With the announcement of the latest upcoming addition to the juggernaut that is “Pokémon,” Nintendo and Game Freak prove once again that the series truly commands the RPG market through channeling and shaping the concept of the sublime.
The peculiarly named “Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield” were announced Wednesday, Feb. 27, and of course the internet exploded with excitement for the latest addition to this nostalgia-embedded series. Particularly, fans were excited that “Pokémon” is finally making its way to the Nintendo Switch with a mainline title, displaying an unfamiliar, lush region in glorious HD. Watching the one-minute trailer many times over, it’s easy to see how Game Freak once again nails a pure, overwhelming form of sublimity that has made the series so popular over the past 23 years.
Described in his book “How to Talk About Videogames,” game designer Ian Bogost describes the notion of “the sublime” as being wholly overwhelmed when reflecting on a much larger concept. Observing the most recent addition to the series, “Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu,” it’s easy to see how far “Pokémon” has come since its humble black-and-white, 8-bit beginnings on the original Gameboy. Ask any Pokémon trainer who played the original “Red and Blue” way back when, and they’ll happily express that initial feeling of being at a loss for how he would even begin to traverse the then-giant map of the Kanto Region.
That initial moment of coming face-to-face with the sublimity of “Pokémon,” that sensation of being so completely overwhelmed by a new region, is exactly what Game Freak manages to perfectly capture with each new iteration of this familiar formula. This helps us understand why so many veteran players stick with the series long after puberty, despite “Pokémon’s” many critiques of sticking to the same Pokémon League system through almost every iteration.
Specifically looking at the illustrious Galar Region, fans are pretty set on the collective idea that this region is based on the United Kingdom, a common trope for all previous regions. This allows us dreamers of adventure to not only explore a new, fantastical setting within the “Pokémon” universe, but this mirroring also allows us to journey through a reimagined twist on the U.K. Just from the packed trailer, one could almost immediately feel that familiar rush of exploring a breathing, tangible world that seems impossibly large, at least by “Pokémon” standards.
From its introduction onto the Gameboy, “Pokémon” has promised an intriguing premise filled with major and minor objectives, providing a mountain-sized challenge for children and appealing to their competitive, collecting-driven sides. The Galar Region, with its blend of familiar and new Pokémon, World Cup-sized gym battles and overlaying obscurity, offers a ripe world begging to be fully explored, a daunting challenge that old and new “Pokémon” fans will readily undertake. Despite the powerful system that contains it, “Sword and Shield” are clearly not unlike its many predecessors in terms of sublimity, and this carefully constructed formula shows no signs of pausing any time soon. Twenty-three years later, “Pokémon’s” future looks more radiant than ever.
photo courtesy Dexerto