I have a lot of favorite games. I hate having to answer the question, "So what's your favorite game?" It's just too narrow a question to such a broad subject. But if I had to, a relatively encompassing answer for me would be Pokémon.
While Pokémon just may hold the record for personal cumulative gaming hours, it is because of that very fact that there are things about the game that have begun to wear a bit thin. Hence, our little post here. With Nintendo's recent announcement of Pokémon Platinum, I have a good idea what will be coming in that version. Thinking the whole Pocket Monster train is just going to keep on chugging, I can only be hopeful that the next iteration after that will take some of my following grudges into account.
A Worthy Pokémon Assortment
I personally was not very excited about the new Diamond and Pearl pogees, that is, outside of the starters. The DS starters are awesome, but the other newbies? Not so much. Burmy? Cherubi? Drifloon????? Alot of the newbs are sorta-cutesy, fluffy one-offs, and not many of them even evolve. Now I'm all for cute (Pichu, Lotad, Aron, Cubone!) but oh how I miss the Houndooms and Ursas and such with "bite" that seem to be wholly missing in Diamond and Pearl. Granted there are like 500 of the suckers now, but I was just a bit underwhelmed this time. I know there are still wicked cool designs to be had, the DS starters and the legendaries prove that. But it seems like in Silver/Gold Ruby/Sapphire, the new doods were all kick ass when compared to the "meh" in Diamond/Pearl.
Offshoot from this, when choosing the veteran Pokémon to include in a new version, can they switch it up a bit? Seriously, how tired are you of Geodude and Zubat???!! They are everywhere! Arrgh! With so many to choose from, I was really expecting Diamond/Pearl to mix it up a bit, especially in dungeons.
Nintendo: Get with the Wi-Fi Already
Where are the Wi-Fi Mystery Gifts? Nintendo "Events" come once in a blue moon. Not everyone can get to the PokÃ©mon Store in NY. I myself have been lucky enough to make it there, as well as one other Toys R Us event. And what I am talking about here is the availability of rare Pokémon. I mean RARE. Some pogees are so rare that you can only get them (or the access to get them) by being in a specific country in a specific place at a specific time. That is rare, allright. I can dig the appeal of the super rare on some level, but really do I have to be just plain lucky to attend one of these events in order to complete my Pokedex?
Nintendo needs to step up its wi-fi content for Pokémon. There is soooo much potential here it's almost a whole 'nother post. Not to mention giving some folk a break who can't always make it to those super-rare events but would have much better luck getting to a Nintendo wi-fi hotspot.
ps, there just happens to be a Nintendo Toys R Us event this weekend, May 30th - Jun 1st. It's for Darkai.
Speed it Up
Oh man, when you play as much as I do, even the most simple tasks seem to take forever. Mainly I'm talking about battles here. The DS versions are the worst (Emerald battles are decidely faster than Diamond or Pearl). With the introduction of the DS touch screens, every single option has its own screen, as well as a "confirm" screen." Dude, I just want to use a pokeball! Yes, I am sure I want to use it! The developers must know that a large majority of players are coming from an older version and are confident of their choices. I also desperately want an additional "crack speed" option for battles. Please make text instantaneous. Please stop using text segments to display how Pogee attributes are affecting battle. This information can be displayed on screen for the whole battle in a number of places. When every single battle signifier must be displayed with text one letter at a time, even on fastest speed, this stuff adds up and battles-- the number one consumption of the game-- stretch into the realm of mind-numbing tedium. Even a new player gets what's going on in battles really quick, I already know the outcome of 99% of them. As long as it's turn based there's still room to adjust tactics if an enemy throws a wrench into things. The only time the step by step would seem to be appropriate would be with Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, or possibly human vs. human link play. Pokémon takes a long time to play, I just want to streamline things.
