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All Right, Pokémon. I’ll Give You a Chance 

I started writing this the day before the games’ release and have since played the game a bit, but as John Humphreys would say, I’ve started so I’ll finish. I have played the game for approximately four hours at this point but have tried to avoid that having any impact on this post, which was intended to be posted before I purchased the game. Once I’ve spent more time with it I’ll be sure to share my opinion.  

Like most people in their thirties who, for some reason, still likes Pokémon, I have what I can only describe as an on-and-off relationship with it. Completely one-sided, you understand. I know Pokémon only wants me for my money.  

It has been three years since its last outing with the highly commercially successful Pokémon Sword and Shield. The first proper outing of mainline Pokémon games to come to the Switch was something that should have been (and was) looked forward to, and it being set in Pokémon’s very own United Kingdom, it certainly piqued my interest. I am sure that fans across the globe have now come to expect that one day their country will get the same treatment as Pokémon has come something truly global, far from the humble Red and Blue back in the day. I actually quite like that part of Pokémon, even if it does set a precedent that will undoubtedly lead to some kind of entitlement. I would have written something along the lines of ‘there is no way that The Pokémon Company could create so many Pokémon for every country’, but with some of the reveals of the upcoming Violet and Scarlet, I may have to eat those words.  

It’s hard to believe that there are now over 1,000 of them. I don’t even know how many there are any more!

Yes, Violet and Scarlet, or is that the other way round? I forget… *searches* It’s the other way round. Whoops. Anyway, Scarlet and Violet’s release is imminent and I can say that my interest in these games is marginally higher than that of the Diamond and Pearl remakes. (I didn’t buy them and I don’t remember their accompanying adjectives.) As much as I enjoyed Sword and Shield, they left a very bitter taste in my mouth and with the later release of Pokémon Legends, I was not so confident that The Pokémon Company would be able to make a game that would be of any interest to me, it being suggested as an open world game, only to turn out to be more of a Monster Hunter affair with separate open areas to explore. Not inherently bad, just not what I was expecting. (You can read my thoughts on Legends: Arceus here.) 

I think they have made it very clear this time that this will absolutely be a proper ‘open world’ game. I use quotations merely because I know it won’t compare to other open world games out there in terms of scale and interactivity but I concede that ultimately these games are made for children and any level of complexity is unnecessary. At least that leaves me wide open to be pleasantly surprised! Although I was sure that this would be the first main line game I wasn’t going to purchase (purely from lack of interest and confidence), I have decided to bite. You got me this time, but it will seriously have to perform to not make it my last. Let’s see what it has to offer. 

The Pokémon 

Let’s start with the titular monsters that make Pokémon what it is. So far most of the designs have been pretty good, my favourite being either Lechonk or Klawf.  

However, as expected there are a few duds that don’t quite capture the imagination. I have a general dislike for humanoid Pokémon, and the two new Bisharp rip-offs fit that bill. I am not usually one of those people who complain, moaning that ‘they don’t look like Pokémon’ but we’re getting close. I have no issues with the starters and generally like what else is on offer and am interested in seeing their evolved forms, which, I am happy to say, have not been revealed.  

Sure, they may not be the best starters, but I don’t think they’re the worst.

They can never seem to decide whether or not they want to reveal nearly everything pre-launch, but I am grateful that they seem to have got it right this time. I don’t feel like I’ve been overloaded with information and some of the teasers they’ve put out on social media have been a nice touch. This may be in part to me not using social media as much anymore, but either way it has given me a positive impression on what has been revealed so far. (I am very carefully looking through articles and YouTube as I write this. I don’t want to spoil anything for myself. How ironic that would be.) 

In this day and age I understand how difficult it is for anyone to add mystery to their product, whether it be a video game, TV show, movie or book. Information is everywhere at the simple click of a button and there are so many people out there, desperate for their one minute of Internet fame, to spoil everything for everyone else. Pokémon used to be steeped in mystery and rumours, that nowadays feel awfully manufactured, similar to how every TV show now requires a ‘making of’ spin-off, no doubt partly a result of the love of the behind-the-scenes documentaries from The Lord of the Rings.  

Paldeon Forms, Paradox Pokémon and… Something Else?  

Since Sun and Moon, they have consistently released regional forms of Pokémon; a welcome feature that, I am glad to say, they have kept throughout. Sure, some of them are bad, but for the most part I enjoy seeing a good regional variant and in Sword and Shield they even took it a little further with alternative or further evolutions available exclusively to those variants, such as Perrserk and Obstagoon. This also spilled into Legends as well, with some new evolutions for old Pokémon such as Scyther and Ursaring.  

