‘Pokemon Let’s Go’: Polishing Away Personality

Pokemon Let’s GO Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee released on November 16th, 2018. They exist somewhere between a remake and a reimagining of Pokemon Yellow, which is an enhanced version of the original Pokemon Red and Blue that borrows elements from the Pokemon anime and allows a player to start the game with Pikachu. The Pokemon Let’s Go games also exist in a weird grey area between sequel and remake, as some story events – like Red and Blue becoming powerful trainers – already happened, while other plot points – like the downfall of Team Rocket – happen over the course of the Let’s Go games.

Of course, these titles also incorporate a lot of mechanics from the exceptionally popular mobile game, Pokemon GO and dial back some more complicated mechanics from the mainline games to make these titles more approachable for newcomers to the series. More notably, though, are the numerous changes to the story, world, and characters. On the surface, these changes by in large improve the Let’s Go games over the originals, and make the games feel quite a bit more thought out and refined. For instance, in the Let’s Go games the Elite Four are far more established figures before a player encounters them and the rival character adds the Lavender Town Cubone to his team as a way of helping it cope with the passing of its mother.

However, in adding layer after layer of polish to Pokemon Let’s Go the games lost what made the originals great in the first place. Authenticity, character, and ambition were far more important to the Pokemon franchise taking off than impressive graphics or a well-paced story. In this essay, I’ll argue how the Pokemon Let’s Go games fundamentally misunderstand what made the games they’re imitating some of the most successful in the history of the gaming medium.

 

Authenticity: Something Only Friends Could Make

 

Game Freak, the company that develops the Pokemon games, originally started as a self-published video game hobbyist magazine, that saw enough success for the creators of the magazine, Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori, to pursue creating their own games. While they tried to make the original Pokemon games right out of the gate, financial constraints and a lack of expertise forced them to shelve the project and pursue developing games that would generate short term revenue. After bouncing back from near bankruptcy, the team rallied together and finished the first entry in what would become one of the most successful multimedia franchises in existence.

With this kind of development process, it’s no wonder that an absurd amount of passion and dedication pours out of every aspect of the original Pokemon games. They are the product of a cohesive group of people working towards a goal they all shared and could visualize as a team. They were making a game for themselves because they believed in the idea, not because they thought it’d be a commercial success.   

That’s why there are a good number of odd elements in what are children’s games, like playing slot machines in the game corner or a drunken man blocking your path in Viridian City. Game Freak developers imaged stuff like that as a part of the world of Pokemon, so they put it in the first games. The Pokemon Let’s Go titles whittle down these elements to make something more sterile and better suited for the millions of kids and young people whose first experience with Pokemon is likely Pokemon GO or the ongoing anime. These new Pokemon games care far more about making something that’s popular and has all the rough edges removed, instead of creating something that the people behind it believe in and want to put into the world.

Character: An Identity 20 Years In the Making

The original Pokemon games gave every character and monster just enough personality for the player to infer who they were and then fill in the gaps themselves. Brock was a shirtless, flexing tough guy that played into him being the first major hurdle in the games, and Pokemon like Electrode and Golbat were given just enough personality in their designs to figure out how they might behave. Sure, the personality of each of the characters and monsters were pretty barebones, but there was just enough there to engage with and suggest that the creators had a solid idea of who these people and creatures were.

The Pokemon Let’s Go games take this happy middle and push it to both ends of the spectrum. Human characters like Brock are now hyper-defined and in line with the version of the character made popular by the anime. Likewise, all of the Pokemon in the game lack the posing and expression that made them feel like actual monsters and are now presented more simply and animalistically. All characters are now rigidly defined if they’re people, or, if they’re Pokemon, blank slates for the player to imprint whatever personality they’d like.

For instance, Lt. Surge in Pokemon Red and Blue is a tough, brash, and a way into himself army guy. There’s also just enough lore in the original games to figure out why he might be like this and how he fits into this quirky world. However, in Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver, his character is built outwards rather than upwards. In these games, we learn that this rough and tough army guy’s favorite Pokemon is the adorable little Pikachu. In the Pokemon Let’s Go games, instead of expanding his character, his already existing character elements are merely reinforced, as seen when the full of himself Lt. Surge gives the player his autograph after his defeat.

