okay let’s talk about the- fµ¢£- what are we talking about

apparently there’s a thing we should talk about

I am of course infuriated at being awoken from my deathless slumber to talk about whatever the hell this is, and moreover I am, as always, personally offended that this broadcast was not scheduled with my specific time zone in mind (it was at 2 am NZT). Naturally, I will be seeking spiritual retribution against Nintendo, the Pokémon Company and Game Freak by The Usual Channels in due course. In the meantime… let’s see what secret intelligence has just landed on our doorsteps.

  • blah blah, Unite stuff
    • I still haven’t played Unite at all; I know people want me to have opinions about it and I just don’t, because I’m a huge fraud
  • blah blah, Pokémon Café stuff
  • blah blah, Masters stuff
    • jesus, has this really been out for two years?
    • I have no opinions about Masters either because I have never bought, and will never buy, a phone that is not the absolute $#!ttiest on the market; I sincerely tried to play it when it first came out and it just does not function on my phone, at all
  • Pokémon Go is getting its first Galar Pokémon, apparently via some kind of Hoopa-related shenanigans
    • that’s nice
  • okay, here we go, Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl news
    • yes I’m still calling them that; no I’m never going to stop; shut up
    • My initial read of these games was that they are, in a fairly literal sense, Diamond and Pearl for the Switch, with nicer graphics and maybe a few other minor modernisations, and so far that’s still what I’m seeing here – but those minor modernisations do include a couple of conspicuous fan-favourite features, namely:
      • Walking companion Pokémon, the beloved signature of Heart Gold and Soul Silver, since then only ever fully implemented in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee – this one is sure to excite a lot of people.
      • Character customisation on the model of generations VI-VIII – everyone loves clothes shopping for your Pokémon trainer avatar, right?
        • Sure, you’ll put character customisation in, but you stILL WON’T LET MY BOY CHARACTER WEAR A DRESS, WILL YOU, YOU COWARDS-
    • fµ¢£in’… Pokéball stickers are back… I guess… whoohoo?
      • I dunno, was this something people loved and missed about generation IV? I mean, I don’t fault them for putting it in; if your mission statement is a “faithful remake” of Diamond and Pearl then you’ve gotta have them, I just genuinely don’t know who cares about this feature.
    • The Sinnoh Underground, unlike the overworld, appears to have been fairly significantly reworked, which is a surprise.
      • There are these underground grotto areas (“Hideaways” is apparently the official term) with rare Pokémon in them, with different habitat themes – like there’s a forest area, and a snow area, and a lava area. I quite like this; the underground is one of the most unique features of Sinnoh as a region, but I never felt like there was a whole lot to do there.
        • Voice-over suggests that the wild Pokémon that appear here will be influenced by your secret base decorations, and that some Pokémon will only appear in Hideaways – I think this is probably going to be Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl‘s solution to Pokémon that were only available in the original games through esoteric methods like the dual-slot mechanic or Poké-Radar, or perhaps even a few Pokémon from generations I-III that couldn’t be caught in Sinnoh at all.
      • Obviously there’s new secret base swag.
      • The map of the underground looks pretty different as well, and there’s new map artwork that suggests the layout of the underground will more closely resemble the “shape” of the Sinnoh overworld.
      • The mining minigame looks like a pretty one-to-one reproduction of the original, though.
    • It looks like contests are back, but it’s not immediately clear to me what changes have been made to them, if any.
    • Still not clear to me whether any changes are being made to the story. There’s a segment of the trailer that focuses on showing off the new models and battle backgrounds for Team Galactic, but I don’t think we see anything that indicates a new plot or chapters.
      • Although… there are a couple of shots that focus on the Celestic Ruins and the wall art inside, which is an interesting choice, since the original Diamond and Pearl didn’t really explore those ruins or elaborate on their significance, as far as I can remember – that stuff mostly came to light in Platinum. That might hint at some minor rewriting to integrate some of the changes that Platinum made to the original story.
  • And the part we’ve all been waiting for – Legends news!
    • “This is a tale of a time long ago when the lives of humans and Pokémon were still separate” – which is an interesting way to put it, in the context of that myth from the Canalave Library that people keep quoting at me about how humans used to live much more closely with Pokémon and even marry them (which must be true, because it’s text from the game, in a context that the game explicitly presents as mythical, and everyone knows that all myths are always true in fictional worlds)
    • Sinnoh is apparently called “Hisui” in this era, which seems odd but is possibly a reference to the fact that Hokkaidō hasn’t always been called Hokkaidō – the original Japanese name was Ezo, and the native Ainu name is Yaunmosir (more information in that linked Twitter thread). The voice-over clarifies (just in case the name confused anyone) that this is the same region known in the present day as Sinnoh; I have to imagine there’ll be some in-universe significance to the name change.
      • The town we saw in the first trailer, apparently the sole human settlement in Hisui, is apparently the future Jubilife City (analogous to the real city of Sapporo, the largest city on Hokkaidō).
      • We’ve already seen that the player characters wear a symbol on their clothing that looks suspiciously like the Team Galactic insignia – apparently this is the symbol of the “Galaxy Expedition Team,” an equally suspicious name. We’re also being introduced to three leaders of the expedition team:
