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View Poll Results: Super mode versus finishers
Mega Evolution 6 42.86%
Z-Move 2 14.29%
Neither 4 28.57%
Both 2 14.29%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-24-2017, 10:19 AM   #1
Doppleganger
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Z-Moves vs. Mega Evolution

We're approaching the one year anniversary of Generation VII so I think the dust has settled enough to finally address the question: what did you like better, Z-Moves or Mega Evos, and what was better for Pokemon? Was either or both mistakes? You decide!

Note that if you do choose to take the mistake approach try to also divorce the argument from other game mechanic changes. Like, don't scapegoat Z-Moves for ruining paralysis or Mega Evolutions for the Fairy type.
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:57 AM   #2
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Both are terrible and ruined Pokemon.
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Old 09-24-2017, 11:13 AM   #3
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Mega Evolution: I still feel that in many respects this was Pokémon's "jumped the shark" moment. A fourth-stage evolution is the sort of idea you'd find on playgrounds nationwide in the early days of the Pokémon franchise, and yet here we are: fourth-stage evolutions.

Flavor-wise, I'm not too keen on the notion of these newest, final stages of a Pokémon's evolution being transient (Gens VI and VII) or distressing to the Pokémon (Gen VII). A "powered-up form" may work well in tokusatsu series, but in a story about living creatures with bones and blood it just feels weird that they ... "digivolve" temporarily only to wind back down to their previous form after the battle's end.

Design-wise, the mega philosophy seems somewhat split across the board. You've got some megas which communicate this idea of "I'm as different to my previous stage as my previous stage was to the stage before that," where applicable. For example, Mega Mawile looks like a true, full-blown evolution to Mawile, no different from Mamoswine or Magnezone. Mega Banette is the same way. But other megas -- in fact, most megas -- look less like full-blown evolutions and more like "the current form but with some shoulder pads and a helmet tossed on for extra flair." Mega Lucario is the poster child for this. Other great examples include Mega Venusaur, Mega Sableye, and Mega Altaria. Many of these designs are fantastic! But they don't look anything near as different from their previous form as that previous form did from its previous form. You can hardly say the jump from Altaria to Mega Altaria is on par with the jump from Swablu to Altaria. A lot of this is doubtless going to be subjective. But I feel like the one thing we can agree upon is, "Some of the megas would have probably been accepted by the Gen 4 design committee during the 'give evolutions to lots of older UU Pokémon' phase; others, would not have been." It's not much of a hop, skip, or a jump to rebrand Weavile in your mind as "Mega Sneasel". I don't think it's that much harder to rebrand Mega Audino in your mind as "Lyrica" or some other made-up name for a proper evolution.

Gameplay-wise, I much prefer what megas bring to the table. Where Z-moves provide you with only one powered-up move (and you only get one dosage of it, too!), megas provide you with up to four powered-up moves, and you get to use all of them always, provided your mega Pokémon is still active on the field. I like how megas are able to make unusable Pokémon usable again, even if Game Freak ended up giving many of the mega slots to already-usable Pokémon, and even if fan communities like Smogon have deigned to unofficially prohibit the use of many of these Pokémon. Good examples of rags-to-riches mega Pokémon include Mega Mawile, Mega Kangaskhan, Mega Charizard, and Mega Altaria. These were Pokémon previously unviable in Battle Spot or Showdown OU play but that became powerful contenders where permitted for use. Hell, three of the Pokémon on my list helped to define the Gen 6 metagame for VGC! Z-Moves have not been nearly so transformative for Pokémon. Taking VGC as an example again, the most notable users of Z-Moves are the Tapus, Arcanine, and Ground-type move users. These Pokémon would have been used with or without the advent of Z Crystals; the Z-Moves are merely a bonus that can't be passed up, rather than being a game-changer that transformed unusable Pokémon into champions.

Z-Moves: The obvious parallel to Gen VI's Mega Evolution. One lets you power up the Pokémon with buffed stats, type changes, and new abilities. The other merely lets you power up one move for one use only.

