It’s a complaint heard since the dawn of the franchise: is Pokemon becoming Digimon? A new feature in Pokemon X and Y might fuel the argument.
Earlier in the month a new mechanic was revealed for the upcoming Pokemon X and Pokemon Y – the ‘mega evolution’ transformation, a Super Saiyan-like boost in speed and power for many of the franchise’s forgotten characters, and even some of their most recognizable. It should come as no surprise that two of the Pokemon most widely accused for being Digimon-like, Blaziken and Lucario, get access to this new evolution. Along with fan-favorite Mewtwo, these two seem to be the mascots for this change, respectively taking on X and Y shapes in their fur upon evolution.
Are they hilariously over-designed? Maybe. But Game Freak would be stupid to still design Pokemon like they did back in 1996, when they were limited by processing and graphical power. 17 years later, you can’t blame them for indulging in the tempting new capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS.
Regardless of the fact that Digimon has essentially been out of the public’s eye for over a decade, the complaint is a common fallback for the old-school Pokemon fans who can’t bear to accept that the cockfighting franchise has, pardon the pun, evolved. It had to evolve to stay relevant. They should be happy though – the only people who have any right to make such a dubious claim must remember the PokeGod rumors of the late nineties; for the uninitiated, these were special new evolutions for Pokemon thought to already be at their limit. PokeGods included starter Pokemon, legendary Pokemon, and other third stage Pokemon, historically holding overpowered abilities and over-designed features. Sound familiar?
Though Mega Evolution might borrow part of its name from the final stage of Digimon evolution, one must remember that the concept is more like your typical anime transformation – there’s nothing particularly Digimon-like about it. I honestly don’t think Pokemon is becoming Digimon; rather, it’s advancing one of its most iconic features. After catching, trading, and battling, evolution is one of the most recognizable things about the series, and it’s nice to see it developing further to freshen things up a bit. Part of the excitement of Mega Evolution is that it’s so new and mysterious; at this point, no one can say whether it’s a fun gimmick or a serious game changer. We’ll know for sure in October.