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Old 07-05-2017, 08:13 AM   #306
Nebby. Back into the bag.
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Just found out about a certain cameo in Sun & Moon, after having seen what I thought was merely "What if ...? " fanart of it yesterday ...

"NO WAY! "

Amazing. I don't want to know any more details than I already do. (Which is where one finds him.) This is amazing, and makes me that much more depressed about something I'd actually been meaning to discuss long before now ...

Alternate Timelines & Their Consequences On Canon: Starting with Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, Game Freak opened the Pandora's Box of alternate timelines. I didn't much mind it as a one-off in the Delta Episode of ORAS, but with its prominent likely return in Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, I'm forced to confront the elephant in the room:

Game Freak is actively working to absolve themselves of canon consequences from their games' scripts -- and in the process, is neutering fans' ability to enjoy the running canon of this franchise.

What do I mean by this? Well, let's start back at the beginning. Originally, you have Pokémon Red and Green, the one and only story in the franchise so far. Soon after, you get our very first sequel, Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. The games aren't just the second in the franchise -- they're a narrative sequel as well, picking up three years after RGB left off and making numerous nods to these games' canon. References to Team Rocket's disbanding, Red becoming the Champion, and so many other events from RGB are made here in GSC, and GSC continues to develop them further. Misty's now older and dating ... Janine is now the Gym Leader in Fuchsia City, her father having been promoted to the ranks of the Elite Four ... and Giovanni's son (confirmed a decade later with the Gen 2 remakes Heart Gold and Soul Silver) is out to prove himself.

We then cut to Gen 3, with a whole new narrative that doesn't have too many tie-ins to the two previous gens. But that's okay, because we're still world-building here, and everything's interconnected. Fast forward to Gen 4 and it's much the same -- Gen 4's story more or less stands on its own two feet, but things are said and done here which implicitly flesh out the same world of the RGB, GSC, and RSE games.

On to Gen 5, and once more we have the fans debating when these games take place relative to the four previous generations. Consensuses are reached, Game Freak even weighs in, and the fans are happy to have a burgeoning canon. Again, the plot of these games doesn't much affect what came before, but insofar as there are connections, they engage and titillate those fans who have been with the franchise from Day One.

As we enter Gen 6, everything's fine. XY does much the same as its predecessors, telling a story of its own while also implicitly adding on to the tapestry of the Pokémon timeline shared with its five predecessors.

... And then we reach ORAS. And something strange happens. Rather than say "We're improving RuSa. Consider this more of a Special Edition" like they did with HGSS, Game Freak comes along and says -- no, all but declares with the inclusion of the Primals and the addition of the Delta Episode -- that ORAS takes place in an alternate reality, in an alternate timeline, from -- at the very least -- the original Ruby and Sapphire. We're not revisiting the same story with a new veneer -- we're looking at how the events went down in an alternate timeline where Mega Evolution was a thing, Primal Reversion was a thing, and a girl came to visit from an alternate reality.

Suddenly we're confronted. "Wait, so ... Mega Evolution's not necessarily a thing in the universe where RBY, GSC, RSE, and DPPt all took place? " "Wait, you're telling me that ... that even X and Y might very well have not taken place in the same universe as Red and Blue? " Uh oh. Shit. Suddenly the fans' ability to string all of the games along together into one woven tapestry is starting to ... unravel.

And on we go into Generation 7. Where the game opens Pandora's Box just a little bit wider and says, "Here you go! Have another plot revolving around visitors from another dimension!" This time it's unclear whether that other dimension is from an alternate reality or whether it's from a different corner of space of the same reality that Sun and Moon's Alolan Islands find themselves in. Regardless, the box is opened: "you can be sure that Sun and Moon happened in a reality, but you can't be certain that it happened in the same reality (as other games')."

This presents a problem for fans like myself who want a long-running narrative.

This presents a problem for fans who place value in cameos.

And this presents a problem for fans hoping for a simple timeline --

-- Because suddenly, we've gone full Zelda. ^^;

That's right, folks: our precious Pokémon has decided to go full Zelda Timeline and present us with forked timelines where different games might occur in different timelines relative to one another. And because the games are already so sparse on narrative details ... this presents us with, at present, an insurmountable challenge: grouping the games according to timeline.

Oh, sure! Anyone can point out that GSC is an obvious and direct sequel to RBY. No one's gonna fight you there. But what about HGSS now? Since it has the exact same Battle Frontier with the exact same Brains as Platinum, does this now mean that HGSS and Platinum take place in different realities? Or is it the same as it was before? Do we still as a fandom agree that Platinum and HGSS took place within the same reality, and that the way to explain the two different geographic locations of identical Battle Frontiers was that either a) they took place at the same time but the Brains flew between regions or b) they took place at different times, with the Brains originally being in one region before permanently relocating to the next? Before, fans would debate possibilities like these two. Now, fans have the extra wrench in the works of, "Well maybe they don't even take place in the same universe to begin with. "

What about Giovanni? In RBY, the man clearly reforms. In HGSS, they seemingly fucked up with the Giovanni cameo, having him being evil again and trying to resurrect Team Rocket three years later. The anime Pokémon Origins depicts the RBY canon; the anime short Pokémon Generations depicts the HGSS one. Previously, this felt like a fuck up on Game Freak's part. Like HGSS was undermining the canon of RBY. And a popular one at that! But now ... do we explain it all away by saying, "Oh, don't worry! Heart Gold and Soul Silver take place in an alternate reality where Red bested Giovanni but Giovanni didn't then see the error of his ways! Instead, he resented the boy who beat him and he vowed to one day resurrect his broken criminal organization!" ?

While I'm sure a lot of people enjoy this, I for one am not a fan. I've always liked that our franchise has reliably taken place within one universe, and I've enjoyed over the past 20 years watching as the universe is fleshed out. We've been to four regions of PokéJapan, we've been to an alien PokéNYC, we've been to PokéFrance, and most recently we've gotten the chance to fall in love with PokéHawaii. But now, suddenly, the fabric of this universe is threatened. There's no longer any promise of cohesion. No guarantee that what you see in a future game has any bearing whatsoever on past games, or vice versa. You thought Colress's cameo in Sun and Moon meant the games were taking place before or after the events of Gen 5? Nope! This is Colress from an alternate reality where he joins Team Aether instead of Team Plasma! () You thought Looker was a single man who had been on adventures in Platinum, XY, ORAS, and SM? Nope! Four different men, four different lives experienced! () By opening Pandora's Box, Game Freak is actively ruining our ability to reliably build histories around these beloved characters and regions. Nothing that happens in any game now has any implicit tie-ins with any of the other games any more. Everything either has to be explicitly stated ... or else it's not true at all.

I don't like it. It feels like Game Freak took a tantalizingly easy copout when producing ORAS, to try and explain away why Mega Evolution and Primal Reversion would be a thing in ORAS when they weren't in RuSa, and in doing so has carelessly ruined twenty years of work building up a cohesive universe. Oh, we've still got our multiverse to enjoy! But it's only a multiverse. We've no guarantees, no satisfaction, that anything we're seeing has any bearing on anything else we see in any other generation now.

And that sucks.
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