When Game Freak released Pokémon X and Y last year, they took an interesting roundabout approach to addressing power creep, which has been a persistent issue with the series going back to at least Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
Rather than parcel out a handful of new evolutions to bring older monsters in line with newer creations, Game Freak instead opted to introduce the concept of the Mega Evolution—a powerful alternate form that came at the expense of a held item. In addition to freshening up monsters like Mawile, which had resided at the bottom of Pokémon's tier list for most of its existence, Mega Evolutions introduced an interesting new decision for trainers to make. With only one Mega Evolution being allowed per team, trainers had to decide whether they wanted to build their team around Mega Charizard, Mega Mawile, Mega Lucario, or any number of other Mega Evolutions. All told, it was a rather clever way to update the tried-and-true formula for the latest generation.
With that, Game Freak seems to be doubling down on Mega Evolutions for Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, introducing no fewer than ten (and counting) new forms. Some are expected, some are definitely not expected, but they should all have an introducing impact on Pokémon battles to come. Let's take a look.
Back in the misty days of Ruby and Sapphire on the Game Boy Advance, Swampert and Sceptile were two of the best monsters around. Power creep eventually caught up with them both though, relegating them to also-ran status with Snorlax and other former powerhouses. In that respect, it was inevitable that each would get a new form. Of the two, Mega Swampert is a more conventional boost, keeping its original typing while picking up a boosted attack stat. Weirdly enough though, its new ability is Swift Swim, which boosts its speed in rainy conditions. At a guess, Game Freak is positioning Mega Swampert as more of a pure sweeper with some bulkiness since the inability to hold the item Leftovers, which restores some health after each turn, limits its capacity to take hits. With its excellent Ground/Water typing and interesting movepool, Swampert should find a niche regardless of its eventual base stats.
Essentially a hard counter to the omnipresent Rotom-W, Mega Sceptile boasts quadruple water resistance as well as the ability to switch into Thunder Wave without fear of paralysis thanks to its Thunder Rod ability. All Mega Sceptile really has to worry about from Rotom-W is the odd Hidden Power Ice, which is unlikely to kill it in one hit. Unfortunately, Mega Sceptile will also be held back by weaknesses to common types such as Dragon, Fairy, and most worryingly of all, Flying. In all probability, Talonflame will be able to eat Mega Sceptile for lunch, making it a less attractive option for the all-important mega slot. Pairing it with Heatran and Azumarill, however, could make for a really nasty core. Bonus: Mega Sceptile is the best looking Mega Evolution this side of Mega Charizard Y. It'll be nice to have Sceptile back in the party.
Another natural choice for a Mega Evolution. A borderline starter in the Ruby and Sapphire days, it soon tumbled into the neverused tier, seemingly doomed to never reappear. Being a midgame option in Ruby and Sapphire's story, it just couldn't compete with the likes of Salamence, Garchomp, and Dragonite in the competitive game. With Altaria's new form, however, it finally stands to gain an all-important niche in the competitive metagame thanks to its new Fairy sub-typing. In essence, Altaria is now the perfect Dragon counter, able to block moves like Outrage and respond with a litany of Dragon-type attacks of its own. Along with Diancie, Mawile, Azumarill, and Gardevoir, it's now one of the most interesting Fairy-type Pokémon.
Salamence isn't quite the monster it used to be since the advent of the Fairy type in Pokémon X and Y, but it's still capable of doing plenty of damage. At one point during the Diamond and Pearl era, it was even banned by competitive sites like Smogon. With its Mega Evolution and the attendant stat boosts, Salamence figures to be flying high once again in the competitive metagame. Worth noting is the fact that Mega Salamence will have the Aerilate ability, which turns all Normal-type moves into Flying-type moves and gives them a 30 percent boost. With Aerilate also stacking with the traditional same-type attack bonus (STAB), a single Return attack from Salamence will be like getting hit by a mack truck. With its superior typing, Mega Salamence may well become a mainstay, replacing the popular Mega Pinsir. So brace yourselves, Pokémon Trainers. It seems that the end of Salamence's reign of terror was short-lived.
Metagross took longer to fall off than Sceptile and Swampert, continuing to see regular use well into the Black and White era; but in the end, not even its excellent attack stat and strong ability could keep it from sliding into the lower tiers. Like Salemence, however, its decline will almost certain prove short-lived. As regional champion Steven Stone's signature Pokémon, it's in line for some serious boosts. It will also be getting a new ability in Tough Claws, which boosts contact moves like its signature attack Meteor Mash up to 33 percent, which comes on top of the fact that Meteor Mash has a chance to boost itself after a successful hit. In essence, Mega Metagross will have all of the benefits of Choice Band Metagross, but without the downfall of being locked into a single move after performing an attack. With its massive advantage over Fairy types and its terrific synergy with Dragon types, it's fair to say that Mega Metagross will be getting a good deal of use online. After a brief hiatus, it seems that Metagross is well and truly back. Be afraid.
