Update 28th November: Additional details on Umbreon’s beta stat distribution and evolution method has been discovered.
Umbreon was one of the two Eeveelutions alongside Espeon to be released in the second generation games. While Espeon was of the Psychic type, Umbreon took the Dark typing, one which relied on dirty tricks and fighting techniques (e.g. Feint Attack, Bite, Beat Up, etc.). These two made a decent duo for expanding on the popular Eevee line. However, there’s clear evidence that Umbreon was planned to have a different typing!
Recently, a playable prototype of Pokémon Gold and Silver surfaced. This was dissected by The Cutting Room Floor team in great detail. Only a limited number of Pokémon were present, including those which were never officially released. However, both Espeon and Umbreon were within this prototype. Like the original three Eeveelutions, both required Stones to evolve in the prototype. Espeon evolved through use of a Heart Stone. The Heart Stone never made it to the final release, and the evolution method was substituted out for the Happiness mechanic in daytime. Espeon was also a different colour, but otherwise it was the same as the one we know and love.
Umbreon, meanwhile… evolved via a Poison Stone. That’s right – Umbreon was initially planned to be the Poison typing! Perhaps it got changed because there was a lack of duality between Poison and Psychic type, thematically, with Espeon. It’s not a case of the Dark type being introduced later in development, because Murkrow is within the prototype files with the Dark typing.
The idea of a Poison Stone being used to evolve Eevee into Umbreon changed during development. In fact, after Umbreon was assigned the Dark typing, in a build dated to April 1999, Eevee was originally able to evolve via High Friendship into Espeon regardless of time of day… and via Low Friendship to Umbreon. This requred a Friendship value of 20 or less – a lot of mistreatment required! This was also true of Golbat, and no other Pokémon, perhaps explaining why Frustration was a TM in the first place. All builds found afterwards (July 1999) had this requirement changed to High Friendship. The time of day requirement only emerged in builds a month later, barely a month before Pokémon Gold and Silver first released in Japan!
Curiously though, despite the typing change to Dark for the finalised version of Pokémon Gold and Silver, one aspect carried over. Let’s look at its Gold Pokédex entries:
When agitated, this Pokémon protects itself by spraying poisonous sweat from its pores.
And a newer example:
When this Pokémon becomes angry, its pores secrete a poisonous sweat, which it sprays at its opponent’s eyes.
These are clear references to a Poison-type basis. Perhaps this aspect appealed to the designers despite the change in typing, even to the present day. The general design remained pretty similar, so the only major change was its evolution method and typing.
One last interesting finding was Umbreon’s Base Stats. In April of 1999, Umbreon was just as slow as it is now (Base 65 Speed), but with a whopping 130 Special Attack and low Defense (65). Espeon instead had been a slow Special Defense wall. A curious change indeed, even if by this stage Umbreon had already become a Dark type.
Do you want to see a Poison-type Eeveelution in future games? Or would that make it hard to pet in Amie and Refresh?
Edited by Sheep and Zach.