As Tupac Shakur once said “I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself is life worth living or should I blast myself?” Although Tupac struggled with the way the world treated African-Americans in his neighbourhood, I share his sadness when it comes to changes in the Pokémon franchise. With the sheer amount of Pokémon games that have been released in my lifetime, I really think that Game Freak is holding on to a few to many ancient game mechanics that need to be overhauled. So before the inevitable release of some sort of Pokémon 3DS, I thought I’d look at three things that need to change.
Traditions are nice. I remember when I was only a young boy I used to get up at exactly 6am every Christmas morning to unwrap my presents. It was a tradition but it bordered on a ritual. You probably did the same. You try to keep it up for as long as possible, even as you get older and puberty-hormone-induced sleep-ins kick in. Hell, you start knocking back a few drinks every Christmas Eve at the local pub which makes it just a little bit harder. Yet, you still try to maintain it for as long as you can until you realise it essentially counts for nothing. Your presents will be there at 8am, as will your family and the turkey isn’t going anywhere. It’s a tradition that seems pointless when you hit your mid-teens.
Pokémon keeps waking up at 6am on Christmas Day, clinging to that childish desire to unwrap presents before the sun has risen. It seems the rest of the family want to sleep in, but Pokémon drags them out of their bed, eyes filled with sleep, and makes loud screaming noises as they unwrap their Nintendo 64. So here’s three they can give some extra rest to when they get around to making Pokémon Rainbow 3DS.
1Stupid Questions Deserve Stupid Answers
The hospital-cum-marketplace scattered throughout the game’s vast cities are crucial to ensuring your Pokémon remain healthy and your bag remains stuffed. The nurse, although beautiful in a ‘wow, your pixelated eyes are so blue’ kind of way, has one job: Heal your team of Pokémon. I know this, she knows this and you know this. Yet every time the nurse asks, with the same unwavering expression, “would you like me to heal your Pokémon?” My mother used to say it’s good to be polite but in thirteen-plus years of playing this game, I have never once said “No” so why on earth does Nurse Joy still ask this question? No more stupid questions Nurse Joy! Just put the pokeballs in the magical healing machine please. Where are the customer feedback forms at anyway?
The Pokémon centre has also always been the place to interact with your fellow trainers via, at first, the famed Link Cable (that glorious purple cable of the Gods which was basically only useful for Pokémon) and more recently through the wonders of wireless internet or infrared. It’s still on the second-floor and it’s still staffed by Nameless Assistant 1, 2 and 3. It’s a frustrating exercise just trying to establish connections with your fellow humans because you have to communicate with these three brainless vestigial beings that have stuck with the game since its inception. Stop asking stupid questions ladies! I only talk to you when I need to.
Don’t argue that these menus and conversations help new players either, because we all know that the only people that buy Pokémon these days are those of us in our mid-twenties who need a ten-hour trip on nostalgia after we caught all 151 Pokémon in Blue.
Pokémon has only ever had one save state. That’s like giving you a million dollars and telling you that you can only place it on one number in a game of roulette. Perhaps this is a technical limitation, more than one by design, but it’s a limitation that is frustrating and in this day and age, almost unheard of. Most recently, I filled up every save slot in Dishonored, because I have this weird compulsion called ‘hoarding’. I just hoard save games so that I feel like I can always go back to point X if I ever do something wrong.
It’s not that Pokémon NEEDS this feature, but it would be useful as it would open up the game a little. It would allow the implementation of multiple paths – you don’t always have to get badge 2 before badge 3 and so on, for example – in addition to potentially allowing for choices to affect the end game. The way you play could affect the enemies you encounter in the Pokémon League by making them tougher or through changing the types of Pokémon you must defeat there. Honestly, for all its success, Pokémon has always been a fairly linear game, only divergent from player to player because of the nature of his or her team and the kind of Pokémon you decide to battle with. Is that enough? Not anymore.
3LET ME RUN GODDAMNIT
Look, this point is pretty simple. Pokémon makes you hold down the B button to run. Surely the default setting for a Pokémon Master is to be constantly running. There are creatures in the world you live in that can destroy entire cities in a rage and you want to slowly wander around the city with your head in the clouds? No. RUN! There’s nothing else you want to be doing except running. Even from a game design point of view, why include a walk? What does it achieve? At what point do you think I am going to carefully walk, square by square, across the map Game Freak.
No more stupid questions, multiple saves, default running. Thanks Game Freak. Even if you don’t implement these changes, I am sure you’ll sell me Pokémon 3DS without much effort.