One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
As part of my eternal contract of service to the Dark Council of my highest-tier Patreon supporters (to whom special thanks, and a mighty tribute of souls and magic, are as always due), I regularly solicit topics from them to discuss in longer articles – and once again, that time has come. Today I’m supposed to be talking about the (so far) three generational flagship mechanics of the Pokémon games – X and Y’s Mega Evolution, Sun and Moon’s Z-Moves and Sword and Shield’s Dynamax – in all their aspects, both how they practically work in the game and how they influence the story and lore of their worlds. “Flagship mechanics” is my own term for these, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else say it, but I like it better than “gimmicks” because I think it’s a better reflection of what the developers seem to want them to be, so I’m gonna keep using it, and you all just have to deal with that because… it’s my blog, so shut up.
Let’s start with a summary for people who might not be familiar with one or more of the games that introduced and featured these mechanics:
I watched a Pokémon video on YouTube where the guy pointed out that, for all the hype Mega Evolutions got prior to the release of XY, you actually only ever fight three Mega Evolutions throughout the course of the main story: Korrina’s Mega Lucario, Lysandre’s Mega Gyarados, and Diantha’s Mega Gardevoir. He argued that 1) the first one doesn’t even count because it was just a Mega Lucario battle, and 2) this is a big reason why XY felt too easy, especially since you can Mega Evolve after the third Gym. He suggested that, since you fight Lysandre before the final Gym, Wulfric and the Elite Four should all have been given Mega Evolutions, something the anime actually does (sans Drasna). It’s an excellent point and I… don’t know why Game Freak didn’t do this in the first place, now that I think about it. The final rival battle at Victory Road should probably also have given them their eventual Mega Absol, if Wulfric should have a Mega. What do you think?
Y’know, I never really thought about that – when I played X for the first time, I never used Mega Evolution unless my opponent did as well, because it seemed “unfair,” so I guess I just wasn’t thinking about it very hard. But yeah, considering that Mega Evolution is generation VI’s flagship mechanic, it’s… not actually in there very much. Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are kinda light on it as well, at least in the main story; there’s… what, Archie/Maxie, Wally and Steven? But then there are a lot more in the postgame: May/Brendan, Matt/Courtney, Zinnia and all of the Hoenn Elite Four. X and Y don’t really have that. This seems doubly weird considering how much work must have gone into designing the Mega Evolutions. Wouldn’t you want to show them off? I can see a perspective where finding all the Mega Evolutions is mainly meant as an end-game side-quest for the player, a little challenge for the 100%-completionists, but a) the Pokédex already provides plenty of that, and b) it would make a lot more sense if Pokémon had, like, Final Fantasy-style “bonus bosses” where you really needed the right Mega Evolution to win.
Hey, love your playthrough journals, have you ever done one on Pokemon X or Y, if so, I can’t find it here, and are you planning on making one for Sword and Shield?
I did, but it’s part of the 700-odd posts that I haven’t yet re-filed into WordPress’ category system following my relocation from Tumblr. This link should work, though, assuming I gave all the posts the same tag at the time of writing: https://pokemaniacal.com/tag/xandy/?order=asc.
I’m probably not going to do a full narrative one for Sword and Shield, just because (even though they are fun) they take longer than I honestly think they’re worth. The one I did for Sun and Moon really started to drag and kept me from getting down to business on the Pokémon reviews, which was a pretty big contributing factor to why I’m still finishing up my generation VII articles now, and probably won’t have time for everything I still want to write. I’ll certainly write something for Sword and Shield, but it will probably be a much more pared-down “first impressions” sort of thing in the vein of what I did for Alpha Sapphire (you can find that here https://pokemaniacal.com/category/playthroughs/alpha-sapphire-playthrough-notes/?order=asc; Jim the Editor has just gone through these and jazzed them up with some new graphics for my team rosters, which is nice).
So, MegaEvolution is something of a base-breaking point for pokemon fans, but you’ve been known to mention it being a good thing for some pokemon (in terms of improved useability). Thus, I ask: which of the 50 or so existing megaevolutions would you say are necessary and worth keeping, and which ones are superfluous and shouldn’t have been introduced at all?
Well… based on that particular criterion, probably fewer than
half of them were a good idea, maybe even fewer than a third, which is a pretty
terrible success rate. Terrible enough,
in fact, that I think it’s pretty clear this rationale wasn’t really a major
part of Game Freak’s process for deciding which Pokémon to give Mega Evolutions
to (even though it’s something I like), and therefore arguably not a good
way of judging them. Particularly in the
first round in X and Y, Mega Evolutions primarily went to Pokémon that were
already fan favourites, like the Kanto starters, Mewtwo and Gyarados, and most
of those were already at least decent.
