Pokemon Shining Pearl is a Small Magikarp in a Big Ocean

It ’ mho been a adult year for Pokemon. With the twenty-fifth anniversary, The Pokemon Company has been busy with fresh games, limited-run anime series, new trade initiatives, and evening a pop album. As a fan of the franchise, I ’ ve had something new to devote my attention to throughout the year. Pokemon Unite has become my go-to time-killing game, I bought an iniquitous amount of merch like a Pikachu turntable, art books, and even some vacation decorations. therefore I ’ ve been sitting with Pokemon nonstop throughout 2021 in a manner I don ’ t normally with most franchises, all culminate in the completion of Pokemon Shining Pearl this week .
I ’ five hundred been ready and tidal bore to go bet on to the Sinnoh region since the remake ’ s original announcement. particularly when it became clear that through the addition of areas like Grand Underground and Ramanas Park, I would be able to reunite my six favored Pokemon in a direction I couldn ’ metric ton in Pokemon Shield. Playing through the game after a year of concentrate lead-in has required me to confront what I want out of a franchise that has been sol many different things for me over the past 25 years. This crippled reminded me how the series has evolved, and how my love for it has evolved, excessively. It ’ randomness nobelium long the lapp blind infatuation I had as a child .
Diamond & Pearl held a special locate in my heart for many years. This international relations and security network ’ thyroxine necessarily because of anything the plot did itself, but because it was where my party of six favorites became a reality. Raichu, Latias, Palkia, Beautifly, Torterra, and Houndoom have been who I considered my “ canon ” party in the Pokemon universe since the launch of Diamond & Pearl in 2006. When I played through Shining Pearl, I gave myself a moment of artificial challenge by refusing to use any Pokemon outside of those six. Because I had to capture most of them as I made progress, there were many early segments where I was fighting teams of four or five with only a Turtwig and Beautifly. There were some close calls, but finally, we found Houndoom and the Pichu that would become Raichu. Palkia awaited us at the conclusion of the Team Galactic subplot, and once I overcame the Elite Four and deal with the boredom of mining the Grand Underground for shards, Latias rounded out the team at Ramanas Park .

Over the years, I ’ ve shown people my spare files for assorted Pokemon games and have been met with storm when they notice how few pocket monsters I capture. That ’ s the stallion point of Pokemon games, right ? To catch them all and be the very best, like no one always was ? But if the fact that there are over 900 of these things and I ’ ve managed to narrow them down to six favorites didn ’ thyroxine hint you in, I have a more personal association to these Pokemon as characters than I do as numbers in my Pokedex. evening the idea of catching every Pokemon has never sat well with me. I don ’ metric ton like capturing these creatures just to throw them into a personal computer box where they ’ ll never be seen again .
immediately that I ’ ve come back to Diamond & Pearl in the mannequin of the remake, I realize the plot itself international relations and security network ’ thyroxine touching on the things I ’ ve grown to appreciate most about Pokemon as a franchise. But it ’ s the merely crippled that naturally lets me travel through this global with my best Pokefriends by my side. Shining Pearl felt like our origin floor. And I think that has helped keep my pastime as I came to terms with how the game wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate touching on what elevated a bunch of modern Pokemon media for me as an adult .
There was a windowpane where the Pokemon franchise wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate occupying my fountainhead and center like it did when I was a child and as it does today. even now, my memories of the games between Pearl and Shield are brumous. I don ’ t feel strong connections to the Unova and Kalos regions, even though I saw those games through to the end. This was the point where I stopped finishing some of the games because they precisely didn ’ thyroxine hold my concern. White 2, Alpha Sapphire, and both Moon and Ultra Moon sit unfinished on my ledge. Detective Pikachu ( the game ) was the tear in the weapon I needed to become invest again. not just because it was an concern music genre spin, shifting from RPG to a mystery adventure game, but because it showed how Pokemon themselves are integrated into a culture outside of competitive sport. The live-action movie adaptation that followed took this a mistreat further by outwardly criticizing Pokemon battles as a concept. That vision of the Pokemon universe is what drew me back in during 2018, and I ’ ve been riding that high ever since .

