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POTW: Pokémon of the Week #4: Porygon, Porygon2, and Porygon-Z

Discussion in 'General Pokémon Discussion' started by Magnificent Entertainer, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. Magnificent Entertainer

    Magnificent Entertainer Multimedia Executive Bulbacast Host

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    Howdy folks! For those of you unfamiliar with me, I’m Maniacal Engineer, resident mad scientist, punster, and moderator of the Fun & Games section. I’ve offered to Assist the General staff with this Endeavor, and I’ll be popping by occasionally with a few fun facts about some of my favorite Pokémon. Anyway, without further ado, let’s begin!

    In the World of Pokémon, there lives a vast number and variety of amazing creatures to befriend and collect. Every week, we will be focusing on a single one of these Pokémon or evolutionary line and talking about what makes it special. In honor of Alan Turing’s birthday on June 23rd, this week's Pokémon of choice is the Porygon family!

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    Starting off my list of favorites is the Porygon line. Porygon and its evolutions are based on the evolution of artificial intelligence, or AI. Porygon was originally programmed by scientists at Silph Co. and is officially the first artificial Pokémon ever created. However, because it was the first, it is imperfect and is only capable of following its program, which consists of performing basic functions. In the Pokedex entry for Pokémon Yellow Version, it states that Porygon is anticipated to be able to travel to space, but none have made it so far.

    Two years later, Silph Co. developed the Upgrade, which edited Porygon’s programming, allowing it to evolve into Porygon2, much like computer operating systems, smart phones, and other technologies evolve over time, so does Porygon. Now it is programmed to travel to space, despite not being able to fly, but that’s not all it gained with the Upgrade. Several of its Pokedex entries, including the Silver and Crystal Version entries, suggest that Porygon2 occasionally exhibits unprogrammed reactions. Slowly, but surely, Porygon is becoming self-aware and learning.

    Of course, with any scientific breakthrough, there are going to be copycats and pirates, trying to infringe on your intellectual property. In spite of Silph Co. programming in a copy-protection code, a mysterious third party created the Dubious Disk, capable of evolving Porygon2 into Porygon-Z. Not having been authorized by Silph Co. Porygon-Z is the first true glitch Pokémon. Having achieved space exploration capabilities with its previous form, Porygon-Z was programmed to be able to explore other dimensions, however the program glitched, resulting in bizarre behavior, as mentioned in its Platinum Pokedex entry.

    Porygon’s design over time reflects the changes that it undergoes during its evolution. Porygon starts out as a very rough Pokémon, with lots of edges and points. It is a very crude drawing, presumably of a bird, using older 3D graphic softwares. When upgraded, however, it loses all of its edges and becomes a well rounded Pokémon by usage of a computer graphics technique known as subdivision, which, essentially, breaks down a large surface into smaller and smaller surfaces until it becomes smooth. Porygon-Z, on the other hand, reflecting the dubious nature of its evolution from Porygon2, has seemingly been infected with a virus. Its head is now upside down and floating apart from its body, which has become contorted. The basic 3D bird design is still there, but it has been corrupted by the malware.

    Porygon has had only one major appearance in the anime, the infamous “Electric Soldier Porygon” episode, which resulted in Porygon family getting banned from the anime, thanks to Pikachu’s Thunderbolt.

    Much like their versatile programming, the Porygon family can fulfill different roles in competitive battling. Porygon-Z is a nightmarish special attacker, with access to fantastic moves like Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, Psychic, Nasty Plot, and Tri Attack, along with abilities like Download and Adaptability. Porygon2 is a bulky tank with access to Recover, Eviolite, and the wonderful Trace ability.

    Here are some questions to consider to get the conversation rolling. You don't have to answer all of them or any of them in your post as long as you're staying on topic and within global forum rules.

