It’s been a strong year for Pokémon. Not only has Pokémon Go grossed more than $430 million a year, but the Pokémon World Championships in London were a success by every measure. In addition, the Pokémon Company released two of the most anticipated Pokémon games of all time for Nintendo Switch this year: Pokémon Legends Arceus and Pokémon Scarlet/Violet.
It was also a year when the franchise fell short of its ambitions – not least in the graphics department, where Violet and Scarlet were criticized for performance issues, while Arceus struggled with draw distance, meshing and the like. Switch games are of course limited by the Switch’s hardware, but critics and fans around the world were still disappointed.
However, there’s one thing Pokémon fans unanimously love, and for once it’s not even one specific Pokémon. The craftable Poké Ball from Legends Arceus – a game set 1000 years in the past – has captured the imagination of Pokémon players around the world.
Don’t let this humble invention of a brown apricot and a roadside tumblestone fool you, this wooden Poké Ball is the prototype for everything that followed. We also saw prototypes of Great Balls and Ultra Balls at Arceus – this innovation has of course led to the modern day counterparts we know and love today, from the Quick Ball to the Master Ball.
The crafting mechanic that lets you craft these essential items was truly a game changer for the franchise, which has followed a very routine formula since its inception in the early 1990s. Buy Poké Balls, battle Pokémon, throw one at another until you run out of the former, then repeat endlessly.
However, this game lets you catch Pokémon the way Arceus intended: you crawl around in the dirt, craft your own Poké Balls like Beartic Grylls, and then sneak up on the Pokémon you want to catch. Crouching in the ironic safety of the tall grass, you stalk, wait, then throw like your life depends on it, and pray you’re not about to feel what thunder feels like.
Arceus is a survival game at its core, and it wouldn’t be possible without an Apricot, a Tumbled Stone, and the prototype Pokéball you craft from them. This Pokéball makes Arceus so fun.
Runner-ups for Unanimous Love go to the closely related Electric/Grass-type Pokemon, Hisuian Voltorb, and Hisuian Electrode. The Kantian forms of these Pokémon have been around as long as the franchise, but these historical forms shed new light on the evolution of this species over the centuries between the Age of Hisui and the present day.
These ancient Electric/Grass-type Pokémon are styled after acorns, have a wooden exterior, and resemble the prototypical Poké Ball. Today, these Pokémon have adapted, taking on a metallic structure while losing their Grass typing. There are other Hisuian forms, like the revered Hisiuan Growlithe, but none embody this evolution in the normal sense of the word quite like our self-destructing buddies Voltorb and Electrode.
So with this one Poké Ball, we’re seeing the evolution of Pokémon over eons, the evolution of canon technology, and if we’re lucky, the evolution of the franchise. All in all, it’s an impressive little Poké Ball.
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