Reducing the personality in the titular pocket monsters is also a detriment to these psudo-remakes. By placing more of an emphasis on how these monsters would realistically exist in a world, they lose a lot of their charm. In the original games, Golbat was a zany vampire bat with an impossibly large mouth and outstretched tongue that made it feel erratic and vaguely threatening like it couldn’t wait to bit into a person or monster. Similarly, Electrode’s wide grin and big eyes made it feel like it was full of energy and happy to be alive. The, admittedly beautiful, HD interpretations of the monsters in Pokemon Let’s Go place more emphasis on the creatures looking at home in the world, rather than giving them more personality. The end result is that in the newest Pokemon games Golbat and Electrode just end up looking like a big, weird bat and a slightly anthropomorphized ball, respectively.

The Pokemon Let’s Go games make the characters feel like they have to be a hyper-specific thing, rather than more fluid, realistic characters with a hodgepodge of personality quirks. Sure, Pokemon Let’s Go does give these characters more exploration than the original games, but it only plays up one element of their personality, rather than expanding outward to make them feel more fleshed out. This choice coupled with the focus on believability in the Pokemon designs, just makes the Pokemon Let’s Go games have much less personality than their predecessors. It doesn’t feel like there is any passion or thought put behind these characters like in the original games, instead, they are just presented as entities rigidly shaped by 20 years of marketing.

 

Ambition: Capturing The Feeling of Impossibility

 

The most impressive feature of the original Pokemon games, by far, is the scope of these original Game Boy titles. Held together with gum and shoestring, as evident by the many peculiar and game breaking bugs, the developers used every shortcut possible to make these titles almost impossibly dense. Even by today’s standards, an RPG with 151 playable characters who all have their own unique movesets and stats is practically unheard of; and the original Pokemon games made this happen on a portable console originally released in 1989.

It’s a pretty well-known story in the Pokemon fandom that the mythical Mew was only added to the game after Game Freak removed the debug tools and realized that they had just enough space left to add one more monster. This really demonstrates how the original Pokemon games pushed the Game Boy console and Game Boy cartridge to their very limits. This is an extremely impressive feat that helped make Pokemon a hit series, and when Pokemon Gold and Silver topped this impressive density by having the games be literally twice as big as the first generation, it cemented the franchise as one of the greatest in gaming. Of course, neither of these feats would have been possible if not for the tireless work of the Game Freak developers and the last minute intervention of coding genius Satoru Iwata in Gold and Silver’s development.

The Pokemon Let’s Go games don’t utilize the Nintendo Switch to its fullest potential. This is somewhat understandable considering how much earlier Let’s Go launched in the Switch’s lifespan than Red and Blue launched on the Game Boy’s, but the Let’s Go games don’t even push the console harder than the console’s launch titles. You never hear the fans in the Switch whirring up in Let’s Go to compensate for how demanding the game is on the system like you do when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. These games don’t push the Switch’s features, they merely incorporate them into what is now the well tested Pokemon formula.     

Granted, this does make the Pokemon Let’s Go games the best looking in the franchise by far and it’s a genuine treat to have Pokemon running around in the overworld instead of hiding in grass, but these ideas aren’t pushed as far as the Switch allows. Each Pokemon could have more battle animations than the two or three they’re given, human characters could do more than just hop in place to convey action, and gym and dungeon puzzles can be more elaborate than what the original Game Boy allowed. Instead of changes that push the hardware, players instead are treated to cutscenes and story changes that wink at Pokemon’s extensive lore. While these are nice and certainly appreciated by veteran Pokemon fans, they aren’t what made the first Pokemon games successful. The original Pokemon games were incredible because their realized scope and ambition made them feel like something that shouldn’t exist, yet the passion, skill, and dedication of the developers made them a reality against all odds.

 

Conclusion: Polish That Misses The Point

 

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu! And Let’s Go Eevee! are really good Pokemon games that seamlessly add new mechanics, are a great way for new players to experience the series, and a nostalgic feast for the franchise’s oldest fans. It’s an exceptionally polished work that can only happen after decades of refining the Pokemon game experience. However, when a game is polished to this mirror sheen – to a point where there’s no better version of this experience, merely a different one – it lets a player see into themselves and figure out what made them fall in love with Pokemon in the first place.