    • Do you like or dislike this Pokémon? Why?
    • How is this Pokémon in-game?
    • How is this Pokémon in competitive play? Are there any interesting strategies you like to use for them?
    • Do you like this Pokémon's representation in the anime? Are there any moments or qualities in particular you enjoy/dislike?
    • How do you think this Pokémon would interact with our world?
    • If given the power to, would you change anything about this Pokémon and if so, what would you change?
    • What do you think constitutes life in the Pokémon World? Are Porygon and its evolutions alive?
    • Who do you think created the Dubious Disk?
    If you have any suggestions for Pokémon you'd like to discuss in the future just leave your ideas at the bottom of your post. Make sure you give your thoughts about the current Pokémon first!

    Previous Pokémon of the Week:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2016
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  2. Zexy

    Zexy Fire Chicken

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    I like the Porygon line. Any Normal-type that isn't extremely generic is interesting.
    It is a bit hard to actually get it in-game and requires trading to evolve, which is why I wouldn't use it in a playthrough.
    Both Porygon2 and Poyrgon-Z are nice. Bulky Eviolite user and sweeper. Trace and Download abilities are both awesome.
    Well, this Pokemon and the anime aren't in good terms... although I guess it received too much blame when it was Pikachu's fault in the first place. Still, it is directly connected to the anime's saddest moment. I'd rather not say more on that :(
    It is one of the few Pokemon that would actually fit well enough in our world considering its nature.
    I wouldn't change anything in the Pokemon itself. But if I could, I would try to prevent that one anime incident.
    ... I think they're not alive. But they are still considered Pokemon and thus abide by the laws of nature that involve Pokemon. Still, I don't think I would call their existence "life".
    I did Perhaps Team Galactic, considering the generation in which the item debuted in. Pokedex entries for Porygon-Z state that they wanted it to explore other dimensions/worlds if I remember correctly. Team Galactic would like to have such technology, I guess, in order to explore realms such as Dialga's and Palkia's, or the Distortion World.
     
  3. Magnificent Entertainer

    Magnificent Entertainer Multimedia Executive Bulbacast Host

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    I'm curious as to what you mean by this. What do you think constitutes a Pokémon and what are the "laws of nature that involve Pokémon?"

    I'll get to my own opinions on what constitutes life in the Pokémon world and who created the Dubious Disk later, but in the meantime, I'm interested in hearing from others.
     
  4. Zexy

    Zexy Fire Chicken

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    A Pokemon is a being that can be caught in a single Pokeball, only in one at any given moment (there is an exception). It has to have 1 or 2 out of 18 (or more, but they are unknown) specific types, it knows 1-4 moves which all belong to specific types... and so on.

    As for what life is... that's a more complicated question. But I wouldn't consider an artificial Pokemon life, unless
    it is revealed that Infinity Energy was used for its creation. The easiest way to identify life probably is "any being that has Infinity Energy" although it doesn't explain what is happening in the universe(s) where said energy doesn't exist
     
  5. Magnificent Entertainer

    Magnificent Entertainer Multimedia Executive Bulbacast Host

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    @Zexy
    What you say about Infinity Energy makes a certain amount of sense. However, Infinity Energy is defined as: "a type of energy in the Pokémon World derived from the life force of Pokémon. It was developed and harnessed by Devon Corporation. Its development also involved research into Mega Evolution."

    1. Infinity Energy is used to power many machines, such as rockets and submarines. Are those machines alive?
    2. Devon Co. and Silph Co. are competitors. A Silph Co. product would never have Infinity Energy, unless it was piratized by Devon Co. If Devon Co. created the Dubious Disk, then they might have included Infinity Energy into the programming matrix. Alternatively, if we are dealing with pure hypotheticals, Silph Co. could have created Porygon with a form of Infinity Energy or an equivilent. After all, Porygon was the first artificial Pokémon, so whatever Silph did, it was groundbreaking.
    3. Is Mewtwo alive? Mewtwo was created in the Pokemon Mansion in Kanto, making it far more likely that Silph was involved in its creation than Devon. No Devon, no Infinity Energy. While you can make the argument that Mewtwo can Mega Evolve, which gives it some connection to Infinity Energy, there was no Infinity Energy involved in its creation.
    4. Strictly and definition ally speaking, Infinity Energy is energy derived from Pokémon's life force, not what gives them life. Whether or not a Pokémon "produces" Infinity Energy would be a better gauge of whether or not it is alive. There is no date to suggest whether or not the Porygon family "give off" Infinity Energy partially because...
    5. There has been no Kanto universe in which Mega Evolution exists. Nor a Johto universe. Therefore, it is impossible to know what Silph Co. has done with the concept of Infinity Energy.

