Look, I’m no Pokemon expert. My Pokemon expertise extends to ranking which of the little critters are the cutest, and I have probably spent more money on Pokemon fashion collaborations than I have actual games. Regardless, as an extremely casual player, there’s nothing that excites me more than seeing one of my ‘mons evolve into a new form (unless it’s into some hideous beast that just gets progressively uglier). And for as long as I can remember, I have always longed for the series to boast even longer evolution chains for some of my favorite Pokemon.
There’s an easily scratched part of my brain that whirs into action every time I pick up an evolution stone in one of the games or hit a level that spurs a new form. While some trainers are reluctant to part with their Pokemon’s original form, I jump on the chance to shape-shift them. I’ve been that way since childhood, and apparently, for several Pokemon, it’s bad to evolve them too early with stones. The me that’s a Pokemon trainer wouldn’t know that though, she’s too busy shoving a Fire Stone into Eevee’s face the second she picks one up.
Looking at series like Digimon, another franchise I maintain casual status in, those complicated evolution, or Digivolution, charts are a bit more satisfying. I know they’re quite different at their most basic levels, but even with my strong preference for Pokemon as a series, I’m always a bit jealous of the variety in evolutionary paths Digimon fans may have.
I’m talking adding both horizontal and vertical progression, too. I want Pokemon that evolve to serve even more specific niches, more complex than current Pokemon branch evolutions. I realize I make these requests as someone whose most significant requirement is “do I like the way this thing looks?” but a team with more robust options and paths certainly fills a competitive void, too. With all of Pokemon’s variety in types and move sets, I imagine more evolutionary chains that split in both directions provide an additional layer to a series where more and more of us ask for new layers of complexity.
We’ve got a level cap of 100 to work with in the games, but most Pokemon will see the end of their evolutionary chains in the 50s or 60s if you aren’t working with a stone to transform them. That leaves plenty of levels with little or no movement outside of stat bonuses and a few moves. When I look at some of my favorites, like Eevee, I’m left pondering in a sea of what-ifs. What if things didn’t stop with Flareon? Could Flareon chain off into more niche uses of Fire-types? Could we throw away the stone and give it a few vertical levels at least?
Every generation of Pokemon game has its new gimmick, and I’ve often fantasized about the gen that would add a bit more complexity to these evolutions. Dynamax and Mega Evolution kind of filled this void, but I’m asking for more permanent, more strategic options. I’m always excited about each new generation of Pokemon to explore, but branching evolutions give us a reason to revisit old favorites. Even as a measly casual, I would love a future with longer evolution chains.
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