I can still remember playing my first Pokémon game, 1999’s Pokémon Red Version. All of my friends were stuck on it. I had to wait until nearly a year after release when my best friend’s dad bought me a GameBoy Color and the game for Christmas. Since then, I’ve owned every main series Pokémon game and a few of the spin-offs. After a week with nearly 40 hours of playtime, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the most fun I’ve ever had with the series…
Gamefreak took a big gamble changing up their tried-and-true formula. Pokémon is the biggest IP in all media, making money hand over fist– doing the same exact thing every couple of years. And yet they decided to drastically shake things up this time. Take the world of new Pokémon Snap with all of the fun of seeing these monsters in their natural habitat with all of their quirks and fun reactions. Then, add in the segmented open world and RPG elements of the Monster Hunter series and Legends: Arceus is the result.
The game essentially has a hub area in Jubilife Village where you can buy items, fine tune your team, change your characters look, farm, accept side quests, etc. Then you leave town and choose a zone to enter to accomplish your goal, which, in this game, is completing the very first Pokédex. Initially, it’s just you vs. nature running around trying to hide and catch as many critters as possible; but, eventually, you gain the ability to ride certain Pokémon that allows you to go to areas of the map previously inaccessible on your own.
Gone are the endless trainer battles of previous games. They are still there, but only come up when there is a reason to fight. Most of the battles go down with wild Pokémon, with boss-like encounters in “Alpha” and “Noble” Pokémon battles (essentially larger Pokémon that require more strategy to battle/catch). The new features in the game are almost too numerous to list. But, suffice to say, this experience is one where Gamefreak trimmed nearly all of the fat off. Longtime players who enjoyed the quality of life improvements from Sword/Shield will love the further fine tuning of things in this title.
The negatives on this title are very few and mostly inconsequential. Some players experienced crashes on particularly taxing areas on the CPU before the day 1 update was installed. Any new games these days are guilty of such things on the Switch’s limited hardware. The graphics while a huge step up from previous titles, still aren’t something on the caliber of even a PS4 or Xbox One game. But for the art style it has it looks great. As a longtime fan seeing a fully 3D Pokémon in the wild just doing its thing makes me feel like that little kid discovering the series for the first time. In particular, Mr. Mime’s idle animation makes me smile every time I see it.
Is the game a buy or rent? I’d say if you like Pokémon in general, then, yes, it’s a buy. If you like games like Monster Hunter or large open nature maps sort of like Breath of the Wild then, yes. If you’re a diehard batting and multiplayer Pokémon fan — as the game is geared towards the single player experience — or graphics are a major deciding factor, then save your money. Now I’ve got to get this article wrapped up so I can get back to my current favorite game. 4.25/5 Whiskey Lémonades.