July 29, 2021

Return to Ithaca (Kanto) | Blog 1 UP

Return to Ithaca (Kanto) | Blog 1 UP

Ulysses had his Argo. But, really, he deserved his pikachu. Not because he has anything against the can that wagged his tail and recognized him before anyone else in his supposedly anonymous return to Ithaca. But because the joy of sharing the hours with this entity of fiction (it is hard to think that he is not alive) would surely have been a placebo for the many disappointments of his Odyssey. Pikachu, epitome of the Pokémon universe that inhabits, is joy. I think it's the word that best sums up Pokémon itself: joy. Adventure, too. Challenge, too. But joy more than any other.

Pokémon Let's Go. Pikachu Y Pokémon Let's Go. Eevee they are two songs to joy. On a scale that until now the saga had not known, by mere technological limits. Restricted, by own will, to laptops, because in the conception of its architects the move-long before that unprecedented phenomenon and certainly not outdated that was and is Pokémon Go, in record of income despite the dubious headlines of its decline – and meeting other Pokemaniacs should always be an essential part of the experience. Therefore, outside of laptops, nothing.

Sure, now the Nintendo Switch has arrived, the rabbit of the most incredible hat that the company of Osaka has ever taken out, a seamless hybrid between the game of lounge and the one that is played in meters, airports, cars, streets, parks, forests and platforms. Therefore, The Pokémon Company could no longer say no. With the unprecedented merger of Nintendo's two major business lines – the laptop and the desktop – into a single device, Pokémon was to reach the Switch sooner or later. He has arrived early. And it has come as an impressive exercise of nostalgia.

I said in my review of Shadow of the Colossus, which I still see as a clear candidate for the best podium of the year, that there are restoration exercises, especially in the videogame, which should be understood as art. Because they are creative efforts; because they achieve, as I have been told by many interviewees of titles of this kind, reach the colors of memory, filing the asperities of time and even get there where the original creators never could by that technological strap that has always limited the flight of the game. Correa, and it's a wonderful thing to see, that is becoming more lax and longer.

Pokémon let's go It is at the height of what BluePoint achieved with the masterpiece of Fumito Ueda. All that was wonderful about these original titles, launched twenty years ago (twenty years!), Is preserved intact. But there are also a series of profound changes to increase their enjoyment. The first, the obvious, is the face wash. The Pokémon world has never looked so beautiful in the main saga. Yes, we have had fighting games that have alleviated that distance that existed between the anime and the played. But we have not been able to enjoy these enormous adventures in anything that approximates the simple beauty with which we enjoy here.

Kanto, for the first time, is a place as protagonist as the creatures it houses. Every building, every prairie, every sea and every forest shine. Just that, shine. They are the personification of that joy of which I spoke to you, the colors of joy. To observe this animate world in movement, simply with the ends of the observer and not of the Pokéman, is a pleasure in itself. If you also have tall helmets, the wonderful scores make the spell reach its true magnitude. Kanto is like Oz or Wonderland, a recognizable world, but at the same time wonderful. A world in which one feels instantly at ease, comfortable, at home.

Obviously, the Pokémon have received the same affection in their representation and their combat animations are more vibrant and spectacular than ever. But a second aspect is much more crucial, perhaps the essential difference between this title and its distant twins, and this is the physical presence of the Pokémon in the world. The games, we talked about it recently, they constantly use ellipses to save their most expensive resource: animations. Flat cuts, fades or the substitution of an action for figures and icons in an inventory are common. One of the most common tropes in role-playing games is that the battles against third parties jump when walking through a dangerous area. But you do not see the enemy. Simply, you walk and this road is suddenly interrupted.

Such a break has always meant a latent discomfort for the player. Why? Because the election is taken away; and in video games, the key is to choose, how the choice is expressed to lead to enjoyment. If the mood of a player is to explore, this system stumbles and constantly frustrates his desire. Yes, there are always shortcuts, like objects that diminish or reduce the fighting completely for a period of time, but they are patches for a fundamental problem. A problem whose solution always requires a considerable expenditure of production.

In Pokémon let's go it has taken that expense to its ultimate consequences. The Pokémon are always present on the screen. Strolling through the grass, floating placidly on the heights or terrifying the player with his sudden appearance in a shaded cavern. Its presence allows both to identify what you want to hunt beforehand, and to avoid, if such is the desire, hunting at every point. But it also allows you to feel that connection, which has always been essential, between the environment and the Pokémon. Perceive the flow of legendary coherence that arms this universe at a single glance.

There is another change that I consider essential in the flow of empathy of the player towards the game. Pokémon has always had, and always will have, his Achilles heel, the same oxymoron that accompanies the fascinated by the hunting that usually are also, I know from experience, in love with the nature that they attack. The gameplay loop Pokémon, the central interactive activity of the game experience, is part of an aggression: to deprive a wild animal of its freedom. It literally throws a spherical cage (the pokéball) and the creature in question is kidnapped; it snatches it from the life it had led up to that moment. It is the same aggression that led us to domesticate animals and to have, as a consequence, unforgettable relationships, of link sometimes superior to that we achieved with other congeners, with our pets.

Before, in the originals, hunting a pokémon demanded a double aggression. First, it was fought with him, physically; violence was applied until it was weakened and then the cage was thrown atpokéball. Now, by direct influence of his partenaire for mobiles, the one that gives him his surname Go, that aggression is reduced (except in very few cases) to launch the cage without more. If we want, even previously offering food to the creature to reassure it. The derived feeling, although still ambiguous, certainly does not generate the same contradiction and rejection with the environmentalist, diverse and animalistic spirit that expresses the game in general.

There are other minor changes here and there. Some prolong the life of the game ad eternum, like the master trainers that it is possible to face after winning in the league. Others are directly thought for those tens and tens and tens of millions of people who have made Pokémon go inseparable companion of their walks; a new area in Ciudad Carmín, which will be spectacular when it is fully populated, is dedicated to them. You can also ride in certain bulky Pokémon to move around the world, swimming and flying being especially pleasant. But I think they pale in front of the two commented; because those profoundly change the experience instantly in Kanto. They enrich it enormously. Empower, by using a word of fashion, his omnipresent joy. And it seems to me that they owe a lot to their director, Junichi Masuda, the veteran of the saga who has descended into the mud of development once again (he was the producer of the latest titles) to creatively lead a project that bears his footprints. It will be his swan song in such labors, as advertised. But it is a beautiful song.

It is very difficult to explain to a layman what were the first adventures in Kanto; the emotion that runs through the Ulysses of today, who already combed gray hair after two decades of that initiatory journey, knowing that we can back to (home) Kanto. We must have lived the constant conversations in school desks and courtyards, talking about affinities and weaknesses, of Pokémons that never existed but that should exist, of places never explored but that by some unknown method would surely be waiting for the most seasoned adventurer in Kanto, of the safaris, the legendary birds and the lunar stones. For all those who did, sleep peacefully. This Kanto is the Ithaca they remember. Not the one that existed; the one they remember. And wait, with open arms, to live again their incomparable odyssey.


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