Let's be honest here, there's a lot to unpack about this last-most Pokémon Direct.... but I think a significant amount of the fuss and controversy is either a case of:
- troll-itis — as in people complaining in the hopes that it uncovers a huge lulzmine to exploit later); and/or,
- people lacking a certain level of perspective — and the Emperor warned them about it too!
I mean, it's not to say that there isn't some truth and rationality behind the complains... but at the same time, I think most of them didn't do their research and are acting like the Pokémon franchise is something that it isn't or is treading on new ground that permanently "ruins" it.
For now though, let's just crack it open like an onion and deal with things one-by-one. Here's a handy little zip-chart in case you wanna skip past one tl;dr for another.
- Why I'm Finally Chuffed For The Expansion Pass — Frankly I have no better word than that
- Common Arguments Concerning the Expansion Pass — And why it's wrong, you're wrong, and the whole freakin' system is wrong!
- My Legit Criticisms, But... — This is where you can just put both hands over your eyes and then stick your other hands in your Ears
Psh, what a great way to start off a post, telling someone they're wrong. So actually, you're RIGHT! You're 100% correct.
Why I'm Finally Chuffed For The Expansion Pass
OK, so let's see if I got the fundamentals of what the Sword/Shield Expansion Pass deal is all about... because if I think I've got this down, then it means a serious wish of mine has been fulfilled. ... I've also given each point a letter/number to help make referencing them easier:
- There are two new chapters being added to Sword/Shield:
- The Isle of Armor — a more warm area
- The Crown Tundra — a more frozen area
- Both of these new chapters add some of these to the game:
- New regions to explore, and it'll be more like Galar's Wild Area where you can actually control the camera
- Brand New, mid-generation Pokémon, including new Legendaries
- Gen 1-7 Pokémon which didn't previously appear in Sword/Shield, as well as Galarian forms for them
- Extra clothing, hairstyles, and other customizations
- Since they're Expansion Passes, they expand your existing game, versus forcing you to start a new game.
- The Passes will cost money on top of the base Sword/Shield game.
- But even if you don't buy them, your game can still at least connect with friends, etc, who DID buy it; this is done via an update patch.
Maybe you've spotted it right away, but basically this new DLCs finally add something that this game has been needing for quite some time now, and especially given that the 3DS could've done it too but Game Freak elected not to (sound familiar?).
First off tho, OK so this paid DLC thing is legit something new for Pokémon... but DLC in-and-of-itself isn't all that new. I mean, if you think about it, Mystery Gifts has been Pokémon's DLC! Like, any time you synced your game with the internet and downloaded a new Pokémon to your game? Isn't that's technically what DLC is?? Something you download to expand the playability of your existing game?
Annnnyways... IMHO the idea that adding new Pokémon, items, etc, can be mid-generation in a key release, ALONG with a patch for those who don't/won't get that release to at least keep them updated... this has been something I've been wanting for a long time. So the fact that it's finally here means that I'm automatically considering the Expansion Pass to be an awesome idea.
"Cactowl" was a "leaked" mid-gen Pokémon, but that wouldn't be possible to patch in during Gen 5. On the other hand, it's VERY possible to pull off on the Switch!
Now I'm gonna fast-forward past a lot of history here, but one way I could always tell that some piece of "new" or "leak" posted of 4chan/vp/ was obvious bullcrap was that it was trying to release completely new Pokémon in the middle of a current Generation. I knew it was bull because, unless that "leak" also included a way to patch everyone's game with that new Pokémon's data, including anyone who didn't buy that new game, then that means "Game Freak" would be cutting out a majority of players who bought the first game but won't buy the second game. This was even more bull given that it wasn't until the Gen 6 on the 3DS that started allowing games to be patched.
On the flip side, it's because of the inability to patch older games that "third versions" of games existed. Blue (in Japan), Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum... these are clearly the best games of that block of games, because they've had time to spruce them up a bit. BUT, it does require players to buy a new version of the game, and there is no way to trade your data over to it. Ah well, such was the state of gaming at the time.
While this had crossed my mind a bit during Gen 6, when I thought it was silly that all of the added bits from OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire couldn't be patched into X/Y—like how none the Mega Pokémon added to ORAS, even though it could've easily happened... my personal gripe with this REALLY came to a head in Gen 7, with the release of Ultra Sun/Moon. I tried to start playing USUM, but unlike, say, Black/White 2, USUM was almost literally the same game, just with a few little extra bits. Worse, none of those extra bits could be recognized by Regular Sun/Moon, despite the fact that it could very easily be patched with that extra data. Maybe in Gen 3 or 4 making a third version with features that couldn't be recognized by the earlier games would've been tolerated. But by Gen 7? Nah man... well, maybe they could've still made USUM as-is, but there's no reason why they couldn't have released a patch to bring Regular Sun/Moon on par with USUM.
So here comes Gen 8 and Sword/Shield, and I'm thinking that whatever reason GF had for not doing patches in Gen 7, there was NO way that reason would apply this gen. And fortunately that turned out to be the case. Yay!
That said, looking back, I think the signs were all there. Of course everyone else is focused on the lack of ALL Pokémon in SwSh... but now that I think about it, I believe that that was clearly by design... well, regardless of if it was preferred or not. That is to say, it's obvious that Game Freak needed more than just one year to crank out Sword/Shield, so they did whatever they could in one year to get SwSh on the shelves, even if it meant taking it on the chin by angry fans... because now they've opted to actually (and finally) take the "patch it" route, thus ensuring that whatever major foundational issues exist in the game (like the lack of Pokémon) is just a v2.0 or v3.0 patch away.