    But if I can't use those parameters to determine if the Porygon family is alive because of insufficient information, what can I use?

    Personally, I use the basic principles of the Turing Test, along with other real world or science fiction models regarding Artificial Intelligence or synthetic life, and apply them to the Pokémon World.
    That particular explanation will have to wait for a later date, though, since I am currently at work and have typed enough for one post.
     
  6. Zexy

    Zexy Fire Chicken

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    @Maniacal Engineer;
    If we are to go that way, we need to define "life force" based on what we define as "life" in the first place.

    1. I wouldn't call them alive.
    2. Interesting theory that it could've been Devon who created the Dubious Disk. Well, Porygon isn't the first artificial Pokemon since we discovered Golett/Golurk and Magearna, and perhaps a few more I don't remember right now.
    3. Mewtwo is a clone of Mew that went wrong. The techniques used to create it are similar to those biology uses in our world. And Biology considers its creations alive. As for whether it had Infinity Energy before or not, we can't tell for sure that it didn't. It was created from Mew DNA, said Mew DNA may have had the Energy. But again, that's just how things work in some universe(s).
    4. We haven't even established if energy conservation exists in the Pokemon world...
    5. Which means that we may have no way to tell for sure if it is alive or not in the Mega universe(s) anyway.
    In the end, we can't really tell. But that's because there hasn't been an agreement over what is defined as "life" in the first place.

    Fair point, but we can't really apply the Turing Test on a Porygon to find out...
     
  7. CrystaI

    CrystaI The Pokemon Observer

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    One of my favourite Digimon, nuh I mean Pokemon because of its interesting background. Well just like it was mentioned by OP, thanks to Ash's Pikachu, it is forever banned from appearing on TV screen.

    Although I didn't watch that banned episode myself, but I read the plot summary and screened through the screenshots to get a basic idea of the content itself. For one thing I disagree about the Porygon in that episode, is the portrayal of "emotion", as that setting disregards the basic background it was already described in the in-game Pokedex entry, and also produce setting contradiction to its evolution. With the newest introduction of Magearna the manmade pokemon that is absolutely pokerfaced best representing its mechanical nature, where now on hindsight the "emotion" of Porygon in the banned episode makes it even stand out further as an illogical setting mistake.

    Though, within that episode, I was interested in seeing the move Conversion and shape-shifting ability not mentioned in the original entries. That actually made me think the physical body of the Porygon family is something separate from its core system, able to alter at any time according to the situation. That made me extend further into thinking, can the physical body of Porygon family be altered into something else completely different? I mean, a physical appearance that will make one wonder is that really still a Porygon. The reason I have such thinking is due to something like the interface of computer OS, where it is customerizable according to the user preference. Of course even with the custom interface building software, there may still exist limitation, as one cannot alter a Windows interface to exactly like a Mac interface. But still, I think it should be adjustable.

    One of my favourite thing about the Porygon family itself, is that it acts as a suggestion of the electronic technology level of the Pokeworld, where it alluded so many different kind of possible fictional electronic technologies such as material digitization, data realization, cyberspace virtual reality, physically augmented reality, human-minded AI, electronic digital life form, and so many others seen in many electronic science fiction works. That's why, thanks to the existence of Porygon family, it makes Pokemon extremely crossover-friendly to other electronic technology focused sci-fi works.

