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March 10, 2014

UPDATE: Why Do I Dislike Mega Evolutions?

Hello to all my readers! In October, I held Poké-Month, a whole month dedicated to our favorite collecting and battling game. This month was made because of the sixth Generation of Pokémon that arrived, along with the new games, Pokémon X and Y.

During that month, I wrote an article titled "Why Do I Dislike Mega Evolutions?". Looking back, it wasn't my most solid article, especially considering I was discussing a subject that had been talked about a LOT in the fan community. Pokémon X and Y hadn't come out yet, so we didn't know everything there was to know about the aforementioned Mega Evolutions. We were working with the ones we knew about (such as Mawile, Lucario or Ampharos), but we did not have the full list. As a result, my arguments weren't quite accurate. Based solely on pre-release information... Yeah...

Anyway, I decided I'd take a look back at my preceding article and change my opinion, OR add more to what I had said previously. The sixtg Gen has come out five months ago, Pokémon Z is probably on the way, so I felt like it was the good time for that.

First off, here is the full list of Pokémon who got Mega Evolutions: Venusaur, Charizard (2!), Blastoise, Alakazam, Gengar, Kangaskhan, Pinsir, Gyarados, Aerodactyl, Mewtwo (2 as well!), Ampharos, Scizor, Heracross, Houndoom, Tyranitar, Blaziken, Gardevoir, Mawile, Aggron, Medicham, Manectric, Banette, Absol, Garchomp, Lucario and Abomasnow. That's 28, technically 26. Is it a lot? Honestly, it could have been a bit more. I personally believe that it's a bit cheap that two Pokémon got TWO Mega Evolutions, one of which used to be the strongest Pokémon back in the days of the first Generation. Right, Mewtwo? Oh, there's also Latias and Latios, but those are unconfirmed. That makes 3 Legendary Pokémon to be getting Mega Evolutions, out of 28.

First off, the way Mega Evolutions work is now clear: A Pokémon on its final stage of evolution must hold the Mega Stone in order to be able to Mega Evolve. When Mega Evolving, the Pokémon's stats increase dramatically, by 100 in Base Stats regardless of the species. Going from 500 to 600 is huge, it's going from great to near-Legendary.
"What else is good about the Mega Evolutions? Well, the Mega Pokémon's designs are pretty freaking awesome in many cases. [...] Heck, some Mega forms were leaked, and most of them are a pleasant surprise. I've rarely been disappointed by a Mega Evolution('s look) so far. Last but not least, Pokémon changing type during Mega Evolutions is also a great idea; Charizard can finally become a Dragon-type!"
Okay, that paragraph ended with a note that Mewtwo would become half-Fairy, which was proven false. Oh well. This point still stands, though. I like most of teh Mega Evolutions' designs, many are creative. Others, however... How do you imagine a Pokémon's Mega Evolution? You exaggerate the traits! Some things are amplified, usually the most obvious traits of the Pokémon, In some cases it's fine. In others, it's... Ridiculous. Look at Mega Gengar, as an example.I'm not saying that it's bad, but at the same time... I just get the feeling that it's not the most creative one out there. One more eye, trap it to the ground, make some parts red, put more spikes? You got it. I don't find anything visually interesting in this design. I like the Gastly line, they're some of my favorite Ghost-type Pokémon. But this wasn't what I expected for a Mega Evolution.
"My main problem with the Mega Evolutions was that I thought they pushed away the collecting aspect of Pokémon. [...] I would have been heavily disappointed if the team at Game Freak had decided to concentrate on the Mega Evolutions (Which are NOT new Pokémon; they're new forms to existing Pokémon) and forget that they should have a whole new Generation of 100+ Pokémon to give the players."
First off, what I'm saying here is that there's a distinction between Evolution and Form. It's pretty obvious, but I'll still spell it out. An Evolution is officially documented in the Pokédex, while a form is often attached to a Pokémon's Dex entry, but does not take up a space of its own in the machine. Also, while the forms do change the stats  here and there, it's hardly an increase like an Evolution does. Forms modify the base values and sometimes the typing. Mega Evolutions are halfway between both; they provide a massive stat boost, but they're not documented Evolutions.

