A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus encourages players to pursue and share knowledge about Pokemon. Players are rewarded for completing research tasks, and the plot takes real-life concerns into consideration, such as the risks involved when humans and wild animals interact.
Positive Role Models
Professor Laventon and the Galaxy Expedition team are careful to maintain everyone's safety as well as create opportunities for teamwork and in-game skill-building. Even though they don' yet understand Pokemon, they show the creatures proper respect and wish only to explore ways that both Pokemon and people can benefit from having a relationship.
Players have the ability to choose a male–presenting or female-presenting character.They also have the option to change their clothes or hairstyle. Positively, there are four skin and hair color choices for both the male and female-presenting characters. There are also many clothing options that appear gender-neutral, and characters do have a wide range of hairstyles to choose from. But characters must use the pronouns that adhere with their male-presenting or female-presenting bodies. Additionally, this title highlights tension between groups of people coming from different cultural backgrounds and explores how those from different groups can work together to achieve a common goal.
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Ease of Play
The experience is polished and well thought out. The menu systems make sense, and all options are organized well. The difficulty of battling and traversing open spaces with aggressive Pokemon is worth noting, since it's noticeably more difficult than in past Pokemon games. This is a welcome change, though, as it introduces a level of challenge that won’t be too much for younger or less experienced players.
Violence & Scariness
Players will battle using Pokemon, and this can contain animated effects of Pokemon briefly hitting each other with their bodies or with an element (fire, water, air, etc). Pokemon can also attack players if they are of the “aggressive” nature, but this only includes animations of the player falling down when hit or dodging attacks.
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Products & Purchases
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is part of the larger Pokemon brand, so engaging with it means that players may become interested in other Pokemon products such as other games, tv shows, or movies. But no past investment in the Pokemon universe is needed to enjoy Legends, and players are not pressured to make purchases in-game.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a role-playing game available for the Nintendo Switch. As expected from the greater Pokemon universe, Legends challenges players to catch and train powerful creatures known as Pokemon. But Pokemon Legends is the first major Pokemon title to completely change its objective. This time, the goal is to catch Pokemon as part of one of the first research expeditions studying Pokemon and their capabilities hundreds of years before the events of the other main games in the series. Those familiar with the franchise won’t be surprised to hear that there isn’t much violence or other questionable content in-game, but families should note that Legends has some online features they should be aware of, including the ability to send and receive Pokemon and picking up lost bags of other players.
Is It Any Good?
All of the main titles in the Pokemon universe have made use of the same formula over 20+ iterations since the mid-1990’s. Though many players have asked for innovations beyond the ability to change a character’s hairstyle or the introduction of new Pokemon to catch, Pokemon Legends: Arceus is really the first main installment to deliver on fans’ requests for a totally new way to experience the in-game world. In this way, changing anything at all could be seen as a risk for Nintendo, but Pokemon Legends: Arceus succeeds in delivering enough twists and refreshed gameplay to keep long-time fans invested. In conjunction with its new objectives, this title offers brand new mechanics such as using the Switch joysticks to aim Pokeballs at unsuspecting Pokemon, the option to catch Pokemon without battling, a slew of side quests to break up the monotony of going after one goal, a crafting system, and extended “boss”-type battles which can be surprisingly challenging at times.
Pretty much all of the changes made to the Pokemon formula in Legends add to the experience, but it should be noted that some of the same issues that players have experienced in past titles do unfortunately carry over. Even with the addition of side quests and more goals to complete within the Pokedex, some mid-game tasks can begin to feel repetitive. In addition, the world can sometimes feel a bit empty. With an effort to make other gameplay in Legends feel more like an open-world RPG (role-playing game), the downside to this is that it’s hard not to compare with similar titles that have much more developed and unique towns and spaces, such as Breath of the Wild. Not every game should be expected to reinvent the wheel, but it's hard to overlook feeling like something's missing. All in all, though, Legends lives up to Nintendo’s promise of a new kind of Pokemon adventure.
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