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With the New Addition of Terastal Pokémon in ‘Scarlet’ and ‘Violet,’ the Franchise Continues to Evolve, but…Do We Want It To?

A crown for thine head, Lord Quaxly.

As taken from the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet website

Ever since Pokémon X and Y, we’ve seen Game Freak trying to shake things up with the standard formula. And the formula has gotten shaken up quite a bit, to the point where it’s almost baffling, and a bit of a meme within the Pokémon fanbase.

But apparently, Game Freak is insusceptible to memes, because they’ve come up with yet another new gimmick for their newest mainline title, Scarlet and Violet. Instead of Mega Evolutions or Gigantamaxing, we’re now getting Terastallation: a Paldea-unique phenomenon where Pokémon can change types during battle, forming a Tera Jewel upon their head.

It’s definitely a shaker, as far as series innovation goes, but also, what the hell? I ask this with both humor, affection, and bewilderment. If you’re feeling the same way, read on, we’ll get through this together.

The Gist of Terastallizing

Pokemon Quaxly
My man, Quaxly.

Essentially, Paldea is unique for having “Tera Energy” beneath the earth’s crust, and this energy goes on to affect its Pokémon. Both professors, Sada and Turo, are looking into this mystery, and we, as students, will be working under them to figure it out as well.

What this energy does is give Paldean Pokemon a “Tera Type,” which is passive until the Pokemon Terastallizes. And when it does, it grows a Tera Jewel and begins to shine with the color that corresponds to its Tera Type. Gotta admit, the design of these Jewels and colors…my personal opinion is they’re a little silly.

The interesting thing is that there are 18 Tera Types, just like there are 18 normal types, and these Tera Types can be wildly variant regardless of the Pokémon’s base type. That means that you could find an Eevee in the wild with a Dragon Tera Type, and upon activating its Terastallizing in battle, it will shift from a Normal Eevee to a Dragon Eevee. But either which way, if your Pokémon uses a move that matches its Tera Type while it’s Terastallized, the move’s power will be even greater. I’ve never been a competitive Pokémon player, but I bet all of this is really going to make PvP a helluva lot more annoying (or entertaining, perhaps) for pros.

Now, unlike Gigantamaxing, Terastallizing will last until the end of the battle, but players can decide when to activate it. However, in order to activate it at all, they have to have a Tera Orb, which needs to be fully charged in order to activate a Pokémon’s Tera powers. And these orbs can be charged either via crystals in the overworld, or at Pokémon Centers.

Phew…that was a mouthful. Hopefully you’re still with me.

The last bit of info that the recent Pokémon Direct really wanted to stress was how fun it will be for players to find Pokémon with “rare” Tera Types, and then trade them with friends. I’m assuming this means finding an esoteric and battle-advantageous combination, like finding a Dragon-type with a Fairy Tera Type, or like finding a Charizard with a Water Tera Type.

Too Much, or Just Right?

The Pokémon Company

I have to admit…although I’m happy for everyone else who’s happy with all the Pokémon changes going on, I can’t help but wonder where exactly the franchise is going. Ever since Legends: Arceus, it seems Gamefreak’s modus operandi is to make each new game as experimental and divergent from tradition as possible.

And ultimately, that might be what preserves the series’ longevity. Even the most acutely sweet and innocent five-year-old Pikachu lover could eventually grow tired of the same old Victory Road. Introducing new mechanics with every game is certainly a way of mitigating that staleness, and depending on the mechanic, it can even bring the game up to the standards of the originals, which were pioneers of their time.

But at a certain point, I think (in my own opinion), Pokémon needs to pick a lane and stick in it. I wanted to be excited about ScarVi, I really did, but as soon as I saw those bulging Tera Jewels sticking out of Eevee’s head, I just had to laugh and walk away. It’s honestly gotten to be a little silly. Yes, there is a certain anticipation that comes with wondering what the next gimmick will be, but I’d much rather have a divergence in gameplay (which ScarVi seems to be doing, thankfully) and in story format, than be given yet another way to stretch, recolor, and repurpose our ‘mons. I mean, Christ, what do we have so far: Mega Evolutions, Gigantamax, Nobles, and probably more I’m forgetting about. Maybe it’s just me, but having so many ambitious concepts being introduced, just to let them collect dust, feels a little…gratuitous.

But then again, Tera Types could very well prove to be just as entertaining as watching your Pikachu grow to the size of a three-story building, in that sort of mindlessly fun way. And ultimately, at the end of the day, a Pokémon game is a Pokémon game. I will probably still buy it.

And when I do, I will absolutely mock the everloving shit out of my Quaxly whenever a big-ass Jewel pops outta his dweeby little head.

(Featured Image: The Pokémon Company)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom, with a varied background in media production, including music EPs, podcasts, and radio programs. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps.