Fans of GameFreak’s world-famous monster collection franchise Pokémon have been waiting in eager anticipation of a brand new instalment in the “main series” of games these past five months, with many assuming a return to the Kalos region in a Pokémon Z being inevitable -after all, we have new formes for Zygarde and the anime has even adopted the branding of XY+Z. Trainers worldwide were left surprised by a reveal they weren’t expecting at all however; rather than being the new title many were waiting for, it was an entirely new species of Pokémon that has left many excitedly speculating what this could mean for the future of the franchise.
Officially classified as the Man-Made Pokémon, Magearna is the franchise’s most intriguing mystery in years. While a Mythical Pokémon being revealed by CoroCoro this time of year is almost as routine as brushing one’s teeth in the morning (I hope), the situation surrounding this species is incredibly unique. The usual annual reveals often end up being little more than a formality due to them being spoilt months and years in advance by people data-mining games at release, yet there was nothing in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire to suggest the existence of Magearna (although data-mining that release did uncover Hoopa’s Unbound forme). The possibility exists that Magearna is the first species of an incoming seventh generation, but what of the Z hints we’ve been teased since September 2015? Had we been sent on a wild goose chase all this time and we’re getting an all-new generation instead? Could Magearna mark a “Generation 6.5” expansion or be a standalone addition? Or perhaps, are both potential titles still on the cards?
The Wild Goose Chase Theory:
The most fun-filled theory out there is that Game Freak and The Pokémon Company International have tapped into how predictable some fans find the franchise’s trends and have been taking us for a ride these last few months; that the rebranding of the anime and new Zyarde formes are false-flags to make us expect a third Kalos game to finish off Generation VI, when in fact they’re planning on throwing a curve-ball by announcing a whole new era of Pokémon. As someone who has spent years following the series’ patterns and making accurate predictions, yet loves it when we receive something wholly unexpected, this would delight me. How likely is this to be the case though? Not very.
Think about it logistically; not only were three wholly unique formes designed and paraded out internationally, but they have been an integral part of the tie-in anime series since last October; resulting in a significant stream of merchandise. Those things cost time and money that likely wouldn’t have been allocated on a marketing stunt when there’s no desire to focus on Zygarde in a new game. Many people have pointed to the top-billing of this summer’s movie as evidence of this theory; with Volcanion and Magearna receiving top-billing without any reference to Zygarde. However, the species’ continued exposure in the weekly anime could arguably be more effective than a standalone movie appearances. Besides, Puni-chan has already been confirmed to be making an appearance in some capacity:
The Generation Expansion Theory:
Another popular theory is that Magearna is the first in a pack of new species that rather than acting as a new standalone chapter, will be supplementary to what some consider the small amount of new species that were introduced in X/Y (for reference, every new generation has introduced at least 100 new Pokémon, with the exception of the sixth’s 72). While there certainly isn’t any precedent for whole new species being introduced mid-generation, new formes have become a standard occurrence since 2008’s Pokémon Platinum. This practice has steadily continued in the eight years that followed and has since been expanded to include Mega Evolutions as of the most recent release, Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. Perhaps new Pokémon species being introduced mid-generation is the next natural evolution of this practice; after all, if Z is hypothetically a sequel to X/Y like Black Version 2/White Version 2, would it be unreasonable to believe new species had been discovered during the time gap?
The possibility also exists that Magearna is a standalone addition to the current generation. After all, if it weren’t for data-miners scavenging X/Y‘s code in 2013, we wouldn’t have found out about Volcanion until over two years later and Magearna’s circumstances wouldn’t look any different. New formes have yet to be programmed into games that aren’t the most recent at their time of reveal and Mega Evolutions for Latias and Latios were found in X/Y‘s code while the other Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire additions were absent, possibly suggesting that the majority aren’t conceptualised until after the fact. So perhaps Magearna is intended to be the last Mythical Pokémon of Generation VI but simply hadn’t been designed while Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire were in development?
The Swanna Song Theory:
The third and final possibility I’ll be discussing in this article is essentially the theoretical equivalent of the “Why Not Both?” meme – that the next Generation VI is on the horizon and Magearna is the first Pokémon of an all-new one. This is actually the only theory mentioned here that there is precedent for; with the May 2004 unveiling of Munchlax preceding the Japanese release of Pokémon Emerald by four months. Munchlax was featured in the anime and spin-off games but followed, but wasn’t obtainable in the main series until September 2006’s Diamond/Pearl. One thing that is important to note in regards to this point however, is that when discussing it with others on social media, examples such as Ho-Oh, Togepi and Donphan were brought up as Pokémon that were featured in the anime before Yellow‘s release. However, it’s important to point out that the index numbers for Red/Blue suggested that 190 species were originally planned for the game; which correlates to the position of several Generation II Pokémon including Ho-Oh, which was reportedly verified by Shigeki Morimoto. For other examples like Togepi and Donphan, it is worth pointing out that Generation II’s primary pair was originally intended to be released in March 1998; two months before the episode introducing Togepi’s egg aired and four months before the first movie was released. It is admittedly difficult to verify the sequence of events from that time, but it is known that each episode of the anime takes approximately six months to make; so those appearances could have been planned with the intention of the then-titled Pocket Monsters 2 having been released by then; with Yellow being made to simply fill the gap and appease fans following Gold/Silver‘s delay.
The only issue with this theory is the decision to give top-billing to a Pokémon who presumably won’t be appearing in the main series until next year. However, would this be so unusual when there’s precedent of the reverse happening?
In an unusual series of events, the Mythical Pokémon Victini had a mere cameo appearance in the movie released just before its inaugural game, with the spotlight being held by the new Zoroark and its pre-evolution Zorua instead. Victini would however, be made available to players a mere two months after the film as a Wi-Fi distribution celebrating the launch of Black/White in September 2010. Despite a number of fans already owning the Victory Pokémon, it was named as the star of the following year’s movie which was released a whole seven months before the next hidden species, Keldeo, would be officially announced. With Victini having been featured prominently in its games’ launch campaign then returning to headline a movie months later, perhaps we’ll see Magearna headline both this summer’s movie and the pre-release campaign for a new generation that may launch before the next one? After all, with FireRed/LeafGreen launching in January and Emerald following in September, 2004 demonstrated that main-series titles can be released within 12 months of each other; so perhaps something similar could be on the cards here as well?
Ultimately, until we learn more about Magearna and the next main series game however, we are currently sailing in uncharted waters – as if the 20th anniversary celebrations weren’t already enough, this is turning into an interesting time to be a Pokémon fan! What theory would you like to see come true and do you have any of your own?