The best Pokemon game isn't made by Game Freak

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In recent years the Pokemon series has seen some highs and lows. Since the transition to the Switch, fans have criticised each title for a flurry of reasons from graphics to performance, to a lack of a complete Pokedex. Having enjoyed my time with the latest games Scarlet and Violet, I wanted a break from modern titles. At the same time, I wanted something fresh that I hadn’t already sunk hundreds of hours into. I wanted a ROM hack, and in my search for an interesting one, I stumbled across something I didn’t expect to get excited for: an RPG Maker-built fan game. And what a ride I was in for.

What I'm talking about today is Pokemon Infinite Fusion. On the surface, we have a complete retelling of the original Kanto adventure, complete with graphics resembling the DS games. Because it’s built using RPG Maker and what I assume to be a modified version of the Pokemon Essentials Starter Kit, it’ll run natively on PC with full controller support. It looks fine and runs well even on low-spec systems, and is a great game to throw onto a Windows handheld if you happen to be picking up the ROG Ally this month, but there’s obviously more to it than just being a good fan-made adventure. The clue’s in the title, and it doesn’t take long for it to show you.

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Fusing a Bidoof with another Bidoof... Bigdoof?

The core mechanic of Pokemon Infinite Fusion is, unsurprisingly, Pokemon fusion. This is something that has been explored in the official lineup, albeit briefly, with the likes of Kyurem and to a lesser extent Rotom. Infinite Fusion takes it a step further though. There’s not just one or two cool Pokemon that will go together. Oh no, here, everything fuses with everything. Now that might not sound like all that big a deal to read. How big an impact can that really have? Doing the maths puts really it into perspective though. We have 420 Pokemon in the game, which includes every Pokemon from Kanto and Johto, as well as 169 additional Pokemon plucked from other generations. You might be tempted to start shouting about how that isn’t the full Pokedex, but just hold on for a second. Every one of those Pokemon can fuse with every other one of those Pokemon in one of two ways: where Pokemon A is the head, or where Pokemon A is the body. What does this mean? It means that despite the Pokedex only containing 420 out of the 1000+ official species, that we have more than 175,000 Pokemon to collect if we want to catch them all. Seriously.

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I’m not going to pretend every one of those is a great design. There’s clearly a degree of automation you can see in a lot of the Pokemon where a head has quite clearly been glued onto a palette-swapped body, but it’s here you find some of the atrocities that make up the best parts of your adventure. As I did my first playthrough, I’d be sending image after image to friends in hysterics at what the Pokemon Gods had allowed to exist. What stands out more than the abominations though is the fact that more than 20,000 of the sprites were in fact handcrafted by the community. Rotom and Porygon fusions became my favourites to encounter, with custom Rotom sprites always incorporating the orange colour and electricity between joints, while Porygon fusions would often be some form of digitisation or glitchiness. Infinite Fusion does a great job in balancing the designs that you wish were real with those you wish you could put out of their misery. It keeps you constantly hooked as you move from encounter to encounter, and fuels you to keep switching up your team far more than any traditional title has ever managed to.

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The environment is familiar, but refreshed!

It’s great to see that Kanto wasn’t just taken tile for tile as well. Throughout the region you’ll notice changes both big and small, as well as a new story that gives Team Rocket much more of a meaningful presence by integrating fusion into their ambitions. After beating the main game, you can even venture to the Johto region in a slightly shorter post-game adventure set three years before the events of Gold and Silver. The attention to detail here is incredibly charming, with a bunch of recognisable characters at times in different roles due to the time difference. You do unfortunately miss out on the Western side of Johto past Ecruteak City, but you’ll be happy to know there are still a total of 16 badges on offer. The two missing gym leaders are just on holiday, and can be challenged in an again-revamped Sevii Islands.

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The amount of content you have paired with the genuine quality and polish is astounding, and it completely blew past my negative preconceptions towards RPG Maker-made fan games. On top of this 20 to 30 hour adventure, you get a generous ten save slots and an in-built randomiser mode that itself has enough options to keep you coming back to something fresh for weeks or even months. And on top of that you have a further “modern” mode to explore, that revamps Kanto with Pokemon that weren’t originally available there, while still maintaining a sense of cohesion that you wouldn’t get from a randomised experience. I haven’t covered everything about the game in this post, and that’s because I really do think it’s one worth checking out. It’s entirely free, and outside of the time it takes to extract those 170,000 sprites (top tip: make sure to extract the zip file to where you want to keep the game, moving it after is a hefty time commitment), can be run out of the box on almost any PC.

If you’re feeling burned out from Game Freak’s offerings, this might just be the breath of fresh air you need to jump back into the franchise. You can check out its official page over on PokeCommunity below:

:arrow: Pokemon Infinite Fusion (PokeCommunity)
 

x65943

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Wait this isn't pokemon quartz??! Where is Babos?

