Retro Review: Pokémon Crystal

Introduction

Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, were the sequels to the breakout success Pokémon Red and Blue versions. The games released just at the peak of the “Pokémania” phenomenon of the late 90s with a 1999 release in Japan, 2000 in the US and AU, and in 2001 in the EU. The sequels sought to expand upon the world of Pokémon created in Red and Blue adding a new region to explore filled with new characters and 100 new Pokémon. Pokémon Crystal Version released in 2001 and built even more upon the Johto Region with more quality-of-life upgrades, tweaks to the story and additions of new features like the ability to choose your sex and Battle Tower. After completing a recent replay of Pokémon Crystal Version it’s time to dive in with a retro review. How do these lauded sequels hold up? Read more to find out!

Story

This game is set 2 years after the events in Pokémon Red and Blue versions and has the player taking on role of a new 10 year-old trainer that is starting their journey. Johto is a region that is to the west of the Kanto region, where Red and Blue took place. New trainers start out by visiting Professor Elm and choosing a starter from among Chikorita, Cyndaquil and Totodile a Grass, Fire, and Water type respectively. The rival in this game is an edgy kid that steals a Pokémon from the Elm lab after you receive yours. He also seems to have a connection to the villainous Team Rocket who has returned in this game and are looking for their leader Giovanni as they carry out evil schemes. The player must take on the 8 Johto Gym Leaders and challenge the Pokémon League while stopping Team Rocket along the way.

The Johto region sports many environments and locations a decent mix of familiar and unfamiliar. Some Locations really show off a uniqueness that establishes Johto as different place, while others will feel right at home in the previous titles. The story in the game makes frequent callbacks to the previous games establishing the connection between the stories and making the world feel more alive via the connection to the previous regions.

Game Play

The game play builds upon what was established in Red and Blue. The isometric over-world exploration and thrilling turn-based battles remain intact from the originals with several refinements. The biggest change will be the addition of two new Pokémon types: the Dark-Type and the Steel-Type. These types were introduced to balance the type chart which had previously left the Psychic-type too strong in Red and Blue with little counter-play. Another new feature was the introduction of Pokémon Breeding, a process that allowed players even further customization of their Pokémon via breeding moves that Pokémon can’t normally learn onto the offspring. The games also introduced an internal clock so that the game tracks whether it is day or nighttime and the over-world visuals and appearance rate of Pokémon change. The HM system returns with a bunch of new additions and with them new environmental obstacles such as waterfalls whirlpools.

Sound

One again the sound team pushes the limits of the Game Boy hardware with an amazing soundtrack. The jaunty town and route themes create an atmosphere that feels familiar yet very different from the soundtrack in Red Blue and Yellow. This game notably has a few more tunes that have a melancholy feel to them making some songs feel nostalgic even upon hearing them for the first time. Several tunes from Pokémon Red Blue Green and Yellow return as remixes that capture the feel of the originals while giving the sense of time passed. The cries for the new Pokémon carry the same unique qualities that make them feel right at home among the existing cries. The sound effects feature a mix of staple sound effects from the previous games and brand new sounds for a mix that lets the player know they are playing Pokémon but a new game in a new setting.

Graphics and Visuals

GameFreak has further refined their understanding of the Game Boy hardware and created a graphical presentation far superior to that of Red/Green/Blue/Yellow. The Pokémon sprites are clearer and more detailed. The spites are colorful and the poses are full of life. If you play the Crystal Version the Pokémon sprites will move when you first send them out into battle this touch makes the Pokémon feel even more alive. The in-game trainers have all had upgrades to their sprites and new designs making the visual experience feel fresh and new even. This game starts the series staple of the NPC trainers having new designs in every new generation. All of the major characters have iconic designs that players will instantly fall in love with. The animations for Pokémon attacks have also been given an upgrade to make them more visually impressive, as you play you can see and feel the power of each move as the attacks flash across the screen and impact the opponents.

The upgrade to the over-world visuals are not as intense as the Pokémon and trainer visuals, but they are still impressive and in some areas shine in an outstanding display. The environments range from towns themed after ancient Japanese villages to sprawling modern cityscapes, to caves covered in ice. Exploring the visual world is an experience like no other on the Game Boy.

Other

The inclusion of the Kanto quest in the game effectively results in the main quest for the game being spit between the two regions. This results in the Johto region being somewhat shorter than the main quest in Red and Blue, in fact the Johto quest is the shortest main game quest in the franchise. This splitting also affects the Pokémon distribution with several Johto (The Murkrow, Houndour, Larvitar, and Slugma lines) Pokémon only being found in the Kanto region making them unwatchable during the main quest. This limitation combined with the high percentage of Kanto Pokémon present in the Johto region rob the main quest of some of it’s unique feel as players encounter many Pokémon they have seen before.