Pokemon Sword & Shield felt like that sense of place and character was making its way into the main games. The Galar region ’ s sense of place as the population ’ mho Britain equivalent is strong, and how it culturally deviates from other areas of the Pokemon universe can be felt throughout. It ’ south even seen in the cities you ’ ll pass done, as each of them feels like a discrete place even within Galar. Towns like Ballonlea, dimly lit by its forest ’ sulfur glowing mushrooms, and Motostoke ’ s industrial foundation feel like they could be global ’ s apart. But they ’ re all found in one region, and it makes every new town in Sword & Shield feel like a new discovery. The earth seems indeed large because its open to so many possibilities.

Playing through Shining Pearl, I didn ’ thymine feel that lapp sense of wonder. about every town in Sinnoh is generic, like a bog-standard Pokemon town. Coming back to it after Detective Pikachu and Sword & Shield opened my eyes to the fact that this was a remake of a game before developer Game Freak had the engineering to create spaces that were memorable visually and culturally, rather than being tied to a particular in-game moment .
It ’ s interesting to realize all of this now, because thinking back on what I thought Sinnoh was, I realize it runs counterpunch to world. This is the origin distributor point for the Pokemon population. It ’ south where Arceus created the world and the Pokemon who reside over it. But there ’ s entirely one small town that actually feels dedicated to this important standard. While the Mount Coronet fight with Palkia felt like it had some gravitas to it, identical little of Sinnoh feels a exalted as the sights of Galar, or Detective Pikachu’s Ryme City, flush on a Switch. even as person who didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate finish Sun & Moon, I can at least look back on the Alola region and recognize that it was a distinct place in the populace culturally and geographically. I ’ ve long thought that even when I was having to use Pokemon I didn ’ t concern about, I still appreciated the Pokemon universe. But Shining Pearl has me realizing how much of that world-building had either come from my own extrapolation, or from other media like the anime where characters are able to sit with what it means to be here rather than fair facilitating battles .

That understand feels more prevailing in late games, and while much of that presentation of the populace has been elevated through new engineering, it has even bled into the character writing. Black & White is frequently held up as a switch in the series ’ storytelling, as it focuses on an antagonistic organization called Team Plasma, which has, on its face, a more noble goal in Pokemon dismissal. This was followed by broader cast dynamics in Pokemon X & Y, which have a larger supporting cast about akin to the Pokemon anime. But for me, Sword & Shield was the bespeak where those arcs felt most fleshed out, with the musician ’ second rival Hop being a standout .
He ’ s the champion Leon ’ s small brother, and is dealing with imposter syndrome and a desire to live up to his brother ’ s bequest. It finally ends with him realizing that his travel doesn ’ thymine have to be the lapp as his elder brother, and he decides to become a Pokemon professor. It ’ s a game-long discharge, and though it ’ s not going to win any awards, the compose holds up. interim, I never felt like I got to know my rivals in Shining Pearl. Lucas and Barry serve a mechanical function of interstitial battles between your progress, but who are they actually ? I couldn ’ thymine assure you.

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I leave Shining Pearl having enjoyed the majority of my time with it, but recognizing that a draw of that use is either self-imposed or self-inserted. I found myself truly aroused as I caught Palkia and Latias again, as the battles that brought both dragons to me were partially of big events or floor beats. But the presentation of those moments placid feels rooted in a arrangement far less knock-down than a Switch, and a series that wasn ’ t leaning into the electric potential of its populace and stories how it is immediately. But even if much of what the game was putting forth wasn ’ thymine stirring that sense of venture and scale that it did when I was a kid, I can ’ thyroxine aid but look at my party of six and get a little clog up .

If nothing else, Shining Pearl was a reunion. One I was glad to see through. But it besides was a admonisher of how much Pokemon as a series has grown in the 15 years since. not as a story-driven RPG, but one that at least better understands how to present its world and the people in it. possibly if I ’ ve grown out of viewing regions like Kanto and Sinnoh as these big, amazing places, I can at least take consolation in seeing all my best Pokefriends together again. then possibly Pokemon Legends: Arceus will be Game Freak ’ s second find to make Sinnoh a region more in tint with its position in this universe .

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