Pokémon Legends Arceus has blown a real breath of fresh air across the entire Pokémon license. And what seemed like a small aside turned out to be the starting point for a big revival for the entire franchise, confirmed during the last Pokémon Presents. The opportunity for us to come back to the evolution of this legendary license on video, of which you can find the script below.
- A fixed formula
- Let’s Go: the beginning of change
- Arceus: the wind of freedom
- Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: more freedom, less RPG
- A Pokemon World Tour
A fixed formula
You cannot have missed the Pokémon phenomenon. After more than 25 years of existence, this franchise has brought together over $110 billion in revenue worldwide. An impressive figure which makes it the most lucrative franchise (all media combined) of all time.
In the lot there are certainly cards, derivative products, cartoons, but video games raffle a big part of the bet. If unsurprisingly derivative products are far ahead (with 82 billion in revenue all the same), games have collected nearly 27 billion dollars. In other words, it is an industry that works. As a reminder, Pokémon is the fourth best-selling video game license in the world. And behind this success hides a very effective recipe that has been repeated over and over again over the years.
Everyone knows the principle: you arrive in a region, you choose a starter and you meet your rival. What follows is a series of fights and Pokémon capture sessions in the tall grass to compose the strongest team, win the famous League and become the best trainer.
That’s for the structure, but what does it give gameplay level? Well we are sure a good old JRPG. Everything is there ! The initiatory quest, the Japanese universe and team battles punctuated by the classic turn-based system. In addition to this familiar combination, you can add the importance of types, one-on-one (or more) confrontations, the capture and hunt system, some notions of breeding and, above all, the cute little creatures with different statistics. You mix it all up and you get THE winning Pokémon formula.
It’s simple, for nearly twenty years, all the opuses worked this way without ever bringing major differences. (if we do not count the arrival of new generations of Pokémon). A shame for a license that spends its time developing small monsters, right?
Certainly, over the years, small improvements have been made, especially when moving from one generation to another. The second generation of Pokémon has thus introduced the possibility of reproducing its favorite little monsters, as well as the notion of happiness and the objects to be held. The next redesigned the statistics and brought the passive abilities specific to each Pokémon. Then there was the classification of attacks, the appearance of hidden talents, the arrival of Mega-Evolutions, the creation of new types and so on.
As you will have understood, each opus has brought its small stone to the building to refine the Pokémon formula. But fundamentally, the latter has not changed. A point that has also ended up tiring many players of the first hour. But there are still a lot of them to be ecstatic at each announcement and to be present as soon as a new opus is released.
And yes, despite the abandonment of some, the frozen formula of Pokémon works and the various titles always sell by the shovel. And yet, despite the good numbers, Game Freak and The Pokémon Company have taken a number of risks in recent years. The goal ? Innovate and finally evolve this iconic license.
Let’s Go: the beginning of change
As we said, the Pokémon formula was sacred for a long time. And yet, after Pokémon Ultra-Sun and Ultra-Moon, Game Freak and The Pokémon Company are playing the surprise card with Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu and its sidekick Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee. At first glance, it is quite simply a remake of the 1998 Game Boy Color game, Pokémon Yellow Version. But nay! This new opus introduces different gameplay, based on the capture method of the Pokémon GO mobile game.
Between Mystery Dungeons, Rangers, Snaps or Stadiums, not to mention puzzle games, party games or beat’em all, Pokémon has always offered side games. The franchise continues to produce them, as with Pokémon Unite or Pokémon Masters EX. But never a side game had influenced another from the main series. Pokémon GO thus acts as a real juggernaut, in every sense of the word.
Pokémon GO has been a real phenomenon, a revolution even for many. It’s simple, you couldn’t miss all these trainers walking the streets while being glued to their phones. It must be said that the promise was crazy: to become a life-size Pokémon trainer. No wonder there were (and still are) millions playing the game.
But back to our Moumoutons (and Pokémon Let’s Go). Not only did the latter offer us to launch our Pokéballs ourselves, but it also introduced a simpler and more accessible experience gain system, drastically reducing farming. If the structure remains quite classic, these novelties of gameplay come to shake up a formula hitherto unchanged in order to attract a new audience.
