Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the latest from Game Freak, has given the Pokémon format a bit of a shake up. You’ve been slung into the historic past of the world of Pokémon, and now you’ve gotta show these guys how it’s done. This element of the story I loved. The people of this time struggle working with and even capturing Pokémon. You rock up, literally flung out of a hole in the sky. You’re told of the dangers of the wilderness, with all those adorab- I mean menacing and violent creatures. You craft a couple of pokeballs, go for a wander, and then return to town with an armada of Pokémon, earning the respect and adoration of everyone in town. What’s not to love?
The pacing of battles feels smoother and far less intrusive, huge open fields, tall grass for sneaking and hiding and even being able to run around the battlefield itself. You can choose to initiate battles with wild Pokémon by throwing your Pokéball at whichever wild monster you see roaming the fields. The same goes for capturing Pokémon, you can even attempt to hide in grass or try for a sneaky back attack for a higher capture chance. Which doesn’t sound impressive, but this new style really helps build an immersive world to explore.
The Pokédex is even more important now, leaning more towards the study of Pokémon, rather than battling, unlike many of its predecessors. Each Pokédex entry comes with a checklist of challenges, from seeing certain moves performed, capturing more or just watching them chilling out eating berries. The more you learn, the more gold stars you’ll obtain and the more areas you’ll be able to explore.
The Nintendo Switch is no powerhouse, but Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart, Super Mario Odyssey, they all look great. They’ve really set a standard of what the Switch can bring to the table. Pixelated textures and jarring lighting, as often seen throughout Pokémon Legends: Arceus, can really break the sense of immersion. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve really, really been enjoying Pokémon Legends: Arceus, but the weight that the Pokémon franchise name carries, man those graphics suck.
My personal method of aggressively capturing Pokémon, by hurling a whole bunch of balls in a short space of time can only take you so far. Larger, more aggressive Pokémon wander the fields too, and they don’t give in as quickly. The huge explorable areas, open spaces in which you’re free to leap, climb and fly across, all cover a variety of biomes. Sunny fields, huge lakes and frozen mountainsides, all with their own diverse set of Pokémon, materials and quests. Unfortunately these areas aren’t connected, meaning you have to travel back to the village before moving into a different area, a complete tempo killer.
Ultimately Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a fun, albeit flawed game and despite my complaints I really, really enjoyed it. It’s still a little goofy in places, and sometimes takes itself a little too seriously, but what do you expect when it’s a video game where you can fight a massive goopy dragon against a possessed fridge?
Words: Dave Jamieson