An EXPRESSO review would be pointless, arguably even a regular full lenght review would be not that useful, because people have been pleading for a remake of the 4th gen Pokemon titles for years, and given this remake has already sold like 6 millions units, i’d say there was not much convincing to be done about it anyway, it’s frigging Pokemon after all.
So let’s just talk about it after 20 hours spent into my Shining Pearl copy.
First off, i’m fairly “indifferent” to the hybrid art style, i was fine with it when it was announced and i have no issue with it, but it’s definitely still kinda odd to have both the by now regular 3D styled characters and then having chibis from a top down prospective, make sense since they had to upgrade the graphics but also wanted to still give it that old school Pokemon feel in 3D.
If anything, it’s quite indicative of them wanting to recreate the game as faithfully as possible, without touching much of the design, for better or worse. Though in this case my experience with the titles comes with playing – years later after a “growing out phase” – Pokemon Platinum directly, not to say that it’s “fresh”, since various things (and story details) were brought over from that, i do recognized them and stuff like the honey trees.
This also extends to some important design choices that are kept from the older titles, as in this one brings back the old style of random encounters… and stuff like making the TMs mono-use again, they haven’t been that way since Black and White and i honestly preferred it that way, just a good quality of life improvement that decreases grinding.
This is not to say that it’s completely retrograde, as it uses the HMs to learn moves essential to progress in the game, with you needing to get them and beat a Gym Leader to use them in exploration, BUT you don’t need to teach the move to any pokemon or keep the one that learn it in your team, now you can use them all you want when needed, with the explanation given of random wild Pokemon helping you to break a rock, surf the waves or hitch a flight.
And while it’s not developed by Game Freak this time around, it sticks to their recent design decisions on some points, like the infamous Exp Share feature here baked into the game as well, to the dismay of many fans. I know many of you are still salty about it, which is fine and it would be nice to have a toggle option…. but frankly i do not miss it being optional, to be blunt.
I’ve yet to beat the game at the time of writing, but honestly i don’t have much to add because it’s exactly what it says on the tin, and i would assume what many fans wanted, especially some older features like a National Dex (though obviously limited), and a lot of old stuff that fans haven’t found in Sword and Shield (like some of the moves made unusable in that one), so really, it’s that… i’m guessing without the Battle Frontier because Nintendo it’s fuckin weird, i’m assuming it’s NOT in there because it would have been such an easy way to make fans pre-order this one in a hearthbeat (and i do miss the Battle Frontier type of thing), i can’t say for sure yet.
So yeah, if you want a remake of Pearl/Diamond and are ok with the new graphical hybrid style, you’ll enjoy this one… i guess, some of you are so fuckin weird that it’s hard to tell what the hell you even want from these games. IF you even know yourselves.
While i’m enjoying this “Poke-fix”, i’m way more intrigued to see how Legends: Arceus will be when it drops next year, shaping up to be quite a nice to move the series forward.