Sableye is a gangster. It's not a monster you'll see often in competitive play, but its Prankster ability—which allows it to use status-inducing moves before an opponent can attack—is a game-changer. With the Prankster ability and its unique Dark/Ghost typing, it can compete against even top tier opponents. In that regard, Mega Sableye might actually be a step down from the regular Sableye. Though it gains an interesting ability in Magic Bounce, which bounces back status-inducing attacks, it loses speed for increased defense and special attack. From the look of it, Game Freak is angling toward making Mega Sableye a tank, which could be interesting given its array of irritating status-inducing moves like Will-O-Wisp. On such a build, however, Recover would be pretty much mandatory given Mega Sableye's inability to hold Leftovers. I'll reserve judgment for now, but I wonder if Mega Sableye will be able to find a niche outside of the story mode. At least it looks pretty sweet with its giant gem.
One of the more confusing additions to this list. Slowbro is definitely well-liked, but with its strong defenses and movepool, it's not exactly in need of a buff. That's exactly what it's getting though with its new form. Like its other two variants, Mega Slowbro is a Water/Psychic type Pokémon, with its stat boosts being primarily directed toward defense and special attack. Even with big stat boosts though, it's kind of hard to see competitive players making room for Mega Slowbro on their team. I suppose there's always a chance that it will have a niche in Doubles, but it's hard to see how when its ability is the wholly unremarkably ability Shell Armor, which protects Mega Slowbro from critical hits. Unfair as it might be to say, this new form seems like a bit of fan service for Slowbro fans. In the competitive game, it's apt to have a hard time finding a niche given the scarcity of Mega Evolution slots. Barring a really great new move, a lot of trainers will probably just keep on using plain old Slowbro.
Yeah, I don't get Lopunny. Maybe it's more popular in Japan? I know that the baby version has something of a following over there. In any case, it's getting a Mega Evolution in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and a new typing to boot. I'll admit that Mega Lopunny is a fair sight cooler than regular Lopunny, dispensing with the previous variant's bizarre sexiness for more of a Usagi Yojimbo look, its new Normal/Fighting typing being a welcome improvement. Lopunny is just what the Mega Evolution was meant to fix. But geez, couldn't have Game Freak found a more deserving candidate? I know that I wouldn't mind seeing a Swellow Mega Evolution, or maybe a Sharpedo Mega Evolution. Mega Bidoof is long overdue (okay, I'm joking... mostly). But instead we're getting Lopunny, which isn't even native to Ruby and Sapphire's Hoenn Region, having been first introduced in Diamond and Pearl. I suppose there are worse choices—Game Freak could have given Mr. Mime a Mega Evolution. Thank heaven for small favors.
Possibly the most anonymous Pokémon ever. No one remembers Audino because it's the Pokémon equivalent of vendor trash. Its one and only purpose for existing in Pokémon Black and White was for yielding an experience bonus while looking vaguely like Chansey. So why is it getting a Mega Evolution? Because the game needs more Fairy types, I suppose. Early speculation is that it will be primarily useful in Doubles play, which is the preferred metagame of the Pokémon World Championships (and the primary reason that I've never entered the competition myself). That speculation is borne out by the fact that its ability is Healer, which has a chance to cure the status effects of adjacent monsters in Doubles and Triples. Its ultimate utility as a healer will have much to do with its movepool, as even solid bulkiness will be mitigated by the lack of Leftovers. As with Lopunny, I wish Game Freak had found a more worthwhile candidate for the honor of receiving a Mega Evolution. Mega Jigglypuff (yes, Jigglypuff, not Wigglytuff) seems long overdue.
An event monster from Pokémon X and Y, Diancie gets a fabulous new form in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. As for its utility, your guess is honestly as good as mind. Like Mega Sableye, it gains the ability Magic Bounce, which is paired with a substantial boost in speed, attack, and special attack. It has a solid boosting move in Calm Mind, which raises special attack and special defense, so it's entirely possible that it's being positioned as a special sweeper of some sort. At present, it's seen more of a tank, there to lay Stealth Rock and blast opponents with Diamond Storm, the latter which has a 50 percent chance of raising its defense. That doesn't necessarily jive with a special sweeper, but maybe some enterprising trainer can find a way to make the two work. Don't expect it to see it in-game much—being an event legendary pretty much precludes that—but don't be surprised if it sees wide use in simulators like Pokémon Online and Pokémon Showdown.