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Oct 23 2013

7 Concepts Pokemon Should Never Do Again

Welcome to the wild world of Game Design: How not to annoy frothing fans!

Welcome to the wild world of Game Design: How not to annoy frothing fans!

[Ed’s note: Curious if X and Y make similar mistakes? Check out our review!]

For such a highly successful series, Pokemon still remains highly experimental by constantly adding new concepts. While the core gameplay remains the same-catch animals in spheres, beat up small children and their animals, evolve them into murderbeasts, become awesome-rigmarole but the method and means you get to that point keep changing…and not for the better, at times. Throughout the series’ long run, there have been a number of questionable decisions involving raising my Pokemon that are, quite frankly, complicated and useless to the overall feel of the game itself. Since we’re entering the realm of digivolving your Pokemon with some special ring, why don’t we look at seven ideas that didn’t quite pan out.

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1) Berry Crush (Fire Red, Leaf Green/Emerald)

Unless I'm making juice I can sell for mad cash, I don't to mash A for a grindy game.

Unless I’m making juice I can sell for mad cash, I don’t to mash A for a grindy game.

The worst mini-game in existence can be afforded to the Pokemon franchise, I make that claim here and now. And the bullshit is really subtle; go to town, get some jar from an old dude, and make some powder, right? So you go and do it, and you get some anti-happy herbal meds (which you never use) and you move on, right? Well, now you can grow your own berries and make your own powder and get stat upgrades from thousands of powders. So you water and plant more seeds while your Pokemon sit around in their balls…waiting. This takes so long, and the stat items are barely worth the cost in time and the effort of the mini-game to even attempt seriously.  I’d rather run in circles through the grass any day. That’s not to say that stat improvement is untouched on this list, oh no…

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2) Natures and Effort Values (Meta)

Uh...no. I think I'll go play EVE Online instead...oh, wait. Never mind.

Uh…no. I think I’ll go play EVE Online instead…oh, wait. Never mind.

The fact that something like this exists at all is mind-boggling to me. The actual Pokemon’s Mood is not only important to its stats, but highly involved players will only catch and raise Pokemon of a specific type to make them more effective. If you really want to number-crunch yourself into oblivion, make all your Pokemon only battle with no rare candies! Apparently, there are ‘effort stats’ that improve the Pokemon when they fight and win. Which only increases a percentage of a stat increase. This is the absolute black hole of tedium.

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3) Shiny Pokemon

Oh come on, you know the trainer is gonna try and catch you, chomp his head off!

Oh come on, you know the trainer is gonna try and catch you, chomp his head off!

Oh boy, a rare Pokemon that looks different…and nothing else. All it does it sparkle, huh? Let me toss away my vampire novels and take hours raising this one to my heart’s content. The chances for this thing to show up in are 1-in-8192 and it does nothing for you in terms of stats or different moves or powers. If it’s truly rare, make it more than a unique palette swap or at least make some special feature in the game around their capture and existence that has more interest than waving your DS at people and screaming loudly.

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4) VS Seeker (Fire Red/Leaf Green)

I could go fight new trainers while I wait for that to load. Pass.

I could go fight new trainers while I wait for that to load. Pass.

So I can fight battles over again with stronger trainers this time….that’s cool, but maybe you could give them new Pokemon, perhaps? How about make their levels count for something when they attack you with new moves? No no, you don’t get that with the VS Seeker. You get a recharging object that pulses a few people to challenge them again. It only works on people near you, and they can even refuse. It’s really annoying, and is pointlessly time-consuming. At least, you could play against the Gym Trainers again, I guess.

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5) All Zubats in Cave-Type Regions

YOU CAME TO THE WRONG CAVE MOTHERFUCKER

YOU CAME TO THE WRONG CAVE MOTHERFUCKER

I’m sick and tired of Zubats, not gonna lie. They’re a good monster with bad moves, but they’re all over the place in Mount Moon and every starter cave known to man. Shove bats anywhere else, perhaps? Some kind of forest would work, perhaps a crevice? Just anyplace that’s not a cave. I don’t want to spend thousands on Repels just to beat up some Rockets and go. I could always use some Poke Balls instead, but I’m not wasting that on more than one Zubat, thank you very much.

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6) Four-Move Limit

When I have to make a obscure joke about professional wrestling, it's time to change things.

When I have to make a obscure joke about professional wrestling, it’s time to change things.

With the inclusion of large-scale Pokemon battles against several hordes, I think its time to release a Pokemon’s full potential. In the military, a trained dog knows more than four moves at any given time, and in the anime, the Pokemon can use all the moves they’ve learned within their growth cycle at any time. Getting rid of this limit increases strategic options such as changing moves to fit a situation or changing the attacks themselves to function in an environment with multiple moves to choose from. I don’t want to be boxed in anymore, give me the freedom to experience a power list instead. Down with the system!

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7) Pokemon Contests (Ruby/Sapphire)

When the anime decides to also make the trainers participate in battles? Best decision ever.

When the anime decides to also make the trainers participate in battles? Best decision ever.

And the coup de grace of bad decisions? I have no interest in putting my Pokemon through a beauty contest. I have no interest in some whole new system that uses my moves to entertain a crowd. And the worst part? You have to do it in Sapphire and Ruby in order to fight the Elite Four. I have no interest in doing your little side-quest outside saving the region and raising supernatural powerhouses, so don’t make me do it. It only serves to piss me off, especially when I could just take the Ribbon by hypnotizing the judges with the cutest Clefairy ever.

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