Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s different, isn’t it? The last few main Pokémon games have all claimed to be “new” in terms of how they play, with Let’s Go! doing away with proper battles with wild Pokémon, Sun and Moon being properly in 3D and Sword and Shield having the Wild Areas. Arceus is like an extrapolation of those Wild Areas, with several large regions you can freely travel around, seeing Pokémon in the wild doing what they do, and catching them by sneaking up and chucking balls at them.

This mechanic flips the original Pokémon premise on its head. Back then, you’d venture into the long grass and be pounced on by hidden ‘mons, but here it’s you furtively stalking them from the grassy hiding places ready to attack (or catch) when they’re close or distracted. It’s this feature which is the bulk of the gameplay, with different species reacting differently to you. Some, like Starly, will run as soon as you’re spotted. Some, like Aipom, will run up to you and jump around your legs harmlessly. Others will attack on sight, and I mean attack you, not your Pokémon: Another difference to the established norm. You can run away, or chuck out one of your party to fight back, but initially it’s you who can take damage and if you’re hurt too much it’s you that faints, losing some of your gathered items in the process.

They obviously realised there’s no point hiding which attacks are effective and not as everyone would just look them up. So they just tell you now.

Yes, gathered items. Not just potions and balls you have, like in previous games, but crafting materials because all games are crafting games these days. Stuff you pick up, smash open, or get from caught or defeated creatures can be used to make Pokéballs, buffs, food, and so on and although you can buy some of these things, you really don’t have the money to spend on that – at least early on, anyway.

So you wander these large open areas, trapping Pokémon and cock fighting whilst collecting Everything You Can and filling your satchel (which happens a lot, so it’s good you can pay a guy to give you more storage space) with junk and crafting balls and lures and progressing the story. But what is the story?

Well, it’s different to the previous games too. Sure, the details varied from game to game but ultimately every Pokémon title has two main stories. The personal one, where you’ve got to Be the Very Best and beat all the gym leaders and then the Elite Four and become King of All The Pokémon Trainers, and the other one where you have Team Rocket or Team Galactic or Team Skull or whoever doing Evil Deeds and you have to stop them, usually by tracking down some uber-powerful ‘mon and defeating the Team Leader. Then there’s usually some post game content, which basically just gives you the chance to complete your Pokédex. But not here! Well, not quite.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set in the past. A few hundred years in the past, in fact, in what would eventually be called the Sinnoh Region (the setting for Pokémon Diamond and Pearl) for reasons that become clear in the game, but is here still referred to as the Hisui Region. You appear in this world, plucked from parts (and times) unknown by Arceus at the start of the game and dropped out of the sky onto a beach just outside Jubilife Village – the seed of Jubilife City from Diamond/Pearl of course. The village is where a group of explorers, scientists and surveyors calling themselves Galaxy Team (waitaminite…) have set themselves up as an outpost in the region, wedging in between the previously-warring-but-now-more-tolerant two factions of Diamond Clan and Pearl Clan. See, it’s clever, yes?

How do you calm a frenzied Pokémon? Balms to the face.

Both clans worship the great Creator, whom they call Sinnoh, but one clan thinks it’s basically the God of Time and the other thinks it’s the God of Space. Without spoilering, they’re both right and wrong. You make friends with both Galaxy Team members and these clans throughout your adventure, which is part you trying to figure out where you came from, and trying to stop the seemingly impending doom caused by the lightning in the sky over Mount Sinnoh which you may actually be the cause of. Mostly, this involves Pokémon battles, catching Pokémon, and boss fights against massive raging Pokémon where you chuck parcels of food at their face until they calm down because of course you do. Oh, and Arceus, aside from sometimes making your “phone” device bleep occasionally, is never to be seen again. Well, not until after the main story is complete perhaps – that’s how far I’ve got.

There’s no gyms. There aren’t really even many trainers. Most people are still scared of Pokémon (and, given they’re all shown as Actual Size, who wouldn’t be) and Pokéballs are still a new invention so the many varieties like Master Balls and Net Balls and so on don’t exist yet. You can ride a handful of beasts that you obtain through the story which allow you to swim, run, jump and fly and so reach new areas. It all feels very fresh and new and yet – and yet – it’s still somehow Pokémon and feels like a Pokémon game even though it’s very different. It’s polished, although some areas are a little lacking graphically, and a bit repetitive with the Pokédex research tasks that require multiple battles or captures with each type of Pokémon and resource gathering, but then if you’re concerned about repetition you wouldn’t be playing Pokémon.

