With the announcement of Pokemon Sun and Moon, I have been thinking over my time with the franchise. From pulling all-nighters for the first few days after release, to taking the bus and forgetting about my stop because I happened to be so enveloped, the amount I have put into it is a little staggering – considering it is now 20 years old and I have yet to miss a main title. Still, I’m left wondering why.
As we all know, when you get right down to it, Pokemon has not really evolved much. Each new title has more or less been the same, just in a prettier box with a few minor changes here and there. Typically games that do not try to switch it up a bit end up falling into obscurity. Obviously with 20 years under its belt chances of that happening are slim, but because I desperately do not want it going anywhere, maybe it is time for something different.
And that is what I want to discuss – the changes I, personally, would love to see.
Revamping the way HMs work
Let’s start with the obvious Snorlax in the room. Yes, HMs. Probably the most archaic mechanic still forced upon trainers today. Ever since the beginning, players have had to sacrifice an often critical spot or two in their party to an HM slave; a Pokemon whose sole purpose is to learn HMs as to keep from hurting the effectiveness of more useful Pokemon.
But, HMs have never made sense. Why does my Lapras need to learn the move Surf before I can ride her across the ocean? Or my Pigeot Fly before I can fly on her back? And why does my Golem need to learn how to push a boulder? It’s ridiculous. Pokemon with a natural inclination for those traits should be able to just do them as long as they are on your belt.
Something I have detested more than anything in my entire Pokemon experience is the lack of multiple saves. If ever I so desired to allow a friend or significant other the opportunity to play my cart, I would have to completely erase my only save file. Or even if I felt like starting a new game without having to Old Yeller all of my previous Pokemon before doing so. That is potentially hundreds of hours down the drain.
Sure, it brings up the issue of duplicating Pokemon by simply saving your main file over every available slot, but that can easily be remedied by only allowing the loaded file to be saved in the loaded slot. And I realize from a business perspective it makes sense to limit the saves to one in order to convince people to buy the sibling game, but that does not make it any less frustrating as a consumer.
Side quests & actual choices
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve been playing the same story for 20 years now, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I would love a deeper, more meaningful story as much as the next person, but I can live with what we are typically given as well. That is, if Game Freak gives up a little more to do while we are playing the same thing for the umpteenth time.
Something like optional side quests would be a brilliant start, even if they are standard RPG fare. Being rewarded by NPC trainers for rescuing Pokemon stolen by Team Rocket sounds fantastic. Or not. Because screw those NPCs. It would be nice having that option.
If nothing else, it would grant the illusion of choice. It would allow the player to feel as though they are making an actual impact on the characters in the game rather than, you know, becoming the Pokemon champ and saving the world only to never have that be recognized by said world’s inhabitants.
It’s clunky and awkward.
PC access anywhere
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that, whenever you catch a Pokemon and it exceeds your party limit, it automatically jumps into storage, but you cannot pull Pokemon from storage without access to a PC? What kind of sense does that make? Are you telling me they can’t reverse the process with their futuristic, spacial warping smartphones?
They even have built-in abuse prevention: the scolding professor who stops you from using an item somewhere you really shouldn’t be using it. Just disallow players the option of swapping Pokemon while in a cave or a gym and you are all set.
So there you have it – the features I would like added or changed in the next Pokemon entry. There are a few more I could write about at length, such as: wanting a new starter type trio, or for a set of fire/water/grass starters to all end as dragons, or to be able to visit every previous region. But, those are mostly selfish desires and I wanted to speak more about the obvious, tangible issues.