At the time of writing, I'm still waiting for the latest Pokemon: Legends Arceus trailer to be released in English. The Japanese version is out in the wild, and while I don't speak Japanese, Pokemon has always relied on visuals over vocals, so I can understand the gist of it. I still need the English version to explain a couple of the actual functions, but I've seen enough that I'm convinced Legends might be worth the hype – and that Kleavor could end up being one of the most important Pokemon in the series' history.
I write about Pokemon a lot – like a lot, a lot – and I'm still not even the most prolific Pokemon writer at TheGamer. We love Pokemon – we're cool like that. Still, we've been pretty lukewarm on Legends: Arceus so far. Because Pokemon repeats itself over and over again, ironically refusing to evolve, it can be difficult to love. New Pokemon Snap, one of the best games of 2021, offered a bold new step for the series. Yes, it was a spin-off, but that's where Pokemon has always grown. Snap was the first game to actively explore the narrative potential of Pokemon in their native environment. The original Snap felt performative, like the Pokemon were putting on a show. Titles like PokePark and others that stripped away the training and the battling felt similarly stilted. New Pokemon Snap, however, felt natural.
Related: I Wish We Had More Pokemon Games Like Let's GoThe success of Snap has the hype train steaming ahead, but Pokemon couldn't help itself from scattering leaves on the track. BDSP was fine, I suppose, but not even as good a remake of Diamond & Pearl as Platinum was. The chibi art style was a mess, the Grand Underground was a step backwards from the Wild Area, Snowpoint was ruined, and they neutered Crasher Wake because… well, I don't even know what to tell you. Then there was Legends itself, which didn't seem sure how to market itself, and introduced us to Kleavor, who instantly became my least favourite Pokemon ever. Okay maybe not as bad as Gumshoos, but still.
Enter this new trailer. The leaves have been swept away and the cow catcher is rattling towards us with no sign of slowing down. It's pretty meaty, clocking in at six minutes, making it less of a trailer and more like a miniature Direct. In it, we finally catch a major look at how exploring in the wild will work, and the influence from Monster Hunter is plain to see. Our trainer stalks through the grass, dives out of the way of incoming beasts, and has to actively hunt for Pokemon. The power dynamic is completely flipped, with Legends acknowledging that sending a ten year old out to catch a big punching dog made of metal might not always be as easy and bumping into one on your merry little travels. Occasionally Pokemon would chase you in the Wild Area, but it was more playful and comedic. In Legends, that sense of a natural environment first captured in New Pokemon Snap is back.
Of course, some remain docile. You can stroll right up to round ol' Spheal on the beach, but that's all part of it too. Each species has its own sense of personality. While Gold & Silver's battle animations tried to make Pokemon come to life, we're at the point now where the technology available to developers lets them tell new types of stories. Or at least, tell the old stories in a new way. It's still Pokemon – it's never going to change that much.
This is why I think Kleavor could be crucial to Pokemon's future. I wish it wasn't a) based on Scyther and b) as ugly as Grumpig's arse, but I shouldn't let that stand in the way of progress. Kleavor is a Noble Pokemon, and we still don't really know what that means. The trailer – currently only in Japanese, remember – may explain it, but even without that, the footage alone underscores what Kleavor means to Legends: Arceus and the wider world of Pokemon.
The trainer in the trailer is very stupid. We see him running up to Garchomp before being thrown up into the air by an earthquake. We see him fleeing from a thunderbolt wielding Luxray in the middle of a storm. And we also, crucially, see him fighting Kleavor. Whereas Pokemon typically have a single health bar, Kleavor's is divided into sections, clearly denoting it as a boss. Pokemon doesn't have bosses. That's just not a thing. While our very stupid trainer does summon a Pokemon to help him – a Buizel, of all things – he mainly fights by throwing a small bag at Kleavor over and over again. Stardust would be my best guess before the English version releases. We also see an action-based battling style, where our trainer throws these bags by aiming a crosshair, then diving out of the way, clearly learning Kleavor's attack patterns.
It's Monster Hunter. It's Dragon Age's dragon fights. It's Skyrim’s dragon fights. It's Dark Souls. It's certainly not Pokemon. Do you have any idea how much of a relief that is as a Pokemon fan? To watch a trailer for a Pokemon game and think 'wow, that doesn't look like Pokemon at all!'
We know Pokemon. We've played it over and over again with slightly better graphics for 25 years. This, finally, is something different. If it all works out, that will make Kleavor one of the most important Pokemon in the dex. Shame it's so bloody ugly.
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