As I said, I’ve completed the story insofar as I’ve done all the missions up to the credits, but now there’s the small task of catching them all. And a million side quests and some additional story. And maybe, actually, Arceus itself.


Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a fantastic new entry in the series, albeit a spinoff. It’s new and old at the same time, and if the recently announced main series games Scarlet and Violet can use some of the same features then I’d love to see that too. If not, a sequel to this set in another region’s past would absolutely do me.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond (Switch): COMPLETED!

Once more it was time to play a digital cock-fighting game! I mean, that’s basically what it is, right? With a plot, of course. A plot which is the same in every single Pokémon game: evil organisation (usually with a non-evil front) want to capture Pokémon for $reason so they can get Ultimate Power or something. All while your 10 year old avatar is rapidly rising from having a single feeble creature to being King Of All Pokémon Trainers and has to save the world at the same time.

This game is the same, in most aspects, as all the others I’ve played. Sure, this retains the 3/4 overhead view of the Nintendo DS original (and looks a lot like the recent Link’s Awakening remake) rather than have a fully 3D environment like Pokémon Sword, but that doesn’t change the gameplay at all. In fact, in battle screenshots you’d be hard pushed to tell which of the Switch Pokémon games I was actually playing.

Importantly, it doesn’t matter about being almost the same. Being almost the same actually works because the formula is sound and so remains fun, and it’s only really the catching and fighting Pokémon that you want from these games, is it not? Change that too much and you might break it.

So I beat all eight gym leaders, defeated Team Whoevertheyareinthisone, took on (and walked over) the Elite Four, and then trounced the supposed “champion”. It was all very easy, but I had a nice time and there’s more that opens up to do after the end credits, so although I’ve completed it, I’m not done with it just yet!

Pokémon Sword: The Crown Tundra (Switch): COMPLETED!

The second, and presumably final, expansion pack for Pokémon Sword/Shield, The Crown Tundra is set in a mostly snowy region and involves hunting for a lot of legendary pokémon in various ways.

Peony, a character you meet at the start, gives you three main legends to look into. The first has you finding the local “new to the series” legendary – Calyrex, then finding his horse by growing a carrot. Yeah, one carrot. Calyrex doesn’t have enough power for more. You can get one of two horses, depending where you grow the carrot – an ice type or a ghost type. I went with the latter. With them reunited, the next mission is to gain entry to four mysterious temples and capture the Regi-series pokémon within. It’s a minor puzzle task to open the temples up, and then a tricky task to actually capture them without killing them and they’re all alarmingly resistant to pokéballs.

Finally, you have to capture three Galarian variants of previous game legendaries – Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno – by chasing them across both the Tundra and both previous areas in the game.

With those done (and it essentially being The End), I completed a side quest for Sonia, who wanted me to find three more legendaries by discovering 50 sets of footprints for each of Cobalion, Virizion, and Terrakion and then catching them. Again, this was difficult, especially for Cobalion as I went through over 60 Ultra Balls even while he was on virtually zero HP and was fast asleep.

And then I went into the Dynamax mine area place where it had been reported a load of Ultra Beasts (from Pokémon Sun and Moon) had appeared, and caught myself a Tapu Fini. Phew, eh?

This was definitely the better of the two DLC packs. It’s bigger, more varied, and more interesting. When are the new Diamond and Pearl remakes out, again?

Pokémon Sword: Isle of Armour (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s the first DLC story pack for Pokémon Sword, and it adds a whole new area with mostly level 60+ pokemanz in it. Some of these are “missing” pokémon from the main game, others are variants on existing ones, but the star is Kubfu – a little bear who performs kung fu and you’re awarded at a dojo.

On the Isle of Armour, you have to perform a few tasks for the people at the dojo, such as find mushrooms, but the main aim is to level Kubfu up sufficiently so you can enter him into either the Dark or Water towers (but not both!) where he evolves in a new water/fighting or dark/fighting pokémon.

So I did that.

There’s a lot of exploring you can do on the island and its surroundings too, mostly to find unique pokémon but also to find loads of hidden digletts for someone. I’ve done about 90 of the 150 (I think) but I can’t find any more!

Stuff I’ve Been Playing Recently

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Wow. Been a while since I did this.

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (Switch)

I’d finished it with Gunvolt previously, but now I’ve completed it with Copen. Who, despite feeling like the game was much harder with him, actually turned out to be much easier as, if you pay attention, he’s pretty much invulnerable. He does have some tricky platforming bits Gunvolt doesn’t, though.

