Pokémon Legends Arceus – Game Review


Pokémon Legends Arceus

(Available for Nintendo Switch only)

Much like before I’ll state for the record that the three reviewers that played this game all picked a different starter. Reece chose Cyndaquil, Elliot picked Rowlett and I took Oshawott.

Now, I’ve stated on many occasions that I’m a huge pokémon fan, and I have been for years. And one of the games I’ve been excited to play since it’s reveal is Pokémon Legends Arceus. The game was revealed to have a sort of open world design in which you would be reading pokémon behaviour patterns in order to catch them and traverse the expansive open world environment based on a version of Sinnoh hundreds of years before the events of Diamond and Pearl, with your character helping the Galaxy Squad to create the world’s first Pokédex.

Now despite the fact that i’ve gone on record on several occasions stating that I don’t think the pokémon formula needs much of a mix up, it did seem like the game was going to be a breath of fresh air for the series which has had its issues in the past but I would be interested to see how Game Freak would be approaching this game after developing the wild area in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Now despite the fact that this review is coming out weeks after the game’s release I will be doing my best not to spoil much of the game as I do believe you are best going into this game almost blind.

PROS:

  • Open world gameplay

The gameplay is very addictive, and it gives you a real reason to explore the environments. The game consists of five open world areas (more detail on that later) and while some people are disappointed it’s not one expansive open world area, these environments aren’t exactly small either, they take a while to explore. Plus, a few of them do have cut off points, so you won’t be able to explore every single area fully on your first attempt.

But where it succeeds is how well it approaches the content in these environments. You can spend your time catching pokémon or you can do one of the side quests for the hub village which you’ll repeatedly be going back to. Or you can just train up your pokémon. The environments are very varied and they actually do a very good job mixing and matching pokémon by various levels. You know you’re going to have to go back on yourself at some points to deal with certain pokémon, especially to the newly introduced ‘alpha’ pokémon. Those are very strong and very difficult to beat, it might take you a few tries to actually catch one of them, it certainly took me a few attempts. I didn’t manage to really get a significant one until I was about halfway through the game when I caught an Alpha Rapidash.

What the game does very well though is a sense of freedom which is something it has replicated from Breath of the Wild (a game that this is receiving a ton of comparisons towards) the sense of freedom is certainly there, for example, I spent a good chunk of my playthrough for this review fulfilling something that i have always wanted to do but never successfully pulled off in a pokémon game- I managed to get all eight of the eeveelutions. I would urge you to read a guide if you’re going to do that, as it was really time consuming. Though, tasks like that can be quite hard considering that some pokémon like that have really low spawn rates. I certainly found that out the hard way when I missed a torchic that appeared out of nowhere. But the bottom line is, the environments and the gameplay are very addictive. I lost hours in this game just from exploration. This feels like the explorative pokémon game we have all really wanted for years.

  • Experience Points Handling

I kind of hinted at this in the last portion of the review, but you shouldn’t really approach this game like you would a general mainline pokémon game. This is mainly because pokémons experience points and levelling up is handled very differently this time around. It once again has an experience share system which I know people are getting a bit annoyed with, but I personally am a fan of it, since it does cut through a lot of the time and does allow my pokémon to level up a bit quicker- I don’t have to have a Magikarp go out there for ages just in the hope I might get a Gyarados soon. This game does handle that well and is very useful considering the level disparity you could have between the pokémon on your team in previous games.

The game also does a brilliant job of giving you experience points for completing side quests and pokémon will gain experience points for gathering resources in the environment such as breaking ore for materials and hitting trees for berries or acorns. Using the environment and side quests to gain experience points all help to really streamline the experience and makes the game a ton of fun as a result, since you wont need to completely rely on battles. Catching pokémon as well also increases the level of the team similar to that of how experience points were handled in Pokémon: Let’s Go for wild encounters.

  • The Environments

Each of the environments are very well handled in terms of their design. We didn’t get to see too much of them in the trailers and that was very much to the game’s benefit. You start out with the very basic Obsidian Fieldlands which you’ll eventually break out of into other environments including ice fields and a coastline as well as quite a few others. They all feel very rich and well established. I’ve always said the strength of an open world is when you can use landmarks within the game to help visually guide you through the area and I would say this game does that very well.

They also did a very good job choosing which pokémon should appear in which area including which particular ghost pokémon would appear at night. And by the way the day and night cycles do affect the environment, but It’s only in which pokémon appear at certain times of the day, for example Ghastly and Haunter only appear at night in one particular area. I really liked all of the environments in this game and there wasn’t really a dud in the bunch.

  • Completing the Pokédex

Normally to complete a pokédex you just either have to encounter or catch a pokémon. Legends Arceus does something a little more complex and clever, you get a sort of check point system in place for each pokemon which shows how many times it’s been caught, how many times you’ve defeated it in battle, how many times you defeated it using a certain type of move, how many times you’ve witnessed it use a type of move, etc. and you have to reach a score of 10 to fully complete a pokémons entry in the pokédex.