Which brings me to the next point. Minus these 28 (30?) Mega Evolutions, Generation 6 contained only 70 new Pokémon. Seventy, and none of them got a Mega Evolution. Even if you add them up, even if you count the Mega Evolutions as true Evolutions, as "new Pokémon", you still get a total of 100 "new Pokémon", equal to Gen 2, the second smallest Generation. I'd say it's very cheap. Okay, three more Legendary Pokémon are coming up, with Diancie revealed some time ago. (By the way, five Pokémon for such a small Generation is kind of a bad idea, but that's not what I'm complaining about here; anyway, it's still not as bad as Gen 4.) Still, I feel like the Generation adds too few new Pokémon for it top be interesting from a collecting standpoint. Game Freak made up for it by making over 400 Pokémon available to find in the wild all over Kalos, which is good. I'm not denying that. But part of the fun in collecting and battling in each Generation was to discover the new species by catching them and then trying them out in battle. Now, the Mega Evolutions find a use only in battle, and if you don't intend to use that Pokémon at all, the idea falls apart. How many Pokémon on a team? 6. How many Pokémon can get in the PC boxes? Hundreds. And most of the time you'll keep it to one trustworthy team of 6, with a few HM slaves, unless you do some Pokémon evolving because you finished the Story Mode and now you're filling the Pokédex. In which case, you might not use Mega Evolutions either because you'll finish evolving those Pokémon and the put them back in the PC.
"You're limited to 1 Mega Evolution in your team in each battle. However, you can't get those that early in the game. What I believe this will cause, is that the game will start easy enough, with the regular Pokémon formula, as usual. However, as you progress and find more Pokémon (and Mega Stones), your game will become either very easy or very hard; there will be no middle difficulty."
For this, I was wrong. Game Freak knew something like this would happen, which is why they restricted the use of Mega Stones until you have beaten the Kalos Elite 4 a first time. You still have to fight a freaking Level 70 Mega Gardevoir during the last Story Mode duel... but I'm getting away from the point. I also made the assumption that Mega Evolutions would appear during the second half of the game, which was false; if we consider the second half of the game to be "from Gym 5 to beating the Elite 4" and anything beyond this is "post-game", then yes, we do meet our only Mega Evolved opponent in that second half; but there's only one. Game Freak did some good work for that.

However, while I don't own X or Y, my Pokémon fan friend does. And she can testify. Mega Evolutions are used, overused and abused in Wi-Fi play. They're everywhere, everyone uses them. And of course, most of the time, it's Mewtwo or another overly-powerful Pokémon. That was a problem before, it is a problem now, except it's even worse than before.

And that was my main argument through most of the article. Now, for a few more points.

1. 30 Mega Evolutions. Yes, I know I complained about this, so I'll just say that it's both too little and too many. Too many because of the horribly small amount of new Pokémon we got this Gen, with the Mega Evolutions being counted almost as separate Pokémon, even though they're not. And too little, because we now know the amount of Pokémon in this Gen, and if they didn't want to add more new Pokémon per se, they could have put more Mega Evolutions instead. More final-stage Pokémon getting Mega Evolutions means we could have gotten more evolution families becoming usable again.

2. Following from the end of Point 1, yes, more Pokémon families could have gotten an update. I can't say it enough times, I would have preferred official evolutions. But Mega Evolutions offer an enormous stat boost to the last Pokémon of a family. As a result, Pokémon who can be considered "weak" even on their final stage could have benefited from it. Think of final-stage Pokémon whose base stats are under 450: Granbull, Kecleon, Swellow, Azumarill, Bibarel, Sudowoodo! Heck, Sunflora! They would still be kind of weak compared to the Pokémon who got Mega Evolutions and who already have base stats over 500 on their final stage: Tyranitar, Charizard, Gyarados, Aggron, Gardevoir! And Mewtwo... Urgh, Mewtwo becomes far stronger than freaking ARCEUS!

3. Following Point 2, some evolution families with only one form get a Mega Evolution (those are rare, such as Mawile), while others are the third of a three-stage evolution and still get a Mega Evolution. Compare Mega Evolved Mawile to Mega Evolved Alakazam or Gengar. In a way, some Pokémon have a fourth form while others are stuck with only one, because they didn't get a Mega Evolution.

4. Also, three Pokémon getting a Mega Evolution are final stages who cannot be obtained through leveling evolution. Kadabra and Haunter must be traded. Scizor must be traded with an item. That's a minor point, but I still think it's worth mentioning that if you don't have access to Wi-Fi (don't laugh, I got mine last year only), or if you don't have a friend to trade with, then you cannot get the Pokémon who can THEN use the Mega Evolution. Small point, worth mentioning.

5. The choice of Pokémon getting Mega Evolutions is kind of poor. For the most part, the ones that benefit from it are already popular to the fans, which means they will become even more used, both in Wi-Fi battles or in-game. At the same time, other choices are VERY poor, with Pokémon who either have not enough popularity to be used, OR are too weak for now without a new evolution to make them better in battle and THEN a Mega Evolution to bring them back in the fans' good graces. Think of Mawile, Medicham, Banette or Manectric. Mawile is still the biggest offender. It would have been MUCH, MUCH better if some of those Pokémon got evolutions FIRST, to make them usable even without Mega Evolutions, and then giving them the chance to Mega Evolve.

Okay, by this point I feel like repeating myself. So, I hope you somehow read through all this. I hope you did. Also, you have every right to disagree with either point I've brought up here. Tell me in the comments. I'll listen to your point of view. I'm open to all that. Just don't reply angrily. Keep it polite. I just wanted to update my thoughts on Mega Evolutions, since it's been five months. Thanks for reading, and come back this Friday for Part 2 of my review of Rayman: Hoodlum's Revenge!