10 Most Complicated Pokemon Evolution Lines

10 Most Complicated Pokemon Evolution Lines

The recent release of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet has continued the franchise’s dominance in pop culture, with the game’s Paldea region expanding its roster of creatures to a staggering 1,000+. And given that’s one of the main appeals of the franchise and game series specifically, many of these species could evolve.

However, it is not always as simple as reaching a certain level. Some Pokémon, like Kalos’s Inkay and Hoenn’s Feebas, require some surprising, convoluted and/or boring conditions to be met before they evolve.



Inkay floats happily in the air in the Pokémon anime.

The Nintendo 3DS era Pokémon X and Y are generally looked back on by fans as the games with the most wasted potential due to their barebones content. Nevertheless, they were not actually without their interesting methods of evolution. Inkay is a lovable dark/psychic type squid creature that evolves into Malamar, but its evolution method at the time confused many players.

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To evolve, Inkay must first reach level 30, and the player must then physically hold the 3DS up while leveling up. As evolution methods go, this one is admittedly pretty clever, but frustrating for players who didn’t know the trick.


Tyrogue in battle in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

The Johto games (Gold, Silverand Crystal) is widely considered a fan favorite Pokémon regions, and with good reason. As the first sequels to the main series, these games broke the mold of their time and introduced beloved staples. One concept was “baby” Pokémon, in the sense that older species were retroactively given pre-evolutions.

Tyrogue was among them, and its three branching evolutions were very specific. To evolve into the Johto native Hitmontop, the attack and defense stats had to be equal; to evolve into Hitmonchan, it needed its defense to be higher than its attack; to evolve into Hitmonlee, the attack had to be higher than the defense.


Feebas jumps into the air in the Pokémon anime.

Although it has (mercifully) been streamlined since it was introduced in the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Feebas were once notorious for their grueling development process into the elegantly powerful Milotic. The aforementioned Hoenn region games brought in the Pokémon Contests feature as an optional side activity, and unfortunately for players, Feebas was directly tied to it.

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Players would need to grind the somewhat silly Feebas’ Beauty stat in these contests until it finally evolved. However, since then it has been made easier by trading it while holding a Prism Scale.


Sliggoo in a cave in the Pokémon anime.

There are plenty of memorable Dragon-Type Pokémon in the main games, but Goodra at least deserves an honorable mention for what it’s capable of. However, it starts from delicate, humble beginnings as a Goomy and then Sliggoo. But making the final step from the latter to Goodra requires some patience and persistence.

To evolve Sliggoo into Goodra, it must reach at least level 50 while rising under rain or fog. The catch, however, is that these weather conditions must occur naturally: they cannot be triggered by using something like Rainy Day to artificially alter the battle terrain.


Shared image of Karrablast and Shellet in Pokémon anime.

Black and WhiteThe Unova region did an admirable job of feeling like a “soft reboot” for the main games, as the main story’s playthrough made players rely solely on this generation’s new creatures – just like the Kanto region did. Likewise, it overtook Kanto as the region with the most original species (156). Two of these species, Karrablast and Shelmet, are more closely intertwined in terms of lore, biology, and in-game evolution.

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It’s another clever way to incorporate universe world building into a mechanic, but the trade evolution feature they use to evolve is still somewhat boring from a bygone era. To evolve Karrablast into Escavalier and Shelmet into Accelgor, players must find someone to trade the opposite creature with them.

Galarian Yamask

Image of Galarian Yamask's Pokédex entry in Sword and Shield.

When Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced Regional Forms, they became arguably the most beloved game mechanic since X and Y‘s long lost Mega Evolutions. Even better, they weren’t one-off gimmicks that Game Freak discarded in the following generation, too Sword and Shield introducing some creative Galarian Forms.

Galarian Yamask and Runerigus were two such species, but the evolution process to get to the latter falls under the “boring” category. Points for ingenuity are deserved, but getting the fragile Yamask to suffer at least 49 hit points without passing out is quite the effort.

Galarian Farfetch’d

The Pokédex entry for Galarian Farfetch'd in Sword and Shield.

Farfetch’d was a somewhat memorable Pokemon from the original games thanks to its fun design and lore gimmick. And when Sword and Shield came around with his take on Regional Forms, Farfetch had gotten the attention it deserved. In addition to a Galarian Form, it also received an original evolution, but it has a technically difficult cost.

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Galarian Farfetch must beat the odds by hitting an opponent with three consecutive critical hits. In addition to that, the other half of the challenge comes in finding an opponent that can stick around, HP-wise, until the three crits wear off.

Key art promoting Meltan and its compatibility with Pokémon HOME and GO.

In the main series of Pokémon matches, Meltan and Melmetal came in a strange interlude. It doesn’t technically belong to any region/generation in the game’s world, but they were officially brought in for Let’s go, Pikachu! and Eevee!

The process of evolving Meltan into Melmetal was a bit of a nuisance in a way that other complex evolution lines are not, as it required players to log in and play the mobile AR game Pokémon GOto do it. After playing the latter, players had to collect a staggering 400 Meltan Candies.


Ursaluna in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus was well received as a breath of fresh air for the main game series, and part of the appeal of venturing through Hisui (feudal Sinnoh) was encountering the new Hisui forms and original species. Ursaluna was one of the latter, serving as an original evolution to the now second-stage Ursaring species from the Johto region.

It’s an incredibly potent physical attacker, but the way to get one can slow the pace of the game loop. Players must go out of their way to dig for treasure to find a peat block, but arguably the hardest part of the process is waiting for a full moon to appear.


A Wurmple in the Pokemon anime.

In generation 3 Hoenn games, getting Wurmple to evolve isn’t hard in itself. The challenge lies in getting it to evolve into a specific third-stage Pokémon. The Wurmple is among the various species in the entire franchise to have a shared development path.

In this case, it can either evolve into Silcoon to eventually become the butterfly creature Beautifly, while it can also evolve into Cascoon to become the moth Dustox. If players specifically want one or the other, things can get tricky as it can only evolve into Silcoon or Cascoon at level 7 depending on a hidden “Personality Value” that can only be seen by hacking the game.

NEXT: 10 Pokemon with the Best Defensive Stats in Scarlet & Violet

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