It's not often I, or anyone else for that matter, can say that they're playing a new Digimon game. Not as often as they can say they're playing a Pokémon game at the very least. Thanks a lot, Bandai Namco!
But wait! Would you look at that? Here I am, having been playing a Digimon game for the past couple of weeks. A new one, too! Which means this exciting episode of this series I am indeed continuing is going to actually be about...
Althrough I'm thinking about doing a blog more specific to the game in the future, I have to say that when it comes to Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, I can't help but feel like some of the issues I have with it stem from one of two things. The first is that the game, to put it bluntly, gives me the kind of reaction a lot of people get from Compile Heart games. I'm not sure how else to word it. The samey dungeons, reused animations and attacks... Well, like I said, that's for a different blog. It's basically being cheap, I guess, and this is nothing new for Bandai Namco games.
The second thing, though, ties into the mechanics and overall presentation of the game. Some of these decisions just seem to be the result of someone sitting down and asking "How can we do this so it's not the same way Pokémon and other monster games did it?" and then going with whatever the answer was.
Don't get me wrong here, a lot of the core mechanics of the Digimon world change from entry to entry anyway, and a lot of the ones that stick flat out are and always have been extremely diffrent from the ones in Pokémon. The weird thing is, in Cyber Sleuth, this is taken to the point that it's almost trying to outdo even other Digimon media. Its mechanics differ from other Digimon games, either in an attempt to be even less like Pokémon or more different, and even the game's "darker and edgier" approach to story is another example.
I'm sorry, but I don't see this game, from the point I'm in, getting any darker than some of the shows and manga from as far back as over ten years ago were. Edgier, maybe, but that's not necessarily a good thing.
I digress, I'm getting off topic here. This is a series of blogs about Pokémon after all. This one's just going to be having a heavy focus on Digimon, so fasten in for that, kids!
Now then--! Where does all this Digimon talk tie into Pokémon anyway?
In playing a game like Cyber Sleuth, it really brought back some of the things I really like about Digimon, and made me think about the ones that I've been let down by in the Pokémon universe. And, to be honest, I would say there are probably a whole lot of these, as both series fall under that wonderful category of "formative series" for me. So what comes to mind when I think of advantages Digimon has over Pokémon? Well, I'll tell you!
One of the things I adore about the Digimon series is that it had a plentiful supply of awesome dragon, dinosaur, and insect monsters right from the onset, while Pokémon still barely has that many great representatives of these at al--
Wait, that wasn't what I meant to say. Retreat, retreat!
One of the things I adore about the Digimon series is that it indulges in not restricting itself. Sometimes one Digimon can turn into one thing, sometimes it can become something else. At other times, it can become either one. It has as many ways for its monsters to evolve into other ones as there are different seasons of the show, and chances are that these evolution methods will be spread about more than a few of the monsters within the franchise.
With Pokémon, when it comes to branching evolution, people tend not to think about much beyond Eevee and the few other exceptions out there.
With Digimon, though most memorable Digimon in the anime have forms treated as "canon" evolutions, generally speaking, any given Digimon can probably turn into any number of evolutions.
When the average person considers an Agumon, you probably think Greymon, right? Maybe GeoGreymon?
Then there's also Tyrannomon, among other "branching" ones. Then what about Greymon itself? Well you've got MetalGreymon... but wait! SkullGreymon too, remember? And there's also the viral and corrupted versions of the Agumon line, the forms unique to that line like Gaioumon, GeoGreymon's "canon" evolution RizeGreymon, which has two "canon" evolutions, ShineGreymon and VictoryGreymon!
Needless to say, that's a lot of Digimon all spawning from just one. Let's try an easier one, but put through the "you probably have no idea what I'm saying" filter.
Meet Veemon. This little guy's got a toooon of alternate evolutions, but for this, we're going to only focus on the ones as strong as a final form, seeing as what I know of Pokémon fans tells me that the average one disregards a monster's existence if it can't fight well. You guys suck like that, seriously. Boo.
With this in mind, Veemon can generally hit up to one of three forms as strong as what Digimon considers a "final" stage. To get there, it's got to do a little bit of work, however. The first one is pretty easy, at least. Just apply some armor to Veemon and you're done. But how do we get to the other two final forms that are relatively as strong? Rather than try to explain it with words, this time I've prepared... a chart!
That makes it relatively easy to understand, right? It may look confusing on paper, especially if these words are all alien to you, but hopefully a description combined with a picture helps somewhat. If not, I apologize for taking up so many words with needless description and text!
Either way, trust me when I say that it generally makes sense in the games and other media they appear in, which is my main point here. I would like to think, especially with precedents like Eevee already in Pokémon, that it wouldn't be too hard to explain this sort of thing to fans who are used to the series' traditional evolution system. Even in the DS Digimon games, some probably about ten years old at this point, you could pull up nice and fancy evolution charts, whereas recently released Cyber Sleuth, for all my issues with it, comes with a built in field guide displaying all of this and more for each Digimon you encounter. I've legitimately probably spent a couple of hours of playtime just planning things out using this guide. It's as amazing a feature as it is a terrifying one.
Still, I don't think Pokémon should break out into introducing sprawling branching evolution paths like this, or even necessarily including a lot more Eevees (which would actually be very easy and possible now thanks to alternate forms), I do feel like this is one mechanic among many the series has neglected and let turn into a "gimmick" when it just shouldn't have. In general, some Pokémon fans I've encountered in my life seem to have this... thing with "specialness" like that that turns what could be new mechanics into gimmicks. I tend to think the developers may be like that as well.
