Kana’s Note: Due to massive amount of spam this post attracts, comments are disabled. Sorry about that.

 

Pokémon. I don’t even need to say more. Everyone knows what it is anyway, as it turned into a legendary worldwide phenomenon that has flooded the world with more Pokémon merchandise than we could ever need. To the chagrin of many.

This article will be about the original game series, more specifically, it’ll be about what changes could be made to these games to improve them as the formula is really starting to wear thin.

The reason I think any kind of improvement is in order is that the main Pokémon games have stuck to the same formula since the very beginning. It obviously works since Nintendo rakes in insane amounts of cash for each game in the series, but I still think that changing the concept might re-ignite the series and draw in more new customers.

Before I list my suggested changes, let me sum up the core principles of all main Pokémon games:

  • Introduce 100+ new Pokémon
  • You play as a 10-year old kid that lives with their mother and has an absent father. They live in a small, peaceful city that contains about three houses and maybe a lab.
  • In this town there also lives a professor and a rival that’ll follow you throughout the game.
  • You eventually encounter the professor, who’ll let you choose from among three starter pokémon: A grass type, a fire type and a water type.
  • You then travel to a small town where you are introduced to the marts and Pokémon centers.
  • You travel the world in a linear fashion, going from town to town.
  • You get a bike pretty early on.
  • You battle eight gym leaders, all of them in charge of a gym focusing on one Pokémon type.
  • You encounter, battle and defeat an evil organization called Team [insert word here].
  • You eventually have to go through victory road, beat the elite four and finally go up against the champion.

This is the formula for every. Single. Game. I don’t believe I’m alone in thinking that this formula got really stale by gen III (The advance games).That’s why I’m going to take a look at the most important of these points one by one, briefly analyzing them and then put forth what changes I think should be made.

Let’s start with point 1:

[Introduce 100+ new Pokémon]

This was a good move in the beginning of the series, when we only had between 151 and 250 Pokémon. Adding new critters to catch made the games feel fresh and tickled the curiosity and exploratory nerve of most players. However, the practice of constantly injecting a huge number of new Pokémon in the new games actually dilutes the importance and value of Pokémon from the previous games. They simply disappear or are replaced by very similar “new Pokémon. Sure, every game has a small assortment of Pokémon from previous games, but I’d argue it’s not enough.

Here’s my (rather simple) solution to the problem: less new Pokémon. Yes. I want less new Pokémon. I mean, there are over 600 variations of the little buggers now. Why not reuse Pokémon that you already have instead of creating new, superfluous Pokémon that are just there to fill some quota. (Dunsparce, Finneon-Lumineon, Luvdisc…etc.).

Instead, Nintendo should put the focus on giving us about 50 really interesting and memorable Pokémon instead of 100+ meh-ish ones.

Another gripe I have is the inclusion of waaaaay too many legendaries in each game. The first games had only four legendaries, something that made them feel so much more unique and powerful. The latest games have about 10+ legendaries, which really dilutes the awesome feeling of having a LEGENDARY Pokémon.

My suggestion for legendaries is the same as the suggestion for Pokémon in general: Focus on giving us a few, really awesome legendaries instead of numerous meh-ish legends.

Bottom-line: Smaller quantity, more quality.

Let’s move on to point 2 and 3:

[ You play as a 10-year old kid that lives with their mother and has an absent father. They live in a small, peaceful city that contains about three houses and maybe a lab.]

[ In this town there also lives a professor and a rival that’ll follow you throughout the game.]

Really, how hard can it be to change the starting scenario up just a teensy, teensy tad? I mean, there are some details that are so easy to change that one has to wonder why the heck they haven’t done this earlier. Why not have both parents be present? Or flip things around and have a present father and an absent mother? Why not remove both parents and have the PC be raised by some grandparent?

Why do you have to start in an almost identical village every bloody time? It’s always a small village in the middle of the woods with a small body of water and four houses. Why not make it a mountaintop village? Or a swamp village? Maybe even a city?

Bottom-line: Change things up a bit dammit! Variation is the spice of life (or in this case, the spice of a game.)

New bark Town

Am I just having a Deja vú or have I been here before?

Aaaaand point 4:

[You eventually encounter the professor, who’ll let you choose from among three starter Pokémon: A grass type, a fire type and a water type.]

Can you detect the pattern?

Can you detect the pattern?

This is a major peeve of mine. We’ve been forced to choose from the same type lineup in every. Single. Game so far. It’s really starting to get bland and really, really boring. First and foremost, keeping the same formula removes any element of surprise that there might be since you KNOW you’ll have to choose between a water, fire and grass Pokémon.

It also makes all games feel very samey, since the entire first part of the game is built around these three starter Pokémon, their weaknesses and resistances. I’m sure Gamefreak can think of a different trio of Pokémon with the same innate rock-paper-scissors relation. (Dark, Psychic, Fighting perhaps?) Anything that refreshes the experience a bit and reignite that flame of curiousity and discovery that we had in the first games.

Over to points 5, 6 and 7:

[ You then travel to a small town where you are introduced to the marts and Pokémon centers.]

