evolving it after defeating Professor Kukui's own Incineroar during the Manalo Conference exhibition match.
Incineroar received criticism from fans before it was officially revealed as it was assumed to be a dual Fire/Fighting-type Pokémon, an overdone trend among Fire-type starters. It was later revealed to a Fire/Dark-type instead. Dustin Kemp of The Inquisitr wrote that this initial confusion is exactly the kind of move made by professional wrestling heels that inspired Incineroar's personality, and suggested it may have been a "brilliant trolling maneuver by GameFreak".
Incineroar has received mixed reviews from critics and fans. Matthew Guida of The Gamer has complimented Incineroar, calling it a "fearsome Pokémon", and particularly praised its Shiny Pokémon form, which he said "adds a majestic and regal appearance to its regular design". Allegra Frank of Polygon critiqued Incineroar's design of a "gigantic fighting feline monster", compared to its pre-evolution Litten, to be "upsetting" and leaving fans "extremely disheartened", but nonetheless praised its Fire/Dark typing as "some good to be found in Incineroar’s official reveal". Oliver Cragg of International Business Times was critical of Incineroar in Pokémon Sun and Moon because "its stats are spread so broadly that it fails to excel at anything", and that its attacks are "a tad underpowered". Jordan Minor of Geek.com praised the addition of Incineroar to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate because its professional wrestling-inspired grapple moves are so different than those of other playabale characters. He wrote: "We're excited to try out up close and personal grabs and lariats or even bouncing foes against the ropes."
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- @AllSourceGaming (November 14, 2018). "Sakurai wanted to pick a newcomer to represent content from a newer game. With Ultra Sun and Moon, a Pokemon 'slot' was left opened. Eventually after some consideration, they went with Incineroar. Sakurai says he wanted to try making a pro wrestler" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Smash Bros. Ultimate Adds Ken and Incineroar to the Roster".
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