Regardless, I like to think, especially since Pokémon evolution lines are shorter anyway, branching evolutions would be a lot easier to handle (even for kids) in this series anyway. It seems to be working relatively okay for the few Mega Evolutions we've got it going for. Why not keep that trend up? I know people hated version specific Mega Stones, but to be perfectly honest, I'm going to be extremely disappointed if Sun and Moon don't give us more branching Mega Stones as well. That's something unique entirely to Pokémon right now, and I would hate to see it just left to a couple of popular Pokémon like Mewtwo and Charizard.
Branching evolutions aren't the only thing Pokémon doesn't take advantage of. So many items and mechanics exist for only one or maybe at most two Pokémon's evolution or boost. Kyurem is the only Pokémon that "fuses" with other Pokémon in the way that it does. While some Pokémon do evolve based on time of day or location, Eevee is the essentially only one that evolves differently based on those aspects.
For some of these cases, I get it. Legends should get unique things, and in nature, some animals will have unique or weird quirks. I get it. On the other hand, this is still a game, and it's getting to the point where this particular game has a ton of really cool mechanics being introduced into it that are being used on Pokémon that, quite frankly, a lot of people don't even realize exist or like.
Some people probably still consider form changing a gimmick and look at it negatively for it, despite it having been a thing since the third generation.
And sure, it makes the Pokémon that do these things distinct, but look at Pokémon like Wormadam. It's the only Pokémon that evolves differently by location. Not specific location, like Eevee, but genuine location. If you're in a cave, in the grass, or in a building, it will get a different type and everything. It is one of the coolest mechanics and concepts in the entire franchise... and most people probably don't even remember it exists. The ones that do probably either don't like it or think the concept was wasted on the Pokémon in question.
And much as I personally like Wormadam, I have to ask... Why restrict such a cool mechanic to a single Pokémon?
Veemon isn't the only Digimon that has Armor-related evolutions (in fact, there are like... 60 or so Armor-related evolutions in total, though to be fair, they're all spawning from the same seven or so Digimon), nor is its evolution, ExVeemon, the only one to have fusion-related evolutions. In fact, the entire premise of the sixth season of the show was built around fusing different Digimon together.
Digimon does have its restrictions here and there, obviously, but at the very least, it's not that often mechanics like the ones Pokémon will let an individual species hog essentially forever be given to one Digimon and one Digimon only. There are some, yeah, but you'd think Digimon would have more given it has about twice as many monsters as Pokémon does.
People generally seem to love Eevee, and people are really starting to get into Mega Evolutions. From my perspective, we've had a mechanic just like Mega Evolution from the moment they introduced Deoxys. I'd almost go as far as to say Mega Evolution is a glorified version of form changing with special rules and a new name to get people who didn't like that mechanic interested. Maybe now what we need is something new, like Eevee, to get people to open up to the idea of branching evolutions and new evolution mechancis again.
I'll admit, I do like Eevee well enough. There are Pokémon fans whose wants every new generation seem to be, almost above anything else, for there to be a new evolution of Eevee introduced.
I don't mind that any, but wouldn't it be great if Sun and Moon surprised us with some new Pokémon like these instead?
Or... How about ones that have ideas like those, if nothing else...?
Okay, okay, the "art" is terrible, but that aside, it's this sort of thing I think this series could do more of. With alternate forms being a mechanic that's readily available, it's not even as though Pokémon that utilize such a mechanic have to take up ungodly amounts of space in the Pokédex either. All they have to do is make one spot for where the branch is, then include all of the different things as different forms with unique stats, moves, and so on (which has actually been done before), and suddenly we're good to go.
The things they could do with this franchise, but seemingly aren't for the sake of making it simple and easy are kind of scary. Did you know they've been considering removing attacks?
In any case, this kind of thing isn't restricted to just evolutions and forms and such either.
Why, after six generations, is Snorlax the only thing we wake up on the road? Is it because an item like the Pokéflute is too broken, even though most people probably don't know you can use it in battle? If that's the case, why not try more Pokémon like Sudowudo that masquerade as HM targets? Considering that Rock Smash would have made a perfect chance for that, it seems like a sorely missed opportunity.
While we're at it, it took until the fifth generation for another mimic Pokémon to finally be introduced. Some might say "but now Voltorb is less special now!" for this reason, but... Do people really think that way? To me, this is a mark of creativity, if anything, to be able to reuse the same ideas differently. Why do some people just look at the surface, at "the same idea," and want to dismiss everything else about the result almost immediately? That hurts the franchise, you know!
Don't you want to get to the point where some Pokémon have three Megas?!
Okay, okay, I'll stop the jokes now. ... Just as soon as I start making them anyway. Ha!
Could it be I'm just the odd one out here? Maybe I'm just wanting for something that could never work within the Pokémon universe. What do you guys think about letting these kinds of mechanics spread to the rest of the Pokémon world?
Be it branching evolutions, like I focused on here, or even smaller things like how Vivillon and the Deerling and Gastrodon lines work, or even just using concepts like I mentioned with Snorlax over again. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Pokémon locks up some of its most innovative and cool mechanics up for just one thing to have?