Of all the recent additions to the Pokemon list of features in the series, the introduction of regional shape variations has to be among the best. As the new generation began to include fewer original creatures in their respective Pokedexes, the variations added some welcome variety into the mix. Even though the Phenomenon has become a staple of the core game series since Pokemon Sun and Moonit didn’t technically start there.

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Instead, the Pokemon The famous Orange Islands arc from the anime can claim this distinction. However, as Game Freak continued to develop its concept of biodiversity, it was also actively chosen to ignore the franchise’s original regional form variations. For a number of compelling reasons, however, a future Pokemon title should finally canonize the Orange Islands variants in the franchise’s gaming universe.

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Variants of the Orange Islands

Thanks to the time it took Game Freak to transition between the first two generations of Pokemon, the animated adaptation of the franchise ventured into uncharted territory in the late ’90s. Instead of heading straight for Johto, Ash and Pikachu first set their sights on the tropical islands of Orange. While the region is famous in part for being the first place Ash became champion, many fans will likely remember its eclectic native Pokémon just as fondly.


In an attempt to make the Orange Islands visually distinct from Kanto, without relying too heavily on Johto’s then-unreleased Pokemon, several regional form variants were created specifically for the show. On the island of Valencia, viewers were treated to beige-colored versions of Red Blue, and Yellow‘s Pokemon for example, like Vileplume, Paras and Weepinbell. Later, pink versions of Pokemon from the first generation, like Caterpie, Pidgey, and Rhyhorn, also appeared on the aptly named Pinkan Island.

While it’s safe to say that these variations are now closer to the show’s Shiny Pokemon, rather than the regional variants seen recently, two of the creatures from the Orange Isles appeared and broke the mold more dramatically. In addition to a Butterfree with vivid patterns on its wings, a Crystallized Onyx starred in a memorable episode. Sporting a smooth glass body, this regional form was even more unique from its Cantonese cousin thanks to its immunity to water-type attacks. Despite their iconic status, none of these creatures have ever been found in a main game.


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Advantages of the Orange Islands

There is a long list of reasons why the absence of regional variants of the Orange Islands, of Pokemonof the gaming universe, should end sooner or later. For starters, the charm of the Pokemon mentioned above matches the peculiarity of the form variations of Alola, Galar, and Hisui. Beyond reflecting real-world concepts like migration and evolution, each would add welcome diversity to the Game Freak world. From a purely mechanical standpoint, it’s also easy to imagine that each has unique type combinations that could benefit the series’ gameplay meta.


Perhaps even more beneficial, however, would be the goodwill Game Freak would earn from fans in the process. The fact that variants of each Orange Islands have lingered in the imaginations of fans of the franchise since the 90s is proof that their introduction into the canon would be welcome. Ever since the show began, viewers have been clamoring for its unique Pokemon to be catchable in the franchise’s mainline media. After all, it’s worth bearing in mind that icons like season one’s Pink Butterfree are almost as old as the franchise itself.

Pokemon Anime Connections

While there are some caveats to keep in mind with each example, there is a long list of Pokemon that have already bridged the gap between anime and games. Historically, Togepi, Munchlax, and the recent Dusk-form Lycanroc all made their on-screen debut before their first appearance in-game. With the first two in particular, it was years before one or the other does not officially become catchable by players. While admittedly more time has passed since the shapes of the Orange Islands appeared, anything is still theoretically possible.

Perhaps more aptly, however, a Pokémon made specifically for the anime has already appeared in a main game. Greninja powered by Ash’s Battle Bond, which even bears its name in its official gun designation, was available in Pokemon Sun and Moon provided that players download the demo associated with the 8th generation games. Each of these examples demonstrates that, from a logistical standpoint at least, there is enough historical precedent to keep the door open to variations on the Orange Islands as well.

The practical opportunities

There are also practical reasons to believe that variations of the Orange Islands could make their debut in the game’s Pokémon universe quite easily. Although it probably wouldn’t make sense for Game Freak to include them in Pokemon Scarlet and Purple, there will still be other opportunities for them to show up further down the road. Considering how the Kanto region has already appeared on five separate generational occurrences, it’s safe to assume that another remake will see the light of day there.

Allowing players to venture into the islands south of Kanto at this point, whether in their Orange or Sevii Isles incarnations, would open up the perfect excuse for regional variations to make their debut in the game. keep in mind that there’s no reason Game Freak should stick exclusively to the forms that appeared in the anime either. Brand new Pokemon that evolve from these variants could also be added to the mix, much like the recently released Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Based on the success of this game, it stands to reason that most fans would welcome this development.

It’s also worth noting that there are other ways Game Freak could practically canonize the shapes of the Orange Islands. While fans would likely be upset by their physical absence, there’s nothing stopping the studio from adding regional variations to the mix via strategically placed references. Easter eggs have become an important part of the tradition behind the Pokemon world, so it’s easy to imagine an NPC, an image or a television screen alluding to a pink Nidoking for example.

pokemon scarlet and Purple release end of 2022 on Nintendo Switch.

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