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Weekly Article – The Diversity of Pokémon Evolutions

Lots of Evolution Stones! (From BW135 - Mystery on a Deserted Island!)
(Picture from Bulbapedia)

In Pokémon, evolution is part of life. True, not every Pokémon could evolve, but that doesn’t necessarily rule them out of evolving, unless they’re a Legendary. As such, there are various ways to evolve a Pokémon, with new ones being introduced between Generations. Eevee is perhaps best known for showing this diversity, for each of its evolutions have a different method. In this article, I will explore the advantages and disadvantages of having diverse evolution methods, as well as a possibility of simplifying them.

It should be noted that Generation 6 gave us Mega Evolutions, which is technically another form of evolving a Pokémon, albeit temporarily. For the purpose of this article, Mega Evolutions are not part of this, since they are not a permanent form of evolution. To move on, let’s go.


Reasons for Evolution

When it comes to evolution, it’s important to know why a Pokémon evolves in the first place, since it is a crucial element for the titular creatures. The most basic reason for their evolution is to become stronger, since the extra strength grants them more usefulness, both in terms of performing in battle and survival. In fact, the majority of players, as well as the strongest trainers, prefers to evolve their Pokémon all the way because that is when the Pokémon are at their strongest.

Evolution could also be seen as a form of maturity where the Pokémon had demonstrated that they are qualified for their power. In some cases, when a Pokémon evolved, they might not obey a trainer unless they felt they are qualified, meaning that even the trainer needs to attain a form of respect to match that form of maturity. Perhaps the most well-known example is Ash and Charmeleon and Charizard.

The growth rate is different among different Pokémon. Some evolve very early, while some evolve really late. It is a common rule that those reaching maturity faster and earlier are not as strong as those that evolve later. There are also others that require external means to reach thier more powerful state.

When a Pokémon requires an external means to evolve, such as using an Evolution Stone or trade, it could be viewed as a sort of catalyst, because their evolution is, in some ways, a natural growth. Take Gurdurr and Conkeldurr, for example. Conkeldurr is based on an elder, while Gurdurr is based on a younger person. The trading could be seen as a form of “aging” for the Pokémon, in which Gurdurr attained maturity and age quickly after being traded.

Of course, new evolutions are introduced to showcase new features. Generation 2’s introduction to held items, friendship stat and day/night system gave way to evolutions that require them. Generation 6 has an evolution that requires rotating the device upside-down. Perhaps technology could even be a factor, especially on evolutions that seems like it could be done previously. I am guessing that some gender-based evolutions in Generation 4 are done this way.


Advantages of Diverse Methods

As the series progress, we are introduced to new ways a Pokémon could evolve, whether it’s an item required, or it’s something more special than that. As of now, there are a multitude ways to evolve a Pokémon, though those that evolve through other methods besides levelling up are not quite a majority. Still, every Pokémon evolves in unique ways, counting those that evolves in different levels, though some shares the same evolution method.

The fact that a minor portion of Pokémon evolves through unique methods make them special. Milotic is remembered for its evolution for not only its transition from a dull fish to a beautiful sea serpent, but the way it evolved. Before you needed to trade with a Prism Scale, you need to increase Feebas’ Beauty stat enough before levelling up. There are some others that are known for their evolutions, such as Pikachu’s Thunder Stone evolution (something the anime brings up every now and then).

Perhaps the fact that we have such diverse range of evolutions showcases some diversity and discovery. Finding out the way a Pokémon evolves on your own gives you a sense of accomplishment because figuring out things on your own make one felt like the payoff for their guesswork is rewarded. You might see a Pokémon that your Pokémon could possibly evolve into in-game, and when you found out how to get that, it felt great. That’s how I felt when I found out how to evolve Ludicolo, after seeing how Lombre could potentially turn out to be.

For some of the evolutions that don’t need levels, the option to evolve them is always nice. In a few cases, it pays to leave a Pokémon unevolved, especially when they learn a great move you can’t learn after evolution. In other cases, you want to have a strong Pokémon from the get go, so it’s up to you to have a Level 1 Roserade or Arcanine.

Having diverse methods of evolution certainly have their advantages, but as you know, there are two sides of any topic. As such, there are certain disadvantage with having different ways to evolve different Pokémon.