Now you get one point, for example, for catching a pokémon for the first time, but you may not get the next point until you catch two more of those to make a total of three pokemon. And it really makes you think things through in terms of how you’re going to complete this portion of the pokédex, which you really need to figure out because some of the side quests involve you showing a completed entry of the pokédex to a villager in Jubilife Village.

You also might want to think about it in terms of if you’re likely to find a particular pokémon again in the wild. Since Raichu is my favourite pokemon, I definitely wanted one in my team but I had to think ahead to make sure I completed Pikachu’s entry before I made it evolve. And I certainly realised after a while I wouldn’t be able to do this by catching a load of them since they weren’t spawning that fast.

The pokédex system also is aided by another streamlined feature that the game has, pokémon now only evolve if you ask them to. You can have them reach a certain level or certain conditions to make that evolution, but they won’t actually do it until you go into the menu and select ‘evolve’. For example, my Oshawott did get to the stage where it could have evolved but I hadn’t finished its pokédex entry, and of course with the starter pokémon there’s only one in the game, so without training I wasn’t going to be able to do anything more to catch another one. So I held off evolving until I had completed its pokedex entry. Be smart when doing this!

  • The Battle System

The battle system works in a couple of ways, the turn based battle systems are still here, and you do this by selecting which pokémon you want to battle and aiming it at what pokémon you want it to battle with, but the system has been refined in a few ways. For one thing, pokémon attack you, so you have to get used to dodging them and perhaps throwing something to stun them before battling or trying to catch them which is something that I would recommend in tight spots that is a bit easier and also buys you some time.

When you actually get to turn based battles, there are some excellent choices made by the developers. For one thing, pokémon that are around the other pokémon in question will join in the battle and you could end up in a three on one battle at some points, so you have to be clever on that front. The game also adds in two extra features for when a pokémon ‘masters’ a move- ‘strong style’ and ‘agile style’. This basically means you can either trade in some of the power stats to gain a bit more speed and potentially get an extra move in, or increase the power at the risk that your pokémon won’t be able to attack for a couple of extra turns but you could finish it off your opponent very quickly. This adds an extra dimension to battles and it makes pokémon battles a bit more strategic, especially when I was looking at the turn order at the side of the screen similar to how battles are handled in Final Fantasy 10.

To put it bluntly, this is probably the best battle system that has been put in a pokémon game to date. Though, if it is to be used in the future competitively, it’s going to need a bit more streamlining to make sure that the system isn’t abused too much by players.

  • Selection of Pokémon at Launch

A lot of people complained again about the selection of pokémon at launch, but I don’t know what they’re on about- I actually thought that it’s a very good selection. It’s mostly the generation 4 pokédex, with a few extras throughout the franchise. Though, I would say don’t expect too many late stage pokémon, particularly generation 7 and 8 are not really represented here- in fact most pokémon post-generation 4 are not accounted for here. The obvious exceptions being the fairy evolution of eevee, Sylveon, which I would urge you to get in your party cause it can do some incredibly broken moves. I actually think they did a decent job with the selection and the new forms of pokémon have been very well designed with very interesting new types added to them. I won’t give away too many of them since not all of them have been revealed through trailers, but there’s a good selection here.

  • Boss Fights

These are some of the most epic parts of the game. I loved the boss fights. This was demonstrated through a gameplay share just prior to release. They include you throwing balms of a relaxing powder to a pokémon to calm them down until their meter hits zero. Occasionally if they become stunned, you can throw one of your pokémon to battle with them. There’s not too many of these within the game, but when they are brought out they are the most epic moments. They really emphasise the new control scheme which is really excellent, and aiming was never really an issue unless the boss pokémon had really good agility. The camera never really brought me too many issues on this part, and I would say dodging mechanics are really well handled.

Unlike when you faint in the environment, there’s not really a disadvantage to you losing in these battles, so don’t feel too bad if you lose, because more than ever, you’re going to have to be really observant of a pokémon’s pattern of behaviour. Particularly with how they attack you. And you might want to do a pokémon team change if you don’t have any pokémon with type advantages for this battle

Mixed:

  • Graphics and Art style

I think the art style is definitely a real standout and while I do disagree with many people that the graphics are not as good as they could be, I don’t think they are as bad as some people are making them out to be. This is a perfectly good looking switch game and I even think it’s one of the best looking pokémon games, but I also think this does bring up a point that the switch’s hardware is not allowing the development team at Game Freak to push the envelope in terms of graphics.

  • Frame Rate

The game did run at a consistent framerate most of the time, usually hitting 30fps but it did have the occasional drop. This is particularly with pokémon at a distance that were flying, it exceedingly dropped until you got closer to them. Pokémon at a distance on ground level certainly didn’t have this issue, but it was particularly noticeable with flying types.

