For Pokémon GO fans, today is probably pretty exciting. The latest batch of new Pokémon have been released to the world, and this time, it's Pokémon which originated in the Sinnoh region, as seen in the games' fourth Generation.
The Sinnoh region is a delightful mix of mountains, long rocky paths, and snow. It's probably closest that the Pokémon series has come to adapting the Appalachian Trail as a location. It's also a super divisive region among fans, as some find it to be charming, and some find it to be a slog.
Me? I ADORE it. And here's why.
It's fun to imagine what the actual environment of the Pokémon world would be like. Not just in the sense of "Water Pokémon are near water and Grass Pokémon are in the grass," but in finding out how specific Pokémon would adapt to their ecosystem. How would they evolve to survive in their particular habitats? Sinnoh, I believe, achieves this better than any Pokémon game before it or since.
Now, before I continue gushing about Gen 4, I understand that some of the games in that particular era can leave you feeling cold. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are especially slow, and not just because of the plot, but because the movement in the region is actually slower compared to many other games in the series. So if all you played out of Gen 4's offerings is Diamond or Pearl, I understand why you'd find Sinnoh to be less like a game and more like the creators of Pokémon actively attempting to thin out its fan base.
But Pokémon Platinum corrected a lot of these issues, and it's become one of my favorites in the series. You can play it, meeting and catching Pokémon and think I can figure out how these things got here. Take Shellos and Gastrodon, the adorable slug critters. Sinnoh doesn't have a ton of water around, at least not when you compare it to Hoenn, the previous Pokémon region, which was absolutely drenched.
Shellos is a pure Water-type, but Gastrodon is Water/Ground. And as a bigger, evolved Pokémon, it kind of has to be. Water Pokémon thrive around water, and when there's no water and you're a big ol' slug, you need to adapt to fix the issue. And so it becomes half-Ground type.
Or take Piplup, the penguin-esque "starter" Pokémon that you can get at the beginning of the game. There's a reason why it's a penguin, and that's because Sinnoh is probably freezing. And on that same note, people complained that there weren't very many Fire Pokémon in Sinnoh, but that's because it's hard for those dudes to keep warm in chilly temperatures.
Or look at Torterra, the monster with an actual garden on its back. As I've stated, Grass Pokémon do better when there's a ton of grass around. But look at the camping trip that is Sinnoh, and you'll find huge sections of terrain where there's no greenery whatsoever. So if you can't find trees, you bring the trees with you.
Or take Gible, the Ground/Dragon Pokémon, with a giant mouth. Plenty of Pokémon are designed with seemingly functionless tiny arms and legs, and the same goes for Gible. That creature looks like it can barely move, much less waddle across mountainous terrain. But with big jaws to chomp its way through boulders until it gains enough power to evolve into a larger size, you can absolutely see how it would maneuver. You go, Gible. Don't give up on your dreams, buddy.
Part of the appeal of Pokémon GO is that it brings these creatures into the real world, thanks to the magic of augmented reality. The trailer for the new additions to Pokémon GO, as seen earlier, plays this up, showing Pokémon like Lucario clinging to cliffsides or Pachirisu frolicking through a mossy forest. Gen 4 had some gameplay features that not everyone loved, but the Pokémon it introduced felt like they really were shaped by the environment where they lived. They felt "real" in a way that's new for the series, and that's perfect for Pokémon GO, the most accessible thing we have to actually catching 'em all.