Started the game about three to four months back when it was officially launched, went on hiatus when the semester started to get tedious, then finished it three days ago. When I was playing it I couldn’t help comparing its patterns with the ones of the original series and I really felt that it comes quite close in quality and style, and even exceeds the originals in some aspects.
Before I bid the game farewell once and for all, I feel the need to wrap this up with a review. Just a disclaimer, I am not really a game reviewer in the traditional sense. I have been gaming much to little to be considered an avid one. Here I would not be critically analyzing the game and justifying whether Uranium is worth your time or not, but rather focusing on the aspects that the original Pokemon game designers can learn from and probably should implement in future titles.
The Pokemon Designs Are Actually Extremely Good.
Arceus knows how they did it, but take a look at their Pokedex page. It’s a shame that they are not actually canon. Everything starting from their cat, dinoasur, and hippocampus(?) starters, the regional bird, occasion originals blessed with brand new evolutions and Mega evolutions, to their legends and mythicals: all of them felt right as Pokemon. I don’t really have a metric for good design for fictional beings, but damn I have a large number of favorites that I will be missing once I bid the game farewell.
Here are some:
Empirilla (I love seeing Mankey’s line being relevant again, this time with a unique ability)
Pajay (never got to used it but it’s a freaking pheonix, bitches love pheonixes)
Astronite (living alien meteorites with some Deoxys-ish elements to the design)
Baariette (black sheep and brawler rogue counterpart to the Mareep line)
Dunseraph (this thing is the most majestic thing I have seen, if I have to choose only one Uranium Pokemon to be made official, this is the one, I lost my shit when my hapless Dunsprace evolved into this)
Coalith (cockatrice-green dragon hybrid, style points overload)
Titanice (Literally a ship Pokemon on ice with obvious reference to Titanic)
Daikatuna (the whole evolution line is based off a fish crossed with increasingly bigger Japanese medieval weapons, whoever created them deserves employment at Game Freak)
Nucleon (I actually didn’t like this to be real, but it carried me through unwinnable fights in gamebreaking ways that I really cannot forget it)
Raffiti (street rogue rats doing graffiti on walls and knows Sketch, this is one of the most genius designs for rat Pokemon)
Belliadon (based of literally Satan, or rather Abbadon, pseudo legendary demon Pokemon)
Luxelong (god damn adorable, it’s a ornamental lucky charm jade dragon thing, another of my favorite designs)
Garlikid (a justice hero Pokemon, gotta love the simplicity of the concept)
Krilvolver (seems like a cross between a gun-touting sheriff and the amazing mantis shrimp, 10/10 would recruit to war, extra points for crossing water-type and fire-type without having to be a underwater volcano)
Man, I can go all day.
There are some that I don’t really like, but to be frank I would be really happy to see some of these get into the official titles. There seems to be a large amount of dragon types, but they overall don’t bother me much. Loads of respect to the creators of Uranium.
Brilliant New Nuclear Typing
Now, I am not really sure if officially adding Nuclear as a type is a great idea, but this game pulled this off nicely. It strongly emphasized on Nuclear as a great type, but it is double edged. It hits almost every other type for super effective damage, meaning it is a 4x damage on most dual typings, and take super effective damage from all types in return. This is a on point reference to nuclear energy itself being a double edged sword and can be difficult if untamed. This is demonstrated by the Nuclear infected Pokemon who often disobey commands, but work amazing if they obey. Those naturally occurring nuclear Pokemon however (Nucleon, Urayne) are often amazing, which is a tribute to the fact that once nuclear energy is mastered the rewards are huge. No doubt it is borderline unbalanced in many ways as it is supreme to almost every single type, making it the single best offensive type in existence, to the point that there is no real need for it to exist in canon titles. But the fact they came out with this and made it a core aspect for why the game is enjoyable is something Game Freak can look at.
Edgy Story and Theme
The main elements that binds Pokemon main series games still stays: get starter, fight wild Pokemon and capture them, defeat trainers for money and experience, explore towns, cities, grasslands and caves, fight gyms, unlock more accessibility with HMs, and visit Pokemon Centers to heal. But some other things take a break from tradition, most notably the story. This time, the game guides the player with more specific substories and ‘quests’ with a more compelling plot, instead of the other main games which has the player implicitly recognize that there is somehow a need for 10 year olds to go out there to beat gyms and challenge the Elite Four.
Basically, the game starts off with losing the mother to a nuclear plant accident. That escalated quicker than any Pokemon plot I have seen. It’s a challenging theme and probably borderline offensive to many people, especially those who lived through World War II or politically conservative people. There are instances in Tandor (region of the game) that involve the player having to navigate puzzles while being challenged with dangerous Nuclear Pokemon and exposure to fallout (though the game plot magically prepares you for this). The theme kinda dumbs down nearing the resolution as it somehow becomes something related to artificial intelligence and probably a little of neuroethics.
Digression: note how every core series’s region has a theme with some moral/philosophical takeways: Kanto discreetly deals with genetic engineering, Johto is somewhat about respect and preservation of tradition while integrating change, Hoenn is overtly about the dangers with influencing the balance of nature, Sinnoh pays homage to specifically mythology and religion, Unova emphasizes the philosophy of dualism, and Kalos’s trademark is the discussion on forms of aesthetics.
There is also homages to the theme of neglectful fathering (where the main character’s father admit to being a bad one being too focused on his work as a ranger), perhaps as a reference to how the main series’s characters rarely have fathers with them. Darker themes also resurface more often, such as fallout accidents, comatose, possibility of death. As a whole, the game is more emotionally charged than what people will normally expect from a Pokemon title. Again, I am not sure if darker themes are healthy for the main series to adopt, but this one is quite satisfying to play to its resolution.
ps: note that the father is Kellyn, a canon character from the Pokemon Ranger spin-offs.
The review will continue as Part 2, which will most likely discuss the difficulty and the regional features.