Flavor-wise, Z-Moves are far more conservative than Mega Evolution is. Where transient physical evolution bothers me, transient move power-ups make perfect sense. This is the sort of idea we've been raised on all our lives, this notion of "THIS IS MY ULTIMATE MOVE!" says the hero/villain as they channel all of their energy into this great attack that leaves them exhausted whether it fails or succeeds. Hell, Z-Moves don't even exhaust you! Their only real penalty, relative to a Gen 5 world and not a Gen 6 one, is that you forfeit your item slot which you could have used to gain literally any other item bonus in exchange for this one-time use of a super-move. The idea of a Pikachu who can deliver an especially large surge of electricity ... the idea of a Snorlax who can pulverize you with especially crushing force ... the idea of an Arcanine whose flames burn hotter and more intensely than any flame ordinarily found on or inside of a Fire-type Pokémon ... all of this feels right at home in the universe of Pokémon, honestly.

Design-wise, Z-Moves are fairly bland and boring. They're just ... flashy executions of elemental attacks. "Gigavolt Havoc" doesn't stand out in my mind as anything more than "Volt Tackle with grander animation." "Pulverizing Pancake" is just a Snorlax using Body Slam. The concept is there. "Super-powered moves that look as awesome as they indeed are." And don't get me wrong, they do look cool and flashy. Just ... I dunno ... Maybe it's hard for the moves' designs to hold up in the long run when you watch the game played as often as I do. Can we all agree that Twinkle Tackle's animation sucks? Probably not. I know from Worlds there are fans of how dopey it looks.

Gameplay-wise, Z-Moves were meant to address what their faction doubtless perceived as Mega Evolution's brokenness. But ... the truth be told, Mega Evolutions weren't actually all that broken. And in fact ... Z-Moves kinda suck. They're really not that good. Powered-up moves are worthless against good counters. (E.g. I use Gigavolt Havoc but you switch out to your Marowak.) The transience of a one-time power-up can't compare with the permanence of a non-consumed item (e.g. Choice Scarf) or an ability (e.g. Intimidate). There is a reason why people run Scarf Staraptor over Z-Normalium or Z-Flyinium Staraptor. There is a reason why people run Flame Orb Hariyama over Z-Fightinium Hariyama. It's not that Z-Moves seem weak because Megas are so strong and are blinding us to the truth -- it's that Z-Moves are weak even when compared against the Gen 4 meta.

Conclusion: Depending on the context, I may tell you that I prefer Mega Evolution over Z-Moves or I may tell you the opposite. Flavor-wise, I prefer Z-Moves. Gameplay-wise, I prefer Megas. Design-wise, it's a mixed bag.

However, whenever I think about this question to myself, the answer I always come to is:
  • I prefer megas, gun-to-the-head answer-style
  • I prefer how megas were ultimately executed; I prefer their execution to Z-Moves' execution
  • I think, if we could rewind to Summer 2013 on the eve of Mega Evolution's announcement, if you had proposed both ideas to me and said "Pick one" I would have hands down chosen Z-Moves to be what became canon
  • I would be much happier if, rather than invent megas, they had simply given new evolutions to the ones who really needed it most (e.g. Mawile) and had not even bothered inventing many of the megas which feel horridly forced (e.g. Tyranitar, Scizor, Heracross)
Going to vote for Megas for the purposes of the poll. But my true position is much more nuanced.
Edit: Oh snap, didn't realize this poll allowed for us to reject both choices. Well let me think then. lol

Hmm ... I'm going to vote for Neither I guess, and here's why:
  • megas, I think the execution came out as best as it could but in principle I still dislike the idea of "fourth evolutions" as well as half-assed "pseudo-evolutions"
  • Z-Moves, it's the exact opposite: I quite like the idea in principle, but the execution was shit, so much so that most of us prefer to use the same tried-and-true tactics from Gens 3-6 instead of opting to waste an item slot on a Z Crystal

Last edited by Talon87; 09-24-2017 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 09-24-2017, 01:37 PM   #4
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I voted for Z-Moves, and that applies to both the concept and in-game application of them. By contrast I think Mega Evolutions permanently ruined the game, in the same way that XYZ Monsters irrevocably broke Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Why Mega Evos suck: while under-used Pokemon got some big boosts from them and catapulted into relevancy. But if that's a "rags-to-riches" story I would argue even a larger group of Pokemon got richer while others got poorer, and this group was small and already exclusive.

