Sunday, July 3, 2016

Changes the Pokémon Franchise Desperately Needs

Originally written on: July 3, 2016

I've played Pokémon games since Red and Blue. Although I didn't play the DS generation games until after X and Y were out, I've played each generation and have seen the growth of the franchise.

In terms of mechanics and balance, I think the games have become phenomenal. Abilities and physical vs. non-physical moves in particular really pushed things forward. However, I feel that the games are missing a few key features that would push the series further toward perfection.

1. Allow players to switch moves and abilities outside of battle

Having a four-move limit and a really tedious method of relearning previous moves discourages experimentation. Being able to switch moves outside of battle would add to strategy and make battling less stale. For convenience, out-of-battle moves such as rock smash should be able to be used even if they're not one of the four active moves. A limit worth considering is only allowing one or two TMs to be taught at a time per Pokémon since there shouldn't be a limit on level-up and egg moves that players can switch between as frequently as desired in the pause menu.

2. Make HMs inherent

There are different ways this can be handled, but the main goal is to prevent HMs from taking up move slots and being difficult to remove. The above suggestion would fix this, but I also propose letting any Pokémon that can use fly and surf use them without them having to know them as battle moves.

3. Let players fly/teleport earlier

Fast-travel is now pretty much expected in games with large worlds to explore. The goal of this and many other suggestions is to make the experience less tedious. There should also be moves other than fly so that players don't feel like they always need to bring a bird Pokémon.

4. Have a new game plus mode as a separate save

There are different ways this can be handled. Allow all Pokémon to carry over in boxes that require badges as usual depending on their level; revert all Pokémon to level 5 but keep their moves and other values; randomize wild encounters to include all species instead of always starting with a ton of normal-types and then bug-types; and/or cause wild Pokemon to be around the average level of the player's Pokémon.

5. Stop creating new Pokémon

This is probably the most controversial suggestion. I wish Sun and Moon weren't pushing the number beyond what it already is, but I'd prefer a new formula or new mechanics like character classes instead of the Pokedex being ever harder to fill. Balance the ones that already exist instead of making balance ever less possible.

6. Create a more mature world and story

Imagine if the bad guys succeeded and created an apocalyptic society or something similar. Imagine if liberation from Black and White was more fleshed out. Regardless, at the very least I'd like more in-depth NPC dialogue rather than being told that I'm not wearing shorts.

7. Redo IVs and EVs

I like the idea of training and using vitamins to determine which stats improve beyond the standard values for a given species. Players could be given an option for opponent-based gains for those who don't want this to change.

8. Automatically heal HP and PP

I get that these being limited encourage resource management, but to make it a little less tedious, it would be great if both slowly regenerated over time, such as one point or a given percentage per so many steps.

9. Allow players to switch natures and abilities

This is another suggestion to reduce the tedious nature of the games. I think that abilities should be switchable like battle moves to increase experimentation and strategy instead of relying on luck and patience. Constantly switching moves and abilities with the same Pokémon would be much more fun than using the same moves and strategy every single battle, over and over again.

10. Include modes with rentals and virtual battles

Normally, players use their own Pokémon in battles. Sometimes, levels are temporarily changed to 50 to keep things even, but having additional modes during single-player and multiplayer would be a fresh addition. Rentals — like in the Stadium games — would allow players to choose from all Pokémon — perhaps in tiers — with moves and abilities chosen for balance. Virtual battles would be like NetBattle where players can meticulously customize each Pokémon's moves, ability, EVs, gender, held item, and so on. Imagine a battle tower as post-game content where players can face off against each generation's gym leaders using their own Pokémon, rentals, or a virtual team; or imagine playing against your friends using a specific tier of rentals or customized virtual team.

11. An option to disable all random encounters

Because they're annoying and don't provide enough XP as trainer battles. There could be an option on the player's in-game device to send out a signal that repels all wild Pokémon.

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