The expansion of the HM system pushes the number of HMs up to 7 which is a significant number. This often results in players being forced to replace useful moves to have HMs needed to navigate the over-world or face having to backtrack to a Pokémon Center when they encounter an obstacle.

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The addition of more chances to re-battle certain NPC trainers and the addition of breeding to further customize your favorite Pokémon adds a level of replayable to the game that is better than what was in Red/Blue, however, the games still suffer from a lack of post-game content.

In the Crystal Version the Battle Tower is introduced, it is a tower where players can ascend by widding battles against NPC trainers with very strong AI making them difficult battles. This feature is great for players looking for a deeper challenge after conquering the game world but aren’t ready for competitive play against other humans.

Final Verdict

Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal stands as a great sequel. It’s said that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but these games proved that saying wrong and set the stage for Pokémon to continue on to become the mega-series that it is today. The games pick up where Red/Blue/Yellow left off and do a solid job of expanding the game world in a way that feels both new and familiar. The game shows the growing pains of a new series breaching out and and finding its feet in it’s first sequel but the cons of the game are far outweighed by the pros. If you enjoyed Red/Blue/Yellow you will love this game. If you are a fan that missed out on playing these games it is worth it to come back and experience the debut of Johto and first steps into the larger world of Pokémon.

If you want to support more game reviews like this, and get early access to future content, please consider supporting on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/ArashiGames.

Spoiler-Free Review: Pokémon Legends Arceus

In late January Pokémon Legends: Arceus released on the Nintendo Switch. This game is developed by Game Freak and stands as a sort of side-story taking place in the ancient version of the Sinnoh Region from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, and the recently released Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Legends Arceus provides a refresh of the Pokémon formula the refines and builds on elements introduced in previous titles long with introducing some brand new elements to create a Pokémon experience that is a unique and enjoyable.

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The first thing players will notice is that the game takes place in a semi open-world. The player wonders freely and the wild Pokémon appear on the map and depending on their disposition, will either flee from or chase down and attack the player. The player can sneak around and throw Poké Balls at these Pokémon for a chance to catch them without fighting, or they can throw a Poké Ball containing one of their own Pokémon to initiate a battle. The Pokémon attacks can be very swift and if the player isn’t careful they can easily find themselves getting swarmed and knocked out by the wild Pokémon. Alpha Pokémon are super strong versions of the wild Pokémon they are larger than normal and will have glowing red eyes. These are boss level encounters that are many levels higher than the regular wild Pokémon. Players can try to avoid these encounters until they are high enough level or especially daring players can engage and try to capture them.

These open-world areas take the Wild Areas introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield and refines the concept taking inspiration for the deadly encounters in games like Breath of the Wild, and Monster Hunter. The player now takes damage from the attacks of wild Pokémon and if the player takes too much damage at once they will black out losing some of the resources they collected. These lost resources will appear in other players worlds and can be recovered by them when players are connected to the internet.

Story

The story from the game is designed to suit this unique departure from the rest of the series. The game takes place in ancient Sinnoh Region which is called the Hisui Region. The player encounters the Pokémon Professor Laventon and chooses their starter. They then go to Jubilife Villiage and the player gets recruited to the survey corps of the Galaxy Expedition Team and is tasked with completing the first Pokédex of the Sinnoh region. Throughout the Hisui Region there are territories filled with wild Pokémon and super strong Nobel Pokémon are the lords of these territories. A mysterious force has made these Noble Pokémon go into a frenzied state. Each Nobel Pokémon is looked over by a warden, these people belong to either the Diamond Clan or the Pearl Clan. Both clans worship the deity that created the world as “Almighty Sinnoh” the clans have been at war for generations because the Diamond Clan seeing the deity as a being of time, while the Pearl Clan believes the deity is a being of space. The Galaxy Expedition team is a neutral party seeking to establish their own place in Hisui and seek to maintain the newly-minted peace between the two clans. During the adventure the player will encounter a variety of characters many of which appear to be the ancient ancestors of characters from throughout the series.

The story leans a bit more into the mature aspects of the Pokémon world that have only been lightly brushed upon in the previous games. Hisui is a violent region set before People and Pokémon started cooperating with each other. People that wander out into the wild are often injured and killed by wild Pokémon leading to the population of Hisui believing Pokémon to be deadly creatures that should be avoided. There is also the previous war between the Diamond and Pearl clans, and lore bits hinting at just how violent the region has been in the past for people and Pokémon alike.

