At Long Last, I’m (Partially) Excited for Pokémon Again
A new era has arrived for Pokémon
Pokémon was a significant part of my childhood; as a kid, I was obsessed with the anime and would watch it as often as I could. I never really got into collecting the trading cards though, nor did I play the games released for the Game Boy Advance. I did want Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness for a brief time, but it wasn’t one of the top games on my wish list. However, in 2007, my parents gifted me a Nintendo DS Lite, and with it came an opportunity to finally snag some Pokémon games of my own. I knew that the newest generation of the games was releasing on the DS, and I was excited to finally try one out. It seemed that Pokémon as a whole was entering a new era, because the Diamond and Pearl anime also started to air around this time, and I found myself engrossed in the new characters and creatures the show introduced. I was obsessed with Pokémon, and I was eager to play Diamond and Pearl and have a complete blast traversing through the Sinnoh region. Unfortunately, it would be a while before I got my hands on the games. The opportunity never arose throughout 2007, and I moved to India in the first half of 2008, where the games hadn’t been stocked yet. By this time, I had gotten a chance to finally play some of the older games, and I was certain that I would end up enjoying the DS games. As fate would have it, my father traveled to the United States in the latter half of the year, and he came back with a brand new copy of Pokémon Pearl. It was a dream come true for 10 year old me, and from the moment I booted up the game, I was addicted.
My favorite video game series ever is The Legend of Zelda, and playing The Wind Waker for the first time will always be my favorite gaming memory, but playing Pearl for the first time is a very narrow second. I can still remember so many moments from that playthrough so clearly – how delighted I was when my Monferno learned Mach Punch (making the first gym ridiculously easy), how I struggled to beat Crasher Wake’s annoying Gyarados, how I threw my Master Ball at Palkia the moment I saw it, and how I strolled into the Elite Four hilariously underprepared and somehow made it all the way to Lucian before his Bronzong took out my main cannon, Infernape. And of course, I clearly remember the moment I actually managed to beat the Elite Four – Infernape used Flame Wheel on Roserade, it fainted, and I had beaten the game at long last. I’m sure many people can recall similar memories that they may have of their first Pokémon game, no matter how long its been since they happened, and I’m excited for a whole new audience to experience that magic again when Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl hit shelves later this year.
Remakes of Diamond and Pearl have been anticipated ever since the release of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire for the Nintendo 3DS. For years, fans have wondered what Generation IV would look like if it was redone in three dimensions in a style similar to games from the later generations. I for one was bursting with excitement at the thought of seeing all my favorite locations brought to life in a whole new way. However, years passed, and no news of them was ever announced. When Pokémon Sword and Shield came out for the Nintendo Switch, it must have crossed people’s mind’s that surely, now at least, remakes would come in a style similar to that of the newest Pokémon games – but there was still silence from Nintendo….until now, that is.
Remakes have finally been announced….but they’re not what a lot of people were expecting. I’ll admit – the direction that they went in for the graphical style surprised me. I fully expected that the remakes would adopt 3D overworlds and use the graphics style that Sword and Shield did to recreate some of the series’ most iconic locations and monsters. However, my best guess is that they were trying to be faithful to the original DS games by making the world so small and rendering every person to a ‘chibi’ version of themselves.
Now let me be clear: I don’t think these games are going to be bad; if they stick to the layout that the original games followed, then they’ll be great fun to play! But…come on – I’m 100% sure that Nintendo could have done a better job in the graphics department. Pokémon is the biggest multi-media franchise in the ENTIRE WORLD, and this is a game that so many fans have been asking for YEARS now. We just had our first fully realized 3D game of the series, and for a remake of one of the most memorable generations of the franchise, we get….this? It feels severely underwhelming, especially if remakes of later generations are done in a completely different style. Nevertheless, I am excited to jump back into Sinnoh and meet all my favorite Pokémon once more. Generation IV is my favorite of the lot, and I hope that Nintendo does it justice this year.
Coming to the second big announcement of the presentation, the idea of an open-world Pokémon game is something straight out of a fairy tale. Again, I’m sure this is something that a lot of fans would have wanted from the next generation of the franchise, but Sword and Shield were anything but an open and varied experience. Granted, whatever footage we saw during the presentation was probably not final, and given that the game is only coming in 2022, there’s bound to be many things that are subject to change, but at first glance, I really liked what I saw. I’ve always felt that Sinnoh is the region with the most interesting lore in the Pokémon universe (given that it revealed that God does exist for Pokémon), and to see a game that actually expands on it is really heartening. I love the idea of sneaking around to catch Pokémon, and I love how we get to explore Sinnoh before it became the region that we saw in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. The entire thing felt like a merging of the wild area from Sword and Shield and Zelda’s Breath of the Wild – the potential is endless! But at the moment, that’s all it is – potential. We have next to no information about the game, and until we get some, I don’t think we can predict anything about it. I will remain cautiously optimistic about it given that it seemed to look wonderful and the idea is a solid one to play around with.
I have to confess, I jumped off the Pokémon bandwagon a long time ago – the last main series game I played in the series was Alpha Sapphire, and since then I just haven’t felt the need to pick up the newer games in the franchise. When Sword and Shield burst onto the scene, I was immensely disappointed in how it seemed so sub-par for being the first Pokémon game on a home console, and I was afraid that when the Generation IV remakes did come, they would get similar treatment. However, the fact that they chose a relatively safer art style (which would guarantee some quality, at the cost of not utilizing the hardware to its fullest capability) and on top of that, are introducing a brand new type of game, give me hope that there is still creativity in Pokémon and that maybe one day, I can pick up the games and have a blast with them, just like I did in the past. Right now, I’m at least a little bit excited about what the future of Pokémon looks like. I only hope that I’m not disappointed.