Looking Back: Mega Evolution


Back when we reviewed Diamond and Pearl pokemon, we blew through new species in only six or seven weeks. This was because the fourth generation had the largest-ever number of new evolutions for existing pokemon like Nosepass and Magmar, which we already covered in our reviews of those monsters.

The sixth generation, Pokemon X and Y, presents a similar, but more unusual dilemma: this generation would have the lowest number of "new species" out of any core Pokemon games, but with 48 brand new transformations, or "mega forms," for existing pokemon - only ONE of which I've left out of this page because the Pokemon in question is still to come. You can already find my individual opinions on the Megas wherever I've reviewed their base pokemon, but since we're entering their introductory generation, let's just take a quick look at them as a whole!



A temporary, ultra-powered form was a radically new concept for the pokemon world that felt, to many fans, like an extraneous marketing gimmick, but it's also a concept so classic to anime and video games that it's somewhat surprising it took so long for Pokemon to catch on. They'd tested the waters with a number of other "special forms" and "transformations" - like the legendary Meloetta we reviewed just a couple pages back - but with "mega" forms, almost any pokemon could find itself with a powered-up mutation, from the obvious, already mighty enough Mewtwo to poor, forgotten Beedrill.

I'll admit, I thought the idea was just silly at first, and I still think a some Megas are poorly designed, but I warmed up to the overall idea pretty fast, my only remaining gripe being that so many of them were given to Pokemon that never really needed a power boost.

Interestingly, Megas have not as of yet returned to the game with the seventh generation, making the phenomenon unique to the region in which X and Y take place. Instead, the newer Sun and Moon games introduce "Alolan" pokemon - alternate forms of existing species that adapted to an island ecosystem and otherwise function like any other, normal pocket monsters.

Does this mean that megas will remain exclusive to X and Y? Does this mean that every generation from now on will introduce some new, unique form of evolution or adaptation?

It will be interesting to find out. For now, let's go over the megas like I've gone over previous "wrap ups!"

MY TOP SIX FAVORITE MEGAS:

My very favorite Mega by far is actually Banette, while the rest of these I find cool and novel without really being "me" in terms of team material. Mega evolution was, ultimately, not all that great for my own teambuilding.

One special case here is Mega Swampert. While I think regular Swampert is actually the better design, its Mega form is the only humanoid fish in Pokemon, and the sheer principle of humanoid fish is an automatic hit with me...if only we could get a few more for me to pick from.

THE SIX MOST IMPROVED OVER THEIR NON-MEGA DESIGNS:

I'm excluding my personal favorites from this list entirely, and half of these are even pokemon I outright disliked until their Megas made some nominal enhancements. If you don't know which ones, you'll just have to go back and read their reviews!

MY SIX LEAST FAVORITES:

These six, to me, either don't feel like they added anything worthwhile over their base designs or even constitute an aesthetic step down.

THE SIX MOST DESERVED:

The best part of mega evolution - and to me, the very best justification of it - had to be seeing some of the game's weaker and more overlooked monsters unexpectedly rocket to stardom, in some cases becoming even too good for most competitive tiers. Poor little Mawile, for instance, went from an incredibly novel concept nobody ever used to being outright banned for her overpowered cheapness.

Glory can come with a cost, Mawile. Maybe you shouldn't have messed with that magic, severed Mankey's paw.

THE SIX LEAST DESERVED:

I'm excluding legendaries, here, but weren't these six pokemon already monstrous beasts in competitive play??

FIFTEEN DREAM MEGAS

While I'd honestly prefer a good old fashioned added evolution or even those newfangled Alolan forms, there are certainly pokemon I'd have been excited to see getting the mega treatment - and not just my own personal favorites. Here's fifteen of them, and the kind of direction I might have hoped for them to go. I'll try to avoid making these exactly the same as the "regular" evolutions I'd want for any of these pokemon, though it certainly feels in many cases like that's exactly what the Megas replaced.

Let's get my obvious favorites out of the way first. Garbodor's design is virtually without flaw, but the poor thing sorely needs a competitive boost and there are myriad ways a Mega form could go. My own suggestion? A poison/steel type utilizing an entire dumpster as a shell...or even compacting itself down into a single, small garbage can, bursting out like a Jack-in-the-box to attack.

Poison/steel typing would make Garbodor staggeringly more vulnerable to ground type attacks...unless it mitigated things a little with a unique ability. I'd opt for something that protects Mega Garbodor from a single super-effective move, maybe even bouncing it back to the opponent, but loses its steel typing in the process as its can or dumpster shatters.


