AW: Greetings all, and welcome to a special feature we all felt needed to be done. Well, by “all”, we mean “all three of us hardcore Pokemon fans”, but I digress…
We all love Pokemon. There’s no denying that. If we could, we would shout this fact across the rooftops. We’ve spent the money, we’ve logged in hours upon HOURS on our carts, and when we could, we attended the events. We have our favorite teams, our favorite starters, etc, etc, etc.
However, we also noticed that the series has hit a slight downturn as of late. The quality of the RPGs have gone down a bit since the Crystal GBC days, and haven’t seemed to reclaim the full magic it once had. Sure the GBA games were fun, but with all the remakes out now, there has to be a line drawn. When Emerald was released, we just had to say “ENOUGH”.
So our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to see where Game Freak is slacking on, what they are getting right, and perhaps offer a suggestion or thirty as to how they can breathe new life into Pokemon, rather than repeating the same formula over and over again.
Members of this three-person roundtable are the three biggest Pokemaniacs on our staff. Say hello to Alex Lucard…
AW: …*cough*…and myself, Alex Williams. So lets begin!
TOPIC #1: Game Freak Getting Stale?
AW: Has Game Freak fallen prey to using the same format for their games over and over, much like many of the other popular games on the market today? Your thoughts…
LC: To a degree. The “main” Pokemon games all have the same plot, with minor varying details. The kid is a new trainer, and eventually rises through the ranks to become champion. We GET it.
AW: So the new Pokemon and new towns just aren’t enough?
LC: We need something different. Colosseum was a step in the right direction, but even THAT’S being rehashed in XD.
AL: They need to stop with new Pokemon and the same Elite 4 crap. Focus on the nigh 400 they already have.
LC: Agreed. There needs to be more focus on core characters, and do something more with the Pokemon themselves! They’re supposed to be animals, right? How come there are no real incidences of Pokemon hunters? or savage attacks on people? Obviously, GF doesn’t want to infuriate parents, but come on…
AL: Exactly. A good new plot would be say oh…Mewtwo, who is established as being for than just a cockfighting cutie, decided to strike back against humans. Maybe with his own army of Pokemon.
LC: That was the plot in the first Movie. But the ending SUCKED.
LC: The opening was perfect. He slaughtered an island full of scientists.
AW: And the original Japanese cut didn’t give away the ending in the first twenty minutes!
AL: The cartoon has the right focus. Game Freak needs to go that route now.
LC: Indeed. With lots more Meowth. Hell, even put Jessie and James in as recurring game characters.
AL: Or even theme games. Like a Pokemon “Spend a night in a haunted house” ala Luigi’s Mansion or Ghostbusters. Look how popular Snap was. There was 50 or so Pokemon in that. And people loved it. It showed more about the specific Pokemon and them being cute.
AW: I want to see more done with the Pokedex, actually. Every game says something different about every Pokemon. If you only play Leaf Green, for example, you only get a sentence or two about each. But you put Red+Blue / Yellow / Gold / Silver / Crystal / Fr / Lg RSE together, you have a near-complete encyclopedia. No game, outside of maybe Stadium 2, has even come close to putting together such a list. So I see two options here: (1) Either release an interactive companion GBA/DS cart for $15 that’s simply an interactive encyclopedia on all 386 Pokemon, or have the option of more entries in future games. Maybe you don’t gain information JUST by catching them.
LC: Diamond and Pearl may go that route. I imagine there’ll be some sick GBA connectivity.
AL: They could do a lot more with the carts as well. I mean, Crystal/Gold/Silver had a bigger world and longer adventure than R/S. They need to get away from the RPG trappings they have made for themselves. Not do away with RPG’s altogether, but damn, change it up people! At least one good thing Pokemon has going for it is they always release 1-2 non-RPG games between the cash cow crops. To keep it fresh in that way.
LC: Yeah. Even if they bomb, it’s still a good idea. Even sucky games mix it up.
AL: And of course there’s always the MMORPG. If anything is made for that, Pokemon is.
