Despite the general state of the world in 2020, the Pokémon franchise is having a great year. With the surprise announcement of the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass, the reveal of a new Mythical Pokémon, some game-changing hidden abilities released, the continued support of Sword and Shield, and more, it’s been a stellar year to be a fan. This year, in particular, the Pokémon Company seems intent to make fans’ wildest, most unexpected dreams come true, from the long-awaited return of fan-favorite spin-off titles to the reveal and release of the first-ever main series expansion; 2020 was even witness to some unexpected creature design updates fans have been requesting for years! If the twenty-fourth anniversary of Pokémon has been this standout, then what can fans expect from the twenty-fifth? What main series games can players reasonably and irrationally expect from 2021? Here are the dream destinations and potential places I hope to see for Pokémon’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
Time and Space for a Remake
With a main series title released annually over the last four years, it’s all but a certainty there will be at least one core game released next year that ties into the quarter-century celebration. With a new generation, Sword and Shield, released last year and the Expansion Pass taking the place of the traditional third/sequel installment that usually follows, the most likely candidate is a remake title. Considering the last proper remake release was Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire in 2014 (excluding the Let’s Go games, which are considered core series adjacent titles), it’s more than likely we’ll finally get the much-requested remakes to Diamond and Pearl, particularly since 2021 will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the titles.
Sword and Shield seem to substantiate this theory. The Regis being well represented in the Crown Tundra trailer seems to foreshadow the return of Regigigas, a fourth-generation Pokémon. Single Strike Style Urshifu’s flavor text in Shield alludes to the Pokémon originating from “the mountains of a different region.” This could easily be an allusion to Sinnoh’s Mt. Coronet. The necessity of Vespiquen honey to get Urshifu to Gigantamax in the Isle of Armor corroborates this theory. The Crown Tundra’s new cooperative mode, Dynamax Adventure, where players dive into dens together, could easily be a prototype for a reworked Sinnoh Underground.
“Dynamax Adventure could easily be a prototype for the Sinnoh Underground.”
Similarly, the return of the Pokémon follow feature in the Isle of Armor, where players’ Pokémon can follow behind them outside of their Poké Balls, might be a small scale test in preparation for a full game feature in the next main series entry. This would be appropriately similar to what happened in the fourth generation with Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum’s Amity Square locale with its limited follow functionality paving the way for HeartGold, SoulSilver’s full game system. Perhaps most telling, the endless energy escaping Eternatus’ Eternamaxed form is said to warp all surrounding space-time according to Shield’s description of the Pokémon. An immediate call back to Palkia and Dialga, who control time and space, this could easily explain how the eighth generation mechanics will be introduced into the Sinnoh remakes, certain to feature Gigantamax versions of beloved fourth-gen Pokémon.
It’s also worth noting that the last proper remake was released prior to the introduction of regional variants in Sun and Moon. Considering Game Freak’s recent habit of expanding existing timelines, often aging and reintroducing old protagonists and characters, as opposed to rewriting history with new titles, its entirely possible Diamond and Pearl remakes could feature new regional variants (distortion Pokémon maybe?) or entirely new Pokémon and expand on the existing narrative of the Sinnoh titles should the remake take place after the original games. This is all just hopeful suspicion, but it’s an enthralling notion just the same.
An Extra Expansion
Even with new features and all current-day amenities, would a remake feel substantial enough for such a massive milestone anniversary, or is it possible that 2021 might see multiple main series releases? This wouldn’t be without precedent as FireRed, LeafGreen and Emerald were released within the same year in Japan and with fewer than eight months between them in North America. Today, with the Pokémon Company pretty settled into their annual release schedule, this scenario would likely only occur if one release were an additional, unannounced expansion to Sword and Shield released early to midway through the year before the main event in the fall. While all talk of another Sword and Shield expansion is purely speculation and risks stoking rampant fan expectation, there’s a decent amount of in-game evidence suggesting something along these lines, most of which, intriguingly, points to Kalos.
With X and Y’s Kalos region based on France and Sword and Shield’s Galar based on the UK, some connection between the two should be expected. Whether that’s simple world-building, laying tracks for the next expansion, or preparation for an unexpected, long overdue third installment of the sixth generation remains to be seen. Undeniable though are the emergent parallels between the two. Many, myself included, immediately noted the curiously comparable coloration of the two new Regis, now properly known to be Regieleki and Regidrago, and those of Xerneas and Yveltal, X and Y’s cover Pokémon respectively, and the apparent “X” and “Y” eye formation of the two new titans. Lore released since Regidrago’s reveal regards people’s immediate fear of the Pokémon’s potential to “rain destruction,” which is immediately reminiscent of Yveltal, the “Destruction Pokémon.”
