The Pokemon Gameplay Gimmicks Anime Inspirations Theory, Explained

During the Nintendo Switch era, it’s fair to say that Game Freak hasn’t stood still from a design standpoint. With experimental entries in the main line Pokemon series like Legends: Arceus and new features added in titles like Pokémon Sword and Shield, players are spoiled for choice when it comes to new gameplay gadgets. Based on the marketing campaign the studio is rolling out for the upcoming pokemon scarlet and Violetit doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon either.

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While some of the gameplay gimmicks that have been introduced might look like brand new inventions, some fans picked up on a trend that suggests that’s not quite the case. Several mechanics seen throughout the last generations of the series, including unreleased ones pokemon scarlet and Violet, appear to have been heavily inspired by the franchise’s iconic anime. This theory, which has grown over the past decade, has a growing list of evidence that suggests it might be true.

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Pokemon Mega Evolutions

When Game Freak first introduced the concept of Mega Evolutions to Pokemon X Andy, some of the most ingrained rules of the main series have been turned upside down. Giving some additional Pokemon evolutions, including those that already had three in their family like Charizard, fundamentally changed the rules of what was possible. The idea that these monsters could change their forms, stats, and even types temporarily in the middle of battle added a layer of complexity to the show’s competitive battle scene.

Debate between Pokemon the franchise’s fan base, over nearly every aspect of Mega Evolution, has raged since its debut on the 3DS. Considering that no new Pokémon have received the ability since Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it seems that Game Freak has abandoned the concept for the time being. However, what might surprise some players, given the planning that has clearly gone into the idea, is the fact that a group of fans believe that its origins actually date back to the franchise’s anime.

Even though the first Mega Evolution happened onscreen as part of the anime Mewtwo: Awakening Prologue episode in 2013, some fans believe this wasn’t the first time a Mega Pokemon had made its television debut. Back during the anime’s Johto arc, in an episode titled “Enlighten Up” in the US, Misty dreamed of an unnamed “Legendary Water-Type Pokémon”. While it should be noted that the monster has never been fully shown, its figure now shares a striking resemblance to Mega Gyarados.

What helped fuel the gameplay gimmick theory was the fact that this installment debuted in Japan in 2002. Almost 11 years before Mega Evolution, or Mega Gyarados, was officially introduced to the series in X and Y. Even though the idea of ​​physically altering a Pokémon’s form mid-battle was not presented in the episode, there is still evidence to suggest that Game Freak was aware of its existence during its process. Design. Basing his new creation around an old fan-favorite theory to create a neat circle and synergy.

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Pokémon Dynamax and Gigantamax

The theory that Game Freak started drawing more inspiration from anime, while designing its gameplay gadgets, gained even more traction with the arrival of Pokémon Sword and Shield on the switch. Indeed, one of the big innovations of the 8th Gen titles was the ability for trainers to turn their Pokémon into giants. In some locations in the Galar region, the Dynamax and Gigantamax option for three turns has been introduced as a way to spice up battles and raids.

Conceptually, Giant Pokemon is far from a brand new invention in anime, which is why some fans are so convinced that Game Freak was inspired by the long-running show. Perhaps the most notable example dates back to the anime’s 13th episode, where a giant Kaiju-sized Dragonite features prominently. It’s worth noting, however, that no explanation was ever given on-screen as to how the dragon-type Pokémon was able to grow so massive.

Considering the popularity of the episode “Mystery at the Lighthouse” and its giant Dragonite since 1997, it would make sense for Game Freak to take inspiration from both. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the equation is the fact that she could have provided a solution to the mystery retroactively in the process. While the studio will likely never confirm the gameplay gimmick theory, Dragonite’s introduction to sword and shield through the Crown Tundra DLC could be interpreted as a subtle answer on this front.

The Terastal Phenomenon

With Pokemon scarlet and violet Scheduled to launch later this year, the gameplay gadget theory has once again surfaced online. That’s partly because during the marketing campaign for Gen 9 titles, Game Freak revealed the latest combat oddity that will debut within them. Known as the Terastal Phenomenon, this gameplay gimmick allows trainers to power up and potentially swap a Pokemon’s type mid-battle.

When a Pokémon Terastallizes in scarlet and Purple his physical appearance also changes slightly during the process. Along with an elaborate crown forming above their head, the Pokemon in question also takes on a more crystalline glow and appearance. Visually and practically though, this isn’t the first time a Pokémon has undergone this kind of transformation.


Back during the anime’s Orange Islands arc, several proto-regional forms debuted. Most of them were slight tweaks or palette swaps from Gen 1 Pokemon, so Johto’s roster could be saved for a later date. One Pokemon in particular stood out from the crowd, however. Dubbed Crystal Onix thanks to the episode’s name, this version of the monster was not only made of bright blue crystals, but was also apparently ice-type. Aside from a missing crown, it now looks a lot like the snake that experienced the Terastal Phenomenon.

With three examples of the gameplay gimmick theory now in the wild, it seems unlikely Game Freak would have conjured up any without its design process being partially influenced by the anime. Beyond the aforementioned gameplay gimmicks, there is further evidence of a close relationship between the Pokemon existing games and anime, which support this. Thanks to crosses like Ash-Greninja and the debut of Togepi and Dusk-Form Lycanroc, it’s clear that inspiration has officially been traded back and forth.


Pokemon scarlet and violet are set to release on November 18 on Nintendo Switch.

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Sharon D. Cole