But… well, you asked, so okay, let’s make a list…
Quick question: Looking at Vulpix’s pokedex entry from X, it mentions that vulpix are born with ‘just one snow-white tail’. Do you think this was foreshadowing for Alolan vulpix and do you think there is anything more you can make of this?
If that line were new in the X Pokédex I’d say yes, but it actually
appeared previously in Leaf Green, and the idea of Vulpix being born with a
white tail goes all the way back to at least the original Pokémon Stadium (Red
and Blue specify one tail at birth, but not the colour). It could be deliberate foreshadowing that
they chose to recycle that particular
line in generation VI, but X and Y reuse a lot of Pokédex lines from Fire
Red and Leaf Green for the Pokémon that were around in generation III, so I
think it’s more a nice coincidence than anything else.
Vulpix is a kitsune fox spirit, which grow more tails as they become older and more powerful, and turn white or gold when they get to nine tails, which is why Ninetales is a pale gold colour. I don’t think their first tail is supposed to be white, though. Nor are real foxes born with white tails that later turn red, as far as I know. A lot of animals have special juvenile colouration that provides them with better camouflage while they’re young and vulnerable, but I don’t think white would help with that (unless you lived in a snowy area, which… well, Alolan Vulpix says hi). It could just be meant as foreshadowing of the evolution to Ninetales, I suppose.
Do you get the impression Gen VI was cut short? Looking back there’s a lot about it that seems unfinished. I’m not the first to think that Zygarde should have had its own game, but the Gen VI events for Diancie, Hoopa and Volcanion are really underwhelming; all they unlock in XY/ORAS is a bit of extra dialogue. Feels like a lot of wasted potential. The fact that Gen VII only has two event Pokemon (and hackers haven’t found a Marshadow event in S/M yet) makes me think this gen will be short too.
A little, yeah. Mostly what I think is strange is that they built such a unique subsystem for Zygarde with so many interesting little features, and then never really did anything with it. Clearly some of it was already planned when they produced X and Y; Thousand Arrows and Thousand Waves are both in the code for the generation VI games but were never made obtainable, and Zygarde’s Pokédex data hints at a really important role that it ought to have in the conflict of X and Y. Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”→
Greetings fellow Pokémaniac. First of all id like to say i love the blog, your thoughts, ideas and stories can keep me reading and thinking for days on end. Keep up the good work. So I’ve played every Pokémon gen, unfortunately haven’t got round to playing black/white 2 yet, and im only part way through Moon as it hasn’t grabbed me like i thought it would. In my opinion though, X and Y have been the best games to come so far (I’dtellyouwhybutI’mrunningoutofcharacters) Your thoughts on this? Ty.
Glad you’re enjoying it!
So obviously I’m still not done with Moon, because my writing process makes me play so slowly, and not ready to offer a final assessment or ranking. I really like everything I’ve seen so far though – the worldbuilding is excellent, the story is shaping up to be quite interesting, there are some cool characters, and although I still like generation VI’s Pokémon designs better, VII’s seem like they’re fine. My official position – subject to change in weeks to come – is that V has the best story, but VI was better overall. VII still has a shot at overthrowing either or both.
I think everyone has a dinosaur phase, right? Mine was… longer and more educationally rigorous than most, put it that way (my parents claim to this day that my first words as a baby were not the traditional ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ but the often tongue-twisting names of dinosaur species). There actually aren’t all that many Pokémon who seem to be based primarily on dinosaurs, funnily enough, although several of the big superstar ones are represented: we have ceratopids (Shieldon and Bastiodon), pachycephalosaurs (Cranidos and Rampardos), sauropods (Bayleef and Meganium, Tropius), and of course the famous birdlike theropod Archaeopteryx (Archen and Archeops). There are also a bunch of Pokémon that are probably influenced by dinosaurs, like Tyranitar, who seems to be a tyrannosaur via Godzilla, Charmeleon, who has shades of a small theropod, Torterra, who owes as much to ankylosaurs as to tortoises, and Bulbasaur, who… well, to be honest I don’t think even Game Freak really know exactly what Bulbasaur is but the –saur suffix definitely strikes a particular note. X and Y give us two more fossils: the brutal tyrannosaurs Tyrunt and Tyrantrum, and these two loveable goofs. I probably wouldn’t have chosen another sauropod, myself – I kind of want to see a hadrosaur – but I’m not about to complain about more dinosaurs, so here we go.