    Oh, and also due to the existence of Porygon family, I also imagined glitch pokemon such as Missingno can actually be a plausible possibility within the Pokeworld. No, it is not as straightforward as being a severely corrupted Porygon, I imagined it is really in fact, a former pokemon that is being electronic digitally fatally damaged, where it is beyond fixable.
     
  8. Sunsette

    Sunsette Fun Ghoul

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    In regards to the "is it alive" question, I suppose if we say Porgyon isn't alive then that throws into question how many other Pokemon technically are animate but not "alive", really. For example, the Voltorb line; there's the heavy implication in several of its Dex entries that Voltorb is some kind of sentient Pokeball. If that's true, Voltorb is essentially a man-made Pokemon like Porygon, so is it alive?

    Plus, what of Pokemon like Slugma, which is explicitly said to have magma running through its circulatory system in place of blood or other bodily fluids. Since it lacks organic matter as we think of it, is Slugma alive or not? What about rock types who may or may not have any kind of organs that we recognize?

    I don't really have any answers here and might be getting slightly off topic, but it's a fascinating discussion. In my opinion, Porygon is akin to a virtual AI: capable of learning and interacting, but not truly alive (think Cleverbot but more advanced). I've never used one in-game because of the difficulty in obtaining and evolving one, but I'd like give it a try at some point. It seems like a fairly versatile and useful line. I'd like to see some more attention given to the Porygon either in games or the anime or manga, since it's mostly been mentioned in passing since Gen I even with the additions to the evolutionary line and their potential implications in the Pokemon universe.
     
  9. CrystaI

    CrystaI The Pokemon Observer

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    Technically speaking, Porygon is the only pokemon I never ever truly considered that it is "alive" like any other pokemons. To say it more specifically and a bit bluntly, it is an artificial intelligence which is a product of highly advanced information technology, being a bunch of electronic data taken in the physical form of a toy bird, and implanted the selected biological characteristics where biologist used to categorize a creature as "Pokemon". To put it shortly, it is just a robot.

    But, when it evolved into Porygon2 and PorygonZ where gaining further processing capacity to calculate complicate calculations within a short amount of time, hence allowing self-learning and emotional expressions, despite that one may argue that is simply the result of the complex programming within its system, it is however a bit different case. Like that famous old science fiction by Isaac Asimov, when a robot gained the ability to think and act on its own, that blurs the meaning of "living individual", due to Descartes statement of "I think, therefore I am". When Porygon being a robot that can only performs the preprogrammed actions, it is then controversially becomes "alive" upon its evolution to Porygon2.

    Maybe I'm a bit over-analyzing, but my point is just that, we may first need to clarify the basic argument of "What is the condition to be consider alive?", or if not this then alternatively, "What is the condition for an individual to be consider as Pokemon?", in order to answer this question of is Porygon and its evolution family alive or not. I'm not really that much interested in this debate, because even in Real-Life, the robotics scientists argued about the AI continuously with no ends. I would also doubt the Pokemon biologist in Pokeworld argue the same academic doubt endlessly.
     
  10. TeaWest

    TeaWest AC7 Hype Train

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    As my username suggests, I love Porygon, and the entire evolution line. I just think they're so interesting! It really blurs the lines of what a Pokemon actually is since it was created by a human.
     
  11. Zexy

    Zexy Fire Chicken

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    Actually, after several second thoughts, I'd be willing to say that they are alive.
    They can reproduce, react to stimuli, sustain themselves to some degree. That is a somewhat widespread definition of life.

    They may not be sentient (depending on what we define as sentient). But even then, viruses and bacteria are life as well, are they more sentient than an AI?
     
