Introducing: BDG Pokemon Presents Roundup
In 1998 I was an incredibly awkward teenager on a family trip around the USA for the first time. The reason I start this review with a cringe worthy trip down memory lane is that this trip was also the start of my own pokemon journey! Bear with, all will make sense.
But Pokemon released in 1996?
So anyway 1998, covered in “Mighty Ducks” branding and visiting family friends who had moved there for a few years. My brother makes friends with one of the neighbours through playing on our Game Boy. The game in question was Pokemon Red. Brand new to the US at the time, and unheard of by us Brits.
We went home that summer craving this game where you could catch, train and battle with your own creatures. But we knew nothing of this title because in the UK, Pokemon wouldn’t release until 1999, a whole year later! This was more common back then than it is now, but back then it felt like an eternity!
Since then I have experienced so much because of this game, from using it as a tool to teach myself Spanish (and at the same time learning about language localisation) right through to the present day of teaching my three year old all about the regions of Kanto and Galar. Suffice to say she still flinches when she sees a Snorlax bless her.
So why are you boring us again?
The reason, dear reader, is that it has been 25 years since the original Japanese release of a game which has been a part of my formative years. This is also something that hadn’t escaped The Pokemon Company who began their celebratory “Pokemon Presents” by reminding us of how much has actually changed since we first fell in love with the most popular franchise of all time!
Ok, but we want to know what was IN the presentation…
OK, so first on the block was the release of more details about the upcoming “New Pokemon Snap” game. With vastly improved graphics, which you’d expect on the Nintendo Switch. Plus the combination of features both new and returning, this is definitely shaping up to be a must have title.
OK, so mechanics, not much seems to have changed. Travel the island, take photos, earn points. But we have a new layer of polish in the form of a new Professor and some companions to help you along the way. The world looks to use the same engine behind Sword and Shield but seems to be broader in scope than the previous outing, both in variety of pokemon and locations.
The biggest additions announced are in the filters. Yes, even you can become the OG Instagram influencer of your dreams with the addition of photo editing tools. Add stickers, frames and text to your photos before sharing them across the World Wide Interwebs to possibly gain more praise.
Some Nice Little Diversions
Well we can’t ever go from one big hit straight into the next, like any hearty meal we must have a palate cleanse before moving on. This was in the form of our upcoming events and the reminder that, Sword and Shield at least, we have already begin. With the addition of a gigantamax Pikachu to be found in the wild areas of the Galar region. Because who doesn’t want another Pikachu for the collection?
We followed up with a nice little bridge into various upcoming events for fans of the games titles that don’t fall within the main series. For Pokemon Cafe Mix, a collection of golden acorns simply for signing in. Pokemon Masters EX sees the addition of Sword and Shield’s (presumably now previous) Champion Leon and his Charizard enter the fray, but probably the biggest news of the three was for Pokemon GO.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary, Pokemon GO players can, yet again, encounter various Kanto legendaries more often in raid battles. With the Kanto forms of Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres making an appearance alongside manstay Mewtwo. Part of me sighed a little here as once again we see Kanto being the focus of a franchise that has 25 years of content to draw on. But my dismay was very short lived…
And now for our Feature Presentation…
Yes you heard it here first! (Assuming we are your primary source of Pokemon based news…) These are not “Let’s go” games! Seemingly that particular branch of the franchise is on a bit of a hiatus as what was announced is almost exactly what fans have been asking for.
And here is where my tie in to the title forms a pretty little bow around the Pokemon package. The Pokemon Company seem to have managed to do in their version of a Direct, what Nintendo struggled to do with theirs. That is capture the attention, and wallets, of their audience with content they have been asking for. Skyward Sword HD aside (which will be amazing), the big N failed to capitulate on their Legend of Zelda anniversary early on. Rumours of upcoming release aside, at the moment there is very little by the way of celebration for What is Nintendo’s 3rd biggest IP.
Different Art Style to Sword and Shield
But back to the Pokemon! The Diamond and Pearl games, taking an Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire approach with their naming convention gave away early that this was not going to be watered down in any way.
What we are introduced to quickly felt like the Pokemon Company’s attempt at merging the artstyles of the original DS games, and the 3D style used recently with “Link’s Awakening”. While not exactly the toy aesthetic of the latter, it certainly gave me that feeling. And considering that this is what I originally expected to see from Sword and Shield before announcement, I was pleasantly surprised that they hadn’t given up entirely on the old aesthetic.
But wait… there’s more!
Just when you thought your toe had been dipped into Lake Verity enough to get you hyped. The Pokemon Company drop another title on us. What can only be announced as a breath of the…. fresh air (you thought I was going to say wild then, don’t deny it!)
OK, in all fairness this game is set in a very wild Sinnoh. During times that draw parallels to earlier stages in Japanese history. I want to compare it to Feudal Japan, but I havent seen enough to do so yet. But it was definitely the feel I got.
The art style of what are hopefully in game sequences were beautiful ink drawings, made to look as though drawn on aged parchment. But the strange thing many will have picked up on early, is that your choice of starters are mixed up. This is only one of the features shown that help to promote “Legends” as a breath of fresh air.
Slight twists on an time honoured formula
It is clear that historically, you are in an earlier iteration of Sinnoh, but still with pokeballs (which looked pretty cool I might add). But you are being tasked with filling out the first Sinnoh pokedex by catching them all (OK nothing really new there). But, battles and catching seem to be a lot more open than previous games, with the wild encounters similar to Sword, Shield and the “Let’s Go” games.
And then finally, the mention of the legendary tied into the game, so many questions left unanswered. But at least now we can all agree, it’s pronounced Arceus. What will our overlord Pokemon, creator of all ‘mon have in store for us this time around? And what legendary Pokemon will follow him in this series?