Game: “Pokemon: Legends' Arceus”
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Hello there! Welcome to the world of Pokémon. After what only seems like a few weeks since the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield (*looks at calendar, sees 2022* “Eesh it’s already been over two years?!”), Game Freak have released yet another title in the ever-expanding Pokémon series, Pokémon Legends Arceus. It’s the fifth game of Generation 8 in the mainline Pokémon adventures, but this game comes with a host of differences from its other generational counterparts.
At a Glance
|Positives||+ Pokémon everywhere! |
+ Real immersive feeling of catching your own Pokémon
+ Good use of overworld warping system
|Negatives||– Graphics are poor |
– Item management system is clumsy
– Long drawn-out walls of text conversations that interrupt
the fun aspects of gameplay
|Our Playtime||20 hours|
|Available On||Nintendo Switch|
So first of all folks, a disclaimer. I am one of those people who, when a game is coming out that I know I want to play, will hide himself under a Rockslide to avoid any and all information on it so as not to see any spoilers. I enjoy that feeling of discovery, of finding out something new, whilst actually being present in that moment of the game. So I will apologise now if some of my commentary below seems obvious to the Pokémon experts or Nintendo Direct aficionados among you. Think of me as your very own resident slowbro when keeping up with the latest Pokénews.
Pokémon Legends Arceus literally drops you into the in-game world without much explanation about who you are and where you’re from. You find yourself on a beach in a strange new world and quickly realise that your character is not from this time. Introducing himself, the new Poké-Prof Laventon is quick to point out your curious appearance, but he seems to be welcoming enough and needs your aid catching three escaped Pokémon.
Looking around and taking in this new game that I have been eagerly anticipating, I’m afraid to say that the initial visual aspects of the game are incredibly disappointing. I have, as I’m sure many of you have too, been yearning for a mainline Pokémon game that can really show off the beauty and awesomeness of Pokémon and the world they live in, but it’s clear right away that this game is not going to be it. The bland sparseness of the environment coupled with the blurry textures and frankly awful animation glitches and lag really are not the enticing feast for the eyes that you would have hoped for with a modern-day console. Admittedly the Switch doesn’t have the highest specs of the current console generation but those of us who have played games like Breath of the Wild or Xenoblade Chronicles 2 know that the Switch can definitely perform much better.
After an introductory “how-to” in catching Pokémon, Laventon takes you to the local town. It’s here that you get introduced to a few of the other main cast members, and one of the other drawbacks of the game presents itself (I know, starting off strong here aren’t we…?). There is A LOT of text-based story, possibly more than the 28 forms of Anon could even cope with. I found myself just mashing ‘A’, wondering to myself “yeah ok, but when can I go and catch some Pokémon?!” The start is painfully laborious and cumbersome – there’s lots of drawn-out conversation about how awkward we look in our clothes and the roles of the different members of the team you are to become part of. I would have preferred a much shorter storytelling section here, especially if I were a 10-year-old kid playing my first Pokémon game, and just been thrown right into the Pokémon-catching action. Give me story later, once you have hooked me on the game and I don’t want to put it down – I’ll be more willing to listen to Beni’s ramblings about stuff I just don’t care about once I’ve had a few hours of fun first.
Reading the name “Jubilife Village ” was exciting as, for those of you who are familiar with the series will be aware, Jubilife City appeared in Pokémon Diamond & Pearl games. This then gave me the hint I needed and my ‘lightbulb moment’ about the setting and the story. Along with the obvious clues (that’d I’d geniously missed) about wild Pokémon and the villagers’ fears of them etc., I figured this was a prequel to the Pokémon series – I may be about to spend the next 50 or so hours going on a quest to find out all about Pokémon and their origin story.
After you (finally) get through the games introduction and talk to what seems like every member of the village, you set off out into the Obsidian Fieldlands. This is where the game made a complete U-turn on my waning interest. I am a child of the 90s and I was brought up on Gameboys, Power Rangers, and high sugar-content cereal with cheap plastic toys at the bottom. The feeling I got taking my first steps out into the Fieldlands threw me back into my own time warp – 25 years back to the time as a kid and my first feelings when playing Pokémon Red on my very own OG Gameboy, with clear plastic casing so I could see the interior electronics. (I still that Gameboy in the box of console doom somewhere.) I was 10 years old again, going on my own journey to catch ‘em all. This feeling couldn’t have been highlighted more than when I found myself crouching in some long grass waiting for juuuuuust the right moment to throw my pokéball to catch my first starly. This is what I’d been waiting all these years for – I just didn’t know it until that moment. It was a fantastic feeling and one I really thought made all the finicky stuff from earlier seem worth it. I then proceeded to spend the next several hours charging around the Fieldlands just throwing pokéballs at anything that moved and started to amass my Pokémon army.
