Contributing authors: Eddie, LaMont, and Stephanie
Eddie: As an Elite Poke Trainer since the release of Pokemon Blue in North America on September 28, 1998, I have followed the series and anime for two decades. Playing some of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games and watching Ash’s adventures have kept me invested in the franchise. With so many Pokemon games out there, I never got tired of the series. When they revealed Pokemon Legends: Arceus, I didn’t know what direction the game was going in. After years of waiting and watching Pokemon directs, Pokemon Legends: Arceus had finally come to the Nintendo Switch, and with all my curiosity waiting inside me, who knew what I would come away from it.
LaMont: Ever since Pokemon Legends: Arceus was announced last year during the Pokemon 25th Anniversary Presentation, it has become one of my most anticipated games of 2022. While some were worried about the reception of the game’s appearance, many steadily held onto faith that this game was going to be huge. In fact, I believe I was the first of a few that decided to preorder the game a week after its initial announcement at GameStop. At long last, Pokemon Legends: Arceus makes its debut and as an excited Pokemon veteran and fan, I am happy to report my first impressions.
Stephanie: I had Pokemon fever during the first two generations–Red/Blue and Gold/Silver. I collected and traded cards, and I religiously followed the anime TV series with Ash Ketchum. However, I fell off the bandwagon as I grew older and just couldn’t keep track of the never-ending addition of Pokemon. I thought some later generation designs were just silly, and I found the gameplay to be the same thing recycled over and over. That was until Pokemon Legends: Arceus was announced. With that not-so-subtle nod to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with its “open world” features, I couldn’t help but pre-order this game. With promises to change things up, I decided to give Pokemon another chance.
In the Beginning…
LaMont: During the first four hours of gameplay, I found myself excited and tad nervous, which to me, is very odd for a Pokemon game. I’ll go into this without revealing much at all, but basically you start the game off with a big of mystery, as most RPGs do–how did you come to be, where did you come from, and how did you end up embarking on this quest to develop research info on every Pokemon encounter you make to form the famous Pokedex? This was a time where many humans didn’t know much about Pokemon, let along living alongside Pokemon.
Stephanie: I chuckled at the opening of this game. It was done in a cliche fashion where you start in a dark void–you create a character appearance and name. Then–bam–you wake up on a beach with amnesia, more or less. While I am not a huge fan of this overly utilized trope, it didn’t drag on or make a huge deal about it. The game picked up immediately as you meet Laventon, a professor in the Hisui region. He chattered quite a bit, but I took this within stride as I entered the tutorial stage of the game.
Gameplay and Graphics, Oh My!
Eddie: Let’s talk about the graphics. Pokemon Legends: Arceus has an anime-esque application to its art style. Simple and clean, the environments look perfectly fine with its 3D models. As much as the world is filled with a lot of Pokemon, they look so good and at times terrifying when their eyes are red. While running at a smooth frame rate, Pokemon Legends: Arceus has a calming attraction with its graphics. Seeing all the Pokemon you collect and evolve just exudes beauty. Hisui really has a charming look.
What truly stands out is the soundtrack. With the town chillhop tune to the various compositions that play out in the field when you move around, this may be the first game of 2022 that should be nominated for Best Soundtrack. The MIDI arrangement really gets you into the game, and at times, keeps you in the area because of the music that is playing. The guitars, keyboard, programmed drums, and more just sound delightful. At first, you’ll only hear about three tracks at your disposal, but as you progress throughout the game, you hear new tunes pop-up. The downside to some of this is the mixing. While hearing the game through my bluetooth headphones, the music sounded weird and that was due to the mixing of the tracks. The balance to some songs aren’t even. I still enjoyed what I heard.
Finally, the game play. The core mechanics of fighting and catching Pokemon are still there. Some are easier than others. The tougher ones take skill and time. The challenges to some of the Pokemon varies. You have to take the right steps to acquire them and once you do, get ready to do more of it. Whether you’re grinding or getting research points, it’s not hard to get through the games.
