Pokemon Scarlet and Violet's New Pokemon Designs Fall Flat in One Way

While Pokemon Scarlet and Violet's new Pokemon designs are among the best we've seen in years, the game surprisingly doesn't do much with its newly introduced convergent evolution gimmick. Since Pokemon Sun and Moon, The Pokemon Company has played around with its rules on Pokemon design and evolutions. First were the regional forms, which were initially seen in the Alolan region and then appeared in Galar (Pokemon Sword and Shield), Hisui (Pokemon Legends: Arceus), and now to a lesser extent Paldea (Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.) The Galar region then took the concept of regional forms one step further, with several regional forms receiving all new evolutions – Mr. Ryme, Obstagoon, Cursola, and Runerigus all were new Pokemon that came from regional forms of existing Pokemon. More recently, Pokemon Legends: Arceus returned to non-regional forms getting new evolutions, something we hadn't seen since Pokemon Diamond and Pearl – Wyrdeer, Ursaluna, and Kleavor all evolved from regular forms of previous Pokemon. 

One of the neat things about these new evolutions and new forms of Pokemon is how The Pokemon Company doesn't limit them to one game. Regional Pokemon have appeared in every game since Pokemon Sun and Moon, while new regional evolutions have appeared in Pokemon Sword and Shield and Pokemon Legends: Arceus. In Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, we see new Regional forms, new evolutionary branches limited to regional forms, and old Pokemon receiving new evolutions. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet also introduces a fourth Pokemon design gimmick – convergent evolution, which is when separate species evolve to look similar to each other due to their environment.

However, while convergent evolution was hyped up in the marketing lead-up to Pokemon Scarlet and Violet with Wiglett appearing via a fake ecological conference held by The Pokemon Company, it actually is rather sparingly used in the game. Outside of Wiglett and its evolution Wugtrio, there's only one other convergent Pokemon line – the mushroom-like Toedscool and its evolution Toedscruel. While both Wiglett and Toedscool are perfectly fine Pokemon, the lack of additional convergent species makes the Gen 9 Pokemon feel a bit identityless. Instead, we're left with a line that has a little of everything that has come before it. There are a few new regional Pokemon, there's a single regional evolution, and there are a handful of old Pokemon that gain an evolution. 

It could be argued that the convergent evolutions aren't the true new gimmick of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet - it's actually the Paradox Pokemon that appear at the end of the game. But because they are so limited (save for the player's Legendary Ride Pokemon, which is present from the opening moments of the game), it's hard to say that those Paradox Pokemon really define the new generation of Pokemon.

Because Pokemon Scarlet and Violet will almost assuredly have DLC, it's possible that we could see more convergent Pokemon appear in 2023 when that DLC is released. But right now, the new generation of Pokemon feels a bit unfocused and disjointed, which coincidentally describes the new games themselves. 

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is available now on the Nintendo Switch