Oh, Pokémon, you sure know how to rope me into your franchise; time after time and game after game I’m pulled in for yet another initially-reluctant but eventually eager playing of the entire thing, at the cost of a colossal number of hours of my life (I would only have wasted them on something productive like work or having friends, anyway). After I finally finished Pokémon Red and Blue all those years ago, I assumed that because of eventually growing weary the games, my busy schedule (I had school lessons to neglect, after all) and quite frankly my age (which had surpassed that of one which is acceptable for playing Pokémon), that I would never pick up another Pokémon title as long as I lived.
Along came Pokémon Black Version 2, and the fact that my driving license proves me to be 24 year old adult with a questionable photo simply didn’t matter yet again: the game had me hooked, and there was nothing I could do to conquer the addiction. Fast-forward to the end of the game, and even though it was the most enjoyable Pokémon title to date, there are many areas that could do with improvement, and some features whose absence led me to ponder what the next instalment of the Pokémon franchise would be like. This is an article about these musings: love or loathe them, they exist here in word form, and that’s just the way it is.
Take us to the Third Dimension
Ok, I’m going to start proceedings with the stating of the painfully obvious, which is the fact that the next game should do us all a favour and be the first Pokémon title to be released for the 3DS as a truly 3D title. I’m not just speaking for the millions of people out there with a 3DS in their hands whose 3D adjustment slides remain unused and untouched throughout the entire game, either. It seems that there is a growing majority of fans in general who are increasingly disheartened at After the occasional 3D-style panning of the camera and elaborate gym designs of Pokémon Black 2, a move to the 3D format is now something that feels like the next natural progression for the franchise. It’s (hopefully) such an inevitability that it can’t even be described as a ‘leap’ to 3D anymore, since having the next main-series game released for the 3DS is a move that is as natural as the evolution of the Pokémon themselves. It’s no longer a general hope , but a very definite expectation.
That’s not to say that the gameplay of Pokémon Black Version 2 actually suffered in any way from the fact that it wasn’t in 3D, but the number of avenues that would have opened up (both aesthetically and functionally) had the game been built around the functionality of the Nintendo 3DS would have been numerous. The battles themselves would have been the greatest beneficiary of the 3DS’s technology, allowing for three-dimensional models of each Pokémon and presenting the creatures to us as we have never seen them before (the ‘3D’ battling of Pokémon stadium doesn’t apply here; I’m talking main-series games here). Battles would be more involving for the player, attacks would have considerably more visual impact and seeing a Pokéball being thrown in 3D is something that most (I can’t speak for the traditionalists, sceptics and resisters of change out there) Pokémon fans would love to see. Sure, these are small details, but the entire Pokémon gaming franchise has always been based on subtle changes taking place over time, after all. 3D definitely doesn’t have to mean a revolution for the Pokémon format, simply an evolution to something that looks and feels better.
Besides, the inescapable fact is that the Nintendo 3DS exists, and it would be difficult for Nintendo to explain why a second main-series Pokémon title has been released on the DS for the second time, particularly since the 3DS was released in 2011, and the calendar now indicates that we are in 2013. One can only imagine the collective rage of the world’s 3DS owners should Nintendo fail to live up to the 3D expectation.
New Region, New Gyms, New Storylines
Ok, so these particular ideas are the usual suspects and can be seen on pretty much every Pokémon fan’s list of what they would like to see in the next release, but they are so vitally important that I’ve only gone ahead and included them anyway. It goes without saying that we most definitely need to move onwards from the Unova region, since it has now had two thorough goings-over by the player characters of Pokémon Black and White Versions and Versions 2. Conforming to the usual pattern would be to move to another regional of fictional expansiveness, giving you that fresh n’ clean feeling before we even get into the gameplay itself. It also goes without saying that the new region should be littered with a brand new set of gyms for us to discover, challenge and conquer. The number of gyms has stayed at a consistent 8 throughout Pokémon main-series game history, and while this has always been an ample number, there could perhaps be some room for a few more to extend the length of the main storyline. Having gym leaders that specialise in different types would also provide a stiffer challenge and further change from the previous game.
