Is our Pokémon journey leaving accessibility behind?
Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen game accessibility come on leaps and bounds across the industry. Game designers are beginning to realise that by making their games accessible, and doing this from the very beginning of the design process, everyone has a better gameplay experience. Accessibility features in games can take many forms, from colourblind options to customisable subtitles to extensive button remapping. But Nintendo and its first-party games seem to be lagging behind.
Specifically, Pokémon, which is the biggest entertainment franchise in the world, is on a less-than-optimal trajectory when it comes to accessibility. Previous Pokémon games have been relatively accessible given the limitations of their hardware - most can be played one-handed, the story and progression are linear, and they don’t require aiming or button mashing. But as the Pokémon main series moves towards an open-world experience, some players have been left behind.
I’ll start with something positive that both Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Pokémon Scarlet & Violet got right with their open worlds, and that’s the quest system. As someone with ADHD, I find it incredibly difficult to keep track of multiple quests at a time and I need waypoints to stop me from getting sidetracked in an open world and completely forgetting my objective. Both Legends and Scarlet & Violet have quest waypoints and they make my experience in the vast, sprawling world playable. Sure, it’s not as intensive as Genshin Impact’s quest list and custom map waypoints, but at least they didn’t take the Elden Ring approach, which I like to call, “I dunno, figure it out.”
* This article was originally published here