Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Okay, I Really Can't Stop Thinking About Pokemon

I admit it - ever since it was announced last week, I've had Pokemon on the brain and I just can't help but wonder at just what X & Y are going to offer, even if I might suspect the answer is "Not much".  I made it very clear that I am not expecting much from the newest iteration of the series, but I am not the type who cannot hope and yet remain skeptical at the same time.  I would want nothing more than to learn that X & Y are doing big things for the franchise as a whole, and learning that it does would make me incredibly enthused for the games - I'm just simply not putting any money on that.  I can be happily surprised again, but I'll try to not let myself be bitterly disappointed any longer.  Because that just makes me angry in the end and it still bugs me that I loathe Black/White with the vehemence that I do.  (To the point where I wrote off White/Black 2 completely on announcement and have only now, with a pokemon itch to scratch, considered picking it up)

After thinking about it for literally the last hour, I discovered that it's quite hard to quantify just -what- I expect, what I -desire- out of a Pokemon game, which is a bit confusing to me.  I suppose it's just a judgment call on my part, something that I just know when I'm playing it, but there are a few elements that are kind of given.  Unfortunately, the bulk of them have sort of come up on the "What I wish this had" list rather than "what makes it good" list for the last few versions.  These features are...honestly, more or less what Gold and Silver offered that every version since has managed to neglect which astounds me in ways that similarly astound me.  Just astounded all around here.  You would think, after getting it right (and then remaking those games, consequently still getting it right) that it would be obvious, but no, Game Freak is just concerned with being absolutely confusing.

The biggest thing that Gold/Silver did, without question, was allowing you to go back to Kanto and explore the entire region that the first game was in, as well as offering additional story about not only Gold/Silver but the aftermath of Red/Blue.  Even that's not -perfect- by any means since you can just blow through towns/gyms in mere minutes without having much of a reason to -not- do that, but goddamn if that wasn't brilliant back then, and not being part of every game going forward is insanity, pure and simple.  There are ways that you can do this, shut up, I don't care okay.  It was 'easy' in Gold/Silver because Kanto is literally right next to Johto and they're connected at the Indigo Plateau or something, but there was also a train.  Trains go long distances.  I'm sure Pokemon worlds are far enough technology-wise that airplanes are also a thing that exist since we literally have machines that do long-distance teleportation of organic creatures.  Or, you know, they could just do human teleporters too, but I suppose that would just be silly.

The other stuff Gold/Silver did, Day-specific events, special pokeballs from resources you could gather, Day/Night Cycle is all stuff that has been in some of the games since (though not all of them which is also confusing) and it helps tug you into the 'world' which is a nice thing.  Really, it would be nice if they amped those up a little, giving you a little more to do in post-game.  Because let's be honest, Post-Game has not been as good since Gold/Silver and that's something that needs to be rectified.  Even when you were done with Gold/Silver's post-game (hitting all the gyms, some events, challenging Red), there wasn't really anything else major or even close to do and that's kind of a common issue.  Get over that Animal Crossing hump of only giving about half an hours worth of content after you've climbed to the top of the mountain - keep the game engaging even beyond the end of it.  I would -kill- for that in a pokemon game.

I mean, I, like a lot of people I'm sure, spend the post-game getting together an finalizing a 'team' that I like and trying to fill up the rest of the Poke'dex.  What this equates to is playing a meta game with yourself for how long you can stomach getting into pokemon battles over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until you're just done.  For no other purpose than meta-goals.  The game has, for all intents and purposes, simply left you to your own machinations with the equivalent of a Jack-in-the-Box.  In all actuality, most games do this, it's just that most games are also a little more clever with their use of the afore mentioned Jack-in-the-Box, so I would like to see Pokemon make this leap.  Hide the obvious behind a different wall or something.  Mini-Quests or trainers that actually move around the map zones and re-challenge your or -something- that gives you something in the short-term that helps you get toward your long-term so your long-term isn't just doing the same thing for twenty hours.

I think my point was that I kind of hope X & Y addresses this type of thing if not the other things I've mentioned in the past about Pokemon that has left it to sort of stagnate.  I really doubt it'll address any of them, of course, which is why I'm going in with expectations so low, but it would be nice, if nothing else.  We can all hope for these kinds of things, at least, since nobody else is going to step up to the plate and produce a competent Pokemon-like game for reasons that are completely beyond my understanding.  Regardless, I imagine I'll enjoy my time with X & Y as I really doubt it can get much worse than Black/White's offerings.  Being the lowest point in the series since Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (which is only redeemed by the stat split which was a damn good idea) makes the bar pretty low, I'd say.

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