Teddiursa: A Deep Dive into Pokemon’s Most Important Bear by@allysonvasion

Teddiursa: A Deep Dive into Pokemon’s Most Important Bear

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Allyson Blinkhorn

Allyson Blinkhorn is a freelance writer/editor with a passion for videogames, manga/comics, and other visual media.

It’s no secret that the Pokemon Company loves its cute, fluffy Pokemon. When Teddiursa debuted in Generation 2’s Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver, that brand of “cute” had only begun. Teddiursa was the first bear Pokemon, and certainly not its last (Kubfu being the most recent addition) — unless you count Snorlax (and really, what is a Snorlax?).

Given the international popularity of the teddy bear, why did it take so long for the Pokemon Company to deliver Teddiursa and its evolution Ursaring? And why is the line so underappreciated throughout the franchise, nowadays?

Let’s take a look.

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Teddiursa Overview

Teddiursa is a small Pokemon with brown fur, round ears, and a large moon on its forehead. Its name is a combination of “teddy,” like the teddy bear, and “ursa,” which is the Latin word for “bear.” It is a one-evolution Pokemon that evolves into Ursaring at level 30 in the Pokemon games, and this informs its name. Both Pokemon in the Teddiursa line have “ursa” present in their names, and their markings allude to the constellations Ursa Minor and Ursa Major, the small and large bears of the galaxy. Ursaring is also based on the Asian black bear, which is often known as the “moon bear” and has similar markings to Ursaring. Notably, the Teddiursa line is always brown and never any darker.

Although it has a cute design, Teddiursa has always maintained a status as a background character — both in the anime and in the games. In the game, Teddiursa and Ursaring are version exclusives, meaning they only appear in Pokemon Silver (in Japan and Korean) and Pokemon Gold (everywhere else) and in the remake Pokemon SoulSilver. Due to this, Teddiursa can only be found in half of the games for the respective generations — presenting a problem if the Pokemon isn’t desirable or strong enough to warrant trading from someone else. Even in the DS remakes (HeartGold and SoulSilver), global trading was difficult, requiring you to choose a Pokemon you want and only a single Pokemon you can offer for it.

Other Pokemon Gold & Silver version exclusives suffered from being as underutilized and underpowered as the bear Pokemon Teddiursa — just look at Gligar, Delibird, Mantine, and Phanpy/Donphan. All of these Pokemon have poor stats, and like most version exclusives, none have third evolutions (and most don’t evolve at all). Gligar did receive a slight boost with its gen IV evolution, Gliscor, but even considering that, the Pokemon just doesn’t live up to other comparable ground and/or flying types.

To make matters worse, Teddiursa and Ursaring aren’t even available in Pokemon Sword & Shield, even though other bear Pokemon are. Fortunately, you can find them in the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl remakes (Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl), but this still doesn’t make up for their disappearance in the most recent new addition to the core game series.

The Original Gen II Fire-Type Starter

We weren’t originally going to have the normal type bear Pokemon with its larger normal counterpart. Instead, Teddiursa was going to be our Fire type starter in Pokemon Gold & Silver. Although the design is noticeably more rodentlike than the Teddiursa we got, beta Teddiursa was named Honoguma, meaning fire-bear, in the original data. Its mousier features radiate a Pikachu-like vibe, most obvious in Honoguma’s circular button eyes and pixel-length nose.

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This raises the question: what was the Pokemon Company intending to do with this Pokemon? Considering the structure of a typical Pokemon game, having Honoguma as a starter option gives it much more space within the game, as opposed to a version exclusive not found in half of the games at all. We know, too, that Honoguma would have had three parts in its evolution line (so, one more than Ursaring), as all starters follow that formula.

With how rodentlike Honoguma’s beta sprite is, the link between it and the true Gen II starter reveals itself. Instead of the bear Pokemon, we received Cyndaquil, known as the “Fire mouse Pokemon” throughout the franchise. Notably, Cyndaquil’s mousiness derives from different features than Honoguma’s (and, by extension, Pikachu’s). Cyndaquil has a long snout, closed eyes, and two small nostrils — almost the exact opposite of Honoguma. The only comparison is that the two fire starter ideas boast a small body and bodily flames, although Honoguma’s are on his ears and tail rather than his back.

If the Pokemon Company was worried a bear Pokemon would compete too much with its mouse Pokemon, the decision seems clear. Instead of compromising with Honoguma to create a hybrid mouse-bear, the team could scrap the bear sprite altogether and showcase the Fire mouse Pokemon, leaving the remnants for what would later become Teddiursa.

The Teddiursa we have today is a potential Pokemon icon stripped of its elemental charm. Even today it has maintained its normal typing, and though it boasts a large moveset (it can learn an array of fairy, dark, and fighting moves, among others), it doesn’t have that elemental advantage other Pokemon have. With its weaker stats and uninspiring evolution, Teddiursa just doesn’t live up to the competition, even if it’s cute.

A Future for Teddiursa

With Pokemon Legends: Arceus right around the corner, new Pokemon rumors are everywhere. We already have Hisuian forms of other-Gen Pokemon, so people are rightfully expecting more of them once the game hits stores. There have already been a number of rumors, including one claiming that Ursaring will get a new evolution that is normal/ground type — the first non-normal typing since Teddiursa’s Honoguma days. In an earlier tweet, Centro claimed that this evolution will be rideable.

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Although the Fire typing is probably staying put in the beta days, it seems like Teddiursa and Ursaring are in line to get the Hisuian treatment. If it does get a new evolution, it might finally boast the strength that other Pokemon have and return to its status as Pokemon’s most prominent bear. We know Pokemon has other bears, as Pokemon Sword & Shield have an entire DLC story dedicated to training a single Kubfu, with no unnecessary competition with Pikachu or Pokemon’s mousier monsters.

For far too long, Teddiursa has been in the background — gaining Johto popularity and losing it as quickly as Honoguma’s flame. If the rumors are correct, then Teddiursa will be able to revive its once-necessary status in an official Pokemon game, and restore its originally intended third evolution. We already know that Teddiursa is Pokemon’s first bear — but could it be Pokemon’s first bear with a final evolution (and a strong, reliable one at that)?

Here’s to finding out.


Allyson Blinkhorn HackerNoon profile picture
by Allyson Blinkhorn @allysonvasion.Allyson Blinkhorn is a freelance writer/editor with a passion for videogames, manga/comics, and other visual media.
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