The game marks the second-time in the Pokémon main series that the adventure has no gym leaders. In Pokémon Sun and Moon the gyms were replaced with trials with trial captains and totem Pokémon. This system is greatly improved upon in Legends Arceus with Wardens that act as guardians for the Nobel Pokémon that lord over the various areas in the Hisui region.

Game Play

The game play is streamlined a lot from previous games. Pokémon appear in the over-world and will attack the player doing damage to them. If the player takes too much damage from attacks they will be knocked out. When the player initiates a battle the game transitions seamlessly into said battle. One of the biggest changes is the introduction of battle styles. Each the player can choose from using the regular version of the attack, the Strong Style version of the attack, or the Agile Style version of the attack. Strong style attacks deal more damage at the cost of the Pokémon’s turns coming up slower, and Agile Style attacks do less damage but the Pokémon’s turns come more quickly. Battle Styles add a new strategic layer to Pokémon battles and keep them more dynamic and engaging. The damage calculation system has been reworked so that being several levels higher is less meaningful to battles. The changes and new features make it so that even veteran players have to focus on the battles and not play on autopilot.

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There are also many quality of life improvements such as Pokémon having a pool of moves that players can swap between on the fly eliminating the need for TMs and move tutors. The EV/IV system has also been completely overhauled making it easy to train a Pokémon up to perfect stats. However, there is no way to breed Pokémon in Legends Arceus. The ride Pokémon system from Sun and Moon also returns in a more refined form with the player being able to unlock ride Pokémon that help them to travel faster, swim in the water, and fly through the sky.

The is a step up in challenge from precious games in the series, the real-time dodging mechanics will feel right at home to players familiar with games like Monster Hunter and Dark Souls. Being careless will cost you as the aggressive wild Pokémon will attack the player mercilessly and swarm them. Players can crouch and hide in the tall grass to steam up on unsuspecting Pokémon. They can also opt to pelt the wild Pokémon with items to stun them. The turn-based battles are also offer a deeper challenge with the end-game battles being some of the most challenging yet in the series.

The Pokémon models have been given a nice update as have the attack animations making the battles look great in action. The entire art aesthetic of the game is based on ancient Japanese panting so the environments haven almost watercolor look to them. Weather effects like rain and snow will show up on your player character and other characters as you play the game. Some may find the graphical style of the environments off-putting for its lack of realism and HD fidelity but it is not enough to distract from the game.

Soundtrack and Audio

The soundtrack features great remixes of the classic themes from Diamond and Pearl. The areas players explore will have ambient remixes often combining route themes with city and down themes. The trainer battles use pulse-pounding remixes of the trainer battle and gym leader themes. Sound effects are fine tuned to for the game experience. The item pickup jingle is quick to match the fast resource gathering in open world environments. Familiar sounds have new twists to them, all of this culminates to make a great sound experience. The more ambient tones of the music means that some of the world music may be less impactful and memorable than the themes that have come out of previous Pokémon games.

Flaws and Downsides

One major flaw with the game is that it is a single-player experience, removing nearly all of the multiplayer features we have come to know and love in the series. There are no PvP elements in the game, so players cannot battle with others in Pokémon Legends Arceus. As such there are no ranked battles or VGC. Players can trade Pokémon with others either locally or online. The other other online interaction is the system where when a player dies their dropped items can be picked up and returned by another player. Thematically it fits because the game is supposed to be set in a time before Pokémon Trainers, but it may come a disappointment to those looking to try out the new battle system against other humans. This lack of multiplayer means the games will have that much less reason to come back and play after completing the story.

Abilities have been removed from the game which is a significant hit to the level of depth in the battle system. With multiplayer not being a part of the game the team at Game Freak may have opted for removing that layer of complexity to keep things streamlined.

Final Verdict

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a must-play for fans of Pokémon. It offers an exciting and unique new story, and revamped game play that offers a level of challenge never before seen in the series. The game also serves as a call to lapsed fans. If you are someone that has dropped out of the Pokémon games this may be the place to join in and see what the future of the series could hold. This game is highly recommend for anyone that owns a Nintendo Switch and enjoys open world game play and adventures.

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Review: Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Versions are the long-awaited remakes of the 2006 Nintendo DS classics Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. These games hold the unique distinction of being the first main series Pokémon games to be made by a developer other than Game Freak with ILCA taking the wheel. These games stand as a faithful remake of Diamond and Pearl with some quality of life updates and modernization along with a few new features. This look at the games will help to paint a picture of just where these games fall in the storied franchise.

