Welcome once again to Pokémania with Overlord Zetta! As the title implies, this is a series of Pokémon themed blogs that will cover topics of all shapes and sizes. The first installment, posted earlier this month, started off a wishlist of what I'd like to see in upcoming games Sun and Moon, but much as I want to pick up where I left off last time, I've since become aware of a bigger topic that I, personally, find much more pressing.
For those unaware, the current generation of Pokémon games runs online competitions fairly regularly. They're usually restricted to the most recent games, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (because of course they are), and prizes range from special Pokémon, in-game rewards like items, or even points to help players compete in the worldwide Pokémon Video Game Championships, which not only is a thing, it's a thing every year with fluctuating rules and more... which brings us to this blog's topic of discussion.
Back in December, the format for 2016's VGC were announced. Like the 2015 rules before it, players couldn't bring in monsters captured or bred in games other than X, Y, Omega Ruby, or Alpha Sapphire, and they couldn't bring duplicate items or monsters in their team. Unlike 2015's rules, however, this years rules changed one big thing: Instead of banning big legendary Pokémon (think Mewtwo, the ones on game boxes, etc.) across the board, it's now allowed for players to have two of them per team.
I've talked at length about the issues present with the current state of event Pokémon distribution in the past, so I don't want to go over too much ground again, but I think, in the context of the VGC, it deserves to be revisited.
Anyway, before I get any further, so we're on the same page, with the change in this rule, this means VGC 2016 allows for up to two (in any combination) of the following Pokémon:
Whether you know only some of these names or all of them, by association with the ones you do know, it should be pretty clear that these are all some pretty big players to unlock and add all at once. On their own, some of these aren't as big a threats as some of the big players of 2015 (you'll notice looking at the Top 8 teams of 2015 that there is a LOT of repeating going on), but on the other hand, some of these are so big that you basically have to build your team around the fact that you'll be facing these things. Typical metagame stuff, basically.
As a quick summary, from what I've gathered, the biggest game changer of all of these are the Generation 3 legendary monsters: Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza. Kyogre and Groudon both have transformations like Mega Evolution that don't actually take up your "one Mega Evolution per battle" slot, making them devastating additions (if not practically necessary ones) to a team, while Mega Rayquaza transforms without the use of a Mega Stone like your standard Mega Evolution. All three are also really strong.
On the bright side, based purely on this information, it means so long as you own Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, you should be on a relatively even playing field as everyone else, right? Well, that's where the events come in.
See, while event Pokémon, like Mew or Celebi, aren't allowed to compete, otherwise legal-to-use Pokémon that were obtained in events, so long as those events were X, Y, Omega Ruby, or Alpha Sapphire events, are completely fair game. What does this mean for players? Besides for Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, and the other Generation 3 legendaries (Regirock, Regice, Registeel, Latios, and Latias), between X, Y, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire, you can get all of the legendaries... but it will require all four
So for now, let's take a look at the "legal" legendaries, including the ones previously legal even in VGC 2015, to get a grasp of the situation as it is in the games:
To make this easy, the short version of the above is that, provided you get one copy of all four games and a PokéBank account to move everything around...
... you're still going to be short one of the original legendary birds.
On the bright side, event legends aside, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have literally every single legendary Pokémon outside of the ones from Generation 1 offered in X and Y. Getting all of the ones in the game will require either trading or transferring up from other games, but to date there has yet to be a better offering all at once.
Of course, that's the caveat. You'll either need four games, a handful of older games (Black 2 or White 2 also had a lot of legendary monsters in a similar fashion, but remember, monsters caught in older games can't be used in competitions), someone willing to trade, or you'll have to cheat a little and find someone who's cloning these things.
Man, it must suck to come so close to catching 'em all, only to hit a technicality like this.
Well, my friends, it doesn't have to be that way. And in some counties, it isn't this way.
Let's update that list a bit, except update it and instead list what games those different legendary beasts were available through events during and what country those events were given out in.
How about them apples, huh? This may not seem like much, but it's actually quite a bit. Provided one was able to get around to these events, it would now take significantly less work to collect all of these legendary Pokémon in a form that could be used in competition. What's more, some of these had their Hidden Abilities given out over these events, which can significantly change how the Pokémon in question performs or how the player would use it. (This is why I included the Infernape event, since the Chimchar line's availability with its Hidden Ability is something to be desired.)
