Is your Legends Arceus playthrough dead? Are you planning on doing reviews for the Galarian pokemon/the Hisuian variants?
Now, I know you’ve asked me two very specific things here, but they kinda touch on some bigger issues of What I Do And Why that I probably should talk about, so – and this, K, is not a reflection on you at all, this is not your fault – instead I’m going to drink heavily and shout at you.
(also the context of everything else that follows is that I have a few months left to finish my PhD thesis or die trying, so I’m trying to avoid committing to anything big at all until next year; I am not going to touch Scarlet/Violet at all until mid-December at the very earliest, no, I’m serious, K, I mean it; it’s okay not to play things on launch day, for goodness’ sake, it’s fine, calm your tits, K)
There’s been a lot going on, y’know, K? Like there was the pandemic, and I moved back home, and then I stupidly moved back again to America (to Ohio, K; I mean, I have many friends here that I love dearly, but Ohio, K!), and having this thesis to finish, and all of that was happening at the same time as my dissatisfaction with a lot of my old work and the formats I wrote it in started to hit critical mass. And, y’know, I’ve been coming to question the whole notion of being a “Pokémon guy,” not because I don’t like Pokémon anymore or don’t like where it’s going, but because I see other people, K, who are dug in as Pokémon fandom #content #creators and kinda seem like they hate Pokémon but can’t give it up because so much of their own dumb bull$#!t is tied to it that they’d never survive the course correction, and I see even more people in completely different spheres having the same kind of experience for different reasons. Like there’s people who’ve made fµ¢£in’ careers in the fandoms for Blizzard properties like Starcraft, and over the last couple of years there’s just been one revelation after a-fµ¢£in’-nother about how all the top bosses at Blizzard were sexually harassing everyone in the world for years and it kinda seems like a lot of them have just gotten away with it, and all these fandom community figurehead people are totally disgusted by the whole thing, but their own personal brands are also so tied to the company and its intellectual property and their own deep emotional attachment to its stories that, y’know, what can they even fµ¢£in’ do, K? A company’s never gonna love you back, right? Maybe there’s good people that are part of it, but ultimately it’s a machine that eats your money and tries to take over the world. Caring that much about something you can’t control is only gonna give you grief in the end. Study history instead; then you get to rewrite the book on some dead bastard who deserves to be taken down a peg.
so, y’know, that’s basically why I believe it’s fundamentally immoral and insane for works of fiction to be privately owned for more than maybe 25 years
But even before I started thinking about all that, K, in the end I only did those reviews for generations VI and VII because I had people who expected that I would and thought they’d like it if I did. I’m honestly not sure in retrospect if I ever wanted to do them; it was more this feeling that when you’re a #content #creator you’re supposed to make a certain quantity of #content and build a #brand around the style of #content you do, and more is always better, and if I’m honest, K, that entire view of what creativity and even analytical commentary are about kinda makes my fµ¢£ing skin crawl, do you know what I mean? Of course you do; you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t a reasonably intelligent, sophisticated and attractive human being. Fetch me another crème de menthe. With ice.
I haven’t thought for a while that talking about whether I think individual Pokémon designs are good or bad is particularly useful or productive, because ultimately that’s part of what makes Pokémon games good or bad, but not all of it, and looking at designs one at a time just feels more and more like nickel-and-diming, especially since my real honest opinion is that there are just fewer honest-to-goodness duds in VI/VII/VIII than there were in V (and I kinda have to respect at the high concept level what V was trying to do, and I wish it had worked better and the designers had been more willing to really commit to it, but maybe that ship’s sailed). So over the course of generations VI and VII I moved more and more away from “I think this Pokémon is X out of 10” and towards “this is what this Pokémon is and does, and what (if anything) is interesting about it.” But the thing is, K, broadly, I’m not a great person to do that. Sometimes you get Pokémon with designs focused on archaeology or cultural heritage that I can talk for ages about, but for the most part, talking about the inspiration behind Pokémon designs is talking about biology, zoology, botany, sometimes even classic Japanese cinema, for goodness’ sake, and I guess I do like learning about those things, but really I’m no better at it than any other reasonably nerdy university-educated twerp with an internet connection.