Scarlet and Violet are mixing things up a bit and introducing us to a few new Pokémon in different forms. So far we have a Paldean Wooper, which may or may not evolve into a Paldean Quagsire and a simple evolution of Girafarig, Farigiraf. In addition to these, we have also been introduced to something completely new: one I like and one I am not so sure about.  

With the introduction of Wiglett, we have our first look at a new kind of Pokémon. One that is very similar, so much so that it could have passed as another regional Diglett, but is technically a completely different Pokémon, albeit closely related. This opens up a whole new branch of potential Pokémon ideas, which sits very nicely next to regional variants without taking anything away. I’m interested to see what other new Pokémon of this type we will see in the games and in the future. If successful, I hope that they decide to keep it for further iterations. (Assuming I ever make it that far!) 

Lastly, we have what I believe are called ‘Paradox Pokémon’, initially showcased through the games’ legendary Pokémon, Miraidon and Koraidon. From my understanding, these are a future and a past version of the Pokémon Cyclizar. This won’t be the first time that Pokémon has dabbled with time travel, but never has it had quite the effect on Pokémon as it will in this game. At first it was believed to be something exclusive to the legendary Pokémon, until a few days ago when The Pokémon Company released another trailer that introduced us to a favourite of mine, but in a way never seen before.  

Donphan, who was criminally blocked from Sword and Shield, is finally making its return. While there is little to no detail known about what this new form really is, from what I can tell, we will have two new forms of Donphan: a ‘past form’ and a ‘future form’. I am not totally sold on this idea yet, but I suppose I will just have to wait and see how this is implemented.  

Not sure what exactly is going on here but I’m interested to find out. I just hope it’s good!

The Story and Characters 

I know little to nothing about the story in this game, but I do know that they’re trying to make it less linear than previous outings. I do not see this being particularly difficult, it will all depend on how much guidance the game brings. If it were easy for you to waltz into the last gym completely by accident and get womped by a full team of level 60 Pokémon, I would be impressed. I would be even more impressed if that somehow tied into the storyline, but I won’t hold my breath.  

One thing that really convinced me not to get the game, was one of the gym leaders whose name I forget. She has some weird (Paldean form?) Magnemite on her head, sharp teeth, a really annoying voice and is a streamer. Whoever decided that would be a good gym leader needs a good talking to, but I suppose that’s just a sign of the times. I think this in particular along with a couple of other red flags, told me that this game really wasn’t made for me. Which is fine. Not everything has to be made to cater to my specific tastes and nor should I be expected to like what I see just ‘because it’s Pokémon’. It’s genuinely surprising how many people will jump on you for leaving even the slightest negative comment on a trailer. Calm down, kids. (OK, boomer, I hear them say. I’m only 34!) Anyway, needless to say, I’ve decided to overlook this and try to enjoy what they offer.  

OMG! I found a letterbox. Instant upload. Like and subscribe.

Steering well close to their tried and tested formula, we have another ‘Team’ to wreak havoc in the Paldea region. This one looks slightly different, at least. They’re not trying to take over the world or run by some secret organisation, but just a rowdy group of kids causing a bit of trouble, which is quite fitting considering the characters attend a school. They’re chavs, basically.  

Team Star are here to cause a little bit of trouble.

The Graphics 

It’s no secret that the Switch is not a powerhouse when compared to the home console behemoths offered by Microsoft and Sony, but it has shown impressive capabilities in many games, producing some quite beautiful games that have been fine tuned to suit the console’s capabilities. Similarly to Sword and Shield and Legends: Arceus, it doesn’t look like much effort has been put into building an eye-pleasing game and it continues in the same style that has been consistent since Pokémon Sun and Moon, which works on the 3DS, but not so much on a much more powerful home console. There isn’t really too much to say with what has been released so far. It looks fine but nothing amazing. I am not too particular about graphics but considering the Pokémon Company is filthy rich, I would expect something a bit more.  

The Music 

I am a big fan of Pokémon soundtracks and this one seems to be no exception to the quality. Even Ed Sheeran shouldered his way through and released a track dedicated to Pokémon that has been used in its final trailer, and while not his best ever production, does a good job at creating build-up to the games’ release and laying on thick the nostalgia that keeps fans wrapped in Pokémon’s warm embrace. My ears are ready.  

As many reservations as I may have about this instalment, I am overall interested and a little excited to see what they have developed. The first true open-world Pokémon game should be celebrated, as it sets a new benchmark for future games. Now that we’re finally there, it will be very difficult to turn back. But you never know what Game Freak are thinking. Nothing would surprise me!  

At least they brought Donphan back.  

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