Pokemon Legends Arceus is set to release this month and Nintendo has been hyping its launch with more trailers. While Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were a colossal letdown for me, having a Pokemon game I can actually be excited about is a nice bandage to place on that wound. But there’s a problem.
If you are on the internet and you occasionally read up on Pokemon, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’re probably seeing a lot of targeted articles on social media all saying that same thing about Pokemon Legends Arceus. Headlines like “Pokemon Legends Arceus removes fan-favorite feature,” or something like “Pokemon fans disappointed in the change in the latest game.” Well, this article exists for one reason and one reason only, to remind you it’s okay to ignore that mess.
Look at the newest trailer. I watched it with my six-year-old, who kept saying how beautiful they thought the game looked. We keep forgetting that these games are meant for younger players. And sometimes we get lucky and get to enjoy them as adults too.
Pokemon Legends Arceus isn’t just a new Pokemon game like most of these articles state. It’s a new TYPE of Pokemon game. It’s not a mainline game where your character goes out into a Pokemon-obsessed world and collects gym badges, occasionally stopping for a brief moment to stop a bumbling crime family from fundamentally altering the properties of space and time. This is a game where, if you’re going to compare it to anything, would be almost more akin to a Monster Hunter type game where only your pets can fight.
So why have we decided Pokemon Legends Arceus needs to be compared to the mainline games? Sure, the game won’t have abilities. It won’t have random encounters. It won’t have a large connected map and rather small ones relating to the quest that you’re on. But these are things that work for this particular game. These are steps necessary to make the kind of different game Game Freak is going for. It almost makes as much sense complaining that Pokemon Legends Arceus doesn’t have Hidden Abilities as it does complaining Pokemon Snap didn’t have traditional battles. I’m not sure why we started doing that with games. It scares away the evolution of titles.
Imagine a world in which Donkey Kong Country came out and people got upset that you no longer played as Mario so people avoided it. Where Ocarina of Time was panned because it did away with the top-down method of the previous Legend of Zelda games. Where Metroid Prime was shunned for switching to first-person.
Let’s face it. Game Freak has really painted themselves into a corner. There are so many Pokemon that it’s difficult to include them all anymore. And honestly, while you and I and anyone could probably sit down for ten minutes and think up at least two or three feasible new Pokemon, it doesn’t make sense to add a lot of new ones as there are just too many.
One of the only ways the Pokemon series can genuinely last is if they come up with something new that works and I think this might be it. We can’t just have game after game of eight gyms and a world threat. It’s been done to death.
Even Sword and Shield, a game that I genuinely enjoyed, felt trapped having to adhere to the traditional gym badge set up. It almost felt like the characters themselves were confused by having to stick to the same thing with some of the gym leaders being almost completely non-important to the plot and only there to make sure there were eight gym leaders.
So how about complaining that your meatloaf isn’t good because it doesn’t taste like an orange, maybe accept this meatloaf as its own thing and judge it off its merits. Look to what it is instead of comparing it to something that it clearly isn’t. Give things a chance and stop comparing it to past experiences. In the game and in life. You’ll be happier.