OI MATE, DID YOU GET POKEMON FISH OR POKEMON CHIPS?!
Like all of you guys reading this, I grew up on the old Pokemon. I used to sit in the corner of my cousin’s room playing his copy of Pokemon Sapphire, before spending about a thousand hours of my youth playing through Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, Black and Black 2, and finally Y and Omega Ruby. Then, I stopped playing – I bought a copy of Sun in my first year of Uni, and I played it for about an hour, then put it down and never played a Pokemon game again. The game sounded amazing in theory – a complete overhaul of the gym system, a Hawaiian setting, and some pretty cool concepts for Pokemon – but it felt dead to me, soulless; maybe I just yearned for the days of the GBA, or maybe the handholding and a new cutscene every 3 minutes got on my nerves. While Pokemon Y’s opening hour had me gripped with anticipation and invested in the characters onscreen, Sun felt bland and uninteresting; the 3D graphics had lost their novelty, and it felt more empty, as rather than relying on their own art style, the game now competed with games like Zelda and Mario, all of which have double the visual charm of a Gen 7 pokemon game.
And so, I sit here – 21 years of age, and looking at the first trailer for Pokemon Sword and Shield. These games will decide it once and for all: “Will I remain a pokemon fan as an adult, or will it remain nought but a fond memory of my childhood, and nothing more”?
Like: The setting
The moment it was announced that the Unova region would be based on New York, I have yearned to see Pokemon’s take on my home country, the UK… And now, following France and Hawaii, we’re finally approaching the time of ‘OI YOU CHEEKY TART YOU WANT A POKEMON BATTLE’, and that excites me enormously. Where’s my Yorkshire area, Game Freak?!
Want: Overworld pokemon
When I think of home, I think of little old ladies walking their cockerpoos through the village, I see pigeons strutting around in front of old churches, and I think of fields full of sheep lazing around.
I’m not expecting to see pokemon follow me around as I explore, A Lá HeartGold. But what I do expect to see is an abundance of creatures roaming the overworld; fields full of Mareeps, kids playing with their Pikachus, just a lot of visual detail that makes the setting feel alive.
Concern: Overworld graphics
A big one here. I have dreamt of what a console-quality Pokemon title could look like for a decade; I’d look at games like Wind Waker or Super Mario Galaxy and wonder what it’d be like when Pokemon made its way onto the big screen.
…And I’m so disappointed. Back in the day, the edges of the routes were marked by trees and cliffs, ditches and rivers. Nowadays, there’s a fence. Sun and Moon suffered this same fate – By half-assing the expansion away from a grid-based experience, the game ended up feeling nothing a Pokemon title without making any use of the more open environments. The end result was a world lacking in detail and bland, and I’m frightened that this new duo will suffer the same fate.
Like: The starters
When I first saw them, I hated the new starters. They looked like rip-offs of Pokemon already in existence; so I went to a friend I’ve been playing pokemon with for 6 or so years and had a good old moan.
“Yeah, they look like rip-offs” he said. “They always do”.
…And then I remembered. At one point in time, I didn’t like Chespin. Chespin is one of my favourite Pokemon. I was being silly.
No, I’ve since gone back and looked with a more optimistic eye; and good golly I’ve come to love them. I’m team Scorbunny, currently, but I might end up choosing literally any of the three. The new designs are simple in a way that harkens back to the earlier days of the series, looking more like a Gen 2 or 3 pokemon than a Gen 6 or 7. But they make use of the added visual clarity that 3D graphics offer and have a nice visual personality- the trailer didn’t do them justice with their plastic look, but I’m sure that in-game and in the anime, they’ll look fabulous.
Want: A new type
X and Y were, all things considered, pretty damn good fun; sure they weren’t all that memorable, had nothing in the ways of post-credit content, and didn’t have the best story going; but one thing it did have was a new twist on the gameplay in the form of the Fairy type.
And so, perhaps a new type is the twist we need to flip the game around some? There’s been a lot of requests for a light type, but it seems to me that the Fairy type fills that void- maybe a Sound type? That said, it seems the game is going to focus a lot on Meltan and its ability to create ‘armoured’ pokemon, so maybe Steel will be the type to beat this time around. Who knows, maybe these ‘Armoured’ evolutions will take the place of Mega evolutions and inject a whole new level of gameplay flavour.
This is a way bigger concern; during the run-up to Sun and Moon, Game Freak unveiled almost every single Pokemon in the Pokedex. This, for me, ruined Sun and Moon, as it completely eliminated the sense of discovery and adventure – I wasn’t encountering new challenges and meeting new friends, I was checking off a list of all the things I’d already seen in an advert. This time around, I’ll be sure to unsub from the Pokemon YouTube channels and wait for launch day, but I do hope they don’t repeat the mistake and let the audience discover all the new Pokemon for themselves.
Overall, I’m feeling pretty optimistic about this new title – I’m sure I’ll get over my gripes and come to enjoy this new adventure. One thing’s for sure, though; if it’s bad, I may never play Pokemon again, not out of spite, but simply because it’s not fun anymore. Let’s wait and see what happens, shall we?