        • Professor Laventon, our Professor Tree (eh… lavender is a flower, it still counts)
        • Captain Cyllene, the leader of the survey division, who (as others have already noted) looks and sounds like she might be an ancestor of Cyrus, the boss of Team Galactic, though the voice-over assures us that she’s “our biggest supporter”
        • Commander Kamado, the leader of the whole expedition
    • The world of Legends looks extremely pretty. Like, I don’t know anything about the technical aspects of video game graphics, and I haven’t played fµ¢£ing Breath of the Wild and I don’t want to, and I’m sure there are people somewhere out there saying that the graphics look like $#!t. But I think it’s pretty.
    • There are apparently at least a couple of regional forms and regional evolutions in Legends: Wyrdeer, an evolved form of Stantler, Basculegion, a ghostly evolved form of Basculin, a psychic Hisuian form of Braviary and a fluffy Hisuian Growlithe with a rocky horn.
      • Basculegion is apparently created when a Basculin is possessed by dozens of souls of its dead schoolmates that seize control of it and drive it on to greater heights – which is (and I’m going to use a technical term from media criticism here) fµ¢£in’ metal.
      • If these Pokémon are unique to Hisui, but don’t appear in Sinnoh, does that mean they’re extinct by the time of Diamond and Pearl? I suppose it’s possible that Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl will feature them in order to retcon them into present-day Sinnoh, but I kind of doubt it; I’ve gotten the impression that adding post-generation IV Pokémon is not part of those games’ objectives, and if they were in the remakes, I don’t see why the trailer wouldn’t have just said so. If they are extinct in the present, that’s… surprisingly sad.
        • To be clear I would 100% agree with that as a storytelling choice; Pokémon should engage with the fact that extinction is real and terrible and lasts forever. I’m just surprised they’d do it; I kinda expect them to wriggle out of it somehow and clarify that actually these Pokémon do still exist in modern Sinnoh and we just didn’t see them for… some reason.
    • We can sneak up on Pokémon using Stealth Mode. I don’t remember whether we’ve seen this before and I don’t care, because one of the silliest little things I most liked about Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby was that it had Stealth Mode.
    • We’re seeing a few shots of some of the really old ruins in Sinnoh. Remember that this game is probably set (based on clothing, architecture, technology, etc., as well as the real historical timeline of the Japanese colonisation of Hokkaidō) in the mid-to-late 19th century. Whoever built the ruins of Mount Coronet, Celestic Town and other ancient sites of Sinnoh, they’re probably long gone already by the time we get there.
      • It was basically guaranteed we’d see stuff like this, but I’m still excited to see it because I like old stuff.
      • Look, I’m an extremely bad archaeologist in real life so it’s nice to have a chance to roleplay being good at it.
      • Interestingly, we’ve been told that Wyrdeer “has strong ties with the local people and has been treated with great respect in this land since ancient times.” Our people are recent arrivals in Hisui and don’t know anything about the local Pokémon. The “local people” haven’t appeared in any promotional material so far, and the ruins imply that they aren’t around anymore – but maybe there’s more to this region than meets the eye.
    • We can FLY
      • I mean… yeah, we can always fly, but we can use a sort of hang-glider thing carried by the regional Braviary form to actually fly over the landscape – kinda like using the Eon Flute in Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby except we’re flying over the actual open-world scenery (which, again, is very pretty).
      • The regional Stantler and Basculin evolutions likewise seem to be rideable Pokémon following the Alolan tradition.
    • This game has a crafting system, which I think it kinda has to, since the entire conceit is that we’re exploring an untamed wilderness and it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to be able to buy Pokéballs at every rest stop.
    • There’s some freaky $#!t going on
      • It looks like there’s some kind of celestial phenomenon that can drive Pokémon mad – weird flashing lights in the sky, red eyes, berserk state, the whole deal, and these enraged Pokémon will try to beat the $#!t out of you, the player, not just your own Pokémon.
        • Humans have not fully figured out how to live with Pokémon yet in this period, and the results can be… unpredictable.
        • A couple of characters in the trailer comment that Pokémon are “terrifying creatures” – Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kanto anymore.
    • The speed stat seems to have been reworked to allow much faster Pokémon to act twice in a row before their slower opponents can get a word in.
      • Our Pokémon can modify their attacks with two fighting styles – “strong” and “agile” – to manipulate the new turn order mechanics. Strong style gives you fewer but more powerful attacks; agile style gives you more but weaker ones.
    • As we’ve already seen to some extent in Sword and Shield, different species of Pokémon have different behaviours – some are friendly, others are shy, others are aggressive.
      • It’s cool, it’s immersive, no notes.
    • Filling out the Pokédex isn’t just a matter of catching Pokémon – we’re also supposed to observe a range of different behaviours to learn more about how they live.
      • I genuinely kind of love this; the Pokédex quest has gotten slowly de-emphasised over the past several generations of Pokémon games and it’s always felt a little too neat and clean to be a good representation of ecological field work. A more complicated Pokédex quest that asks more of the player and rewards us in different ways is something I’ve wanted from Pokémon for a very long time.

