Pokemon games, whether canon or fan-made, live or die based on the bond between Pokemon and players. Can we use the mechanics of the games and the way those mechanics are altered in Pokemon Uranium, Pokemon Insurgence, and Pokemon Infinite Fusion to explain why we care about our Pokemon?
Reload the Canons! is an ongoing Storming the Ivory Tower project where I play through The Canon of videogames. Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect. You can support Reload the Canons! and my other projects on the Storming the Ivory Tower Patreon.
It encourages a kind of bond with a pokemon like Cubbug that is, for sure, aesthetic, but also is expressed, experienced, and reinforced through play, through the runtime action of the game's systems. Experimenting with Cubbug and being rewarded through better stat increases and through evolution into the equally adorable Cubblfly and Nyphlora facilitates the bond I experience, one that, notably, is disinterested in whether or not Cubbug is a "real" pokemon.