LC: D&P is rumored to be online, too.
AL: You know what I’d like? You know the SIM games? Like Sim City and Sim Theme Park? What if they did Sim Pokemon? Where you built a nature preserve and depending where and what you built, it would attract different Pokemon. And you would learn about them. It would also give you a THICK Pokedex.
AW: Build your own Safari Zone! The Ice area gets Swinubs and Dewgong! Volcano areas for Torkoals and Slugma!
AL: YES! EXACTLY!
LC: And legendaries would be located on servers ONLY, so you couldn’t cheat.
AL: Well the Sim Park could even be not connected to the MMORPG. You build up a zone, attract enough customers, and you can build a new one under a new environment. Do a park to a certain hidden specification and a legandary stays there. People of all ages would love that game! I mean you could watch Pikachus in the wild. Zapdos swooping down and carrying off a Rattata for a meal.
LC: And shooting Jigglypuffs with BB guns!
AW: As long as there’d be no ultra-confusion in the beginning that leads you bankrupt in the first five minutes. I’ve always HATED that about the Sims. But yeah, you schedule expeditions to various parts of the world to get stuff and obtain different species. And when you return, all the Girafarig broke out of their pen and are confusing everyone. I could play that game all day.
AL: Oh yeah, no more squarks and bytes. If Pokemon Yellow could have Pikachu’s voice actress in the game, the console games should ALL feature talking Pokemon with their respective voices.
LC: That’s both good AND bad. Most of their voices are beyond irritating, and most also do not speak. They just growl or whatever.
AW: Or at least update the squarks into something like realistic cries.Stadium 1 and 2 did that, and it was awesome.
AL: All I want is to hear “SNOOOOOOR-LAX”
AW: Just give me “AAAAAAAR-BOK!” and I’ll be set for life. Now, moving on…
TOPIC #2: What Do We Still Like About Pokemon?
AW: So what are Nintendo and Game Freak doing that we are still super-happy about?
AL: It’s CUTE!
LC: It’s still the most solid RPG engine out there. The first game was more deep than ANY Final Fantasy title.
AL: It may be played out, but it’s hard to find a flaw in it other than that.
AW: The engine is incredible balanced and munchkin-proofed.
LC: Hundreds of characters with thousands of possible move sets. And the game NEVER ENDS, without getting boring.
AW: There are lots of games to drop money on, but the compatibility between versions is unrivaled.
AL: And every game adds a new feature to the Pokemon themselves. Personalities, a change of how EV points work, new types; always something new…
LC: And even though some Pokemon are cheesy, GF continually thinks up new cool ones. Like Deoxys, Jirachi, etc. We just hate the name “Bonsly.” Ugh. [The pre-evolution to Sudowoodo.]
AL: I don’t like the pre-evo’s.
LC: LIES! You love Pichu!
AL: No. They’re cute, but they’re useless game wise. Who is ever going to be seen using a Cleffa or an Igglybuff? A Magikarp is generally tougher.
AW: Thank goodness Wynaut just turns into a full-fledged Wobbuffet at Lv16.
AL: And Pokemon has such a detailed list of characters from the cartoon, they could easily make a game with cameos ala after you win the title in S/G/C.
AW: Yeah. Meet Brock in a rocky area, run into Max who tells you where May is training. Run into RANDOM Gym Leaders from the past. Not all of them, but some appearing on certain days or something.
LC: That would be damn cool.
AW: Oh yeah! BRING BACK THE CALENDAR!
AL: God yes!
LC: The day/night thing in Crystal ruled.
AL: Yep. And realistic.
AW: Since we seem to be getting on the next topic already, lets move on to our final topic…
TOPIC #3: What Do WE Want To See?
AW: So now we’ve highlighted the good and bad on the current series, as well as some ideas for future endeavors. Let’s continue with these ideas and tell Game Freak exactly what we want to see out of future Pokemon games!
AL: As much as I hate it in 99% of other games, cell shading might be a nice touch for Pokemon
AW: Only if its done right.
