I want to start this post by saying that I know nothing about the Pokémon universe and, until now, have never played any of the vast amounts of games out there. I did, however, decide to pick up Pokémon Legends: Arceus. You may be confused by that statement and guess what, so am I. I am blaming YouTube Channels like Switch Force, and the many other Nintendo YouTube Channels I watch, for making me want to play this game.
How is Pokémon Legends: Arceus different
To be clear, this game is unlike the many Pokémon games that have come before it. Games like Pokémon Sword and Shield or Brilliant Diamond and Shiny Pearl focus a lot more on battling other players and trainers, Arceus is more about open world exploration and collecting the various Pokémon. (Okay, I admit that is probably the most basic explanation of differences but give me a break – I did mention I wasnt a Pokémon player.) The other big difference is that turn-based actions are not as present in Arceus as they were in other iterations, with the exception of Poke battles. The mechanics of turn based in this game are vastly different. You can catch a Pokémon at any time in the battle, if you choose to throw your poke ball instead.
The biggest difference is that Legends: Arceus is set in the past in an area called Hisui. During the time of this region, Pokémon are still fairly new and not understood. You are tasked with filling out the first Pokédex from your interactions with the Pokémon of this region. Later, Hisui will become known as the Sinnoh region. This is the setting for most every other game.
Being an open world game, you can choose to go about your journeys however you choose. Want to catch some cool Pokémon, simply head to an area and have at it. Maybe you prefer to do side quests to help complete the Pokédex, then by all means get to sidequesting. The choice is yours and doesn’t effect the game play very much.
Arceus unique art style
Art style is important for any gameplay. It can make or break the games popularity. It has been almost a month since Arceus’ release and the artistic style of this game has been a big conversation so far.
The biggest complaint I have heard or read about is the texturing of the art style. People simply feel that not enough work went into development to make it look better. I would argue that this is not the path they wanted to go with it, I truly feel this was the way Game Freak wanted it to look. Here is why. Pokémon draws inspiration from Japanese culture, its inspiration is yokai. Yokai is a Japanese spirit or ghost which could be seen as a “monster.” Pokémon basically translates to pocket monsters. In this game, it has a feel of Japanese watercolors. In that art style we often see grand landscapes painted in muted watercolors that leaves you with a fuzzy or dreamy-like texture. The kinds of texture we see in Arceus.
I think the art style of the game is very pretty and has a call back to a similar style of Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Combine that with the storyline of you being transported back in time, it only adds to the effect.
But… there are issues.
In the 35 plus hours I have put into the game so far, I can honestly say that seeing object at a distance is painful. For instance, in the Obsidian Fieldlands there is a flying Gyarados seen circling an area. The farther away you get from it, it seems to pop in and out of movement in a jerky fashion. This is from frame rate issues.
There will always be complaints over frame rates and in comparing one game to others in its franchise.
Remember that I am not a Pokémon player, I don’t have the vast knowledge of how different the play styles are but I will compare with what I have seen and understand. In the past, if you were out collecting Pokemon, in the game, you had to battle them down to catch them or trade with other players. Arceus brings a different dynamic. You have two main focuses in this game, catch ALL the Pokemon and fill out the FIRST ever Pokédex.
These two missions give a great amount of flexibility in how you play, catch, and evolve Pokemon. All you need is your collection of Poke balls and to head out in the field. Sure you can battle to collect and in some cases you, absolutely, have Tom for instance in the case of catching Alphas. For me, I have had to battle a few down to catch and a few that I have totally caught by sneaking up on them.
There are a few trainer battles in the game and boss fights, outside of those you pretty much can play this however you choose. You still have options to trade with other players for evolutions or to get credit for finding Pokemon. That is if that exploit hasn’t been fixed yet. You can still battle friends, also, but the great part is that you dont need it to complete this game. That, alone, opens up the game for players who have never played any of them.
How this game differs
The Pokemon franchise has released a lot of games over the years and most have played in a very similar fashion. Why break the mold when it’s working, right? Well Arceus is that needed break – I think. Here is why it is good for the franchise.
Every game that has come out has been pretty much the same formula. You choose your starter Pokemon, do gym battles, defeat the bad guys. You battle to gain new Pokemon and your Pokédex already has information about them. This game is set in the past in the Hisui region, which today is known as the Sinnoh region. The Poke types are different in how they look from many of the ones you may have been familiar with. When the game opens, you are tasked with filling out the Pokédex and helping the villagers understand that they can live and work WITH the Pokemon instead of fearing them.
Thanks to games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and how open world format can help change a game for the better, we get Arceus and its take on how to play. That being said, there are parts of the story that will require extra effort, and divination from just catching all the Pokemon, to complete. As with the past, you can use other game save data to open up new Pokemon to collect – I won’t spoil that here.
There are no gyms, as of yet, to do challenges with and it really is more focused on the story and understanding what Pokemon are. Think of it as a prequel game.
What’s the “T”?
Here comes the part where I tell you how I feel about this game. I have stated that this is the first ever Pokemon game I have played. I have had friends tell me that I should play this game or that but I never did. My only knowledge of all things Pokemon come from a few episodes of the animated series and working at GameStop several years ago. But I am a gamer…
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a great game to play. What I like most about it is the open world feel and non-linear questing. I can slowly geek out on each Pokemon without any preconceived ideas and enjoy it as I learn about them, right alongside my avatar. Having to learn how combat can change based on styles and moves allows me to feel like I am truly learning about the Pokemon I have caught and decided to make a team of.
The art style is fun, for me, and complimentary to the Japanese beginnings of this franchise. It makes me feel like I am watching some amazing Studio Ghibli animation. It is simply engrossing. Whether you are a diehard Pokemon fan or never played, this game does not disappoint. Add to that Game Freak releasing a new patch soon and the game just seems to get better. I know the fan base is hoping for a more or easier style of battling friends and that is rumored to be coming, as well.
This game is a must have, if you own a Nintendo Switch. Whether you are an avid Pokemon fan or a noob, pick it up and give it a play through, you will not be disappointed. If you have played it, want to play it, or absolutely do not want to play it, let me know in my comments section the why’s of that. Tell me your thoughts and views on this latest addition to all things Pokemon.