It's time again for Zetta's Pokémania Power Hour! Or something. I'll figure out a catchy name one of these days. How's today's version?
On today's exciting installment of this incredibly dull series, I am going to break a little from the norm and be a little more controversial! Rather than continuing my original topic of what I want from Sun and Moon, as I intended to do for my second entry, for this third entry, I'm going to be calling out one of the more ridiculous opinions I've seen in Pokémon fans for over a decade now.
And no, it's not how two regions as we've seen them thus far are a terrible idea or how I just was not fond of the Gold and Silver remakes, but I do intend to get to those down the road. So with that just thrown out there, it's time for the title card!
Stop me if you've heard something like one of the following statements before:
"There are too many legendary Pokémon now!"
"Don't you think so many legendary Pokémon makes them less special?"
"Aren't legends supposed to be, you know, legendary?"
For whatever reason, some time during or between the third and fourth generations of the series, people decided that legendary Pokémon were bad. Kind of weird, if you think about it, since I distinctly remember people loving the ones from the first two generations when I was younger. People loved Mewtwo, couldn't get enough of the birds and their Lugia, and so on and so forth.
Still, to a degree, I can see the reason for it. More legendary creatures did start popping up, including the "god" monster in Diamond and Pearl, Arceus. When things start getting too over the top, particularly to that degree, people can start feeling like things are jumping the shark. There's also that whole "I don't play these games for the STORY," but that's a whole other can of worms.
There's also the fact that the third generation (and perhaps, arguably, everything from Gold and Silver through to X and Y, save for Heart Gold and Soul Silver) is controversial, or at least just inexplicably and less liked (unjustifiably so if you ask me!), in general. While it ultimately was for the series' benefit (to this day in fact), that jump to the third generation did change and remove a lot of things that people liked, so there were a lot of hard feelings going in. That was the first time the legends were more involved with the plot too.
Better yet, to add to this perfect storm of climaxing Pocket Monster fever, there was also that whole thing of how a lot of "genwunners" were probably hitting the age where it "wasn't cool" anymore (at least how I remember it in the US), in a time where games weren't mainstream enough to be able to confidently just flip people off if they were given crap for it, and so they, for those reasons or others, just stopped there and came back later. It's legit.
Speculation aside, as I said, it's only to a degree that I can see the reasoning. If you couldn't guess, this is a point I do not agree with at all, so without any further delay, let's get to arguing about opinions!
When you get down to it, it just doesn't make sense to me to not want more of the things. More importantly though, there actually aren't that many of them. Yes, there are quite a few, but there are a lot of real world legends too.
As far as I recall, it was really with Diamond and Pearl that the complaints about there being too many legendary Pokémon started cropping up. It's a mindset that's stuck since, but I feel like if people think about it, they'd realize that more legendary Pokémon was not the problem with those particular games at all. There was a problem with them, though, and it does directly correlate to why people began to feel this way about the legendaries. At least, I think so, anyway.
So buckle in and stick with me for a minute, because I'm going to throw some numbers at you.
That's right, trainers. It's time for Pokémath.
*Disclaimer: The above percentages were rounded a bit. If the numbers are off a bit, I apologize in advance! Everything is loading very slowly today.
As you can see thanks to the image I've whipped up above, I went ahead and broke down how many legendary Pokémon were introduced in each game, how many relatives of older Pokémon were introduced in each game (which was none in the first and fifth generations), and compared it to how many totally new Pokémon were introduced. You can do the math if you think relatives or legendaries should be combined with brand new ones.
I didn't include Megas or alternate forms since those are technically aspects of single Pokémon, but for the most part, all that would really do is give a couple of these a couple of extra new Pokémon... as well as completely destroy the percentage of new Pokémon the sixth generation has thanks to all of the Megas.
If I did add Megas (and Kyogre and Groudon's Primal forms), though, then the sixth generation's percentage of relatives would be 42%, legendaries would be 5%, and new Pokémon would be 53%. Which is almost as bad as releasing a generation with less than 100 new Pokémon. Snap! Did I just go there?
Okay, boys and girls, let's actually look at those numbers now. If it's not obvious, the outlier here (sixth generation with Megas included aside) is coincidentally the same generation of games where people seemingly started taking issue with the amount of legendary Pokémon. And I don't think that's much of a coincidence, despite what I just said.
Obviously, I don't think that it was legendaries that did it... but I do agree that Diamond and Pearl really, really screwed the pooch on this one, and as I said, it was probably the game that really got this idea cemented into peoples' minds. To make matters worse, the original regional Pokédex of these games had you so limited that if you didn't pick the Fire starter, your only option for a Fire type was a Ponyta.
See, in Gold and Silver, despite the low percentage compared to later generations, because it was the first sequel, it probably felt there were a nice amount of new Pokémon to enjoy. What's more, the series at its prime in terms of hype. You had the Pikablu rumors, you had Togepi and Ho-Oh in the anime, you had Donphan and so on going on in the movies and show as well. Even though the second generation didn't actually introduce too many new Pokémon, the ones it did could be really appreciated because it was the perfect storm.
The other thing Gold and Silver had going for its new evolutions was that the concepts were, at the time, new for the series. Additionally, it introduced quite a few branching evolutions, and none of its baby Pokémon required convoluted breeding methods to obtain. This is not true for most of the Pokémon of similar status introduced in Diamond and Pearl, though there are some exceptions.
What's more, because a lot of the evolutions added in the fourth generation "ruined" the original monsters to many people, they were considered marks against the Pokédex rather than additions like, say, Bellossom or Scizor were back in the day.
