Yesterday marked the official anniversary of the Pokemon series. While I was a slightly late bloomer to the now 20 year-long franchise (I got into it after Gen 2 was released on Gameboy Color), I’ve enjoyed it ever since. I’ve mentioned before how I’m mostly a fan of the games in particular, though I did miss out on both the Gameboy Advance and earlier DS games (somewhat fixed since ORAS was released). And soon, later this year, a new generation of games titled “Pokemon Sun” and “Pokemon Moon” will be in my hands.
Instead of looking back on the series, however, I want to talk about the future. Great strides have been made so far, such as finally making the jump to 3D, better Internet connectivity for trading and battling, more opportunities to nab rare Pokemon outside of always traveling to the nearest Gamestop, etc. But there’s still one complaint out there that persists even today: “The formula is basically still the same.” Now, personally, I prefer the adage that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (as long as the formula is fun). Adding innovations is sometimes all I need, and I highly enjoyed ORAS for their DexNav feature and Latios/Latias travel in particular. I’m also hopeful that Friend Safaris will return, because they felt sorely missed (to me, anyway) in ORAS. However, there are still a few things I’d like to see from the series going forward.
I spoke with some friends recently on the idea of an eventual game, maybe even a console one, incorporating some or all of the regions into one grand adventure. During that topic, I brought up my (and many others) annoyance with HM moves still being a required feature. I realize changing this might also change how badges work, but an idea I had was why not have a 7th slot for an extra Pokemon? That way, for those people who like to use an HM ‘mon, the option is there without sacrificing a team slot. It could even be designated specifically for a ‘mon that wouldn’t take part in battles.
Another feature I’d like to see is something brought up by a content creator I like, Lewis “Linkara” Lovhaug. He mentioned how neat it would be to use both the customized Pokeball animation system from Gen 4 and combine it with the ability to deck out the Pokeball’s design. I think, given the established character creation in X/Y, this could be possible. Speaking of that, while I realize these recent games are packed full of hardware space, I’d love to see more options for character creation. I had fun having my own avatar-ish character in place of the usual default ones, and I know more could be done with it.
There are many features I could dream up, but the final one I’ll mention is a game having a Dark type gym already. Ever since the type debuted in Gen 2, Dark types have only ever been used in the main games for the villains and Elite Four. Fairy type only debuted in the current generation and it already has had a gym, so why not Dark? On top of this, I’d like to see a little more balance between the gym and Elite Four teams. I feel a gradual build-up in levels is a given, but I think this should also apply for the number of Pokemon each member has. For example, I think the Elite Four should definitely have a full team. The last two generations in particular only gave each member four Pokemon as opposed to the Champion’s six. My thought is that once you reach that point, you’re guaranteed to have a full team of six AND be leveled enough to tackle them. Four Pokemon each just seems pathetic, especially when compared to the gym leaders.
So, while there is still plenty of room for the series to improve, I still think it’s a blast to play. Pokemon has endured longer than I think anyone expected it to, and each generation that pops up is tailor-made to ease new players into the series. While I consider myself an old-school Pokemon fan, the newer games have reaffirmed my love for these simple but entertaining RPGs. I can’t wait to see what “Pokemon Sun” and “Pokemon Moon” have in store.