Mom, I Can’t Pause #19: Oh, This One is Nintendo Heavy!
Welcome back to whatever this is.
I didn’t exactly intend to take the week off, but then it was Tuesday and Nintendo decided to announce a Nintendo Direct. So then I ended up taking the week off just so I could figure out what I really liked and didn’t like about the Direct. That being said, here we are. I’m back, and I’m ready to talk about the Nintendo Direct and Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Let’s get into it:
Pokémon Legends: Arceus — A Guest Perspective from Sara Masciulli
Full disclosure here: I personally haven’t played the newest Pokémon game. Don’t get me wrong I think it looks really good, but I just haven’t played it yet. It’s been a busy time for me! However, I do have a guest here to help me talk about Pokémon: Sara Masciulli, my girlfriend who is way more knowledgeable about Pokémon than I am. Sara, take it away:
A new Pokémon game has become less of an event and more of a flash in the pan of nostalgia. Get my starter, muscle my way through gyms and Bad Guy™ side quests, take on the Elite Four…maybe, if I haven’t lost interest already. I don’t care to do EV/IV training, consider natures, or breed Pokémon with hidden abilities. Those aspects of the franchise have gotten to be too much for me. I never battle strangers online because I know me and my team will get absolutely obliterated. I’m okay with this.
To be frank, I’m not completely sure why I still buy the mainline franchise games. The story is perennial, to its benefit and detriment, and the new mechanics be it Mega Evolutions or Gigantamax wash out to be the same nothingness. I don’t think I’ve beaten a game (defeating the Elite Four) since X/Y and I skipped Diamond/Pearl and Black/White. I’ve never completed a Pokédex. Despite all of this, I am deeply nostalgic for this series as Pokémon Yellow was the first video game I ever played on my first console, a teal Gameboy Color. (I still envy anyone who had the Atomic Purple one.)
I tell you all this, dear reader, and yet I can’t put down Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It’s a near 180 from what I’ve come to know and expect. It’s far from perfect, but it’s what this 26 year old franchise needed. To call it the Breath of the Wild of Pokémon games is a bit of a stretch, given how BOTW is now a barometer for open world games. But looking at Arceus in the vacuum of the franchise, it does ring somewhat true.
Arceus introduces long standing tropes of your standard open world RPG or action/adventure game to the franchise. You have some light inventory management (again), crafting, and funny side quests. The best still is being able to point yourself in any direction and go forth…almost. Each area is still confined to its borders so I can’t hop from the grasslands to the coast without fast-traveling, which is odd because all the other Pokémon towns/areas are interconnected. Regardless, I don’t miss the random encounters of days gone by especially with the alpha Pokémon lurking around the corner. I see the big, level 40 Rapidash so me and my level 7 Rowlet will slowly back away.
Speaking of the big Rapidash, having to consider bodily harm to my character adds a new delightful level of excitement (and fear) to the game. There’s actually a modicum of “danger” to the game that I’ve never experienced. I could go on and on about all the changes I love and the glaring deficits that dampen the thrill. But what’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about the pop-ins, and distant asset framerate drops or just how refreshing this game is?
What I will say is this — I hope this new approach to the series is here to stay. I think this could truly revitalize the franchise and offer a game for every level of player now. Arceus is the most challenging Pokémon game I’ve played since I was a kid. I feel like my younger self again, excited and a little scared to see what’s hiding in the caves or just beyond the tall grass.
Thank you, Sara! Your perspective and knowledge is always appreciated, and you are clearly more suited to speak about Pokémon than I am. Follow Sara on Twitter and Instagram at @frnchgrapefruit, and follow her art Instagram at @sarakate.jpg! She’s the best, guys.
Nintendo Direct: The JRPG Edition
Nintendo was back last week with their latest Nintendo Direct after not showing off much since September of last year.
We got a pretty good look at some of the upcoming stuff out of Nintendo and some of their closest third-party affiliates. As a whole I found the presentation to be pretty cool, if not a little too JRPG heavy for my interests. Still, there were some highlights to be sure. I’ll focus on three of them like I usually do, but I gotta hand it to Nintendo for taking some weird left turns in this one. Here’s some highlights:
You don’t need me to tell you that Kirby and the Forgotten Land looks fantastic. Nintendo finally taking the leap and making a 3D Kirby platformer real feels like a no brainer, but better late than never I suppose. Still, we got a new trailer for the game that features a very Super Mario Odyssey-esque feature called Mouthful Mode. This whole thing reminded me of Cappy, and I couldn’t help but be excited when watching the trailer. This shit looks ridiculous, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Maybe I should play and finish a Kirby game prior to its release, though.
Super Mario Strikers Is Back!?
I don’t know about y’all, but this one caught me off guard. It’s been about 15 years since we last got a Strikers game. If there was ever a time to bring back Strikers on a modern platform, any time the World Cup is happening would probably be an ideal time. Somehow, Mario and sports games go together in frustratingly good ways. This one looks no different than the others, and I mean that in the most positive way. Still, there have to be other sports for Mario to conquer. What major sports are left, hockey? Where’s my Mario hockey game, guys? In any case Mario Strikers: Battle League will be out later this year, and I’m hoping this leads to more Mario sports games of the extreme variety.
The Switch Is the JRPG Machine
Not sure if you heard, but JRPGs are kind of the rage on the Nintendo Switch platform. Clearly Nintendo agrees because they chose to announce quite a few RPGs for the platform at this Direct. We have classics, like Earthbound Origins and Earthbound coming to Nintendo Switch online. We also have Xenoblade Chronicles 3 coming to the platform later this year, too. Not to mention the litany of Square Enix JRPGs coming soon, like the Live Alive US release and the rumored Switch release of the Final Fantasy pixel remasters. Oh, and the long rumored Chrono Cross remaster as the proverbial icing on the cake. If you’re a JRPG fan, there really is no better time to be a Switch owner. If you’re not, you’re probably gonna end up giving one of these games a try regardless. I know I will!
That’s gonna do it for me on the gaming front this week, but I suspect you guys will want to come back to this newsletter later in the week for a special announcement of sorts. Something I’ve been cooking up for a while is finally ready for presentation, and I really hope you guys enjoy it. Till then, take it easy everyone!