There is no good reason that overpowered Pokemon like Salamence should have gotten a Mega Evolution. Latios, Latias, didn't need them. The world was better without Primal Reversion and Mega Rayquaze couldn't have been more poorly conceived if it came out of a childish fantasy. Only a few Pokemon got Mega Evolution, and a disproportionate number were already popular enough to not need them.

Morever, if you look at other shounen-style stories, like say super robot franchises, there's only so far you can go with an "upgrade" until the Pokemon is totally different. Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger look similar, but they're not the same robot. One is the successor to the other.

If you loved Charizard in RBY, I can't imagine being thrilled that Mega Charizard X or Y is competitively relevant in Generation VIII. It's not the same Pokemon at all except in name. You the RBY lover are being duped into loving a new Pokemon that is superficially similar to the one from Generation I.

Then, if Mega Evolution was simply a stat boost and maybe a type change, it wouldn't be that dissimilar from Z-Moves. What really broke things was Gamefreak introduced new abilities - much more powerful abilities - or gave existing powerful abilities to the Mega Evolutions, which only further exaggerated their power. Parental Bond and Shadow Tag on Mega Gengar are what truly break those Pokemon, not the stat boost that is slightly balanced out by the lack of a held item.

Essentially, Gamefreak sold Mega Evolutions by using access to these busted abilities as bait. I think the mechanic would be a lot more balanced, or at least less stupid and elitist, without major ability changes.

Conceptually, Mega Evolution makes sense actually. I don't think a next stage evolution was necessarily bad - Baby Pokemon was far more offensive to me, and that dated back to Generation 2. Pokemon have been shown to be influenced by things like radio waves, evolution stones and mechanical/genetic augmentation. The impact of Key Stones is within reason of the Pokemon universe, in the same way that the inevitable Pokemon Fusion will be when it's introduced in a future generation. Zekrom/Reshiram and Kyurem, then Magnemite have already shown it to be possible.

Why Z-Moves are good: The #1 reason is any Pokemon can use them. This benefits all Pokemon in the game instead of an exclusive clique. This also strongly benefits Pokemon with wide move pools, as it effectively turns anything they learn into a potential one-time nuke or super stage boost. The stage boost effect for status moves mirrors the raw stat boost from Mega Evolution, giving passive effects in addition to their primary usage as a status move. For Pokemon that otherwise don't gain a lot from items, this is a big benefit.

If you look at it this way though, Z-Moves aren't as influential as other mechanical changes like Abilities or the Special/Physical split were. I feel like this is preferable to breaking the game in the way Mega Evolution did. Mega Evolution managed to break types, stats, and abilities while Z-Moves only broke a single move, and there is significant opportunity cost to loading it. Compared to Mega Evolution, you're a fool if your team doesn't have at least one Mega Evo.
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Old 09-24-2017, 05:24 PM   #5
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I voted both. I like both. Mega Evolution is like a Pokémon's ultimate form, unlockable only with the help of a trusted Trainer, and Z-Moves are just awesome. I find myself using both of them frequently, both in the games and in FB.

Mega Evolution- on the one hand, it buffs affected Pokémon immensely, making them much better in battle. Some more than others, actually, a prime example being Beedrill going from underwhelming early-game Bug-type to your worst nightmare. On the other hand, only a small handful of Pokémon can actually Mega Evolve. For now, anyway- have not lost hope of more Pokémon gaining Mega Evolutions of their own as time goes on.

Z-Moves: On the one hand, they are more widely available. Yes, there's species-exclusive Z-Moves, but they are not the only Z-Moves in existence. Whether it's a one-time nuke or a nice upgrade to a status move, Z-Moves can benefit virtually anything. On the other hand, in terms of turning the tide of battles, they're a bit less effective at this than your average Mega Evolution. A well-timed Acid Downpour could very well topple a difficult opponent, but you're not gonna sweep a team with repeated Z-Moves like you would with a Mega Beedrill that got the +3 Attack boost from Fell Stinger.

