As they typically like to do, Nintendo broke the internet early last year when they unveiled Pokémon Legends Arceus. Coming after the announcement of the Diamond and Pearl remakes, it was even more surprising to see that the game would be set to release less than three months later. What’s even more surprising is not only did The Pokémon Company and Nintendo nail the date, but Pokémon Legends Arceus is easily the most unique and impressive entry in a long time.
What Is It?
Whether Pokémon Legends Arceus belongs in the mainline category of Pokémon games will long be debated, but whether it’s believed to be or not, Pokémon Legends Arceus comes with quite the plot.
You fall down in the land of Hisui, what pretty much was a post-feudal Sinnoh–the main region that the Diamond and Pearl games took place in. Of course, you have amnesia and in typical JRPG fashion, you end up doing favors for people in the hopes that you find out who you are, or why you even ended up there in the first place wearing clothes clearly not from that time period.
Why Should I Care?
The game’s trailers and various marketing make the game out to be a huge open world game ala Breath of the Wild. It’s sort of smoke and mirrors in that approach, because while the Pokémon overworld has never really seen this kind of scope, it isn’t essentially an open world game–at least not one comparable to games like Breath of the Wild.
Sure, the similarities are there. The environment and background music both share similar qualities, but the world of Pokémon Legends Arceus has to be unfolded as you progress, and when you do that, you’re really just unlocking portions of a map that you just choose from on a menu–you don’t actually have a giant world map that allows you to walk or travel from one side of the map to the other. In fact, it’s really a sequential game that gives you access to more open areas–think of something like Super Mario 64, where you have a hubworld that connects you to other worlds via paintings. It’s much closer to that.
Aside from the game having an open world feel, what really gives Pokémon Legends Arceus its intrigue for Pokémon fans is that it’s far different from all the mainline games while still feeling familiar. The most noticeable thing aside from the setting is the fact that there are no more random battles. Every wild Pokémon you’ll come across in Hisui are visible from the get-go. Looking for a rare Pokémon in the area? You don’t have to zigzag through tall grass to find them anymore. You can just fight you want to fight and avoid anything else, and it’s such a fascinating experience with that alone.
Catching Pokémon is also more involved experience too. You can use the shoulder buttons to throw a Pokéball at anytime inside and outside of battle, and when you catch a Pokémon, the entire party earns experience points to level up. There are even boss battles where you have to keep yourself alive while using the right Pokémon in the right situation to win. For the first time in the series, you as the Pokémon Trainer are actually just as important as pocket monsters you’ll come across.
All of this is in the name of research. Each section of the game has you explore various parts of Hisui, catching Pokémon and uncovering all sorts of secrets Hisui has hidden along the way, leading up to an endgame that’s even more challenging and engage than the actual main game.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
If you’re someone who’s wanted Pokémon to take the next step as far as gameplay and being different, this one is it. At that, there’s bound to be some stuff series purists might not like, perhaps in the fact that battling wild Pokémon is less and less about using your comrades to battle. So whether Game Freak and The Pokémon Company decide to make this its own subseries or even have this be the precursor to another evolution in the series, Pokémon Legends Arceus is definitely a big step in the right direction.