The official Twitter and Youtube account for the Pokémon Company International released “found-footage” as a trailer for the new Pokémon Legends: Arceus video game. Although the direction may be new to some, long-standing fans will feel right at home. From the Lavender Town theme (in all its eeriness) to the infamous Hex Maniac-turned ghost girl, Pokémon may as well have its own spot in the horror Hall of Fame.
Fans are eager to see the series delve into scary territory. Will Pokémon Legends: Arceus do that? Will it continue its predecessors’ legacy? There’s a lot to live up to.
The series features headstones, grave towers, dialogue of Pokémon passed-on, ghastly encounters, Gastly encounters, and other equally terrifying elements. We remember them fondly, even if they did terrify us long ago. Consider them a “welcome” change of pace from the standard fare of traveling in tall grass, atop steep mountains, and through dark caves.
Moments like The Old Chateau and Pokémon Tower immerse us in that side of adventuring less talked about: adventuring into the unknown. That part of the adventure where we realize we don’t want to be there – that it’s probably best we turn back.
We press on anyway, for we have pseudo-legendaries to catch and starters to train.
Another Kind of Adventure
“Hang on – is this working? Please be recording this properly…”
Behind hissing static you hear the curious question asked by the one recording the footage. The audio is garbled, overwhelmed with horrid hissing, and the image is not much better. Something emerges from the bottom left of the recording and rubs the screen – you realize it’s a hand covered in cloth.
A clearer image briefly comes into view. It’s a white terrain with snow-covered trees spread throughout. The recorder clears his voice, “Er, it’s currently 7:06 – no, 7:07 p.m.”. With newfound confidence, he steps forward into the sprawling snowscape, leaving us to wonder that he might ever return.
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Unease, uncertainty, anxiety, and fear: all words you’d never associate with promotional material for a Pokémon game. Yet here, we can clearly see the sole recorder’s last captured footage. We don’t know where he is now, nor that he made it. We only know that he crossed paths with a seemingly cute and fluffy Pokémon.
However, as is true to the series’ name – the world of pocket monsters can sometimes get a little scary.
Not An E-Rated RegionFans have high hope these aspects might give way to a less ‘E’-rated experience. While the spooks are plentiful, and in good taste, there is demand for more than the occasional jump-scare. Perhaps a more mature take on the series is in order.
Perhaps Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be the entry to give fans that breath of fresh air. Fans can hope that this entry into the series will be a worthy successor to those that came before. The series established its formula long ago, now it’s time to evolve.
As successful as that formula is and as many times as it’s been refined, it could stand to incorporate a few new ingredients. Perhaps borrowing elements from other games might help. Every entry into the mainline series of games revolves around finding and catching Pokémon, involving little effort on the part of the trainer. Legends can change that.
In fact, Pokémon Legends shows us in its found-footage trailer that underneath even the cutest Pokémon there lies a dangerous creature.
With all these elements on display in its promotional material, Pokémon Legends is looking to be the entry that fans need. The stakes are higher and the action is more intense. Plus, what happens is more meaningful, as there will be more to the game than breezing on by. This is exactly the right direction Pokémon needs to go in.