It’s not the stunning visuals, story, or even premise of catching monsters that made me love the first Pokemon games; it was the authenticity, character, and ambition of Pokemon Red and Blue that made me a lifelong fan of the series. The feeling that I was holding something in my hands that shouldn’t exist, something that took me on a magical journey with a bunch of cool characters and strange monsters, and that it never failed to surprise me at every turn; those elements are what made the original Pokemon games some of the best in the history of the medium.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for that feeling of wonderment that comes with experiencing something terrific as a kid, when everything seems more magical than it really is. However, the Pokemon Let’s Go games were supposed to be a better version of Pokemon Yellow, which itself is an enhanced version of Pokemon Red and Blue. Pokemon Let’s Go misunderstood what made Red, Blue, and Yellow amazing in the first place and doubled down on the set dressing and story of the original games. If it really wanted to capture and surpass the feeling of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, the Pokemon Let’s Go games should have strived to be as authored, imaginative, and ambitious as the games they are trying to improve upon.            

   

 

  

 

        

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‘Pokemon Let’s Go’: Polishing Away Personality

Game Grind: OVERWATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind, the place where any and everything video game related is analyzed, discussed, and critiqued with gusto. Today’s post is going to be for a game that isn’t even out yet, but has already been declared one of the best games of 2016. I am speaking, of course, about Blizzard’s illustrious  Overwatch. 

Overwatch

This game’s beta, which ended two weeks ago and has since created a hole in most people’s being, was more successful than many of the titles that actually released that week. The beta and the game both received a crap load of free advertising due to the changing of a character’s supposedly “sexual” victory pose and searches for Overwatch on PornHub have risen by over 800 percent since the beta’s launch. People love Blizzard’s newest IP, and here’s why.

Overwatch contains gameplay that caters to all kinds of gamers. While everything is definitely molded around an FPS style, each of the playable characters are unique enough that playing with them makes the game feel more like one of FPS’s subgenres. If you like classic FPSs, you can get that by playing as Tracer or Solider 76. If you like FPSs that have MOBA elements, Torbjorn and Bastion (Android 16) have you covered. If you enjoy stealth and close quarters combat, Genji is your man. This game has been so popular because it really does feel like there is a little something for everyone in it.

Overwatch 2

This game is also brimming with originality, creativity, and great characters. There have been a lot of people saying that Overwatch is just Team Fortress, but with waifus; but that really does not do the game justice. Each of the characters have such a unique and compelling design and backstory that it pains me that none of that will be explored in this online only game. The Overwatch videos that Blizzard has been putting out helps to fill that void, but I really wish there was an aspect of the game that really got into the meat of each and every one of the characters. All of them are very fun and interesting and I wish we could get more of that in game.

Alrighty, that’s the bulk of it, but here are some stray observations.

  • Bastion is not OP; Genji, Widowmaker, and Reinheart can totally wreck him.
  • The fact that two of the characters, Bastion and Genji, are so similar to characters from two other franchise I love, DBZ’s Android 16 and MGS’s Cyborg Ninja, is very weird to me.
  • If you only ever play with a single character, you are not playing Overwatch right.
  • Every team needs a healer. If you get into a match and no one is a healer, play as a healer for a while.
  • Capturing Objective > Kills
  • The loot box system is a good way to reward players for leveling up, but I feel like there needs to be something more if Blizzard wants to keep players engaged for the long term.
  • Overwatch is available for purchase on May 24th. Keep strong in the interim.

That just about does it for this week’s post of Game Grind. If you enjoyed it, please leave a like or a comment down below and be sure to stop by here on Monday for the next installment of Manga (And Also Anime) Monday. Have a great weekend!

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

Game Grind: OVERWATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Game Grind:Trendy Opinions About Trendy Games

Gooooooooood morning BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind, the place where any and everything video game related is discussed with vigor. Today’s article is going to be a bit different. Rather than talking about one specific topic, I’m going to be giving my opinion on a bunch of popular games. Not unlike a lighting round. So with that in mind, here’s my opinion on a bunch of games that I may or may not have played.

Five Nights At Freddy’s Series

FNAF

I have never played a Five Nights at Freddy’s game, nor do I ever want to. It really does not seem like my kind of game, although I appreciate how quickly the creator, Scott Cawthon, cranks these games out. I think the most enjoyment I have gotten out of this series is watching MatPat explain and analyze the lore of the games on his YouTube channel, Game Theory. Apparently the RPG is pretty sucky, though.

Flappy Bird 

Flappy Bird

Is Flappy Bird game still popular? Does it still exist even? I don’t know, and I guess I really don’t care. I played this game once and I think I got like a score of 8 or something. I don’t really care for this game, but I find it awesome and hilarious that the game’s creator made an obscene amount of money off of it. Props to you Dong Nguyen.

