When a Pokémon Presents was announced for today, I was expecting… not a lot. Pokémon Snap was a cert for getting new information, and it was possible we’d get a new spin-off of some kind. It was even possible for a remake. After all, it was time. But how much of an evolution was that remake going to offer? Well, turns out not much. But it doesn’t have to.
What we got was a second return to Sinnoh, but one we’ve never seen before. A Sinnoh where nature is abundant, with a world that is freely explorable. Seeing the Pokémon in the wild, capturing them while within the world and getting into battles where hopefully a transition doesn’t need to happen. As for the remakes, they opt for a chibi-style to faithfully capture the look of the original games.
I’m okay with it. It looks a little awkward upon first seeing the people in the overworld, but it is faithful to how they would look in the original games. I do think that in a world of remakes on the scale of Crash, Spyro, and Final Fantasy VII, people expect everything that gets remade to be on that scale. There’s nothing really wrong with how Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl look, as – just like people always say with other remakes – they look exactly as you imagined they did back when they first released. And that’s not a bad thing.
The battle scenes have received an upgrade to match the 3D era of games, which is clearly going to be the most advanced part of these remakes – unless there’s a few cutscenes we haven’t seen that detail important parts of the story. From what we see of them in the trailer, each scene has been fully realised from the indistinct lines of colour they were originally. I’m looking forward to seeing just how much flair these battles have. I’ll even forgive the camera being stuck behind your team for most of the battle here.
Before getting onto what should prove to be the greatest evolution to the main series we’ve seen in… forever, let me just talk a bit about New Pokémon Snap. The sequel to the Nintendo 64 game is keeping its mechanics faithful to the original, what with the on-rails nature of the game, but there’s now a photo editor. If you really want, you can ignore the points chasing that is the core of the game and just take snaps that you want to showcase.
There’s every possibility such a system is limited, since there’s only so many ways you can take a picture within the on-rails nature of the game, but the tools on offer to make them stand out and be a bit creative should mitigate that somewhat. I’ve been happy for the fans of the original game to finally be getting a sequel even if I had no interest in it myself, but I’m a sucker for a photo mode, and this game pretty much is one big photo mode.
Legends: Arceus, then. The evolution of the main series that brings the world of Pokémon to a more natural setting. Explore the vast expanses of Sinnoh before it was claimed by urban life, studying the creatures that inhabit the region and building up the first Pokédex of the region. It’s certainly not the type of open world I was expecting, but this will do just fine.
The remakes are under the studio that created Pokémon Home, which has allowed Game Freak to focus their efforts upon this. Yes, there’s another year to go before it releases, but I can’t help but feel they’ve been planning this one since they first saw the Switch. The wild areas of Sword and Shield certainly had the feel of trying out the concept. Now this game can fully realise them.
With seamless battle transitions said to be a part of this game, and the snazzy yet simple looking battle HUD, I’d hope that the next evolution of battle animations get showcased here. From the little seen in the trailer, I’m hesitant to say that we are. However, there’s plenty of time for that to hopefully change. I’d also hope we can control where we stand while watching the battle as the animations play out. That’d certainly give a new meaning to “You ran away from the battle”.
This is a world I very much want to explore. I want to visit caves, beaches, forests, and mountains in my quest to pretty much catch ‘em all. I want to just stand around and be amazed or surprised at something happening nearby or even in the distance. I want to be invested in the world by finding new places by myself, discovering everything that the world offers. There’s so much potential in this game that I hope it can be fully realised.
This is Game Freak’s chance to prove that they can evolve the main series games in a meaningful way. With only this trailer to use as a basis for how things might be, I’d say they’ve got the right idea in how to approach an open world. At the minute, it feels a bit too sparse, but then a world of nothing but nature would. If the graphics can be cleaned up and weird framerate issues resolved, I’d say it will look every bit as grand as the adventure it is proposing to us.
They were announced together at this Pokémon Presents, so I dare say we’ll be seeing them both together in future presentations. It’s a genius move, linking the two games by their region. In fact, it does make me wonder whether the remakes will see any extra content that will link to the story we’ll be seeing unfold in Legends. That’s speculation and for another time, though.
I’m happy with what I’ve seen in this presentation. The remakes will be great to remember the olden times of the series in a fresh coating (much the same as with the Mystery Dungeon remake from last year), then launching into a brand new world a few months after that brings us into a whole new era of the main series games. I just can’t wait to get behind the controls of both. And Snap.