  • Controls

I will praise controls for the most part and I will stand by that when you’re just doing basic gameplay such as dodging and being stealthy so you can hide in tall grass to gain an advantage over pokémon, it works quite well. The downside is that I think the button matching is not as great as it could be. Particularly I was confused by the fact that the start button doesn’t bring up the pause menu and to bring up that menu you have to press up on the D pad. Believe me, that takes some getting used to. And I did have a few occasions where I was like ‘well which buttons should I press for this?’ and this was sometimes in situations where reaction time was key. But the few issues like the controls never really did enough harm that it took me out of the game.

  • Story

While I would say Legends Arceus has a more interesting storyline, is really good and hits some great moments, I also think it falters in some points. It does get a bit repetitive towards the middle portion of the story, and the game has some questionable decisions in the ending in regards to character motivations. By the end you realise there’s not as much substance to the story as you might think, though I will say the effort was there more so than usual. And the storyline does a good job with building upon the world and characters.

  • Post Game

Post games are something I’ve always been complaining about in pokémon games for a while now and this game is no exception. While it does offer you a decent post game including a couple of interesting moments that i won’t spoil and some real challenging side quests, but rather like Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl it does lock the part of the post game behind completing the pokédex. Now luckily, you don’t have to complete every pokémons entry, you only have to have caught one of each pokémon, but that really annoyed me. Especially considering there are no easy breeding chains for getting some of these pokémon. Yeah, sorry, no daycare this time around! So those evolving hacks you’ve got to get shiny pokémon are gone.

The post game also has another issue which I’ll go into in the con section but overall the post game has a real mix match, you do actually get some extra side quests, some of which are very enjoyable but there was kind of a point where i started checking out of this game, it’s not the greatest in that regard and I think it would have helped if another feature had been added to this game.

CONS:

  • No PvP

I said I really liked the streamlining of how experience points are handled in this game but it almost amounts to nothing because there’s no player vs player battles and there is minimal player interaction, the only times you’ll be doing it is trainer battles. If you have set the game to be online you can pick up the satchels of trainers that have fainted in battle to gain merit points which can be exchanged for evolution stones and other rare items. But you cannot battle other trainers that have bought the game. And the trainer battles in the game are at a bare minimum- I swear the majority of them are in the post game. This really hit a sour note for me more than anything else.

When me and my co reviewers see a new pokémon game coming out we actually set a system in place where we decide ahead of time who gets which starter pokémon so two of us won’t have an advantage other the other one in the player vs player battles, but this time we didn’t have to worry about it. And of course since there’s no breeding I thought that it would be almost impossible to fulfil the pokedex given that you won’t be able to breed your fully evolved starter with a Ditto to fill in the gaps. Luckily, that’s not the case here but I won’t go into how, but all i’ll say is after you defeat the penultimate boss go speak to the professor.

Bottom line is though, I really wish there was more multiplayer and more trainer battles. Which are some of the things I look forward to the most in pokémon that really serve as an extra bar to the success that I’ve had in training my pokémon.

CONCLUSION:

Pokémon Legends Arceus is the open world game I was hoping it would be. It does have its downsides such as the lack of player vs player and a post game that can feel rather draining but where it succeeds it really succeeds. The open world environments are great and make each excursion feel interesting. The pokedex is actually really fun to try and finish, I really liked the streamlining of how battles worked. One of the things i didn’t mention that i really liked is that you can actually swap pokémon moves so you don’t have to abandon moves completely, you can just swap them in and out which is another fantastic addition.

The storyline is a bit better than usual and I think that it is a very beautiful looking world even though it does have a few popping and frame rate issues, though these are never too detrimental.

If you’re getting bored with the pokémon formula this is the game for you and I highly recommend picking it up. I really hope that this becomes the new norm, and that the next game in this series will bring back a few extra elements like the gym leader circuit and more trainer battles, because I think if they do that they will be in for an excellent extra series that can stand along mainline pokémon. Or, this could even be the new main formula for mainline pokémon. We obviously won’t find that out until Gen 9 gets revealed.

This is an excellent entry to pick up,

Score 9.3 out of 10

Calvin
Nerd Consultant

Next is Reece’s review

My experience with Pokémon Legends Arceus is that I have completed every side quest and caught every Pokémon at least once to challenge the true final boss in the post game.

Pokémon legends Arceus is an action role playing game from Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch and serves as a prequel to Generation 4 of Pokémon with Diamond and Pearl.

Pro:

Open World.

A first for the series is that Legends Arceus has a great and more open world for the player to explore, and while not completely open like say Breath of the Wild is more similar to the Monster Hunter series in that yhebplayer can explore vast zones rather than just one big open map.

While the zones are large expansive areas the player is not forced to only walk or run as they get access to new Ride Pokémon to replace older methods like the bike or HMs, so while the zones feel big it doesn’t take that long to traverse them all while completing side quests or just searching for new Pokémon.

Story.

This is definitely the first Pokémon game to put such a focus on the narrative and story.

As most Pokémon games boil down to beat the league and beat the evil team harassing the area. Instead we have a different goal of catching every pokmeon just starting off being we are roped into solving the issues of the Galaxy Team and the anomaly that brought the player in ancient Hisui.

