Pokémon Legends: Arceus Is an Amazing Treat for Longtime Pokémon Fans
On a whim, I decided to purchase and download Pokémon Legends: Arceus (in Japanese “are-say-us,” but in English, “ar-KEY-us”). From the early trailers, I was worried that the open-world environment, lack of traditional gym battles familiar to the franchise, and the Zelda: Breath of the Wilds-ish design would just not translate well into Pokémon. What a fool I was.
The game’s story unfolds in the Hisui region, which will eventually become the Sinnoh region that Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl (Gen VI) takes place in. It is a historical era where Poké Balls are new and the Galaxy Expedition Team has been tasked with collecting information in a Pokédex and helping to create stronger bonds between humanity and Pokémon.
You play a character who has mysteriously fallen from the sky and is found by Professor Laventon, a Pokémon Professor who is working for the Galaxy Expedition Team. He asks for assistance in retrieving three Pokémon: Rowlet, Cyndaquil, and Oshawott—one of whom will eventually become your own starter.
After proving yourself to the leaders of the Galaxy Expedition Team, you join them and work on a journey to complete the Pokédex. Unlike in previous games, this is not just about capturing one of each Pokémon—there are tasks you have to complete, as well: evolving one, defeating them a certain number of times, etc. Once you complete an entry, you get points.
Instead of gym badges, you are trying to increase your rank on the team, which is done by collecting, battling, and just finding more Pokémon.
While the game is perfect for just exploring, you also find out more about the history of Diamond and Pearl. We find out that they were originally two clans who both worshipped a deity called “almighty Sinnoh” but disagreed on whether it created time or space, which led to conflict between the two.
You are tasked with figuring out what is affecting the Noble Pokémon that both clans have, as well as others in the region, and with each step in the story, you find out a little more about the world.
One of my favorite things about playing Pokémon is just being able to go around and grind. I like it; I find it cathartic and soothing. I love that as you explore more and find items, plants, and stones, it makes everything feel more engaging.
You have side quests and missions. While still being able to buy items, crafting them is a skill you learn (and honestly much cheaper—it looks like inflation has reached the Pokémon world). There are still Pokémon battles with other people, but they are boss battles. You don’t have to worry about avoiding the eye-line of random 10-year-olds.
Capturing Pokémon is different. Some you still have to battle in order to weaken their defenses, but others you can creep up on in the grass, aim a Poké Ball, and fire. It is a lot of fun, and there are certain Pokémon in your Pokédex that you get more points for if you capture them without being spotted.
Also, you are able to throw your Pokémon at trees and stones to get items for you.
There are also “Alpha Pokémon,” giant red-eyed forms of other Pokémon that are super intense and hard to defeat. One of the most terrifying moments in the game for me was seeing an Alpha Rapidash, realizing I couldn’t capture it, trying to move away, and realizing that it could still kill me if I didn’t get out of the damn way.
Oh yeah. Pokémon can attack your character directly in this game (and you can also drown in water that is too deep if you can’t swim—learned that the hard way). You don’t “die,” but it is still a setback and kind of awesome.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is certainly not perfect, especially with some of the graphics, but it is a step forward. This might be the future of Pokémon, and if that is the case, the future is good hands.
(featured image: Nintendo)
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