So now, all they need to do is just make one base game and then toss in as many Expansion Packs as they want in order to extend the single game we all started... or at least release patches for any other player to be able to at least play with/against every other player without worrying about not having the "right version". Therefore, instead of making me buy an updated version of what is otherwise the exact same game and having to play it over again, I'll only need to ever start one game—the actual game I'm playing right now—and seeing as I'm gonna spend money on "the next Pokémon game" no matter what... I'd rather spend it on something where I don't have to replay it if I don't want to. This is especially considering that the Switch lets me replay the same game anyways, AND for free!
The rest of the Expansion Pass is all gravy. It's basically buying the Third Version—Yellow, Emerald, Platinum—without having to buy it as a separate thing. I really can't find much fault in it because of which.
Common Arguments Concerning the Expansion Pass
Ah but surely I'm too much of an old Boomer to actually realize that Game Freak is actually nothing but a bunch of scummy devs who can't optimize their games and their new Pokémon lack the grace and subtlety of Gen 1 Pokémon like Muk. Because if I don't raise a stink about anything they do, then that will only embiggen them further to do even more foolish stuff, right?
Meh, naw. I've been through eight whole gens of Game Freak's tomfoolery, and I keep coming back. Why? Because "bad" mistakes, whether perceived or actual, don't last long. Remember when Gen 3 was released and we could not transfer ANY of our Gen 1/2 Pokémon over? Or when Gen 3 also removed the Day/Night cycle? None of this stuff lasts forever. This is why I think everyone's complains are... well, it's not to say they don't have a point, as much as to say that it's not necessary to be super mega extra hyper angry about it. Voice your complains, and wait for the next gen. Or hell, wait for LATER this gen, seeing as missing Pokémon are already being added THIS gen, so who knows what else can be patched?
As for whatever other arguments are being made... let's take a quick peak:
- PLATINUM = $40 (full game) / EXPANSION PASS = $90 (half game + other half)
- Specifically, the claim is that for $40, you get an entire game with Platinum... but that with SwSh + the Expansion Packs, it's really just two halves of one whole game and charge $90.
- Well first off, it's $40 only after two years from the release of Pokémon Diamond/Pearl... I'm sure SwSh and the Pass will be about $40 in about two years as well.
- Secondly, if you bought Diamond/Pearl first, you'd have to spend another $40, and then replay the entire game again, only for maybe 15% more game. So $80 for 115% of a game, versus $90 for... well, let's be serious, SwSh is maybe 85% of DP, but the Expansion Pass definitely looks like another 30% each. So 145% for $90? Sounds like a better deal.
- Also, if you already bought SwSh, $30 for essentially two new mini games is definitely a better deal than $40 for 15% more, and it also doesn't require you to replay the entire game.
- So... naw, I don't buy this meme; by the looks of things, the costs are going to be about equitable.
- No DLC for Pokémon says Masuda = #GameFreakLied
- That article from from 2013... people aren't allowed to change their minds?
- If the servers go down, so much for ever getting a Galarian Slowking later!
- lol like that has stopped anyone. I can still download Mystery Gifts from 10 years ago and inject it into my Gen 4 game.
- Besides, how is this different than losing the ability to EVER get a Dream World Pokémon anymore? Sure you can get Pokémon which appeared in the Dream World with a hidden ability, but not with a Dream Ball.
- Face it, sometimes things happen for a limited time and you can't get it anymore. Is it fair that I can't legally purchase "Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game" anymore? Or that my PSP that I spent hundreds of dollars on has no new games being made for it? Such is life.
- You could just buy the final/third game instead of BOTH the first and third games, y'know!
- True, but that's assuming you're the type of person to wait two years after release before picking it up.
- If that was the case too, the latest Pokémon game you would've bought last November would've been UltraSun/UltraMoon... have fun playing catch up with everyone else... continuously... and always being 2 years behind. Is that worth not having to spent $40 more?
This is the same lack of foresight that got people to think that the Lets Go! games would be the ONLY mainline versions of Pokémon going forward. only because Masuda said that it was going to be a mainline game. In other words, it's just the latest in the cycle of unnecessary panicking by Pokémon fans.
My Legit Criticisms, But...
Such great new and original Pokémon for this new release! [source]
I can't say this news has any inherent negatives, but that still doesn't mean I can't find any. Hmmm...
- Honestly, none of this would be an issue if Pokémon wasn't on a yearly game rotation like Call of Madden: Assassin's Dance is. That is to say, if Sword/Shield was given maybe two or—eghads!—THREE years to properly develop, then there wouldn't be much of a need to stagger releases like this. Pokémon doesn't have to be a yearly thing!
- On the other hand, it does at least allow for one game to eventually have maybe two or three games worth of content on it, similar to how Sonic & Knuckles added to Sonic 3, this allowing for one single game to have two (or even 2.5) games worth of content in it... so whatever.
- I'm hoping Game Freak/Nintendo releases some kind of "Game of the Year" or "Ultimate" version, where all the Expansion Packs and other promotional items ever released for SwSh is released for a reasonable price... just cuz I'd hate for someone starting a new game in 2022 spending the same amount of money as it cost the first time around.
- Another side problem that came out of the Pokémon Direct was the lack of a Korean option in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, especially considering that there was a Korean version for it.
- Oh yeah, and not to mention the picture on the right, where the Legendary Pokémon in the Crown Tundra looks like... a thing. It's literally a mish-mash of random Pokémon. Meh.
Well..... if this is the worst thing I can pull from this last-most Pokémon Direct, then there really wasn't much to complain about to begin with. I'm just glad that they're finally taking the route of implementing patches to keep older versions of their games, and also adding in other missing features. So anything complaining about something that isn't in the game is just being impatient... wait a bit, cuz it almost always works out in the end.