Nailing down a consistent timeline for the pokemon universe has never been simple, even discounting manga and anime adaptations. A few mainline games serve as direct sequels, such as pokemon gold and Silver taking place a few years after Red and Blue. Yet this isn’t consistent given Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are alternate retellings of Sun and Moon‘s story; not to mention Ruby and sapphire‘s 3DS remakes being set in their own unique universe with access to Mega Evolution. Pokemon Legends: Arceus seemed like a straightforward prequel at first glance, but this was not the case.
Early marketing for Legends: Arceus sold it as chronicling historic events for the Sinnoh (then-Hisui) region some decades prior to Diamond, Pearland Platinum versions. Ancestors of popular characters from modern pokemon titles appear, both for Sinnoh residents and visitors from afar – such as Lian resembling Unova Gym Leader Clay. Yet historical accuracy is thrown out the window thanks to people and items displaced by space-time distortions, which could make Legends: Arceus the beginning of a new branching timeline. Spoilers for Pokemon Legends: Arceus ahead.
How Pokemon Legends: Arceus Introduces Anachronistic Elements
A lot of discussions following Pokemon Legends: Arceus‘ release this January centered a potential subseries retelling historic events in other regions. For example, a Pokemon Legends game in Kanto and Johto could events surrounding the Burned Tower’s destruction portray in Ecruteak City. Meanwhile, a Hoenn-based Pokemon Legends game could do more with the ancient Draconid tribe established in Omega-Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
Another interesting route Game Freak could consider when developing a sequel is to follow the widespread ramifications of an altered history. It’s unclear whether fans are meant to take Legends: Arceus as canonical in the world of games like Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, where players can find a book called “The Sea’s Legend” in Canalave Library that directly foreshadows how to catch Manaphy in Hisui. Yet there are plenty of anachronisms that would theoretically alter the course of history.
For one thing, the game is an Isekai story – one entry in an established trope that sees typically average, modern-day characters sent to an alternate world. Legends: Arceus opens with the titular Mythical Pokemon sending a teenager with a cell phone back in time to catch every monster in the region, and Unova Battle Subway Boss Ingo becomes a warden after similarly being sent back. More importantly, distortions open across the region because of a larger Space-Time Rift that Volo tears into the sky using Giratina. These distortions make items and Pokemon from the past and future appear, explaining how trainers can catch Fossil Pokemon like Cranidos and technological marvels like Porygon.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus Could Change the Future
The appearance of Porygon is where issues begin to crop up. Professor Laventon, who writes Legends: Arceus‘ Pokedex entries, expresses bewilderment at Porygon functioning despite its lack of a heartbeat and breathing. Every other game describes Porygon as a manmade creation using advanced programming code meant to help humanity explore space, something impossible to conceive of during the time of Legends: Arceus; yet it had to be included because Sinnoh introduced a new evolution called Porygon-Z.
Likewise, industrial items such as the Electirizer and Magmarizer had to appear so Sinnoh evolutions Electivire and Magmortar could too. Players can also unlock Rotom’s forms by purchasing mechanical items from Ginter, head of the Ginkgo Guild. Even if the player character and Ingo adapt perfectly to their new surroundings, eventually people would figure out ways to understand anachronistic items and Pokemon like Magnemite many years before they were meant to.
In the long-arm of history, the introduction of future technology could snowball. Perhaps the intent for Porygon to aid space travel is achieved a century early, leading to even more advancements that result in a Sinnoh unrecognizable from what fans expect to see in Diamond and Pearl. That being the case, Game Freak could run with the leaked concept of Scarlett and PurplePokemon Paradox through an entirely new game that takes place in a technologically advanced world resulting from Legends: Arceus.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is available now for Nintendo Switch.