  12. Shion Yorigami

    Shion Yorigami Listless Divine Misfortune

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    Being able to reproduce through breeding (with a Ditto), arguably, yes, assuming that requires both the production of material that Ditto can process to birth another Porygon and, as I assume the process of breeding with Ditto involves it adopting the form of the species being bred, the Porygon line having the inherent capability to process that material,which Ditto gains while in its form. However, to what extent can Ditto mimic other beings? Presumably, it can only assume other biological forms, and therefore Porygon reproduces biologically, making it alive. But what if Ditto can actually transform its physical nature? What if, in mimicking Porygon, it changes from biological matter into whatever material comprises Porygon? What if Porygon is purely a digital avatar, a projection of a program, and Ditto transforms itself into that data? In either case, Porygon doesn't need to reproduce biologically, instead simply producing a copy of itself, either physically or by making a copy of the avatar's data. That doesn't explain why Porygon needs a Ditto partner or to produce an egg. however... Maybe Silph wanted it to resemble a pokemon in all ways, and made the reproduction process as close to natural breeding as possible? But then why can't two Porygons just reproduce without involving Ditto? Actually, if it's biologically alive, you could ask the same question. That goes for all pokemon that require Ditto to breed, actually. If Ditto just copies their form, and therefore whatever mechanism they use to reproduce, why can't that just happen with another creature of the same species/kind?
    As for responding to stimuli and sustaining themselves, even programs that in no way resemble life do that. They respond to input, which is stimuli. and have methods in place to deal with glitches that might crash them, hence sustaining themselves.

    Viruses and bacteria are further from sentience than even current AI, they do not learn at all, only mindlessly pursuing the instinct to survive and reproduce.
     
  13. Morru

    Morru ever so slightly

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    Porygon was my favorite Pokémon out of all the first 151, and it goes without saying that I love its evolutions as well. I dunno why, but I instantly found it cool the first moment I saw it. I don't even think it was the fact that it was a virtually created Pokémon, I think I just found the color scheme and the design really neat. I was so disappointed as a kid that I never got to see it in the show, though! Years later I would find out that it wasn't even Porygon's fault, which only further fueled my annoyance at a certain yellow mouse.
     
  14. Zexy

    Zexy Fire Chicken

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    @Hellcrow; The Pokemon in question here is Porygon, not Ditto. All we need to know about Ditto for now is that it is (obviously) alive, can transform into a Porygon and give birth to Porygon eggs if it does breed with Porygon. The fact that Porygon can hatch from Eggs (let that sink) means it is alive as well, I'd say.

    Technically, viruses can mutate to adapt (it is a form of learning) and bacteria can get plasmid DNA. But again we are deviating from Porygon and whether AI are sentient/alive. Still Porygon/AI should still be more sentient than some universally accepted life forms.
     
  15. Shion Yorigami

    Shion Yorigami Listless Divine Misfortune

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    All the fact that Porygon hatches from eggs means is that that could be deliberately designed as part of its artificial reproduction process, to mimic that of natural pokemon.

    I would define learning as actively seeking and absorbing new knowledge, and therefore mutations and bacterial assimilation of DNA, which are passive changes, aren't learning. But yes, this is getting off course. That it would be more sentient was my point, however.
     
  16. CrystaI

    CrystaI The Pokemon Observer

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    Being sentient or not is not one of the condition or property to be considered as biologically alive or not, but it is one of the condition or property to be considered as philosophically an "individual" or not.

    If we taken the 7 properties of life in terms of Real-Life biology definition, Porygon and its family definitely is not "alive". But nonetheless, as being an AI, it can respond to stimuli and act on its own, when it evolve it can even learn to become sentient expressing emotions, so speaking in terms of Real-Life philosophy, Porygon and its family is definitely an "individual" living in its own life.
    So whether one think it is "alive" or not, it shall depends on which POV you came from. Personally I stand in the middle ground, that's why for the things regarding on highly advanced AI, I rather called them "electronic life form", in order to separate them from organic and/or inorganic life form.

