I suppose I should be giving my hot takes. That seems to be the internet’s primary purpose these days and with the recent announcement of two new Pokémon games on the horizon, there has been no shortage of Pokémon twitter’s complaining drowning out any of the people actually trying to give an objective opinion these announcements.
Which frustrates me, because there are valid reasons to criticise the Pokémon franchise. It’s just difficult to find that civil discourse amongst all the people who just sound like they’re throwing their toys out of the pram.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
My general primary complaint towards the mainline Pokémon franchise these days mostly circles around them being a little too risk-averse in terms of how much they want to change things up, also how easy they’ve become. And also how it feels like part of the reason for this is that these games need to come out on a strict schedule, in order to line up with all the other releases in the massive multimedia conglomerate that is the franchise.
Legends: Arceus is a super refreshing defiance of that expectation. As or right now, all we know about the game is what’s in the two-minute announcement trailer Nintendo put out. While the game looks like one of the many spin-off titles the franchise got seen over the past few decades, it seems to be blended with enough mainline mechanics that this game certainly could be the developers testing the waters for a new and much-needed mix up of the mainline franchise.
Set in the far in the past, Legends seems to be telling the story of the earliest Pokémon trainers. Taking place in the historical Sinnoh region. At a glance, it looks like the game is leaning even further in the precedence set by Breath of the Wild than Sword and Shield did. And how every other game coming out these days seems to.
It looks like this game is a true open-world game, so much so that even the battles take place seamlessly within the open world. Historically, the bulk of the gameplay in the Pokémon franchise comes from the battles, the idea that there could be some kind of gameplay element for the player character; sneaking, climbing and actually being in some kind of physical danger seems super interesting.
It’s a step forward I think the franchise has needed to take for some time, and I hope it works for them. As it would have ramifications for the future of the mainline franchise no doubt. My one worry is that, despite this being an announcement trailer for the game, Nintendo didn’t seem to make much of an effort to mask those performance issues that are going to undoubtedly impact a game of this scope on the switch.
I get that there are limits to what the Switch can do and that this is early footage of an unreleased game. But you’d think they’d try to fake it for the sake of their trailer at the very least. But maybe I should commend them on their transparency on what the game currently looks and performs like. It just gives the toxic fandom some more ammo to fire in the franchise’s direction.
Honestly, I’m not even sure they know what they want anymore.
I am super intrigued by this game though, it seems like something very different that still makes use of the core Pokémon gameplay. Only they’re recontextualising it and presenting it in a very different way, which is all I ever wanted from the Pokémon franchise honestly. Plus, their random smattering of old starters from previous gens is a great idea, and something I’ve thought about a Pokémon game doing for a while.
Which I like all the more given the fact that they made three very good choices when it comes to Cyndaquil, Oshawott and Rowlet.
As much as I’m dazzled by the potential of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the other announcement left be just as flat as possible.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl
I’ll be honest, I don’t have as strong a connection to Diamond and Pearl as I did the prior three Pokémon Generations. Ruby and Sapphire were the last games I truly obsessed over. Not to say I don’t adore many of the Pokémon themselves introduced in the 4th Generation, but the announcement for this game (something people were anticipating to a ridiculous degree) left me feeling kind of apathetic.
I’m not excited about it, but neither am I angry about it. It might be because this game got announced in conjunction with a different game I am much more interested in. If these remakes were reveled in a vacuum, it’s certain I’d air more on the side of negativity than with the sense of diplomatic neutrality that I’m brining to them now.
Because, as of right now, there really isn’t too much known about them. Other than the controversial graphics style. Unlike the previous three remakes that chose to recreate the older games in the style of the most recent mainline release prior to its announcement, BD&SP have decided to go after a particular style in their overworld, one I certainly never saw coming.
While most fans expected the games to look like Sword and Shield, Nintendo have instead decided to make the games look much closer to the original incarnations, albeit with a Link’s Awaking remake style of diorama style. And honestly, it’s not a style I think looks all that great in this particular instance. Especially considering how the style reverts to look more like Sword and Shield during battles.
The graphics aren’t what are causing me some trepidation over the remakes though. It’s what seems to be no new content to supplement what was already in the original games. Fire Red and Leaf Green had the Sevii Islands. Heart Gold and Soul Silver had companion Pokémon, the Pokéathlon and the Battle Frontier. Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire seemed like entirely new games for the amount of stuff they added.
If these remakes don’t add one major new thing to those pre-existing games, then it begs the question as to why I should bother buying them at all? I still own a cart for Diamond and Platinum, I might as well go and play them at this point. Plus, remember how Diamond and Pearl has a distinct lack of Fire types before Platinum remedied that problem. Is that something we’re going to have to worry about again going into these remakes? I mean think about it, ORAS gave us new Mega Evolutions. If the Diamond and Pearl remakes don’t throw Dynamax into the game and then give us a bunch new Gigantimax forms into the mix then something has gone wrong in my opinion.
(Or maybe they should just bring Mega Evolution back and give us a whole new batch of those…)
I’m not going to throw the games under the bus. Yet. But if the developers don’t announce something to make these games stick out from their predecessors other than the fact that they look better (which is actually debatable) and I can play them on my TV, then I don’t actually see the need for me to buy them. Which is probably the first time I’ve said that about a mainline game in the Pokémon franchise.