How to fix: Pokemon Games

If you grew up in the nineties or the early 2000s, it is highly likely you’ve heard about Pokemon. If you are a human who has lived in a cave all your life then I doubt you would have heard about Pokemon. If you don’t live in a cave I am almost certain you’ve heard about Pokemon. If you haven’t and don’t live in a cave, then you’re lying. Pokemon and its games have been around for decades and the recent resurgence of Pokemon Go was no surprise. Every person’s inner child burst forward to catch ’em all. But the hype died quicker than you can say ‘Pikachu.’Pokemon games have been struggling for many years and I think its time they got the How to fix treatment:

  1. Stop releasing games so frequently – Nintendo have released a Pokemon game, in some form, every year for decades. The mystery Dungeon series, Pinball, Snap, the stadium series, puzzle league, the pokemon ranger series and of course new continents to explore in 2D and 3D adventure games. The Pokemon gaming franchise is so saturated that it makes Call of Duty look good. How nice of Nintendo to keep recycling their games every year. With the same premise each time with no real dynamic or exciting changes. The franchise is so stagnant that it’s only surviving due to die-hard fans who refuse to let the series die. Pokémon will never die, that’s a fact. However, what will bring back its massively alienated fans is releasing fewer games with the games that are released should be more dense with better support. In a similar issue to EA games like Battlefront except Nintendo release three times more games than EA. An old friend of mine always said to me about my bad jokes: “less is more.” This quote can definitely be applied to the Pokémon games.
  2. Stop expanding the roster – I remember when the original 151 Pokemon was expanded upon and even as a little kid I was hesitant but welcome the change. Then there was another load of new Pokemon after that.Then some more. And more. Now it’s overwhelming. Now we have Pokemon like Komala which is basically a koala bear, Drampa which is basically Falcor the dragon from the never-ending story or Buzzwole is which basically Seth Brundle from the Fly on steroids. All the newest Pokemon just look utter garbage. Speaking of garbage don’t even get me started on the Pokemon Trubbish. Yes, I hear you crying out “some originals were poorly designed too!” Yes some were. But it was a simpler time when Pokemon was first created and animation was difficult so designs were simple and based on a lot of real life objects and animals. However, the designers are clearly using the same thought process to expand the roster and basically just looking at things and saying “that should be a Pokemon too.” This has led to even a lamp and an ice cream becoming Pokemon for crying out loud. Take some time away from expanding the roster and let us grow to love the Pokemon we have today, then use that time to create a whole new breed of good-looking creatures for us to capture. Rather than a floating light fixture or a spring/pig hybrid with a pink ball on its head. Good god I sound crazy saying some of those aloud…
  3. Talk to your audience and actually listen – This point seems to feature a lot on How to fix. Nintendo has arguably the best reputation when it comes to ignoring their fans wishes and their ignorance towards Pokemon’s army of supporters is no exception. It took them over two decades to create a proper Pokemon fighting game in the style of Tekken or Street Fighter, and when they finally released Pokken Tournament, it was just average. Pokken Tournament was the first original idea the company had in years, not since Pokemon Snap had we seen such an innovative change for the franchise. But even so, the roster was so tiny and oddly decided upon it didn’t sit well with anyone. Who wants to play the most gritty Pokemon game ever created and use Chandelier? I guess you can Stone Cold Steve Austin your opponent with a Pikachu in a wrestling mask. What I’m trying to say is that Pokken Tournament was the game we all deserved just fifteen years too late. Nintendo should listen to what the fans want, rather than making another game where you encounter Pokemon made of rubbish bags…
  4. Stop removing popular features from your games – Pokemon Go was one of the best things to happen in 2016. Although now it has died of death, Nintendo and Niantic constantly kept removing features from the app. The footprints icon signalling how far away you were from a creature was one of the most infuriating removals for me. Also removed was the battery saver option. For a game that simply guzzles your phone’s battery, this also proved unpopular. Other features in other games were also removed like:  underwater exploration in Hoenn was replaced with Underground in Sinnoh. Then that was replaced with Dream World exploration in Unova, Secret bases in Hoenn were moved to underground in Sinnoh. Then replaced by dream houses in Unova, walking Pokemon was cut from the after it featured in some of the original games etc. So many decisions were done to save time or money but honestly, we’d rather have games that kept its features rather than gaining and losing them every year, especially when some of these features are actually good and make the game better or easier to play like the footprints in Go.
  5. Learn from Pokemon Go – Pokemon Go highlighted the world still loves Pocket Monsters. With 100 million downloads, 20 million active users at its height in August 2016 and with an almost equal male to female ratio for those who downloaded the app, it proved that despite many fans growing up, getting jobs, leaving home and starting their own adventures, their childhood friends the Pokemon were still fondly thought of in their hearts. Pokemon Go died due to lack of content, lack of content added post-launch, a summer release meant that fewer people would play it in the cold winter months and just like any fad, the hype will always die. Nintendo can certainly take lessons from their short success like people still like Pokemon, releasing a free app game seemed to work, making a game that involves exercise was a positive approach. Learn from the mistakes of Go and recreate something amazing whilst keeping the massive audience you attracted last time.
  6. Improve the games speed – Started a new Pokemon adventure can be an exciting task. That is until you encounter the 30 to 40 minute tutorials that start every game off. Millions suffer from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome or Repetitive Strain Injury from bashing the ‘A’ button on the controller too frequently to try to skip the never-ending conversations. All we want to do is battle. Yes the tutorials are important to not alienate new gamers but many people playing the game have all played a Pokemon game before. And let’s be honest…bar one or two changes, they’re all the same. Cut down the tutorials and skip to the good bit. Maybe have a bit more fun with your tutorials and take some advice from Far Cry Blood Dragon? Or rewrite the whole sequence. The grind is real in Pokemon games and it can take a few mind numbing hours to get the main story off and running. Rather than improving the speed of the game by making it shorter, but by improving the game to make it feel quicker for the player to progress whilst keeping the longevity of the entire game, like the Witcher III.
  7. A major reboot – It’s not just the beginning of the games that need revamping but the entirety of the Pokemon gaming franchises need updating and rebooting. All of the games have followed similar patterns to each other in terms of structure,story and despite changing continents, setting. You pick one of three starters and head off into the land following a similar path, battling every person you walk in front of as well as one or two rivals and a team or teams of bad guys who want to do something terrible to the world you and only you can stop them. It is so repetitive and boring now that has just become tiresome. Nintendo need to majorly retake the franchise and come up with something new. That’s why Pokemon Go and Pokken Tournament were so well received, because they were different. Difference is good and many franchises succeed by branching off into different routes to keep things fresh rather than ignoring the fans and walking the same line. You know you’re running out of ideas when you make different ‘forms’ of creatures that currently exist in your universe. A major reboot of the franchise is needed to just revitalise a weary game series close to flat-lining.
  8. Remake Pokemon Go, but recreate it from the ground up – Rather than updating, updating, updating Pokemon Go, make a Pokemon Go 2 or whatever you want to call it and make it again. Make it bigger. Make it bolder. Make it better. Pokemon Go was fun but was so lacking everything that fans craved. No trading? Lacklustre Gym battles? No actual battling between players? No group battles? Pokemon don’t actually do very much? That sounds appealing to a fan of a game and TV series that featured all of those things…Pokemon Go played on societies nostalgia for a game series that ultimately ruled our lives for a time.  If they remade it rather than updating it into what could be the best game of all time for fans of the series then it would make them a mountain of money, and make lovers of the series want to part with their money for it. Pokemon Go had some good ideas like getting people out of the house and using GPS to go to actual locations. But it was one drop in an ocean that should have been.

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