The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Do not read!

Posted by Matt on April 14, 2010

I just finished the first draft of the second last essay of my academic career. Let me have my fun.

Now, let’s talk Pokemon.

If you didn’t know, the next ‘new’ Pokemon games, Black and White, have been announced, and will be coming out on the DS in Japan by the fall. We’ve only had a few actual shots of it, but at least visually we know there will be more 3D, different camera angles, very slightly more detailed sprites, and slightly altered battle scenes with backgrounds. Nothing major, but still different.

Of course, there has been a ton of speculation about what will be added to these new versions. Rumblings that the directors want to make these versions ‘feel new’ to varying degrees have made their rounds. And of course, you also get the people who say the series hasn’t advanced in a decade. Now, what could be done?

Well, it’s hard to say. The people who say that the game hasn’t changed enough over the last few iterations may have a bit of a point. But one undeniable thing about the games: their simplicity and innocence, and their strategic possibilities are all important, and they work with most of the current system. Over the course of the last three ‘generations’, they’ve been able to gradually streamline the various aspects of the battle system and add interesting elements like hold items and abilities. Naturally, we should assume Black and White will follow in that tradition, but who knows what else they could add to the game. I think people looking for a complete revolution should look elsewhere, but there’s still the possibility of some neat new ideas they could implement.

Now, I’m far from claiming any sort of creative superiority in things like this; it is very likely that the developers themselves will be able to create better, more innovative, and more practical ideas that I ever could. Even so, it’s fun to play idea man for a bit. So, here is a list of possible new ideas for the new Pokemon games.

1)If there’s one issue that needs a fix, it’s the limitations of the HM system. As it stands, you are either forced to give your good Pokemon a move you can’t easily delete, or you have to waste a slot on your team for a HM Slave. Neither option is particularly good, as only a few of the HM moves (Surf being the major one) are useful in battle.
Here’s my pitch: Pokemon should have a separate list of field abilities, say, four of them. Like HM moves are now, they would difficult to delete, so players won’t be able to trap themselves somewhere in the game. And HMs could also teach TM versions of the field moves, so attacks like Surf can stay.
With that problem out of the way, you can then expand upon the HMs. There’s usually only about 10 – how about the new one has 20? Of course, only a few of them would be necessary for progress in the game. The rest would just make things interesting, giving you some more things to do in the overworld to help you reach new areas and find hidden items. To use existing attacks as ideas: Odor Sleuth could be used to point you in the direction of invisible items, and Attract could be used to force an encounter with a wild Pokemon of the opposite gender.
Or how about some new ones: hovering over floor-based traps and small gaps, dashing really fast in one direction that also gets you over floor traps, powering machines with electricity, burning down thicker bushes, or hell, even riding your Pokemon (which could replace the bike). There’s many possibilities, and they directly contribute to my next idea…

2)One thing I’d like to see to enhance the single-player mode is making the world more diverse and exploration-friendly. So far, the games have been all about getting from town to town, and the places in-between have not had much else to do. By adding a wider variety of environments (how about a jungle? a desert? How about actually going underwater in a submarine or something?), you make the journey seem more epic and generally more fun to wander. They could also add more hidden things, like the areas that contain new Pokemon and items mentioned before, giving players more reason to go back and explore. More environments could also mean that Pokemon distribution could be more interesting, and allow for more unique types that the ones that essentially have to make sense in a field or forest all the time.

3)Hold items have been an important part of the game since Gold/Silver, so why not do more with it? I think, with some proper consideration, they could expand upon the system, for example by giving your Pokemon they ability to hold more than one item. It would be limited in some ways, let’s say by making it so one item was an ‘accessory’ (like a focus band or EXP Share or Amulet Coin) and the other was a regular ‘hold’ item (berries, plates, things like that). It would give players more ways to customize their Pokemon (if they feel up to it, they could even have it so that some items can be seen on your Pokemon’s sprite), and could add even more strategic possibilities. Of course, they would probably need to remake the entire item line-up in order to stop the system from breaking the game in some way, but it would be totally worth it.

4)Another thing for variety’s sake: recent games have sometimes given you two ‘rivals’, but I would like to see more recurring opponents, who could act as ‘mini-bosses’ before the gym leaders. They are generally more challenging and give out more experience, so they could be useful right before the next leg in the game. They could also come up with some ‘interesting’ personalities for them, like Eusine had, so there’s some extra fun there.

5)Coupled with that is the idea of an in-game tournament. Now, technically, the Battle Tower is the same thing, but it’s sort of an extra thing they throw in after you’ve finished the game and is more or less preparation for the metagame. A tournament that would actually be necessary for the progression of the game? That could be interesting. There could be multiple levels (like the Stadium games had), and not only could they include your recurring rivals as opponents, but also throw in some cameos from other games as well. Also, it should have some more directly-obtained prizes, rather than just points that slowly get you the chance to acquire useful things.

6)Want to make Poison types more useful? New weather effect: Acid Rain. Your welcome. (Yes, I know that wouldn’t do it by itself, but it’s a start)

7) Being able to customize your trainer in some ways would also be a nice touch. I doubt they’ll ever go WoW on us and make it fully customizable down to the eyebrows, but giving us some different clothing options could be cool. Make a stripped-down version of Animal Crossing is what I’m saying.

8)It could be cool if they could take the HeartGold/SoulSilver Safar Zone item concept and maybe expand it into the main game. Basically, set up different kinds of lures that could attract certain kinds of Pokemon. Maybe they’d be the rarer Pokemon in the area, or maybe they’d be exactly like the Safari Zone blocks and make brand new Pokemon show up. It could catching more fun and give the player a little bit more control.

9)A ranch where you could store some of your Pokemon. Maybe it could replace the daycare, but there would be more to it than just leveling and breeding. Let’s say that certain Pokemon would actually be able to create items that you could then use. Miltank/Moo Moo Milk is the one that has been established already, but there could many other newer things they could put in as well. Basically: get your Pokemon to work FOR you in more ways than just in battle!

10)Since needing to go back to the Pokemon Centre every time to change Pokemon around can get rather tiresome, how about giving the player a Laptop at some point, so they could do that on the field? If you think that makes the game too easy, give it a battery which runs out after a few uses and needs to be charged at the Pokemon Centre.

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