PokéBase - Pokémon Q&A
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I have a vague idea why, but are there any specific reasons?

Useless fact: Unova is based on New York City, so it's the first Pokemon region that's not based on a real region in Japan.

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Here is Junichi Masuda's explanation, direct from his (unfortunately inactive) blog:

In this Pokemon Black/White, only new Pokemon appears till the ending. Only new Pokemon appears!

Reason why we come up with this conclusion is, we wanted every player to stands on a same line when they start the game. From Kids to adults. Also, every encounter of Pokemon would be fresh like player experienced in Pokemon Red and Green.

The impression of the people outside of the office are…
“It’s fresh to encounter new Pokemon every time”
“Hard to find Pokemon’s type. Also their moves, too”
“Feels like playing brand new game like Pokemon Red/Green”
And so on… All impression were favorable.

3 August 2010

Gen 5 was not the first time Masuda pulled a move like this; the Gen 3 regional dex is also very sparing with past-gen Pokemon. He hasn't done it again, largely because of public scrutiny, especially in Japan. Gen 3 in particular caused a dexit-lite where a lot of past-gen Pokemon were wholly unobtainable until FR/LG released.

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thank you!
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Well, Unova has been stated to be far apart from other regions. It would make sense that not a lot of old species would carry over.

Unova was also a sort of reboot for the series, with around 150 all-new Pokemon, like Kanto. Of course, old Pokemon were brought back in the sequels, so it wasn't exactly a reboot for long. A lot of Unovan Pokemon are thought to be Kanto counterparts as well (Bouffalant to Tauros, Sawk and Throh to Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee, etc.).

Hope I helped!