As many are wondering what the next generation of Pokemon games will entail (especially with rumors of a new handheld/NX abounding), it seems the perfect time to really update the formula and make some much needed changes to the franchise.
While the last couple iterations of Pokemon (X and Y, Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby) have made some incredibly strides to modernize the classic formula, it still doesn’t seem to go far enough. The new stuff is good and helped improved the overall game, but it feels more like they’re merely polishing the formula instead of changing it.
For fans like me who’ve tried to “Catch ‘em All” time and time again, we want evolution instead of lateral movements. Keep in mind, I’m a huge fan of the franchise and have followed it since Blue & Red were initially released (when I also learned the value of saving often).
More Engaging/Meaningful Mini-Games
I don’t know about the rest of you…but I have absolutely no interest in dressing my Pokémon up in digital clothing to compete in a beauty contest. I mean, why do my battle-hardened warrior Pokémon need to compete to see who’s the cutest? It just boggles my mind. Remember Poffins or putting stickers onto your pokeballs? Neither of those things helped me when I was getting my ass kicked in a Gym battle, nor does building an underground fort (though it’s neat), so why on Earth should I take the time to do it?
I’m not saying they should abolish them entirely; there are some gamers who like them, however, I want a reason to play these mini-games. Make it a part of the story, or tie it more into the quest you’re on. Either way, there has to be some impetus to play these types of games.
New mini-games would be great too, something that appeals to a wider range of gamers than pageants and musicals…I always enjoyed the type of games when you had to catch the biggest Pokémon or something like that. Give gamers a real competition. Hell, you could even have a mini-game that allows you to directly control your Pokémon in an actual battle, which would be a fun tie-in to Pokken.
Adjust The 4 Moves Limit/The Way Moves Are Handled
More than anything, I feel this is the bane of my Pokémon playing experience. Your critters can only know four moves total for the entire game at once. However, there are a ridiculously amount of moves available for all of them to learn. In the past this was a double issue as it was nearly impossible to re-learn any of those moves without going to a special place. Fortunately B&W elimiated most of that hassle by letting introducing the concept of TMs being used multiple times.
On top of that, you have HMs which are essential moves, which are required to have in your party. If you don’t, you won’t be able to travel to necessary sections. Most fans (myself included) resort to keeping a ‘workhorse’ Pokémon in the team, whose sole purpose is to use all four of it’s move slots for HMs. Let’s face it though, there are plenty of HMs which are almost entirely useless in battle, meaning that specific Pokemon is left untouched.
I think the best way the developers can fix this, is to go all out RPG-style with it. Make it so gamers can swap out move sets as you travel so a Pokémon can learn more without limitations. The caveat, however, is they can only utilize four of their learned moves into battle. During the actual fights, you still only choose from 4 different moves (not an unlimited number, as that’d be ridiculous), but before you instigate a battle you could swap out move sets.
Hell, even tie it into the computer system, where you have to use the computer to log-in and swap out your moves. If anyone remembers playing the first Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, it’s that type of system I’m talking about (you had to pick which spells you took with you before entering a dungeon and that’s all you got while you were in there).
A system like that would eliminate a lot of frustration in how Pokemon are taught, while adding another layer of strategy to combat. You’d have to seriously consider what moves to take into any situation and make sure you still keep a good balance between all of your Pokémon.
A Story With More Weight
One of the things I was happiest with in X & Y was the fact that the story was longer and took you all the way to the Elite Four. In previous games the story would stop soon before the last Gym. As such, aside from your own personal desire to keep going, the game didn’t give you any impetus to finish up the game.
Even with that much needed change, I didn’t feel like the story was strong, nor anything more than a quick update to the traditional plot. I get it, there are a lot of kids who play these games, it’s a big audience and they aren’t as concerned with story. However, there are several fans who have grown up with the series, and it’d be nice if the story evolved a little too. I’m not saying it should be uber dark or anything like that, but giving the story more substance, maybe creating some characters you can actually care about (like all other RPGs) would go a long way towards appealing to the older audience while keeping the kiddos happy too.
There is room in the story for a balance like that, which could appeal to all ages, whereas right now they only appeal to the one demographic. This leads me to, for the most part, skipping past a lot of dialog exchanges or rushing through moments.
