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Could More Innovation Come to Pokemon?

4/1/13 3:30pm
tl;dr

Kyd doesn't report gaming news. Plenty of others do that. Kyd also likes misleading titles. This is just an analysis of how different ideas could be used in the Pokemon series to keep it feeling new.

Oh the rage I could expect for this. Yes, I used a misleading title. Yes, I think Pokemon needs some changes. I'm sick of the same game. The best changes in Pokemon were made within the first 3 generations, now it's all the same stale experience to me. I don't speak for every Pokemon fan, hell I don't speak for a large portion of them. I just think there are quite a few fronts that Pokemon could improve on. 

EDIT: Due to comments that are aimed at my complete lack of acknowledgement of the competitive aspect of Pokemon I'd also like to go ahead and add that this analysis does not cover aspects of the games that are catering to competitive players. This blog is focused on the story progression and the things that the players regularly interact with in the story. Aside from arcade fighting games I don't purchase anything for the multiplayer and consequently I only pay attention to the campaign/story.

Improving Pokemon? That's blasphemy. It's Perfect!!!

No. It's not perfect in any way to be quite honest. Yes everyone's favorite Rock-Paper-Scissors RPG that instills amazing values, such as forcing pets to fight, sending 10-year olds into the world alone, and speaking to every stranger in sight to the children of today doesn't really need to change for the sake of sales. It will sell, that's the best part of being called "Pokemon". The name alone sells, much like Mario. But really think about it, has much changed to make the games more worth buying than before?

New Pokemon, better graphics, touch screen compatibility, wireless multiplayer, new continents, etc.

Cool, ya got me. There's a lot to each new game. But is it really new? New Pokemon? They're new in name and appearance, but their types and moves don't really have as big of a variation as you might want to think. Every generation you start with a Fire, Grass, or Water type. Every time (sans Yellow). From said 3 potential starters, you venture to find a small Normal-type animal (the Rattata of each gen), a small Normal/Flying-Type bird (the Pidgey), the Early-game Bug Pokemon (Weedle/Caterpie), etc. Tell me which main title game didn't feature this? Choosing the Grass starter usually feels underwhelming as grass Pokemon are also typically the first starter type you come across in the wild.

But they do have different moves, stats, characteristics, abilities, and appearances.

I think this start has been beated to death. Something new please.

Different moves? Forgive me for not seeing much of a difference between generic normal moves or generic fire moves. Fact is, the differences in attacks are extremely minor when considering the levels the Pokemon learn them at. There's nothing special about them. Stats? Those can hardly play any real difference between generations unless considering tiers. There's a small combination of strong points and weaknesses in Pokemon and, unless you're playing against other competitive players, they're scarcely even noteworthy in the game. Characteristics and appearances are the biggest difference between generations, but offer no difference to gameplay. Lastly, abilities are most alike between generations but even the newer ones provide a minimal difference to the game.

The legendaries are different between generations, though.

They are, but if you take ANY Pokemon type, buff it up and give it a catchy name, it can be a legendary Pokemon. I admit that type differences between generations for legendary Pokemon can be refreshing, but they will run out of new combinations and continue to recycle the old ones.

The Gym Leaders and Elite 4 are different each game...

Yes, but about as different as the Pokemon. They use a different combination of the same thing. They all specialize into a type and usually those types are very abusable before the fight. The difficulty comes from unbalanced level differences (assuming no level grinding took place) and forced back-to-back battles without the use of a Pokemon Center. The difference in Gyms and the League really are just small variation. Gym Leader 1 will use low leveled X-type Pokemon and will have between 1 to 3 trainers to battle beforehand. Gym Leader 8 will use high levels X-Type Pokemon and will have a more puzzling gym with more trainers.

Okay so you're saying NOTHING good has come from newer generations?

Double Battles as introduced in Generation 3.

No. Some additions were actually good. The held items in generation 2 were something that worked very well. The abilities and double battles were extremely well done in generation 3. From there on all they've done was improve graphics and try to use more features of the console they were from (touch screen for DS, wireless battles and trades, etc). But beyond generation 3 I can't find any good contributions that weren't directly linked to the features of the consoles. So why do people continue to buy them? Well for the name of the brand. Even if the features and Pokemon added aren't truly new, there's still a fresh feel to most of the players with each game. Team BadGuys are always going to be there, you will always have your rivals, your Professors are always going to be the start of your adventure, and you will still have these types of Pokemon that use these types of attack variants. The fact that they can still be as successful as they are while making these minimal changes is a credit to their procedures.

So if they don't need to change, why do you say they should?

In Stadium, the Gym Leader matches the player's highest

leveled Pokemon in order to keep difficulty consistent.

It's a personal preference really. I, as a fan of single-player games, would like to see more done in these games to make them more challenging and add to the replay value. Let's assume that all Gym Leaders and Elite 4 were treated like their counterparts from the first Pokemon Stadium? By this I mean they automatically match your Party's highest level and it is given to all of their Pokemon. This dynamic could create different fights with different evolutions of Pokemon, and they could be taught different moves than if you'd faced them after level grinding. Adding a level minimum for each gym leader will give players incentive to face other trainers and wild Pokemon along the way.

Broke told Ash that each trainer would

only be allowed to use 1 Pokemon each.

What if they played closer to their counterparts in the television show (assuming they still do what they did in the first saga)? Let's say the gym leader says you can only use a specific number of your Pokemon? Instead of making you pre-select them, you can choose in the battle. Say your limit is 3, that means your first Pokemon and 2 others, but you can choose those 2 others when the time arises. Once you've sent out 3 active Pokemon, the rest of your party will lock out of the battle.

These two changes could change the entire flow of the game, changing the difficulty of the gyms and Elite 4. I find the concept of battling 4 people without a healing center in reach to be garbage since beating any one of them should prove you're "better" than that one, and the champion saying you need to beat the rest then beat the champ too just to be better than 1 trainer is garbage. They could also have difficulty modifiers in-game, with harder difficulties making the gym leaders have a fixed level ABOVE your party or limiting the usage of your party more.

Simple changes like this would give me reason to jump back into this series, but the fact of the matter is Nintendo and Game Freak are making their money without the need of implementing these changes and for that they're only losing 1 consumer. The changes I suggest could drive people away but unless they tried it we will never know. I'm not saying it's a bad series and that you shouldn't play it, I'm just saying that it isn't for me anymore because the difficulty just isn't there and without new changes I feel I could just play gen 3 and get the same feeling...

So my fellow g1s I ask you, what would YOU prefer in Pokemon? Should they add or take away anything? Should they change the concept entirely? Should they play it safe and keep everything the same? What's next for this franchise?

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