If only the experience gain system will continue in the following opuses, Pokémon Let’s Go serves as a defining moment in the history of the license. With this opus, Game Freak realized that it was possible to play a little with the already established codes of its flagship license. And four years later, the studio will have a field day.
Arceus: the wind of freedom
Because if Pokémon Let’s Go paved the way for change, it was indeed Pokémon Legends Arceus who broke down the doors to put a big kick in the anthill. Whether you like the game or not, it is impossible to deny that it has revolutionized an entire formula. Farewell to the dirigiste corridors and hello to the great plains to explore without constraint. An approach Game Freak had previously experimented with with the Wildlands in Pokémon Sword/Shield.
These vast natural areas pushed the player to wander without limit and capture Pokémon galore. Between lakes, desert areas, caves and other green paths, there was enough to satisfy the dreams of the most adventurous players. We could even do some camping! And given the various feedback, Game Freak had every interest in pushing the license in this direction.
Thus was born Legends Arceus, the first “open-world” Pokémon. Highly anticipated by players, it carried this crazy promise: breathe a breath of freedom on a license with a structure sewn with white thread. And on this level, the report is unanimous. That works ! So yes, the game is not very pretty and has its flaws, but the large open areas have their little effect and even manage to reconcile some players with the license.
And fortunately ! Because if Pokémon Legends Arceus presented itself as a separate opus with new sensations, it would ultimately seem that it was created for set the tone for the future of the license.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: more freedom, less RPG
On February 27, Pokémon Company has lifted the veil on the ninth generation of Pokémon. Scheduled for the end of the year, it is placed in the direct line of Arceus. The title will indeed offer us a real open-world to explore. In short, it’s Arceus better. Forget the transitions between each zone and roam without any limits in a new vast region, that’s what the publisher promises us.
One would have expected the Arceus formula to form a parallel series, like the Mystery Dungeons in particular. But with Pokémon Scarlet / Purple, The Pokémon Company persists and signs: the future of Pokémon will be placed under the sign of freedom. Thus, we can now see in Pokémon Legends Arceus a beta supposed to prepare the arrival of a brand new recurring formula.
If we see where the license is going in terms of freedom, there is one point that still remains unresolved. What about the RPG branch? Fundamental point of the DNA of the license, it was indented in Arceus. If the scenario and the very particular approach of this Pokémon explained this, it is impossible to know what will happen to Pokémon Scarlet and Purple. To see if this renewed freedom will be synonymous with less RPG.
In any case, it is clear that The Pokémon Company intends to continue to develop the license, as has been the case for a few years. We can therefore expect other new gameplay features that will come to refine which promises to be THE new Pokémon formula.
A Pokemon World Tour
But it’s not just the gameplay that has changed in Pokémon. Who says new generation, indeed says new monsters to capture. And there, too, there is room for some speculation. Today, each new generation has the right to its own little region, inspired by a country other than Japan. If this may seem like a detail, it is a significant and fairly recent change.
For nearly 15 years, Pokémon games were confined to regions inspired by their native land: Japan. 15 years is more than half the life of the license. So when in 2011, Pokémon Black and White take us to Unys, clearly inspired by the city of New York in the United States, it’s a shock. And yet it quickly becomes the norm. We will then be entitled to the episodes “Pokémon in France”, “Pokémon in Hawaii”, “Pokémon in England”… As you will have understood, each opus made us travel to a new region of the world. And that could well be the case until the extinction of Pokémon.
As for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, everything suggests that they will take us to Spain. If nothing is official, the announcement trailer brought us big clues in this direction. We have of course the decorations and especially this monument recalling the famous Sagrada Familia, but also the appearance of maps of the Iberian Peninsula.
If that might be a detail for you, for Pokémon it means a lot. Pokémon depend on their location. If we found Moumoutons in Sword / Shield, we could well find Tautauro or other Pokémon inspired by the fauna and flora of the Hispanic region. The bets can therefore be launched, it’s up to you to see which Pokémon you imagine for this new generation and even those to come, who knows.
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