Can Pokémon Legends Arceus (really) renew the franchise?

A few days before the release of the Legends Pokémon Arceus game on Nintendo Switch, can the title still save a legendary license that is struggling to renew itself?

Long awaited by fans, Pokemon Legends Arceus stands out even before its release as THE game that was missing from the legendary Game Freak franchise. After 25 years of success, this new adventure with more mature ambitions finally promises to evolve the license, to offer players an epic adventure to meet the first pocket monsters of the Hisui region. A few days before its release, we take stock of the next cult title (?) from Nintendo.

An ambition that lives up to our expectations

On paper, Pokemon Legends Arceus already promises to blow a breath of fresh air on the license imagined by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. It must be said that in a quarter of a century, the video game series has sanded a effective recipe but now hackneyed : after 35 main episodes and almost twice as many spin-off games, Pokémon has changed its gameplay very little. Following the success of Pokemon Go on mobile, Game Freak had nevertheless bet on a little originality, releasing in 2018 Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee on Nintendo Switch. The studio had even tried the open world with the Verdant Plains of Galar in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Apart from these two pleasant exceptions, the main games have always remained much the same. The appearance of regional forms, the Gigantamax phenomenon, Z-abilities or Mega-evolutions has never revolutionized the franchise. Especially since in recent years, Pokémon has had a hard time offering new titles, contenting itself after Sword and Shield to offer some HD remakes with Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, then Pokémon Sparkling Diamond and Sparkling Pearl. Same New Pokemon Snap, yet supposed to offer a new rereading of the 1999 game did not escape a heated aftertaste.

A stagnant situation that Pokemon Legends Arceus could well (like Team Rocket) send to other skies. Announced last February, the RPG now seems the only one able to renew the cult franchise. Even before its release, and while Nintendo was rather stingy with information, many already compare it to the excellent The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which had made the heyday of the Nintendo Switch when it was launched in 2017.

A more mature reading of the franchise

By integrating a vast open world, a new crafting system, more advanced mechanics and a whole new way to explore the Hisui region, Pokemon Legends Arceus could finally offer a more mature reading of the Pokémon universe, at a time when a good number of players deplore the – assumed – simplification of the gameplay since Sun and Moon. An open-world adventure that could change everything, moving away from the ultimately very linear system of previous games.

Leaving its modern temporality, Pokemon Legends Arceus also offers the possibility of creating a break in the continuity of the main episodes. This journey back in time several centuries before the history of Sinnoh will thus be an opportunity to offer new mechanics, but above all to give the Pokémon mythology all the importance it deserves, focusing on the creator god of Sinnoh and the rich lore that surrounds him.

Do we really need to renew Pokémon?

Many players agree on the subject: in more than 25 years of existence, it must be admitted that every new Pokémon game ends up looking like the previous ones. Impossible to count on the new creatures of the game or on the few new mechanics to forget the routine of Game Freak. But after all, doesn’t the strength of the franchise come from there?

For years, Pokémon has served us a soup that we like to savor, without ever bordering on indigestion. The game certainly has a lot of flaws, but difficult to blame him as he acts as Proust’s madeleine for many of us. Especially since under its simplistic airs, the franchise skilfully plays on multiple levels of gameplay. While casual players and the youngest will be content to hammer the attack button to chain the physical blows, the strategists will be able to develop sharp maneuvers to overcome their opponents. An exercise which, in both cases, is highly satisfactory.

For Nintendo and Game Freak, everything resides in a perilous balancing act. Pokemon Legends Arceus will thus have the difficult task of renewing a license that is not really reckless, without however depriving it of its identity. A risky bet.

Pokémon Legends Is Arceus too late?

Pokemon Legends Arceus has everything from the cult game. It remains to be seen whether the promises made by Nintendo will actually be kept. This is also the main concern of the players. Since its officialization, the title has already offered us some disappointments. Starting with its open-world, which will be more like several open areas that it will be possible to explore. On social networks, fans are also surprised to see the graphic quality of the title, for the moment below our expectations. Admittedly, the Nintendo Switch has never shone with its technical performance. But with the release of the OLED version last October, and the painful comparison with – him again – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild yet released five years earlier, we expected a little better.

We will therefore have to wait until January 28 to decide, controllers in hand, if Pokemon Legends Arceus deserves the title of cult or disappointment game of the year. It must be said that the title is particularly awaited at the turn by the players of the first hour, who hope to see Game Freak succeed in rekindling the flame of their Poké-heart, by bringing to the license real novelties and a speech more adult.

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