Through the story it expands upon the lore of the Generation 4 games (Diamond, Pearl and Platinum) and we experience how anicent Sinnoh truly is (Like the name of the region not originally being Sinnoh but Hisui), this continued lore and continuity helps make this feel like the most in-depth region from any Pokémon game.

Filling out the Pokédex.

To fill out a specific Pokémon’s Pokédex entry you need to fulfill the research level of that Pokémon to 10.

You do this by completing a variety of research tasks that vary in complexity from merely catching that Pokémon a certain amount of time to using that Pokémon in battle and using a specific attack a certain amount of times or non combat tasks like feeding the Pokémon an amount of time.

These different ways to achieve research level 10 mean the player doesnt just have to focus on combat all the time and can take a more pacifist approach to the game by only getting the none combat research tasks to 10.

It also allows the player to see a Pokémon in its more natural habitat rather than just appearing from tall grass like in regular Pokémon games, as you can see a Staraptor flying in the air or a Wormadam hiding in a tree that you need to interact with to get it to pop out.

So this level of more realism hasn’t been seen in regular games and is only 2nd to New Pokémon Snap where we saw the Pokémon more acting directly with their environment, but Legends Arceus should definitely be how Pokémon appear in the future as it makes the experience more rewarding.

Character customisation.

A great feature returning from Sword and Shield is character customisation (It was in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl but wasn’t as in-depth as before).

Now the player can customise their character in a variety of options with more being unlocked as you progress through the game or tackle side quests.

Aside from changing clothes, the player can also change their characters hairstyle, eyebrow and eye colour at the hairdresser. The hairdresser also gets more options later in the story when a character joins the hairdresser, so the player has more customisation options in this game than any previous games.

Post Game.

When the main campaign finishes with the credits a lot of new side quest open up apart from the main post game side quest, these involve the most difficult fights of the entire game and where my enjoyment really picked up.

Then to unlock the final true boss features you having to catch at least one of every Pokémon in the Pokédex, so the post game really features as to catch them is your real test and you will be travelling across the land searching far and wide. As Pokémon hide in every nook and cranny of Hisui with Alphas or rare Pokémon hiding or only appearing in secret areas.

This is also where the extra bonuses from having save data from Sword and Shield plus Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl kick in as you unlock 2 bonus side quests that really add to the post game lore of the game and highly recommend you do them as you will be greatly rewarded for your trouble.

Battle system.

In an interesting feature returning from Sword and Shields DLC of the Isle of Armour where you had to choose a path for Kubfu to evolve either being the Single Strike or Rapid Strike style training.

This is now a mechanic for every Pokémon as you can now choose whether to apply a Strong or Agile version of a move in battle if it is already mastered. This can increase the damage of the move with Strong Style but give you opponents more chances to do multiple attacks in return or using an Agile Style of the move which will do less damage but allow you to do more moves before your opponent can attack back.

The only downside is that the move will now use twice as much Power Points if you use one of these variations compared to normal but the benefits definitely outway it the negatives as if done correctly then you can knock out an opposing Pokémon before it can damage you.

Ride Pokémon.

Another returning feature from previous games this time being Generation 7 (Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, Ultra Moon) Ride Pokémon have been brought back and you can use them for a variety of tasks.

These replace the HMs from the main games and expand the traversal options like Basculegion allows you to cross all water without fear of drowning or Sneasler to climb vertical cliffs to reach higher vantage points to find new Pokémon.

The first Ride Pokémon you get is also one of the most broken (Intended use), that being Wyrdeer in that it is a ridable deer Pokémon and you can use it to glitch up most mountains if you jump sideways and on none flat surfaces as I used it to scale the mountain to get the Noble Pokemon’s arena in the Crimson Mirelands early.

Sidequests.

As well the main campaign the game also features nearly 100 side quests that reward the player with useful items to help them complete the Pokédex.

The sidequests also give us a more in-depth look in the backstory of these characters and how they tie into the lore and storylines of their descendants like the commander of the Galaxy Team and his modern day descendant becoming the regional Pokemon professor.

While some sidequests like the infamous Spritomb side quests take way too long to complete without a guide and end up more of a slog or chore to get through the rest are great and have good character moments or dialogue like helping residents of the village come into contact with Pokémon so they are no longer deathly afraid of them. As this is the first time some of these people have met wild Pokémon and don’t automatically assume they are friendly like modern day characters in Pokémon.

Reuse of established NPCs.

Due to this game being set several hundreds of years before Generation 1 we can see the reuse of existing character models.

This is an ingenious method of saving time and resources since they didn’t need to create new character models from scratch and they could add new lore to the series, a minor one I enjoy is the character of Charm who has the appearance of Agatha and Bertha from Gen 1 and Gen 4 characters who had a fan theory for a long time of being related which is now almost confirmed as Charm uses the ace Pokémon of both characters with Gengar and Rhydon.