After that, it turns out you have to beat the final boss again, as each character again. So, with that boss dead as Gunvolt, you then face Copen, and vice-versa. Gunvolt vs Copen was really difficult (Copen vs Gunvolt was a walkover), so I was stuck there for a while, but finally did it. Both True Endings get!

Code of Princess EX (Switch)

Another 3DS game I loved, and it’s just as good on the Switch. Unlike Gunvolt, everything here has been redrawn so there’s no jagged pixels. They’ve also taken out the bit where you spend gained stat points from level increases on better stats – it’s all done for you now. Not sure if that’s better or worse – you don’t need to bother with it and sometimes choice is paralysing – but also some stats aren’t of any use to some characters so I wouldn’t “spend” my points there.

I’m about half way through the game, although I’ve also played most of the unlocked quests in that extra mode, and also played in two player co-op, which I never did in the original for obvious reasons.

Pokémon Sword (Switch)

Went back to this for a bit, mainly to get the DLC promo Slowpoke, but have also started getting the various Milcery and Eevee evolutions.

Pokémon Sword (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s another Pokémon game, and yes, it’s very much like all the others. In fact, it’s probably more like the slightly older games, like X and Y, rather than Sun and Moon as it returns to the gym setup those games had and Sun/Moon ditched.

What is different, is that there’s a new Wild Area, er, area. This massive (for a pokémon game) part of the map is full of wild pokémon which change depending on where in the area you are, and the current weather. There are also dens here and there with giant pokémon in them which you can battle and catch not completely unlike the raids in Pokémon Go.

The other difference, is that it’s the first mainline game in the series to not include all the previous pokémon in the Pokédex. I don’t know how many are missing, but there are still hundreds available plus all the new ones that have been added. Frankly, I don’t really care but I know there are grown adults on the internet who have taken offence to this because it’s the internet.

I’d seen that the game was very short, with some people completing it on launch day in under 8 hours. So imagine my surprise when I got to the game’s credits after just 51 hours. And I’d not spent forever training pokémon or “catching them all” or anything like that. Sure, I didn’t just stick to the story, but then why would you? Plus there’s a new story that opens up after you’ve finished the game, although I don’t know how long that is yet, I admit.

The important thing is that I really enjoyed the game, like the new quality of life features (you can now swap pokémon in and out of your box pretty anywhere, for example), and the “Britain but not” Galar region setting is funny. Other than that, it’s more pokémon, with nothing to really change your mind either way if you’re a fan of the games or not.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! (Switch): COMPLETED!

Many, many years ago, I played a game called Pocket Monsters Green on my Personal Computer using a Game Boy Emulator.  I have now, essentially, just completed it.

Of course, this isn’t the same Pocket Monsters Green. It’s actually more Pocket Monsters Yellow, the modified version that came with Pikachu, only with the more familiar western “Pokémon” branding, and all the modern stylings and conveniences the yoof of today enjoy and appreciate. Yes, it’s many steps forward from the Game Boy title from last century, but it’s actually many steps back from more recent Pokémon games.

Lapras giving me the side-eye.

For starters, being a re-imagining of the first title in the series, there are only the original set of 151 monsters in your pocket. This also means it’s a straightforward and already known story. Then there’s the loss of actually catching them properly: Previously you’d battle a wild beastie until it was almost out of HP, then you’d use a pokeball on them. Now, the mechanic is borrowed from popular telephone distraction app Pokémon GO!, with a “throw” of the joycon approximating a finger swipe. But guess what?

High-fiving Dave, my eevee, is amazing.

It’s fine. It’s all fine. I only missed these things for about ten minutes, and once I had an eevee on my head I was won over. These changes, and others (like not needing a specific Pokémon for world-usable moves, such as surf) streamline the game and speed up the grind. Progress through the game is swift, and as a result I’d beaten the final trainer in under 27 hours. That’s quick, for a game in this series. I’m torn as to whether that in itself is a problem, because of course it’s short, but there’s a lot of post-game content to get through too that makes up for it. All the rest of the creatures to enslave, for one, and a load of new expert cockfighters have sprung up and need defeating too.

Elite Four? Wiped on the floor, more like.

