Pokémon Legends: Arceus should introduce ancient forms

What would ancient Pokémon have looked like?

Image via The Pokemon Company

One of the central conceits of the last several generations of Pokémon has been regional forms. This new spin on old Pokémon imagines what certain species would look like in different environments and regions. Started in Generation VII (Pokémon Sun and Moon), examples of regional forms include Alolan Vulpix, an Ice-type version of the normally Fire-type Vulpix, and Galarian Ponyta, a Psychic-type version of the normally Fire-type Ponyta.

With the announcement of tomorrow’s Pokémon Presents video, all eyes are on what new Pokémon and mechanics Pokémon Legends: Arceus will bring to the series when it launches on Jan. 28 of next year. Besides the obvious new setting and open-world format, Arceus will likely include new Pokémon—or at least new forms of Pokémon. 

Arceus would do well to include its own regional forms, but an even better idea is to include ancient forms of existing Pokémon.

Why new forms?

Besides bringing new forms and strategies to existing Pokémon, regional forms add character to the Pokémon region they represent. Alolan and Galarian forms, from Alola and Galar respectively, give the player more background and information on the region they’re exploring. Whether it’s new moves, stat changes, or new evolutions, regional forms are proof that Pokémon work differently in different places, just like animals and plants in the real world.

The announcement trailer for Arceus talked briefly about the game’s setting: the region of Sinnoh, which will sound familiar to players of Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. This isn’t the modern locale that players are used to, though. The game takes place in an ancient, long-past version of Sinnoh, where technology is limited and the land is wilder. In this sort of land, it makes sense that the Pokémon would also be different.

This historical fantasy setting is wildly different from previous main series Pokémon games, particularly newer ones. While early games like Red and Blue and Gold and Silver took inspiration from the wild, green locations that series creator Satoshi Tajiri believed Japan’s children lacked, more recent games have featured urban city locales and near future-style technology.

With the personality that regional forms bring, Nintendo and Game Freak have an opportunity to do something totally different here. The last time the series saw semi-historical roots was in Gold and Silver, two universally lauded series entries. Going back to those roots while introducing new forms of existing Pokémon could be the twist that ancient Sinnoh needs to keep things fresh for fans.

Ancient oddities

While we still have no idea which Pokémon will be included in Arceus other than the starters and Arceus itself, it’s likely that the game will include both a variety of Pokémon from Generation IV and a mix of newer faces. All of these Pokémon, particularly older ones from previous generations, could benefit from an ancient-style regional variant.

Ancient variants would indirectly answer questions that players may have about the new region. We know Pokémon evolve in dramatic ways, but more subtle variations between ancient and modern versions of the same Pokémon would do a lot to explain how Pokémon regions progressed, technologically and otherwise. Generation IV’s Pokémon are some of the most beloved and nostalgic in the series⁠⁠—doesn’t everyone want to see what an Ancient Gastrodon would look like?

Ancient Sinnoh variants could also give players insight into how the region views them. Is the world inherently hostile, a place where trainers have to fight to survive, or is it exciting, a place for exploration and discovery? Discovering old Pokémon in new forms could bring back some of the spark that players felt upon first finding a Drifloon or Lucario in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.

Everyday Pokémon aren’t the only ones that would benefit from regional forms. Legendary Pokémon are some of the most exciting ‘mons to receive changes, simply because they’re big, flashy, and strong. Similar to the Galarian versions of Generation I’s legendary birds, ancient forms of Pokémon like Groudon or Kyogre that have been known to exist for eons would bring power and glamour to the wilderness of Sinnoh.

We don’t know exactly what Game Freak is planning to reveal tomorrow in the Pokémon Presents video, but we’d love to see what Arceus could do with ancient forms of existing creatures. Whether you’re running through Galar’s Wild Area or starting your adventure on Route 1 in Red and Blue, nothing beats the feeling of beginning a new series game and knowing that there’s an entirely new world out there for you to explore—with a variety of mysterious new Pokémon ready to greet you.

We’ll find out more about Pokémon Legends: Arceus during tomorrow’s Pokémon Presents at 8am CT.