Pokemon has been with us for a long time. Many ’90s kids, myself included, still have fond memories of Red and Blue. Making that huge decision about which starter to choose, collecting the best generation of pokemon, battling and beating all eight gym leaders, and becoming the champion of the Pokemon League; it was a fantastic gaming experience. Then came Yellow . . . and Gold, Silver, Crystal, etc. There have been more spin offs than I care to think about.
The franchise remains relevant, despite the fact that the Pokemon franchise formula has never really changed. Each new generation adds some sort of new gimmick, throws in a couple dozen new Pocket Monsters, and plants players in a new region of the Pokemon world. Gamers still choose a starter, collect eight badges, move on to some sort of league, fight baddies (like Team Rocket), all while trying to “catch ’em all” along the way. I think that it is time to change things up.
Back to its Roots:
Obviously, I don’t want Pokemon to keep perpetuating the same gameplay mechanics and fail to break away from tradition. I want the games to be original, creative, and pioneering. That is what Red and Blue were: massive fun, heavily addicting, and unlike anything else that gamers could pickup for their Gameboy. I want this franchise to be able to return to that level of inventiveness.
Currently, players can choose their name and their sex, and that’s about it. Player customization is becoming more and more prevalent in games, and Pokemon should not be an exception to this rule. Allow gamers to choose how they look; the color of their skin, what they wear, etc. I think that it is about time that Pokemon catches is with the rest of the industry.
I know that these games are intended for kids first; I was a kid once, believe it or not, but every generation of Pokemon seems to hold gamers’ hands more and more. Black and White Version 2 are perfect examples of that. Running shoes, a bicycle, and all of the HMs (hidden moves) are simply given to you incredibly early on in the game. The dialogue and story are hugely simplistic. It feels like Gamefreak is assuming that anyone playing their game must be an idiot, and therefore, everything has to be dumbed down for them. In my experience, I have learned never to underestimate the intelligence of gamers, kids, or kid-gamers. Play just about any competitive multiplayer game and you’ll find someone younger than you that is considerably better than you.
Every game in the core franchise takes players on the same journey: collect eight badges, fight bad guys, win league championship. I want Gamefreak to give us a Pokemon game with an even more open world and less linear story. How about letting players choose the order of the gyms they face, and then just scale the difficulty to the gamer’s pokemon? Anything that promotes freedom without feeling completely forced would be welcome.
I would love to see the battle system become much more dynamic and truly break away from what gamers have grown accustomed to. I want epic, 3D battles, where pokemon actually know more than four moves and don’t “forget” old ones. What I think would really be great fun is a Pokemonized version of the combat from Ni Nu Kuni, where gamers send commands to their pokemon and have some control over them, too. How about dropping the turn-based fighting and make it real-time? Not only would that be a drastic departure from the games, but from the show, too. It would be much more realistic that way, closer to how I imagine it would be to have a pokemon battle in real life. Just thinking about it has put me in a daze, and I may even be drooling a little. It would be SO MUCH FUN!
Playing with friends makes almost any game better. Maybe it is just me, but I feel like the world of Pokemon would be one of the better game worlds to turn into an MMO. Instead of running around and fighting only NPCs, players could compete against each other. Also, since there are already 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 battles, gamers could hold those same types of battles, but with four and six different players, each using one of their own pokemon. I think that a Pokemon MMO would be capable of making all of the changes that I’m asking for.
Bring It To The Wii U:
As of writing this, there isn’t a single MMO on the Wii U. Despite this fact, people have been saying that Nintendo’s latest console creation is the perfect place for MMOs, even before the system actually launched. The jump from handhelds to consoles (you can still keep Pokemon on the 3DS, too) would bring improved graphics that would make battles feel truly epic. Fighting in Pokemon has lost most of its appeal and doesn’t have much weight to it, but conducting battles on the Wii U would be a dream come true. Think Pokemon Stadium: fighting was just better when it was bigger.
Honestly, I’m not sure that any of the changes that I’ve been clamoring for will ever happen. Thus far, the core games of the Pokemon franchise have been playing things quite safe (with the exception of the original games). While the Wii U is young, it is losing in sales to the PS3 and Xbox 360. I think that a Pokemon game similar to the one that I want to be made could help provide the spark that Nintendo’s console needs. That, and a new Zelda, Super Smash Bros., and Metroid. So I beg of you, Gamefreak, Nintendo: please make this happen. Pleeeeeeeease.