More seriously tho, I like the idea of a built in randomizer. Could you imagine if a mainline pokemon game actually launched with that? I haven't beaten any of the games since SuMO, but am holding out hope they make a good game again sometime. Who knows maybe black/white remake will be good at least
 

Scarlet

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Wait this isn't pokemon quartz??! Where is Babos?

More seriously tho, I like the idea of a built in randomizer. Could you imagine if a mainline pokemon game actually launched with that? I haven't beaten any of the games since SuMO, but am holding out hope they make a good game again sometime. Who knows maybe black/white remake will be good at least
I think about how easy it would be for them to implement this in-universe from time to time. Like they have Pokemon that exist that can warp space, switch dimensions. You could even have it written as a bad dream caused by Darkrai or something. It'd be so simple and add so much value, but they'll never do it.

Some of the more modern GBA ROM hacks also have built in randomisers too, which is really cool. I love how much the community elevates this series.
 

x65943

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I love pokemon infinite fusion. Fully playable on the steam deck. Steam can play rpg maker titles w/o needing to buy rpg maker. At least i know for sure on the deck.
I love the avatar btw, I see you are a big fan

Pikasaur
 

AkiraKurusu

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One reason why I typically dislike Pokémon fangames, is that they keep the randomness present in Game Freak's Pokémon generation (random nature, IVs, ability slot and thus actual ability, gender), but don't provide ways to counteract this like Game Freak's done in the Switch games - one of the very few positives about those games. Stuff like Mints, Ability Capsules and Patches, and Bottle Caps.

Why don't more fangames incorporate this stuff, to nullify much of the frustrating randomness?
 

x65943

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One reason why I typically dislike Pokémon fangames, is that they keep the randomness present in Game Freak's Pokémon generation (random nature, IVs, ability slot and thus actual ability, gender), but don't provide ways to counteract this like Game Freak's done in the Switch games - one of the very few positives about those games. Stuff like Mints, Ability Capsules and Patches, and Bottle Caps.

Why don't more fangames incorporate this stuff, to nullify much of the frustrating randomness?
Hardcore fans tend to favor continuity and appreciate the difficult aspects of games - if I had to guess a lot of people probably dislike that randomness being taken out of new games

Making something easy doesn't always make it more fun - and besides if you want easy perfect stats just gen them
 

Scarlet

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Hardcore fans tend to favor continuity and appreciate the difficult aspects of games - if I had to guess a lot of people probably dislike that randomness being taken out of new games

Making something easy doesn't always make it more fun - and besides if you want easy perfect stats just gen them
I guess just to add to this, stats to that degree have never really mattered much outside of competitive play and compulsive min maxers. I'd argue it matters even less in a game like this where fusion blends Pokemon stats together anyway.

I do believe Infinite Fusion brings in a lot of the QOL stuff added in over the years though, as well as its own things like a hidden power changer.
 
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AkiraKurusu

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Hardcore fans tend to favor continuity and appreciate the difficult aspects of games - if I had to guess a lot of people probably dislike that randomness being taken out of new games

Making something easy doesn't always make it more fun - and besides if you want easy perfect stats just gen them
Is it even possible to "gen" perfect stats in fangames? Since programs meant to edit the official games don't support fangames?

Personally...as Scarlet put it, I am a compulsive min-maxer, so I really can't use 'imperfect', random Pokémon anymore; I like the removal of randomness. What I dislike about the new games are the removal of choice, of options, along with the countless nerfs implemented since XY, but the items I mentioned earlier are brilliant.
Plus, having 'perfect' stats doesn't automatically make a game easy - hacking in items or powerful Pokémon (by base stat total), definitely, but not just maxing out stats of weaker creatures, especially if the level curve is designed properly so the player's never grievously overlevelled (or grievously underlevelled, for that matter).
 

Lavaimp

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I've been meaning to give this a try, but at the same time i'm worried that drawing attention to the game may get it shut down by nintendo somehow?
Are they still doing that?
 

ertre

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Monster Rancher did it first :V
lol shrug
And your point being?

some of those pokemon designs are atrocious, sorry but i dont like it.
Kinda missing the point.

I've been meaning to give this a try, but at the same time i'm worried that drawing attention to the game may get it shut down by nintendo somehow?
Are they still doing that?
Only if things are monetized. This game has been getting attention everywhere, mostly due to streamers. So I doubt you playing it will be the turning point.
 

VirgileVILE

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It was once an excellent fangame by a fellow Frenchman: "Frogman", and for 3 years I made sprites on it, but since it has been rotten by a community that uses it to create politicized fusions of identity-based messages that have no place in a game played by children, it no longer exists in my eyes.
 
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SDA

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I could use RPG Maker to experiment with franchises that might not fit RPG games at all (like Star Fox or the classic Mega man series). That'd be awesome.
 
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