Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Pokémon Let's GO - Unveiling the Cranky Old People in the Community

This week has been a pretty tumultuous one if you are a Pokémon fan. So much so that it has finally spurred me to write a pokémon blog after months of finding reasons not to. Earlier this year leaks began surfacing about Pokémon Let's GO Pikachu and Pokémon Let's GO Eevee (PLG). When the leaks began to trickle out that Pikachu and Eevee would be starters, that the region would be Kanto, and that it would the generation VIII series of games, I was skeptical. More over, I was upset. Despite the rumors suggesting that Kanto would be different, set in the future or whatever, I still felt it wasn't enough. I honestly have no drive to go to a region I've already been to, and start with pokémon I already have, in a new generation. If something is a new generation, I want it to be genuinely new. I also liked to often point out that I wouldn't understand why ANYONE would chose Pikachu as a starter over Eevee. Yes, Pikachu is the cute mascot, but Eevee is just better... like unequivocally so. However, when the games were officially announced, I was pleasantly surprised. These games were real, but they weren't generation VIII. They actually exist in some weird murky remake/side game territory. Immediately I felt better about them. Apparently the pokémon community seems torn and I personally have seen more "veteran" players decide that these games are the worst thing to ever happen to the franchise.

I still don't know why someone wouldn't chose Eevee version.
The most common complaint I see relates to the GO-style mechanics that are incorporated in the game. The capture mechanics have indeed been vastly simplified. No longer requiring you to battle the pokémon, PLG has you just chuck balls at them with motion controls until you catch them. The leaks pretty much said this, and I know I personally didn't want to see GO catching mechanics without battling in a core game. That said, this isn't a core game and now that I know that, I certainly don't mind. Getting upset about this, in my mind, would be like getting upset you can't catch pokémon in Pokémon Snap or not being able to evolve pokémon in a Pokémon Rumble game. It just seems silly, especially given that the community is constantly asking for Game Freak to bring something to the table that we haven't seen in the games. I think a side game is certainly the place to test those sort of things. PLG uses GO tossing mechanics and doesn't allow you to battle the pokémon first, but that's not to say some future game wouldn't allow you to fight a pokémon to weaken it and then toss a pokéball with motion controls. In fact, many community members wanted a pokémon game on Wii/Wii U with pokéball tossing using motion controls. I've also seen where people have complained about the presence of CP (another GO mechanic) in the games. CP, or Combat Points, are just a summary of all of your other stats. It's meant to give something that GO players would see and recognize, but for non-GO players, it's not like you couldn't just look at the other standard stat values and use those to assess your pokémon.

Stats are still listed like they are in core games, with CP also being listed. As a bridge game this isn't surprising. There are values that veterans will recognize as well as those GO players would. The inclusion of ID No. and markers seems to suggest these pokémon would likely be transferable to core games at some point.

"Veteran" players also seem to be rather upset with yesterday's E3 announcement that the PokéBall GO Plus controller will come with a Mew inside that can be transferred to the PLG games. Granted, it is annoying that it seems that despite being able to transfer other pokémon from GO to PLG, Mew is an exception. I'll definitely concede that. However, this is no different from buying a premium edition of a game that comes with exclusive content. At least with mythical pokémon there is usually multiple opportunities to get them. Most likely there will be some sort of Mystery Gift or something that gives Mew to other players as well in the future, PokéBall GO Plus players will just have their's Day 1. So far though, this is the only complaint I've found semi-valid. So far the only true complaint I have is the fact these games only incorporate Kanto pokémon. In my opinion, even if the other gens aren't catchable in PLG, if I have them in GO I should be able to transfer them over.

At this point, what veteran player doesn't have Mew? They are given out freely every few years.
All in all, the level of bitterness the community seems to have toward these games has exposed a pretty dark underbelly of the community. These games are side games obviously meant to try to bring in new players along with fans of Pokémon GO. However, many in the established community seem incredibly adverse to this. Despite the fact that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are still pretty fresh and we have been confirmed to be getting a new core series game for the Nintendo Switch in 2019, these "veterans" still feel the need to complain unrelentingly about the differences between PLG and the core series, primarily citing mechanics more important to the competitive community than a more casual one. I feel these games do form a bridge. The GO community can still be quite large depending on where you live. I routinely have over 100 people attending my Community Day offerings. However, many don't have any drive to join the trading card game and video games at our local league because they feel the games aren't approachable to casual players. To be honest, they are right. The community, at least in my experience, is not inviting to new players. When trying to teach new players they'll often delve right into meta-decks or IV breeding and EV training before even teaching any core mechanics. If you tell a casual player the only way to "git good" is to buy a $60 Tapu Lele GX or two for their deck or spend "X" amount of hours breeding a single pokémon, then you are going to push them away. Soccer players, for example, don't start their career training for the World Cup, even if that is the end goal.

Pokémon Let's GO Pikachu and Pokémon Let's GO Eevee are definitely "Pokémon Lite", but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially when we know for a fact that new core games are coming next year. PLG offers many new aspects I actually want to see incorporated in the new game too. Co-op, pokémon following you, pokémon in the overworld, all of these things are features the community has clamored for. Now they are being brought in, albeit in a side game to test the waters, and the "veterans" lose their minds. A part of me actually wants to see these games push them out of the community. We honestly would be better for it in the long run. If these pokémon grandpas and grandmas want to sit on their porch and whine about how things were better in their day, they can go right ahead. I'll be hanging out with the people who aren't complete buzzkills and actually enjoying Pokémon like I always have. I know 12 year old me would be ecstatic to play these.