Story and Plot

The story from Diamond and Pearl is retold in its entity. This continues the now series staple of larger-than-life story lines that started in Ruby and Sapphire. In this story the player starts as a kid in Twinleaf Town who together with their friend and rival aspire to become Pokémon trainers. The pair decide to visit their local lake which is rumored to home a mysterious Pokémon and from there they end up encountering their starter Pokémon and embarking on a grand adventure.

The story is the standard Pokémon quest with the journey to defeat the 8 Gym Leaders and challenge the Pokémon League and become champion. Team Galactic will will encounter the player at several points throughout the adventure, this evil team is set on using the power of the legendary Pokémon to recreate the world. Since this is a remake those that have played the original will know all the story beats in and out, but it is a good story filled with fun and memorable characters so it is worth revisiting.

Game Play

The game play is a return to classic form with the battles being random encounters. Battles are streamlined and the game is much faster than the originals which were infamous for the slow game play. The battles are modernized and have all of the updates expected of modern Pokémon games, there is no Dynamaxing so the game is a marked return to a time before the super modes of Mega Evolution, Z-Moves and Dynamaxing. Those that miss the classic game play will be right at home with this experience. Quality of life improvements have been added to the game such as HM moves becoming a Pokétch app so it is no longer required to have a Pokémon that has learned the move in your party. The character moves freely and isn’t locked into grid-based movement. This being a remake of a classic Pokémon game the difficulty curve is greater than in modern games and unprepared players can find themselves getting wiped by boss characters like the Gym leaders early on. The experience share is permanent and always on which mitigates this difficulty curve a bit. This is an issue for the players that enjoy the challenge and it is a lingering question why this feature can’t be toggled on and off rather than being always on.

The Underground has been revamped into the Grand Underground which has enclaves called Pokémon Hideaways where players can encounter different Pokémon that wander around the over-world map, like they do in Sword and Shield, including many that are not in the Sinnoh Dex. This opens up a variety of Pokémon to players and helps to mitigate some of the issues like there being so few Fire-type Pokémon options available to catch during the story mode. The digging minigame is a perfect recreation of the original, and now players can find Pokémon statues that they can place in their secret base to influence the spawn rates of Pokémon. Secret bases have been entirely revamped and are no longer strictly decorative. Now secret bases impact the game via the Pokémon statues that players place inside their secret base. The main story will last about 40-60 hours, and there is near unlimited replay value with competitive breeding and battling, and completing the Pokédex.

The online features are standard. The games are missing the Global Trade Station (GTS) which was one of the major online features in the originals. In the modern series GTS has been removed from the games and is only available in Pokémon Home. It is disappointing to see this feature doesn’t return in the remakes of the games were the GTS originated. The games also have no ranked matches, and because of this aren’t being used as the games for the next season of the Pokémon Video Game Championships (VGC) official competitive format.

The post-game story content is limited but staples like the Battle Tower and Gym Leader rematches are present and provide at least some post-game content. Previous remakes in the series have had sizable post-game content including the acclaimed Delta Episode in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Compared to previous remakes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are somewhat lacking in post-game story content. Now that the franchise has fully entered the era of DLC there is a possibility that more content could be added via DLC.

Graphics

The art style for the over-world is a chibi style meant to imitate the pixel art of the original game. In battles the art transitions to full-sized models similar to those seen in Sword and Shield. The 3D renders of the characters are perfect reflections of their 2D sprites. The animations for the Pokémon and their attacks are vivid and smooth. The trainer animations during battle are somewhat static however. The backgrounds during the battle scenes are varied and impressive there are no empty void spaces for battles like would happen so often in Sword and Shield. The over-world environments are crisp and accurate recreations that capture the spirit of the originals. The menu sprites for Pokémon and items have been replaced with vector art. The vector art for the Pokémon in menus lacks some of the charm of sprite art, but it is a decent substitute.

Sound

The soundtrack is a faithful recreation of the Diamond and Pearl soundtrack. Memorable songs from one of the most acclaimed soundtracks in the franchise are vibrantly recreated in a way that invokes the nostalgia of these tunes while presenting them in a new way. There is an option that gets unlocked in the game that lets players listen to the original version of the soundtrack so players can switch to the classic soundtrack if they want to experience the full classic soundtrack in action. Because this is a remake there is little room for original compositions so players that have played the originals shouldn’t don’t go into this game expecting to hear music they’ve never heard before. The sound effects are crisp and clear, the Pokémon cries sound as good as ever. Of course Chatot’s ability that let players record a sound for Chatot to cry has been removed It’s a solid and rich sound experience.

