Pokémon Legends Arceus, the first quasi-open world game in the franchise, has just arrived, but there are plenty of other legendary beasts who could step into the starring role if this spin-off gets a follow-up.
Legendary Pokémon are more than just the poster boys for the games. They’re meant to be momentous obstacles, a mark of your mastery as a trainer, and intrinsic parts of the games’ natural world. Game Freak went straight to the top shelf when they picked the focus for Pokémon Legends Arceus, as the titular creature is technically the creator and almighty deity figure of the world, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other legendaries who could pull starring duty if/when we get “Pokémon Legends 2.”
Given that Pokémon Legends Arceus takes place in the distant past of the Sinnoh region, we’re looking for other legendaries who could fit this prequel-like vibe while still approaching Arceus’ overall importance as the creator of the world. And of course, we’re avoiding those who have already been used as the mascots for a game, or are directly connected to a cover monster, such as Rayquaza and Kyurem. Here are our suggestions:
While Darkrai also debuted in Sinnoh, it’s probably unlikely that a hypothetical “Pokémon Legends 2″ would double-dip on Generation IV legendaries. However, there’s also potential to explore the time between “Hisui” and the Sinnoh we know from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl—bridging the gap between the origins of human-pocket monster cohabitation, and a modern world where that synergy is baked into society at every level.
Plus, just as Pokemon Platinum switched up the formula by moving into the “Distortion World,” Darkrai’s power over nightmares could create some mind-boggling dream dimensions to explore later in the game.
Celebi falls into that unique subclass of “mythical Pokémon,” typically those who were only available through event distributions at first. However, its time-traveling powers offer another avenue for a future Pokémon Legends Arceus sequel to visit the creation of another region’s Pokédex. In this case, that would likely entail Johto, where Celebi debuted in Generation II—which opens the possibility of also visiting an ancient, open-world Kanto in the postgame. Maybe we could even jump to a couple of different points in time along the way.
Plus, c’mon, Celebi is definitely cute enough to carry a marketing campaign. Plus it hails from far enough back in the series’ earliest days to inspire lapsed fans’ nostalgia, and its previously scarce availability would help motivate sales.
To an extent, Pokémon Sword & Shield already gave us an updated look at the history of Regigigas and its lesser cousins, adding two more offshoots to the family. The titans have previously appeared in plenty of other main series games, and some people may be a little burned out on them.
But what if we could go back to the creation of the temples where we normally find these slumbering giants? This potential follow-up to Pokémon Legends Arceus could really dive into the history behind Regigigas’ myth. Did it really move the continents, just as our own continents split apart from Pangaea? Why did other regions never hear of Regidraco and Regieleki? And did Regigigas have another form that wasn’t only Normal-type, that would therefore be far cooler?
2) Mewtwo (or Mew)
Mewtwo may be a little played out at this point, and its origin certainly doesn’t stem from too far back in the Pokémon timeline. But after all the different allusions to its origins in the games, as well as various animated retellings—sometimes involving Ryan Reynolds—a definitive take on the psychic monster’s may be just the thing to follow in Arceus’ wake.
Granted, Mewtwo’s creation occurs mere years before the events of any Kanto-based game, so Game Freak doesn’t have Pokémon Legends Arceus‘ “create the region’s Pokédex” angle to work with. However, this would be a great opportunity (and pardon me as I speculate recklessly for a moment) to remake Kanto in the new pseudo-open-world style and refine the engine even further before heading on to a truly open Generation IX. The Let’s Go games and the anniversary events’ reliance upon Kanto is revealing how tired many fans are with revisiting the land where it all began, but this would be a fresh way to view Red’s stomping grounds.
Conversely, focusing on the legends of Mew would be a great frame for visiting an ancient Kanto, for many of the same reasons as Celebi, and would certainly be a more worthwhile use for the original mythical Pokémon than sticking it in Pokéball peripherals.
1) Keldeo and the Swords of Justice
If it’s dramatic storytelling potential that Game Freak looks for, however, there may be no better choice than Generation V’s legendary group. Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion, and Keldeo—known as the Swords of Justice—are heavily drawn from Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, all sharing Fighting as a secondary type and several sword-based signature moves. They were the focus of their own movie, and would make for a compelling Pokémon Legends Arceus sequel.
Explore the ancient past of a region and create its Pokédex? Check—and for bonus points, Unova also happens to be the next region that’s due for a remaster in a few years, now that Gen IV has had a modern touch-up. The games which introduced the region, Pokémon Black & White and their sequels, remain dear to many fans’ hearts, often cited as a high point for the franchise. And if the focus is placed on Keldeo, the youngest of the group and an aspiring member, the narrative potential increases.
Again, forgive me for speculating with abandon here, but a hypothetical “Pokémon Legends Keldeo” could have the trainer not only building the Unova Pokédex, but working alongside the aspiring Sword of Justice to meet and impress the other three, and earn him a place in their roster.
Will Game Freak, Nintendo, and the Pokémon Company keep the Legends moniker at arms’ length and stick to its more traditional formula? Or will open-world become the norm for the main series, negating the need to exhume an under-utilized legendary and promote them to starring duty? Time will tell, but as it stands, there are plenty of bench-warming mythical beasts who could be ready for the big time.
(Read CGMagazine’s review of Pokémon Legends Arceus here.)