Tobold's Blog
Saturday, November 17, 2018
Pokemon: Let's Go Ballistic

As I have a Nintendo Switch, I am watching the most talked about releases on that platform. This week that would be Pokemon: Let's Go. And if you go to a site like Metacritic, you find that opinions on that game are very much split: There are a lot of user reviews giving it a high score, and a slightly higher number of user reviews giving it a very low score, with very few in the middle.

Once you sorted it out, the picture becomes quite clear. Pokemon: Let's Go is in itself quite a good game and does what it sets out to do: Introduce new players to the Pokemon universe. If you haven't played any Pokemon games on Nintendo handheld consoles previously, there is a high chance that you will enjoy Pokemon: Let's Go. If you are a veteran gamer who has already "caught them all" over hundreds of hours in several different versions of Pokemon games, you will hate Pokemon: Let's Go. Because the game hasn't been done for you, and is too easy for veterans.

Now personally I think that this sort of problem can be diffused by having more than one difficulty in a game. People are literally complaining that they earn xp too fast, that should be easy enough to fix in a hard mode. But I can't help but see the irony of old gamers complaining that Nintendo making a Pokemon game that is more suitable for children than for them. How dare they! A children's game that is actually casual and easy and doesn't require grinding! When we were young we had to walk to school fifteen miles in the snow! Barefoot! Uphill! Both ways! And we liked it fine that way!

It isn't even as if Nintendo marketed this game wrong. They clearly said that they are going to do a game for a younger audience and new players now, and another, more hardcore Pokemon game next year. No audience has been neglected. So review bombing the game that just isn't for you is rather immature. The entitlement culture of gamers is getting worse and worse every year.

It isn't even as if Nintendo marketed this game wrong.

I disagree. I think they marketed the game wrong. People don't read the minutia and fine print before producing an emotional reaction. When a Pokemon fan sees "Pokemon" in the title, they get excited that a Pokemon game of THEIR type is coming.

Nintendo should have bifurcated the brand early on, with ONE name for the hard core fans, and a DIFFERENT, but similar name, for the kids. Like... "Pokemon" and "Pokemon kids." So this game would be "Pokemon kids: Let's Go!" Sure, the clever marketers at Nintendo could come up with better names than I can, but you get the drift.

I was a big fan of Eastman and Laird's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" back in the day. It had 2 brands, both with different but similar titles and content. One for adults, and one for kids. You would never see a book at the store and mistake the two, it was completely diametric. Those guys did it right. The adult version was short lived... apparently the money was in the other direction.
Even if they barely looked at the marketing, it was obvious this was a RBY rehash. No one is really missing out on a new Pokémon game if they hate this: they can play one of the other remakes or boot up the originals. Yeah, it's not quite the same thing, but it's also mostly a graphical overhaul. If you're in it for the PvP, you've got a new metagame to play with and the rest of the game shouldn't kill it for you. If you're in it for the gameplay, you've already played this game. The only contingent that seems legitimately hard done by are people who wanted an exact remake of Yellow with a graphical update, and that seems like a relatively small niche.
I remain surprised and confused at the fact that Pokemon is somehow not entirely for the kids to begin with. My own kid, who is just turning 7, has already played at least 4 Pokemon titles between the 2DS and phone as it is....and he'll love this (getting it for his birthday next week).

I'm not saying you can't be an adult (or semi adult) fan of the series. I'm saying that adult fans who appear not to realize that all of these games are aimed at kids need a wakeup call in life. Some stuff is for kids, and makes much more sense in that context. I type this even as I realize that my regular D&D game (well, Cypher System) was next to a table of mid-twenty something guys playing Pokemon tonight, and complaining that it was too expensive to get in to Magic: The Gathering. So whadda I know.....

It baffles me these days the way adults glom onto kids' literature, such as Harry Potter. In the past, it would have been frankly embarrassing to be seen reading something like that, unless maybe it was a nostalgic revisit to something you enjoyed as a child.

There's not so much of a distinction with most games, I guess. But surely it will come as time goes on.
What I don't understand about the complaint that the game is too easy is that base Pokemon games are never hard.

You can brute force every single game with a handful of pokemon if you really wanted to.

That's why the community came out up with challenges like nuzlocke mode.

To me all this complaining is just a classic example of entitled gamers whining when their series makes changes that they don't like so it is no trash.
Awh, man, that’s disappointing to hear about review bombing.

I’m really enjoying it, as a rebooted ‘lite’ version of Red/Blue. It’s just pretty as anything, and streamlined in terms of mechanics, which means less grinding. When combined with the fact that – as any hardcore enthusiast should know already – there’s going to be a more involved, ‘next gen’ RPG later next year, I can’t see why anyone would have a beef with this one.

I mean, hell… even if you didn’t follow any gaming news whatsoever (and thus aren’t likely to be hardcore), it’s right there in the name (“Let’s GO!”), in the trailers/tv ads, and the fact that it can come with a pokeball that syncs with Go!

It’s hard to understand which particular demographic could possibly try to claim that this isn’t what they were expecting.

You seem to be implying that somehow past Pokemon games were not for kids. I would have to disagree with that.

Furthermore, from my observations, kids are generally much, much better at video games than adults, along with being more willing to put in the effort to master more difficult games, so making Pokemon easier doesn't seem like a necessity for a children's market.

It seems more likely to me that they have made the game easier to attract an older, less adept audience. Either that or they want to capture the toddler market.
@Wilhelm: Huh? Of course Pokemon has always been for children. It is only that the 10-year olds that loved Pokemon Yellow in 1998 are now 30-year olds complaining that a new Pokemon game is being made for the 10-year olds of 2018.

And I have absolutely no idea how you could come to the conclusion that Pokemon is targeted at an older audience. Nobody does marketing via gameplay changes. Marketing is done with first impressions, visuals, and so forth. The ultra-cute look of the 2018 Pokemon is still squarely targeted at kids, not their parents. The other target group is probably people who played Pokemon Go on their phones, but that demographic is mostly millenials, with very few older people among them. The Boomer generation doesn't really connect all that well to Pokemon, because it wasn't around yet when they were young, so there is no nostalgia factor attracting them.
Heh. You know, Tobold, it occurs to me that the millenials with strong 'Day 1' Pokemon nostalgia, who were playing the original Red/Blue, are in their mid-to-late-30s, now. Depending on your age, if you were a child, teen, or early-20s, you might actually consider those to be 'older' gamers.
(Of course, mid-to-late 30s gamers are certainly not less-adept, the way Boomers+ might be. They're the average core gamer demographic.)
Is it now considered entitled to express a negative opinion of a game?

Full disclosure: I have never played any pokemon game, and have no opinion on this one.
Is it now considered entitled to express a negative opinion of a game?

There is a big difference between "I played a game, I didn't like it, I post a negative review", and a group of people organizing themselves on a forum to all give negative reviews on release day on a game none of them has played. "Review bombing" is a thing, and it isn't a good thing.
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