Legends’ Arceus really does a good job of giving you different ways to work on catching Pokémon. Be it sneaking up and choosing the right moment, throwing out some bait to lure the beastie in, or even resorting to battling some of the more aggressive ‘mons. Speaking of battling, the system here is incredibly immersive (even if it is ugly as all sin). You stand next to your Pokémon, giving it commands and can move around the field for a better view of the battle. You’re even able to physically run away if you are worried that things are going south fast (which it absolutely can with some of the more powerful creatures). Catching Pokémon in battle is also great fun; just a casual press of your throw button and your in-game avatar launches a ball to try and catch your latest team-member. Be careful to attempt captures wisely though as, if the wild Pokémon isn’t ready for a life inside a hollowed out apricorn, it can get angry and its stats will increase, making it all the tougher to battle for your own compadre. Battling itself has a few new elements too. No more are you locked into a strictly, you-go-I-go system. The speed of your Pokémon now determines if you get to attack two or (sometimes) more times in a row, coupled with the introduction of the new Agile and Strong Styles that speed up or slow down your attacks at the expense or benefit of attack power.
Also new to the game are Alpha Pokémon. These Pokémon are dotted around the map in various places and when they say Alpha, they mean Alpha. These bad boys are freaking massive. My first interaction with one was spotting a rapidash from the other side of the river. As I neared and suddenly realised that my Level 8 bidoof and Level 6 starly weren’t cut out for the fight as I was hyper-beamed into oblivion. Using the new map features I stamped the location of the Alpha rapidash and made sure to come back and add him to my team as soon as I was able.
Pokémon Legends Arceus has also done away with the time-honoured tradition of trainer battles on every corner and Pokémon gym battling for badges (which makes sense given that we are at the beginning of the story of Pokémon and Man’s co-existence). We even have an overhaul of the Pokédex. No longer do you complete the ‘dex by simply catching a Pokémon once; you now need to meet a whole host of different criteria to analyse and study the Pokémon in the wild to better learn about them – just like a real Poké-Prof. Did you defeat that geodude with a grass type attack? Did you see that luxio use a certain attack? Add all this info into your Pokédex and share your findings with your Galaxy Command to level up your skills and your trainer abilities. These changes are a welcome difference to the games of old, and I really enjoyed the benefits of levelling up my skills so that I could craft better items to aid me in catching more troublesome, or aloof, Pokémon. The Pokédex especially was something I found myself perusing; making sure that next time I saw a turtwig I’d need to give it some food to help me increase my research level. It’s incredibly immersive and hammers home that you’re in a world with mysterious creatures that the world is still learning about.
To fill the hole left by the lack of Pokémon gym battles, Legends Arceus introduces frenzied noble Pokémon. These interactions are different from a normal Pokémon battle and take various forms and challenges to complete. Once completed, you obtain some of the Pokémon as mounts to carry you around the map, each with their own special abilities to enhance your exploration and improve your overall experience of the world. Having your own mount that you can actually ride and move on freely, as opposed to a cut-scene or a small, pixelated blob that is supposed to be your mighty Milotic that you are surfing on, is pretty dang cool. I did spend a great deal of time dashing around the map at breakneck speeds, just to see all the different Pokémon in each area that I could come back to and capture once I stocked up on the necessary pokéballs.
Overall, I would say that Pokémon Legends Arceus is a really enjoyable game; one with a lot of flaws, but they’re flaws that can be ignored or are mitigated by the fact that you spend the vast majority of your time not interacting with those parts of the game. If you stick to exploring, catching and battling you are going to have a fantastic time, unless you have a fetish for reading long drawn-out walls of text about some random person’s ramblings. Bearing in mind that you read this review, you must have some liking for it, so maybe it won’t be so bad after all.