Final Verdict

This game is a quality update over the classics with quality of life features and modernization. The decision to go with a faithful remake with minimal changes from the original was a bold decision that pays off in how faithful this remake is in story and plot setting. ILCA does a decent job as the first Non-Game Freak developers to work on a new main series game. The game is somewhat hindered by the lack of ranked matches and loss of features like the GTS, and the game has some bugs and glitches on release that are being patched. Its worth picking up if you are a fan of the franchise, especially if you like the originals, or just enjoy fun JRPGs.

Pokémon Sword and Shield Isle of Armor DLC Review


Last month the first half of the Expansion Pass for Pokémon Sword and Shield, titled The Isle of Armor, released. The Sword and Shield Expansion Pass has the distinction of being the very first paid DLC in the history of the franchise. The Isle of Armor brings with it new characters, a new adventure in a brand-new area, and over 100 Pokémon previously unavailable in Sword and Shield. Including new Galarian forms, returning Alolan forms, and a brand new legendary Pokémon. So, how does this DLC measure up? Does it provide a tantalizing experience and set a standard for the future of DLC in the franchise, or does it come up short and leave a bad taste for players?


Going into this DLC I had tempered expectations. I had read up on the features and some of the Pokémon and some of the characters, but was able to remain mostly unspoiled on the story details. I played the expansion on Pokémon Shield version so going into the DLC the first thing I noticed was Avery’s character. He establishes himself as a rival, and one that is not very friendly towards the player’s ambitions on the Island. Avery does a great job of being an unfriendly rival, as well as entertaining one, from his uniquely expressive actions, and dialogue, to his attempts at machivalian plots to thwart the player. I have looked online and seen that pretty much the same is true for Klara in the Sword version which is very good. Because the character interactions with the rival are so enjoyable, I wish we had seen a little bit more of them in action throughout the story. They also suffer from the issue of never having more than 4 Pokémon, I would have liked to have had an all-out 6v6 battle against the rivals at some point.


Continuing with characters, Master Mustard is easily the other stand-out character, which is unsurprising as he is the owner of the Dojo. He is an easy-going guy with a passion for Pokémon and video games, the latter he had to hide from the public in his glory days. Mustard mentors his students, and the player by giving them various tasks that help them discover the secrets of the Isle of Armor and grow stronger. While much more of a straight-forward character than Avery, Mustard is still a good character, and adds a lot to the story. There are a few other NPCs that don’t impact the story. I wasn’t expecting a robust cast of NPC characters, and while just two story-important NPCs might not be enough for some people, they are well-crafted characters.


The tasks are the standard sort of missions in Pokémon, finding hidden or lost objects in caves and forests, battling wild Pokémon. The concept of the wild area of the Isle of Armor is much more fully realized than in the Sword and Shield base games. The environments are less barren and more alive with details. The three cave environments, and the forest area make up the collective dungeon of the island. I think that this DLC could have used more trainer battles as outside of the portions of the story within the Dojo quest line there are no trainer battles to be found. There are plenty of dens on the island allowing for many opportunities to have max raid battles and capture some of the newly added Pokémon.


Overall, this DLC provided a nice solid experience, there is enough content and new features to keep the player busy for a while. The story is engaging, though the lack of new characters, and scarcity of trainer battles make the quest-line somewhat short. When this content is combined with the additional content coming in The Crown Tundra DLC this fall the expansion pass will have collectively provided the amount of additional content that is usually seen in enhanced versions like Pokémon Platinum, or Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. If Game Freak keeps building on the standard that has been set by this expansion pass, then the future of Pokémon Paid DLC has a lot of potential.

New Pokémon Anime Announced!

Today during the Japanese broadcast of the latest episode of the Pokémon Sun and Moon anime a trailer teaser trailer was revealed for the upcoming new Pokémon anime series. The trailer confirms the promotional images that were leaked earlier this week were in fact real.

The new series will star Satoshi (Ash Ketchum) continuing his journey to become a Pokémon Master. In addition, the trailer also introduces a new boy named Gou whose partner is Scorebunny. Gou’s dream is to capture every Pokémon after having an encounter with Mew in his youth that inspired him.

In a series first, the adventure is set to take place in the many regions all over the Pokémon world. It is unknown at this time if Satoshi will be challenging the Galar League. However, as the anime will feature the Galar region, it is likely he will.

