A brand new Pokémon recreation announcement is meant to be a joyous event. I nonetheless keep in mind waking up early one morning within the early 2010s to see the primary trailer for Pokémon X and Y, which felt like a radical shift for the franchise on the time. I at all times stay up for these thrilling couple of minutes that give me my first look at a brand new journey that may get my associates and me speaking.
I didn’t fairly have that very same response once I noticed the information about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. After I turned on February’s digital Pokémon showcase, I used to be principally excited to listen to about new DLC for Pokémon Legends: Arceus. I bought that information, however then the sudden technology 9 announcement shortly overshadowed it. As an alternative of eliciting a squeal of pleasure, it left me feeling slightly disenchanted.
That’s not as a result of I don’t suppose it appears enjoyable. Quite the opposite, I’m wanting to discover the sport’s Spain-inspired open-world alongside my new duck buddy. It’s simply that it feels prefer it’s releasing far too quickly, giving developer Sport Freak no time to take suggestions from Arceus and use it to evolve the sequence.
After I performed Pokémon Legends: Arceus, I routinely mentioned “I can’t wait to see this characteristic within the subsequent mainline Pokémon recreation.” From freeform catching to initiative-based fight, each little tweak felt prefer it was auditioning for the following large RPG. On the time, my assumption was that Arceus would permit Sport Freak to place some area between Pokémon generations and take a look at out some new mechanics in a lower-stakes recreation. I figured we’d see a correct sequel to Sword and Protect in late 2023 on the earliest, however with quite a lot of high quality of life adjustments in tow.
That isn’t going to be the case. It’s now clear that Sport Freak’s time was cut up over the previous few years because it labored on Arceus in tandem with Scarlet/Violet. The latter will launch this 12 months, with growth possible nearing its last phases already.
That naturally signifies that Sport Freak didn’t construct the sport round Arceus suggestions (it solely launched one month in the past, so that might be a superhuman feat). The optimistic buzz round that recreation’s high quality of life adjustments didn’t information growth, so there’s little purpose to imagine the brand new video games will really feel a lot completely different from Sword and Protect. Any important tweaks gained’t come till technology 10 lands in 2025.
I can’t assist however really feel prefer it’s a missed alternative within the making. After enjoying Arceus, I’m undecided I can simply return to a few of the commonplace RPGs’ extra aged mechanics. I liked that catching was so simple as throwing a ball with out initiating a random battle. I used to be thrilled once I realized I may readjust a monster’s strikes at any time with out going by means of hoops to relearn deleted assaults. I’ve seen a imaginative and prescient of a contemporary Pokémon recreation and it’s weird to suppose that I could possibly be going backward quickly.
There’s a likelihood that a few of Arceus’ greatest options may nonetheless be current in Scarlet/Violet. Contemplating each video games have been in growth on the similar time, Sport Freak might have constructed the sport round some unifying adjustments. Even when that’s the case, there’s no assure that the options gamers really preferred in Arceus would be the ones current right here. It could be a growth shot at the hours of darkness, slightly than a call primarily based on what labored and what didn’t for gamers.
Breaking the cycle
Pokémon isn’t precisely an annualized sequence like Madden, but it surely features like one. With how routinely Sport Freak churns out video games (it at the moment operates on a considerably strict three-year cycle), there’s no time to study and alter. By the point gamers have performed by means of a recreation and formulated an inventory of grievances, it’s already too late. The developer is already on to the following venture.
I hoped that might change. When Sport Freak outsourced growth on Shining Pearl and Sensible Diamond out to ICLA, it felt like a transfer in direction of sustainability. Sport Freak may take extra time to refine its video games, whereas one other studio stored the money-making churn going. That was wishful considering. As an alternative, Sport Freak was merely off making two big video games on the similar time. The issue nonetheless persists and should even be worse now.
Sure, I’m enthusiastic about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, however I’m rather more concerned with what’s coming after it. Technology 10 is probably going going to convey the sport pair I hoped to see after enjoying Arceus. I’ll patiently await that day, however I can’t assist however suppose that we may get one glorious Pokémon recreation if Sport Freak wasn’t pumping out a number of good ones.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is about to launch in late 2022 for Nintendo Change.