October 25, 2020
The Problem With Pokemon

Can you believe that future generations of children will never know what it’s like to trade Pokemon through a link cable? I thought about it the other day when my friend Tamra was telling me about her nine-year-old cousin who tried to take on the Elite Four with a single Rattata because he didn’t feel like training more than one throughout the entire game.

“We weren’t like that at his age, were we?” she asked.

“No way,” I assured her, “I’m pretty sure everyone in our generation knew what they were doing! The whole slogan of the series is ‘gotta catch em all’, after all!”

This got me thinking about how kids nowadays are being spoiled by the ease of wireless trading and that weird Dream World crap. Poffins? Back in my day, we didn’t even have berries! (Insert old people mutterings about whippersnappers here)

The Pokemon games have gone through their own evolutions throughout five generations of games; yet here I sit, looking at my old Yellow cartridge and the sleek little DS card that is Pokemon White, wondering whether Nintendo should’ve held down the B button at some point.

Don’t get me wrong: I love White. The three-on-three fights, Battle Subway, epic storyline and fantastic soundtrack made me very happy. What’s been frustrating me, however, is all the stuff that Nintendo keeps adding in and taking out between the games.

Perfect example? The introduction of the passage of time and nocturnal/diurnal Pokemon in Gold and Silver. That was my favorite part of playing way back when running to turn on my game to go hunting at odd hours of the day for new Pokemon and getting super excited when I knocked a sleeping Pokemon out of a tree!

But by the time Black/White came around,  the concept of nocturnal/diurnal Pokemon was done away with. Sure, they added a changing of the seasons–but what do the seasons really do? The only huge difference occurs in Winter months, and there’s only a handful of Pokemon that are ever really affected by the changing seasons. It felt like, at least in that aspect, Pokemon White/Black took a step backward. It was really disappointing.

Another thing that disappeared, according to my friend Tamra again, was that in –Sapphire? Ruby? I didn’t play that generation. But one of those, anyway, they let you have ANY Pokemon follow your character around as long as it was the first in your party. That was in the same vein as Pokemon Yellow and it seemed like a really cool idea! But they got rid of it. Maybe because it’d be too many Pokemon now that they’re nearing–500? 600? I don’t even know anymore.

On that note: STOP MAKING NEW CREATURES, NINTENDO. STOP IT! You’ve made a Pokemon out of TRASH. Your ideas cup hath run dry!

They don’t even have the first generation Pokemon in Black and White anymore unless you do that mildly annoying Black City/White Forest stuff or the really weird Dream World crap–okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. But seriously, why can’t we just trade with friends to catch every little pocket monster? Why do I have to tuck my team in and explore its dreams like I’m from the cast of Inception? And why isn’t there a sleeping Snorlax that requires I play a Pokemon flute to move its lazy narcoleptic ass?

Maybe I’m just desperately clinging to nostalgia, but I really wish Nintendo would switch its focus to taking all that stuff they have and refining it rather than trying something new every other generation. Do you guys remember how Contests came and went, replaced by Musicals? What significance is there to dressing up your Pokemon and then making their sprite leap around on stage like a confused cross-dresser? I love this series and I always will, but by now it really feels like they’re just–shooting in the dark.

Okay. Breathe, Lanna, breathe.

It’s easy to whine and not know the developers’ side of the story. I’m hoping that they have very good reasons for how the Pokemon have evolved thus far – maybe their staff keeps changing, or they’re really just groping for a solid concept to build upon, or maybe they’ve all just gone completely insane.

Nintendo, Game Freak, whoever may be out there — do you think you could take these suggestions of mine into consideration? Maybe?

  1. Split the 600ish Pokemon you have between three games and release them together. Save a couple for promotional legendary special monster BS, but really just let us be able to trade between our friends to catch ’em all. DON’T MAKE ANYMORE!
  2. Balance out the time/weather/season systems and have them affect Pokemon — including the ones of OLDER generations — in a significant manner.
  3. Let us customize the appearance of our avatars somehow. I think we can all forgive not having a secret base or letting our Mom buy Charmander dolls with our saved-up cash if we can pick out outfits or at least change our hair/eye color.
  4. Speaking of Mom:  switch her out for Dad. Or you could always — GASP– give us both parents! (Did they do that in one game where your dad was a gym leader? I don’t recall. ) You could also make our “rival” a sibling!
  5. Get more creative with the gym types. Instead of “this is a FIRE gym where you really just need some strong water Pokemon and maybe a couple other types to win”, how about you make a gym based on nocturnal Pokemon? Or snake/lizard type Pokemon?
  6. LET US EXPLORE MORE REGIONS IN ONE GAME! There’s an entire world you’ve made up for us, and yet we can only explore a piece per region. I’m not saying time travel, either – you can show us what Pallet Town has become by generation five! It could be a completely different place! It could have statues dedicated to Ash / Red as the first Champion!
  7. Tournaments! You know, like the billions of tournaments Ash participates in the anime? Heck, even just ONE tournament would be a change! Or you could even use tournaments for your online interaction — the Pokemon Dream World allows you to tuck in one Pokemon and use them online, right? Well, grab three Pokemon and use them online to battle against other people! And the flash mini games can imitate the mini-games area from Pokemon Stadium!
  8. Set up some sort of consistent mythology.  Why are there so many legendaries? What’s the most powerful Pokemon anyway, and why can I catch most of them with a well-timed QUICK BALL?!
  9. You’ve got plenty of tutorials telling you how to catch these guys and do basic stuff, but NOBODY actually explains stats or natures – the difficult parts of the game that should be explained!
  10. Not quite related to the games, but seriously can we have a remake of Pokemon Snap? I freaking love that game and I was so pissed it didn’t have all 150 Pokemon when it first came out…

All right, I think that’s enough begging/complaining/suggestions for now. Like I said before, there must be reasons as to why Nintendo does what it does with Pokemon, so I’m not seriously angry with anyone over how the series is right now. I guess it’s just nostalgia and wishful thinking getting the best of me.

No matter how you feel about the games, nobody can deny that the series has inspired a passion in many young gamers of my generation. It’s only sensible for us to want to help improve it for the future!

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