Pokémon X and Y has finally hit store shelves and players are able to experience a multitude of incredible enhancements to the popular series. Looking back on the Pokémon series from it's humble roots on the original Game Boy, we are now in the midst of game series with over 600 unique types of Pokémon, taking place in several large regions, with heaping handfuls of rivals and trainers to battle with. X and Y delivers a few key enhancements that, in my opinion, the series has been missing for a long time.
Perhaps the most immediately recognizable addition to the series is the ability for players to Customize their Trainer. Pokémon has gone through five generations of games primarily with the same formula. A set appearance for the main character of the game (either male or female) with the ability for players to choose the name of this character.
Pokémon as a series provides an excellent ability for players to express their own creativity. Whether that's their choices of what Pokémon make up their six-man team, or what moves to assign to the four move slots. But there was never a way for players to reflect that creativity with their character's appearance, until X and Y. And it's a glorious change that allows players to create even more personal experience with the game
In Pokemon X and Y, the main character can sport different eye colors, skin tones, and clothing. Sporting red eye contacts or saving up to buy a cool new hat can be just as exciting as catching a new Pokémon. The amount of clothing choices in the game is quite expansive, and it's something that I feel the series needed for a long time. With the ability for players to challenge each other to battles online, allowing their trainers to look different from each others allows the game to feel like there isn't an end.
Customization is limited outside of wardrobe choices, but this is a step in the right direction. And if Pokémon wishes to innovate further, allowing more elements of character customization would be a great step.
Pokémon is a game series that benefits extremely well from an online battling component. In previous games, players could legitimately reach a point where they couldn't battle any more trainers in the game. Nintendo has always approached online systems at arm's length, but now with the easily accessible internet capabilities of the 3DS, Pokémon battling with strangers across the internet has never been easier, and it provides a solution to a lack of the metagame that the game struggled with (outside of in-person tournaments or link battles).
The C-Gear of Generation V pushed the series into more of an online focus, but X and Y takes that a step further by making it much easier to challenge near and far trainers to a battle.
The great part of Pokémon is the differing goals that players can set for themselves. This is even reflected in the story of X and Y, with different members of the main character's friend group setting radically different goals, whether it's completing the Pokedex, discovering more about Mega Evolutions, and so forth.
In order for the series to continue to innovate, allowing an online system that tends to these different goals of Pokemon would be great. Integrating a online system tailored towards breeding would be the next logical step in my mind, as online features for battling and trading are already pretty solid.
Adding New Pokémon?
Beginning with a *relatively* modest 150 Pokémon, the series has since exploded with nearly 5 times that amount of created Pokémon. Is adding more in future sequels really the way to go? Different regions have different Pokedexes, which can cull the huge list into something significantly smaller for a particular game, but how much longer can new games continue to introduce new Pokémon into an already bloated roster?
Do you feel the creativity of newly introduced Pokémon is beginning to stagnant? There are plenty of Pokémon introduced in the past few generations that seem more like clones of real life animals/insects than anything from some fictional universe. In my opinion, once ideas begin to become less unique, there needs to be a new approach.
As many of you are probably aware, there is a very interesting site called Pokemon Fusion that allows you to combine two existing Pokemon into something new. Most of the results of these fusions are hilarious, but a few are extremely cool, pulling in just enough attributes from two Pokemon into something that honestly feels new.
I know I wouldn't be against introducing a sort of Pokemon 'fusion' system in the newer games. Allowing every single Pokemon on the roster to be fused is definitely too much, but by picking a select few could certainly create some interesting situations.
In my mind, the sheer amount of Pokémon is teetering between exciting and exhausting, and how new games approach this growing number will be very important. I know I'm pretty familiar with the 'trainer fatigue' when it comes to catching, or even remembering, every single one of those Pokémon. What exactly is the best route to take with future titles?
The Pokémon Formula
Pokémon, like a lot of other Nintendo titles, follows a very cookie cutter formula from game to game. What you get in new games usually consist of...
- New Pokemon
- New Region
- New Gym Leaders/Elite Four/Rival
- New 'Villain Group' (Team Rocket,Aqua,Plasma,etc)
- New In-Game features.
All games essentially begin the same way, talking to Pokemon Professor, confirming whether you're a boy or a girl, and then beginning your journey across the region to challenge the different Gym Leaders. You always seem to come across a forest are early in the game, you always have to defeat 8 Gym Trainers to reach the final battle. Whether that sort of system is a benefit or a hindrance will probably change depending on the person that you ask.
It's already been confirmed that Nintendo is interested in 'changing the formula for the Wii U Zelda game', and I feel this approach would also work for Pokemon. There becomes a point where the familiarity becomes unexciting, and altering the approach to just how the story unfolds from the beginning could provide a little extra spice to the game series.
What Do You Think?
After breaking down a few key enhancements of the series, what do you feel is the most important elements to be considered with future Pokémon games? What sort of features would you enjoy to see implemented? Are there any problems with the current formula that you feel need to be fixed?
Agree or Disagree with any of my points? Let me know in the comments. Discussing the future of Pokemon is exciting, and while I still have plenty of ways to go until X and Y is finished, I can't help but think about next steps for one of my favorite game series.