So it is a really fun nod to the long time fans to see how these ancestors relate to their modern day decendents and the added lore between them and fill in some of the missing gaps in the lore.

Available Pokémon.

242 Pokémon are in the game at launch if you have save data from Sword and Shield as well as Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

This gives the player access to a large variety of Pokémon along with most of the Pokédex for Generation 4 along with some new surprises for players to discover.

There is also a large variety of Pokémon between each of the zones with at least 80 Pokémon in each, and while there is some overlap between the Pokémon there is enough unique Pokémon in each zone for players to be constantly switching up their teams as they discover new Pokémon and fill out the Pokédex.

Merit system.

The Merit system exists in this game to give the player some form of online interaction with other players online since online battling is no longer in this game.

So you earn Merit by returning another players bag in the overworld for when they faint against wild Pokémon. By returning the bag you get given a small amount of Merit and the chance for an extra item that the other player was carrying.

When you collect enough Merit points using the online mechanic then you can trade in those points for rare items using a shop in the hub village, this includes rare items that are hard to obtain like the Linking Cord which can evolve Pokémon that normally evolve by trading (This should be an item in normal Pokémon games as trading with another player can be very frustrating if you don’t have any local friends who also play).

Pokémon evolution system.

A new feature that is great for this game is that you can choose when to evolve your Pokémon when it has reached the correct level threshold.

In older games you had to manually cancel evolution every time the Pokémon levels up with the use of the B button unless you gave your Pokémon the Everstone to hold which is always a bad choice as it means you couldn’t hold another Held Item. In contrast now you can evolve when you want to and not forced to manually cancel the evolution every level which is a great quality of life improvement.

Catching mechanics.

Instead of the long running tradition of players being scared of Pokémon lurking in the tall grass now it’s the opposite where players hid in tall grass to sneak behind a Pokémon before chucking a ball at the back of the Pokémon’s head.

All memes aside this is a refreshing change of pace as now you can catch Pokémon outside of traditional battles and use stealth tactics and a variety of items to get the jump up on unsuspecting Pokémon.

These tools range from berries and cakes that you can throw on the ground to distract a Pokémon by making them eating it or by using Stealth Sprays to mask your footsteps making it harder for Pokémon to hear you approach, so you can get into a more advantageous position before pelting them with balls.

Con:

No online battles.

The biggest aspect of the mainline Pokémon games when you have beaten the main campaign to play against friends or random people online in Pokémon battles so you can see who has the best team of Pokémon.

I was looking forward to trying this out with my fellow reviewers this time with the new regional evolutions and battling mechanics.

Unfortunately while online trading of Pokémon exists as a feature the online battling hasnt survived which is a shame as that’s what gave Pokémon is big identity as an Gameboy game in that you could challenge your friends on the playground and it lead to trainers bonding closer with their partner Pokémon.

Graphics.

One of the biggest downsides of this game is just how poor the graphics look, as even The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which was a Wii U game and launch title for the Switch has way better texture work for the environments.

The most obvious downside is the state of the ground in the environment as in stark contrast to how beautiful the sky looks during day and night but the ground always looks like a blurry mess.

The water tiles are also repeated continuously on the rivers and oceans that really make the waters look bad. This just seems like an issue due to a rushed development time since in the Isle of Armour DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield had much better looking water tile textures.

In cave environments there is a bizarre artifacting effect on the player characters with the anti-aliasing in the game creating an outline of white pixels almost like a glitchy aura, that is difficult to look at without causing eye strain.

No voice acting.

This game desperately needs voice acting as there is more dialogue boxes than ever in this Pokémon game and GameFreak even went out of their way to animate the mouth flaps of the characters to simulate that they are taking but all you get is silence.

A better example of would be Breathe of the Wild that had great voice acting for its characters and was a launch title back in 2017 compared to Legends Arceus in 2022.

No moving between areas.

A big quality of life update that needs to happen in my opinion, is that you cannot travel from one of the major 5 zones directly to another e.g. Obsidian Fieldlands directly to the Cobolt Coastlands.

Instead the player has to return from one zone to the home village and then go out of the village gate to bring up the map with the option of then travelling to the new zone. This feels like it could of easily been streamlined with a menu option when viewing the map to change zones.

Boss battles.

One of the most anticipated events hyped up for in the trailer comes down to throwing bags of food at the boss Pokémon repeatedly.

In theory you are supposed to send out your Pokémon to do battle when you hit a damage threshold but if you hit them with another balm then it skips the ability to send out your Pokémon to battle.

This happened to me so much that for the first 2 bosses I didn’t even send out my own Pokémon to fight them as I drained their health with balms. This only stopped for the remaining bosses due to not throwing as many balms in rapid succession so that I could actually fight the bosses with my team.

I would of preferred more varied ways to battle the bosses instead of it turning into a button mashing versions of a shooting game, as you deal way more damage just circling the bosses so their attacks don’t hit you and you keep chucking balms to drain their health within a minute.

