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:
So now that we have Mega Evolution, Z Moves, and Dyna/Gigantamaxing, if you were in charge, for Gen 9, what would be their totally unprecedented, initially controversial, yet eventually beloved battling Schtick,? Also what type of cake do you think would taste best half burned?
Well, the answer to the cake question, I know from experience, is chocolate; like, ideally you don’t ever want your cake half-burned, but I would say that, of the half-burned cakes, chocolate is the one that suffers the least.
As for the other thing… sooooooooo, I don’t just have a developed idea for one of these lying around, and I’m not sure if there is a “best” answer unless we develop the setting and story in concert (which… no; go away and leave me alone), but here’s three spitball ideas.
Read a thing on twitter recently that hypothesises that Gen V were the last mainline games that felt quote “Comfortable in their own skin”, since VI, VII and VIII all have big showy gimmicks whilst feeling the need to keep oldschool fans happy. What’re your thoughts on this as one of the internet’s prime Pokemon overthinkers?
Hmm. It doesn’t especially square with my intuitions or experiences about those games – I didn’t enjoy V as much as VI or VII, in spite of it having what I still feel is the best story of the Pokémon games so far. I think I just disagree outright with the characterisation of Mega Evolution and Z-moves (I mean, I assume that’s what this is referring to; I don’t know what else it could mean) as showy gimmicks. They never felt intrusive to me, and I always got the impression that most Pokémon players really liked Mega Evolution? Certainly a lot of people are upset that it’s apparently not coming back. They’re also fairly major additions to the battle system that come with a fair degree of strategic depth, and they’re part of the culture of each region in which they appear. I don’t know whether all that’s going to be true of Dynamaxing, and frankly neither does anyone else, despite all the people lining up to declare otherwise.
I think there is… let’s say a certain amount right now of people trying to fit their anger over the recent National Pokédex (ahem) “issue” into an overarching narrative of why Pokémon has been in decline ever since… since whichever generation they thought was best. That’s not necessarily a wrong thing to try to do, but it rarely comes with arguments that I find convincing on the basis of my own experience of the games, and at the moment it seems like it’s tied to a desire to pre-judge Sword and Shield, which I just think is silly. I mean, for heaven’s sake, even after a Pokémon game comes out, it takes me months to decide whether I liked it (and only some of that is because I don’t usually pick up the game on launch day).
I don’t recall if you ever did a post on your thoughts on Z moves as a whole, or particularly how you reacted to their extreme animations. Would you share your thoughts on each one in a few words?
I haven’t, but I might have promised that I would
later. Let me check.
[Also, just while we’re here, I feel I should note (just to completely weird out the Americans in the audience) that, as I think most New Zealanders would, I have always instinctively pronounced it “zed-move” (not “zee-move”) and this should be the way you imagine me saying it whenever you read my words on the subject.]
damn it Past Chris, get your $#!t together
Y’know, in the past I have definitely made noises about it, but I was never sure what I should commit to, because I thought I might end up talking about them in the context of my review of Necrozma, since the power of Z-moves comes from Necrozma’s light. That’s something I’m now less optimistic about, since there’s a buttload of lore to study and clarify surrounding Necrozma. I think I’m going to have to beg to defer this, because it probably does deserve a full article (I did one on mega evolution, after all; I mean, it was completely bat$#!t but I did write it) but I don’t think I can properly tackle the subject with my customary brilliance until I get my facts straight on Necrozma and the cosmic light.
Do you think Game Freak will continue to add new evolutions to existing Pokemon now that mega evolutions exist?
I think the two are largely unconnected. Think about it: generation V had no new evolutions of existing Pokémon, before Mega Evolution was introduced, and generation VII featured neither. In fact, the only new evolution of the past three generations – Sylveon – actually coincided with the introduction of Mega Evolution. It’s true that both serve a similar thematic purpose; they both give a new generation of games a more concrete link to Pokémon’s past. I agree that new evolutions seem to be on the way out, but I think the “replacement” concept to fill that role, if any, is much more likely to be the continuation of regional variant Pokémon. Mega Evolution is generation VI’s mechanic and tied to the history of Kalos and Hoenn, just as Z-moves are generation VII’s mechanic and tied to the history of Alola, just as the Dream World was generation V’s and has not returned (though the hidden abilities it unlocked remain). The concept of regional variation, by contrast, doesn’t carry mechanical or worldbuilding baggage, and innately lends itself to being reused again and again through new forms that express the personality of each new region. Even that, though, is not certain; the designers may have liked regional variation as a feature of Alolaspecifically, expressing the unusual paths that evolution can take on archipelagos in the real world. To me it’s most plausible that generation VIII will feature no new evolutions of existing Pokémon, no new Mega Evolutions, and no new species-specific Z-moves (I’m 50/50 on new regional variations), instead spotlighting some other entirely new mechanic that will be tied to the history of the new region and the plot of the new games.