Undertale

Undertale Logo

I have not played Toby Fox’s Undertale. Which apparently means that I am not qualified to have any sort of opinion on video games or call myself a gamer. I think I would like Undertale quite a lot. It has a quirky charm that has not appeared much in gaming since the Mother/Earthbound titles. Undertale is indisputably a good game, but I do not think it is the best game ever made. Perhaps time will prove that statement wrong, but I’m doubtful of that.

HuniePop

HuniePop

…………………Nice.

Yandere Simulator

Yandare Simulator

………Huh, also nice.

Tom Clancy’s The Division

Tom Clancy's The Division

This game is not really in my wheelhouse either. It seems like it’s trying to be a new take on a more or less played out genre, and I commend it for that. However, from what I’ve seen of the game, I don’t think it is going to be quite unique enough to set itself apart from fps games that have been seen before. This game seems like a mix between Black Ops. Three and Destiny, which is by no means a bad thing; however I don’t think this game will sell as well as people want it to.

Alrighty, I think that’s a good stopping point for the first ever installment of the Trendy Opinions About Trendy Games series. I do plan on updating this sub-series regularly, as every couple of months the “popular” games seem to change. I really do want to regularly give these games the praise that they deserve, or call them out on their BS. Also the topical/click bait views are nice. :p  If you liked this post please leave a like and if you want to yell at me about my opinions, you can do so in the comments section down below. As always, if you want to stay up to date with this blog, you can subscribe via email in the upper right tab. Alternately, you stay up to date by liking the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook Page, or by following me, @LucasDeRuyter, on Twitter. I hope you all have a great weekend and be sure to come back here on Monday for the next installment of Manga (And Also Anime) Monday. It’s gearing up to be a good one. ;D

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

Game Grind:Trendy Opinions About Trendy Games

Game Grind: Down-Loadable Content

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind, the place where the vast and magical world of video games is examined and explained with little more than a seeing stone, ink and pen, and a trusty raven flock ready to deliver the message to you at home. Today’s topic is a relatively new one in gaming. It’s also a topic that has also pissed people off quite a bit during its small lifespan, but is generally improving. Today’s post is going to be all about downloadable content, or DLC.

DLC 1

Downloadable content is additional gameplay that can be added to a video game after the game was intentionally released. This can result in the continuation of a game’s story, an expansion of its world, the introduction of new gameplay modes, or just about anything else. DLC is generally meant to supplement the original purchase of a game and enhance the experience of playing it. It is a relatively new phenomenon in the video game industry, as it began appearing widely in the last generation of consoles. The reason DLC is so new is because the last generation of consoles was the first to make the practice practical, as it was the first generation to be able to easily wirelessly connect to the internet.

As expected with a new concept and business model in a relatively young industry, DLC took off unbelievably quickly. Which resulted in some awesome practices and some lackluster occurrences. As we at BaddaBing BaddaBlog strive for, yet often fail at holding, optimism, we will start with the positives of DLC. The most obvious benefit of DLC is that it extends the amount of time and fun you can get out of a game. The first example of this to come to mind for me is in Skyrim. That was already a massive game to begin with and the three DLC that were added to it consistently expanded the game in a fun way. The other, less obvious, benefit of DLC is that it provides the developers of a game with a new revenue source. It is insanely expensive to make a quality game today, and charging for DLC is an easy way for a development studio bring in some extra cash for their next project.

Skyrim

Okay, now for the crumby stuff that has happened with DLC. Game creators know that DLC is a very safe way to bring in extra profits. The majority of people who care enough about a game to buy it in the first place are going to be willing to pay fifteen or twenty extra dollars for more content. A good number of developers realized this and started selling games that were ultimately incomplete, and then sold the finished version of the game in the form of DLC. This essentially required people to buy two games for the benefit of only owning one complete game. Not only that, but the coast of DLC has varied widely. Obviously if a DLC contains more content it can get away with costing more, but there really is not any kind of industry standard or agreed upon average cost. The biggest offenders I can think of in regards to these poorer practices would be Destiny and Call of Duty.

cod

All in all though, DLC is getting better. The practice today feels much less like extortion than what it did five years ago, and you hardly ever see DLC today that some people are not genuinely enthused about. I would have to say that my biggest gripe about DLC is how some companies are still not utilizing it. Looking at you EA Sports, you don’t need to release one game every year, just sell a roster update. In short, DLC is not perfect, but it’s still growing and getting better all the time. Much like a lot of the gaming industry. You could say I’m fairly…content…with it.

We’ve got puns for days here at 4B.