Sure, players can and should be fine with what's available in just one game of X or Y and then one of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (one of the latter pair is required to compete as it is, so sadly X and Y players who haven't yet upgraded are a moot point anyway), but that doesn't change the fact that players who have access to these events are at a distinct advantage over ones who don't.
Whether it's simply not having to buy another game to get at everything, not having to "cheat" and trade for what will likely be a clone (if one doesn't just knowingly do so), having access to a Pokémon with an ability it can't have otherwise... The list of advantages players with access to these events have goes on, and they're large and small. The Hidden Ability releases in particular are especially enviable.
With this all said, this still leaves us heading towards the same question I landed on the last time I wrote about this event situation.
What the heck do we do about it all?
This time around, I am marginally more informed, so I'll share a little bit of what I know in regards to the "why this is how it is." Simply put, the different branches of Nintendo, or so I've found, are in charge of this sort of thing. It's why even Europe and the US can have different events. Similarly, while it might seem like favoritism, if it's on the branches of Nintendo, then one could argue that it's either because regional audiences don't justify (or want) events enough, or that our countries are all just too big to justify it compared to the densely packed Japan.
Another factor, so I've learned, could be how during the fourth and fifth generations (from Diamond and Pearl through Black 2 and White 2), events were often given out by means of game cards in different stores. This would allow the store to transmit the monster over local wireless over the course of the event, but when the event was over, the cards were to be sent back to Nintendo and then destroyed.
Obviously, this didn't happen every time, and that seems to be one reason why, rather than moving towards online distribution 100%, distribution began to shift towards serial codes instead. It also makes Japanese-centric giveaways, where you can very easily justify just stuffing codes in magazines or in all other sorts of things, a lot easier to pull off, but outside of Japan, it doesn't work as well.
Whatever the reasons are, that doesn't change the fact that there will be players from one region with this advantage over others. If you ask me, even outside of a competitive setting, with prize money, scholarships, and flight expenses on the line, that alone should make it so that there is some kind of obligation to make sure everyone has access to the same tools, or at least the same amount of tools if each region is to have exclusive ones. More importantly, once you consider that there are prizes on the line, then it should be a no brainer that everyone should be able to compete evenly.
The fact is, The Pokémon Company and GameFreak have always had a bad habit of locking content to certain Pokémon titles. Whether it's seemingly superfluous parts of the game, like a dynamic overworld influenced by the season and being able to customize your character, or parts of the game more crucial to gameplay, every new game in the series almost promises as much content removed as it does content added.
The unfortunate reality for some fans is that you'll need to keep a bunch of old games on call for just this reason. To be able to get certain moves onto certain Pokémon, you'll need to breed and raise them in certain ones, possibly going all the way back to the GBA games, and transfer them all the way up.
What makes it especially unfortunate about those Hidden Ability Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina events listed above is that there is a $3 game on the 3DS eShop right now that, provided you have Diamond, Pearl, and/or Platinum, will get you each one of those (based on the game you have in your 3DS when using the app) with their Hidden Abilities... in Black 2 or White 2. Making them less legal to use than ones cloned from Japanese events.
If The Pokémon Company and GameFreak want to foster a competitive scene and continue having these regular tournaments, so many of which are intended to lead players to the Pokémon VGC, they need to make sure its players aren't cut out of content like this. What they're doing here isn't preventing cheating, as it's apparently very easy to clone Pokémon and create legal looking fakes. What they're doing here is, ironically (though perhaps to be expected), encouraging and even forcing players to cheat (or "morally" cheat) if they want to have access to the same content as their opponents, or just not use that content and make do.
As a rule, I like the idea of legendary Pokémon. I like how they add more to the lore of the world and I like that they're basically the series' equivalent of side quests. However, something really does need to be done about cases like this going forward, especially when they're being introduced in competitive battle. Maybe it means letting players catch more than one of each legend per game so they can finally feel more comfortable trading them, maybe it means something else entirely.
All I know for sure is that I'm not the only one marginally peeved that I can't "fairly" use Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina with their Hidden Abilities during this tournament.