A good solution to this repitition would of been to utilise the mount Pokémon in a bigger role as you normally get them before a boss, like Basculegion to evade the boss Pokémon while throwing balms in mid-air like you can with Pokéballs to catch Pokémon, instead of being stuck in a small arena on foot going in circles.

Removed features.

While Legends Arceus brought a lot of new features, it also removed standard features that have been in the series since Generation 2 (Gold, Silver, Crystal) with Held Items to help your Pokémon in battle with strategy.

Another big feature is the removal of Pokémon abilities in that certain Pokémon are now pretty much non-viable as some Pokémon like Carnavine no longer has its levitate ability so it can be damaged by ground type attacks.

Quite a few moves were also removed and this hurt a lot of Pokémon, for instance Torterra which you can get as early as the 2nd zone no longer learns Earthquake which is the best ground type move by a mile. So you are more funnled into using the more typically strong Pokémon or the new exclusive Pokémon since the old Pokémon are more limited movepool-wise.

Difficulty/NPC Trainer battles.

Due to the limited number of Trainer Pokémon battles due to lore reasons compared to normal mainline games this means that the game is a lot easier than normal.

Even before the postgame most trainers don’t have a full team of 6, so if you go through the game with a team of 6 Pokémon then you will find yourself steamrolling the opponent’s with not a lot of difficulty.

You also don’t need to worry to about levelling up your team as you get experience just by catching Pokémon like in recent Pokémon games, so your team will always be higher in levels than your opponent’s Pokémon if you catch a moderate amount of Pokémon and complete side quests.

Ride Pokémon limitations.

While the Ride Pokémon are all useful they do feel unbalanced, as they all of them apart from Wyrdeer feel really slow especially with Ursaluna and Sneasler so much so that fans have created mods to increase those Pokémon movement speed and it just plays a lot better.

Then some Ride Pokémon only have very limited uses like Ursaluna who acts more as a big sniffer dog, but they move so slow that you can nearly outrun it on the floor and almost all the sidequests you need it for to sniff out people then those people can still be found on foot and is normally faster that way as the radar from Ursaluna is very short range.

Braviary is also disappointing as the final Ride Pokémon because you expect to fully be able to fly with it, but instead it works as more of a glider in that you can never regain height as you fly and instead have to land and then reuse Braviary to get a decent initial updraft.

Some story aspects.

While the story is great for the most part there is a plot twist that happens towards end of the main story that seems really out of left field that was so jarring that it takes you out of the experience.

Although this was the first time that a major twist in Pokémon actually got a real reaction out of me in recent years but it was so illogical that it definitely soured the end of the main storyline for me.

Character animations.

This is a minor gripe I have with the game is the walk/run cycle of the player character as when running while changing direction the character model kind of breaks with the limbs flapping around and looks very unnatural.

Then during conversations in cutscenes with dialogue then the characters just stand around and repeating the same movements a lot on a loop. Another example is when they need to change what happens with an event then instead of animating what happens they suddenly cut to black then cut back when the animation happens off screen. This seems a bit lazy and that they didn’t have time to make in between animations.

No Pokémon Home support.

Like the Pokémon Gen 4 remakes with Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl this game also lacks the ability to connect to Pokémon Home, so any Pokémon we catch are currently locked to the game cartridge and cannot be transferred off for safe storage.

This is a potential problem because without Pokémon Home and Cloud Saves, then if your Switch gets damaged and your internal memory storage destroyed then all your progress will be lost with no way to recover due to no Cloud Saves.

Save files.

Unlike The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, this game (Just like all other Pokémon games) still does not offer multiple save files, so if you want to experience the game from scratch with no progress then you will lose all your current progress and Pokémon with no way to recover them.

This is why Pokémon Home was essential to this title, because without it then if you fully  complete the game like I did with beating the true final boss and completing the Pokédex then you don’t want to lose all that progress just because you want to play the game in a different way on your next playthrough.

Pokémon pastures.

I wish the pastures had a sort option since they are very important to the main goal of catching all Pokémon but it is a real pain if you want to try and organise any of the pastures as your only option if you want to rearrange them in any order is too very slowly do it yourself.

Conclusion:

The best none traditional Pokémon game that Game Freak has released in recent years that wasn’t a complete tonal spinoff like New Pokémon Snap was.

I would definitely recommend this game to returning players or people who were let down with the more recent entries being Pokémon Sword and Shield or Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

I also recommend that players continue on after finishing the main campaign as that’s when a lot of fun side quests open up and the difficulty kicks in for the fights if you thought the game was too easy leading up to it.

Score: 8.5

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

And finally Elliot’s review

I’m not the only one who’s thought that Pokémon games have gotten somewhat stagnant over the last decade, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that they’re bad and I’ve definitely had fun with each one I’ve played, but, you can’t deny, with how easy the games have been getting lately – even Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were super easy and they were remakes of more difficult games – and how little the formula has expanded, the games have grown a little tiring, which has left many players, myself included, wanting something a bit different. So when Pokémon Legends Arceus was first announced and we saw that first bit of gameplay from it, it peaked the interest for a lot of fans. And after playing it, I can confirm that this is not only a breath of fresh air for the series, but is also one of the best Pokémon games we’ve ever gotten. 

