Perhaps the truly terrifying thing about The Last of Us Y his future series it is knowing that your story has a real basis. By now anyone who has followed the franchise closely or done their homework preparing for the series knows that the cordyceps is, in effect, a fungus existing in the animal world which can seize different insects. Of course it does not affect humans or our fate would be very similar to what we see in Naughty Dog’s work. Nevertheless, video games already made a much more realistic approach to this phenomenon. As you have seen in the title, it was Pokemon who in the first generation turned an adorable critter into the most miserable creature in the franchise.
Although first generation games have a reputation for only populating their caves with Zubats, there was a much more interesting creature in terms of history that inhabited the mount moon. This area that connected Route 3 with Route 4 in the Kanto Region could surprise us with the random appearance of a stop wild. As a child I thought it was some kind of crab, although the reality is that it is a cicada adapted somewhat freely to video games. What he surely did not suspect is that the name is a diminutive of the English word “parasite” (parasite) and that the two cute mushrooms it carries are a very optimistic depiction of cordyceps.
Being Paras the first stage of an evolutionary chain, things are not going so badly for him. He must eat more to give his mushrooms energy, but unless they grow excessively (stealing too much food from the insect) he can survive. She also does not lose his own will and can even get rid of some of these guests. She can’t eliminate them all because it would create an imbalance that threatens her survival, but at least is able to cope with the situation having a relatively decent existence. It is much more than what happens to the infected in The Last of Us, who from the first two days begin to see their behavior modified and lose brain functions.
Things in The Last of Us get much uglier over time, since the human body degrades until the infected become clickers. According to the Naughty Dog game wiki, this is the third stage of the infection. Also the point at which Joel and Ellie’s adventures reconnect with Pokémon. This is because Parasect, the evolution of Paras, also loses his vision. Seriously, you only have to look into those lifeless eyes to realize that something is not quite right in this pocket monster’s central nervous system.
The pokedex original defines Parasect as “a couple of parasites in which the mushroom has occupied the bug”. In Pokémon Yellow it is stated that “the parasite absorbs energy with the setae on its back, which control it”. Diamante and Perla are not nicer, assuring that “Parasect is dominated by a parasitic fungus larger than himself.”. This is sad enough though our ‘favourite’ descriptions are Let’s Go and Legends: Arceus. The first says that “After a long time absorbing the energy of the host, the parasitic mushroom on the back is the one that seems to control the will of this Pokémon” and the second adds “sometimes immobile specimens are found in forests without the mushroom on their back, which corroborates the theory that it is the huge mushroom that dominates them”.
We are talking about a creature without will or motor capacity that has gone blind and only follows the designs of a fungus that has completely parasitized it. It’s hard to find a scientific definition of what a zombie is. In The Last of Us or Pokémon, cordyceps does not kill its host imminently. However, if he takes away his will for the rest of time. If we think about it coldly, it is one of the most heartbreaking stories in the saga of collectible monsters, and has been before us since the first generation without us even noticing. In large part this is because Paras and Parasect are lousy for both adventure and competitive, so no one pays much attention to them.
Despite the macabre points in the story, it makes a lot of sense that this theme would see the light of day in Pokémon. It is well known that Satoshi Tajirione of the creators of the saga, was based on his own I like to collect insects to make the games. In this sense, we like to think that in one of his trips he found a bug affected by this condition and wanted to add it to the games. Lastly, and as an additional curiosity, Parasect was the first of a series of creatures that have been coming to video games of pokemon ever since. Though unaffected by Cordyceps, every odd generation has added a Pokemon with some sort of mushroom-like shape that can learn the move Spore: Paras, Shroomish, Foongus, Morellul, and Toedscool. The latter still in scarlet and purple.