This new anime is scheduled to air on November 17th at 5:30PM JST to coincide with the release of the Pokémon Sword and Shield video games which release on November 15th. As of yet there has been no announcement for the English dub of this series.

The Case for a Space-type in Pokémon

With the next generation of Pokémon fast approaching there is much speculation regarding the new games. A point of speculation that is evergreen in the community, but not very present in current speculation, is the idea of a new Pokémon type based on outer space.

The theme of space has been present in Pokémon lore from the very first games. In Pokémon Red and Green/Blue versions the Clefairy evolutionary line is said to have come to Earth from space. The Pokémon gather at meteor impact sites and dance during cosmic events like the full moon and meteor showers.

Staryu and Starmie carry a similar space connection with their star-shaped bodies and multi-colored cores that broadcast strange radio frequencies into space.

This theme continues with more Pokémon throughout the series including Lunatone and Solrock being sun and moon-shaped meteors, Jirachi living inside of a comet, Elgyem and Beheeyem being depictions of the classic “Grays/Little Green Men”, Rayquaza living in the O-zone layer, Deoxys being a mutated space virus, and Arceus, Dialga, Palkia and Giratina originating from space and creating the Earth. There are many more examples of Pokémon with a specific connection to space.

This space lore is taken to a new level in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s Delta Episode post-game content. The player meets a character that teaches them more about the lore of Rayquaza and the quest culminates with the player riding Rayquaza into outer space to destroy an asteroid that threatens the planet and battle Deoxys.

A Space-type would bring with it a re-balancing of the type chart and could give a buff to under-powered types like Bug and Grass and introduce a variety of inspiration for new Pokémon species as the number of Pokémon approaches and exceeds 1000.

The lore in the Pokémon series has expanded in recent years with the introduction of a multiverse. In Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire during the Delta Episode Game Freak introduced the concept that the reason Mega Evolution exists in the Hoenn region of these games while not existing in the Hoenn of the original Ruby and Sapphire is that the latter games take place in a dimension where the events reported in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y that created Mega Evolution never took place. This put all the games that feature Mega Evolution on a separate timeline from the games that don’t.

The multiverse concept was taken a step further in Sun and Moon which introduced Ultra Beasts, Pokémon from another dimension. And in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon which introduced in their Team Rainbow Rocket post-game the idea that there were dimensions where each of the evil teams had succeeded in their goals, and in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee which feature a different Kanto from the one in Red and Blue.

With a multiverse, extra-dimensional travel, and event some space travel being introduced to the series, the time is ripe for the introduction of a space-themed Pokémon type. It would being a wealth of expansion to the series lore, from people and Pokémon living in space colonies, to exploring alien worlds to capture new species of Pokémon.

So far the information released on the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield versions hasn’t pointed towards any new types. However, the games Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing features, which replace Mega Evolution and Z-Moves, bring a whole new set of mysteries and possibilities.

So while the jury is still out of whether generation 8 will be the generation that introduces a Space or Cosmic-type, the games will very likely provide another link in the chain that will eventually lead to the cosmos of the Pokémon World.

Pokémon Press Conference and Pokémon Direct Announced

The Pokémon Company has announced that it is hosting a Pokémon Press Conference on May 28, 2019 at 6 p.m. PDT.  There is no word on how long the conference will last. The conference is stated to cover a number of topics of interest for Pokémon fans.

A similar event was held last year at the same time.  During that event Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, and Pokémon Quest were revealed for the Nintendo Switch. It is notable that the press conference this year doesn’t mention video games specifically. This indicates that the information revealed at this conference may cover more aspects of the franchise than just the video games.

Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have also announced a Pokémon Sword and Shield Nintendo Direct. The Direct is scheduled for June 5, 2019 at 6 a.m. PTD. The Direct will be 15 roughly 15 minutes long and reveal a lot of new information on Pokémon Sword and Shield.

With this direct coming days before E3 2019 it is likely that Pokémon will not be a huge part of the Nintendo E3 Direct broadcast.  It is also possible that Pokémon Sword and Shield will be one of the games Nintendo will have a demo of on the E3 show floor.

New Trailer for Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution

Today on the Japanese program Oha Suta a new trailer for the Pokémon movie Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, the 22nd Pokémon movie, and a scene-for-scene remake of the first Pokémon movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back. was revealed. The trailer gives us a first look at Mewtwo in the power-restraining armor that Giovanni uses. This trailer also gives a better look at the models for Ash Misty, and Brock. The movie website has updated to show these renders, and to confirm that the actors who voices Mewtwo and Mew in the original Mewtwo Strikes Back are reprising their roles.

