Larry asks:

Hey, are you worried about regional variants making the OG mons get sidelined? Because while I love the new versions, both from a bio nerd standpoint and a creature design standpoint, I look at variants getting evolutions, OGs getting nothing, and get… concerned

What if the answer to “how to deal with pokémon who need buffs” simply becomes “replace them with clones?”

If I’ve merely missed Hoennian Obstagoon from avoiding SwSh spoilers, I’m sorry to bother, but I’m kinda scared. Thoughts?

So… I think there may actually be a reason for this, and it’s a dumb reason.  Game Freak think they’re not allowed to give new evolutions to old Pokémon unless it’s through regional variation, because it would create an inconsistency in how the Eviolite works.  If Hoennese Linoone could evolve, then it would be able to use an Eviolite, which it can’t in generation VII.  Therefore, we can never let it evolve.  Now, personally I think that whether or not to give new evolutions to old Pokémon is a top-level design choice with no inherently right or wrong answer, and I would actually be fine with never seeing it again (incremental moveset/ability buffs or even flat base stat buffs to older Pokémon are another matter, and I think we have every reason to imagine that those will continue; Jim the Editor would like to recommend a YouTube series on the subject that you can find here).  However, “we accidentally painted ourselves into a corner by introducing a weird item during a generation that consciously downplayed older Pokémon” is the dumbest possible reason I can imagine for making that choice.  I hope that’s not actually something that Game Freak’s designers have in mind – or, if it is, that they get over it – but it is kind of consistent with their actions.  New evolutions stop in generations V-VII, with the sole exception of Sylveon (who is allowed, because Eevee can already use an Eviolite), and reappear in VIII, but restricted to Pokémon that got Galarian variations, who can therefore be treated as a blank slate. Mega Evolution and Gigantamaxing, although they have other functions, can also be seen as a replacement of sorts for new evolutions (with the added bonus that you can give them to Pokémon who’ve already evolved twice, such as the obvious best Pokémon that is everyone’s favourite and may not be questioned, Charizard).  It also feels like the same kind of logic that dictates that old Pokémon who get new evolutions must always evolve in new, increasingly obscure ways that weren’t available in previous generations (can’t evolve Seadra in Red and Blue because Pokémon couldn’t hold items until generation II; can’t evolve Piloswine in Gold and Silver because it couldn’t learn Ancient Power until generation IV). On the other hand, they have also now stopped holding to some of those, because it’s just a huge pain when you can’t have Leafeon in the game unless you build an area with a Mossy Rock, and if some godawful pedant wants to ask “so why can’t I use a Leaf Stone on Eevee in Red and Blue?”… well, honestly, fµ¢£ ’em.

So I guess I would say yeah, be scared because the thing you’re describing is definitely happening and can only be stopped by Game Freak choosing to abandon an arbitrary nonsense rule that they’ve held for three generations now.  However, also don’t be scared because Pokémon don’t need to keep getting new evolutions to be valid, there are other ways of buffing them that the developers definitely know about and use, and anyway they’ll probably see the light eventually.

13 thoughts on “Larry asks:

  1. Ok. I didn’t know how old eviolite was. I didn’t know that every new evolution for an old mon tried to use a new method. I didn’t know that eviolite was a problem.
    And now that I know.

    I CAN SAY IT’S THE DUMBEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD;
    WOULD IT BE THAT BAD TO JUST CHANGE WHO CAN USE EVIOLITE?

    Hoo boy, thanks for telling me. But also I frankly wish I didn’t know. My ignorance was bliss.

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  2. It’s especially annoying because GameFreak is willing to change rules/effects in other arguably more noticeable ways—for example, before Gen 6, Clefairy was weak to only Fighting then in Gen 6 and on it suddenly resists Fighting.

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  3. Somehow, I doubt that Game Freak is going to behave sensibly about this. Like, in the generation that they replaced a bunch of evolution methods with saner ones, they also added Runerigus. (Alcremie is at least fairly easy if you actually KNOW the method)

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  4. Ok, but since when has GF cared that much about consistency? I honestly don’t get how you manage to put it all on the Eviolite, when there are plenty of other potential reason that are just as logical…

    Not to mention, if it otherwise gets in the way of gameplay, GF is perfectly willing to make retcons. We now have Leafeon and Glaceon evolve with the Leaf and ice Stones, and Charjabug now evolves with the Thunderstone.

    Functionally, A-Marowak and A-Exeggutor aren’t much different from branch evolutions like Bellossom or Slowking. I realise this wouldn’t mess with the Eviolite theory, but the fact they’re functionally the same is important I think.

    Also, I don’t have proof at hand, but Gen IV’s cross-gen evolutions didn’t seem to be very well received, but that might just have been a ‘nEw PoKeMoN bAd’ thing.

    Of course, another reason than continuity could be game balance (eh what am I saying, it’s GF). But then they’d adjust the stats of these forms with new evolutions more, wouldn’t they? But most Galarian variants with a new evolution have few to no stat changes. The biggest is probably for Mr Mime in defense.

