It's no secret that the reception of Pokemon Sword and Shield among the fandom is...mixed, to say the least. Issues range from the devs cutting corners with art assets and animation, to downright excluding far too many Pokemon, and not even offering the ability to import them. Sword and Shield just aren't what many fans expect of a Pokemon game in many more ways than one, and it's the first mainline entry since the 3DS titles. By the sound of things there is no guarantee that Game Freak, the company behind Pokemon, will necessarily rectify the issues fans are having in later releases. The good news is, there are other options on the horizon for Pokemon fans.
Sure, we have always had other options, with the resurgence of Digimon and the advent of Yo-kai Watch being more modern examples of alternative games to sink our teeth into, and that's to say nothing of other series like Shin Megami Tensei (which actually predates Pokemon by quite a bit) or the cult-phenomenon that is Monster Hunter. However, none of these titles are quite the same as Pokemon. In many respects, that's a good thing, as each of these series has their own identity, and if we want to play a game that plays like Pokemon...well, we can just do that. Plus, fans of these other franchises may also say they're better in some respects. But, they're also not quite the same experience.
However, there are concerns over the future of Pokemon, and whether we will ever again be able to expect a new entry in the series that hits all the right notes. Moreover, there have been directions fans have wanted the series to take that haven't been addressed. With other alternatives not being quite the Pokemon experience some might be craving either, there are certainly concerns over whether the classic Pokemon experience is in danger of falling by the wayside and fast becoming something newer fans will not get to experience unless they check out past titles.
Thankfully, there are options on the horizon. In fact, there are quite a few indie devs who have taken it upon themselves to develop something more akin to the kind of Pokemon experience that fans are beginning to miss, while expanding upon it and taking it in directions that evolve the formula in intriguing ways. The three examples I'm going to focus on are Temtem, Monster Crown and Coromon, but there are certainly others in the pipeline that seem to be coming out of the woodwork. It's worth noting that they won't be 100% like Pokemon either, but they do seem to be more akin to the Pokemon experience, and any departures from the classic formula seem to be more intriguing than detrimental.
There are a couple drawbacks to address, of course. Most notably, none of these games are out yet and the release date appears to still be listed as TBA. I believe one or two of these might have alpha builds Kickstarter backers can access, but everyone else will have to wait an undetermined amount of time. Also, none of these games will have the extensive "dex" that Pokemon has built up over the years.
That said, we can probably expect these games to release in the next year or so, and we can't expect oak trees without someone first planting saplings. If these IPs are successful, perhaps they can one day grow to be more comparable to Pokemon in that regard, but for now we're looking at something akin to Gen 1 for these new titles, and that's ok, especially since they all seem to get things right from an art style and mechanical standpoint. Plus, if successful they can help bring some healthy competition that may push Game Freak to do better with later titles.
Let's begin by talking about Temtem. It seems to be a lot like Pokemon, but with one big twist: it's an MMO. Sure, there have been unofficial fan efforts that have turned Pokemon into an MMO, but here's a game being developed from the ground up, and in an official capacity, with that concept in mind. Since Game Freak won't give us a Pokemon MMO in spite of years of fan demand, perhaps it's high time someone else made that game.
The official number of Temtem in the game is supposedly 141+, which will have their own equivalent to shinies, and will have a whopping 12 types, with multiple sky islands to explore, depicting different climates, but with an excellent view. Trainers can have a Temtem follow them, and the graphics look great. There will also supposedly be a storyline with the game's own take on Team Rocket or the various other teams of crooks in Pokemon titles. Oh, and fans will also be able to decorate a personal house once they've done everything they can in the game. It sounds like Crema has a winning formula on their hands, and it sounds like it's planned to be available on every system.
Next up is Monster Crown. This one will apparently only be available on PC and Switch, at least to start, but it looks interesting too. It's not an MMO, nor does it have the visual fidelity of Temtem, but it looks and plays a lot like a classic Pokemon game with a twist of its own: it features an extensive breeding system that creates hybrid creatures with theoretically limitless possibilities.
The official site also boasts 200+ monsters to collect prior to breeding, although breeding appears to be the heart of the experience here. The battle system looks a bit different, but creatures will be able to evolve into more powerful forms, and the same kind of exploration of different areas in the game's region will be present, along with trainer battles and the like. Oh, and trainers can have one of their monsters follow them. The ability to breed monsters means that players will have all sorts of hybrid creatures at their disposal, which could be quite interesting.
Finally, we have Coromon. Information about this one is a lot more scarce, but it looks to be the most like a classic Pokemon game, with PC and mobile releases planned. There will be a Team Rocket equivalent in this game too. Visually, it will look similar to a classic Pokemon title, but with some nice weather and battle effects. There will be various areas to explore complete with the kinds of puzzles we might expect from Pokemon. There will apparently be 120+ Coromon. Character customization and stat customization are listed as features in the game. By the sound of things this game won't reinvent the wheel as much as the other two titles, but it may just be the kind of Pokemon game we're missing with the current generation.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Pokemon, and is there any indie Pokemon-like game in particular that you're interested in checking out upon its eventual release? Feel free to leave your comments below.