The All-Inclusive Pokémon Game Experience
This is something I’ve wanted for a very long time and I don’t think I’m alone. I want a Pokémon game that encompasses and includes ALL the regions from every previous iteration. Obviously, there would have to be some big changes made (mostly pertaining to the Gyms I’m sure), otherwise gameplay would just get tedious and boring, but with a good story providing the motivation, this would be awesome.
I mean, just imagine the ability to actually catch all of the Pokémon in one game by being able to traverse the entire world instead of just an individual region. Even better, you could have the ability to call one particular region your “home” and then defend it’s honor from champions in the other regions. This would be something that could play into a bigger multiplayer component, which would keep the game active long after it’s release.
Sure, it’d be a massive RPG for the handheld, but maybe that’d be a great excuse to finally give us a good Pokémon RPG experience on the consoles….
No More Random Battles
This one is most likely never going to happen. I’ve come to terms with it, but I still think it’s a change worth doing. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of random battles in any game that incorporates it. When I need to do something quickly or don’t have a lot of time to play the game, I hate having my time bogged down by random battles. While there are the repel spray items that give you a break, it’s still not cool.
The perspectives have changed (giving us a 3D world now) with the last couple games, and there are parts where you can “see” the Pokemon and go after it…But the core of the game still revolves around random battles. Remember Earthbound; one of the best SNES RPGs ever? They didn’t have random battles, instead they let you see the enemies on the screen. Then you could either run from them or engage them as you wanted.
Imagine being able to see the Pokémon as you’re walking around the world, and engaging them as you need to. This would tie in greatly with the TV show (as that’s how they find them there), but it could also add in another level of strategy to the game. Say you come across a Pokémon you see in the grass hiding out, but it’s back is turned to you. You could run past it and avoid confrontation, but you could also sneak up on it, letting you attack first or even give you a greater chance of success at catching it (especially for those who normally teleport away immediately).
Like I said, that’s not likely to happen any time soon, but it would be a very welcome breath of fresh air to the gameplay. Something unique that could attract jaded gamers back to the franchise.
Let’s Chill on the Legendaries
The term “Legendary” implies a bit of rarity, something that’s outside the norm. In the Pokemon franchise, it refers to pocket monsters who are, quite literally, out of that world’s myths and legends, with some doubting their very existence. The problem now, however, is throughout all these generations of games, the amount of legendary creatures has grown to ridiculous amounts. It’s to the point where they feel less and less special, not only in the context of the game’s story, but to catching them all as well.
That’s not to say some of the newer ones aren’t cool and exciting, but the insistence of having each new title bringing their own batch of legendary Pokemon (up to five or six in some of the games) is a little too much. It’s a good time to slow things down, and remind people why these monsters are referred to as legendary. Instead of making new ones, maybe stick to the old ones, making them harder and harder to find.
If you want to make them feel new and exciting, stick with the “mega evolutions” to change things up, without having to introduce all new ones. Regardless of how it’s handled, it seems like these types of Pokemon need to feel special again, rather than piling on new ones.
While these things I’ve listed above are ‘bigger’ changes, there are some smaller ones that’d be good too:
* No More Happiness! – Get rid of the happiness meter. Let’s face it, no Pokémon is really happy. They’re slaves captured from their natural habitat and forced to live in tiny cramped balls. They’re only allowed outside to battle each other in brutal contests….but you know, you get to decorate their homes with cute stickers, so that makes up for it.
* Compatability To Generation 1 – It’s impossible at this point to take your generation 1 Pokémon over into your newer games. Meaning it’s pretty much impossible to catch them all, like you’re encouraged to do. Surely there must be some way to set up the Pokemon Bank to allow this (especially with the original games finally coming to the eShop).
* Limit the New Pokémon – We don’t need copious amounts new Pokémon every single game. It makes it harder and harder to keep up with and the designs are all starting to blend together anyway (Zubat and Woobat…you’re not fooling anyone).
Making any of these changes (or coming close to them) would go a long way towards keeping the series innovative and fresh. Perhaps this longer break in between games will give the developers the time they need to come back and wow us. Only time will tell.