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Pokemon Legends: Arceus – Nintendo Switch

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Catch, survey and research wild Pokémon to create and complete the Sinnoh region’s first Pokédex in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, coming to Nintendo Switch on 28th January, 2022. Pokémon Legends: Arceus honours past Pokémon games’ core gameplay while infusing new action and RPG elements. You’ll be brought to the Sinnoh region, the setting for Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pear…
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  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Potentially hundreds of hours of content.
  • Catching Pokémon has never felt better.
  • Noble Pokémon are a welcome addition.
  • Exploring the landscapes with Ride Pokémon is a blast.

Might Not Like

  • The visuals are ugly and graphical hiccups are common.
  • Gameplay can get repetitive.
  • Pokémon battles lack depth compared to previous entries.
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Catch, survey and research wild Pokémon to create and complete the Sinnoh region’s first Pokédex in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, coming to Nintendo Switch on 28th January, 2022. Pokémon Legends: Arceus honours past Pokémon games’ core gameplay while infusing new action and RPG elements.
You’ll be brought to the Sinnoh region, the setting for Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl. But this story unfolds in a long-gone era, before ideas such as being a Pokémon Trainer or having a Pokémon League even existed. All around, you’ll find Pokémon living wild in harsh environments that make for a Sinnoh unlike the region you may remember from the days of Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl.
To catch Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you can observe them to learn their behaviour, then carefully sneak up, aim your Poké Ball and let fly! You can also have your ally Pokémon battle wild Pokémon that you hope to catch. Just throw the Poké Ball holding your ally Pokémon near a wild Pokémon, and you’ll seamlessly enter battle and command your Pokémon by choosing from moves it knows.
As you start off on your adventure to create the region’s first Pokédex, you’ll be able to choose Rowlet, Cyndaquil, or Oshawott as a partner. These three Pokémon arrived with a Pokémon Professor, who encountered them on research excursions to various regions.

The formula for Pokémon games has gone relatively unaltered since they burst onto the scene in the late 90s. The protagonist gets their starter Pokémon and follows set routes around the region as they battle gyms and fill up their Pokédex. Except for the addition of a couple of shiny new mechanics, this has been the layout for pretty much every game. Now, however, there’s a new kid on the block: Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Due for release on January 28th, Legends: Arceus is set in the Hisui region (an ancient Sinnoh). This new addition to the family takes a greater leap towards true open-world gaming than previous generations.

Revisiting Sinnoh

While Legends: Arceus isn’t the fully open-world experience many may have hoped for, it does seem much freer than in past games. Fans who played Sword and Shield will be familiar with the Wild Areas that populated Galar which are packed with Pokémon. Unlike the gen 7 games, battles will take place out in the open, with no change between the overworld and the battle. Another big change comes in how the battles work. In the past, battles would take place with each participant taking an action. Now, each Pokémon will get a set number of actions per turn depending on a set of factors, such as their stats. This turns battling on its head and can allow for a whole new way to battle.

The turn order isn’t the only thing that’s been shaken up. Pokémon Legends: Arceus also introduces Styles. Each move has two Styles, Agile and Strong. When battling you can choose to use a move in either one of these Styles. Agile will boost the users speed but lowers the move’s power whereas Strong does the opposite. This, combined with the new turn order, really changes how battles will go down. This shake-up will make playing this game a totally new experience.

Alpha Clan

As you travel around the Hisui region looking to complete your Pokédex you’ll undoubtedly run into a lot of Pokémon. While many of these will be friendly, there are some you will need to keep an eye out for. These are the Alphas. Not only are these Pokémon superpowered, they’re also supersized. While battling them will be tough, the rewards can be great, especially if you manage to catch them.

Catching ‘mons will also prove a fair bit trickier than before. Pokémon may be wandering around in the overworld, but you’ll have to sneak up on them so as not to scare them away. This can involve crouching in grass, behind boulders, or using smoke bombs to keep yourself hidden. This will become second nature to you as you undertake the mammoth task of completing the Pokédex. A simple enough task in the past, getting those Pokédex entries has just gotten a whole lot more difficult. Unlike before, catching just one type of Pokémon won’t be enough to complete its entry. You’ll be given a set of tasks to fill out the entry. These tasks range from catching a set number of the species to registering its different forms. This will pose a real challenge, even to the most seasoned player. Completing these tasks will also grant you access to new and exciting areas across the map to explore.

Snorlax, Use Rest!

All this adventuring can be rather exhausting, especially if you’re taking on Alpha Pokémon left, right, and centre. To help you out, across the region are Surveying Outposts. While you’re out on your research you can stop at any of these to rest or to craft items, such as smoke bombs or Pokéballs. These Outposts will prove invaluable on your tasks around the region. Legends: Arceus also introduces some other new items, such as the Heavy Ball, which is better at catching a Pokémon who hasn’t noticed you yet.

End Credits

Pokémon Legends: Arceus looks set to massively shake up the tried-and-tested Pokémon formula, and I for one am really excited. The new battling and introduction of Styles will provide a completely new way to play and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us!

First Impressions can be a powerful thing. And even for Pokémon – a multimedia franchise that is the highest-grossing on the planet – a fresh perspective can be vital. Over recent years, the Pokémon main game series has come under a lot of criticism. From the lack of a complete Pokédex to subpar graphics and animations, and puzzling game design and accessibility choices. Many feel the quality of the games stagnated long ago. That it has refused to evolve with the technology and ever-increasing revenue of the franchise. But Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes a brave new direction for the main series. Has Gamefreak managed to prove its doubters wrong and deliver on a truly AAA Pokémon game?

