Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. In today's article, resident Pokémon expert and webmaster of Serebii Joe Merrick ponders if Pokémon GO and the mainline Pokémon games can learn anything from each other.
Recently, like any good uncle, I started to get my nephew into Pokémon. While observing him playing, it forced me to make some observations about the Pokémon franchise in general - so much so that I felt compelled to get these thoughts down in words. In this soapbox, we're going to look at what Pokémon GO can learn from the main series games, and vice versa.
What Pokémon GO Can Learn From Main Series Pokémon
One of the major facets in Pokémon is how your team will grow with you as you progress through the story. This is one thing missing from Pokémon GO, where Pokémon feel little more than a means to an end; you catch loads of them in an attempt to get something good, but there’s very little you can do with each monster beyond that; you don’t feel the progression or companionship of the Pokémon - even the "Buddy" system falls a bit flat.
One way to get around this would be to implement a system akin to Effort Values in the main series. That way you get rewarded for using and training your Pokémon. This would make it beneficial for you to raise the Pokémon and give the feeling of true companionship.
Promised in the original reveal trailer for Pokémon GO, trading and battling with friends is still missing. This is another thing that makes it feel slightly less Pokémon-esque. Pokémon GO has always been a social game, despite initially lacking some vital elements. It has gradually been getting better thanks to Raid Battles which require co-ordination with other players if you wish to succeed, but the true spirit of Pokémon’s connectivity is still sorely missing. Trading is going to be hard to implement and we imagine that Niantic is taking its time, but it has to happen at some point.
A strong, engaging story is always a good thing. It’s something that Pokémon GO has been moving towards with concept of Special Research, but full story elements would be an interesting inclusion. Of course, the concept of Pokémon GO does not lend itself to a narrative-focused game akin to Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, but there's still scope to include some key plot lines and story goals.
One potential idea is to have a week of 'Team Rocket', where all the gyms are taken over by AI Team Rocket members and need to be defeated. Events like that could make the game seem more fun, and encourage users to continue playing. They will also tie the game in more tightly to the core Pokémon universe. Given the sheer volume of characters and storylines featured in the Pokémon TV series, the sky really is the limit here.
While Shiny Pokémon are a great thing to include in the game, the gradual dripfeed of them doesn’t make much sense. Having all Pokémon available as shiny versions would be better. They can still increase chances for Community Days and events, but having them only be available for 2 dozen of the almost 400 Pokémon currently available just doesn’t really work, at least in my opinion.
What Main Series Pokémon Can Learn From Pokémon GO
Let’s face it, Pokémon has become far too complex. Even though it has always been a bit complicated, the games don’t really explain things to new players all that well. Mainline games often don't even explain the basics - such as how to save - unless you wander around talking to random people, but conversely, the tutorials at the start of each mainline game are somewhat intrusive; a balance clearly needs to be found here.
Before you get too annoyed, I’m not suggesting the battle system needs to change, but for a new player the whole thing can be so daunting - the EV and IV system especially. Any way to make that easier to get into without killing the battle system we all know and love would be very beneficial; Pokémon GO's success is down to the fact that it's so easy to grasp what's going on. I imagine a great many people who got into Pokémon via the smartphone game will have been totally and utterly intimidated by the mainline Pokémon titles.
One of the saddest things I observed watching my nephew play Pokémon on 3DS was the capture process. Rather than do it with the buttons, he tried swiping the top screen of the console, just like in Pokémon GO.
So, how can this be remedied? It could be done with a simple - preferably optional - change to the capture mechanics. On Switch, why not have a small mini-game where you can throw the Poké Ball like in GO, either with touch screen portably or using the Joy-Cons? Maybe the game could award a small bonus for doing it this way. Obviously Pokémon GO simplifies the whole process to the point where there's no real combat with the 'mon, and we don't want the mainline games to become quite that basic, but there's a middle ground here, surely.
Something I’ve seen in the community lately is about how “Pokémon has died” due to less people playing after launch. Whether or not that is true, the event structure seen in Pokémon GO would be an interesting inclusion.
While online competitions and distributions do help keep the games alive in people’s minds, more in-game elements would help keep engagement. Have special swarms of Pokémon, special bonuses and so forth. To be clear, I don't see that including micro-transactions, but rather elements that will keep players coming back to the games for more than just competitive battling.
Do you think Pokémon GO and the mainline Pokémon games can learn from one another? Let us know your own thoughts by posting a comment below.
I miss legendaries with a quest. The Regis in particular were so fun to find and unlock. Even with Mythical, unlocking the route to Shaymin or the house for Darkrai was a whole lot more enjoyable. I'm not a fan of simply being handed the new event legendary/Mythical Pokemon.
