[Make It So takes a look at our favorite games and suggests additions, subtractions, and areas to improve upon for the sequel or next entry in the series. This one is more community focused, but you get the idea.]
The Pokemon franchise has been going strong for almost 20 years. Throughout that entire time, the core gameplay and story has remained pretty consistent. You travel around the region battling other trainers, catching (increasingly weird and disturbing) Pokemon, earning badges, and eventually working your way through the Elite Four to become Pokemon champ. While I can see how Nintendo has stuck to the mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” it may be time to think about switching it up a bit and adjusting the gameplay.
My main gripe with the Pokemon franchise is the constantly increasing number of critters to capture, train, and leave in your inbox. Let’s be honest, how many people actually use any more than 10-15 Pokemon throughout the entirety of the game? The motto of the game is “Gotta catch ‘em all!” but why? My last two or three playthroughs I used a roster of seven each time. What makes this worse is Nintendo’s insistence of adding a new 100 to catch every generation. The last two generations in particular have contained so many copies and headscratchers that you have to think that all or most of the really good ideas have been used up by now. The most glaring examples of copies have been Turtwig and his evolutions being a crappy amalgamation of Bulbasaur and Squirtle. I won’t say that all new Pokemon are sigh-inducing, but with each generation the number that are interesting diminishes. Maybe it’s time to stop churning them out and just stick with the 718 they already have.
What Nintendo has done right throughout the different generations of Pokemon has been having each generation take place in a different region of the world. This has added a sense of exploration that has to have contributed to the longevity of the franchise. Each region has had its own quirks and popular areas. It’s time to take advantage of that by allowing players to start in any of the regions that have been in the games so far. The world is expansive and as interesting as a new region would be, it’s time to take a step back and look at the world as a whole. I’d like to see the next game canonically take place after all the previous games and allow the player to travel to all the different regions. Taking the train between Kanto and Johto was one of my favorite features of Gold and Silver, and taking that idea and expanding on it will add a huge amount of play time to the game. The player should have the freedom to tackle each region and collect their respective badges in any order they see fit. Each region obviously has obstacles in place to keep trainers below a certain level out so players can go through and play an entire region all at once, or jump around between the different regions.
The ability to start in any region and travel throughout the Pokéworld has to be tied together with the chance to pick from any of the 18 starter Pokemon. This freedom can go a long way towards giving players more of a say in how they build their teams from the ground up. Personally, I think Squirtle is, and probably always will be, the best starter, and I’d love the chance to take him with me around the world without having to trade him through the different games, on different handhelds to get one.
Speaking of building your team from the ground up, I’ve never been a fan of how your Pokemon are limited to only knowing four moves. I understand that it’s an element of the RPG aspects of the games, but there’s a much better way of handling it. I would much rather see the ability to keep all the moves your Pokemon learn, but have to equip them outside of battle like boosts. You could adjust each Pokemon’s move list and customize your party to take down a certain gym leader or Elite Four member. To aid in this regard, I’d also like to see HMs either removed completely or retooled so the out of battle aspects don’t take up a valuable move slot. Everybody who has played a game in the series has that one Pokemon they use as the HM servant, which pretty much limits your usable party to five. If they were turned into passive abilities, they could be removed from the move list and free up a spot both in your move list and your party makeup.
The most important change I’d like to see is shifting the series over to the Wii U. Pokemon has proven that it is a console mover and it will easily sell millions. With the success of Pokemon X and Y’s 3D-esque visuals, Nintendo should take advantage of the franchise and use it to help out the struggling console. Even if the Wii U was a massive success, people have been asking for a console Pokemon game since the series’ inception. Time to give the people what they want, Nintendo; you might get the help you need at the same time.
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