The 25th anniversary of Pokémon, completed last Saturday (27), was celebrated by the Pokémon Company with the revelation of two new games, both with stories located in the fictional Sinnoh region. The biggest highlight is Pokémon Legends: Arceus. But, before commenting on it, it is worth mentioning the other title announced.
Pokémon Brillant Diamond / Shining Pearl (Switch), due for release later this year, is expected remake of the fourth generation, Diamond & Pearl, originally released in 2006 for the Nintendo DS. Fans have been waiting for the Sinnoh region to return from Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire that, in 2014, brought the Hoenn region back on the Nintendo 3DS. The novelty comes with an interesting detail: for the first time, a game from the main series (or remake of it) is not being made by Game Freak, but by a Japanese studio hitherto unknown, the ILCA. It is an almost exact copy of the original, in which the main change is the enhanced look in an isometric perspective. This promises to be the first title of the ILCA that, until then, had only supported games from different companies, such as Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Dragon Quest XI and Yakuza 0. All development will be supervised by Game Freak, with the participation of the directors of the original games Junichi Masuda and Yuichi Ueda.
Game Freak, it is worth remembering, is the original creator of the adventures of Pikachu and company, having developed the first game in the series, Pokémon Red and Green, published by Nintendo. With an innovative formula, the game not only survived the Game Boy portable video game, which seemed to live its last years, but also started a business empire that has already surpassed US $ 100 billion (approximately R $ 560 billion).
The recipe worked so well that Game Freak repeated it in all sequences, with minor modifications and timid visual evolutions. Critical and sales success continued. The most recent title, Sword & Shield, surpassed the mark of 20 million units, behind only the Game Boy classics Pokémon Gold / Silver (23.1 mi) and Pokémon Red / Blue (31.68 mi).
Still, at least for the oldest fans, Pokémon increasingly looks more of the same. The innovation was restricted to other games licensed by the Pokémon Company, such as Pokémon Snap and more recently Pokémon Go. From Game Freak, the biggest novelty in recent years was the new method of capturing and meeting wild monsters introduced in the Let´s spin-off go Pikachu / Let´s Go Eevee. Some of these attributes were later implemented in Pokémon Sword & Shield and the Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra expansions.
Now, Game Freak is betting on a new derivative game to test new game mechanics. Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Switch), scheduled for 2022, seems to have taken inspiration from another Nintendo success, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild (BotW). Judging by the trailer released, the idea is to put aside turn-based mechanics and bet on captures and battles in real time. All of this on a vast open world map of the Sinnoh region (which, in turn, is based on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan).
The possibilities are many and have been discussed by fans for several years. It’s easy to get excited after watching the images displayed, although they highlight questions more than they provide answers about the game. A detail, however, did not go unnoticed by many people: the game’s look still seems to fall short of what the Switch is capable of delivering, see titles like Link’s Awakening, Super Mario Odyssey or BotW itself. This is, incidentally, a recurring criticism in the games in the series, mainly in the more recent ones (and that also fell on the remake announced last week).
Not touching a winning team may be part of the secret that explains the success of the Pokémon franchise even today, capable of continuing to delight new generations of consumers. For those who lived to the fullest of Pokémon fever in the early years, like me, it is hard not to feel a certain skepticism in the face of so much Game Freak conservatism. I hope we are surprised this time.
* Guilherme Neto – Presenter of the Fliperama board, on the Stadium program, on TV Brasil.