I would be a fan of whipping my Joy Con to catch a Pokemon however, but I agree it should be optional.
I’d rather see the main series learn from BotW and Odyssey than Go. The adventure aspect of the gameplay has been sorely lacking in recent years.
Several points I don't agree with:
1. 'A strong, engaging story is always a good thing' - I hear this all the time from videogame publications and essayists, but it simply isn't true. A strong and engaging story is a good thing for hardcore gamers, but not casual ones. Engaging stories require your time and attention - that is practically the definition of being 'engaging' - but this comes at the expense of accessibility, simply because it isolates gamers for whom games are diversions and not serious hobbies. Gamers who play five minutes here, 10 minutes there, between all the other things going on in their lives. There are many people who won't touch the Last of Us, God of War, Final Fantasy etc simply -because- their strong stories demand more attention than they feel games warrant - Pokemon Go was made for people like that.
2. Simplicity - This has never really been a problem for the main Pokemon games because any and all complexity is utterly superfluous to those who are only interested in beating the game and/or catching them all. EVs and IVs only matter if you are playing Pokemon competitively - the in-game quest can be beaten ably even by a Pokemon with 0 EVs and 0 IVs in every stat. To date, I have never seen anyone try Pokemon and reject the game -because it's too complex-.
3. Events - I agree that this would be a good idea a la Splatoon 2, but anyone announcing the 'death' of Pokemon due to a decrease in an active playerbase kinda misses the point of the games. The games were never really designed to keep people playing indefinitely - they are more traditional JRPGs than MMOs or competitive games. You're supposed to play Pokemon for a while then -finish- it and put it down until the next Pokemon comes along.
I agree on the growing with your Pokémon lacking in Go but I would argue it's also lacking in later version of the main series. At least for me it is.
That's because there are so many non-evolving Pokémon now. They don't evolve so I have no reason to add them to my team, replacing a Pokémon I have bonded with. Same with the baby Pokémon which are now freely roaming about instead of me having to invest time in breeding and hatching them. I don't usually like seeing them go back to old Pokémon as much (Eeveelutions excluded of course) but I would love for the majority of non-evolving Pokémon to be given an evolution or baby form that I had to work for. And more than just a new item to acquire. I don't care that they didn't used to evolve at level whatever they can do now, just like how Magnemite didn't used to be a Steel type, I don't question it.
Wonderful article, Joe, longtime Serebii follower and Pokemon player since Red. Nintendo has innovated with landmark titles like Breath Of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey since the Switch's launch, but it is the Pokemon series that has stuck in my mind as being the one Nintendo franchise that most needed a change. I've read that the younger Game Freak developers worked on Ultra Sun and Moon while senior developers handle the Pokemon Switch project, and this definitely shows in my opinion, as Ultra Sun and Moon in particular mark a low point for the game series in terms of recycling without innovation, engaging gameplay and content. To me, it feels like the work of young blood so eager to honor the past that they simply repeated it.
For the upcoming Switch title, I would love a fully 3D open world RPG adventure with wild Pokemon out in the open ready to battle and capture. Periodical in-game events or DLC making legendary Pokemon from other reasons capturable. DLC for post-game content, adding new areas or challenges, tournaments, gauntlet boss battle challenges, minigames a la Pokemon Stadium (N64), re-battleable Gym Leaders, a mono-type Gym Leader mode where the player creates and represents their own Gym. Challenging elements would be incredibly welcome! Perhaps a difficulty setting adjustable at any time in-game and an optional timer on choosing a move during battle where the player risks losing the turn if they choose too slowly. Any imaginative ideas like these that are foreign to Pokemon are apt to change the Pokemon gameplay experience in a positive way and I hope to see a truly "new" Pokemon game for the first time in a long time when it releases for Switch!
Am I the only one confused by the "Simplicity" entry? I mean, I personally don't think its explanation of the rules is lacking in any respect. I find the games adequately explain mechanics and situations, maybe sometimes hammering you too over the head. But then it's stated in the same paragraph in terms of being too intrusive, seemingly contradicting the earlier point.
Cut the story and make it open world! They need to take Pokémon in the BotW direction.
I also agree with the comment a few above me about more non-evolving Pokémon needing evolutions. Gold/Silver and Diamond/Pearl were very exciting to me mostly because old Pokémon got new evolutions (Blissey <3). Non-evolvers just aren’t exciting to level up and train. They need to make some of the useless Pokémon (like Luvdisc, etc) useful and relevant instead of adding a bunch of completely new ones - although a few new ones are welcome as well. I can’t be the only one that wants Snorlax to evolve, right? I also miss mega evolutions, but I get that they were unfair and over powered.