The film’s art style has faced some criticism for the designs being more toy-like compared to the grittier, more monstrous, designs in Detective Pikachu, the American-produced movie based on the game of the same name. Responses to these critics have noted that the art style is loyal to the 2D anime style of the original movie.

Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution releases July 12, 2019 in Japanese theatres. As of yet there is no release scheduled for outside of Japan; however, following previous movie releases it is likely the movie will release during this Winter in the North American markets.

Pokémon Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon – Special Battle Season 15 rules revealed

Time to get ready for battle, Pokemon trainers. The rules for Pokemon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon Special Battle Season 15 are now available. Get the full scoop below.

– Season 15 will run from April 2nd through June 17th, 2019
– This Season runs on Sun & Moon and Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon
– Rankings for the games are separate from one another
– Only allows Pokémon that can only have the move Metronome across all generations
– this rule excludes Mewtwo, Dusclops and Dusknoir)
– Single battle format
– Pokémon Restrictions: Only Clefairy, Clefable, Mankey, Primeape, Poliwhirl, Poliwrath, Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam, Machop, Machoke, Machamp, Geodude, Graveler, Golem, Gengar, Drowzee, Hypno, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Chansey, Mr. Mime, Jynx, Electabuzz, Magmar, Snorlax, Mew, Cleffa, Togepi, Togetic, Politoed, Aipom, Snubbull, Granbull, Teddiursa, Ursaring, Smeargle, Smoochum, Miltank, Blissey, Celebi, Ludicolo, Makuhita, Hariyama, Sableye, Meditite, Medicham, Plusle, Minun, Volbeat, Illumise, Spinda, Kecleon, Banette, Jirachi, Ambipom, Happiny, Munchlax, Electivire, Magmortar, Togekiss.
– Attack Restrictions: Metronome only
– Item Restrictions: No Mega Stones
– all Pokemon are set to Level 50
– if they are above that, and you choose 1 Pokémon out of your 6, and you can’t have two Pokémon holding the same hold item
– battles have a 10 minute duration, with turns getting a 60 second timer
– Pokemon transferred through Poke Bank are allowed

Five Things That Would Make Pokémon Sword and Shield the Best Games In the Series.

Now that the generation VIII Pokémon Games have been revealed, we have gotten a taste of what the games are about.  And speculation is booming among fans. Here is a list of realistic features that would make Pokémon Sword and Shield an experience like never before. These ideas are based on the information from the February 27, 2019 reveal trailer. Game Freak, as a developer, has become fairly notorious for introducing new features in games only to remove them in the following games. So many of these features are based on concepts that Game Freak has already touched on or implemented in previous games that were liked by fans.

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1.      A Battle Frontier

It’s no secret that the Pokémon games have been suffering from a lack of solid single-player post-game content. In the third generations Game Freak introduced the Battle Frontier, a post-game area where the player would face off in facilities dedicated a myriad of unique battle challenges with A.I. trainers of a much higher skill level than the trainers in the main story. This served as a way to introduce players to the deeper competitive elements of Pokémon and essentially provided a second gym quest with a challenge to players after breezing through the story with little difficulty. For the past few generations the Battle Frontiers have been absent from the games, replaced by single facilities more akin to the old Battle Tower. If Sword and Shield introduced a full Battle Frontier as post-game content alongside a story quest like Gold and Silver’s Kanto or Ultra Sun and Moon’s Team Rainbow Rocket, that would be a wealth of post-game content that has never been seen before in the series and, I think, would be a real read for players.

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2.      No Less Than 100 New Pokémon (not including Mega Evolutions/Regional Variants)

As the total number of Pokémon approaches 1000 Game Freak seems have become more timid in the number of new Pokémon they introduce. Pokémon X and Y stand at a mere 72 new Pokémon, a series low, and Sun and Moon is not much better at 81 new Pokémon. Game Freak instead seems to be falling back on revisiting and re-conceptualizing already existing Pokémon as a method of adding “new” Pokémon without actually creating a brand-new Pokémon. They did this through Mega Evolutions in X and Y, and Alolan variants in Sun and Moon. While I am not wholly against these ideas on face value, I fell they should not be used as replacements for proper brand-new Pokémon. Part of the lasting appeal of Pokémon compared to most other monster catching series was that every monster was an individual, there were no simple reskins. I feel like this has contributed to why X and Y and Sun and Moon felt lacking compared to other games. If Sword and Shield adds a minimum of 100 brand new original concept Pokémon, regardless of any new megas or regional variants, the games will have a lot more of the excitement that comes from discovering and learning all about new Pokémon, which is one of the core elements of Pokémon games in my mind.