    I really doubt about the reproduction of Porygon with Ditto for several reasons:
    1) Ditto itself is in the very special Egg Group of its own category, this fact alone suggested its organism and reproduction system is not the same as any other pokemons. We first need to understand the reproducing mechanism of Ditto before we can even speculate the reproducing system of Porygon.
    2) Despite Porygon have its physical body avatar possess some physical characteristics of pokemons, it is still just an AI robot, so it is doubtful that it possess something so biologically complicated like reproducing system, even accounting the case of matching with Ditto.
    3) As Porygon is technically just a bunch of data, the material substances that constitute to its physical body avatar upon realizing out of cyberspace is questionable. When we do not know exactly what its body is made of, it is even doubtful that it possess any sort of biological DNA required for reproduction heredity. (Please ignore gameplay system in here, I would like a more in-depth explanation than just "It is magic!").
    4) Someone said it may "reproduce" by copying the data of itself, hence digitally duplicating, but I also doubt about this, as in the Pokedex entry it is said that it is copy-protected, so that is not only for any other non-manufacturer users, but including itself as well. Also, I doubt about it possess any animalistic instinct including the desire to reproduce.

    As I had mentioned previously, Porygon and its family is by itself already suggesting the highly advanced electronic technology in the Pokeworld far beyond our current Real-Life, so our current Real-Life IT knowledge is not enough to explain the physiology of Porygon. If this thread allows free imagination of any non-existing sci-fi electronic technology, I might be able to came up with some Minovsky Physics of some unobtainium that seems plausible in the Pokeworld in order to explain the physiology of the Porygon family. But that shall digress from this thread, so I might as well just stop here.


    As Ditto was mentioned, I recommend the next Pokemon of the Week to be Ditto. I'm sure another heated discussion can be arouse.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  17. ocelotlrama jaguar

    ocelotlrama jaguar Fluffy with 80% more spots!

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    It's a shame they never gave this line any limelight all because of one episode of the anime. It's one appearance made me really like it.

    In-game, they're monsters! Competitively, I had a Porygon Z on my team when Generation IV was a thing. I used to use it online in PBR battles. Its Special Attack was beastly and it had an excellent movepool to take advantage of. Adaptability just made it even better. Getting hit by Tri Attack spelled trouble for opponents. Unfortunately, its Speed stat was less than spectacular and I had to have a Choice Scarf to make full use of its power. There was one match I remember where I only had Porygon Z left, knocked out two of the opponents Pokemon with Tri Attack, but went up against a Ghost-type last. With Choice Scarf, there was nothing I could have done to knock it out so I had to forfeit. I'm pretty sure to this day, the Porygon-line would be great to use, but you have to know how to use them. Porygon 2 has good defenses with excellent Special Attack, but Porygon Z's defenses are not that great. Both have lackluster Speed. With Fighting-type moves running amok, I doubt Porygon Z would survive with a Choice item.

    I never really thought about the physiology of the Porygon-line, but I'd assume they'd be alive and are sentient creatures like any other Pokemon. There is a little bit of evidence (judging by the Mystery Dungeon games) that they are not sentient and think through things like a computer would by conjuring up its data, but that's just one game and I say, let people have their headcanons on what this Pokemon consists of. I see it more like the affectionate creature that was featured in the anime.
     
  18. Beth Pavell

    Beth Pavell Thesaurus rex

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    As far as the canon evidence is concerned, I think there's a good argument for saying that the line isn't much more than a smart machine. At least, Porygon2's Pokédex data implies that Porygon can't learn of its own accord, and some entries specifically refer to emotions as well. It's an implication rather than outright stated, so it can't be used as evidence that Porygon is not functionally sentient.

    It's a bit of a muddled concept, though. If Porygon is as alive as any other pokémon, then it reminds me somewhat of the droids from Star Wars. Why would a tool need to emote? What's the point of building Porygon to be able to battle?
     
  19. Enzap

    Enzap Rightful Leader Head Administrator

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    On it's own, Porygon can barely do even that :p
     
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  20. Trevor Belmont

    Trevor Belmont Drunkenness in Human Form

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    Porygon-Z is flippin' hilarious when it glitches up and flails around like a nutjob.
     
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