So… We’ve battled through the storm that was the year of “Wait that’s not a mainline game! Or is it? What is that.” and come out the other side stronger, albeit slightly battered.
Joking aside, Pokemon Let’s Go was actually a fun game, and much better designed than a lot of us expected.
As for whether that makes it a mainline game or not, I… I honestly still don’t know. Like, does anyone really know? I know Gamefreak says it is one, but is that just a marketing gimmick or… Okay we’re getting sidetracked here.
What I was getting to is the fact that this is the year that we’re getting the core series RPG (but wait doesn’t that just mean mainli- …).
That is, assuming all is going well over at Gamefreak. They don’t like to tell us much, other than “Er yeah that’s coming out next year”.
Do I believe them? Uhm, kind of. I believe they are 100% aiming for a release this year, but as for whether or not they achieve that… I’m unsure. Either way, it’s going to be a November/December release, or get pushed back to Q1 2020.
Let’s roll with it actually releasing this year anyhow. What are my hopes? I’m sure we all have our fantasies, I mean, this is the big one. This is the moment so many of us have dreamed about ever since the GameBoy days.
A fully fleshed out, mainline Pokemon game designed exclusively for a home console.
This is Pokemon on TV! In HD! … And we’re all going to play it in portable mode anyway.
Putting aside the usual, somewhat unrealistic dreams of including every region and having… Well, just everything ever, essentially, in one game (Pokemon fans don’t ask for much, do they..).
Lets take a look at what might be reasonable to hope for.
Newer, improved graphics and world-building.
Starting things out, of course something we all want, whether we know it or not, is for the game to be built on a newer engine, or at least boast a change in art-direction.
With the announcement of Let’s Go, I was pretty bummed to see that the game was built on what appeared to be up-ressed Sun and Moon assets.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the game is lovely and the style fits the theming of the game very well.
But when thinking about the next big thing in Pokemon, lets be a little more ambitious! Imagine a slightly less saturated style, more akin to the colour palette used in Diamond and Pearl, but now with fully 3D, HD models.
Imagine a physics engine put in place to breathe life into the world (pretty as it was, Let’s Go’s world was fairly dead), imagine changing weather effects with wind and rain, and some Pokemon only appearing in the rain, etc. It would do so much to make things more believable.
The forever sunny worlds of Let’s Go and Sun/Moon bother me to no end.
Remember in Diamond and Pearl when it would turn to night, and the games soundtrack would adapt? I bet you do, because to me at least, this added to the immersion an immeasurable amount.
Sitting around at night, in bed perhaps, walking through the same routes, but now with quieter, softer renditions of the day-time themes playing.
Maybe you think I’m weird for loving something so subtle, but every time a new game in the series launches this is close to being my most hoped for feature. And every time I am let down, sadly.
I know to them it’s likely not nearly as big of a priority as one would hope, as they’re more concerned with fine-tuning the basic adventure in time for release.
Imagine though, if with each change in the weather, came a subtle change to the games soundtrack.
Rainy days would be quieter and more piano based, whereas sunny ones would be bright and introduce trumpets. I know I’m just dreaming here, but this isn’t outside of the realms of possibility! It remains to be seen what their priorities will be with this upcoming game, though given their recent track-record, theirs don’t appear to line up with my own.
Ditch the story
If Let’s Go proved anything, its that Pokemon works best with gameplay as the main focus. Never were you bogged down in cutscenes or large amounts of dialogue. You were simply given a basic idea of whats going on and where you should head next.
This philosophy works beautifully in Pokemon, as all anyone really wants to do is battle and catch Pokemon.
The story in Sun and Moon interrupts the gameplay to the point where thinking about that game now brings to mind Lillie screaming for help, or rambling nonsense, or telling Nebbie to “GET IN THE BAG“.
Story is fine and all, but Sun and Moon had far, far too much of it to be anything other than annoying.
I think there’s a fine balance to be struck between how they introduced story elements in Black and White, and the original games methods of guiding you around through basic dialogue and design choices.
Black and White handled its story beautifully, and didn’t feel too hand-holdy, whereas Sun and Moon kept you chained to a leash, never to let you run free for more than a minute at a time.