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3.      Stop Being so Hesitant to Challenge the Player In-game

It’s no question that Pokémon games have gotten progressively more hand-holding as time has gone on. From extended tutorial segments, enemy trainers with no more than 4 Pokémon throughout the entire game, A.I. that is dumbed down, a world map that is blocked off, and story beats that railroad the player from point to point.  They have tried to address the difficulty a little with the Totem battles in Sun and Moon, the Ultra Necrozma Battle in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and with the Coach Trainers in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, however these moments of increased challenge are all too brief and infrequent to truly test the player’s mettle.

Sword and Shield should do away with much of the handholding and challenge the player with more trainers that aren’t pushovers. The games should bring back NPCs that have full teams of 6 Pokémon, include more in-game double battles, and perhaps even bring back triples and rotation battles. Let the rival sometimes corner the player fresh out of a grueling dungeon and challenge them to a battle without healing them beforehand.

If the player can get through the whole game without blacking out a single time, the game is probably far too easy for the average player. Also, bringing back the hard mode from Black 2 would be most welcome addition.

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4.      Expand Pokémon Interaction with the

Player, and the Environment

People love interacting with Pokémon. A feature that seems to be universally agreed on from Sun and Moon and Let’s Go was the increased focus on interacting with Pokémon.

From playing with Pokémon, to riding Pokémon, to exploring the world with them. The more ways methods of interacting, the better. Sword and Shield should take this concept and expand on it as much as possible.

The Pokéathlon, and Pokémon Contests should return alongside a new Pokémon minigame that fits the British theme. The idea of Pokémon soccer has been floating around due to the soccer-inspired uniform the player is seen wearing in the trailer. Something else that could be interesting would be a medieval-themed Pokémon mini game.

The Ride Pokémon system from Sun and Moon should be changed so that incorporates whatever Pokémon the player has in their party, so that the player travels and overcomes obstacles together with their chosen team, no HM Slaves of old, or rental Pokémon where the player has no connection.

Expanding the concept even further, the player could have to train whichever Pokémon they want to use whatever world exploration ability. For example, if the player has a Flygon and they want to use it to Fly, there would be a training process to teach it how to carry people and fly. And, rather than just the RNG-based survivals and cures the player receives in-game for interacting with their Pokémon, the rewards for interacting with your Pokémon in-game could lead to positive or negative stat chances that can be applied in competitive battles. This would add a bit more incentive to interacting with Pokémon.

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5.      At Least One Event-exclusive Pokémon as Free DLC

Piracy and cracking happen, it’s an inescapable fact that whenever a game is released the game data will be broken into and scoured for any and all secrets which will be published to the public.

In this world all hidden event Pokémon are found right away in the game data, which makes their reveal down the road a surprise to no one at all. The excitement of a secret character can only come from post-launch DLC a la Super Smash Bros.

Taking into consideration that currently many events are distributed in-person at GameStop or visiting events like the World Championships, it is understandable that the data has to be on the games prior to the transfer in those cases. However, it would be amazing to see at least one event Pokémon that is free post-launch DLC that is just added to the game one day without any prior announcement.

The name of the Pokémon could be left in some mysterious lore within the main game story so that the fans can speculate as to whether this Pokémon exists. And if Game Freak really want to go all out they could add an entire quest centered around this Pokémon as the DLC rather than just a simple patch adding it to the game. The surprise of it alone would make Sword and Shield something special the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Red and Blue and would make the strongest case possible for the introduction of actual DLC to the Pokémon series. After all, a surprise like that just wouldn’t be possible without DLC.

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These are a sample of some ideas that could really add to the experience of Sword and Shield and cement them as possibly the greatest Pokémon games yet. Some fans want an overhaul in which Game Freak upends the tea table and does something completely different with Pokémon. However, there are many aspects that are essential to a Pokémon game, and changing them drastically could create a game that’s “Pokémon” in name only.

Such unchecked radical changes could lead results like a bloated MMO with no single-player experience that forces users to pay a subscription fee on top of paying for Nintendo Nintendo Switch Online service to even play the game, or a washed-out Monster Hunter clone that ends up feeling neither like Pokémon or like Monster Hunter. Developers that lose touch with their roots end up chasing trends or upheaving for upheaval’s sake.  Game Freak stated during the reveal that they plan to innovate in Sworn and Shield while still staying true to what makes Pokémon special. This is a hopeful comment that suggests they may be more open to experimenting, but they will keep true to Pokémon’s core.