Tyranitar is a much loved Pokemon almost universally in the Pokemon Fandom, competitively and casually alike. Depicted as an engine of destruction in the anime and games alike, there really isn't much not to like about it. Well, maybe that Rock/Dark Typing that has started to bite it in the past few years is something to hate, but oh well. Let's get to the point.
So, Tyranitar's Dev History. Turns out, this is probably one of the first Pokemon to have ever been thought of: only in a different name. You see, concept of a Godzilla-like Pokemon goes back as far as the original thoughts on Capsule Monsters, as Godzilliante.
The other concept Pokemon here is Gorillaimo, which never got much further than this. Personally, I think that Tyranitar did not directly get derived from this. This is because this was the early days of development, and I doubt any of the characters were really thought about that much. This concept was to demonstrate the battle system more than anything else. However, I am not denying that this could have indirectly inspired Tyranitar.
Anyway, onto the time where a Godzilla-like Pokemon actually got added into a game in some form: Gyaoon, also known to some as Gyarth. The name is onomatopoeia for Godzilla's roar. So here's our first sighting of the first solid idea for it.
What we're looking at is the first Sprite Sheet printed of Pokemon in Capsule Monsters, circa 1990. Gyaoon is Index Number 1, which is next to Rhydon's beta design. We can see that it is very different to Tyranitar's final design, but it is clear that the concept of a Godzilla-like Pokemon was very much in vogue during development.
We later see Gyaoon in the Satoshi Taijiri Manga, which goes over Pokemon Red and Green's Development. Only this time, with a new sprite. This happened in 1992-1993.
The top of the image is purely a blur due to the way it was set up, but we can see that the sprite changed to show it leaning over roaring, rather than rearing its head. It looks similar to Croconaw and Feraligatr here, so maybe it indirectly inspired them in the future? It was Index Number "C", so most likely not fully decided on yet. I'm not sure what the letter means - nor does anyone else that I know of - but as we know, it was cut. Nobody has quite put together what the idea was for Gyaoon, but there are elements of the final product in there. From what I can see, it looks like it could have been a Dragon Type. However, this is purely speculation.
However, Gyaoon was never seen again after this. Cut, and likely never implemented. Perhaps the Dev Team wasn't fully in favor? I mean, Exeggutor won that poll, so it's clear their opinions were pretty terrible. However, justice was soon to come for this Pokemon.
Fast forward to April of 1997, and we see this cursed magazine: MicroGroup Game Review Vol.14. As I went over in a previous article, Ken Sugimori drew the Pokemon for this cover as simple throwaway designs. Tyranitar was on its knees at this point, ready to get cut. It wasn't in the Spaceworld Demo in November 1997, and it was not being shown anywhere but here.
However, thanks to Ken Sugimori's philosophy of polishing old designs as said in the Interview in that same magazine, Tyranitar got another shot. The Godzilla-like Pokemon idea that had been thrown around for 7 whole years finally came to fruition: Gyaoon may have failed, but Tyranitar came out of it...and boy was it a doozy. Rewarded for its wait, Tyranitar was introduced in Pokemon Gold and Silver in 1999-2000, as a Pseudo Legendary Pokemon that would dominate Smogon for many years to come. Maybe good things really do come to those who wait?
The thought that Tyranitar may have never come to GSC is a real shocker to me personally. It's been a meta defining Pokemon in almost every main series game, and was pretty much "The King of Gen 3" by the end of it. Hell, it's one of my favorite Pokemon to use: I even have a plushie of that angry dinosaur. But god am I glad it got included at the end of that 7 year battle. In the end, it finally got justice.
I'd like to thank Helix Chamber for their article on the Taijri Manga, since it allowed me to collect a lot of images I used to source the Capsule Monsters content. Having it all in one place is really helpful.
So I really, really like researching Beta Pokemon information. I worked on a ROM Hack attempting to restore Pokemon GSC's beta for around 5 years before the Spaceworld Demo dropped on 4Chan. Both extremely happy, but also inches away from killing myself.