Pokémon Over-Saturation

Contributed by DJMMT

I love Pokémon. I didn’t realize how much I missed Pokémon until playing Sword back in 2019. I played GO for years until finally quitting for good last year. But I realized that GO wasn’t really meeting my otherwise unmet Pokémon needs for the same reason that I didn’t really get into Masters EX or Unite. I like my games to end. I like starting a new game, playing it long enough to master it, exhausting everything it has to offer, and then just being done. I enjoy the feeling of completeness that comes with reaching the end of a game. GO, and many other recent Pokémon games on various platforms, deny the player that satisfaction.

Before tackling Sword, I hadn’t played a mainline Pokémon game to completion since Gold and Silver. I did Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, and Silver and then just burned out on the whole thing. I did play a number of spin-off titles over the years like Pokémon Trading Card Game on Gameboy Color, Hey You, Pikachu! on N64, and Pokémon Quest on Switch. But it wasn’t the same as going back to a mainline game. I know the game gets lots of hate, but I really liked Sword.

Since Sword, I’ve kind of fallen back into a Pokémon hole. In the last year, I’ve completed both Sword DLC packs, finished the campaign for New Pokémon Snap!, and I’m currently playing Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which I absolutely love. It is honestly a great time to be a Pokémon fan. But therein lies the problem. There’s just too much Pokémon stuff to do now and it just keeps coming so quickly.

Last week was Pokémon Day. The Pokémon Company did a Pokémon Presents presentation. It was only 14 minutes, but they announced a lot. They presented an update for GO with new Pokémon being added, an update for Masters EX with new trainers/Pokémon being added, a new update for Café Remix with new Pokémon being added, a new update for Unite with new Pokémon being added, a new update for Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl with new Pokémon being added, a new update for Legends: Arceus with a new quest, and then closed out the presentation with the announcement of Gen 9 coming this year! That’s a lot of new Pokémon content.

I gave up GO last year, stopped playing Master EX forever ago, and stopped playing Unite after about a month. I never tried Café Remix and decided not to pick up Brilliant Diamond and/or Shining Pearl. Yet I’ve still got lots of Pokémon content to contend with. I beat the campaign for New Pokémon Snap! But I haven’t gotten 100% completion yet. I don’t chase that for every game, but that’s the type of game that I do care to get it in. I just haven’t had time. I was in the midst of playing it and then Legends: Arceus dropped. It just looked too good to wait, and it is. I love Legends: Arceus so much. A friend described it as the game we were imagining while playing Red and Blue as kids. That’s a great description for us older players. After 40 hours of play, I’m still loving it and have lots to do. But now I feel this pressure to hurry up so I can get to Gen 9.

I don’t want to rush through my time with Legends: Arceus and New Pokémon Snap! But I also don’t want to miss out on Gen 9 when people are actually playing it. Sword didn’t turn me off the idea of playing the mainline games. It rekindled my interest. I’m interested in trying Gen 9. But I wouldn’t have wanted it for at least another year. Normally Nintendo releases a new gen in three-year cycles. So technically speaking Gen 9 coming out in 2022 makes sense, since Gen 8 released in 2019. But this is a much different scenario than previous gens. The second DLC pack for Sword/Shield didn’t release until the end of 2020. Then we got New Pokémon Snap!, Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, and Legends: Arceus. And I’d argue that Legends: Arceus was basically the equivalent of releasing Gen 9. It definitely felt like it for a lot of people.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t release Gen 9. Not at all actually. I’m Team Fuecoco all the way. But this release feels way too soon. I don’t want to rush from Pokémon experience to Pokémon experience. I want to anticipate each one and get excited for it by the time it comes. With all the current Pokémon content, there’s simply no time for that. And that’s speaking as someone who isn’t also playing Unite, Masters EX, Café Remix, and Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl. It feels like The Pokémon Company is afraid people will stop caring about Pokémon if they give players time to breath.

At this point, it feels overwhelming. I went from missing Pokémon to oversaturated with Pokémon in the span of two years. And a lot of this is good content worth playing. It would be one thing if everything else was trash. Like if all the non-mainline stuff was throwaway content I couldn’t care less about, like Café Remix, that would be one thing. But games like Legends: Arceus are absolutely worth playing. But I can’t manage all these Pokémon games back-to-back. Especially when we consider that there are other games worth playing as well. Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring both come to mind. I’m sure it won’t happen, but I ‘d actually be happy to see Gen 9 delayed to 2023.

The other thing about Gen 9 is that we don’t know enough about the gameplay yet. Truth be told, I think Legends: Arceus has ruined me for the classic gameplay model. I genuinely don’t know if I can go back to the traditional mainline gameplay. Legends: Arceus is so much fun. When I think back to my days playing Red and Blue on the original Gameboy, I’m astounded by how far the franchise has come. Active catching, moving around during battles, a functioning map system with customizable way-points, active running, and a more interactive Pokédex have all made the experience of playing this game better than any other Pokémon game I’ve played in a long time. It’s like GO on crack without all that pesky exercise hindering the experience.

I sincerely hope that these features have been added into Scarlet/Violet. Because I really can’t see myself being happy with going back to having to manually battle every Pokémon to catch them. I like finding the best way to sneak up on a Pokémon for a back strike. I like not having to engage bidoofs in order to catch them. If Gen 9 is more of the old gameplay, I very well may not want to jump back in to the mainline titles.

In any case, we are clearly at oversaturation levels of Pokémon at this point. I’m trying to beat a Pokémon game so I can go back to a Pokémon game before another Pokémon game comes out. All while ignoring multiple other Pokémon games. The Pokémon Company really needs to chill. And please believe that I will be playing Kirby and the Forgotten Land before I jump into another Pokémon game.

XPG Terrence

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