I could go more in-depth on this, I admit, but I feel like it would all come to the same thing in the end- I like both Z-Moves and Mega Evolution, and I don't think I really prefer one over the other.
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Old 09-24-2017, 05:28 PM   #6
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I guess I don't have too much room to speak, seeing as I haven't played any of the games the mechanics are in and don't hang around Showdown all that much, but I figure I might as well give my two-cents on the matter since I'm here. Just be aware that anything I try to use as a supporting detail might just be not actually be correct as a result.

Mega Evolution appealed to me from the beginning as a concept, to be perfectly honest. Mega Mawile in particular sorta just blew me away- I never understood why I liked the thing despite knowing that it was so bad (its one good stat was mediocre at best), but having something come along to fix all its issues and improve on its design was an absolute treat. And while I still stand on the idea that it probably should have been a regular evolution, it did get revealed alongside Mega Ampharos- a pokemon that wouldn't have been able to get another evolution otherwise- so I was pretty okay with that end result.

That said, I don't think anyone would've been able to guess that they would be as influential on the high-tier battle field as they were. Mawile hit OU, kangaskahn managed to get itself banned from that tier after being practically ignored for around a decade, and gardevoir managed to bring its prowess as a beloved in-game pokemon into high level play. After they had all managed to not really be affected by the advent of Hidden Abilities, such a thing was likely unthinkable during the Unovan generation! Every generation has added a mechanic that shifted the dynamic of what pokemon was powerful and what pokemon wasn't, but none were quite so drastic on so many individuals as Mega Evolution.

From a design standpoint, the vast majority of them are improvements in my eyes. Yes, pokemon like altaria kept things simple, but I doubt that anyone's gonna complain about the extra floof on it too much, right? Of course, not all of them were met with a positive response on my end- I can't look at Mega Glalie without thinking that it looks like a Heartless, and hoo boy, was I not at all pleased to find out that gardevoir had literally gone full-on waifu! But it isn't just the standard designs one needs to contemplate- Mega Evolution fixed two "barely changed" shinies, and even made it so that Mega Gardevoir wasn't quite as disappointing. And while I'm still not fond of shiny Mega Garchomp, Mega Gengar and Mega Gardevoir look a whole lot better now than they did before the Mega, color-wise!

Now, with Sun and Moon, it was made every apparent that GF wasn't too pleased with how dramatic Mega Evolution's impact on competitive was and tried to tone things down a little. And while they certainly could've just restricted their use in official tournaments, they opted instead to give the Megas whose lines were in the games the most awful 'dex entries they could think of in an attempt to make people feel like utter pieces of crap about using them to boot! And for a little bit, it seemed this emotional side had some effect on the fandom, with quite the outcry coming up as people came to find out about it.As for me myself, I wasn't too bothered by it. Alakazam losing the functionality in its muscles was hardly an issue when it barely ever used them in the first place (heck, it even levitated back into position when it was hit in the older console games!), gyarados being even more focused on destruction really didn't change much at all, and glalie... I dunno if my memories making stuff up, but I seem to recall it being mentioned that its jaw was incapable of closing when it was first revealed. And it isn't like such misfortune should be entirely unexpected, either- weren't thew first batch of Mega Stones created from the residual energy of when a thousand pokemons' souls were sacrificed to wipe a thousand more from the face of the earth (numbers may vary)? From that point of view, it's only natural that Mega Evolution isn't always all sunshine and rainbows, so why were people freaking out over it?

The part of the whole deal that really bugs me, though, is just how deliberate SM's Mega list was. There was a whopping one remotely positive 'dex entry among the bunch, and even that was counteracted by a negative one on the other version. Granted, both of those entries are very much natural maternal feelings, but still. How come there's no Mega Gardevoir or Gallade detailing how the process allows them to better play their roles as their trainer's protectors, or Mega Audino bringing up its improved healing prowess? And you can't tell me that Mega Lopunny wouldn't have at least one cheery bit of info, seeing as it's a friggin' Happiness evolution before that! And what did get in? Aerodactyl, which has no business being in an area based off of Hawaii (especially since it's the only fossilmon in the games), and it has one of the least justifiably unfortunate bits of gloom! If that doesn't say "we chose which ones we're doing first on purpose", I don't know what does!

