Why Legendary Pokémon Aren’t As Important As They Should Be

Since the beginning of the series, Pokémon has had Legendary beasts. These special Pokémon are often shrouded in myth, and are even seen as gods. However, the rarity and allure of Legendary Pokémon has been disrupted over the years. What started out as three legendary birds, Mewtwo, and the Mythical Pokémon Mew has become a long list of names that have steadily felt less important.

The Pokémon series has used Legendary Pokémon as mascots for each game in every generation, as well as adding special Legendary and Mythical Pokémon that can appear in both generation titles. However, recent games have added more than just a few, with Sun & Moon introducing 12 plus the Ultra Beasts, and Sword and Shield adding handfuls of Galar Legendaries in both the base game and its DLC The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra. The addition of so many legendary Pokémon in one generation devalues the rarity of these Pokémon, and turns what was once a special challenge into a chore.

Recent Pokémon titles have also started to include features that allow players to capture every Legendary from previous games, like the Mirage Spots in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, or the Dynamax Adventure battles in Sword and Shield. Currently there are 59 Legendary Pokémon and 22 Mythical Pokémon currently available in all 8 generations of the Pokémon series. This means that of the 898 Pokémon available, Legendary and Mythical Pokémon make up nearly 10% of the total available species.

Legendary Pokémon used have special appearances in the Pokémon anime, often saved for movie cameos where the Legendary would team up with Ash and his friends to save the world or accomplish a common goal. However, this has changed in recent years, with Legendary Pokémon, as well as Shiny Pokémon making more frequent appearances in the show. In Pokémon Journeys, the main protagonist Goh is even able to capture the Legendary Pokémon Suicune in episode 53. While players have been able to capture Legendaries in the game series, Goh is the first trainer to snag one in the anime. Because Goh throws a Poké Ball at anything that moves, it greatly devalues the difficulty of a Legendary encounter.

The reason Legendary Pokémon have lost their value is largely attributed to time. The Pokémon series is nearly 25 years old, has 8 regions and generations, and dozens of games. Because Legendary Pokémon are a staple of each game release, it was inevitable that there would eventually be so many Legendary Pokémon they would lose some of their mystic intrigue in the series. This issue could be improved by limiting what Legendary Pokémon appear in new games, and slimming down further additions to the Pokémon games so Legendaries can feel genuinely special again.

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