Over the past few weeks, I have been replaying older Pokémon games, in preparation for Sword & Shield releasing in just a few short weeks. While replaying Ultra Sun hunting for Shiny Pokémon, and trying to decide which version of the Gen 8 Pokémon games to pick up, I finally worked out why I can’t bring myself to get excited about one of the legendary Pokémon being used to promote the next set of Pokémon games.
I can’t get excited about the Legendary Pokémon on the box art for Pokémon Shield, not only because we have seen basically the same Pokémon once before, but because Pokémon following this design have become a running design trend. This is the third generation of Pokémon game where we’re able to catch a Lion with a shield for a mane, and the second generation in a row where that is the design for one of the legendary Pokémon on the box for the game.
First introduced in the Gen 6 Pokémon games Pokémon X and Y, Pyroar comes in two different designs determinded by their gender. The female Pyroar has a fairly minimalist design, while the male Pyroar features a huge, suspiciously shield looking mane. Sure, it’s made of fur from the looks of it, and has some cool red streaks to represent its fire typing, but it kicks off a trend that I think is why I am struggling to get hype for more shield lions.
The legendary Pokémon on the box art for both Pokémon Sun and Ultra Sun, Solgaleo first showed up in Gen 7. Solgaleo is a cooler design than Pyroar, with multiple different layers of design on the mane and an awesome patch of galaxy pattern on its face. Solgaleo was basically all I could want out of a shield lion legendary.
The legendary Pokémon representing Pokémon Shield, is technically a wolf, not a lion, and sure its shield drops down towards the ground rather than being centred on its face, but come on, it’s another shield mane big four legged creature that at least to me feels like a return to an established successful well. I get that its body is more like a wolf, but if it has a mane it looks like a lion, that’s a tough fact to ignore, and as such this goes in the shield lion pile. It can’t just be me that feels like Zamazenta feels weirdly reminiscent of Solgaleo. I can’t stop seeing the two as similar.
Okay, I admit, three instances of shield lion Pokémon isn’t a huge trend, but I think this is why I have been more drawn towards Pokémon Sword than Shield. Sure, we’ve seen sword wolves in other media, but not in Pokémon, and that just catches my attention more than collecting yet another shield lion.