The only frustration I had with the game are the controls. They aren’t bad, but it takes some time to get used to. There isn’t a pause button for the game, and you are forced to use the direction pad from time to time to save, check your research, and your map. Now, I personally don’t like controls that make you push down the left analog stick to run faster and once I saw it in Arceus, I groaned for a bit. Luckily, you can ride Pokemon in this game. I do get forgetful when throwing a Pokemon at the tree. Since the X button allows you to Switch between items and Pokemon, you may accidentally throw some fruit at the tree and not be able to collect it back.
LaMont: As mentioned before, I was filled with excitement from the introduction to the first steps I took in controlling my throws of a pokeball. Throwing a pokeball feels so natural, the buttons feel so fluid and tight, and even the camera controls were truly amazing. The audio is perfect! I love the soundtrack and hearing the sounds of nearby Starly and Bidoof is a 10/10.
Being able to craft items such as potions and pokeballs are very convenient. Sneaking around through the tall grass to catch Pokemon, really has that feeling of satisfaction, especially when they can be the aggressive type which would be my favorite part of the game so far. Other things I have noticed, Pikachu and Eevee aren’t on their pedestals anymore as their signature VA cries anymore! They reverted back to the digitized sounds from Pokemon Red and Blue. That’s pretty shocking! The textures around the trees could use a little polishing but these are little nitpicks from me.
Stephanie: Addressing the elephant in the room: graphics. I am not entirely sure why the internet was displeased with the aesthetics of the game. To be fair, the quality is not perfect. At times, images don’t render perfectly, and things from afar can appear muddy. However, this is a minor negative in an otherwise breathtaking look. The world is colorful and vivid, and Pokemon Legends: Arceus set to achieve a unique and charming style. It fits with the tone of the game, as did its music. The soundtrack is calming, like ones you may find in a Harvest Moon or other lifestyle games that were meant to relax you.
Finally–gameplay. For the most play, the gameplay is smooth. The way your character moves and throws a pokeball is smooth as butter. The UI is less impressive and doesn’t feel natural to maneuver. I often would mistakenly throw a fruit when I meant to toss something else (you’re not alone, Ed!). I also mix up pulling up the map versus the Pokedex or satchel.
New or Notable:
Eddie: I do enjoy the crafting and can’t wait to use it more. I love the outfits and changing them. Happily there is a usage for money in this game and the abundance of side quests has me zip-zooming all over the Hisui Region. It’s truly fun and pleasant to play and look at.
LaMont: Remember when I mentioned I also felt nervous? This is mainly from surviving the attacks from a Pokemon as a human trainer. Yes, dodging attacks with a tuck and roll maneuver to survive. At one point, I caught a Shinx while sneaking behind the grass and had no idea that another Shinx was right behind me, chasing me down. Another one was when I inadvertently ran into an Alpha Luxray on my third hour of gameplay. I totally forgot that in this game, Alpha Pokemon exist, and I was frightened by how unprepared I was. I literally ran away and didn’t expect the Pokemon to start chasing me down as well. It was simply crazy! It’s a new experience for a new form of a Pokemon game, and I’m definitely along for the ride!
Stephanie: There were several gameplay changes and quality of life adjustments I noticed in the game. As mentioned already, I enjoyed the crafting system and the need to collect items, not just pokemon. Also, unlike traditional Pokemon games, your goal is to fill the Pokedex–not just by capturing them but performing several tasks. For example, you receive credit for capturing a Zubat in the daytime or feed a Psyduck. This provides additional incentive to comb through the same areas several times. All the while, you also can tack on numerous side quests ranging from wrangling up some troublesome Bidoofs to providing villagers with certain types of Pokemon.
There you have it, folks. Based on several members of the Boss Rush community, Pokemon Legends: Arceus has successfully pulled off a fresh take in the long-standing franchise. With diverse areas and tasks to complete, players will have no problem logging a crazy amount of hours to this game. While I recognize that some complain that there isn’t enough vegetation or Pokemon, I feel this is a subjective critique which any open-world game would struggle to find balance. The music and art style are pleasing to the ears and eyes, even if it is not the epitome of technological prowess.
What do you guys think? Are you enjoying Pokemon Legends: Arceus? Let us know down at the comments section and check out our Discord via the QR code below where we discuss all things gaming!