Best Pokémon distribution?

Thinking last night (and talking in Discord just now) about the fact that Jigglypuff appears in RSE. Like, at all. I don't think any in-game trainers use it or Wigglytuff and it's in ONE place in the game, an obscure place that you might well never actually happen across.

So it kind of got me thinking about about the way Pokémon are distributed throughout the games. There's games like X/Y where every single route seems to have a new selection of mons to choose from, and ones like S/M where you get like one absurd rare mon per route overlaid with tons of Pelipper and all that. And everything in between, including - as RSE - some com mons throughout the region, some rarer stuff, and then occasional "wtf why is this here, it's only in this one place and who would find it"... looking at you Jigglypuff, Feebas, and Corsola.

So which game does it best? And also - if none of them are perfect what is your ideal plan for a Pokémon distribution in a game? [Can also include discussion about the size/makeup of the game's regional dex.]

apologies if something like this exists
 

Karxrida

Spoopy Dragon
is a Community Contributor
I feel that RSE actually does a pretty good job with its wild Pokémon for the most part--at least when you're not surfing. You never feel strangled by the regional Rattata or Pidgey and there's a good variety as you progress, even in caves with their obligatory Zubat spam.
 
Platinum does the best job of distribution, no contest. D/P lacked diversity (the infamous examples of 2 available Fire types only of you pick Chimchar, and Gym Leader/Elite Four teams that don't share a common type being 2 major red flags). In addition, many older Pokemon that got evolutions in this gen were not available in the main story; I wouldn't be surprised if they remained secret from trainers until the Battle Tower for who relied on the cartridge alone for that information. Platinum fixed all this with more available Pokemon (but not in a fashion done in XY where they randomly dumped 10+mons per route), and giving the old Pokemon with new evolutions availability and prominence on ingame trainers' teams.
Second place goes to B2W2 for making quite a few really neat Mons available early (Riolu, Magby and Elekid being prime examples). It was also nice having familiar Pokes available in Unova, while not having them forced into your face.
 
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My thing is that I want access to lots of mons early. If something is showing up after the 5th gym, why am I even getting it for my team? I already have a fire type or whatever, you better be damn good to make me kick it off and replace it. So on repeated playthroughs, if there’s only two ground types before the Electric gym, I will be pretty annoyed by both species pretty fast.
Kalos wasn’t perfect, and I see why people wouldn’t like the feel of a completely new group of mons every route, but I don’t care. I could almost always look at the list of mons in-game and get the exact team I want without having to rely on an early-game bird to fill out the slot until I hit gym 7.
 

Xen

Fish Pokémon Connoisseur
is a Top Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnus
To me, B2W2 has the best distribution of Pokemon overall, since the games are able to maintain a consistent pool of new and decent Pokemon throughout the whole game w/o the regional dex feeling too barren and/or bloated in certain spots. Early on you get mons like Azurill, Riolu, and Magnemite. Midgame has mons like Drilburr, Braviary, and Heracross. Late game has mons like Staryu and Metang. And there's even a handful of new faces in the post-game areas such as Tyranitar. And that's just a small overall listing.

As for worst distribution, there are a handful of good candidates. I think D/P are probably the worst offender of the bunch due to the heavy type imbalance present in the regional dex (to the point where boss rosters suffered immensely), which as we saw from Platinum, wouldn't have been quite an issue if all the Gen IV mons were present in the dex. But for some reason, Game Freak felt the need to leave them out of the main game, with some not even being available at all in-game unless you had a DS Phat/Lite and a Gen III game.

As much as I love Johto, G/S are also terrible w/ mons distribution, with most Gen II Pokemon families being unnecessarily difficult to find or locked to Kanto. But like with Platinum, at least Crystal helped rectify the issue somewhat, which is something I felt like Emerald failed with when it comes to R/S.
 

Codraroll

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Personally, I like XY's everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach the best. Whenever I want to do a new playthrough and try out some new Pokémon, I can look up XY and find "yes, I can use that!". It appears to have more Pokémon available before the second Gym than many earlier gens have in total. XY is notorious for filling your team up with gift Pokémon (Starter, Kanto starter, Mega Lucario, Lapras, plus the forced Snorlax encounter, never mind the gift Torchic when the game first came out), but if you put those ones aside you'll still have no problem finding a bunch of usable team mates and a great variety throughout the game. Contrast S/M where the same handful of shitmons are showed in your face throughout the entire game, and the number of new and interesting Pokémon you might find fun to use drops down sharply after the first island.

Platinum is also great, with actually putting the new evolutions of previously underperforming Pokémon in the game proper. It does have a bit of a nasty tendency to throw Staravia, Bibarel, Golbat and Machoke after you for way longer than it's fun to see them, but at least it doesn't fall into the S/M trap of hiding away practically everything else.
 
My personal favorites are the following:

X/Y: Has the greatest variety all around, different Pokemon at practically every route. When I played through them and got to a new area, I always liked to just encounter wild Pokemon for a while in order to see what I could find that I hadn't already caught. In almost every situation, this was a lot. They also had really great variety in their caves as opposed to just spamming bats, rocks and moles in your face at every possible situation, something I feel that far too many other games do. I guess they water routes could have been better, but that's actually okay since there weren't that many water routes in Kalos, and I don't think any other game have handled variety on their water routes that well either.

Platinum: Definitely had the greatest variety for its time. Improved upon D/P by adding all the Pokemon that should have been in the Sinnoh Dex, as well as more Pokemon from certain types that needed it, most notably Fire and Electric. Platinum (and D/P too) also had good variety and distribution on their post-game routes, there were new Pokemon to be found instead of just the same ones as during the main game.