The game takes place in the Hisui region, during a time long before the Sinnoh region we know and before Pokémon and humans battling together was a commonality. You play as a Pokémon Trainer from the Sinnoh region who has travelled into the past through a space-time rift that resides above Mount Coronet (oh great, it’s another bloody isekai). You meet Professor Laventon, a Pokémon Professor who works for the Galaxy Expedition Team based in Jubilife Village, who asks for your aid in capturing three Pokémon that he’s lost. After doing so, he takes you to Jubilife Village, where you meet Araki/Rei, Professor Laventon’s assistant, and Cyllene, Captain of the Survey Corps. After proving your prowess in catching and battling Pokémon, you’re accepted as a member of the Galaxy Expedition Team and are given the task of finding and capturing Pokémon to complete your Pokédex, and to calm the Five Lords of the region that have been sent into a frenzy by the space-time rift. I actually really like the story, while it’s clearly not going for awards, it’s a fun time and gives you an actual reason to go out and find Pokémon (at the very least it’s better than what the main games do, like seriously, you’re a well renowned Pokémon Professor and you don’t have all the Pokémon catalogued, really?!).

I don’t think I’m in the wrong when I say that this is one of the best looking Pokémon games we’ve had to date. The graphics and art style is a mixture of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Pokémon Sword and Shield and it looks amazing. The environments are so vibrant and colourful and the character and Pokémon models look just as good as they would in any other Pokémon game. Definitely one of the biggest concerns when we saw the first bit of gameplay back in 2021, was the frame rate – which was just choppy and made us very worried. I’m very happy to confirm that the frame rate has been majorly improved since that trailer and runs at a very consistent 30fps. The music also gives off major Breath of the Wild vibes while also sounding reminiscent of previous Pokémon games. A number of songs are very soft and soothing, adding a lot of ambience to the overworld, while other tracks will just make you think “Yep, this is definitely a Pokémon game”, being very upbeat and action heavy, a lot of them sounding a lot like remixes of what you’d hear in Diamond and Pearl. I seriously cannot praise this soundtrack enough, it’s probably my favourite soundtrack in the entire series.

Though this game gives you the same goals as the rest of the series does – catching tiny creatures in little balls and training them to beat up other tiny creatures with – this game is very different. First of all, while other games in the series have more of a focus on the battling side, Pokémon Legends Arceus leans more towards the catching aspect of the gameplay. For starters you no longer need to engage other Pokémon in battle in order to be able to catch them, now you have the ability to sneak up to them then aim and launch a Pokéball at them, and wait to see if they get captured or escape. I can’t deny, this is my favourite new feature in this game, I started getting tired of having to go into battles to try to capture Pokémon in the other games, so the fact that I can just throw a Pokéball and hope for the best is a major benefit. It also adds more tension, as if the Pokémon doesn’t stay in the ball it increases the likelihood of it noticing me. If a Pokémon spots you when you’re attempting this, they’ll react in one of three ways, they’ll probably do nothing but blankly stare at you as if there’s nothing wrong at all (though I’m pretty sure that this is exclusive to Bidoof), they’ll possibly try to run away, completely vanishing after a few seconds, or, most commonly – especially  in the later areas – they’ll start attacking you, making it impossible to catch them without facing them in battle. 

That’s right, it’s not just your Pokémon that are in danger of getting tackled or struck with thunder, now wild Pokémon will try to attack you directly if you’re spotted by one. Some of them will try to tackle you head on while others will cast projectile moves that will be more difficult to avoid. While avoiding some of these creatures will be easy to do, others will go to the ends of the earth chasing you. If you get hit too many times, then you’ll end up blacking out yourself and you’ll be sent back to the last area camp that you rested at, so be careful, especially if you’ve made a lot of progress during that time. 

One of the more threatening types of Pokémon you’ll encounter are the Alpha Pokémon. These creatures are distinguishable by their larger size and red eyes. They have moves that they wouldn’t normally learn by levelling up and will normally be several levels higher than what you’ll be used to by that point. It’s highly recommended that if you spot one of these Pokémon or they spot you that – unless you have the Pokémon of a similar or higher level – you run like hell, as these will likely decimate your party and are near impossible to capture outside of battle. 

Battles in this game work the same as they do in other Pokémon games… for the most part. It’s still the same turn-based battle system with each different type having strengths and weaknesses, though there are some small differences that actually adds a lot to the game. First of all, when a Pokémon learns a new move it doesn’t automatically get added into its moveset and replace an already existing move, instead you have to go into the menu and swap the move out with another one if it’s one you like or want to experiment with, and if it’s not what you desired you can always swap it back for a different move that you preferred before. While I know you can do this in other Pokémon games with the Move Tutors, the ability to do this without having to find one is amazing, it gives you more of a chance to test out new moves and to give yourself more of an advantage in different areas. 