[You travel the world in a linear fashion, going from town to town.]

[You get a bike pretty early on.]

Once again, change things up a bit! One thing that’d be interesting would be to have the cities spread out in a semi-linear fashion instead of a wholly linear one. Have at least two cities available once you leave starterville and then interweave the cities in such a fashion that don’t have to visit all the cities to get to the ”final city”, but you DO have to visit all cities to get all badges. You just don’t have to visit them in a pre-determined order. As for the bike…why not add several different bikes to choose from like in the gem-generation(Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald), but…you know…useful.

Point 8:

[You battle eight gym leaders, all of them in charge of a gym focusing on one Pokémon type.]

This is one of those points that’s grown to become a pet peeve of mine, mainly because of how terribly gyms are implemented in the games. Why, you ask? Let me point out the main flaw in the entire concept:

The gym is themed around one, single type.

The main flaw with this concept is of course that one can take a Pokémon that’s super effective against the gym type and then consecutively wipe the floor with the leader without any real effort. What’s even more pathetic is that the developers usually put in super-effective Pokémon in the area surrounding the gym, further diminishing it’s presence.

What really needs to be done is a completely revamp of the gym system to make gyms feel special and challenging. After all, who remembers a boring gym that you managed to clear in one go with a single Pokémon? (Like me beating the Mauville gym with a freshly-caught Geodude.)

Now, to Gamefreaks’ credit, they did try to fix the problem in the later games. Too bad the solution was inherently half-assed and lazy. What did they do, you ask?

They gave the gym leader’s Pokémon a whole bunch of non-gymtype attacks. For instance, I remember facing off against Volkner of the Sunyshore city gym and growing increasingly more annoyed by his Luxray and Electivire since they never seemed to use electric-type moves. I later checked their movesets and guess what…they have ONE electric-type move each. ONE!

Electivire has access to fire punch and some normal-type attacks, but Luxray (the biggest offender) has access to freaking Fire Fang and Frost Fang! Isn’t this supposed to be an electric-type gym? Why does electric-type Pokémon have access to all of these elemental attacks?

The answer is of course that it makes it easier to take down super effective-typed Pokémon. While this method does work, it severely ruins the flavour and theming of the gym. If I’m challenging an electric-type gym leader, shouldn’t I be dodging lighting bolts and electrical storms? Apparently not, instead I’m dodging fire punches and frost fangs!

Electivire on fire

Whatever happened to Thunderpunch?

So, how do you solve this conundrum? If you use only type-specific attacks, the gym becomes too easy but if you use a lot of non-type specific attacks, you lose the flavour.

The answer: Dual-type gyms.

Make it so that gyms all focus on TWO Pokémon types instead of one. This way, it’ll be harder to beat the gym since you can’t just do a one-Pokémon steamroll to victory(in most cases). And if you’re reading this Gamefreaks, make the dual typings interesting. No Ground/Rock or Normal/Flying. The gym typings should be unique and fascinating. How about a Water/Fire gym, for instance? Maybe a Flying/Ground gym? Poison/Dark? Not only would this make the gyms harder to beat, but it’d make them more memorable as well.

Another aspect of the gyms that severely dilutes their awesomeness is how easy it is to access them. I mean, they’re usually located smack-dab in the center of a town. The only gym to break this trend is the Cinnabar gym, located on a remote, volcanic island. Why can’t all gyms be like that? I want a rock/part rock-type gym located in a deep, deep cave. I want a Fire/Water gym hidden in the midst of a valley full of geothermal activity, billowing smoke from numerous geysers and hot springs obscuring the sight. Gyms should be located outside the city, somewhere were only the bravest trainers dare to venture. Beating a gym should feel really rewarding, and gyms would be so much more rewarding if you know that even getting to them is a challenge!

That wall of text really tired me out. Gonna be brief about the last two points:

[You encounter, battle and defeat an evil organization called Team [insert word here].]

[You eventually have to go through victory road, beat the elite four and finally go up against the champion.]

Once again, this formula is getting really boring and predictable. Is it really that hard to create an antagonist that ISN’T an evil organization intent on using Pokémon for their own needs? Lemme try: the main villian is an evil collector who uses feral Pokémon to terrorize the world. You’ll occasionally run into places being attacked by these Pokémon and as the game progresses you learn of the truth behind their assaults.

There, a new, intriguing concept and it took me all of five minutes to think up. Now go stand in the shame corner, Gamefreaks.

As for the elite four, why not add additional challenges to the elite four to differentiate their battles from any other trainer gauntlet? Maybe one elite four has an arena where it constantly rains, which impacts the battle like rainy weather? Maybe one elite for has you start the battle with all of your Pokémon poisoned? No major things, just small, unique tweaks to the battles to give them that epic feel that they so deserve.

There we are, that’s the end of the article. I do have several other Pokémon-related gripes that I’d like to bring up(The HM system, the exploration aspect, etc.), but I’ll save that for another time. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! Many thanks to Kana for letting me post this on her blog!