So I’ve been a fan of the Pokemon series since Red and Blue released back in 1998. I still remember what it was like to beat the Elite Four. I remember going to the Santa Monica Mall to enter a Pokémon tournament, which I lost in my second battle, and getting Mew in my game because of the event. Over the years I played the series on and off. I enjoyed the games and it was fun seeing all the new Pokémon. When the Nintendo Switch was released I started fantasizing about what a next-gen Pokémon game would be like. I imagined a game in an open world where you’d go around tossing Pokéballs at the Pokémon roaming the wild. Where instead of being thrown into a battle screen when you ran into a trainer, you and the trainer would toss your Pokémon out and engage in battle in real-time. When Nintendo finally announced the next entry in the series, Sword and Shield, I was disappointed.
When I saw Sword and Shield, in my eyes it just looked like the same game we’ve been playing over the last 25 years with a new coat of paint and a few new mechanics. The more I played it, the more I lost interest. It wasn’t a bad game, but nothing about it really made it feel like it was a new Nintendo Switch title. When you look at things like Mario Odyssey and Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, those feel like they did a lot to improve upon their predecessors. Mario Odyssey had the Cappy mechanics and felt like a massive playground you could explore. Breath Of The Wild introduced a ton of new mechanics such as cooking food, breakable weapons, and a massive open world to explore. Sword and Shield on the other hand… had Dynamax Pokémon. In the end, I get it: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The style and system Pokémon has had over the last 25 years is something everyone has grown accustomed to and if it had a dramatic overhaul people would probably lose their minds.
But at last week’s Pokémon Direct, Nintendo finally decided to give me want I wanted: A brand new open-world Pokémon game with an entirely new system that set it apart from the main entries.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes place in the Sinnoh region, which I found fitting since Nintendo also announced Diamond and Pearl were getting remakes. But this isn’t the Sinnoh you remember from Diamond and Pearl. In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you explore a feudal version of Sinnoh before it became the region you see in Diamond and Pearl. Your job as a trainer is to go out and explore this wild unknown land to research Pokémon and complete the first-ever Pokédex of the region. In the process, you’ll also be learning about a legendary Pokémon named Arceus who is supposedly responsible for the creation of Sinnoh.
Like all Pokémon games, you’re given the option to choose one of three starters. What was interesting to me though is you aren’t given the 3 you’d choose in Diamond and Pearl: Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup. Instead, you get to choose from Rowlet, Cyndaquil, and Oshawott. Rowlet was the starter in Sun and Moon, Cyndaquil from Gold and Silver, and Oshawott is your choice in Black and White. I’m truly curious to see why these three are your available starters for this game that takes place in the Sinnoh region.
The gameplay is the part I’m most excited about. In the trailer, we see a trainer exploring the open world of the Sinnoh region. It’s beautiful if I’m being honest. Tons of grass, forest, and mountains all over the place. The town is reminiscent of a Japanese village from the feudal era. During various points of the trailer, we witness the trainer sneaking around the area right before tossing a Pokéball at a wild Pokémon. We also see Pokémon battles happening in real-time. No wild animation to transition from the overworld to the battle screen. Everything in this trailer is exactly what I wish Sword and Shield could have been.
Not much else is known about the game or how the new mechanics will work. I’m sure as time passes we’ll learn more about the game, but we won’t be seeing its release until early 2022. I’m beyond excited for this game and can’t wait to get my hands on it… But until then I’ll be playing Pokemon Snap and the Diamond and Pearl remakes to pass the time.