Have you ever read the Pokedex? That’s a silly question, of course you have. But while the ‘dex mostly offers random trivia about your monster’s height and weight (Charizard is a short king), it also features tidbits of lore that Pokemon fans use to learn more about the world they’re exploring. You know, like how cute little Drifloon kidnaps children for fun, is immune to time travel, and that sort of thing. Don’t worry, this is all relevant I promise.
Pokedex entries are doubly important for regional Pokemon, as they have adapted differently to their cousins in alternate regions and the ‘dex gives an insight into how and why evolution diverged in different regions. We know that Scyther evolves into Kleavor because of Hisui’s minerals rather than into robo-bug Scizor in the technological future of Johto, for instance, and many players are excited to read up on why their starter evolves into a Hisuian form in Legends: Arceus, which the Pokedex entry will shed some light on.
Now, Gastrodon. If, for some reason, you need reminding of Gastrodon’s entry in Pokemon Pearl, then here’s a refresher: “It apparently had a huge shell for protection in ancient times. It lives in shallow tidal pools.” That may seem like innocuous filler at first, but there’s some key information in there.
You’ve probably already cottoned on by now, but let me just remind you of the setting for Pokemon Legends: Arceus. The Hisui region is an ancient Sinnoh, set hundreds of years before Cyrus and the events of Diamond & Pearl. Mount Coronet still lies at the centre of the region, but there are lots of differences due to the fact that Hisui is, you know, old. Pokeballs (and Voltorbs) are steam-powered, a fledgling Team Galactic seems to have noble goals, and the pre-globally warmed region is home to regional variants of well-known Pokemon.
This is an opportunity for Pokemon to reap the rewards of seeds sown 15 years ago, whether that was intentional or not. A Gastrodon with a huge shell attached to its back is the perfect Hisuian form, and one that would prove to fans that Pokemon is taking its own lore and canon seriously. Sure, Pokedex entries aren’t the most important things in Pokemon games, but one major criticism about Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl was how disconnected it was from the Hisui region. We got one measly teaser in Canalave Library when the entire Sinnoh region is intrinsically related to Hisui, which is just not on.
Spin-offs are always more innovative than main series Pokemon games, and Legends: Arceus looks set to continue that trend with new battle mechanics and a proper open world. But it needs to connect to the reason why fans love Pokemon – to their nostalgia and the games they have played and loved before. One silly Pokedex entry may seem like a strange hill to die on, but Hisuian Gastrodon – huge shell and all – would show that Game Freak is paying attention to the little details that make Pokemon great.
Much like Drifloon kidnapping children, ancient-times Gastrodon is a detail that Pokemon fans have latched onto over the years, and Legends: Arceus won’t feel true to the series if I can’t catch a Gastrodon in its big ass shell.
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