An image from the game
A number in parentheses in this article indicates a footnote - see bottom of article for them
I would like to warn the spoiler-sensitive reader that scattered throughout this article there will be minor spoilers for aspects of gameplay and story.
On January 28th of this year, gamefreak, the producers of the Pokemon franchise graced us with “Pokemon: Legends Arceus” for the Nintendo Switch. This game is undeniably one of their best and most ambitious Pokemon titles yet. I was taken aback while playing by the amount of content, attention to detail, soundtrack, and story; yet just because I list these positives, one should not assume for a second that the game is flawless. In this article I will be helping any potential customers make a more educated decision as to whether they want to purchase this game. But, in short, this game rocks.
After I picked up this game, I simply could not put it down. From the second I was thrust into the vast world of the new region known as Hisui, based off of the Sinnoh region from the fourth generation of Pokemon (1), I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next reveal of new content. The best part was, I never had to wait long. This game is open world, and one aspect of open world games that assimilates very well into the Pokemon franchise is the discovering and rediscovering of various pokemon, landmarks, and items. One worry people had for the game was that there just wouldn’t be anything to do. I am happy to say that in the game, there is more than enough to do.
A plethora of story elements, side quests, and little tidbits turn the game into a perpetual fetch quest, and a good one at that, as you are rewarded accordingly for your progression. This is the aspect that the game gets its “ok, just one more (insert fun game activity)” factor from.
The main story follows a character that was thrust back through time and space via a mysterious portal into the aforementioned Hisui. The player is then adopted into Jubalife Village, run by Team Galactic. Jubalife Village is your home base for operations with shops, Team Galactic headquarters, and a vast amount of little things like a place to take pictures with your pokemon. Throughout the story, you will help two feuding clans that have had a timeless rivalry; and at the same time help Jubalife Village grow into a sprawling town with even more for the player to do. Your main objective when you become part of Team Galactic is to complete the pokedex, which is extremely fun to do.
Within the completion of the pokedex, this game’s play structure is broken down perfectly. The overall goal of the game is to complete the pokedex. To do that one must unlock new areas through the story to discover new pokemon, then for each new pokemon discovered one must fill out a wide selection of tasks. This creates a layered experience within the game, always leaving the player at an intersection of things to do.
The game shines brightest within the wild goose chase of completing the pokedex. A player could spend hours on the lowest subdivision of quests in this game and still have fun. One example that I can give is my attempt to get a shiny scyther (2). In “Pokemon Legends: Arceus,” there are two levels of completion to a pokemon’s pokedex entry. One is finishing enough research tasks for the pokemon to be registered as complete, but one step above that is finishing ALL of the research tasks for that pokemon. Research tasks include catching a certain amount of the pokemon, battling the pokemon, and seeing it use different moves in different contexts. Completing both of these tasks yields increased shiny odds for the pokemon, so I did just that. I spent roughly 2.5 hours filling the entry to completion and hunting for the discolored pokemon. Even though I didn’t get the pokemon I was looking for (yet) I still had fun every second of my journey. Also with my recent completion of the game, I can safely say there is more than enough post-game content, and if you count non-structured content then it could last you until the DLC for this game releases
So yes, this game is really fun and enjoyable, however, it is sadly not without its flaws. “Pokemon Legends:Arceus” feels a little bit under-baked. The environments heavily resemble that of games on the Nintendo 64. The textures are passable, and there are no literal 64 bit graphics, sure, yet the landscape feels a bit uninspired. I still had fun trekking through the vast world and there are some beautiful places, but I just can’t shake the facts that this game was made by the biggest multi-media franchise and that “Breath of the Wild”(3) exists on the exact same console. I am personally not a stichler for graphics, but that isn’t the main problem here. The landscape just simply feels “blah” more often than it feels awesome. I would take this with a grain of salt, however, as most of the time I was so distracted by what I was doing that I didn’t even realize or care about the graphics or landscape. Overall, the game looks… Passable, but if one is looking for a game that is visually appetizing, they may be left a bit disappointed.
So, should you buy this game? I’m going to slap you with a big ‘ol maybe. The majority of people will likely enjoy this game. I think the people who will enjoy this game the most are people who are or were already fans of the franchise, as this game takes all good aspects from older games and improves them greatly. The story contains a lot of similarities to previously-established pokemon background for those people to enjoy, however even without understanding those references, one could still find enjoyment from them.
Still not sure if you want to buy this game? If you are on the edge of a decision, you should probably just get it. I have not had so much fun with a game in years. I haven’t been truly giddy about a game since the 3rd grade. “Pokemon Legends:Arceus” is one of the better modern games to be released. Although it isn’t perfect, it sure is one heck of a game.
(1) - Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum were released on the Nintendo DS in the early 2000’s and took place in the Sinnoh Region. These games are held in high regard by fans and were recently remade in November of 2021 and released to a reception of a general consensus being that the remake was pretty bad. Traditionally, remakes of Pokemon games add something special to the games or at least change something, yet these most recent ones did not. “Legends Arceus” is the spiritual remake of these games, yet for reasons that are motivated by profit, Game Freak (the Pokemon producers) wanted to Have some insurance incase “Legends Arceus” (the game featured in this article) Failed, and even if it didn’t it’s more money directly to their pockets.
(2) - “Shiny” pokemon are rare discolored pokemon that people like myself spend egregious amounts of time “hunting” to find their favorite pokemon in the aforementioned form. (the odds of such encounter are 1/4096)
(3) - “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is an open world game that was released 6 years before Legends Arceus and any given snapshot from that game is simply gorgeous, while the same can’t be said for Legends Arceus.