DLC 2

Alright, that just about does it for this week’s installment of Game Grind. If you enjoyed it, please leave a like or a comment down below. If you want to stay up to date with BaddaBing BaddaBlog, you can subscribe to it in the upper right tab by entering your email. Alternatively, you can stay up to date by liking the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook Page or by following me, Lucas DeRuyter, on Twitter. I hope you all have a great rest of the weekend and be sure to check out the site again on Monday for the next installment of Manga (And Also Anime) Monday.

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

 

Game Grind: Down-Loadable Content

Game Grind: Bested by the Best

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind! The place where we either rage or geek out to anything having to do with video games or the video game industry. Today’s post is going to be a little…….different. There is not a ton going on in the video game industry right now, at least nothing regarding stuff I care about, so I’m a bit short on content. I could post something regarding everyone’s favorite legendary Pokemon, Mewtwo, as today is coincidentally his birthday, but that’s been done before and done way better than I could ever hope to. (Check out this video by the incredible YouTuber TheJwittz, for more info. on that.)

So to fill this lull, I decided to dive into the rich history of gaming. Today’s post is going to be a completely arbitrary list of some of “best’ moments or aspects of various video games as determined by me, Lucas DeRuyter. Here we go, bitched!

Best Game Ever! 

LoZ OoT

Screw you Undertale! (Just kidding. I love you but I cannot in good conscious say that your are the best game ever. Suck it Gaming FAQs.) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is, in my humble opinion, the best video game ever made. I say this not because you are my favorite Zelda game, nor because I have an intense nostalgia filter, but because Ocarina of Time changed the face of gaming in a way that has never since been matched. This game raised the bar for video games in a way that has never really been matched in the nearly twenty years since its initial release.

Favorite Game Ever!

Metal Gear Solid

The original Metal Gear Solid is probably my favorite video game. It would be my pick for the best game ever, but I think there is more of a community conscious on LoZ: OoT. Metal Gear Solid is my favorite game though because it is one of the greatest video games every made and because it shaped me as a human being. I watched my Dad play this game as a four year old and it BLEW MY FREAKIN’ MIND! This game introduced me to video games, this game introduced me to science fiction, this game is the game that I have compared all other video games for the past sixteen years. I know I probably should not have experienced this game as a four year old, buy I am incredibly grateful to Papa DeRuyter for letting me watch him play it.

Best Sequel Ever!

Pokemon gold and silver

The second generation of Pokemon is easily the greatest sequel in all of video games. Pokemon Gold and Silver not only improved upon the original games in literally every aspect, but it also allowed you to travel back to the area from the original games after you had essentially beaten the game. Also, at the very end of the games you get to battle the player character, Red, from the first generation of Pokemon. That’s right, at the end of the game you are beating the character that you spent dozens of hours playing as and turning into the biggest badass in all of Pokemon. It was god damn epic!

pokemon vs red

Best Indie Game Ever!

Shovel_knight_cover

If you have followed this blog for essentially any amount of time, you should know that I absolutely adore Shovel Knight. This independent gem is one of the first crowdfunded games to really demonstrate the quality of games that can come out of that funding strategy. This game is incredible not only because of how well done it is, but also because of the sheer amount of heart the developers put into every aspect of this game. I also love how much this game made me feel. Sure, it’s not as much of an emotional gut punch as Undertale, but Shovel Knight gave me the feels first and because of that will always win out in my opinion. Plus DLC!!!

Best Final Fantasy Game Ever!

FF7logo

Sorry FF6 fanboys and fangirls, my favorite game in the series is Final Fantasy VII. I will admit that I have not played the sixth installment in the franchise, but I do not think that it would change my opinion. I love this game. I love the story, I love the characters, and I love the setting. I lost my shit when the remake was announced and I am still giddy as hell for it. FF15 might cause my opinion to sway, but it’s going to have to go well beyond the hype to do so.

Alright faithful readers, that wraps up the first installment of Game Grind: Bested by the Best. This was actually pretty fun to think about and write; I’ll have to do this again the next time a slow news week comes around. If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like. If you have any strong opinions on my choices, please leave a comment down below and I would be more than happy to respond. If you want to stay up to date with 4B, you can do so via your email in the upper right tab. Alternatively you can stay informed by liking the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook Page or by following me, @LucasDeRuyter, on Twitter. I hope you all have a great rest of the weekend and be sure to stop back here on Monday for a very special installation of Manga (And Also Anime) Monday. 

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

 

Game Grind: Bested by the Best