Every new Pokémon generation needs box Legendaries, and in Generation 8 that’s Zacian and Zamazenta. These two powerful wolves wield the sword and shield that the games are named after, but what else do we really know about them? The main plot is surprisingly light on details beyond the fact that they helped put an end to the Darkest Day. But Game Freak has always loved hiding clues in plain sight, and the latest DLC has given us plenty to work with! I believe the secret to their past may lie in the Unova region.
Forgotten Legendaries of Galar
Zacian and Zamazenta took a well-earned rest after the Darkest Day, and it seems they remained in hibernation all the way until the current events of the game. The human heroes who fought alongside them then hid away all knowledge of their existence. For 3,000 years, Galar forgot they ever lived. So when a new Darkest Day is about to happen, Sonia can’t find any information on them in any of Galar’s books. That’s when she decides to look elsewhere.
Listen! I dug into some literature from other regions, and I finally found something! Mentions of the sword Pokémon, Zacian, and the Shield Pokémon, Zamazenta. The writings said that those two Pokémon were born somewhere beyond the Slumbering Weald sometime long, long ago.
Sonia figured out where to find the sleeping Legendaries by reading a book from a different region. Some other region out there knows about Zacian and Zamazenta, but which one? At the time, we really had no clue, but The Crown Tundra changed that.
The Swords of Justice
Sonia shows up again, and this time she’s hot on the trail of Coballion, Terrakion, and Virizion. These three weren’t chosen randomly. Most returning Legendaries in the DLC are confined to Dynamax Adventures, but these Gen 5 Legendaries get special treatment. Sonia is an important player in the story, so her involvement shouldn’t be taken lightly. And the Swords of Justice quest is even more fleshed out than the hunt for the new Legendary Galarin bird trio. Why is that?
Coballion, Terrakion, and Virizion are known as the Swords of Justice in the Unova region. That’s a big clue right there. While you were off completing your Gym Challenge, Sonia was trying to uncover the truth about the Darkest Day. After discovering the hidden statues in Stow-On-Side, Sonia began researching Legendary Pokémon connected to swords and shields. It makes perfect sense that this would lead her to the legends of Unova. And in those legends, the Swords of Justice protected Pokémon from the effects of a war amongst humans.
As a result, Coballion, Terrakion, and Virizion distrust humans to this day. When they’re not actively protecting weaker Pokémon, they prefer to retreat into isolation. During the DLC, Professor Sonia becomes completely convinced that they’re hiding somewhere in the Crown Tundra, and it turns out she’s right! Sure, it’s a quiet place with relatively few humans, but there are plenty of places like that in the Pokémon world. Why is Sonia so sure that they’d come to Galar?
It’s because she already found a connection between the Swords of Justice and Zacian and Zamazenta. Think back to what she said about her research. This other region she talks about knows that Zacian and Zamazenta were born “somewhere beyond the Slumbering Weald.” And what’s beyond the Slumbering Weald? The Crown Tundra! If the Swords of Justice met Galar’s Legendaries at some point in the past, it would make perfect sense for them to visit the Crown Tundra. But is this even possible, given what we know of the timeline of events?
Unova’s violent past
Zacian and Zamazenta have been asleep for 3,000 years, so any cross-region meetings must have happened before that. Black and White explain that wars ravaged the Unova region in ancient times until the royal family established order with the power of a Legendary Dragon Pokémon. Later, two princes had conflicting ideas about how to rule, so the Dragon split in two (Zekrom and Reshiram) and civil war broke out again.
Those two princes ruled from separate castles which were destroyed ages before the games take place. One of those castles, the Abyssal Ruins, houses a Relic Crown belonging to the royal family. And wouldn’t you know it… the item description says it’s 3,000 years old. In other words, the long period of war in Unova happened over 3,000 years ago. That’s perfect timing! Zacian and Zamazenta could have fought alongside the Swords of Justice during Unova’s pre-monarch wars. Then they went back home, leaving legends of their heroism behind, and faced their greatest challenge yet: the Darkest Day.
The Heroes of Many Battles
Speaking of which, there might be one final clue in the form of…well… their forms! Zacian and Zamazenta were able to triumph on the Darkest Day thanks to their special items. The Rusted Sword and Rusted Shield transform the two into their “Crowned” form. In their Crowned form, they each gain a special “Behemoth” move that deals double-damage to Dynamax Pokémon.
But if you take away those items, the two wolves take on a weaker form called “Hero of Many Battles.” This suggests to me that they were known as heroic fighters long before the Darkest Day. That’s not surprising, since saving the world seems to be in their nature. But if Galar lost all knowledge of them, who preserved this nickname? Who was passing down legends of their many battles? Based on the data we have, the best answer is the people of the Unova region.
Game Freak and story
I think the evidence here is pretty compelling, but there’s plenty left up to the players’ imagination. Sometimes in Pokémon, mysteries just stay mysteries. With the DLC finished, we might be at the end of the line for Zacian and Zamazenta’s stories. But it’s equally possible that Game Freak is building up to something more.
As we’ve seen in the past, Game Freak loves to drop hints in teasers in one generation, then elaborate on them in the next. Zygarde was similarly mysterious and vague in Pokémon X and Y, and Game Freak gave it multiple new forms and new backstory details in Sun and Moon. Game Freak could always choose to flesh the Legendary wolves out more in future games, and let’s face it… Black and White remakes are inevitable at some point down the road. Until then, reading between the lines and figuring things out for ourselves is a fun part of the Pokémon experience.