(Wow, am I actually posting something new that isn’t just some kind of “I’m still alive!” post?? I sure am! In fact, I’m thinking of doing this a bit more often… maybe encouraging you guys to visit the site twice a year instead of just once! Ahahaha. … That said, this post is just my thoughts on the future of the Pokémon series. For the actual review, check out “Part 2”.)
OK so here it is, the most controversial new Pokémon game to come out since Ruby/Sapphire‘s lack of backwards compatibility and almost all of the extra features that were introduced in Gold/Silver. In fact, Gen 3 was such a step backwards that it took Gen 4 just to bring those missing features BACK! …. Anyways, for all the hate Let’s Go (LGPE) has gotten, I must say that…. some of it was warranted. But maybe not a much of it to be honest, as the things about this game that do legit bug me don’t really break my enjoyment of the game all that much. (I’ll cover those specifics in my review in Part 2.)
Even so, I won’t ignore the fact that a lot of people don’t seem to like this game. I’ll admit that I haven’t studied the main arguments against it in full detail, even though a lot of what I’ve seen has largely been “it’s different, so I hate it”. However, it’s too easy to be the kind of exclusionary asshole that says “well this isn’t meant for YOU” and ignore everything they have to say, just like what some Star Wars fans have been saying to other Star Wars fans who disliked The Last Jedi. I don’t think its fair to other fans to act that way, because for me, Pokémon is a game which everyone should be able to enjoy, and not just a select few. Therefore, I wanted to take their dislike of LGPE seriously.
So when I asked about this on 4chan/vp/ (check the bottom posts), I learned something that I didn’t pick up on before: that, for some Pokémon fans, Let’s Go spells doom for the future of the Pokémon franchise. While I get their concerns, I also don’t think anyone who feels that way has anything to worry about in the grand scheme of things. Allow me to explain.
Going back to that post on 4chan/vp/; the more reasonable arguments against LGPE is the actions of Game Freak in relation to LGPE makes them fear for the future of Pokémon. For example, apparently Game Freak straight up said that LGPE was NOT a spin-off game (unlike like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Pokémon Rumble, etc, which ARE spin-offs) and so people are just afraid that the simplified gameplay of LGPE will be the main gameplay going forward, meaning the system that we’ve had since Gen 1 (well, technically Gen 3) will be significantly altered or marginalized, if it doesn’t cease to exist to begin with.
Again, I get that fear, but the thing is… I’ve been playing video games my whole life, and I’ve lived through so many different periods where a franchise splits into two standards, particularly during the 2D/3D split of these mid/late-90s, and the more important franchises almost always survives in the end. Other than with the Sonic series, and only because Sonic Team doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing, any major changes to a franchise being split in two are almost always additive, never replacing the old gameplay (for long at least), and both the old and the new styles live on.
The most perfect example of this is the Metroid series. After eight whole years since Super Metroid, we ended up getting two new and different games on the he he same day: Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion. But what’s even more relevant is that so many fans were freaking out over the changes being made to the Metroid system, with Prime being a first-person
shooter adventure while Fusion was far more linear, and how that was spelling doom for Metroid as a whole. Of course now we know how pointless those fears were, as Prime ended up being perhaps one of the best games ever made, and Fusion being, well, better over time. So what ended up happening was that the “Metroid” formula was officially split into two on the day Prime/Fusion was released: FPS/3D Metroid and 2D/Classic Metroid:
Both ended up being accepted (for the most part) as being equally “Metroid”, and both produced a great number of games which maintained this format.
Yet this wasn’t the only time this has happened. Consider the Mario Series; I remember when Super Mario 64 came out, and how much it completely changed the Mario format:
Super Mario 64 was the start of the “3D” format which continued on with Sunshine, Galaxy 1 & 2, and Odyssey. Meanwhile the classic “2D” format came back in the form of the New Super Mario Bros. series, which continued to be released alongside with the 3D games. While Mario 64 changed the game in such a way that I felt it was limiting (whaddya mean I gotta play the same dang level five times??), enough of other people loved it enough that it became a permanent new “Mario” format.
It’s the same with The Legend of Zelda; just like with Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time had split the Zelda series into 3D and 2D formats, with the 3D games Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, etc etc, and finally Breath of the Wild all existing alongside the classic 2D games like Link’s Awakening, the Oracle games, Minish Cap, and finally Link Between Worlds. Despite the two Zelda concepts operating under their own, unique set of rules, pretty much most fans consider both 2D and 3D Zelda formats to be equally mainline.
I could go on forever on this, but basically the gaming world is full of these kinds of splits in formats. And now it’s happening once again with Pokémon:
The Let’s Go format may be equally mainline Pokémon along with the classic mainline games we’ve been playing for the past 20 years, but that doesn’t mean Game Freak is going to replace the classic game lineage with LGPE. Just like all the other examples I’ve listed above (which, not coincidentally, are all Nintendo series) Pokémon will now simply have two formats. And just like those other games, it’ll survive quite well.
OK fine, I won’t pretend that those other games weren’t considered a step up from the original games; those games mostly did raise the bar LGPE is sort of a step backwards. But then, I’ve been on record numerous times saying that I felt Mario 64 was a terrible game even for 1996, which is one major reason why I simply wasn’t excited for the Ultra 6- er, the Nintendo 64 back then. To me, Mario 64 WAS a step backwards for the series: no fire flower or other classic power-ups, the existence of a health bar and that coins replenish $6, having to replay the same levels over and over again, and the fact that there were only like 15 levels (definitely less than the 96 in Super Mario World)… there was NOTHING in Mario 64 which justified its existence in my eyes. But despite all that, other people loved it, and it laid the foundation for the other 3D Mario games… including Super Mario Odyssey, which I felt they finally got that style of 3D Mario down. So the idea of LGPE being a step backwards may be the case, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’ll doom the series.
In fact, I’d argue that splitting the series into two may actually help the classic mainline games, as THOSE games won’t need to be toned down anymore in order to be more inclusive with first-time players. THOSE games could probably have the kinds of extra features that have been missing, like a proper hard mode. But because Game Freak’s hands were tied down to make sure Pokémon games ARE “for everyone”, they left out features that veteran players would want just to make sure younger or other first-time players don’t feel overwhelmed. But, jeez, I’ve been playing this game for 20 years, I KNOW HOW TO CATCH A SMEGGIN’ POKEMON! You don’t need to show me for the 15th time! Well, maybe that’ll be done away with in Gen 8, or at least “turn off tutorials” could be an added feature, because perhaps Game Freak are now free to NOT treat its veteran players like first-timers anymore!
So basically, when that Anon said to me: “…people hate [LGPE] so much … [not] because it’s terrible, but because it’s a bad omen for the future.” … I would like to say that I just don’t see it that way. Frankly I think it could only mean good things for the series moving forward: there will finally be a clear separation between “Easy Pokémon for Beginners” and “Tougher Pokémon for Veterans”, and I feel there have been enough evidence within gaming history (hell, even with Nintendo’s history for that matter!) to justify this perspective.
Of course the only real proof is to wait and see what happens… to see if Gen 8 is finally built for veteran fans.
So with that said, let’s get to my review of Let’s Go!. ….. That’s what I would say if I didn’t already write a lot in this post. So check out “Part 2” for a proper review, OK?