@Yorumi Because you have a segment of the audience that has no interest (like myself) or patience for it (like the younger set). And that's not discounting the deeper, meta game aspects of the series. Just I think its fine the way it is in that it gives the players really interested in going that deep into the game the option to do so without forcing others to be concerned about it. If we are talking about making the game more challenging in general? That can be fixed in a number of ways that doesn't force a player into using mechanics they don't want to.
@Yorumi I would disagree that attention to IVs and EVs are necessary in end game. No matter how many other people have claimed otherwise, I have noticed that every main series game from Red to Sun had been perfectly completeable with level and type advantages. Are there some tougher spots? Absolutely, but the only parts I can see the EVs and IVs being necessities are with the Battle Tower and its equivilants. Pretty much everything else is higher level and move-type advantage = win. Either that, or I've been incredibly lucky.
Like the idea of making throwing a pokeball/catching Pokémon a mini game in the mainline series. Always thought it would be cool to have more skill be involved and not only depend on the pokeball type your using to change the odds. Wouldn’t mind if the added in a meter that you used when throwing a ball, something similar to the cross meter that’s used when kicking a FG in a football game. Better balls would slow the meter movement and widen the target area thus allowing better ball types to still have value.
@Yorumi Thanks for the clarification, that actually does make sense. I've been interested from time-to-time in trying to make a team with regards to values and more in-depth strategies, but never really saw the point since I don't normally play online (I'm not a very competitive person ). I think it would be nice to put something in like that to give me more of an excuse to actually do it; I think team-building like that could be right up my alley.
I don't think that just because your nephew tried to catch a Pokemon by swiping the screen on the 3DS that means the mainline games need their catching mechanics revamped. I think that speaks more of your nephew and how he was introduced to the game (Pokemon GO) and his age (very young (I assume), so accustomed to touchscreens). I often waste dozen of Pokeballs trying to catch a single 'mon in Pokemon GO and I for one would be very annoyed if the mainline games changed so that a freaking Pidgey was dodging and weaving and moving all over the place even after I had brought it to 1HP and I wasted Pokeball after Pokeball on it. One thing I like about Pokemon is that my avatar has good aim and hits the 'mon every time. It's far less frustrating than the mobile game which frankly I find to be fairly boring.
ABSOLUTELY NOT! While I agree with what you said about Go(especially the Team Rocket AI take over idea), the idea that the main games are TOO complex and DON'T explain things enough to a new player is just absurd. It is absolutely, ridiculous! The recent games are mind blowingly hand-holdy and you can practically sleep through the single player! All the complexity is totally optional. With the sole exception of one fight in USUM, the modern Pokemon games are so easy you can just mash A to the finish!
If anything, the Pokemon series needs to stop with the hand holding. I remember beating Pokemon Blue when I was 7 years old, and Blue is a lot less forgiving than USUM.
As to you assertion that Pokemon has died barring competitive battling, that is Pokemon's fault because USUM is 90% the same games as Sun and Moon. It had been years since we had gotten such a blatant rehash - and in the past it was okay because it was in the pre-DLC, pre-update era of Nintendo gaming. Now being sold the same game with 4 new features as just last year, at full price, is insulting.
I’ll be happy with more of the same for next Gen provided that the cut scenes are scaled waaaay back.
Oh, and training needs to be simplified. I think Pokemon Amiibo Card’s should give you auto max IV’s that’d be great.
@Fandabidozi I have wanted Pokemon Amiibo cards for a long time. But giving Pokemon perfect IVs instantly with the cards would be too unfair to players who cannot or don't want to spend the money on the cards. If we got the Amiibo cards, it would be a nice way to catch Pokemon in that game, that might not otherwise be obtainable without Pokemon Bank. They could also have 2 or 3 perfect IVs like the old friend Safari and perhaps an egg move or 2. That would be a solid set of benefits, without allowing wealthy players to just pay to get whatever they want.
I agree something needs to be done. The only way to be competitive is to hack your mon.
I hacked my XY teams but couldn’t be bothered with the hassle for S&M so have played a fraction of what I did the previous gen.
A good story would be welcome for the series, but I'd much rather have a minimalist story than one that is poorly made like in the Black/White and Sun/Moon series.
I also think that the game mechanics could use a good bit of simplification. For starters, trimming things like IVs and "natures" out of the game completely would remove a lot of frustration from building teams as well as make the barrier of entry for competitive playing significantly lower, while not negatively impacting the customization possible of Pokemon.