Disadvantages of the Complications

It is certainly nice to have different ways to evolve a Pokémon, because they either stay true to the Pokémon’s origins, or it promotes the diversity of the way each species work. There are a few ways that might not be seen as a good thing, though.

One way having several different evolutions is complicated is remembering how they evolve. A Pokémon fan like you and me would not have a problem remembering them all, but to a normal person, they don’t necessarily know or remember the more unique evolution methods. Probopass and Magnezone’s unique location-based evolution requires a certain area to be visited, which varies between the games (as a general rule, they are magnetic areas), so the differing areas might not be immediately obvious to the average player. The most recent example on less obvious evolutions is how Inkay evolves. It revolves around rotating your device upside down to accomplish this feat, at a certain level.

Some of the evolution methods are not quite easily accomplished, since some of them requires less accessible methods. Besides some high-level evolutions not easily accomplished in-game, there are trade evolutions if you lack the necessary means for communication (it’s thankfully easier these days). It’s worse if you need items to trade, because those items are rare and are consumed, making them precious to use (though they could be restocked). Evolving Goodra is somewhat hard, because yes, it requires Rain, but it needs to be natural rain and not from Drizzle or Rain Dance.

Perhaps the biggest and most relevant disadvantage of having this sort of diversity is compatibility. The simpler methods are easier to do, such as those requiring levelling and trading, but there are special types of evolutions made for the current technology. As such, assuming that every old Pokémon becomes available in each new game, every new game needs to have that feature to be able to evolve that Pokémon. For example, every new game needs an electromagnetic area for Nosepass and Magneton, a grassy rock and icy rock to get Leafeon and Glaceon respectively. Sometimes, when a certain feature cannot be feasibly carried over, such as a way to raise the Beauty stat, a new one needs to be created to keep the compatibility, as was the case with Milotic and the Prism Scale.

It’s great that we have different ways evolutions, since it makes things interesting, but the extra complication that might arise could be a problem. Might there be a way these problems could be addressed?


Simplified Methods – A Possibility?

In case the number of evolution methods got out of hand, or perhaps the feasibility of certain evolution methods is gone, there could possibly be a form of simplification or modification in the way the evolution would work. There is a precedent in which that happened, and that was Feebas. Before that, Feebas needed to increasing its Beauty stat in order to evolve, but now, you only need a Prism Scale to do the trick. It’s not convenient for loners, but it is certainly a lot easier to do.

Going off from the Feebas and Milotic example, some evolution methods could change if a certain previous method might not be feasible in a future game due to a certain unavailable feature or location. In case the game cannot feasibly add an electromagnetic area, there could be an item called the Thunder Topaz that works like the Thunder Stone and and electromagnetic area, enabling evolution for Nosepass in addition to Pikachu.

Some evolution methods require two or more conditions to activate them, which could be difficult to do. Examples include item-based trade evolutions and requiring a move to be learned before levelling up. One possible way to simplify these is to change them so that they only require one way to evolve, or perhaps have two possible ways to evolve (each of the conditions). So for example, Tangela could evolve to Tangrowth by normal level or learn Ancient Power then level up. This need not apply to every one of them, since some are not too difficult to do.

Perhaps some Pokémon who has a high level requirement could do some tweaking, such as Braviary and Mandibuzz, in order to make their final forms more accessible. Not every Pokémon could perform well at their base form too long, so they could do this (notably, Braviary and Mandibuzz are available at a low level early in Black 2 and White 2).

Some of the ideas do have the problem of retroactive continuity, which essentially means that what would have worked now didn’t before (such as Lickitung being unable to evolve into Lickilicky in Generation 3 even with Rollout), creating a conflict in continuity. It’s more of a problem if changes are made late in the franchise, because at that point there would be more confused player, unless the new evolution method is different enough to work.


If you ask me, I don’t mind having these various evolution methods around, because it’s a good way to showcase the diversity of the Pokémon world. I also wouldn’t mind seeing some of the evolution methods simplified, though. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are easy to do, but the only type of evolution I won’t mind changed are those that require items and trading to accomplish. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.

Thanks for reading.

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