@Dopple: Honestly, the whole Ability thing really only applies to the meta-defining Megas (though there are admittedly a good few of those). A fair number of the bunch wound up getting unimpressive Abilities in the overall grand scheme of things, such as Mold Breaker on M. Gyarados and M. Ampharos (due to how uncommon the Abilities resisting their Types generally are and how much rarer pokemon with Marvel Scale are) and M. Gallade has Inner Focus, an Ability that generally gets laughed at by the fandom (from what I've seen). Prankster, while a powerful Ability in its own right, notably has negative usefulness for M. Banette, which is forced to focus on either using it or its solid Attack stat thanks to 4 Moveset Syndrome. M. Sceptile's Lightningrod is only good for switch-ins and pressure placing in Doubles, since nobody's going to be using an Electric attacks against a Grass/Dragon Type normally due to the quad resistance. And let's not forget that some blaziken, medicham, audino, and tyranitar witness no change in their Ability upon Mega Evolving whatsoever- in those cases, it's awfully hard to keep the claim that the Ability makes every Mega, no?

Is that to say that no Abilities were broken> No, of course not! The -ate Abilities and Parental Bond earned their respective nerfs in Gen. 7 unfair and square! The nerf to the former even came with a buff to Normalize, making a decidedly crappy Ability slightly less so, which I'd say helps balance things out just a little bit more. That said, I'm not sure the Parental Bond nerf really did what it wanted all the way- it still functions as a powered up Serene Grace or a damaging Swords Dance when Mega Kangaskahn uses certain moves, which is still a bit of an issue.

That said, the 'ate Abilities still weren't as ridiculous as the new Water Bubble Ability- combining Water Veil and Heatproof was fine enough, I suppose, but doubling the power of Water moves on top of that? Ridiculous!

~ ~ ~

Z-Moves, on the other hand, were sorta just there to me. Sure, having a one-time nuke button's great and all, but... that's really about it for the most popular use of them. It really doesn't help that a few of the generic ones do a pretty poor job of being applicable to every member of the Type- I mean, Bloom Doom isn't exactly the most appropriate attack for trevenant and lileep, ya know?

The Status variants don't exactly help the case much, either. A one stage increase to a single stat isn't exactly the greatest use of your one Z-Move per match, to put it mildly. And that's what the vast majority of them do- add to one stat on top of the normal effect. Yay.

That said, the few Status moves that do more do a lot more. No one can deny that Porygon-Z witnessed a huge increase in use once everyone realized that Z-Conversion gave it an Ancient Power increase as well as give it a more favorable Type, gourgeist is fond of getting a sizable boost for doing something it was gonna do anyway (i.e., set up Trick-or-Treat). But even then, all stat boosts are vulnerable of being phased by Whirlwind or Haze, making even these star players rather imperfect. At least Z-Parting Shot can only be wasted by using it to switch to a healthy ally!


tl;dr: I like Mega Evolution far more in general over Z-Moves, but am not pleased with how the first batch of 'dex entries for them was handled. Sound fair enough?
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Old 09-24-2017, 06:50 PM   #7
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I honestly prefer Mega Evolutions to Z-Moves. Mega Evos allowed mons not otherwise used to resurge, but you still had to strategize and think about it all. So many times, Z moves are "click button to either seal your victory outright or at least decimate your opponent's team enough that the rest of yours can clean up." Between being able to emerge victorious against a particular Pokémon that holds an opponent's team together in general or just against yours with a onetime nuke as well as being able to do crazy setup shenanigans with Z-Conversion or the like making weird niche status moves that ordinarily serve little purpose into win buttons, Z moves are just all over the map. There was also the immediate flood of CFZ-Deo-A spam BH teams that happened immediately upon gen 7 happening that left an incredibly sour taste in my usual love for that meta's zaniness until its ban which was mostly pushed for how two users meeting plus just wind up interrupted by endless battle clause due to Leppa Harvest. and is the reason I will advocate for BH to now have a species clause till the day either I or that format dies. And don't even get me started on how Z-Moves have made OU fall further into the perpetual darkness of solitary rule by everyone's (not) favorite lion genie. Honestly delete genies entirely I hate them and their designs, but that's besides the point.
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:41 PM   #8
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Mega-Evolutions just look cooler imo lol
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Old 09-30-2017, 08:31 PM   #9
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