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Pokémon Legends Z-A Could Take Inspiration From an Overlooked Spinoff

The bold new idea the series needs.

Detective Pikachu Returns

Two years after the release of the startlingly acclaimed Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a follow-up is finally coming. Titled Pokémon Legends Z-A, this entry will take players back to the Kalos region featured in Pokémon X/Y but takes place exclusively within the Paris-inspired Lumiose City. It’s a bold idea unlike anything the franchise has previously seen, and that hyper-focus on a singular city could work wonders for a Pokémon game. Interestingly, it could also indicate Z-A is taking inspiration from one of Pokémon’s most unique spinoff games.

Lumiose City is one of the most fascinating locales the franchise has ever seen, a sprawling megacity laid out in a spoked-wheel structure, with the gorgeous Prism Tower at its center. It’s the second-biggest city in the entire Pokémon world, but it was the first setting to introduce the idea of Pokémon and humans co-existing equally. While this was just a brief theme in Pokémon X/Y, it’s also easy to see how it inspired Detective Pikachu’s setting of Ryme City.

Both the spinoff games and film put a heavy focus on how humans would realistically coexist with Pokémon, and it’s undoubtedly those titles' strong points. It seems like that idea is being carried forward in Z-A, as the trailer talks about an “urban redevelopment plan” and then states this is “A vision of beautiful coexistence between people and Pokémon.”

Focusing on a singular setting, instead of an entire region, could give Z-A the chance to embellish the idea of coexistence and depict it in greater detail than we’ve ever seen before. While the Detective Pikachu games have their own problems with lackluster gameplay, the way they craft their settings has been fascinating to see.

In Inverse’s review of Detective Pikachu Returns we wrote:

“The other thing Detective Pikachu Returns does exceptionally well is how it creates a world where people and Pokémon co-exist. An Inteleon works at the local florist cultivating plants, a Milcery works at the coffee shop adding cream to drinks, a Politoed sings karaoke at night, and a Manectric works as a vigilant police dog.”

Seeing a new game double down on those ideas feels like the most interesting thing the Pokémon series could be doing right now, especially as the mainline formula has started to wear thin with Scarlet and Violet.

Detective Pikachu’s exploration of coexistence is one of the freshest ideas Pokémon has had in a decade, and it deserves further exploration.


The other factor here is how that singular focus on Lumiose could let Z-A flex its storytelling muscles, one of the main things that most players loved about Legends: Arceus. That game gave players a dynamic setting to explore, set 150 years in the past of the Hisui region. There are some wild twists involving time travel, and there’s already some indication of how Z-A’s plot could do something similar.

One of the most important characters in Pokémon X/Y is someone named AZ, whose name can’t be a coincidence. AZ is an immortal being that was once king of the Kalos region 3,000 years ago during the Kalos-Galar battle. This long conflict made Pokémon tools of the fight and after the demise of his own Pokémon, AZ created the ultimate weapon to try and end the prolonged skirmish, ultimately wiping out both sides.

Because of the time-traveling nature of the previous Legends game, it seems incredibly likely we’ll see an exploration of the past and future of Lumiose City and Kalos. That’s especially true considering the game focuses on the coexistence of people and Pokémon, and Kalos has a checkered past of using Pokémon as tools.

There’s still plenty we don’t know about Pokémon Legends Z-A, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most promising setups the series has had in the last decade.

Pokémon Legends Z-A launches in 2025 for Nintendo Switch.

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