My Journey Through The Pokémon Games Continues

After many long months, I finally finished Pokémon X. I still have a legendary or two to capture, but I’ll admit that I’m happy to be through the game. None of the post-game stuff in this generation is particularly interesting to me and I’m very tired of how cinematic parts of the game are. I’m not there for cutscenes or to watch movies I can’t skip. I’m there to play Pokémon while riding my exercise bike and going to sleep. I don’t want to be actually engaged or entertained, just mildly distracted. Which is a bit of a problem, since I moved from Kalos to Alola. I decided to skip straight to Ultra Sun rather than consider playing Moon since I remembered how painful the first iteration of the game was and how much of that pain they eliminated in the Ultra version of the game, but I completely forgot how frustrating it was to hunt for Pokémon in a world where the Pokémon vary from one grass patch to the next on the various routes.

I remember figuring out fairly quickly that the Pokémon changed within the same route when I first played Moon. There were eight hundred plus Pokémon at that point, so I didn’t really expect them to all show up in one game. I figured they’d limit the number of Pokémon you could catch and then introduce a mechanic later on that would allow you to find more. They’d done it before, after all, so it made sense to expect that again. While they did do that, relying on a QR scanner feature to find Pokémon that were ordinarily hidden, along with a post-game warp tunnel thing, they also really reduced the amount of real estate dedicated to a collection of Pokémon. Instead of whole routes, they’d changed things so that isolated areas on routes had different Pokémon for you to catch, even if there was some overlap between those areas. It makes sense from a certain perspective, but I’ll admit that I mostly found it frustrating. Still find it frustrating.

Without the use of online guides, I doubt I’d have figured out how to catch most Pokémon. I never had the patience to run around long enough to be certain I’ve caught at least one of everything, especially since Pokémon show up based on statistical likelihoods, which means that they sometimes just don’t show up at all. Every encounter is it’s own isolated roll on the random encounter table, so it is possible that some things, usually the rare ones, just never show up. I mean, I was supposed to have a 40% chance of running into a Pokémon I was hunting for last month and it took well over two dozen Pokémon battles for me to run into it. It should have been the most common encounter, but I ran into the 5% chance Pokémon three times before I encountered the 40% chance one.

As I play through Ultra Sun now, in small chunks of time here and there, I find myself frustrated with this system all over again. It is not difficult to fill the Pokédex this time around, since I have the nearly-complete Pokédex from each of my past play-throughs to bring with me, but there are still a few Pokémon I have to catch since I evolved them or gave them away last time. Or forgot to make sure I didn’t leave them out somewhere to level up or something. Thankfully, they’re all easy enough to encounter and the Pokédex of Ultra Sun shows you exactly which patches of grass to look in. It is still annoying, though, for the few that are still unknown gaps in my Pokédex. My only hope is that I’ll run into them accidentally or in trainer battles since I’m not taking the time to hunt down where each one is located online. This is supposed to be my relaxing, unwinding, or exercising time, not my Pokémon research time.

Still, as I’m playing through the game again, I’m reminded of how much better Ultra Sun feels to play than X did. I mean, putting aside my aesthetic distaste for chibi-style figures (which featured heavily in Pokémon X and Y), I can really feel how far the games have come from existing on two-dimension grid. Sure, you can do diagonal movement fairly smoothly in X and Y, and you can remove yourself entirely from the grid using the roller skates and bicycle, but the game is still built on a grid so you can run into a lot of trouble if you remove yourself from it. In Ultra sun, the grid is gone, you are free, and the only weird thing about moving around the world is when Machamp gently carries you in two gloved hands, which still requires you to wear an athletic suit despite being princess carried by a buff Pokémon. If I’m being honest, that still feels weirder than anything else I’ve ever done or seen in a Pokémon game. Specifically involving my player character, anyway. Miltank still holds the overall throne.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s