4chan’s Project Pokémon Sage and Why You Should Be Playing It
This month I’ve decided to take a little break from my Japanese indie titles editorial series to delve into an excellent and ambitious fan project. Unlike those like Pokémon Zeta, which are simply meant to be for pure gameplay, the hardworking community at /vp/ on 4chan is creating a fully fleshed out world with new Pokémon, protagonists, rivals in a world based on Central and South America.
Pokémon Sage started back in 2011 as a way for a small group of devoted fans to get their own vision of the franchise out; the Urobos region is heavily based off South America — both geographically and in the culture of the people. While nothing has been decided yet, many of the proposed villainous teams are also based off religious and cultural movements that have occurred in the actual continent’s history, such as opposing groups Team Aztecians/Team Conquistadors and Team Tribe/Team Inquisition.
Sounds incredible right? But that’s exactly what they’ve been doing for the past two years, using RPG Maker to bring a new region to life with classic generation three graphics and sprite art.
You start the game as one of two protagonists, Simon and Sofia:
And get to explore a beautiful little starter town covered in snow and accompanied by excellent music:
Exploring the town and interacting with the denizens (including the Professor) immerses you in the classic beginning of a Pokémon title. What really cements this endeavor as a true blue labor of love is the fact that the region has its own Pokémon. Yep, you read that correctly. They actually designed and named a plethora of Pokémon, which all look impressively official:
Even the rival has a cool design and great theme music and is basically an awesome mash-up between rivals Blue/Green and Silver. He actually steals the starter Pokémon acquired by your friendly rival and then proceeds to give you by far the most challenging rival battle I’ve ever experienced.
Overall the demo is a pretty stable build and everything from the graphics to designs to map layouts to the battle themselves are reproduced faithfully. It’s like starting a brand new Pokémon adventure bestowed by Game Freak. This is a small detail, but what blows me away is how well the community reproduced the dialogue — every single line sounds like speech written by the incredibly talented translation team, which is mighty impressive to pull off.
Demo length is roughly one to two hours and includes three towns to visit, about ten Pokémon that can be captured and two caves to explore (with no Zubats!). After you reach the last town and defeat the first Gym Leader, you can’t progress any further but are free to train and explore the areas to your heart’s content.
The game itself runs on RPG Maker XP and uses Pokémon Essentials, which is a set of scripts and resources that allows users to create Pokémon-style games. While nearly everything from third generation on will be incorporated, there will be no Mega Evolutions and Fairy-types since, at the time of the project’s creation, these mechanics were not supported by Essentials.
You can download the demo here (no emulator required) and check out the Wikia page for the project here. There’s also a survey you can fill out when you complete the demo and if you find any bugs, feel free to report them in the forums in detail here. Currently they need help with concept artwork, sprites and more, so check out the Guide to find out how you can participate (remember to be respectful!).