Fanart and Pokémon practically go hand in hand. A simple quick Google search will reveal dozens, if not hundreds, of passionate fan projects inspired by Game Freak’s world of Pokémon. But the creation of a fan takes off within the Pokémon community thanks to its strong resemblance to the original design philosophy of the monsters of the Pokémon series. It’s called the Mezo region, and it’s an exciting project that, according to the creator, a DeviantArt user named Lugi-Oh, has been in the works for over a decade.
The Mezo region is a Pokemon fan art project consisting of designs for 170 unique Pokemon. Its origins date back to 2006, when Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were released. Lugi-Oh has always had a passion for character design and wanted to create a Pokémon region himself. While it might seem like these characters belong in a Pokemon fan game, that’s not the case; Lugi-Oh says he started drawing these Pokémon just to get the drawings and ideas out of his brain and put them on paper. The project was never intended to be anything more than a fun art project for Pokemon fans.
Mezo Region Pokédex – Pokémon Fan Art Project
“Character design in general is what I have the most fun doing,” Lugi-Oh told IGN. “Pokémon happens to be an endless playground for that. I loved the games and since they made sequels with new Pokédexes, I wanted to create one myself. I technically started this project towards the release of Diamond and Pearl. I casually cataloged ideas and deleted them each time a new Pokemon title came out with similar concepts. After the release of Sun and Moon, I decided to revisit the idea as a personal design challenge, but this time without worrying about it!”
Although they don’t appear in a game of their own, the designs are taking off in the community, with fans saying they feel like Lugi-Oh’s designs belong in the world of Pokémon. Many Pokemon fans leave comments on Lugi-Oh’s profile, saying that they are already choosing which Pokemon they would add to their party. Others say they’ve been checking fake Pokemon models for years and that the Mezo region is the best they’ve come across. This is partly due to the beautiful and charming designs, but it’s also a testament to the cohesion of the Mezo region, with reviewers saying they can imagine these creatures all exist in the same ecosystem.
“I finished my idea of 150 new [original] Pokémon and 20 regional forms shortly after Sword and Shield was announced,” says Lugi-Oh, “but it was the shutdown in 2020 that actually gave me time to start illustrating.
The Great Pokemon Exchange
Like other games in the series, Mezo’s Pokédex has the traditional three entries: a Water, Fire, and Grass type. However, there are also three other starter Pokémon with Ice, Steel, and Ground types to shake things up a bit, making a total of six starter Pokémon. A highlight is Spagnoth, an adorable ground-type sloth that can pit itself against the best starter Pokemon in series history.
It’s far from just beginners, though. The Mezo region has 150 new creatures, just like the original Kanto Pokédex which introduced us to classics like Pikachu, Squirtle, and Mewtwo. Lugi-Oh also draws inspiration from modern Pokémon games, adding 20 regional variations of pre-existing Pokémon as seen in Alola, Galar, and most recently, the Hisui region of Pokémon Legends Arceus.
Beyond the starters, there’s a normal-type guinea pig named Pigmea that eventually evolves into an adorable Capybara named Cuibara. There is a magnificent pterodactyl named Electrerror and a skeleton that has come to life called Calatrina. And for fans of Pokémon that look like real-world objects, check out Voojoo, a pincushion Pokémon that looks like a voodoo doll.
“A lot of my dex is inspired by prehistoric animals that migrated through the Great American Interchange, such as ground sloths, sabertooths, and terror birds,” says Lugi-Oh. “Between the colonies of the West Indies and the pre-Columbian empires, the Caribbean was a vortex of global influences. The cultural richness and biodiversity made it the most desirable area to found a Pokémon region. Its name comes from what was historically known as the name of Mesoamerica, a region where the Neotropical and Nearctic biogeographic realms meet.”
The Mezo region itself is said to resemble North and South America and is partly inspired by the actual Great American Interchange that took place around 2.7 million years ago. In the real world, the Great American Interchange began when the land that is now known as Panama rose from the bottom of the sea, creating a bridge between North America and South America. This allowed all sorts of different species to migrate from one continent to another. It looks like a pretty cool place to base a Pokémon region.
In this hypothetical world, regional trainers can travel between the two continents, exploring lands inspired by both North and South America. The map also includes several islands, providing a varied experience for people traveling through the Mezo region.
Luigi-Oh’s vision really does feel like a fully realized Pokémon region that would have naturally fitted into the era of the third or fourth generation of Pokémon. And it’s not just the designs and the card – there are stats, abilities, sizes, weights, and evolution requirements for every Pokemon he designed. He also crafted the eight Gym Leaders you’d face in the region’s imaginary quest to become the champion.
A tribute to Ken Sugimori
Fan reception has been incredibly positive in the Pokémon community. Lugi-Oh finds that as Game Freak’s new Pokémon designs have begun to head in a different direction, his fans are turning to the Mezo region for the designs and character qualities that are reminiscent of the beginnings of the franchise.
“I’m no longer part of the demographic that the Pokémon Company is trying to target,” Lugi-Oh said. “Obviously, my approach is a tribute to Ken Sugimori and [the] fundamental style of the team. My favorite game was the Pokémon Gold version, and I have this beat up old guide littered with gorgeous watercolor monsters that I used to stare at for hours. It’s super nostalgic for me, but preference varies by personal experience… Honestly, the variety of feedback I’ve received has made it so much fun, and the overall love has been overwhelming. It just goes to show that if you do something you really love, someone else will love it too.”
If you’ve looked at these designs and still dream of catching them and training them yourself in a fan-made game, there’s no plan for that to happen. Lugi-Oh has no plans in the works outside of the original art, though he may come back and do more art featuring the characters out of appreciation for all of his followers.
“The only reason it existed was to get it out of my head,” Lugi-Oh said. “Nobody would be interested in doing the Mezo region as it is, because it would take an incredibly ambitious team. In addition to my 150 characters, there are 300 pre-existing Pokémon that also live in the region!”
Even though we may never be able to explore the Mezo region ourselves, it’s fun to think about roaming this imaginary Pokemon world with all of its unique creatures.
For more on Pokémon, check out our review of the latest official Pokémon game, Pokémon Legends Arceus. And, if you’re trying to catch them all in Hisui, take a look at our Pokémon Legends Arceus wiki guide. Finally, be sure to follow Lugi-Oh on Instagram, Twitterand DeviantArt if you want to see anything out of the Mezo region.
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Art used with permission from Lugi-Oh
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPplant