Spanning several decades and nine generations of games, the Pokémon series has developed many of its own traditions, but its future generations are now at a crossroads after Pokémon Scarlet and Violet revamped one of those tropes with in-game trades. Pokemon has always aimed to intuitively teach its players how its various mechanics and features work, such as when Black and White cranked up their battle music when the player’s Pokemon was low on health or how Sun and Moon added a vignette-like effect when near a trainer’s field of view. But for the most part, Pokemon will use Pokemon itself to educate players.
For example, when Gold and Silver added new mechanics like the daytime cycle and Pokémon friendship, many new Pokémon evolutions reflected this, best shown with Eevee only evolving into Espeon and Umbreon at high friendship during the day or night, respectively. Trading was a similar mechanic that has always existed as a core part of Pokémon gameplay. As such, certain Pokémon remained virtually unobtainable unless evolved through trading, but the Pokémon games remained inconsistent in teaching players about this with the in-game trading trope. Now that Scarlet and Violet have reintroduced that tradition, however, the pressure is on Gen 10 to make a similar decision.The Pokemon story about the game’s commercial evolutions
While each Pokemon game has featured multiple in-game trades, there have only been a few generations where some of them include a Pokemon that evolves when traded. More specifically, only Gen 1’s Yellow and Blue include trades for Haunter, Graveler, and Machoke, while Gen 6 had Alolan Graveler and Phantump as trade options. This was an ideal way to teach players that Pokemon can evolve through trading, as well as offering one or at most two Pokemon that would otherwise be inaccessible, while still leaving several more to trade and, in doing so, encourage players to trade with each other.
But it’s unusual that Pokemon hasn’t implemented this strategy in all of its generations, although games like Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee or Sword and Shield provide in-game trades that teach players about regional Pokemon forms. Even stranger, after the recent Gen 4 remakes of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, it’s coincidentally an outlier, as it frustratedly offered a Haunter swap that wouldn’t evolve due to its Everstone. However, following the very in-game exchanges of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, there’s a chance that future Pokemon games may keep this particular tradition going forward.
Scarlet and Violet have already proven that Game Freak has found the best way to walk players through their mechanics and features, as they also feature in-game trades for Paldean and Johtonian Wooper, as well as linking Palafin’s evolution to the new Union Circle. In keeping with this, and perhaps even prompted by Gen 4’s Haunter-Everstone pull of the rug, Scarlet and Violet feature an in-game trade for their own Haunter that evolves once received. As a result, Scarlet and Violet have so far ensured that players learn that certain inaccessible Pokémon, be it a regional form or an evolution, can be acquired through trade.
So while there are already plenty of Pokemon with regional forms and trade-based evolutions, with or without a held item, much more likely to make an appearance in future generations, Pokemon will need to make sure players are aware of this. Just as recent games have made considerable effort to make regional forms accessible, such as Sword and Shield adding various in-game trades with their Isle of Armor DLC, this should also be reflected in trade evolutions. Gen 10 and beyond therefore need to decide whether to stick with the default Scarlet and Violet set or, more accurately, whether to disappoint players with another Everstone swap.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are now available for Nintendo Switch.