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Individual Values: A Pokémon Feature - Week 76: Paradigm Shift


Jonathan Higgins

Welcome to the seventy-sixth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed last week's, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday.

 

Arceus will be available at participating GameStop stores until August 24th.You'll need to get a card with a serial code. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all!

 

 

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Paradigm Shift

 

 

I think I“m finally beginning to understand why it took The Pokémon Company so long to reveal Sun & Moon. After weeks of my focus being outside of the upcoming games,

has given me way more than just new Pokémon to talk about.

 

Before I address the specific pieces and parts of the footage we got, let me open with this: Each region in the World of Pokémon definitely has some unique characteristics and places to them. My Region Spotlights highlighted some cool sights to see in each region, as well as what I felt were the main “point”s each game was trying to communicate through its locales.

 

Regardless of how each region differs thematically, one of the biggest criticisms I“ve heard from people who left the series is that “Pokémon is the same game over and over. Get eight badges in gyms, defeat the Big Bad, get the Legendary on the box, and win.” There isn“t really much defense you can offer towards this argument. With the exception of Pokémon Black & White, every game ends with a Hall of Fame entry, after all.

 

Gyms have long been what“s held the Pokémon series back, in my opinion. No matter how distinguished a region is, or what lengths a game“s mechanics help to set them apart from the ones that came before it--it“s still “get 8 badges to win”. Omega Ruby made me happy when it gave me the National Pokédex and said “okay, the world“s your oyster now” before I defeated the Elite 4 and became the League champ--that was a nice change of pace. ...But after seeing the new footage, watching what appears to be the first major paradigm shift in Pokémon history since the Nintendo WFC was introduced to it back in 2007...I haven“t been This Freaking Excited for a new crop of Pokémon games in a long while.

 

 

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BUT FIRST! Let“s talk about my precious little ice fox. I know the Internet seems far more attached to Exeggutor, but there“s a clear winner for “best new Alola forme” in my heart, and it“s not just because Vulpix is my fiancée“s favorite Pokémon. Let“s briefly address what “region-specific formes” bring to mind. Will this new appearance and typing only affect Alolan Vulpixes you find in the wild, who have made this place their habitat for However Long? Or will there be some way to transform a Vulpix you caught in Kalos or elsewhere, once you“ve transferred them over using Pokémon Bank?

 

While there“s no conclusive evidence yet, I suspect it“s going to be the former. It gives folks who“ve already raised these critters a reason to raise another all over again. Might make a few folks angry? I“m indifferent either way.

 

I also feel like Exeggutor, Vulpix/Ninetales, and Sandshrew/Sandslash are just the beginning.

that explains why Marowak/Cubone could be getting an Alolan forme as well. But the biggest one missing for me personally is Tropius. The Alolan region and Exeggutor both boast tropicality -- Tropius kind of sticks out like a sore thumb now, doesn“t it? It really does feel like they“re going above and beyond to make the Alolan Pokédex -- not just the region itself -- feel unique (Rotom, don“t forget!) and tropical, in nature. I haven“t run into a single design for the 7th Generation Pokémon that I don“t like. Whether we“re talking critters that spawn a million Donald Trump memes, a Pokémon that just wants to be loved like Pikachu, or a freaking meteorite with a brand new ability to distinguish itself… I“m truly happy with how the Pokémon of this region are shaping up.

 

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The biggest change introduced to Sun & Moon so far was its new UI, which I went on about some time ago. With that, they addressed a pretty consistent criticism with the series, making things more accessible to newcomers who weren“t all that familiar with Pokémon attacks and how they worked. The second huge criticism their addressing appears to be how to deal with HMs, as seen with "Riding Pokémon". These allies will never become a part of your team, but they can be called upon whenever, to carry out properties similar to Surf, Rock Smash, Fly, and possibly more. While it“s not directly stated that these new buddies are going to be the replacement of HMs, so that you don“t need to bog down Pokémon on your team with moves like Cut for the entire game, it“s certainly implied, from both the footage and the website. Huge deal!

 

But the hugest deal of all is the Island Challenge. Without going into too much detail--new Trial Captains seem to offer many unique tasks that aren“t confined to the four walls of a gym anymore, allowing for much more varied tasks that aren“t always “battle the trainers to get to the leader, then win”. Regardless of how the challenge is constructed, there definitely isn“t a Gym Leader at the end of it -- instead, they“ve introduced “Totem Pokémon”.

 

These super strong foes fight you one-on-one... until you“re about to make them faint, then it becomes two-on-one, in what“s called an “S.O.S. Battle”. After you“ve defeated each island“s trial--there“s a Kahuna waiting at the end. I think it“s supposed to function like the “Elite 4” of sorts, since there are four islands and four Kahunas [who also govern each island]. But you don“t save fighting them for the end of the game! So: for the first time in series history: there are no Gyms or Gym Leaders, so the game“s biggest challenges aren“t confined to small buildings in any given town. And -- there doesn“t appear to be an Elite 4 or Pokémon League, outside of the Kahunas themselves... so I genuinely have no idea how this game is going to end. Even if I liked the idea behind gyms (I never have...not since after GSC, anyway), not knowing what“s going to happen next excites the heck out of me.

 

I haven“t even gotten to Z-Moves or how this crazy thing ties into the Pokémon Sun & Moon experience. Maybe I“ll devote an entire piece to them sometime, since they seem primarily focused on letting smaller Pokémon like Pikachu pack a larger punch than previously conceivable, in battle. But: with the UI change, seemingly replacing HMs with Riding Pokémon instead, and the removal of gyms -- we could be seeing the dawn of a new era in Pokémon. What if no new regions going forward had gyms, and instead offered a unique narrative and challenges going forward that no “Pokémon expatriate” could call “more of the same”. I hope the concept of Island Trials--not Gyms--are carried into future main games, to help each and every new region going forward feel refreshing and new.

 

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We won“t be waiting long for new news, it seems, as The Pokémon Company has promised even more stuff in less than a week. How do you all feel about some of the biggest changes to come to the series? If you“ve previously become disinterested in Pokémon -- will some of these brand new elements bring you back?

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