Cast a glance over Hollywood's future release schedule and you'd be forgiven for thinking that three simple words, when uttered during a studio pitch meeting, have the power to send financiers tripping over each other to hand over wads of cash. Those words are: 'Dark, gritty reboot.'
This trend has not gone unnoticed in the video game industry, either. Nintendo fans in particular have garnered somewhat of a reputation for demanding more adult, M-rated versions of, say, The Legend of Zelda, and even Pokémon.
These hopeful requests have largely fallen on deaf ears (unless you call Twilight Princess 'dark and gritty'), but the fans themselves are all too eager to do what Nintendon't.
So, with that in mind, programmer Nathan Gunzenhauser presents...
Development on this fan-made project began back in December 2014 and, though still unfinished, it's shaping up rather nicely.
In the creator's own words, "Pokémon Apex is developed with an adult Pokémon fan in mind." That doesn't mean Apex is outrageously NSFW, but it does deal with more mature topics, fit for Trainers who grew up in the 90s and are now looking for a narrative with a little more nuance than 'your childhood friend is a douche, now beat his ass.'
As Gunzenhauser writes:
The game contains some adult dialogue (some swearing) and themes (death, abandonment), and some minor horror elements.
The game is also designed to be more difficult than your average Pokémon adventure; something the community has been calling for. You'll have to think more carefully about your battle tactics, making difficult choices that have genuine consequence.
So what's the story?
Well, you play as an ordinary high schooler in Nascene City, living a rather humdrum day-to-day life.
However, one day something unexpected happens. On the way to school, you somehow find yourself in a strange world inhabited by creatures called “Pokémon.” It isn’t long before you discover a dark cult who are hellbent on causing the destruction of both worlds! It’s not your responsibility to stop them, but for some reason they just keep targeting you.
Okay, so it does share some thematic similarities with the all-ages games. However, Gunzenhauser has ensured that the experience will feel fresh even for veteran players of the franchise. Apex layers custom tilesets, new audio, and original character sprites on top of Pokémon's familiar gameplay.
It's an undeniably impressive achievement, all created in RPG Maker XP. I urge you to download Pokémon Apex here and give it a try for yourself.