The return of Mega Evolution: Pokemon Legends Z-A to reprise former evolution gimmick

Pokemon Legends Z-A will see the return of mega evolution to main-line Pokemon games. 
Pokemon Legends Z-A. Courtesy The Pokemon Company
Pokemon Legends Z-A. Courtesy The Pokemon Company /

With Pokemon Day and the most recent Pokemon Presents a few weeks behind us now, there has been some time for the gaming, and in extension, the Pokemon community to digest the new information Game Freak and Nintendo have divulged for the coming fiscal year. The main focus of the presentation was of course the information relating to Pokemon's next mainline game: Pokemon Legends Z-A.

Set in the Kalos region, and more directly in Lumiose City, the game is set to bring players back to the world intruduced in Pokemon X and Y; a move that shocked many as there was a high expectation regarding a return to Unova instead. With this development, returning to Kalos has also meant that a fan-favorite Pokemon gimmick is set to make its return: Mega Evolution.

The concept of mega evolution is a fairly simple one to understand. In the games, the player holds a key stone, whist giving a mega stone to the Pokemon chosen to mega evolve. The Pokemon then takes on a "mega form" transformation for the duration of the battle, amplifying its base stats (excluding its health). Pokemon don't only have a different form when mega evolved, but can also have different abilities from the one's that their base form posseses.

As far as battle gimmicks go, mega evolution was the first, and in my opinon, by and far the most creative of all the gimmicks to date. The Pokemon mega evolving takes on a new aesthetic, and generally feels like an upgrade when it compared to it's base form. Z moves, Dynamax, Gigantamax, and Terastallization have al followed but, while also providing new forms in all cases barring Z Moves, have failed to really underscore what these gimmicks have been meant to convey; a sense that the Pokemon is truly "ascending" and becoming more powerful. In other words: their change in form is an indciation that the user(s) are becoming stronger, but from a purely visual standpoint do a poorer job of conveying this than the form changes associated with mega evolution.

While not included in the games as a requirement, the mega evolition gimmick in Pokemon lore has always underlined the need for the bond between trainer and Pokemon to be strong for the pair to pull it off. This caveat makes mega evolving a Pokemon during a playthrough feel just that bit more special than perhaps say terastallizing, which instead makes the user don a tera crystal formation on their head as an indication of it's increase in power.

It also makes the gimmick feel less special, as it is based on an environmental occurance (Area Zero and terra crystals), which is accessible to all Pokemon in region. This is not to say the idea is bad; the concept of nature, or in this case an ethereal force, affecting a creatures power and biological makeup is unique. It is simply the execution that did not aptly underline the significance of these transformations and frankly made them look rather dull.

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That being said, it is this that perhaps underlines why mega evolution is so loved by the pokemon community - it has a sense of uniqueness and creativity in terms of aesthetic and presentation that unfortunately the other gimmicks lack. The other transformations do firmly have a place in the lore now, but once again simply fall short of the standard that mega evolution set with it's debut. One can only hope that this return to fore is a more permanent one for the franchise's first and most unique transformation gimmick.