Another Look At PokéMMO and State of the PokéMon Franchise

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This post was originally published on 2015-04-25 on rekislife.de which has since moved then moved here. It has been refreshed and updated with current information.

In 2015, I had already taken a look at PokéMMO: while servers where always full, it was still very incomplete. There was no NPC collision, but if you had a ROM of PokéMon Heart Gold or Soul Silver in addition to the required PokéMon Fire Red US 1.0, you could have a PokéMon following you around. It was made very clunky, I believe they misused an IRC channel to communicate where which player is located, but it worked!

It's now 2021, more than file years later, how did it change? Well, you still need to dump your ROMs, but it can be any language version, as long as it's a PokéMon Black or White one. Optionally, you can provide ROMs of PokéMon Platinum, PokéMon Heart Gold/Soul Silver, PokéMon Emerald and PokéMon Fire Red. Ideally, all ROMs are in the language you want to play in, but since you dump your ROMs yourself, that's a non-issue, isn't it?

Creating a character gives you a small selection of customization, you can buy more cosmetics with in-game currency and premium currency later. The IRC window is nowhere to be seen, I believe, they stopped using that method. You can choose to start in Kanto, Hoenn, Unova or Sinnoh. No, Johto is not available. Yet.

We skip the pleasantries with the senile professor: you don't get asked to name your rival, they all get default names. I chose to start to Hoenn, because that's the games I'm most familiar with. Turns out it's still not much, but that I didn't find out till later. Luckily I have a friend with better memory. But first, the map… looks different. Littleroot Town with Fall Leaves

They added seasons and day/night-cycle to all the maps, regardless of region! Not all cutscenes and menus are recreated, but it's nothing big. I actually prefer not waiting to wait for nurse Joy to load all six of my PokéBalls into the machine one by one.

Just like in 2015, the battles are shown on an overlay. Battle Screen

So it uses the assets in the ROMs, is the something else it can do? Of course, there are mods, and quite a lot of them. I downloaded some mods to replace the low resolution pixel sprites with updated higher resolution ones and models from later games. While I was at it, I also got some mods that add the music from the remakes. Battle Screen

Yes, that is a horde battle. No, it's not added in with the mods. Granted, it's just three PokéMon, but it's even announced as a horde in-game. So if there are features from the sixth generation in there, what else is there? And what is missing?

Planting berries is different: you need seeds and not berries to plant them, apparently you get them dropped by wild PokéMon. Your PokéMon receive experience for you catching a PokéMon. But TMs are gone after using them once. PokéMon move set feels like a union of all move sets.

Speaking of move sets, while the trainers all have their PokéMon like in the originals, their moves and strategies will differ. Some trainers will actually switch PokéMon, more trainers use healing items and trainer PokéMon have different moves compared to their source incarnations! Guess who found that out the hard way… Then, there are new NPCs, it seems, every PokéMon Centre now has a Move Tutor and a Move Master. In every PokéMart, there's a second NPC that sell cosmetics.

The State of the PokéMon Franchise

I do follow the current PokéMon Anime, PokéMon Journeys, as it's called in the West. And I see what I actually wish the current games would have: travelling to other regions in the same game, a full PokéDex to fill… Do I want a 3D world map? Sure, that'd be nice, but that doesn't make a game great! I want an engaging story. Heck, I'm currently replaying the third generation story in PokéMMO over playing the second Sword and Shields DLC I haven't touched even though I bought both those. It's both great and sad, I love this project so much.

Is it Game Freak's fault? Maybe, but I believe the fault lies with the PokéMon Company for putting in enough money into Game Freak to make a fun game the fans deserve.

While I'm currently having a blast with PokéMon Shining Pearl, that's probably only because I haven't played the original Nintendo DS games, I have started to lose interest in future games. I will not pre-order the Legends: Arceus game. Because of brand loyalty, I have already gotten two generations of PokéMon and was burned. The second one still stings.

I am disappointed. I'll now patiently wait for the reviews. And if those reviews don't convince me to buy the game, it's time to bury the franchise in my memory. That way, I can still positively look back at it in the future. 

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