The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

I’m cautiously excited about the new Pokémon announcements

Legends: Arceus was fun and innovative, but left a lot to be desired
A view of Lumiose Tower from the Legends: Z-A trailer. (Photo from The Pokémon Company)

Three weeks ago, I wrote an article about some alleged Pokémon leaks on forum website 4chan. In it, I said I wanted the Nintendo Switch to have another “Let’s Go!” title. I discussed my disappointment with the current state of the series on the Switch.

The leaks weren’t real, but I still stand by what I said about the franchise.

If I had to select which entry on the console was the most fun, I would say 2022’s Legends: Arceus. Despite being graphically inferior to games 20 years older, the core gameplay was just enjoyable. To quote Reggie Fils-Aimé, “If it’s not fun, why bother?”

There are plenty of examples of games with bad graphics and good gameplay, but Arceus got special attention for multiple reasons. 

First off, it was the third Pokémon game on the Switch, yet visually the worst. 2017 and 2019 had both given us games that looked better. It was also a victim of bugs such as glitching walls/physics, random game crashes and other “unintended features.”

Despite its shortcomings, everyone agreed that it was fun. A blast, even. People had been clamoring for an open-world, survival-esque Pokémon game since the inception of the series, and Game Freak proved with Arceus that they were capable of delivering on the premise.

Mechanics such as sneaking up on wild pokémon, riding them to traverse the world, being attacked by aggressive wild pokémon and so many more breathed life into a world when it needed it most.

Then we got Pokémon: Scarlet and Pokémon: Violet at the end of 2022. I took off of work the day the games came out. I slept in, picked up the games around 10:30 a.m. at my local Gamestop and went back to my apartment.

I played for about an hour, then switched back to Persona 5: Royal.

For context, I played Arceus for five hours and only stopped because I hadn’t eaten all day.

Scarlet and Violet start with a very enticing opening cutscene, showing new pokémon, old pokémon and even new versions of old pokémon.

But as soon as the player gets control, the facade crumbles. The controls are shaky, the world is constantly lagging, there’s a disturbing lack of voice acting and the game randomly crashes more frequently than Arceus. 

These games ended up being fun as well, but much harder to play to the end. I’m afraid the story only gets sadder, however.

The games have been out for over a year, but most of these issues still remain. They can put “stability improvements” in the patch notes as many times as they like. It doesn’t mean anything if the issues are still active 19 months later.

They also released a $35 expansion pack. It was more of the game that had been played so far. Worlds to explore with a barrage of technical issues. $95 total down the drain for software that doesn’t even run correctly.

It’s pathetic in my opinion. Pokémon is estimated to be the most profitable media franchise of all time, and Nintendo is known the world over for putting out top-quality video games. They single-handedly saved home video games with Super Mario Bros. in 1985.

The Pokémon company announced another Legends entry in their “Pokémon Presents” on Feb. 27. Pokémon Legends: ZA is slated for a release sometime in 2025. It will take place entirely in an old version of Lumiose City of the Kalos region, a city based on real-life Paris.

Again, Arceus was fun. A lot of Pokémon fans are excited for a return to Kalos, as the region has not been seen in the main games since its debut in 2013’s Pokémon X and Y. 

This is all to say that Z-A has all of the ingredients to make an excellent game, but Game Freak’s recent track record makes me cautious. The 2025 release date makes me think (and hope) that the company is going to dedicate 2024 to making a quality game.

However, with the return of Mega Evolution, they have opportunities to improve some fan-favorite monsters. My favorite pokémon is Pangoro, a native to the Kalos region, so I hope it gets an awesome new form.

Tolbert can be contacted at [email protected]. Tell him your favorite pokémon.

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