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What Legends: Arceus Means for the Pokémon Series

Just last month, Nintendo and Game Freak launched a new title in the Pokémon series called Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The game has earned praise and criticism alike and is potentially the start in a new direction or spin off series for the beloved franchise.

Criticism

Let’s start first with some of the complaints. One of the most well-known aspects of Pokémon games is in line with the motto, “Gotta catch ‘em all!” This sentiment is tied to the amount of Pokémon available to catch in each game. Diehard fans spend hours catching and evolving all of the Pokémon, filling their PokéDex, which stores a caught Pokémon's information. In total, there are 898 different Pokémon, not counting regional variations or alternate forms. Back when the main series games, Sword and Shield, came out in 2019, Game Freak announced that there would be some Pokémon that would not make an appearance. This caused an uproar in the community, as they would not be permitted to catch them all. The company explained that this was because the system could not store 898 full, 3D models for the Pokémon, along with their unique animations and behaviors. As of right now, Sword and Shield have about 600 Pokémon, meaning there are about 300 missing.

Legends continued this pattern of having an incomplete list. There are 242 Pokémon found in the game, just under a third of the total PokéDex. Fans have complained about this small amount of Pokémon, saying that it isn’t nearly enough and that there would have been more.

However, this game adds in an additional challenge of needing to complete quests to complete the PokéDex. This adds more incentive to catch multiple Pokémon of the same species and battle them to complete the Dex, not just catching them once and calling it good. While there is a smaller amount, there is the added challenge. Another point in favor of the smaller Dex is that it provides the world-building aspect and furthers the players in the game. The region has specific Pokémon in it, and the player gets familiar with the environment. Additionally, it is likely that more Pokémon may be added in the form of a Downloadable Content (DLC) update, like what happened with Sword and Shield.

One of the other main points of criticism has been with the graphics. Fans have compared scenes to games like Roblox or have said that the game looks like something they would expect on the PlayStation 2 or the Nintendo GameCube.

While there is some validity to this point, it’s something that in many people’s opinions does not hold a lot of water. Graphics vs gameplay is a heavily debated topic within the video game community and will always be a point of contention. While some of the graphics for Legends are blocky or shaded poorly, overall, the game has an aesthetically pleasing appearance and holds up well. It may not be the prettiest game to come out this year, but the art style and graphics work well for the world of Pokémon.

Praise

One of the biggest pieces of praise is how Legends has changed up the traditional Pokémon formula. This game is open world and has included some new mechanics not seen before in the main series game. There are no random trainers to battle in order to advance, the players can move around during battles, and there are many different types of items that can be used to interact with Pokémon, giving players the ability to hide, stun, and distract Pokémon to catch them easier. There is also a large focus on crafting and resource gathering on a scale that hasn’t been seen before in the franchise. Many people have compared the game to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, an apt and complimentary comparison.

Some of the other new elements include unique areas and a map that can be marked, Pokémon known as Alphas, which are larger and more powerful, and the ability to summon your Pokémon in the world outside of battles and encounters.

While players may have focused mainly on the plot of earlier games, now players can spend hours running around and exploring, seeing what the world has to offer and adventuring to their heart's content, catching new Pokémon, getting into battles, and completing achievements for their PokéDex. While the game has introduced many new elements never seen before in previous games, the new implements work well and blend seamlessly into the Pokémon world.

A New Direction

It’s unclear currently what this game’s success means for the franchise as a whole. Pokémon is no stranger to spin-off games, like Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, and various mobile games. Are Legends: Arceus the first installment in the Legends series, or is this the first game in a new mainline series, shifting the way Pokémon games are made and consumed? Will there still be the traditional installments and rereleases that fans know and love, or will this new and bold game style take center stage because of its success?

No matter what happens, more improvements and more games in the Pokémon series will always be welcome. A new direction means new adventures and experiences, and whether or not Legends: Arceus is the beginning of a new Pokémon era, fans of the series will continue playing and trying to catch them all.

Secondary Education Major. Creative Writing Minor. Dog mom. Frog enthusiast. Player of video games.
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