Pokemon Designs: Gen VI Legendaries

Axle the Beast

Last week in Pokemon Designs, I talked about the Gen VI starter Pokemon that we’ve seen, and reviewed their designs according to what little we know about them. Now I will do the same with the two legendary Pokemon we’ve been shown, Xerneas and Yveltal. As was the case with Chespin, Fennekin, and Froakie, we haven’t heard any information about these Pokemon aside from their names and appearances yet, so this will be a review of what little we know with a later, more complete review to come at a later date.


Themed after the letter X and obviously the mascot of Pokemon X, Xerneas is even more obviously based on a deer, complete with antlers. As a legendary Pokemon, this makes him similar to numerous mythical deer or deer-like characters, such as Cernunnos (after whom some think Xerneas may be partially named), a god who had antlers. It also makes Xerneas very similar to some depictions of the Qilin, which is sort of like a Chinese interpretation of the unicorn concept. Considering these things and the generally benevolent image people have of deer, and it becomes clear that Xerneas is supposed to appear as a benevolent and beautiful legendary Pokemon. It’s the “good” one. The nice guy… or girl?

Xerneas is my least favorite of the two, but for mostly personal reasons. The only problem I have with the design is the weird blue protrusions at the base of its neck. They just look awkward to me visually, and also raise questions about how this thing moves with them there by its legs. Looking at the 3D model of Xerneas, however, it seems that the actual design angles them back a bit more, and it looks a lot less weird like that. They also help contribute to Xerneas’ X-shape, although that in general bothers me about Xerneas too… the fact that its resemblance to X is more abstract than its fellow legendary, Yveltal (as I will get into). It wouldn’t bother me and I’d accept it as their design choice if not for the fact that Yveltal very clearly looks like a Y while Xerneas’ resemblance isn’t as clear. It just seems like perhaps a little more effort could have been put into it. You know… to make him look like a letter. Like in preschool. Serious business, clearly.

I seriously have no idea what Xerneas’ typing might be. He sorta makes me think Normal, which would be interesting to see in a legendary, but the glowing antlers and whatnot imply it’s something else. Ironically, Xerneas looks like a prime candidate for a Light type if they were to ever make one — especially with the many “holy” or “sacred” deer creatures I’ve seen — but that’s unlikely. That, or perhaps the blue coloring plus the mist it seems to appear in during the trailer indicates either Ice or Water? Either way, I probably won’t be getting X version because Xerneas is the nice guy and I like Yveltal better. That’s right: Nice guys finish last.

Nah but seriously, it’s a good design.


Ahhh, now here we go. This is totally my style. I can’t really speculate much as to what the inspiration here is beyond, obviously, the letter Y which Yveltal very much resembles, and possibly Bulbapedia’s speculation on the name origin: That it’s a combination of “yvel”, a Middle English spelling of “evil”, and quetzal, a type of colorful bird and also included in the name of the Mesoamerican deity, Quetzalcoatl. They’re decent enough of ideas as to where Yveltal’s name comes from, especially since it does seem to resemble some depictions of Quetzalcoatl. It seems both legendaries this time around are loosely based on, or similar to, mythical creatures.

The worst you could maybe say about Yveltal is that it’s a bit generic, but I don’t think it’s an issue in this case. Yeah Yveltal resembles a lot of dragon-like scary flying creatures that we’ve seen inside and outside of Pokemon (not to mention he kinda looks like a Digimon… actually so does Xerneas), but the design works well here. There aren’t extraneous elements to the design, most of the shapes flow and blend together, and everything contributes to its overall look. It’s a cool, fierce-looking, Y-shaped bird/dragon, with three paws at the end of its more traditional wings and tail. It’s got the right mix of classic monster elements, mixed with a little original uniqueness in the form of the paw-like shape of its appendages. It’s pretty, but it looks powerful, and a little scary, as opposed to Xerneas’ graceful look. Just my style.

And it looks like a letter! Thank god!

For typing, unlike with Xerneas, I’m pretty sure of what Yveltal is going to be. I’m thinking Dark and either Flying or Dragon. Dragon is probably the most likely, but I’m hoping they go with Flying because dragons have been overdone lately. Fire is a possibility because of the red coloring and, as I said, Xerneas may be Water or Ice. But of course, it remains to be seen. Regardless, I love Yveltal and it’s the reason why I’ve already practically decided I want to get Pokemon Y.

The Best Part?

The best part of all this is how different the legendaries are from each other. In the past we’ve gotten legendary Pokemon who are similar yet differ a lot in demeanor and style, like the original three Legendary Birds (honestly, even Ho-Oh and Lugia are like that). But as of late, with Diamond and Pearl, and Black and White, we’ve instead seen the legendaries being extremely similar with, in my opinion, superficial design differences. Dialga and Palkia have different shapes, but do they really look all that different from each other? Same goes for Zekrom and Reshiram… they differ in shape and color, but both both retain the tail and they look blatantly designed to go together. It’s nice to see something a bit more like the Weather Trio from Gen III, with two very different-looking creatures like Groudon and Kyogre. Two different creature types, of two different elements, with very different appearances.

That’s what I think is so cool about Xerneas and Yveltal: How much contrast there is between them. They both have very different styles, and go together so well as a result. It’s going to make choosing your version (and by extension, legendary Pokemon) much more exciting and personal, because you’re choosing a whole style of Pokemon instead of one that’s arbitrarily distinct from the other. They’re more distinct than any of the Legendary Birds were, even.

I’m also interested in knowing what, if anything, Xerneas and Yveltal may have to do with the story of Pokemon X and Y. I’m hoping that, like in the last several games, they have major impact on the plot. Even more ideally, it would be excellent if they had very different involvements in the plot that suit their individual styles. We’ll have to see, of course. Regardless, these are some of my favorite Pokemon legendaries ever, and I’m excited to see what else might be done with this Generation’s roster of Pokemon, as well as what the inevitable Trio Master for these two will look like. Either way, Yveltal is my legendary of choice this Generation.

So what about you? What do you think of both of their designs overall, and which legendary Pokemon do you want? Xerneas, or Yveltal? Any thoughts about these two when compared to other legendary Pokemon? Tell me in the comments! I’ll be reviewing any new Gen VI Pokemon that are announced, but until then, I think it’s time to have a look at some of the old starters and legendaries!

Categorized under: Editorial, X & Y
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7 Responses to “Pokemon Designs: Gen VI Legendaries”

  1. zoriusth says:

    Uhm… problem… I can’t really pick as it seems like comparing an apple to a beach… both are good but… its impossible to compare the two

  2. firecrb says:

    Yveltal= epic, simple as that.

  3. Bluelatios says:

    I’d say Xerneas is my favorite. A good friend pointed out that the look of its horns and colors draw attention to itself and make it look dominant among forest creatures and I couldn’t agree more. The fact that its not another legendary that flies also makes it stand out. I don’t care that it isn’t apparent that its the X version mascot. In fact, I sort of feel that Yveltal, while interesting, is kind of gimmicky. I mean, its a Y…Why? (see what I did there?)

  4. AFORCE says:

    the reason zekrom and reshirim look like the go together is because THEY WERE THE SAME POKEMON AT ONE TIME YOU DOLT

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