I talked about ideas for a Parasect evolution or mega evolution once before, lamenting that Parasect takes quadruple damage from both flying type and fire type attacks. What I'd still love to see most of all would be a pure grass form, the parasitic mushroom completely taking over and replacing the rest of Parasect with an insect-shaped, white fungus. For an ability, I'd suggest one with a chance to turn the opponent into a grass type every time they make contact with mega parasect, representing "infestation" by the parasitic mushroom.


When we reviewed the Oddish line a million years ago, I talked about how much I simply adore the second stage, Gloom, and pointed out why I thought Gloom and Vileplume could actually be swapped around as evolutionary stages, as the real-world Rafflesia arnoldi exists only briefly as a massive, red flower before wilting into a soggy, brown mess.

So, of course, that's just what I'd want for a mega Vileplume; a rotten, withered, dripping flower monster, perhaps becoming grass/dark or even another grass/ghost. A new, unique ability wouldn't be necessary - and not many megas have them, anyway - but let's go ahead and imagine one for all of these. They're dream megas, after all.

Mega Vileplume's ability would be an automatic leech seed, used on the opponent as soon as Vileplume mega evolves or whenever it switches back into battle.


I like Lickilicky for all the reasons I wouldn't have thought. I like that it goes from a pink dinosaur-newt to some sort of awful, slimy manbaby, and I wish it were really a bit stronger. For a mega design, I'd like to see its tongue extended to absurd lengths, perhaps even wrapped around Lickilicky so many times that it's just a big, sticky tongue-cocoon or "mummy" with its eyes peering out between the coils, perhaps even slithering around on the rest of its tongue like a snake.

For an ability, let's say the gluttonous creature turns all normal-type moves into draining moves, regaining some hit points whenever it uses attacks like Body Slam, Rollout and Hyperbeam.


I suggested before that it would be interesting to have an "evolved" Unown formed from an entire word, but how about a Mega Unown including the entire alphabet? A whirling vortex of all 26 basic Unown, arranging into strange patterns as it unleashes attacks.

Granted, Unown only learns the move "Hidden Power," but if we're inventing megas anyway, we can pretend Unown is now compatible with the standard range of TM moves.

For a fun twist, only the "question mark" or "exclamation mark" Unowns could actually mega-evolve, becoming the center of the swarm. Maybe the question mark could give the collective en emphasis on special stats, while the exclamation mark would be physically oriented.

For an ability, Mega Unown's attacks could get a damage boost or additional effect - like a chance to paralyze, a draining property or total ignorance of enemy resistances - depending on the first letter of the opponent's nickname.


People have always wanted to see some fresh attention to poor little Dunsparce, and as I mentioned in its own review, it's unfortunately common for those evolutions to ignore Dunsparce's basis - the mythical Tsuchinoko - in favor of some big, scary dragon.

As a fan of the funnier, quirkier megas, I might like to see mega Dunsparce get either many, many times larger without really changing design (we're talking Wailord sizes here), or sillier still, sprout vast, angelic dragon wings out of those feathery nubs without any change to the rest of it. Same old goofy dunsparce, now soaring majestically in the sky with a flying/dragon typing.

This time, I can't really think of an ability I'd like. I really don't think I need to.


Magcargo is one I've already speculated about as well, its rock/fire typing making it far too weak to both water and ground moves in an unfortunate repeat of the Parasect paradox, or parasox.

Mega Magcargo would trade its rock typing for steel typing. Still 4x weak to ground moves, but that didn't stop everyone and their grandma from using Heatran, did it? This would matter even less if it had the same ability I just invented for Mega Garbodor, its steel shell "breaking" when hit by a super-effective move and reverting it to a pure fire-type magma slug.


Corsola here isn't just a weak, unloved pokemon...it's now got a devastating natural predator, Mareanie and Toxapex, chewing through its populations in Pokemon Sun and Moon. What better way to protect itself and its fellow Corsola than a brand new mega?

Mega Corsola would have to be water/psychic, taking on the veiny pattern of a "brain coral" of course, and now the natural foil to a poison type like Toxapex. In fact, as much as I adore Toxapex, it could definitely use a good counter to knock it down a peg, so perhaps Mega Corsola's ability could "reverse" enemy healing moves...turning Toxapex's notorious use of Recover into a suicide maneuver.

Many corals can, in fact, defend themselves with toxic secretions, so this could be rationalized as some sort of "psychic poison" released by the coral in response to its predators.


Shedinja, as you may know, is easily one of my ten favorite concepts in this entire franchise. What isn't amazing about a haunted, molted insect exoskeleton? Unfortunately, its gimmicky ability - a single hit point with a great deal of elemental immunities - renders it incredibly difficult to use effectively, as cool and clever as this ability may be.

