For as long as it’s been around, the Pokémon franchise has never failed to leave fans wondering about the way its world works. Who decided it was a good idea for a 10-year-old to adventure across an entire region on their own? Why do trainers feel inclined to pay you upon defeat? People must eat Pokémon, right?
With all that the series has left to the imagination over the years, it was a big surprise when Pokémon Legends: Arceus shed light on one of the biggest mysteries in Pokémon: how Poké Balls work. And the game doesn’t waste time in letting you in on the secret, either.
How Poké Balls work
At the start of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the trainer finds themselves disheveled and unaware of their surroundings after falling from the sky into the Hisui region, or an ancient version of what players knew as the Sinnoh region. The trainer immediately bumps into a sketchy-looking man in a lavender cap, aptly named Professor Laventon, who immediately tasks you with capturing the Pokémon he was studying after they run off.
Most people even vaguely familiar with Pokémon know that in order to catch one, you’ll need a Poké Ball. These devices are a staple in the Pokémon world because they allow Pokémon to be captured, contained and raised as friends and partners to many. How exactly do they do this? Well, there have been plenty of theories over the years, with one of the most popular being that they convert Pokémon into an energy that’s able to be stored within the balls.
Well, to the shock of many fans simply trying to enjoy their new game without having their childhoods completely flipped upside down, Laventon explains exactly how one of the most important inventions in the world of Pokémon works. And apparently, it has much less to do with the devices than it does the Pokémon themselves. Here’s what he tells you in his crash course on catching Pokémon:
“…Each and every Pokémon is able to shrink itself into a miniscule size! And that’s where Poké Balls come in! Poké Balls. Poké Balls are a recent invention, you see. Throw one of them at a Pokémon, and, why, the Pokémon will shrink down and fit inside the ball, comfy as can be.”
That’s right — each and every Pokémon can shrink itself down to a small enough size to fit inside of a Poké Ball. The balls themselves barely do any of the work in this exchange. If this is actually the case, then we have so many questions.
First off, that every single Pokémon has the ability to shrink itself implies that Arceus gave all living things in the Pokémon world this shared characteristic before the existence of Poké Balls. Why would there be a need for Pokémon to shrink themselves if there’s nobody to capture them?
Also, there are alien Pokémon, like Deoxys, that can be caught but don’t originate from Pokémon’s version of Earth. Why would Deoxys need to shrink itself? Is it a defense mechanism? Do Poké Balls exist outside of Earth? Is a Pokémon’s true purpose to be caught in a Poké Ball?
Finally, if Pokémon aren’t being converted into some sort of energy and they are actually just making themselves very small and getting sucked into a Poké Ball, are they just rattling around in there?
To save yourself from going down the rabbit hole that is Poké Ball mechanics, it might help to remember that in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, residents of the Hisui region are just beginning to understand Pokémon and their various characteristics. Professor Laventon’s explanation could just be a theory, or maybe the people of the Hisui region were far ahead of their time when it comes to Pokémon research.
Either way, what Laventon is really saying is that you could technically set up a miniature dining room set and stage a tiny little dinner for your Pokémon, and we’ve got no complaints about that. Hopefully that makes it into the sequel.