Not happy with releasing two versions of a near identical game, the Pokemon franchise hit an all time high on the Game Boy Pocket with the release of version Yellow. Now you could truly relive the popular cartoon by walking around Kanto with a sprite of Pikachu for the entire game. Not only that, but the yellow furball was even angry with you nearly every time you clicked on him. Sweet.
So, with every new Nintendo handheld came a trio of Pokemon games. Crystal, Emerald and now Platinum are all advertised as ‘director’s cuts’ in comparison to the two titles before. This is usually because of a few new additions, involving a new legendary Pokemon and an extra ‘Battle Frontier’ style league. Technically these small improvements make them the “definitive” Pokemon game of their generation, but in my opinion this is a hollow remark. So much more could be done with a Pokemon sequel, so below are my top 5 improvements.
The storyline for Pokemon was never a great concern in the original Red and Blue titles. For example, any dialogue with Team Rocket was pretty simple and straight forward in your path to becoming a master. This was with good reason, because originally Pokemon needed to be accessible for everyone. For the casual player, Team Rocket and Gary were just a nice distraction from your next gym battle.
Half a dozen games later, the storyline has barely changed. New teams have slightly different names and different ways to take over the world, but the core is exactly the same. Find the gym, earn the badge, use the HM to get to the next area and repeat until you get to the Elite Four. It’s a winning formula, but one that feels incredibly tired when you start in yet another clone of Pallat Town.
I’m not saying that Gyms, completing the Pokedex and battling your rival shouldn’t be included. However, Game Freak could do so much more with the universe they’ve created. Completing ribbon titles could give you the chance to confront corrupt competitors, perhaps Pokemon viruses could break out in overseas regions. Time travelling could even be included to discover the history of your parents or catch Pokemon that are now extinct. Okay, probably not the best story ideas but I’m sure Nintendo’s script writing team could do an excellent job.
As much as I love the quirky fashion of Pokemon trainers, I can’t say I would choose their clothing if I was living in Hoenn. The latest Pokemon title on Nintendo Wii allows character customisation and this should really be brought onto the handhelds. The sprites still have limited animations and it wouldn’t be difficult to change the colour of some squares. With an ever increasing focus on Wi-Fi plazas and online chatting, it would be nice to look a little unique.
EV’s, IV and Pokemon breeding:
After doing some research on the internet, I discovered that a huge part of the appeal for veteran players is stat manipulation. Small differences occur in Pokemon depending on the Individual value (IV) and Effort Values (EV) they are born with and these grow to be very significant when they reach level 99. The only way to take advantage of this is through long, patient breeding with Pokemon eggs. All very well if you want to go incredibly deep into the game play, but the problem is that for the average player this is never explained or offered on the cartridge.
This shouldn’t be tucked away on fan message boards. The concept is strange enough when I looked at in screenshots, so for those of us that are completely unaware (or without the internet!) explain it for the simpletons.
A quick pet peeve. On the Game Boy Colour it was fair enough to have short midi sounds for the Pokemon, but the Nintendo DS can now take full vocal soundtracks. Rather than add yet more unnecessary Pokemon, why not flesh out the existing ones? Bring the cartoon to life, because the excuse that ‘it allows you to imagine the sound of Pokemon yourself’ is pretty poor. Being able to hear the Pokemon as you launch them onto the field or check their status would be a nice addition.
Multiple game saves:
Pokemon is a game on a large scale, but I’m sure the cartridge can handle more than one save file. Other RPG’s on the Nintendo DS, such as Final Fantasy 3 can handle at least half a dozen. Perhaps trading would be an issue, as you could probably cheat and quickly send every starter Pokemon to yourself with a co-operating friend. However, there must surely be a way to get around this? Not being able to share the same game between siblings and friends is rather ridiculous.