@Fandabidozi Nonsense. I have bred several boxes of competitive Pokemon since XY. The main fault is that Pokemon bred in previous generations are, without good reason, banned from official tournaments. THAT needs to change.
Breeding could totally still be made easier, but it is far from impossible. Now if we are talking about gen 5 and earlier, yes, I would agree it was totally inaccessible.
Or make things like natures and the like changeable in the game...and not have some crazy cost associated with it that process that will just encourage people to cheat.
Hyper training was a good addition to the game for dealing with IV's, but the lv 100 requirement and annoyance of leveling in sun/moon alongside farming bottle caps kind of ruined it for me.
They likely do it because of cheating/glitches/exploits from the previous games.
I really think the entire breeding aspect of the game needs an overhaul, walking back and forth to hatch eggs has gotten seriously old.
@ALazyUsername128 Trust me, I have heard all of the excuses. Doing that only punishes those who do not cheat. It fails to block cheating. It only took hackers a couple weeks to break into XY, Sun and Moon were only a few days and USUM almost instant.
I would love to see the breeding system improved certainly. Though I don't think we need to scrap it. It needs to be made efficient enough that people can make their competitive teams in a reasonable amount of time. Enough to make cheating more of a hassle than playing legit.
@ALazyUsername128 I'm of the opinion that having them in the game at all only negatively impacts the experience. Why bother having natures and IVs at all if 99% of the time it's not what you would want? Creating a way to change these stats isn't the solution to the problem, but rather just another time sink that makes it harder to make competitive teams.
@greengecko007 @Heavyarms55 @Fandabidozi @Yorumi I really think Pokemon should add a ranked mode and in that mode just limit it to the Pokémon you released for that specific game. I also think you should have access to all those Pokémon while playing in the ranked playlist and they should have perfect IVs and fully customizable natures, items, EVs and be fully leveled. That way you can actually have a fully competitive battle scene in game and you won’t have as many players trying to hack the game just to use the Pokémon and strategies they want. You can have a social mode where you can use only Pokémon you have caught in game or brought over from past games with the pokebank. Pretty sure cod ww2 does this with their ranked mode in the sense of guns and attachments and they have a thriving multiplayer community.
As far as in game mechanics go, I’d like to be able to just be rewarded general EVs for the Pokémon I used during battle and let me as the player pick where I assign them. Rather than having to battle certain Pokémon to get them in the correct category. It would make playing the game and customizing your Pokémon less of a hassle.
@Ogbert @justin233 I would also like to see more Pokémon get evolutions or baby forms. Makes each Pokémon more interesting getting to see how it evolves. I also think having more baby forms would keep breeding a useful feature if they did go with the ranked online battle mode I described above.
@Majora101 @Archius9 I completely agree with you guys that their should be more legendary quests and more botw like additions and modifications.
@PuppyToucher With that sort of system they can allow or ban Pokemon as needed and rarity wouldn't be a factor. They could have two ladders, a "national" ladder using the whole Pokedex - similar to wild in Hearthstone or Legacy in Magic, and a "regional" ladder featuring only the Pokemon featured in that game which would be like "standard" in card games.
@Heavyarms55 I honestly have no idea why they don’t implement something like this because it would solve a lot of problems and inject new life in the online side of Pokémon. Probably also keep people playing longer and give people reason to continue playing an older version even when a new version gets released because they may prefer the regional Pokédex from a different game.
@Yorumi It's not what I'm saying at all. I've played this series(probably like many here) since the beginning. My point is that the game has been challenging and strategic in the past before the idea of EV and IV training became a thing. As many have pointed out, the series has kind of gotten a bit off track in some respects and you can easily fix those issues without forcing a focus of gameplay on everyone if that isn't what they want. And I say that as someone who , while not interested in that particular focus, is not dismissive of it as well. I openly admit I've never been into the competitive aspect of the series (outside of fighting in game/story NPC and the occasional go at a Battle Frontier or whatever a particular generation/game calls it. I've always felt I got the satisfaction from playing the game straight through. Completing the story, catching, leveling up and evolving Pokémon and, with any luck, completing any post game content. Never had I felt I wasn't a Pokémon trainer in the game.
I hate how time-consuming it is to build a metagame team. There should be a tournament mode that lets you set IVs and EVs to whatever you want (within legal limits of course) and access to all required items without having to grind for points in Battle Frontiers etc.
When I used to have loads of free time I didn't mind breeding for IVs, hatching eggs etc but now I just want all the time consuming activities to be removed or streamlined. I can't imagine how long it took to breed perfect IV Pokemon pre-Pokemon XY!
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