Is Pokémon Legends: Z-A the long-lost Pokémon X and Y follow-up?

Is Pokémon Legends: Z-A the long-lost Pokémon X and Y follow-up?

The Pokémon Company is taking players back to Pokémon X and Pokémon Y’s Lumiose City in Pokémon Legends: Z-A, the new Kalos-region game that was announced Tuesday for release in 2025. The brief trailer shown during the Pokémon Day broadcast didn’t include many concrete details, except that Lumiose City is undergoing an “urban redevelopment” aimed at building a city that “belongs to both people and Pokémon.”

Pokémon Legends: Z-A is a new entry in the Legends spinoff series. The first game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, was released in 2022 and brought players to a past version of the Sinnoh region, then called Hisui. In contrast, Pokémon Legends: Z-A looks to be a more current (or maybe futuristic) version of the Lumiose City from Pokémon X and Y. Those games were released in 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS handheld, and to this day, there are a bunch of unanswered questions, which gives us a place to start in thinking through what Pokémon Legends: Z-A could be about.

Pokémon Legends: Z-A could be the third version of Pokémon X and Y that players have been wondering about for years — let’s dive into what we know, as well as some speculation.

Pokémon X and Y never got a third version

For years, The Pokémon Company had a pattern in how it released its mainline games. First, there were the two main versions — for example, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue. Later, it would release a third definitive version, usually with minor changes, updates, and added content. Pokémon Black and Pokémon White, released in 2010 in Japan, were the first generation to break from that system, with The Pokémon Company skipping the third version and heading straight into the sequels, Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2, in 2012. Pokémon X and Y, which were released in 2013, didn’t get a third game, sequels, or enhanced versions.

Xerneas and Yveltal in Pokémon Go. Xerneas looks like a deer or elk with eight antlers and blue fur, while Yvetal looks like a giant pink bird. Image: Niantic/The Pokémon Company

But fans have long believed that the developers were leading into a potential Pokémon Z that never came. There are several reasons, the first of which is that Pokémon X and Y introduced three new legendary Pokémon. Two were featured in the box art of their corresponding games: Xerneas for X and Yveltal for Y. The third legendary Pokémon was Zygarde — and like with other legendaries introduced in a trio (such as Rayquaza on the cover of Emerald to go with Groudon and Kyogre on Ruby and Sapphire), fans expected a third game featuring Zygarde on the box to flesh out its lore.

This theory was supported further by the reveal in late 2015, two years after the release of X and Y, of Zygarde’s alternate forms. Only one of them, 50% Forme, was included in Pokémon X and Y; the others were revealed in the October 2015 issue of CoroCoro magazine, which led fans to believe that a potential Pokémon Z was imminent. Instead, those other forms were introduced to the main games in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon.

To cap it all off, the Pokémon anime didn’t shy away from the letter Z: Season 19 of the show is called Pokémon the Series: XYZ, and it premiered in the U.S. in 2016. This further added to the speculation around a potential Pokémon Z to go with X and Y, even that many years later.

Unanswered questions from Pokémon X and Y

There are a lot of unexplained details from Pokémon X and Y that players thought might be addressed in Z. One revolves around the Lumiose City ghost girl — an urban legend from the game that players were never able to explain. There’s a building in Lumiose City where the girl lurks; lights will flash and the ghost will appear behind the player. She quickly floats away before saying, “No, you’re not the one.” (This is never addressed again.)

There are also several areas of the game, including near Lumiose City, that aren’t used — or barely used — in Pokémon X and Y, like the doors on Route 13. You explore a small part of the power plant that provides power to Lumiose City, but many doors just remain locked, with areas that look like they should’ve been open to explore. Fans at the time expected the imagined Pokémon Z to delve into these mysteries and add more detail. With a return to Lumiose City in Legends: Z-A, maybe there’s finally room for exploration.

Let’s talk about AZ

The most obvious thing to talk about concerning Pokémon Legends: Z-A is one specific character from Pokémon X and Y: AZ. The player encounters AZ in Pokémon X and Y and learns about his tragic backstory. He was born at least 3,000 years before the events of Pokémon X and Y, and during a massive war where Pokémon were used as weapons, AZ’s Pokémon, Floette, was taken by soldiers and died. In his grief, AZ created the “ultimate weapon” in order to bring Floette back to life. It worked, and both he and Floette effectively became immortal. However, things backfired, because Floette discovered how the weapon worked: It needed life from other Pokémon.

A blue and black rendering of Lumiose City from the Pokémon Legends: Z-A teaser trailer. In the middle of the city, there’s a tall building that somewhat resembles the Eiffel Tower. Image: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo

This weapon becomes an important part of X and Y’s story. Lysandre, the Team Flare boss and the games’ antagonist, steals the weapon and holds AZ captive; of course, Lysandre’s not going to use the weapon for good. To save Lumiose City (and, presumably, the world), the player has to defeat Team Flare and stop him from destroying all life.

At the end of Pokémon X and Y, AZ is reunited with Floette after all these years, and that’s the last we see of him. This story is also told in the animated miniseries Pokémon Generations’ last episode, “The Redemption.”

The Pokémon Company didn’t seem to reference AZ in the trailer, but it’s hard to ignore that the “Z-A” from Pokémon Legends: Z-A is just “AZ” backward.

Does any of this relate to Pokémon Legends: Z-A?

Maybe! The Pokémon Company hasn’t given any concrete details on the game’s storyline other than the urban redevelopment of the city and the confirmation that Mega Evolutions are returning. There seem to be some shared themes — X and Y dealt with the coexistence of people and Pokémon, and the urban redevelopment in Legends: Z-A is explicitly for that purpose. But for now, all we have is the context from Pokémon X and Y, and the expectation that Legends: Z-A will have similar gameplay to Legends: Arceus.

It does appear that The Pokémon Company may have been thinking about its next Pokémon Legends game when it put together Arceus, as evidenced by a T-shirt that appears in both Arceus and Pokémon X and Y. Does it mean anything? Unclear! But for now, it’s a fun little Easter egg, and we’ll have to see how it all actually pans out.