If the games were more like the anime… in the sense that keeping a Pokemon from Evolving doesn’t hinder it statistically and that a Bulbasaur can actively compete against a full grown Venusaur and win as well as any other family, are there any Pokemon you’d choose to keep unevolved, or at least the first ones that come to mind? Also would you like it if the games gave you the option to not evolve your Pokemon but gain the stat growths of their evolutions instead?

Well, yes and no.  What I would like is for evolving a Pokémon to be a choice, which is how the anime presents it – but I don’t want an unevolved Pokémon to have all the same strengths and skills as an evolved Pokémon, because then you turn evolution into a purely aesthetic change and the idea itself loses a lot of its power.  Keeping a Pokémon unevolved when you could evolve it should have drawbacks, signficant ones – you’re giving up (or at least delaying the acquisition of) incredible abilities and, usually, greater physical strength – but it should also have benefits, I think.  The introduction of the Eviolite (although intended, I believe, to help the many late-evolving Pokémon of Black and White survive and contribute until they reach their final forms) already moves us in this direction, and we actually can see now certain Pokémon capable of competing with their own evolved forms – Chansey, for example, has far fewer viable attack options but with an Eviolite actually becomes tougher than Blissey, even accounting for Blissey’s free item slot for Leftovers, while Eviolite Dusclops is arguably just a better Pokémon than Dusknoir.  Porygon2 and Porygon-Z are harder to compare because they fill completely different roles anyway, but again, Porygon2 is arguably the stronger.  Vigoroth is a weird case, because Slaking is such a weird Pokémon, but again, he’s arguably better than his own evolved form.  The Eviolite allows defensive Pokémon to shine, but I think greater diversity is called for – new mechanisms to create unevolved Pokémon which are, perhaps, weaker than their evolved forms but more flexible, or alternatively less flexible but able to execute very specific strategies effectively (Light Ball Pikachu, Deep Sea Tooth Clamperl, and Eviolite Trapinch, anyone?)  The difficulty, of course, is in devising these mechanisms such that they don’t break the Pokémon who are already effective without evolving completely, like Dusclops and Chansey.  I haven’t gotten that far yet.  Must start on ideas.

This kind of thing could become really interesting when you look at Pokémon who change dramatically when they evolve – the one who comes immediately to mind for me is Exeggcute.  How might an Exeggcute be more effective in battle than an Exeggutor?  Superior reaction times, perhaps?  Tactical flexibility as a result of its multiple bodies?  And how to represent that without necessitating a radical departure from present game mechanics?  Tricky.  Some others that might present interesting puzzles include Munchlax, Dragonair, Eevee, Teddiursa, Shelgon and Pupitar, Murkrow, and perhaps Karrablast and Shelmet.

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