- Bella Terhune
Kanto Favoritism in Pokemon Games
Hello again, Pokemon fans! Today, I plan to discuss an intriguing topic: Kanto favoritism. The Kanto region and its Pokemon are of course very popular. As the first Pokemon region, Kanto creates a lot of nostalgia for older fans, and Kanto Pokemon are some of the most well-known and recognizable Pokemon today. It makes sense that the Pokemon Company would take advantage of this situation by featuring these Pokemon in video games and other media. However, I think a point comes where Kanto Pokemon are featured to the detriment of other Pokemon. I am going to discuss what are in my opinion instances of Kanto favoritism in the Pokemon games and talk about why I think this favoritism is harmful.
Evidence of Kanto favoritism starts as early as the second generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal. The Johto gym leaders should mostly use gen 2 Pokemon, yet only four of the eight leaders even use a gen 2 Pokemon, and those four only use one gen 2 Pokemon while they use one or more gen 1 Pokemon. The champion of the Johto region, Lance, does not even use any gen 2 Pokemon. For some reason, many gen 2 Pokemon are only found in the Kanto region; they are locked away until the postgame, so the actual Johto region features many more gen 1 than gen 2 Pokemon. The fact that gen 2 introduced only 100 Pokemon compared to gen 1’s 151 definitely plays a role in this situation, but I feel like these games could have spotlighted gen 2 Pokemon much more than they did.
I also believe that the generation 6 games show immense Kanto favoritism. Pokemon X and Y placed classic Kanto Pokemon everywhere. For the first and only time, the player received two starter Pokemon before the post-game: a Kalos starter initially and a Kanto starter between the first and second gyms. Additionally, the only roaming Pokemon in the game is one of Articuno, Zapdos, or Moltres, Kanto legendaries. Having an actual Kalos legendary trio to serve as roaming Pokemon would have made more sense. The only two static, post-game legendary Pokemon are the Kalos Pokemon Zygarde and the Kanto Pokemon Mewtwo, for some reason. Also, the only Pokemon in X and Y with a unique surfing model is the gen 1 Pokemon Lapras, and the player is given one as a gift Pokemon on route 12. Kanto Pokemon are almost more prominent in the Kalos region than actual Kalos Pokemon.
The most blatant example of Kanto favoritism in the sixth generation is in mega evolution distribution. For those who do not know, mega evolution is a special temporary evolution that occurs in battle that changes a Pokemon’s appearance, boost its stats and change its type(s) and ability. For a mechanic introduced in the sixth generation, one would believe that gen 6 Pokemon would be the ones to show it off, yet that fair assumption is flat-out wrong. Gen 1 Pokemon have 15 mega evolutions, gen 2 has 6, gen 3 has 20, gen 4 has 5, gen 5 has 1 and gen 6 has 1. The only gen 6 Pokemon that can mega evolve is Diance, a mythical Pokemon unobtainable through regular gameplay. Gen 3 likely has the most megas because the gen 3 remakes, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, were released in gen 6, so the Pokemon Company wanted to celebrate gen 3 Pokemon through mega evolution. Furthermore, two gen 1 Pokemon have two mega evolutions: Charizard and Mewtwo. I find this choice frustrating because the Pokemon Company gave special treatment to these popular Kanto Pokemon yet gave almost nothing to gen 6 in terms of mega evolution. The Kanto starters have mega evolutions, yet the Kalos starters do not. A generation’s own Pokemon should highlight that generation’s defining battle mechanic, yet the role of highlighting mega evolution clearly went to generation 1 and 3 Pokemon.
The last generation I will be discussing is the most recent one, generation 8. Kanto favoritism, especially towards Charizard, is present within gigantamax distribution and Galar’s champion, Leon. As a Galarian trainer, it makes sense that Leon should have as his ace a Pokemon that can gigantamax. Gigantamax is a special case of Dynamax, gen 8’s unique battle mechanic: all Pokemon can dynamax, but a few specific Pokemon species can gigantamax, which temporarily changes the Pokemon’s appearance and gives them a unique move. It also makes sense that Leon’s ace should be a generation 8 Pokemon since that is his generation of origin. However, Leon’s ace is Charizard. The Pokemon Company could have made a gen 8 Pokemon Leon’s ace to show off the new Pokemon, but it uncreatively chose the already popular Charizard. At Pokemon Sword and Shield’s release, Charizard was the only starter Pokemon that could gigantamax and the only Kanto starter in the Galarian Pokedex. Vensaur, Blastoise, and the Galarian starters did get gigantamax forms later, but the preference given to Charizard is clear. Additionally, the only generations that got substantial gigantamax representation were generations 1 and 8 with 12 and 19 gigantamax Pokemon, respectively. All other generations have zero or one gigantamax Pokemon. While I appreciate the gen 8 representation in gigantamax distribution, I wish that the rest of the gigantamax forms were spread across other generations instead of given to all the popular gen 1 Pokemon that did not need another special form or boost in popularity.
There are certainly many more examples of Kanto favoritism within the Pokemon universe, but these are the most glaring ones in my knowledge that I have shown you all today. My issue with Kanto favoritism is that excessively showering attention on Kanto Pokemon takes away attention from other Pokemon that need more viability and visibility. I hope that in the future the Pokemon Company does more to show more Pokemon from generations other than the first one and the current one more love. Thank you all very much for reading my article. I hope you learned something and found my reflection interesting. See you next time!