Another big change is the turn order. For the most part the turn order stays the same as in most RPG’s – each combatant takes it in turns to do an attack – but depending on the stats of the attack and it’s user, you may be able to dish out more than just one move in a row. A menu showing the turn order will be present during every fight, by hovering over different moves you may notice the turn order shift, letting either you or your opponent have an extra turn. The heavy attacks may shrink the number of moves you’re able to do while the lighter but quicker ones can increase them. If that sounds complicated already, just wait because it’s about to get more so. When a Pokémon levels up it’s possible that they’ll have “mastered” a move. This will allow you to switch what Style – Strong Style and Agile Style – you want them to use. Strong Style will make the attack more powerful and deal more damage, but in turn it could cause your opponent to have an extra attack if used, meanwhile Agile Style will make the move quicker and lead to you getting an extra turn at the sacrifice of less damage. Of course your opponent also has those abilities, so they could easily give themselves extra turns as well. I really like this mechanic, it adds a lot more strategy to the game and gives a lot more risk to a battle system that was pretty basic up until that point. 

As you play through the story, you’ll encounter boss fights against the Five Lords of Hisui, legendary Pokémon who have become frenzied by the space-time rift. If you go into these expecting to have a normal battle, you’d be sorely mistaken. These battles are a combination of you throwing balms at the beast, occasionally sending your Pokémon out for a brief battle, and running away and dodging its attacks like you’re playing a souls-like. Aside from a couple of duds, these fights are exhilarating, forcing you to use the skills you’ve honed from lobbing balls at unsuspecting Starly, but also focusing on your timing with avoiding their attacks in a small area. It’s honestly a lot of fun. 

Outside of completing the story, you’ll be spending most of your time trying to complete the Pokédex. This will easily be the quest that you sink the most time into as, unlike the other Pokémon games where you just have to capture the Pokémon once in order to complete its Pokédex entry, there are a lot of requirements to completing this one. Each Pokémon entry has a variety of requisites to complete in order to be able to complete it. Each one will involve you defeating and capturing a ridiculously high number of them as well as their own unique requirements, such as having them evolve a certain number of times, capturing them during day or night or seeing them perform a particular move a number of times. When you deliver your data to Professor Laventon, you’ll be rewarded with money for each Pokémon you’ve captured, as well as research points for each new bit of data you find. When you’ve collected enough research data, you’ll be able to report back to Captain Cyllene and increase in star ranks (of which there are ten), each time you do, you’ll be able to capture Pokémon at a higher level as well as new crafting recipes. This feature is something I don’t only think is very good for the game, but that I think this game needed. Seeing as this games primary focus is on exploring large open landscapes in the hopes of finding new Pokémon, catching one once and then never again will have put a major damper one the games core mechanic and made it a lot less fun, so adding more incentive to encounter them is crucial. 

As you play the game you’ll likely find yourself completing requests given to you from people across the Hisui Region. There are a large variety of side quests in this game, from capturing particular Pokémon, to finding a certain amount of items, to battling them. The rewards from some of these quests are pretty great as well, some will give you more customizability options for yourself, others will give you items to help your Pokémon in battle, some will even give you crafting items or recipes. 

As much as I really like this game, there are unfortunately some things that I’m not too big a fan of. First of all is a lack of camps and fast travel points. Seeing how each area you explore is very expansive and will take you a while to travel, you’d surely think that there were a good number of fast travel points and camps… right? Sadly, the amount presented to you is dismally small. You’ll be battling a lot of Pokémon while traversing these terrains – whether intentionally or not – and thus you’ll have to find yourself wanting to return to the camp somewhat frequently in order to resupply on items or revitalise your Pokémon. This unfortunately means that you’ll be teleporting back to the camp at the area’s entrance a lot and likely having to trek all the way back to where you were. [WARNING: this part contains minor spoilers, if you don’t want to be spoiled head to the final thoughts] Another problem I have with the game is with one of the mounts; or to be more exact with Braviary. In every area you’ll receive a mount that you’ll be able to summon at any time. Each one has their own ability that makes traversal much easier. Braviary is the flying mount that you get in late game, and while he is for the most part useful, my main gripe with him is that while he can glide and dive towards the ground there is no way to make him ascend higher. While this may sound like a nitpick, I found myself rarely using him because of that. Believe me, there is nothing more annoying than using him to fly only to crash into a cliff and having to swap to a different mount because you can’t make him ascend. 

I know I spoiled my thoughts on this game at the very beginning, but I’m going to say it again anyway. Pokémon Legends Arceus is without a doubt the best Pokémon game we’ve had in years. It took a formula that we’ve seen done to death at this point, and found a way to make it fresh and exciting again. I have no problem in saying that this is the best Pokémon game currently out on the Switch and I encourage everyone who owns one to give it a go. I had an absolute blast playing it and I’m certain that you will too, even if you’re not a Pokemon fan.

9.2/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia6th July 2022
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