B/W: Had pretty great variety on their routes, and were decent in their later caves too, Chargestone Cave is one of my favorites. They also successfully showcased their new Pokemon very well which several other games failed at. Not to mention the fact that they, as well as their sequels, had great variety and new Pokemon on their post-game routes just like the Sinnoh games.

B2W2: I think this is the successor to Platinum and the predecessor to X/Y. They had the largest Pokedex for their time and really great variety on the whole. They still had a large focus on their new Pokemon while also showcasing several older Pokemon at the same time, but without ever making them steal the spotlight.

Honorable mentions:

US/UM: While they still have many of the problems from S/M, the dex expansion helped a bit here. I always got excited when I ran into a "new" Pokemon while playing through these games.

R/S/E and OR/AS: they had pretty good distribution on the land routes, sadly not so much on the water routes and caves. That said, I definitely think OR/AS should have expanded on the Hoenn Dex far more than what they did. Adding more Pokemon of certain types and fixing the water routes would have been a great first step.

As for the worst distribution... I think G/S/C and HG/SS, to start with. They actually have quite good distribution between areas, but the issue is that they don't showcase the Johto Pokemon very well. Then there's D/P and S/M, which have issues in different ways and are outclassed by Platinum and US/UM in pretty much every way.

As for the Kanto games, they are sort of in-between. They aren't bad, but not super good either. I guess they are just okay.

As for my ideal Pokemon distribution in a game... I think a quite large Dex is what I like the best, 300-400 Pokemon or so. I prefer it when they focus on the new Pokemon as much as possible. Having good variety between routes is great, a few repeats here and there won't hurt but they shouldn't overdo it. The regular routes aren't usually that much of a problem though, the caves and water routes tend to be worse. The games don't need to have unique Pokemon in every single cave or water route, but having better variety than just the Diglett and Zubat lines in most caves (like in S/M) or more than just the Tentacool and Wingull lines on water routes (like in the Hoenn games) is an absolute must. Strangely, I feel like there has never really been a Pokemon game with great variety on the water routes, and only a few were successful with their caves (X/Y, B2/W2, B/W to an extent). Here's to hoping we'll get a game like that in the future!
 
X and Y had a fantastic distribution. There's a massive amount of variety, and no matter what route you are on, there's something fun on it to use.
 
I’ve always had a soft spot for BW’s lack of previous gen Pokemon prior to getting the National Dex. It made the game feel a lot more fresh only seeing things you’d never seen before; while I do like that in the other gens you can mix and match some of your old favorites with the new mons it was kinda neat to have the “whoa, what is that?” factor increased so much as opposed to “oh great, more Gen I mons I’ve been seeing for a decade.”
 
I tend to find the huge Pokédex in XY a little overwhelming. While I like having lots of options, I also like the idea that I’ll have seen basically everything that’s available in the course of a normal playthrough, without having to spend ages in the grass on each route.

That’s why I quite like Platinum. While DP had a billion problems in this area, Platinum delivered a good-sized Pokédex built around the idea that you’d have seen almost everything in it by the time you entered the Hall of Fame. It also has plenty of interesting options available before the first gym, unlike some other games (*cough* BW *cough*), which makes it easy to plan out some really fun Monotype runs.

It gets a little boring seeing Staravia, Bibarel and Golbat everywhere, but it doesn’t bother me too much.

The game also rewards you with new interesting Pokémon for exploring different areas, but doesn’t usually expect you to spend an hour in the same patch of grass to find the designated rare Pokémon of that route, which I think is the right balance.

Honey trees are another story though: getting Heracross and Munchlax is awful. It’d also be good if there were more of a hint towards getting Rotom, since no Trainer uses it and you could easily explore the Old Chateau during the day and dismiss the TV as something a little creepy, but nothing more.
 
A point that I think hasn’t been touched upon in regards to Pokemon availability is fishing.

Fishing provides the majority of access to Water Pokemon - and in some very few cases, non-water Pokemon - in many games. In Red and Blue, for example, almost all of the encounters you’ll get by surfing are Tentacool. For the rest of the Water types, you’ll have to fish for them. This isn’t handled very well, though - the Old Rod is only obtained in Vermillion before the 3rd gym, and all you’ll get with that is... Magikarp. Who you can obtain through 500 bucks before Mt. Moon. And then they decided to lock the Good Rod to Fuchsia, and the Super Rod on an optional route no one takes. Most Water Pokemon are simply ignored by the player as a result, especially as the game gives no indiciation where certain Water types can be found - it’s a game of trial and error.

Now, Gen 2 has infamously poor Pokemon distribution, but what I think it does right is fishing, as a lot of interesting team options come up by fishing. You obtain the Old Rod right before Union Cave, and immediately you have an assortment of options - not just Magikarp. You can pick up your choice of Tentacool, Krabby, Poliwag, and Goldeen, all of which normally aren’t seen into the midgame of most Pokemon games. You have an interesting choice to make on what Water type you might want to take with you, and this is encouraged by the game - Union Cave mostly consists of Hikers with Geodudes and has a handful of Firebreathers. Water types fare well here, and get out of their level rut quickly.

I think it’s pretty clever design that encourages fishing, which is all too often neglected in the series. It’s understandable why - it’s boring. You sit and hope you fish what you want, and seeing Magikarp is just demoralizing. While random encounters are effectively the same, there is at least the illusion of effort since you’re moving around. But I’d like to see it elaborated upon more so it isn’t so tedious.
 

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