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Over time, the Pokémon games, anime, and manga have given fans bits of lore about the world of Pokémon. With that, fans quickly stitched together theories about how everything connects. These theories range from who Red’s father is, to illustrations of natural selection, to humans secretly being another type of Pokémon, but the theory that takes the cake is the multiverse theory.
It wasn’t until the 6th generation remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (titled Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and frequently abbreviated as ORAS) that fans could uncover lore in the post-game content, the Delta Episode, that hinted at one of the franchise’s biggest secrets. In this episode, the player teams up with a trainer named Zinnia, who is the last in her line of ancient Pokémon Dragon Warriors, as well as Steven Stone, the former Pokémon Champion, in order to save the planet from an asteroid about six miles long (about the size that killed the dinosaurs) that is heading straight to their planet. Along the way, you run into the mysterious alien Pokémon, Deoxys, and the new mega-evolution of Rayquaza.
For those who haven’t been keeping up to date with Pokémon, mega-evolution is an additional stage of evolution that can be activated during battles and is powered by the bond between trainer and Pokémon. What happens in this episode answers many questions about the series and gives a new line of questions regarding the nature of the two different versions of the mainline games in each generation.
There is a reason why everything in every pair of games (for example, Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire) is similar yet different; it’s because these games are set in different dimensions of existence (think Schrödinger’s cat, quantum physics, and string theory). Of the different interpretations of the Schrödinger’s thought experiment, the one that best fits the happenings of the Pokémon universe(s) is the Many Worlds Interpretation. What this boiled down to is that for every situation with different outcomes, there is a separate universe that exists for every possible outcome. With every decision, there is a juncture that creates new realities, which takes us back to the Delta Episode in Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. What if instead of the life of just one cat in the box, it’s the lives of millions of Pokémon?
According to Pokémon X and Y, 3000 years before the events of the game, there was a trainer named AZ who lived in the Kalos region with his Pokémon Floette. Unfortunately, when war broke out, Floette was called upon to fight and died in battle. AZ was devastated, and vowed to bring her back to life and end the war, no matter the cost. He went crazy building a machine that could bring her back from the grave, and somehow made himself immortal in the process. He eventually succeeded at bringing her back, but only by configuring his machine so that it was powered by the lives of other Pokémon. Millions lost their lives to revive Floette. The event was so awful and earth-shattering that the trauma of these deaths and the power of the machine irradiated large stone statues outside the neighboring town of Geosenge, enabling certain Pokémon to mega-evolve from then on.
Return to Schrödinger’s cat in the box, and replace it with AZ firing or not firing his weapon. That decision creates two separate universes, one in which irradiated stones holding the souls of millions of dead Pokémon enable mega-evolution, and a second in which mega-evolution doesn’t exist because the weapon was never fired.
With this, the Pokémon Company got the biggest retcon ever! It’s a simple explanation of why some games have mega-evolution and some (the earlier games) do not. Going back to the Delta Episode in ORAS, Mr. Stone, Steve Stone’s father, and the head of the Devon Corporation, explains in the game that his company uses the same energy that AZ created with his weapon to power many of the High-Tec gadgets that can been seen around the Pokémon world. This even includes the one that you use to save the world, by tearing a hole through reality and opening a portal to another dimension for the asteroid to fly into.
After the plan is set into motion, Zinnia says arguably one of the most important quotes in Pokémon, “That is an impressive machine. Snap your fingers, the asteroid vanishes, and we all live happily ever after? Ahahaha! Indeed! It’s Like that former Champ said! This thing is the best hope we have of saving this planet and everything on it. But you know... It could also be the worst tragedy imaginable for some other world and everything on it. My people know it. From generation to generation, we pass along lore about the distortions in the world borne by the mega-evolution mechanism. And about the existence of another world, which we have long observed to be just like this one and yet not the same... That’s right. A Hoenn region that’s almost exactly like this one we live in. Filled with Pokémon and people like us. A world where maybe the evolution of Pokémon took a slightly different path, where mega-evolution is unknown... A world where that war 3,000 years ago... never happened. A world where the ultimate weapon was never even built.”
This implies that Pokémon X, Pokémon Y, Pokémon Ruby, and Pokémon Sapphire are on a different timeline and in a different dimension than the other games in the series, which explains why they have mega-evolution and the other do not. While this is impressive in its own right, it goes even deeper. The Many Worlds Interpretation is a fact in the Pokémon Universe. So for every event that has multiple possible outcomes, there is a different version of reality that supports every possibility, leaving innumerable similar universe with only slight differences. Some of these differences could be which Pokémon you run into on your paths, or which Legendary Pokémon the evil characters are using for their master plan, or the name of Professors Oak’s human turd of a grandson, and these differences could be given to us through different titles. Now take it another step further. That rift-creating device has a name, the “Link Cable.” Older fans of the series may remember a time when Pokémon fans had to connect Games Boys with devices called “Link Cables” in order to battle or trade. Why is this a big deal? That means that not only are the mainstream titles all set in different universes, but also that each copy of each game is its own universe as well. The Link Cable connects these different universes through rifts in time and space. In fact, a scientist at the Devon Corporation casually says that they use this technology all the time in everyday devices, such as warp panels.
Another interesting thing that supports this multiverse theory also comes in the ORAS remakes. This, however, is not simply limited to the existence of entirely separate parallel worlds, but instead suggests that they can influence one another. The opening sequence of ORAS begins with footage of the original Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire intro on the Game Boy Advance. After several seconds, the camera pans out and this is revealed to be on a screen that your in-game character is viewing. In other words, your character is playing through the original game within this game. The implications of this are astounding. If the original main series games also exist as fiction within the later games, then it is clear that not only are these two separate universes, but the latter also seems to exist parallel to our own, since both of our universes contain an identical video game.
Maybe Pokémon has always been about multiple dimensions and connecting your world to the world of others, or maybe it was something the Pokémon Company added after fans asked too many questions. Regardless, it now serves as an official explanation to answer why such a rich, well-planned game world can have so many small inconsistencies.