It’s Ridiculous That Gyarados Isn’t In New Pokemon Snap

The context for why Magikarp, a pathetic little fish who is so bad at being a sea creature it can barely swim, evolves into the almighty Gyarados is some of the most fascinating lore in Pokemon history. Newcomers to the series will often take one look at the only-knows-Splash-until-level-15 Magikarp and say, “Nah, not for me” – although those of us with a bit more experience know better than that.

Magikarp is based on the iconic koi legend, hence the “karp” part of its name. Although koi are often associated with Japan, this legend originates from the Yellow River – or Huang He – in China, which begins in the Bayan Har Mountains and travels out to the Bohai Sea. According to the story, a group of koi attempted to leap up a waterfall that was being constantly raised by malicious demons. Eventually, a single fish managed to burst through the top of the foam, at which point the gods took notice and converted it into a dragon. This concept – a powerless fish continues to fight in vain, splashing and thrashing its way to the top and being ultimately rewarded for its perseverance – is at the heart of how Magikarp becomes Gyarados.

And so my question is this: where the hell is Gyarados in New Pokemon Snap?

I don’t mean to say that Gyarados deserves its place on the roster purely because of how great its background is – although I am saying that too, if I’m honest. The main reason for why Gyarados should have been in New Pokemon Snap is because of the game’s focus on the Illumina phenomenon, a mysterious ancient power that causes certain individual Pokemon to emit a sort of glowing, magical aura.

The Illumina Pokemon in New Pokemon Snap are core players in its story. The first one you encounter is Meganium, who appeared in an early trailer for Snap, but there are also others – my favourite is probably Milotic or Steelix. But some of the Illumina Pokemon are complete and utter rubbish. For example, the one you meet at the bottom of the sea is Wishiwashi. Wishiwashi! The idiot tiny fish who becomes a big fish if a thousand of them get together and hold fins, or something. Why wasn’t it Gyarados, eh?

Gyarados is one of the most iconic Pokemon in history. It played a big role in the first movie and has been in every single mainline Pokemon game to date. I actually wrote whole pieces on why Magikarp is the best Nuzlocke Pokemon – if you don’t know what that means, here’s why Nuzlockes are great – and defending all of the series’ Magikarp guys. Just like every mainline game has a Magikarp, every single level in New Pokemon Snap has at least one of these idiot fish splish-splashing around somewhere. It feels weird to have all of these Magikarp and not a single Gyarados. I mean, you’re going to tell me that the Magikarp who somehow managed to make its way to the alternate Rimstone route in Outaway Cave hasn’t earned its gills yet? Come on. That’s a Gyarados waiting to happen.

Beyond that, Maricopia Reef makes a huge deal out of the whirlpool near the starting area. During the day, Magikarp will jump up out of the whirlpool if you toss a fluffruit into the centre of it. The more fruit you throw in, the higher it jumps. Eventually you get a request to investigate the reef at night time, at which point it seems like a given that Gyarados is going to appear.

Nope. If you throw enough Illumina orbs, Blastoise jumps up out of the water and uses its water cannons as little jet engines to fly across the map. Why make such a big deal out of Magikarp being there during the day if you’re not going to give us Gyarados later on, a Pokemon who learns moves like Twister and Outrage and could therefore be the source of the whirlpool? I mean, it’s even half Flying-type – it would make a lot more sense for Gyarados to launch itself across the map than for Blastoise to turn into a hydroelectric rocket ship. Blastoise is my favourite Pokemon of all time and this was still somehow one of the most disappointing moments in New Pokemon Snap for me.

I know we’re still not sure about whether or not we’ll get New Pokemon Snap DLC, although there are a number of reasons why that seems fairly likely to happen. Whether that appears as new maps, additional Pokemon, postgame story beats, or anything else, I will be thoroughly disappointed if Bamco decides to throw a bunch of extra Pokemon into New Pokemon Snap and leaves Gyarados on the cutting room floor once again. Everybody’s favourite dragon-but-not-a-dragon needs to be given the respect it deserves.

Actually, I’m going all out – put red Gyarados in New Pokemon Snap, you cowards. And delete Illumina Wishiwashi while you’re at it, cheers.

Next: New Pokemon Snap: Complete Guide And Walkthrough

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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

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