There’s a theory that the next Pokemon game is going to take place in India. Features editor and resident Chad Pokemon enjoyer Ben Sledge has already broken down this theory for us, so I’m going to assume a little bit of knowledge on your behalf and skip the specifics to jump right into the merits of Pokemon India – because it sounds like the ideal setting for Pokemon, especially as the series tries to evolve.
India is not the most obvious choice for a Pokemon game. It’s the second most populous country in the world, so it’s not like there wouldn’t be millions of people who’d love to see their nation represented in the world of Pokemon, but it’s also not at the top of anyone’s list. At least, not anyone who hasn’t read the fan theory, anyway. But it’s this unpredictable nature that makes India such a solid choice for a series that needs to do something fresh.
Related: I'm Bored Of Pokemon Not Having Voice Actors NowPreviously, I’ve written that Gen 9 should look to Africa, and while India is not in Africa, they fill a similar role in Pokemon’s next steps. Pokemon games have been set in Japan four times, the USA twice, France once, and the UK once. For the USA’s first game, and for France, it was very specific cosmopolitan cities used as inspiration – New York City and Paris, respectively. The return to the USA saw a more open environment in Hawaii, moving away from the tightly packed cities of previous games. Following that, the UK inspired region, Galar, could have stuck with London, but opted for Britain as a whole (though without Newcastle) by incorporating inspiration from the likes of Dartmoor, Liverpool, Preston, Edinburgh, the Highlands, and the rolling countryside of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Pokemon moved towards recognisable cities, and then even when it had the chance to do so again with London, opted for something different. Legends Arceus is embracing something like an open world and is changing up the battle style to introduce new layers of strategy. Sword & Shield ditched the traditional follow-up game in favour of two substantial DLC packs. Roving Pokemon in the overworld, and a wider Safari Zone-esque place like the Wild Area, now seem to be core concepts for Pokemon moving forward. It hasn’t changed all that much in 25 years, and that’s frustrating, but it seems to at least want to maybe think about changing at some point in the future, maybe.
India has a range of settings within it, which is one of the reasons I had suggested Africa. While Unova and Kalos (New York and Paris) are bustling, urban cities, and Alola (Hawaii) is more open and beachy, Galar offers a contrast everywhere you go. While there are no Hawaiian beaches, there are ports, villages, fields, farms, cutting edge metropolises and traditional, historic cities with steamworks and castles. India offers the chance for similar metropolises in Delhi and Mumbai, with the latter also offering a waterfront. Hyderabad is more historic, and Chennai offers a coastline just off the busy streets. In other regions, the slick, ultra modern feel disappears in favor of a more communal city, with markets and vendors and no apparent traffic laws besides loudest horn wins.
Away from the cities, there are also plenty of rural areas to be drawn upon for inspiration. India is a nation that has been frequently caricatured in the media, and Pokemon has never been one for extreme nuance, so that would be an issue, but also, Pokemon is one of the biggest franchises in the world. To suggest it has to remain in its native Japan or in safe, massively overexposed white regions of the West is bonkers. New York, Paris, and Hawaii have been represented hundreds of times in modern media – New York especially in games, although Paris has a fair few titles as well. Hawaii is less common, but still nowhere near the bold step it would be for Pokemon to head to the subcontinent.
Then of course, we have the Pokemon themselves. While many new Pokemon introduced each time are just funky designs the artists at Game Freak came up with while staring at a carton of eggs, several are directly inspired by the region. Wooloo, Mr. Rime, Polteageist, Sirfetch’d, Toxtricity, and Galarian Weezing are all clearly inspired by Britain. India, with its elephants, tigers, macaques, deer, and rhinos, has a lot of natural life to draw from, as well as the extreme heat and monsoon season to use as inspiration, not to mention the colourful culture and a fervour for sport to match Britain’s.
While a more obvious guess would be Texas, Greece or back to Japan, India offers Pokemon a lot to experiment with. If the theory is true, there’s a lot to look forward to in Pokemon India. Just please, don’t give us two versions of the same game this time.
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