Before we go any further, I should make a note that I love Pokemon. I adore everything about the series, from the awfully written cartoon to the directors cut versions of the game they insist on releasing (though Black/White 2 may change that :)).
In fact, I adore it so much that I watch the movies with friends on Skype. On that note, I've been into the series since it came out back in 1995, and hope to FINALLY get Black/White soon, after playing with a friend's copy. So on that note, I'd like to make a little look back on the last three iterations, looking at what they did to shake it up each time, and which changes really made the big differences.
So, we start with Pokemon: Ruby version. This was the first game I PERSONALLY owned, though I had played and beaten previous versions that my cousins owned. Good times.
This was the first main iteration of the franchise to have double battles, as well as the first one to introduce individual abilities of each Pokemon, that granted advantages over types or improved certain move types. This added a greater sense of strategy to the game, and the addition of double battles, though not as well implemented as they would be in Emerald, were an interesting curio throughout the game.
Admittedly, I have a lot of nostalgia for this iteration. But beyond gameplay additions, there was something added that made the series SIGNIFICANTLY more interesting. The addition of Pokemon that would only appear in certain areas, directly portraying their environment. Ex: Torkoal, a volcano tortoise, only appearing in magma rich areas. Cacnea, barrel cactus, only appears in sandstorm heavy areas. Wailmer, appears most often off the shore of a city near the ocean. Corsola, ONLY APPEARS UNDERWATER, USING THE DIVE HM. I LOVED THIS ADDITION. Pokemon being designed around areas, rather than the vice versa.
Along with that, the Pokemon Contests were an interesting look at using Pokemon attacks and attributes for things OTHER than battles. The Safari Zone in this game offered the most diverse cast of Pokemon since the Red/Blue/Yellow. The legendaries were also pretty interesting, Latias and Latios being two of my favorite Pokemon. The Elite Four were also AWESOME, using Pokemon types not normally used. The champion specialized in STEEL types, of all things.
Emerald version added plenty of extra content, adding opening animations before battle (a feature present in the second generation, but curiously missing from Ruby/Sapphire), the ability to face previous gyms after beating the game, previous generations of Pokemon being added to the Hoenn regions areas, the BATTLE FRONTIER. It was amazing.
So yeah, I LOVED the third generation. All told, including Pokemon Coleseum (another game I loved) and Pokemon XD Gale of Darkness (a game I was pretty mellow about) I put about 600+ hours into that generation. As such, I was gearing up for generation 4, ready to see what interesting new features and ideas they'd put into this game, adding layers of intrigue.
Ok, maybe I was hoping for too much, but from what I remember, I was SEVERELY disinterested in Pokemon Diamond after I'd beaten it. There were a plethora of reasons, some bigger than others. I found the new Pokemon to be rather tacky additions in some cases, and most of the 'upgraded' features were often just taken from previous iterations and given a new coat of paint.
The Poke Tech was just a new version of the PokeNav, but a BILLION times more annoying because you have to use the touch screen to cycle through the features it offers. The Day/Night feature was expanded, but only affected MAYBE which Pokemon are around in the tall grass.
Along with that, the new Pokemon were less interesting, often covering old ground. There were some of note, the starters being particularly unusual, and Spiritomb and Drifloon being a creepily awesome idea. Otherwise though, I felt like they were a bit less carefully designed than before. Rather than whole areas containing certain Pokemon types, they were just scattered about. A particular design flaw was only 2 fire type Pokemon available in the game, one of them being the starter. End game content was more varied, but otherwise wasn't terribly interesting.
On the other hand, PLATINUM was what Diamond/Pearl should've been. Bigger ideas were added, the Distortion World being a particular favorite of mine. A Battle Frontier was added,
along with a HUGE emphasis on alternate forms for certain legendaries. Several previous 'big 3' legendary groups (First and Third generation) were added, and the Wi Fi features were greatly improved.
Still though, I was wary about Black and White, to the point where I didn't pick them up until I recently decided to purchase a copy. But with what time I had with it, I FELL IN LOVE. This was what new Pokemon generations should be all about. 150 new Pokemon. Emphasis on new battle systems (Triple AND Rotation this time around). Battle and Overworld were given a greater sense of cinematic design. The Musicals were more engaging than the Contests of previous iterations, and were faster paced and required more input from the player to win. And this time around, different versions spouted different AREAS for each. And out of all the Battle Towers I've seen, the BATTLE SUBWAY WAS THE BEST OF THEM ALL.
I'm looking forward to REALLY sinking my teeth into Black version soon, and may even pick up White Version 2. On that note, thank you for your time, I hope my rant will cause you to think about your own experiences with Pokemon.