It’s often said that the more things change, the more they stay the same and I cannot think of a finer example than Pokémon when it comes to this little nugget of wisdom. More than two decades since that douche Blue decided to take the one Pokémon that would have a type advantage against your starter and challenge you to a battle on the spot (DICK MOVE BLUE DICK MOVE), and Pokémon is still the same game at its core.
You’re still travelling the land, you’re still collecting new pocket monsters and you’re still battling with them as you grow alongside your precious new partners. Maybe it’s a testament to just how well designed the original Pokémon game was that this system of battling and collecting has remained relatively unchanged, but that doesn’t mean that the series hasn’t had some giant evolutionary steps of its own along the way.
From subtle changes in the user interface to massive gameplay-changing mechanics such as the upcoming Dynamax system, Pokémon has always been a money-grubbing television evangelist’s worst nightmare: A video a game about change and evolution. And what Pokémon can sum up that theme better than a humble little worm who helped so many trainers begin their journey? “For me, it’s actually Caterpie,” Pokémon Sword and Shield director Shigeru Ohmori said to Kotaku of the one Pokémon that represents the spirit of the franchise at its best.
The reason for that is, in real life you have bugs that will evolve. If you’re raising a dog, it’s not going to change its appearance. In the Pokémon games, one of the reasons that we always have bug type Pokémon in the early parts of the game is because it’s something that is familiar to the player, that they can believe that would evolve. That kind of teaches the concept of Pokémon: growing and evolving.
It’s not just the Pokémon who are getting stronger and growing, it’s also the player alongside the Pokémon. We have a lot of that in these games with the added focus on reaching the top, becoming the strongest and the greatest.
I feel that. I feel the magic that Pokémon still has and is capable of producing. Sure, some older fans might be jaded with the current product, but then again Pokémon has always been a game aimed at younger fans. That delicate balance of introducing a new generation of pocket monsters to a new generation of players and still providing a familiar ground for veterans to kickstart a new adventure on.
That requires some incredible evolutionary skill to pull off, and it looks like Pokémon Sword and Shield is well on its way towards being another fine example of how survival of the funnest.
Last Updated: June 18, 2019