okay that’s that, wake me up when the next game’s out

12 thoughts on “okay let’s talk about the- fµ¢£- what are we talking about

  1. My assumption is that Stantler and Basculin are extinct in modern Sinnoh, but importing them from elsewhere will work to reintroduce their evolutions. Same deal with the regional Braviary, which sounds like it evolves from regular Rufflets. That leaves Hisuiian Growlithe (and Wyrdeer, as Stantler isn’t available in SwSh) as Old Save Bonuses for having both games; the former probably involves something similar to fossil-revival tech but with more recent remains.

    As an aside, Official Diamond (****ing Telefang bootleggers) was my last main-series Pokémon game and I can say that stickers were neat. Letting us customize our entrance animations was neat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On BDSP:

    – the Hideaways seem to be their way of integrating Platinum’s famously-expanded version of the Pokédex, which is great. It could even be where they’ll stuff the Hisuian forms in BDSP to tie in with Legends: Arceus.

    – Pulling from ORAS, I absolutely would not be surprised if they worked the Distortion World/Giratina bits from Platinum into a Delta Episode-esque segment post-game.

    – Also, I’d love if they made Expansion Packs like SwSh’s to deal with Sinnoh’s other Legendaries/Mythicals, like Shaymin, Heatran, and Cresselia/Darkrai. Maybe even finally unlocking the Azure Flute event to meet Arceus itself. Speaking of which…

    On Legends: Arceus:

    – “Pokémon should engage with the fact that extinction is real and terrible and lasts forever.”

    If fossil Pokémon are any indication, extinction in the Pokémon world does not, in fact, last forever. And that’s if they were ever extinct to begin with (see: pockets of extant, unrevived fossil Pokémon in the anime). Although the franchise has begun veering towards (comparatively) realistic consequences of ecological change, what with the spotlight on Corsola in both Alola and Galarian Corsola/Cursola, so maybe we indeed will see the games touch on a more realistic depiction of extinction and not just simplified Jurassic Park.

    – I find it deliciously ironic that you are now REQUIRED to hide in the tall grass from dangerous Pokémon! That part is just brilliant. I doubt we’ll ever see an explanation as to why Pokémon hide in tall grass in modern day instead (a consequence of industrialization, I’d wager) but hey, Legends: Arceus seems to be doing everything they can to surprise us, so who knows. Also, the berserking wild Pokémon kind of reminds me of Shadow Pokémon. I don’t think that’ll get mentioned at all, but it’s a neat little call-back to other parts of the Pokémon franchise, if it is indeed what they had in mind.

