Pokémon Through the Ages: The Path to Arceus

Since the mid to late 90’s, excited trainers have been gathering up their pokéballs to capture, collect, and battle these interesting creatures known only as “pokémon.” It’s a simple, yet addictive formula that has seen only slight changes through the years, until now with Pokémon Legends: Arceus. As a long time Pokémon fan, I’m going to try to look at where we’ve come from to where we could go next, along with some personal experiences with each entry to the series.


Gen 1: 1998 -1999: Red, Blue, and Yellow (1996 Red and Green in Japan)

This is where it all began. The goal was simple: Become the best Pokémon Master. You chose your starter (and thus your difficulty) with Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle, and were on your way to catch as many pokémon as possible and raise a tough team to take on the Gym leaders and the Elite Four. Pokémon leveled up and evolved in different ways, some of which meaning you needed a link cable and friends with the game. Battles are turn based and types are easy to grasp. Pokémon Blue was one of the first games I ever finished. Pokémon Yellow, which followed the anime and allowed you to start with a charismatic Pikachu and get all three Kanto starters has long been a favorite game of all time for me. I remember sitting out on my porch and playing if there was trouble in the house. Or playing at night under the covers with the plug-in squiggly lamp. Life was not always the easiest, but in Pokémon, there was a sense of control and always the chance to try again. The day might have been bad, but then there was a smiling Pikachu following you around and helping you achieve your best. This was the start of one of the largest gaming franchises of all time.

Gen 2: 2000 – 2001: Gold, Silver, and Crystal

Gold and Silver introduced around 100 new pokémon and a day/night cycle. It was still on the Gameboy Color, but the graphics were a big step up. You now had a cool backwards hat. The premise, however, was more or less the same: get all the gym badges (first in Johto, then in Kanto), beat the elites, and catch as many pokémon as possible. The dark and steel types were added, as well as pokémon breeding. I remember trying to breed as many eevees as possible to get all the Eeveelutions. The coveted Ditto was perfect for pumping out pokémon eggs. It was fun to breed the pokémon and have a strong, almost completely egg-born team. The remakes had the pokéwalker, which allowed you to beef up your pokémon by taking them on a walk with you. Pokémon Crystal was also the first time you could pick your character’s gender.

Gen 3: 2002 – 2005: Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald

This one was on the Gameboy Advance, which allowed for a bit more clarity and colors. Ruby and sapphire added yet another hundred some pokémon to the mix (though not all pokémon from earlier generations made an appearance). With the advance capabilities, they could add a bit to the gameplay. The main goal of badges and catching was the same, but now there were pokémon contests you could compete in to show off some other pokémon. Also, you could have a secret base. The villains in this game had more in mind than world domination as well, adding slightly more depth to the story and lore. These games were my little sister’s main gateway to the pokémon world. Games were something that bonded us, and later, pokemon would become a huge thing for both of us.

Gen 4: 2007 – 2009: Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum

Gen 4 was on yet another new system with the Nintendo DS and went nuts with baby pokemon, evolutions, and legendries. I remember renting Platinum from Blockbuster and just pouring hours into it. Another hundred some pokémon were added, and more lore, including the Pokémon World’s creator was packed in. However, it was still the same in getting gym badges and becoming a Pokémon champion.

Gen 5: 2011 – 2012: Black, White, Black 2, and White 2

Admittedly, this was the only generation I missed out on due to being too busy with college, though I would keep up on the news about it. Black and White added 156 new pokémon and were the first games to have direct sequels. Players would explore the Unova region collecting gym badges and taking on the elite four. Rotation and triple battles were introduced in this installation, but not kept for future generations. This game had the Dream World where people could befriend different pokemon not in game.

Gen 6: 2013: X and Y

This was a big one for my sister and me. I remember for Christmas I surprised my sister with a blue 3DS and Pokémon X, while I got a red 3DS and Pokémon Y. Pokémon Y was also the first Pokémon game my dad beat, so it was exciting talking Pokémon with him, beyond him just being happy for me. This game had neat 3D models, allowed more character customization, and had the players interact more with their pokemon. Sometimes it was just fun to sit and pet your legendary pokemon and make them all happy. Mega Evolutions and Fairy types were added to this entry.

Gen 7: 2016 – 2017: Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon

2016 was a super hard year for my mental health, but one of the things that got me through it was the excitement leading up to and then getting Pokémon Moon. My sister had Sun so we could do trades. She even surprised me with the collector’s edition strategy guide. There was yet even more interaction with your pokemon and your character had more personality. This one didn’t have gyms and badges, but instead trials and Kahunas. Regional forms were also introduced to add more variety and excitement to pokemon collecting. There were still Mega Evolutions, and now Z moves. Team Skull were more bumbling and less serious than earlier entries. Gen 7 also has the Ultra Beasts in addition to pokemon.

Gen 8: 2019: Sword and Shield

Sword and Shield were the debut of a new generation on Nintendo Switch. There was a return to form with badges and champions, but now battles took place in large stadiums where pokémon could dynamax. The story is just okay, but the fun additions are interacting with your pokémon in the camps and the vast wild area where you can meet up with other players and catch pokémon. Galarian forms were added, as well as some exciting new pokémon. The graphics were nothing to write home about but were not bad. This is the first Pokémon to have DLC instead of sequels. There was also the addition of dungeon-like raid battles.


While some core concepts are kept the same, almost everything changes with Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This is the first fairly open world pokémon and takes a Monster Hunter like approach to your game objectives and storytelling. Instead of badges, there are missions, Nobles, and requests. Filling out your Pokédex has more meaning and feels more satisfying here. There is realistic danger that would logically be in a world full of super powered animals. The sound design is on point as nothing is more exciting than getting the little firework on a new or hard to get pokémon. The past setting is perfect, and the story is surprisingly deep for a pokémon game. There are some minor issues, mainly with graphics and some bizarre limitations that don’t seem to fit. The feeling of wonder is kept throughout the entire game as your excited to figure out new challenges and see what new pokémon await you in each section. Battles are still turn based, but you can constantly change out your move sets and catching pokemon feels more natural. I wish there was more interaction you could do with your pokemon, but it is nice that you can get your whole team out to take a group picture. Hopefully they make more game with this format as it’s going to be hard to go back to the old formula. This will be the first pokemon where I actually finish the Pokédex.


There’s a lot they could do with this Monster Hunter like formula of gameplay and a bigger focus on the single player. A big thing would be to put more into the graphics to have them be more consistent. The style is nice but can be very pixelly and blurry. Going deeper into the survival mechanics could be a fun addition, such as making sure you and your pokemon are fed and have water. Also having appropriate outfits for specific weather would be good. For younger kids, they can include an option to turn survival mechanics off if it’s too hard. Going even deeper with crafting and resource collecting would be nice too. There’s no reason there should be a ton of trees, but no usable wood. They could play with more past regions or bring something like this into a modern region. Just have every city and town as full as Jubilife Village. They could take even more cues from Monster Hunter World and allow you to upgrade and decorate your quarters as the game goes on. A simple pet option for every pokemon would be nice. The groundwork has been set with Legends. Let’s hope they don’t leave it a one off and instead take future games a step further.