All of this adds up to one thing.
It isn't that there were too many legendary Pokémon, or even that there were too many evolutions. It actually goes right back to what I was saying in my first entry of this series.
The fourth generation did not add enough completely new Pokémon to carry its weight with fans and overshadow the legendaries.
Which is generally what the other games can get away with pretty easily.
Think about it.
People don't talk about so much about the fifth generations legendaries, they talk/complain about the Pokémon that stood out to them. Whether you gush over how there were finally some great Bug types to use, whether you were enthralled with having to try new things, or whether you were complaining about gears and ice cream and trash as you thought back to your glory days of magnets and balls and sludge, after a while, the fifth generation's legends really stopped being the focus of conversation.
If they ever were.
That said, while this does address one aspect of the "there are too many legendary Pokémon!" mentality, it doesn't touch on the strangely prevalent "specialness" aspect of it.
To be honest, it's this side of the discussion that really just doesn't make sense to me. At least when you look at the numbers, you can see that Game Freak did mess up in the fourth generation with how many wholly new Pokémon there were to stand out in front of the legends, which was kind of important for what is still arguably the set of games that are most legendary-centric.
But... Adding more makes them less special? What?
Maybe it's because the anime and all the different media surrounding this series have really dirtied the waters on this one, with everyone having their theories and people saying their favorites are super godly beings since Mewtwo, with movies making people really fall in love with them (despite complaints about how they're getting to serious in the games now), but, like... What?
The fact that people legitimately think "well adding more makes them less special/legendary" is a legitimate and reasonable argument for why there shouldn't be more content of any kind, particularly of this kind, is mind blowing. It's baffling. It's incomprehensible.
Not only does each set of legendaries belong to a different region of the world (as in a different culture, as in it would make sense for them to have their own legends and mythology), but how does that even work? How does someone rationalize that? Because it just does not make any sense at all in any way and is really stupid.
I try not go out of my way insulting people, so I'm sorry if anyone reading this feels that way, but for a significant portion of my life I have not been able to understand this.
Does Zeus existing somehow make Prometheus any less of a figure? Does Poseidon's existence make that of Hades' mean nothing because he's there? Does the Leviathan existing cancel out Beelzebub? Does Dante make King Arthur irrelevant? Can Harry Potter, Frodo, and Luke Skywalker not all coexist?
Seriously, who thought of this?? And how does it make sense to anyone???
I know my argument right now amounts to "YOU ARE STUPID," but... It's just so, so stupid! It's like people took the idea of console wars or Pokémon versus Digimon and started applying it within the series itself. It's crazy!
Setting aside the sheer ridiculousness of this idea, though do not confuse this with me saying that thinking this is in any way anything other than ridiculous, let me break this down.
It isn't that the idea of being legendary is supposed to be special. Not at all. It's that the legendary Pokémon in question is special, and thus has become or is worthy of being legendary. It isn't "it's legendary, so it's special," it's "it's special, so it's legendary." Like the sort of stories we have in real life that are equivalents to the ones in the game. Go on, make those parallels! Except the creation myths and stuff. Stop those. Please.
Seriously, consider the individual stories of these legendary Pokémon. They're not all over the top god monsters like Arceus.
Tornadus and Thundurus are jerks and pranksters that cause storms and make farmers hate them until Landorus smacks them around and gets them to stop. Cobalion, Virizion, and Terrakion defend Pokémon who are being mistreated by people. That's literally it for them. And honestly, I think that's all it really needs to be sometimes.
Meanwhile, Reshiram and Zekrom are part of one original dragon that got split into two dragons by two brothers who were fighting each other over who would lead their nation, while Kyurem is more or less the shell of what was left over. Genesect was revived by an evil organization and then turned into a cyborg, making it a god damn Kamen Rider that part times as a Gundam when it's shiny.
These are great little stories that don't really involve any mega deities, but they still add some enjoyable flavor to the series all the same. Remember, this whole specialness argument is also saying that having more lore and worldbuilding is bad. Again, stupid.
And yes, those examples are all from the same game. It has some of the best legends, sue me.
Now let me ask: Do any of these stories really make the ones from before less special? Does the fact that these aren't the first legends make them any less special?
To be totally frank with you guys, if not for the fact that I just know the community would get completely butthurt about it, I would love to see them reused certain ideas for legendaries, since it would make total sense to do so given certain things would just make sense to happen more than once (possibly in slightly different ways) in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, we can barely get by with different ideas, let alone different Pocket Monster-cultural takes on them.
Still, that's how legend and myth works, after all. That's why it's awesome. That's why legend and myth is, dare I say it... special.
To conclude this not-so-little saga, I will go over the purely in-game reasons for why it is stupid to not want more legendary Pokémon.
What do legendary Pokémon add to Pokémon games?
Here are just three things:
1. As I just mentioned, they add lore to both the new region and to the world, providing some world building and story content.
2. Ones on the box aside, they will typically be one of the only means of optional side content in the series. If you've ever complained about Pokémon not having enough side quests, realize that hunting down these monsters has been the series' answer to this from the very first generation.
3. They often provide an extra challenge, optional or not, in that they'll be tough to fight, to use, to train, and to catch, compared to your typical Pokémon. They also tend to be more iconic and memorable than most other Pokémon... for better and for worse.
I truly don't see how having more of them hurts the game. Or more new Pokémon in general, for that matter.
And you shouldn't either.
Besides, as I finally found out this past weekend after over ten years of just boxing the things, they're actually really fun to use!