Equally as interesting, though admittedly a little Farfetch’d, is the way the regions’ historical narratives potentially intersect and overlap. The story of X and Y involves a war waged between two countries 3,000 years prior to the events of the games. During this time, Pokémon were viewed as tools for conflict, not as partners. This is echoed through Melmetal, technically a gen eight Pokémon, whose flavor text in Let’s Go provides the first indicator that this war may have been between Galar and Kalos. It reads, “revered long ago for its capacity to create iron from nothing, for some reason it has come back to life after 3,000 years.” Iron is certainly a useful resource in a war, but more telling is the matching timeframes between the war described by the character AZ in X and Y and Melmetal’s description. This war was ended when AZ, who was once the king of Kalos, developed “the ultimate weapon” out of a machine that was used to restore life to AZ’s Floette, referred to by AZ as “the resurrected eternal Pokémon.” With this weapon, AZ destroyed both sides of the conflict, convincingly ending the war. Exposure to this mysterious machine-turned weapon left AZ immortal and, more notably, giant.
The energy which powered the weapon, later labeled “Infinity Energy” in Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, was derived from “the life force of many Pokémon” and presumably Yveltal or Xerneas power, as they are later required to reactivate it though never expressly mentioned by AZ himself. Intriguingly, Mega Stones were Evolution stones exposed to this energy and irradiated with its power at the time it was initially fired. Considering the effect the energy had on AZ, turning him into a giant, the label “Infinity Energy,” and the culmination of the Mega Evolution phenomenon, could this weapon be the original source of Dynamax energy and the true cause of the Darkest Day event in Galar’s past? Could this mean Mega Evolution and Gigantamax are just two sides of the same coin?
“Could this mean Mega Evolution and Gigantamax are just two sides of the same coin?”
In Sword and Shield, it’s pretty evident that Eternatus is the source of Dynamax and Gigantamax phenomena, as energy previously absorbed by the Pokémon to stay active gradually escapes the core in its chest following its defeat told in the tale of the “Darkest Day.” However, according to Eternatus’ Pokédex data in Shield, Eternatus is an extraterrestrial dragon that arrived via meteorite 20,000 years ago. The Darkest Day, an event where massive amounts of Dynamax energy was released causing Pokémon to spontaneously Dynamax and rampage, however, didn’t occur until, you guessed it, 3,000 years before the events of Sword and Shield. So, the question remains: what energy did Eternatus absorb from Galar that suddenly resulted in the Darkest Day after 17,000 years without any recorded incident? Is it possible that Eternatus unknowingly absorbed Infinity Energy, irradiating the Pokémon with previously unseen power following AZ’s assault on Kalos and Galar?
This would explain a number of things including Eternatus’ enormity and classification as the Gigantic Pokémon, its name, harkening back to the “resurrected eternal Pokémon,” and perhaps even its poison typing if Eternatus was contaminated by the energy it fed on. Further, while Eternatus can’t Dynamax or Gigantamax itself, it has its exclusive “Eternamax” form that it enters when it absorbs an immense amount of energy all at once, as happens towards the end of Sword and Shield. In this “state of power overload,” it’s specifically said “infinite amounts of energy pour” from Eternamax Eternatus. Is it possible that Eternamax is actually more akin to Mega Evolution or Primal Reversion, especially considering Eternamax is the only max transformation that involves a stat increase like Mega Evolution? Perhaps Eternatus is essentially operating like an enormous Mega Stone, with the Infinity Energy having a different result after being processed into Dynamax Energy or perhaps being preserved by Eternatus.
Again, it’s all a little farfetched (maybe Galarian Farfetch’d?), but that’s hardly the most convincing evidence. No, that evidence was slapped right on the cover of Sword and Shield. That’s right, Zacian and Zamazenta, whose names, quite tellingly, start with “Z,” as in Pokémon X, Y, and now Z! Kalos confirmed; I rest my case. Kidding. But all joking aside, with Zacian perhaps inspired by Fenrir or the pair potentially inspired by Geri and Freki, the wolves of Odin, Sword and Shield’s cover Pokémon could be derived from the same Norse mythology as X and Y’s. Maybe an even bigger stretch than the wolves’ names starting with Z, but if all were, in fact, formed from Norwegian myth, could they all be part of the same pantheon in-game, so to speak? It’s not likely, but a later generation building on the lore of a preceding one in such a substantial way would certainly be a treat for invested fans.
None of this, of course, truly signifies a return to Kalos, and even if it did, there’s no saying the extent that return would take. While the first full-fledged, multi-regional adventure since Gold and Silver would certainly be met with praise from critics and the fandom alike, solidifying the eighth generation amongst some of the best in the franchise, anything less than the standard set by the second generation could easily demolish all of the goodwill Sword and Shield have worked so relentlessly to amass. But a fan can dream, and what better way to celebrate the franchise’s twenty-fifth anniversary than doing something that hasn’t been done in over twenty years. Any additional DLC would admittedly be welcome, Kalos or not. Even if there’s no surprise expansion awaiting fans next year, as long as I finally get Diamond and Pearl remakes, well, then I’ll be as happy as a Clamperl.