“A wild ZUBAT appeared!” was the most frightening sentence a child in the 90’s would ever have to face. Caves in the Pokemon universe were the bain of my existence. I’m sure others would agree as well. But prowling through those caves provided extensive life experiences. And because of Pokemon, I always carry an extra vile of REPEL when spelunking.
Living the dream.
Just thinking about Pokemon fills me up with warm sensations of nostalgia and rage. I can remember the very first Pokemon tournament I attended like it was 14 years ago. Hosted at a popular mall, hundreds of Poke-nerds battled against each other knockout tournament style. We were only allowed to have three Pokemon in our inventory during each battle. If all of our Pokemon fainted, we were eliminated from the competition. Winning gave us mad rep across the boards and spectators cheered, yes cheered for those who won matches. Oh, how I miss the 90’s. The details of the grand prize escape me but I think it was a goody bag full of Pokemon swag. Lucky for me, the “MissingNo.” glitch was relatively unknown at the time and yours truly had the only Mew in the whole tournament. About an hour into the second round it was down to me and this fat kid. My trick to defeating the others was choosing Slowpoke and Jigglypuff to be first in my inventory. As soon as the second fainted, I brought out the big guns: Mew. Little did I know that fat kid “Mcgee” had a trick up his own sleeve: Dragonite. That son of a bitch dragon-raged my entire party of Pokemon to oblivion. That was the day I vowed to hunt down and kill fat kid “Mcgee” but that’s a different article. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I want that same excitement I had with Pokemon. Every Pocket Monster game since the original has been lack luster. That’s why I think a refresh is in order.
The release of Pokemon Gold and Silver was the beginning of the end for the series. They created the second generation with a new set of Pokemon, day and night cycles, and an in depth PokeGear that made everything seem complex. It really wasn’t too bad of a game but it felt like I was playing a ripped off version of the original since it essentially copied itself. Each game includes this exact formula:
1. Mother sends player on journey
2. Meet friends and or enemy
3. Visit a Professor to get one of three new Pokemon and Pokedex
4. Defeat gym leaders, destroy Team [irrelevant explosive object], collect all Pokemon.
5. Become Pokemon Master!
This routine has been beaten with a dead horse. Having the opportunity to play a little bit of Pokemon Black, I can confirm that the horse has risen from the dead only to die in the hands of the formula once again. What I really wanted to see after the first generation of games (Red & Blue) was a continuation of the character’s life. What exactly happens after you become the Pokemon Master? I’m not sure if the Gameboy was capable of such technology but it would have been awesome to transfer profiles over to the sequel a la Mass Effect.
While we’re on the subject of Mass Effect, why has there been no character creation nor any dialogue between you and others? That kind of personalization brings more life into a game and creates an emotional bond with your character. Steal Bioware’s emotional response algorithm for all I care. I’m tired of playing as a mute child every single time. Most of the people who grew up with Pokemon in their Gameboy’s are now adults. It’s time for Pokemon to act its age and keep up with the original audience.
Holy shit, this is what I’m talking about.
Would it be too much to ask for Game Freak to include darker themes? Granted, there’s a fine line where Pokemon could cross and become incredibly stupid if it took itself too seriously. What they need to do is keep the original components of the gameplay, no deaths, no explicatives, and please for the love of God, no more than 200 Pokemon. Each new monster has become so obscure that it looks like they’ve been cross-breeding with its own family members.
Imagine a Pokemon game where the sub plot doesn’t suck. In fact, the plot should be about finding out who your father is. Every Pokemon game starts with your mother shipping you off to begin your Pokemon journey. What the hell happened to the dad? It’s never explained! Not even the popular cartoon series shows Ash’s father. Towards the mid-point of the game, it would be awesome to find out that your father is actually the leader of Team Rocket, the infamous crime syndicate. Since you’re finally of age, he can speak to you in person and offer a position in the organization; kind of like a Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker moment. If you are a renegade, missions are assigned to you and can eventually take over his reign. If you don’t join and have obviously chosen to be paragon, it is up to you to stop your father from taking over the world. When you defeat him, you will have to choose whether or not to continue his lineage.
A game of this nature has been growing in the back of my mind for awhile now. The last Pokemon game I’ve played through was Pearl and it was too overwhelming to complete. The urgency for a fresh look at Pokemon is what Game Freak should focus on. I’ll close with a quote from designer and composer Junichi Masuda of Pokemon Black/White, “In order to surprise players, we need to have something different, that’s why there are 156 new Pokémon.” Wow thanks for that surprise, Junichi.