LC: True. NOT on the DS, though. It’ll look horrendous.
AL: The handheld game can stay blocky and/or 2D. I want the console games to look and sound like the cartoon. The cartoon is cute! I want cute! ALWAYS CUTE!
AW: The handhelds better STAY 2D. Better quality, of course. But still…
AL: You know, the DS could also make use of that mike. Actually issue the commands to the Pokemon. That way I can go “Pikachu! Thunderbolt now!” And he will go “PI PIKA!”
AW: So what would you like to see in the next batch of RPGs specifically?
AL: I’d like to see anything but the current plot. Keep the same engine, but a new more dynamic plot.
LC: Agreed. NEW PLOT. Hell, make one where you join Team Magma or Team Aqua, and got assigned missions.
AL: I still think taking a variation from the first Pokemon movie plot would be good. I mean that’s 6 years old. Or something like “main character’s dad is an archaeologist and he is lost in the ruins of the Unown, and you have to dig through it.”
AW: Nightmare of Duraga: Pikachu Edition?
AL: DIE, WILLIAMS!
AL: Or even have a starter of each type and you don’t get to pick. You get them by answering questions ala Ogre Tactics.
AW: There’s another thing. Starters are so stinking hard to come by. Make them more readily available through special events. Like you start with an Eevee, but you have to earn the trust of a Squirtle or a Torchic. There would be 12 “starters”, and by the end of the game, you’d get 9 of them, with the last remaining few being ultra-random encounters, or just trading for them. I realize that “catching them all” is a lot of work, but COME ON!
AL: I want a Pokemon raising sim!
LC: I’ll second that, but with a CHOICE of Pokemon. Hell, it worked for Nintendogs.
AW: That’s not half bad. Each game comes with X amount of breeds you can just raise, teach attacks, explore with…
LC: Yep. And with the DS wireless abilities, you can literally have them wander around with others!
AW: I can see you tracing stuff on screen to train Squirtle to use Water Gun.
LC: Or drawing pictures for Smeargle to copy. I still like my idea of a Team Magma or Team Aqua game, completely mission based.
AL: I would rather a Team Rocket game. That way, LC, you could have your Meowth talk to you through the controls. And the Team Rocket song kicks ass.
LC: I figured it would be at LEAST two games, due to the usual color split.
AW: One thing that I want for the next batch of traditional RPGs is to have you start at different places. Diamond starts you in Eevee Town, while Pearl starts you in Snorlax Bay, or something like that.
LC: Different regions! Imagine one in Hoenn, one in Johto, one in Kanto, one in Orre…
AW: Or completely different regions to flesh out the PokePlanet even more. Beat the stuff in your starting region, and go to one of three more.
LC: Like they did in Crystal! I don’t know WHY they got rid of that!
AL: Because they wanted to do less work for more money. Imagine how big PokeCol could have been if they wanted it to be. Cripes!
LC: Indeed. In R/S, it was at least acceptable, since they were making a completely new game engine from scratch.
AW: And they did add in tons of new places in the Fr/Lg remake. The islands and dungeons therein were great. And something else: have a yearly tournament on only one day. Have the game build it up for weeks and weeks before it happens. Then, using DS WiFi, have everyone compete.
LC: That would be cool as hell. And offer some online-only legendaries, on certain days and times. It makes it a bit fairer than hauling ass to NYC ;-)
AW: AGREED. I would LOVE to have the option of going SOMEWHERE ELSE than NYC to get the best stuff.
LC: I’ve got another stupid idea: Pokemon Trading Card Game DS, with online trading and leagues.
AW: Why not? It worked for YuGiOh.
AL: I hated the first game. You could predict that coin toss every time.
LC: I know. FIX the first game, and use the expansions.
AL: Good call.
Well, that about does it for the three of us. We love Pokemon too much for it to become stagnant with the same games being re-released every 1-2 years. The things we suggested are really only the tip of the iceberg as far as the directions this franchise can go. And we certainly hope that one day, one of these paths will be taken, and a new adventure will await us.