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Apricorns Represent The Best Of Pokemon, And They Need To Come Back

I have been playing Pokemon since way back in Pokemon Blue, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of neat new features be introduced, tweaked, and taken away again. Mega Pokemon, apparently now replaced by Dynamax Pokemon, are the obvious example, but there really are too many to list. Contests, Z-Moves, difficulty options, horde battles, mounts, and countless more have all vanished to history. Quite a few others have been added, removed, then added back – some have even been removed for a second time. Graphically, the Pokemon series has clearly evolved, but with features chopping and changing at random, plus the endless ‘ten year old gits gud and saves world’ stories, it feels like Pokemon hasn’t made the most of its momentum.

Despite all the big eye-catching features that have gone the journey though, I actually think that apricorns are the most interesting of the bunch because they could have been used to expand the world in a much more meaningful way. They recently made a brief comeback in the Pokemon Sword & Shield DLC, but they need to return in a much more substantial way if the series is ever going to explore the vast potential apricorns offer.

If you’re unfamiliar with apricorns, they made their debut in Gen 2 with Gold & Silver. Prior to the invention of Pokeballs, Pokemon still existed, and people still wanted to catch them, so they had to come up with something less complicated, so they turned to apricorns. These grew on trees and could be hollowed out and used to capture Pokemon. No, the game doesn’t really explain this beyond some magic waffle, if that’s what you’re wondering, but I have never needed it to. I don’t mind that some things in the world of Pokemon are unexplained – if anything, it’s easier to imagine life through a ten year old kid’s eyes when you’re basically clueless about everything.

While the technological or magical side of the apricorns isn’t fully explained, the fact that people used to use the resources available to them is a brilliant way to flesh out the world of Pokemon beyond the well-worn path between gyms we always tread. Pokemon always feels fresher when it’s thinking outside the box and making the world feel bigger than just a line of trainers there to train you up on your procession to being crowned the greatest Pokemon master in the whole region. Apricorns are the best example of that, but they didn’t really improve the game as a player experience (if your experience only values catching and winning), so they’ve since been cut.

There are much bigger elements of Pokemon that have not survived Game Freak’s incessant need to change things up without ever actually changing how the game works, which is why few mourn the loss of apricorns. In the games we play, Pokeballs are readily available, so harvesting apricorns, taking them to an expert, and waiting for them to be transformed into Pokeballs we could just buy over the counter was never very appealing. They did have unique properties (each of the coloured apricorns were equivalent to specific balls like the Net Ball), but it never really seemed worth it.

But apricorns were about more than just how useful they were in the meta. They helped establish the history of the world in a realistic, easy to grasp way. It’s not so much that they’ve gone as it is that nothing has replaced them. Pokemon rarely looks back at the history of the world; the Legendaries are often tied to long-forgotten myths, but there is nothing grounded about Pokemon’s history. If it’s not mythical monsters, we don’t get to hear about it.

However, apricorns have been offered a lifeline. In the Sword & Shield DLC, apricorns returned in a more streamlined way, where they could be fed to the Cram-o-matic to produce an actual Pokeball, with each colour apricorn having slightly different odds at getting different balls. That’s not really them being back at all though. It felt more like a wink to the Gold & Silver games, maybe checking the terrain for an eventual Let’s Go Johto. It was a reference for older fans to get – aside from that, the apricorns could have been anything. They weren’t really there because of how important apricorns are in Pokemon history; the game would have been the same if they were apples or rocks or the lining of a Wooloo’s stomach, haggis-style. Okay, maybe that last one has a different tone, but you know what I mean.

Still, apricorns are back on the menu, and with Pokemon Legends Arceus set to actively explore Pokemon history, maybe they’ll have a bigger role to play. Pokemon has such a rich history just under the surface, but too often, the games are too afraid to let us dig.

Next: Pokemon Twilight Wings Proves That Galar Shouldn’t Be Left With Sword & Shield

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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey

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