With Diamond and Pearl, you have the option to import pogees from your previous GBA versions (Fire, Leaf, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald). The problem is, once you transfer them, that is it. They are in your Diamond/Pearl version forever and cannot go back. I understand the thought behind it, but the thing is, I don't want to excise pogees from my older versions! Each version gave me a certain sense of accomplishment, and I just don't want to have my guys "erased from history" on a particular cartridge. The experiences I had on Ruby are some of my favorites, and my Zangoose just won't have anything to do on Diamond. Luckily, in the case of Zangoose I have other options, but alot of the older version pogees must be transferred permanently in order to fill the National Pokedex. It sounds like a small squabble, but considering all of the additional work that must be done on older games just to re-capture version specific pogees just in order to have them in the new version... sheesh. Maybe what I really want is a record that I did in fact capture a certain type-- and I'm not saying it's that big of a deal to go get new ones, either. But when those new ones are a Salamence or Flygon, or any Legendary type, no way do I want to remove them from my old games! Put it this way. In Ruby, I actually caught a Rayquaza without using a Master Ball. That may not mean much to you, but to me that is a freakin' huge deal. In order to fill out my Pokedex on Diamond, I would either have to give up that Rayquaza from Ruby (no!) or play through to that point again on Sapphire or Emerald! I mean I play alot of Pokémon, but that's alot of Pokémon! I've never known a game to ask so much of its player to become "complete." I will admit I don't know a good answer to this one, cloning pogees isn't keen either. But imagine this: How will Platinum act? In order to fill the Pokedex will you need to now permanently move all your PokÃ©mon from Diamond and Pearl, making those games virtual ghost towns? Which brings me to:
Enough with the Triple Threat
Look, I knew there was a very high chance of a version like Platinum coming out. It follows the standard game pattern. But why does Nintendo expect all the players of the world to concentrate on the initial two versions with their unique Pokémon, making everyone trade to fill the Pokedex, only to then release a version that contains all of the version specifics in one place?
So when the NEXT version comes along, they will release the initial two. And dammit, I'm gonna want to play at least one of them. But you can bet a year or so later out will come the combo version, bringing up all of the above all over again. It's just a little frustrating pattern of events. Or maybe Pokémon is little different from cocaine.
The depth of PokÃ©mon is astounding. The literal math within that depth is mind-boggling. You have battling. Then you have power leveling. Oh, and breeding. And, um, beauty contests. Ribbons. Costumes. Gardening. Harvesting. Berries. Pokémon with attitudes dependent on all these things.
It's clear to most that the core of the game can be brought down to Battling, leveling, and breeding. I am impressed by the depth of the additional fluff, but that's all it is-- fluff. The problem occurs when uber-rare pogees are tied not to just one, but multiple elements of this fluff. It just gets to be a little much. Look, I know all about dedication here, I have a Crobat. That's friendship evolution, bitches. That is giving 100% of your attention to just one member of your party while neglecting everyone else for a very long time. And I'm cool with that... once. Maybe even twice, but man I ask again with all the different sub-games within the game, how much is too much? Am I really to be faced with the realization that I just don't cut it as a Pokémon Master anymore just because I don't want to win 32 ribbons in stat-intensive contests? If the over-arching goal of the game is to complete that Pokedex, something I am completely attracted to as a gamer, sometimes I feel Pokémon goes out of its way to make that damn near impossible to enjoy accomplishing. Yes, I want a Milotic but come on. Players know what I mean. Add to this that now entire other games are required (re: Pokémon Ranger to get Manphy), it's almost to the point that Pokémon completeism is for sadists, not gamers, and I fear what additions will be added to complicate things further in new versions. The additional fluff to the game needs to be re-approached to find out if it's really necessary to complete a Pokedex, without punishing players with insane requirements.
When you invest so much time in something, it's nice to have some of your own personality involved. Some of this in Pokémon is accomplished with how you build your party. And you can even add little effects to your Pokeballs and add little flair to your pogees. But with the person-to-person nature of Pokémon, I'd really like to have more control of at least my avatar. Some kind of character builder, even if it's just choosing colors or accessories. Nintendo may have what I've quoted as a "draconian hold" on how they let players in the real world interact with each other, but I wish they's loosen up a bit. I'd really, really, like my trainer to have as much personality as the game's gym leaders and Elite Four. I mean there you are, you've just beaten the Elite Four, in-game NPCs are singing your praises all over the place, and all you have to differentiate your player from everyone else is the gender you chose at the beginning.
In the super wish list category, it would be unbelievably cool to create and breed your own Pokémon. When you see a game like Spore coming along, it gets you thinking. Or even the ability to upload your own Pokémon sprite art and play with it in game? That would be ten kinds of awesome.
Well, that's some of it, believe me I've got more but I'll leave it for now. If you've read this far, thanks. I purposely avoid writing about Pokémon because I will just keep on going and going, but every once in a while I open the spigot. I really do love that game, the reasons for which need an entire post of its own.