But there’s a bigger problem, which is that I’m not even sure I believe anymore that it’s useful for “reviews” to talk about whether something is good or bad at all. People can kinda figure that out on their own, for whatever their own understanding of “good” or “bad” is, and I have neither the desire nor the capacity to change anyone’s mind, least of all yours, K, about whether a particular Pokémon game, or a particular Pokémon, is “good” or “bad”. I’ve begun to think it’s a lot more interesting to ask “okay, I know that I feel this is good – so why? What about it is good? What makes it different from things that I feel are bad? What about those things is bad? What is wrong with me that makes me think the good thing is good and the bad thing is bad, and how can they fix it? How can I absorb the goodness and badness and become more powerful? What will this contribute to my ascension?“
forget that last part; I’ve said too much
The biggest problem was that I thought Sword and Shield were fine. Not impressive, not great, not paradigm-shifting, not a change to my beliefs about Pokémon is capable of, not a bright beacon of hope for the future of the series, because, I mean, really? Yes, I liked most of the designs and characters and a lot of the story, but they weren’t exactly a revelation, you know, K? And I know there’s people who love them, and I get it, I promise you I get it, K, because they have their moments, I agree they have their moments; they’re just not… well, not terribly interesting or original, ultimately. But I also, sincerely, deep down, in my heart of hearts, just do not give a $#!t about most common big reasons people have for disliking them. I do not give a $#!t about dexit (“there’s too many of the goddamn things anyway” has been a pillar of this blog since its inception); I do not give a $#!t about the graphics (no, not even the T-posing Wingull); at the end of the day I don’t even really give a $#!t about the experience mechanics (and I tried, I swear I did; I went into those games totally ready to think the experience system was bad, and I just didn’t, I’m sorry, K); I think the expansion model is better and fairer than the “third version” model (I said something like that years ago, K, back in late generation V, even, and no-one said I was crazy then except for me! Why do you think I’m crazy NOW, K!? WHY DO YOU THINK I’M CRAZY NOW!?!?). They’re just… y’know, they’re fine. Sometimes things are just okay. It’s not good #content, but it’s true. Now Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl were genuinely pretty solidly in the “meh” column, but I have a hard time mustering any good, honest disappointment in them, because I never really thought Diamond and Pearl needed remakes to begin with, I never really expected them to be anything other than what they are, I don’t think they ever pretended they were going to be anything other than what they are, and I kinda felt (and still feel) that handing that chore off to another studio while Game Freak devoted their attention to Legends and gen IX was a pretty sensible move. But none of that is particularly interesting, for me to write or for anyone else to read; it’s just kinda me being a stick-in-the-mud about the sort of thing I’ve always been a stick-in-the-mud about; nobody cares about that, or frankly should care; you shouldn’t care, K, I’m telling you, you have more important things going on in your life.
Maybe I’ll feel differently once everyone else’s attention has moved on to generation IX. Maybe then they’ll shut up and let me think. Maybe that’s the answer; maybe if I just live permanently three years behind it’ll all make sense. Anything that’s really worth talking about will wait that long.
The problem, really, is that I’m just tired of talking about things because they’re new and they’re what everyone else is talking about. There are so many people who have Opinions about Galar and generation VIII and Legends: Arceus, and yes, of course they’re all wrong about everything, but do I really want to devote my energy to being wrong about all the same things in a slightly different way? No, I want to write weird bull$#!t that no-one asked for.
I think I’ve only ever wanted to write weird bull$#!t that no-one asked for. Maybe, someday, I’ll have the presence of mind to start doing that.
sorry, K, what was the question?
ask me again in a few months