Pokemon Scarlet & Violet look terrible. They’re the worst looking Pokemon games ever made, and I include the weird Wii-era offshoots like Pokemon Rumble in that description. This is a game, by the way, where the Pokémon themselves are mechanical hybridizations of the monsters you know and love.
Paldea is a mess. There are tons of bugs, the framerate tanks so NPCs and windmill sails stutter more than a nervous kid in the debate club, and the textures look awful. Water looks good, but the plains are barren, the snow is boring, and the less talked about the cliffs the better. It’s clear that what Game Freak is trying to do isn’t working, and judging by the looks of Sword & Shield and Legends: Arceus, it hasn’t worked for a while. We gave up the 3D games on the DS due to the console’s limitations, but we haven’t had a good-looking Pokemon game since Black 2 & White 2. At least in the main series – remember New Pokemon Snap?
So I think Game Freak should try a new approach. Unless the developer intends to make an open-world Pokémon game with the looks of New Snap in time for their own demanding schedule, I see no point in making increasingly broken, increasingly ugly main series games. Therefore, it should choose HD2D Pokémon game.
Before you say it, I knows Game Freak will not take that risk. Moving to an open world was a big enough risk, and it took three small steps to get there. So I can’t expect a big change in graphical direction any time soon. But it’s a suggestion. An idea. I’m spitting around here, brainstorming. More than that, it’s a good idea.
I’ve enjoyed playing the Live A Live remake this year, largely thanks to the stunning visual style pioneered by games like Octopath Traveler. The modernized pixel art conveys a sense of familiarity and nostalgia for those old-school RPGs I played on my Game Boy Advance. But the semi-3D effect on the Switch’s crisp OLED screen brings the games up to scratch, and they’re some of my favorite games of recent times. Now it’s Pokemon’s turn.
I’d be a little disappointed to leave Paldea’s open world behind, but with its boring cities and no level scaling, perhaps an old-school approach would be welcome. However, we could have routes without random encounters, we could ride Pokemon further, and we don’t have to leave behind all the quality of life features we’ve come to expect from the series. Running shoes quickly became a mainstay after the first generation, and indoor running quickly followed. We didn’t lose them with the move to 3D, so why lose overworld encounters by flipping the aesthetic? Live A Live has a form of that, so cut out the “technical limitations” or whatever you were trying to say.
The problem is that this would probably be more work than continuing Pokemon’s current path. Most series reuse assets from game to game for simplicity – it helps reduce the workload and maintain a touch of consistency – but for an HD2D Gen 10 everything would have to be built from scratch. It’s not impossible to create a Pokedex full of 2D sprites (fangames do it), but it’s more difficult than adding Scarlet & Violet’s beautiful, redesigned Pokemon.
Some fans are calling for an HD2D remake of Black & White after the Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl disaster. I like Gen 5, but we’ve already played it in 2D. Generation 10 would be something completely new. It’s new territory and a heck of a risk, but I’d be more excited to see pixel art sprites in the next Pokemon Direct than embellished 3D models.
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