When Pokémon first started, the tagline it received in the West was as simple as Gotta Catch ‘Em All. This single line pushed players into the vast collections that would spawn from the series in video games, the TCG and even figurines. Although at the time no one had any idea that Pokémon would be such a runaway hit, so the amount of 151 Pokémon didn’t seem so outrageous to collect given some time. As time has gone on and we’ve gotten six, soon to be seven, new generations since the first, we’ve reached a number that isn’t quite as tangible to collect in the games. It makes one wonder why we still have two versions for each generation when there’s so little trading that ever needs to be done, but there’s a few ways that Game Freak could tie it in to truly collecting them all and make it work.
Although Game Freak doesn’t intend for players to buy both versions of their Pokémon titles for each generation, it’s inevitable that some people will for a number of reasons. With the series moving to console, however, that’s a little less realistic given the increased price tag on their games. Now would be the perfect time for them to decide to simply release one game for a generation since they’ve seemingly pulled away from the national Pokédex in the most recent titles. The trading has been somewhat minimal and almost feels pointless at times outside of getting the two or three exclusives in each version. That’s why it would be ideal for Game Freak to completely revamp the way they view their regional and national Pokédex in order to make the series feel more cohesive than ever before.
Since the second generation titles, there’s been no way to get every single Pokémon in the national Pokédex without trading from previous entries in the series. In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the decision was made to completely ditch the national Pokédex in favor of just having a regional dex instead with around 400 of the over 800 total Pokémon at this point. Realistically, that’s not a lot and with there being no actual national Pokédex there never felt like an incentive to even move Pokémon unless players really wanted them to fight with. There ends up being a disconnect when having to move Pokémon from the bank to game, as it can lead to players having to revisit old games and keep trading up until they get the Pokémon they desire. That’s a lot of work unless they’re lucky and find one they one on the GTS, so what if instead of all these trading up nonsense, Game Freak instead let players catch every single Pokémon by using their two released versions.
As it stands, the Pokédex is likely to reach around or over 900 Pokemon with the introduction of Sword and Shield. So how would they go about making it feasible to collect them all? Simply divide them up between the two entries, of course! The newest generation of Pokemon could be scattered throughout the regional normally with only a couple of exclusives between versions, but the best way to include the national dex is by having each region include half of the remaining Pokémon in the dex. This means each game would have a regional dex of around 450 to 500, but finally allow players to catch ’em all. It would be a lot of trading, true, but that’s no different than having to transfer the 500 Pokémon from the bank to fill it out either. It would also heavily encourage trading between players more than ever before, even just so trainers could have their favorites to use on their journey. It would make each game really feel like a different adventure with such a varied amount of available Pokémon and would even follow along greatly with splitting up legendary Pokémon as well. People have started getting a bit tired of multiple games that offer little differences outside of the box legendary, so why not make two different versions make sense while also motivating players to collect Pokémon without making it feel like a chore that can’t be completed without access to every previous title in the series.
It’s highly unlikely we’ll see this sort of change in Sword and Shield, and perhaps not anytime soon for that matter, but it would be amazing should it come to fruition at some point. There’s nothing more disappointing than not being able to use a favorite Pokémon in a game or having to play through another title just to gain access to it. While it may seem silly from a region standpoint to offer such a split in Pokémon between games, mechanically it would be one of the greatest moves they could make in order for players to feel even more justified in two versions existing. There are a lot of ways Pokémon can change for the better and this is just one small step they could make to allow the series to grow even more by making the dual versions really matter instead of feeling like having a choice barely matters.