Old Friends, Old Pokémon
Time and time again I see people entering into discussions about future content of Pokémon games, and the particular features they would simply love to see. Often these discussions get a lot more heated than any conversation about a fictional game for a handheld video game system should be. One potential feature that almost always lies comfortably upon the rarely-trodden ground of universal agreement, however, is the inclusion of more blasts from the past in terms of both Pokémon and people. Though it is understandable part of the experience for Pokémon fans that characters and Pokémon should come and go with as much frequency as the regions of the Pokémon world itself, the appeal of a throwback to times past is almost too desirable for Pokémon fans to ignore. Of course, it would be too much of a radical step to go back to the days of 151 Pokémon and searching for the Missingno glitch just because we can: that much is clear. Pokémon fans are a sentimental collective, however, and I wouldn’t be able to hold back my delight if the next Pokémon game afforded us some real-time (and not Memory-Link based) cameos from some iconic Pokémon figures from simpler times.
It seems to be one of the central features of many games nowadays to be able to control a significant portion of the aesthetics of the game, particularly when it comes to the look and temperament of the character that you will be guiding through the adventure. While Pokémon allows you to choose the gender and the name of your character (gee, Nintendo, how generous of you), you’re pretty much stuck with the appearance of the person who you will be spending the whole adventure controlling and having to look at in pretty much every scene of the entire game. Seeing as the appearance of the character is so central to the aesthetic of a game that the player is likely to be spending a colossal number of hours playing, it wouldn’t go a miss to be kind enough to allow us a little more control over what our character is going to look like. Having a choice of clothing, skin colour, hair colour and general demeanour would be a good start, and would shake off the rigidity of the previous titles in their provision for player customisation, allowing for a personal touch to be splashed into the mix by each individual player. After all, a little choice goes a long way.
Let us Save
Since the beginning of the Pokémon universe (which is scientifically proven to have originated in a big-bang like event involving the egg of Arceus and develops by evolutionary means; take that, creationists), our adventure has always been limited to one lonely save file. This sort of flies in the very face of most other RPGs that allow the option of having multiple save files in which players can begin multiple adventures. Now, in a game like Pokémon where there is so much potential for the diversification of your adventure merely through the choice of the Pokémon that you choose at the beginning and also go on to catch, it seems like a limitation of overwhelming proportions that you are not afforded the chance to explore more than one avenue of progression through the game. Being limited to only one game file means that you are stuck with your choice of starter Pokémon and cannot go back and see what could have been without first having to delete all of your progress. Please Nintendo, allow us multiple save slots for the first time; I cannot overstate the gratitude that would be felt by the Pokémon community as a result.
Around the world
As someone who has explored every fictional Pokémon region from Kanto to Unova, I sometimes think while pondering on a lazy, cold, yet dry autumn evening that it would be quite the ‘on-goes-the-light-switch’ idea to be able to go back and explore each and every one of these regions, whether it be in their entirety, or selected areas of the regions which are somehow relevant to the game’s storyline. Of course, I am aware of the size of the considerable size of each individual region, let alone the potential complexity of trying to include each and every region from Pokémon’s sizeable past. There’s just something substantially alluring about the idea of being able to tread on ground that has already been covered at some point in the past: perhaps it is my love of all things nostalgic, or even the fact that I just can’t let go of the past, but the idea of revisiting Cinnabar Island or the Ruins of Alph sounds like it would make for quite the intriguing sequel, and one that deviated a little further from the Pokémon norm
From the eyes of a Pokémon Trainer
Ok, so I may have previously taken the stance that a radical change would go against the nature of the Pokémon franchise’s subtle evolutions to the gameplay over time. Gradual introduction of new Pokémon, eventual switching to new, unexplored regions and occasional changes to the battling interface has been the standard method of progression for Pokémon. The incremental growth of the battling and catching aesthetics/functions into the widely-recognised, dual-screen DS and 3DS-based format we know today is just Pokémon’s style, but just for one moment consider what it would be like to literally see the world through the eyes of the character you’re playing. Having the option to switch between third and first-person perspectives would probably be the most radical change to the Pokémon format that has ever taken place: it doesn’t necessarily mean the ruining of the essence of Pokémon, however.
Aside from giving us a much longed-for and literal change in perspective, it could also pave the way for new and interesting features such as closer examination of and increased interactivity with the surroundings, the opportunity for some mini-game-like puzzles requiring both screens, and even the user-controlled aiming of Pokéballs and Pokémon moves. Such features would envelop the player further into the action than they have ever been, having more control over the environment and the actions which are able to take to explore it.
Not an idea, just my version of an exit from this article. The above is merely a product of my neurons firing freely on the subject of the next Pokémon title. Feel free to care or not care as you please, but either way, stay tuned for more.