All of this is, of course, as likely as not to be proven completely wrong within the next couple of weeks (heck, maybe even days). I don’t do predictions; it makes me ill-tempered.
What would happen to the meta Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina get signature Z-moves in a potential DP remake, which activate the Room effects? They fit quite well thematically- especially Inverse or Wonder for Giratina and Trick for either D or P
Well, I’m fairly confident the ubers meta can withstand damn near anything you throw at it, and a Z-move is a fairly costly thing to give a Pokémon, since the Z-crystal expends your item slot – especially considering that Dialga, Palkia and Giratina all have fairly powerful signature items (their respective Orbs) that they might prefer to use (unless they break the rules of Z-moves, the way Rayquaza breaks the rules of mega evolution, which doesn’t seem implausible – if they get signature Z-moves, the Orbs might enable them). Besides, auto-Magic Room and auto-Wonder Room don’t strike me as particularly game-breaking effects. Auto-Trick Room, maybe, especially if you give it to Dialga, who’s one of the slower uber-tier Pokémon (not that that’s saying much) – but then, if this hypothetical Z-move also forces Dialga to give up a move slot to Roar of Time, which seems likely, maybe that’s balance enough.
You should give Z-Splash a try. Use Normalium-Z on the move Splash and see what happens. 😉
Oh my god I hadn’t even thought of that
I’m doing it right now
Huh. I’m… not sure what I was expecting, but… hmm. I guess I figured either it would turn into a devastating super-move, or it would still just be completely useless. +3 attack isn’t even bad, though – just not really worth using your Z-power. I feel like this is a missed opportunity for some really kooky easter egg.
I’ve been excitedly reading your Sun and Moon playthrough and enjoying it immensely. However, you passed through route 8 and didn’t even mention Colress’s appearance! I’m disappointed, I wanted to see you thoughts and your character’s reaction!
Good heavens, you’re right! I completely forgot about that while I was writing! We must remedy this situation at once!
“You there!” I stop walking and turn around, ready to fire off a snarky quip at whoever just called me “you there,” until I see… oh. Ohhhh good. This guy. “Oh, excuse me! I am a scientist. My name is Colress,” he introduces himself. Colress still has his trademark lab coat and sweeping plume of blue hair, but has added a pair of robotic gauntlets with touchscreen displays on the wrists, so he can look like his every gesture is something important and sciency. “Yeah, I’ve… I’ve heard of you,” I tell him haltingly. He looks surprised, then worried. “Really? A young trainer like you has heard of my work? Or- oh. You don’t know about-?” “The whole war crimes thing, with Team Plasma back in Unova? How you were complicit in a plot to plunge a continent into a new ice age and bring about the end of modern civilisation?” Now he looks very worried. “No, look, it’s fine, I don’t care, just… look, we’ve sort of met before; it’s kind of a long story… I was a few years older, I might have been a chick at the time…” I shake my head. “I was literally a different person, is the point, and so were you, as far as I’m concerned. And I’m on holiday. So unless whatever you’re doing in Alola is somehow a threat to the entire planet, it is officially not my problem.” Colress just stares at me blankly. “Seriously. We. Are. Fine. What’re you up to, anyway?” “Well…” Colress begins cautiously, “That is… the theme of my research is… ‘bringing out the potential of Pokémon.’ What brings out the power of Pokémon is… I believe that is – the bond they share with their trainers!” Okay, so he’s still working in the same research area, but the events of Black and White 2 have proven to him that supercharging Pokémon with evil machines to create powerful weapons is not the best method. “And thus my attention is drawn to trainers like yourself… trainers bound to their Pokémon through the power of the Z-ring! Z-power… is it the true potential I seek? Does it surpass the Mega Ring?” “Nope.” He blinks at me. “…what?” “Surpass the Digivice. Pretty sure it doesn’t.” He stares at me in confusion. “Digi- Digiwhat?” “Digivi- oh, um. Mega Ring. Whatever. Look, the Mega Ring unlocks a whole new level of evolution, changing a Pokémon’s form and powers, bringing it one step closer to spiritual completion… The Z-Crystals blow stuff up.” He raises a finger like he’s about to say something. “I mean, I guess if you only have a Charmander then a Firium-Z is gonna get you further than a Charizardite-X… seriously though, try ‘em both out. They give Z-Rings away practically for free here in Alola; you just have to, like… risk your life to help out a terrorist, or something.” Colress shakes his head in amazement. “Alola is fascinating! I believe I will stay here for some time! Well then, I hope to see you again some time.” He turns and walks away. “But don’t get any ideas!” I call out after him. “You better not try to destroy the world with this stuff! I live here!”