Right out of the gate, Pokémon: Legends Arceus enraptures you and pulls you into the world of Pokémon like never before. After a few hours of playing this, it is clear this is the direction the Pokémon series needs to go in and it is hard to imagine going back to the old ways. Setting out into the field, sneaking your way through the tall grass towards a new pocket monster. Sending your Pokéball arcing through the air to land that perfect capture. Then sending that Pokémon out of its ball to make friends with the rest of your party… No game has made you feel this close to being a Pokémon Trainer.

Searching Far and Wide

More so than any other game in the series, Pokémon: Legends Arceus is about trekking out into the wilderness and capturing Pokémon. As one of the first proper Pokémon Trainers in the region it’s not just your job to catch ’em all, but to study ’em all too. Previous Pokémon games were happy to let you capture a single member of a species and call it a day. Pokémon Legends: Arceus will have you battling and capturing dozens of each Pokémon. You use their signature moves, and use certain moves against them, to complete their research tasks.

This feeds into the quest system. Many quest givers ask you to show them the completed Pokédex entry for a Pokémon or show them one within a certain height or weight threshold. This ultimately boils down to fetch quests and “defeat X number of Y” quests seen in hundreds of games before it. But, it does reinforce your role in the world to bridge the gap between people and Pokémon. And if you want to complete all the quests and Pokédex entries to meet the titular Arceus, there’s dozens of hours of stuff to do here.

Rising Through The Ranks

Before such lofty ambitions, you must prove yourself and rise through the ranks of the Galaxy Team survey corps. This acts as the game’s main storyline. They task you with catching enough Pokémon and completing enough research before allowing you to continue with the story. Though, given how joyous catching the pokemon is, it’s unlikely you’ll reach a milestone without having done enough work to proceed.

Moving through the story will unlock you new areas and Ride Pokémon. In its run-up to release, these two gameplay elements have garnered a lot of hype declaring this to the Breath of The Wild of the Pokémon franchise. Now, this game doesn’t quite convey the same sense of a vast open world or freedom of movement during exploration. But it’s clear that Gamefreak has been taking cues from their fellow devs at Nintendo.

In each area, you will unlock a new Ride Pokémon that allows you to navigate the environment in an entirely unique way. Each of the game’s areas opens up as you learn to dash across the fields, blast through water, scale perilous heights, and finally fly high above the landscape. A number of collect-a-thon quests encourage you to explore every nook and cranny.

What’s unfortunate is that the environments themselves never feel that interesting. Despite the unique theming of each area, the game’s landscapes never feel meaningfully different from that very first field. The grass is a different colour, and each area has notably differing levels of height and water. But after you’ve seen the first area of the game, don’t expect to get blown away by the subsequent ones.

Battles in a New Frontier

As you travel, you will frequently face attacks from Pokémon. You will have to make the decision to fight or flee. Fleeing is simple enough, with a new dodge mechanic allowing you to avoid the attacks. Choosing to stay and battle reveals even more changes to the long-established mechanics. In addition to the normal usage of moves, you can now unleash your attacks in Agile and Strong styles. The game lacks held items and abilities, some of the staples of Pokémon battling for decades now. The decreased focus on battles may have led Gamefreak to simplify them.

The Noble’s Roar

Thankfully, that’s not all there is for combat in Pokémon: Legends Arceus. An entirely new type of feature in this series called Noble Pokémon act as the true boss battles of this game. They give this game a breath of fresh air and a kick of adrenaline that Pokémon has always lacked. These boss battles harken back to the earlier days of 3D Platformers such as Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. Locked inside a small arena with your opponent, who will unleash a pattern of attacks. Attacks that, even when memorized, are just barely evadable – opening up the boss for a counter-attack as you send your Pokémon out to do battle. The Noble Pokémon battles feel old school, in all the right ways.

The Good, the Bad, and the Purugly

What also feels old school are the graphics. This is an easy target for criticism. But there’s a reason Gamefreak has come under a lot of flak for the visuals of their game. There are moments when the game looks visually appealing. The environment can be hard to read at times. You will occasionally encounter some very low res textures during a cutscene.

The other major problem the game has is with repetition. You’re likely to find yourself doing the exact same thing in the exact same environments over and over as you play this game. Researching Pokémon eventually boils down to spamming the same moves with and against them repeatedly. A wider variety of Pokémon with less repetitive, time-consuming research would have done wonders.

The issue with repetition even extends to the game’s music. Pokémon Legends: Arceus has far fewer tracks than previous entries. Past games would have unique character and battle themes for most of their cast. But the landscapes and trainers of the Hisui region all share from a small pool of music. Even when their character is crying out for their own expressive tunes. At one point in the later stages of the game, one track will play for literal hours on end with barely any variation.

These issues don’t stop Pokémon Legends: Arceus from being a good game; but they do hold it back from being a truly great one.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a Brilliant Diamond

Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels more like a proof of concept than a fully-realized vision. But what a concept it is! The blueprint for the game Pokémon fans have been dreaming of is here. Past the flaws, there has never been a Pokémon game that instils such a childlike sense of awe and wonder at the prospect of venturing out into the world and catching ’em all.

Zatu Score


  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Potentially hundreds of hours of content.
  • Catching Pokmon has never felt better.
  • Noble Pokmon are a welcome addition.
  • Exploring the landscapes with Ride Pokmon is a blast.

Might not like

  • The visuals are ugly and graphical hiccups are common.
  • Gameplay can get repetitive.
  • Pokmon battles lack depth compared to previous entries.