Thus, I must begrudgingly agree that a Mega Shedinja would have to do away completely with its claim to fame. Upon mega evolution, its hit points and defenses could skyrocket to a more conventional - or even exceptional? - volume, making it more of a tank than a glass cannon, with a more conventional ability that blocks enemy status moves or even just eliminates all elemental weaknesses.

For the design, what else but a black, shadowy insect spirit looming out of the hole in Shedinja's back, like a huge djinn unleashed from its bottle?


In a single shot of a single episode of the Pokemon anime - entitled "Rhapsody in Drew" in the English dub - a trainer named Anthony surprisingly hides an entire Pinsir inside of his Swalot, which spits the Pinsir out in a surprise move that nobody questions in terms of fairness or legality. In fact, little to not attention is brought to how weird this was at all, but I think it presents a perfect concept for a mega evolution.



What if there existed some parasitic, bug-type pokemon unique to the digestive system of Swalot, but usually almost microscopic? Mega evolution could turn this tiny freeloader into a formidable monster, something more like Alola's Golisopod, revealed only when the otherwise unchanged Swalot yawns its toothless mouth and unleashes its attacks.

This would change Swalot from a pure poison pokemon to poison/bug, of course, and a unique ability could change all normal type moves to inflict bug type damage.


We all know how badly Luvdisc has been cheated since its third-generation debut. Tiny, fragile, unevolved to this day and caught only to be robbed of its heart scales, Luvdisc has a lot to be angry about.

Maybe angry enough to mega-evolve into a monstrous killing machine? Its design wouldn't change all that much, except perhaps a toothy mouth splitting almost its entire body - evocative of a "broken heart" - with absurdly boosted speed, physical attack, water/dark typing and the addition of "Crunch" to regular-Luvdisc's level-up moves.

Its ability, which we could call something like "Jealousy" or "Bitterness," would boost its damage-dealing moves by 50% for every evolutionary stage the target has gone through.


It still disappoints me that something as fundamental as a Venus Fly Trap would be a one-off, unevolving pokemon with such ordinary moves and abilities, even a pure grass Pokemon to boot!

One thing I've always wanted to see in a grass type pokemon was something actually growing in the ground, like Diglett or Dugtrio, and a Mega fly-trap feels like just as good a time for it as any. Planting its "bulb" in the ground, Carnivine would lose the "levitate" ability, grow much larger, and surround itself with many smaller fly-trap sprouts, and what the heck, let's say grass/dragon. A (mean, green) mother plant guarding and feeding its seedlings.

If this one had a unique ability, maybe a move that "absorbs" bug-type attacks, much like the move "water absorb?"


Beheeyem was one of my favorites of the fifth generation, and it remains one of the most interesting pokemon to be completely overlooked and barely utilized. Its Mega could be something shaped a little more like the Flatwoods Monster, or maybe it could manifest a flying saucer to rid around in, slightly resembling an Earthly car the way Beheeyem itself resembles a little man in a trenchcoat. Now psychic/steel, it could have some sort of "memory erasing" ability - preventing the opponent from using the same move twice in a row, or disabling the first move used against Beheeyem?


It's a shame Alakazam received a mega form while its fellow creepy, upright, yellowish telepathic mammaloid was left in the dust. Hypno is still such an interesting, unsettling pokemon and deserves something special. Considering its motif seems to be that of a "sandman" and it's already supposed to be creepy as hell, I vote for giving Hypno much, much longer arms and legs. Long enough that it can now swing a new, larger pendulum on the end of a similarly much longer, tapering beard. That seems suitably ridiculous for a Mega.

For an ability, I feel Mega Hypno should have a reversal of Darkrai's "bad dreams" ability. Whereas "bad dreams" lowers the opponent's HP by 1/4 every turn they're asleep, Mega Hypno's "sweet dreams" could heal itself by the same amount every turn it faces a sleeping opponent.


There are many, many other pokemon I could suggest megas for. Kecleon, Cacturne, Huntail, Shuckle, Qwilfish...but we don't need to drag this out forever. I just want to know why Farfetch'd has still never received anything. Not an evolution, not a mega, not an Alolan form, not a buff in sight. Like Sableye, a mega form could pour most of its mega energy into its accessory, in which case the duck's leek would take on a more overt sword-like appearance, and Farfetch'd itself would just look pissed. It has, after all, apparently been hunted to near-extinction by humans. For an ability, it could receive a boost to its attack stat every time its HP lower by at least 1/4 of their total, its determination to survive escalating the more injured it's become.

Anyway, sorry for that fake-out: NOW you can stay tuned for Gen Six!


FIRST     PREV    ARCHIVE    NEXT    LATEST