Take the basic interactions of Red and Blue, add the more subtle storytelling methods of Black and White, but remove the moments where you’re locked in areas before you can proceed, and hey presto you’ve got one hell of a Pokemon game.
Sprinkle little secrets and funny dialogue to be found en-masse throughout the game-world and you’ve got a game that allows players to feel like they’re discovering and proceeding on their own merit, as they should!
More new Pokemon!
You might read this title and think “well duh.” but in recent generations of Pokemon, there’s an odd trend of including less.. Well, Pokemon, than we’ve come to expect.
For example, you had the initial 151, then Johto brought in another 100.
Moving into Hoenn, we got a full 135 and then 107 in Sinnoh.
Then of course, we have the beauty that is Unova introducing a whopping 156 Pokemon in an attempt to renew the franchise with a slew of new monsters to catch (I approve).
After this though, we come to Kalos, where we get a fairly measly 72 new Pokemon to find and catch. Now, okay, they did introduce mega Pokemon this gen, but they shouldn’t really count against the new monster total, they should be an extra!
We see a similar situation in the most recent gen, with Alola offering 86 new creatures to find but also offering reimagined versions of the original Kanto Pokemon.
Again though, counting against the new total. It bothers me.
Neat as these variant Pokemon are, I’d prefer we just get new Pokemon. My dream is to see another full set of 150, and simply get these variants as extras whenever possible, perhaps even as DLC! (As the Switch will now support that).
A fully connected world
As neat of an idea as it may have been on paper, having Sun and Moon’s world be split up into several smaller worlds, or islands, did not work out well for Gamefreak.
Rather than the connected, roundabout world we’re used to, we were greeted with the concept of completing an area and traveling to the next.
This brought upon the sensation of traveling through various “levels” rather than one connected world, as they surely intended.
Due to this, I never found myself fully able to appreciate Alola as I simply couldn’t find myself immersed in it. Every time I had to get on a boat and wait through a loading screen to get to where I wanted, I was pulled right back out of everything they had built up to pull me in.
All of this could have been fixed by simply making the areas between the islands into surfable routes. Sure, this wouldn’t be the best thing in the world either, but at least you’d be able to go where you please without feeling like the game is controlling you, rather than the other way ’round.
I don’t expect this to be trend going forward, as it was a design decision brought forth by the area they were basing the world in, but for the sake of putting it out there, this is most definitely something I do not want to see continuing into future installments.
Give us bridges, give us surfing, give us long empty routes, just don’t, please God, give us voids of space we cannot enter, but merely load through.
A robust online experience
Pokemon is not a series that is known for its online play. Sure, it has systems in place, that work relatively well.
But thats it. Everything is very simple, you can trade and you can battle, but the ranking system exists outside of the actual game (you log onto a website to see it) and the trading is immensely flawed in that everyone requests that you trade them a bloody Ho-Oh for a Bidoof.
It could certainly do with some improvements. For example, I’d love for an in-built, serious ranking system (akin to that implemented in Smash Ultimate), where you’re given a ranking and can climb the ladder.
Also, the trading is.. Messy. Its very messy. Its hard to think of a way to fix the current state of things, but perhaps if each Pokemon was assigned a value, say, Mewtwo is valued at 100, and Oddish at 5.
You’d have to trade Pokemon that together make up a value of 100 in order to be allowed make an offer for Mewtwo. For instance, Dragonite (80) and Pigeotto (20).
Or 50 Oddish. But its pretty clear which option the owner would go for.
Failing all that of course, you could simply offer another Pokemon valued at 100. Lugia, for example.
This could lead to some really interesting trades, and prompt players to train up and evolve Pokemon for the sake of trading. Or go on a mad-man’s quest to capture 50 Oddish and hope the Gods smile upon you that day.
Either way, it would be a lot more fun than the system currently in place.
Whew, okay, I’m going to leave it at that for now. I could go on, but perhaps thats best left for another time (bring back gyms, dammit!).
Regardless of whether or not my ideal game somehow gets made, I’m immensely excited to see what they come up with.
I’m sure some of the ideas put forth will be a lot better than my own. I’ll be here to talk about it all for months on-end when things begin to get announced anyhow.
Until then, Gamefreak.
Anyhoo, what do you think of my hopes? Do I hope for too much? (probably). What would you change, and what would you like to see in gen 8? Let me know!
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