    Honestly, it seems far more likely to me that the combination of fewer new Pokemon introduced per generation, plus potentially art block might be the cause for the lack of cross-gen evos. After all, they did want to give Flygon a Mega back in ORAS, but were unable to come up with a satisfying design. Additionally, they might reckon that fans will find entirely new lines of pokemon far more interesting than cross-gen evos. And regional variants give a new spin on an old design, allowing for more creative freedom

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    1. As far as I know, you can’t obtain Meltan in SwSh yet. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll add a way for it to evolve either once Pokémon Home rolls out, or with the DLC, which will probably add Meltan and Melmetal into Galar Pokédex.

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    2. I mean, I’m not in their heads, I don’t know, and I *hope* this isn’t what they’re thinking. And, yeah, obviously there’s lots of reasons for not having cross-generation evolutions, not least of which is that there’s actually no reason the game *needs* them and no reason they should be the default. However, I’m not sure there’s a lot of reasons for not having cross-generation evolutions *except in situations where it’s possible to contrive for it not to mess with an existing Pokémon’s “not fully evolved” status*, which… is sort of what it *looks* like they’ve been doing for the last several generations?

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  5. I am really happy that Eevee now evolves into Leafeon and Glaceon with Leaf Stone and Ice Stone respectively. Good first step towards sorting out this whole mess. I’ve also always thought that having to use Incences to get baby Pokémon (except for all gen 2 babies, Riolu and Toxel) is dumb but whatever. One step at a time. (Not to mention that it always trips me that Lax Incence is not for Munchlax)

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  6. Fun fact on a related note: Meltan, which canonically evolves but currently has no way to do so in the main series games, is not able to use Eviolite.
    If they don’t figure this out and finally decide to retcon an Eviolite user for the first time, we may never be able to evolve Meltan outside of Go…

    (I think – for me, at least – the appeal of cross-generational evolutions is more in an aesthetic sense than a viability one.
    And, I mean, they’re not even always that strong! Dusknoir is a fair bit weaker than Dusclops thanks to Eviolite, and even before Eviolite, it was still considered “about as good as Dusclops was in RS” and most people didn’t think it was necessary from a gameplay standpoint. But it’s one of my favorite crossgens, personally! And Honchkrow is another big one – Murkrow has seen use without evolving since it got Prankster in Gen V, even specifically in VGC, which we all know is the part Game Freak cares about balancing. If we just wanted to see more Murkrow, that’s just as good a way of doing it! But Honchkrow adds something to the line on a design and worldbuilding level that just buffing Murkrow’s defenses and giving it a shiny new Ability doesn’t.
    I was cool with Mega Evolutions as a way to do this as well – they’re not quite as interesting in the in-world flavor sense, but many of them have some super fun designs all the same, and many of their appearances worked in surprisingly clever or just funny ways with their Abilities and any other changes they got, so it was a neat creative ground to explore.

    The problem I have with regional evolutions specifically is that… well, yeah, they DO still add to the Pokémon on a worldbuilding level, and that is the part I’ve said is important – but they also forgot one of the other key ideas of the series, which is that we’re supposed to feel close to our Pokémon and care about them as individuals. Like, say I’m a Linoone fan… instead of being even more excited than everyone else about Obstagoon because I’ve raised a Linoone before, I’m now more disappointed – MY Linoone is now getting… even more explicitly and actively left behind than it was before. It’s only the people who raise new, freshly-caught Linoone who get something new and exciting. (And there’s nothing wrong with raising both kinds of Linoone – I’m fairly sure that Alola’s regional variants had that kind of juxtaposition in mind and wanted players to try them both – but with one getting Obstagoon and the other getting nothing, that just makes the comparison even worse. Alola’s variants were really good about… inversely highlighting each other – making players appreciate both at once – but Galar’s evolutions seem like their entire point is not just to *revamp* but to *deprecate* the originals, and that’s the part that’s raising some eyebrows here.
    At that point, why aren’t we just getting a new line so everyone is on equal ground anyway? It’s not like adaptation is a relevant theme to Galar like it was for Alola – there’s no clear reason except the charm of revisiting older Pokémon, so why are we revisiting older Pokémon in a way that… so emphatically doesn’t actually reach older Pokémon? At least Alola’s variants actually did a good job of celebrating the originals while being a fresh take forms! I think approaching it that way was perfectly good, and I had been excited to see that expanded to Generations outside of the first and get fresh takes on old favorites. But regional-exclusive *evolutions* just feel like a slap in the face to anyone who cared about the Pokémon “before it was cool,” because Game Freak is going out of their way to make older Linoone the lesser version.

    (It was definitely worse with Gigantamaxes, of course, where the only reason a transferred Butterfree couldn’t G-Max is “because Game Freak says so” and there was nothing at all setting them apart, but it sounds like they’re at least planning to address that in the Isle of Armor.)

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  7. Game Freak has ALREADY CONFIRMED the existence of a multiverse in Pokemon. How hard can it be to resolve a simple inconsistency between games?

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