Pokémon: Let’s Go! is a hybrid. It’s a simpler game than the “main” series, designed to pull users of the mobile game over (clearly proven by their close
interoperability – you can even pull your Pokémon over from your phone). It’s more in-depth and complex than the phone game though, adding a world, story and characters appropriated from the original Pokémon Yellow. It’s trying to be accessible to everyone without coming across as too cut-down for the full-fat game fans or too elaborate for the casual phone-prodders. Somehow, against the odds, I think it manages to occupy a sweetspot. Certainly, I could see what was “missing”, but I don’t miss it. I would have enjoyed a new story, but I’m not upset it’s a retelling. The lack of excitement for new areas and monsters discovery is tempered with reminiscence. Like someone remade your favourite slippers only now they have wheels and can toast bread.

Krusty the Clown’s decapitated head looks horrified as a dead Snorlax is found washed up.

Pokémon Quest (Switch): COMPLETED!

Aha! Take that Nintendo! I completed your IAP’d up game without paying a single penny!

Although I should temper that with two things: 1) I never saw the need to pay any money, and 2) where do you even pay money anyway? It was, however, a bit of a grind for the last two worlds due to me not having any decent psychic or electric pokémon.

I think I probably spent around two-thirds of the entire time I played just trying the final few levels on worlds 9 and 10 over and over, slowly levelling up and gaining slightly better power stones, whilst making meals to coax more pokémon into my garden just to use them up in training.

After finally beating those levels, the final boss was actually a walkover taking just three attempts, and then that was it.

Now I’ve some sort of NG+ unlocked, but I don’t think I can be bothered with it. Pokémon Quest started out fun but if it wasn’t for the fact I could stick it on Auto and let it pretty much play itself I’d have given up on it quite some time ago. Even with that, I’ve had enough now.

Detective Pikachu (3DS): COMPLETED!

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Just a brief post about this because I said a lot more on the ugvm Podcast, but since recording that I’ve completed it.

The main thing to mention is that in the intro to the game, I thought I’d figured out what had happened to Tim’s dad. However, you never actually find out as the game ends with a sequel setup. It’s slightly disappointing, but only because I was expecting closure.

The rest of the game was enjoyable, in a narrative discovery sort of way. There were puzzles and stuff but unless you fail to see things you can never actually go wrong.

Definitely hoping for a sequel soon!

Pokémon Sun (3DS): COMPLETED!

That was excellent! Quite a different game to Pokémon Y, although not in the way it is sold: No gyms! No gym leaders! No HMs! No, except trials are almost exact replacements for gyms, captains are virtually the same as gym leaders, and the Ride Pager replaces HMs. Net difference, almost zero.

What’s actually different is how the UI has been improved, with tweaks like being able to immediately put a caught Pokémon in your party. And the streamlined box management, simpler local trading, being able to see move effectiveness (against Pokémon you’ve already fought or have caught) – stuff like that.

Mega Evolutions are gone again, but Z-Moves are really pretty similar replacements. All of the PSS has sadly been stripped out and although the system that is here as an alternative (a mix of the Festival Plaza and Poképelego) is good, it lacks the always-on abilities, Streetpass, and the online web-based games you can play outside of the main game. Since the full announcement of the Nintendo Switch – which doesn’t have Streetpass, but does have a version of Pokémon Sun/Moon coming for it – it’s perhaps clear why this is the case. Anyway. The new features are great for levelling up a load of Pokémon at once so it gets a pass.

As for the game itself, 66 hours is a lot. Not far off twice how long it took to complete Y, in fact, and I’ve not even started the post-game content. I assume there is some (other than just filling the Pokédex), anyway.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

I have reached Po Town! Which is a bit grim. Imagine Team Skull were secretly evil Inklings, and it rained all the time. That’s Po Town – dark, covered in paint splatters, and a bit wet.

You even have to pay a dodgy lady who definitely is not Nurse Joy $10 to heal your pokémon! Pff.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

I’ve got eight Z-Crystals now, having just beaten Sophocles and the electricity totem. I thought Ground moves were super effective against Electricity type Pokémon? Mine certainly weren’t, rendering my sexy Dugtrio mostly useless. Fire seemed to be the way to go, for some reason!

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

That’s the fire captain in the volcano beaten. Pretty bizarre that was, all the dancing and stuff. And the hiker photobombing.

And I’ve discovered Poké Pelego, which is weird and addictive. Combined with also being addicted now to the Festival Plaza which I previously rubbished, I’m concerned I may never complete the main game.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

16 hours in already! I’m on the second island, and have just taken part in the four-way battle with Hau, Gladion and absolutely not the Professor in luchador gear.

I’ve also spent a lot of time in the Festival Plaza, which is a bit weird but oddly addictive.

Off to Route 7 now, to meet the captain who lives in a volcano. Uh huh.