One of the new Pokémon forms found in Pokemon Legends: Arceus includes an easter egg that dates back to the early days of the Pokemon franchise. Earlier this week, The Pokemon Company released official artwork of several previously unrevealed Pokemon in Pokemon Legends: Arceus, the new open-world style Pokemon game set in a bygone era of the Sinnoh region. One of these Pokemon is a new regional form of Arcanine, one of the first Pokemon ever introduced to players. Hisuian Arcanine (like its pre-evolved form Hisuian Growlithe) is a Fire/Rock-type Pokemon with stiff rock spikes in place of tufts of fur. Eagle-eyed fans might also notice a strange set of rock formations on Hisuian Arcanine’s ankles, which look like little wings. These wings are actually a reference to early Arcanine designs, which never made it into the game.
In 2018, Pokemon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara revealed an early version of Arcanine which was revised before Pokemon Red and Green released in Japan. Notably, Arcanine had a longer muzzle, a different style of mane, and small wings on its front legs. The wings (which resembled the leg wings of Hermes or the ankle wings of Namor the Submarine) have been replaced with tufts of front hair Pokemon Red and Green version, but fans have often wondered what the wings were used for and why they were removed in the first place. Wings were actually mentioned in early Pokedex entries for Arcanine – the entries note that the Pokemon moved “with agility as if on wings”. Arcanine’s Japanese name Windie also refers to her extreme speed and grace.
Interestingly, the wings always seem to have a purpose in newer Pokemon games, as Arcanine still retains its impressive grace despite its significantly larger bulk. The Hisui Pokedex notes that the Pokémon dances around its enemies in “a deceptively cheerful pursuit” despite weighing almost 400 pounds.
The reintroduction of Arcanine Wings has some wondering if other Pokemon might see the return of beta items. The Pokemon Company has scrapped a planned evolution of Raichu, and it seems possible that it could revisit this design as some sort of regional evolution similar to Kleavor, Obstagoon, or Overqwil. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for the Pokemon franchise, but it seems its creators are more willing than ever to dive deep into the past.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is available now on the Nintendo Switch.