A reader offers his solution to improving Pokémon and explains why he thinks the complaints over Dexit in Sword and Shield were misplaced.
As a Pokémon fan of many years standing it’s been a real roller-coaster ride the last few months. After the controversy with Dexit and lukewarm reviews from my most trusted sources, including GC, I was nervous of even playing the new game (there was no chance that I wouldn’t though). I’ve put a good 80+ hours into it now and while I do agree with all the negative points I have still very much enjoyed it, since at its core it hasn’t messed with the classic Pokémon gameplay.
I also agree, at least to some degree, with the Reader’s Features about how the boycott and ruckus about Dexit clearly had no effect on sales (it’s the second-fastest selling Pokémon ever) and that Game Freak are not well equipped for making a modern 3D game (I don’t agree they should be taken off the franchise but they do need to bring in someone else to help).
However, I wanted to write something more positive about the game, which I have enjoyed very much, which I think cuts to the heart of the Dexit problem and the unavoidable bloat that affects any long-running franchise, but Pokémon in particular.
The problem with Dexit, for those not aware, is that in all previous games you could use any pokémon from any previous game. A number which is now approaching 900. Even if a pokémon wasn’t available to catch in the wild you could import one caught in a previous game and it could still be used to fight and trade as normal. But Pokémon Sword/Shield doesn’t have this ability, as there’s ‘only’ around 400 pokémon in Sword and Shield and you can’t import the rest from any of the previous games or Pokémon Bank/Home.
That’s what fans have been getting upset about and while in an ideal world it’d be great to have all of them I think anyone can appreciate that getting them all working is a hugely time-consuming task on top of making the game itself and adding 100-odd new pokémon on top. (The argument that Game Freak should have access to almost limitless resources to make this possible is, in theory, valid but that really isn’t the Nintendo way of doing things.)
But the real problem with Sword and Shield is that it has too many pokémon! Or rather, that you end up wasting your time catching and fighting pokémon you’ve seen before in other games and seeing relatively few of the new ones – all of which are very good I would say, and the best selection of new additions in at least the last four or five games.
It took ages for me to see all the new ones, all the while dodging endless Vanillite (the ice cream pokémon – widely regarded as one of the worst designs ever) and Windgull (basically just a seagull) that for some reason seem to spawn everywhere. The game would’ve been much better if it focused on the new pokémon and just a smattering of old classics, or maybe even more new ones and no old ones at all.
Then it occurred to me that the problem was even deeper than that. The new designs are so good because a lot of the pokémon have individual abilities, like Falinks and his squad of soldiers following behind like the segments of a caterpillar or the hilarious Sinistea, which is a ghost that lives in a teacup and has both fake and genuine versions that need specific kinds of teapots to level them up.
My idea for shaking up the whole franchise is to focus on a much smaller number of all-new pokémon, no more than 100 and possibly much less, all of which are completely unique. At the moment most pokémon are just a set of stats and a cute design, and you could mix and match them and it wouldn’t make any difference. The only thing that makes a Scorbunny a Scorbunny, for example, is what it looks like and the moves it uses, which are mostly Fire based but could be almost anything.
What I suggest is that there’s little or no sharing of moves and that each pokémon becomes much more individual. You can still customise it however you want, but via unique skill trees and not just adding essentially random moves from a central pool. So, for example, you could take a cool design like Corviknight (a big metal raven) and customise his armour and strength to improve or decrease his ability to fly, to the point where he might not fly at all if you go too far.
Or take Sirfetch’d, who is also a great design, but give him interchangeable weapons and shields that have different pros and cons. Don’t just give Falinks two or three unique moves, give him a dozen, but make it so that he can still only use four at a time and you still have choose which you want.
Obstagoon is a cool looking design that’s a cross between a badger and Gene Simmons out of Kiss, that you can only get by levelling up at night. But he doesn’t do anything special, he’s just a cool design with a random collection of Dark and Normal moves. So why not have his unusually long tongue have its own special moves? Or give him some moves that reference his rock ‘n’ roll influences, or the fact that he only evolves at night.
This would also make it easier to improve the combat visuals so that the pokémon looked like they were really interacting with each other, rather than just vaguely flailing at each other in the right general direction. Because there’s less pokémon overall you have less interactions to account for and can start to make them all more unique.
But no, fans want quantity over quality and I think especially after all the fuss Game Freak will just want to do what they say. I hope they don’t, they certainly didn’t listen to them this time, but I feel that doing the opposite to what fans want is the best way forward for the series and will ultimately lead to something everyone can get behind.
By reader Onibee
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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