    – Apricorns are back! And with them, specialized Poké Balls like the Heavy Ball! The trailer seems to indicate they are a necessary component for crafting Poké Balls, which is suuuuuuuuch a pleasant worldbuilding tie-in to an established historical fact. A significant part of the Galaxy Expedition Team must then be from Johto, since that’s where Apricorns are native to? Makes sense, with Cyndaquil being one of the starter options. I still don’t really know how we can reconcile this with Drayden’s claim that he was born before Poké Balls were a thing, though…

    – The information we got on Wyrdeer reminds me of the Alolans’ veneration of their version of Ninetales, which is always a nice cultural detail. It has yet to be implemented in some way gameplay-wise but maybe Legends: Arceus will require you to learn more about Hisuian Stantler and Wyrdeer from these “local people”? The game after all is emphasizing ACTUALLY actively learning about the local wildlife with effort and not just simply pointing a metallic red box at a thing you see. Which reminds me of your “If I Were In Charge” series and I knew you’d be delighted with that.

    Whew! Sorry for the wall of text, but you know… Excited! This is the most radical shake-up to the 25-year old formula…ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Also, I forgot to single this out:

    “red eyes, berserk state,”
    Monster Hunter Stories 2 had basically the same freaking plot point, and that’s not the only parallel people are drawing to that series.

    Like

    1. I think “red eyes = berserk state” is a common enough trope that there’s very little point in trying to name any specific title it might be aping. It’s also in multiple episodes of the Pokémon anime, going back to the 1990s.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Surprised you didn’t mention the fact we only saw red basculegion the entire trailer. I always liked blue basculin’s looks better, so I found it quite noticeable- I wonder why they did that? It seems deliberate, but I don’t know how important it could be. Worst case, they didn’t want to make two models, so blue basculin turns red upon evolution, best case I think it might get an alternate evolution.

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  5. Now for anthropological / design remarks:
    + I LOVE the name “Basculegion”…but I’m disappointed by its turn to the Otherworldly as yet another Water/Ghost-type “possessed by the restless souls of other Basculin in their school that have perished during their journey upstream.” Maybe I’m too inclined to see Pokémon as biological creatures in a natural habitat but after Gen IV/V we’ve seen a proliferation of Ghost-types that I feel has become a creative crutch for GameFreak. On the one hand, sure, GF has plenty of Japanese/global lore to draw from for ghostly incarnations, but in practice, it follows a vaguely defined concept for “ghost” – spiritual? occult? discarded item/tsukumogami? relic? dark matter? paranormal pun? or just very stealthy? – that seems tacked on to certain Pokémon (I’m looking at you Jellicent, Decidueye, Dragapult, and even Sableye to start). I’m not opposed to “compelling” Ghost-type designs but I’m frustrated that GF increasingly(?) leans into “yay, more ghosts whatever tf ghosts are” as their design aesthetic, so says I, a 29yo lifelong fan from North America playing a game clearly designed for children.

    + Yay for new regional variants & regional evolutions – but why create a whole alternative Growlithe line that shares a primary type with the original Growlithe? No Water-type water poodle? We can debate the trade-offs ad nauseum but in general, I’ve been frustrated by regional variants that essentially make the original obsolete, give or take a type-weakness (Alolan Rattata & Raticate inmediately come to mind). I think Alolan Vulpix/Ninetails were brilliant spin-offs but let’s see how Hisuian Arcanine(?) surprises us?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think ghost is that overused. It’s statistically the second least common type in the game (only ice is rarer). It’s honestly surprising ghost type isn’t more common because, well, eventually everything becomes a ghost.

      And I think the variants that add or change a single type are more believable than the ones that are entirely different typings. It’s much less of a jump for it to keep a typing. I’m not against ones that are completely different typings, but I think a variant needs good reason to change types entirely. Given the source material, I don’t think Hisuian Growlithe would’ve made sense to do that. It’s based on the same idea but leans more heavily into it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. The Legends game certainly sounds neat but I think I’ll wait until reviews are out this time. Only took me 10 years to learn that lesson 😛
    Wyrdeer is a nice surprise! I’m happy that Stantler got some fresh attention without having to suffer the Rhyperior treatment. Along with Gigantamax Venusaur, that’s 2 points to Game Freak this generation!

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  7. Did anyone else think it was weird how they went out of their way to show us “berserk” pokemon but didn’t say anything about combat with them? It feels like there’s some big element they’re not ready to show us yet, like maybe some pokemon won’t just sit still and take turns with yours. Yes, I am hoping for Poke Souls.
    Either way, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a switch game.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I mean… that’s just Final Fantasy 7, which means they’re nearly a decade and a half too late to that particular “shocking” tactic.

      Liked by 1 person

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