Here’s a fun little fact: the Pokémon franchise and I share the same age. Which means that from the moment I was born, I was able to witness the franchise’s immense rise and popularity, as well as its now slow and painful downfall. I can say now, without a doubt that Pokémon has seen better days, and boy were they great. The DS games for instance brought a whole plethora of features and quality of life improvements to the table. With the case of Diamond and Pearl, it was the introduction of battling and trading online, the first 3D rendering of the overworld, along with 2D sprite animation during battles. For Pokémon Black and White, it was the introduction of triple battles, an improved story and with fully developed characters, vastly varied camera placements as well as the seasons, which altered the areas and background soundtrack depending on the current month. I could go on and on about the tiny, nuanced details which caused the older games to etch into the hearts of many fans to this day.
But alas, the times they are a changin’. As the franchise (As well as Game Freak themselves) has seen its most significant backlash from its core fanbase in recent years. The fiasco all started during an E3 coverage from roughly five months ago, revolving around the developer’s newest title: Pokémon Sword and Shield. It was there it was announced that not all 809 current Pokémon were making it to the next game and were essentially left to dust. Needless to say, people were pissed…and rightfully so. As more and more gameplay footage slowly released to the public, the dogshit state of the game was quickly growing apparent. I mean Jesus H Christ where do I even start?? The N64/PS2 environment assets, the removal of previous battle mechanics such as mega evolution and Z-moves, the lack of improvements to the 3D model animations, the lack of proper scale for the Pokémon models themselves, mandatory exp. share and what do you know, the core gameplay includes a forced gimmick…again. While this isn’t Game Freak’s first fuck up when delivering a polished core entry, worthy of recognition from the fanbase. No other development or PR blunder from Game Freak has ever come close to this magnitude. This is simply not the standard that fans, including myself have come to expect and should not be settling on for a core entry, developed for a home console, and marketed for $60 (or more from where I live).
As of right now, Pokémon Sword and Shield come out in less than a week. Now unless if Junichi Masuda has made a pact with Lucifer to make his game prettier, I wouldn’t be holding my breath any time soon. And it makes me kind of sad to state this, since this is the first Pokémon game in year which I refusing to purchase. Perhaps time will tell if Game Freak can rectify their mistakes, with future titles that can satisfy the core audience and may even reignite their passion for the series.