Stop Asking For Pokemon To Be Different And Go Play The Spin-Offs
Pokemon games are for kids. This is a well known fact. Many adults play them. Another well known fact. As a result, there are several thousand versions of the same two op-eds when it comes to Pokemon. Firstly, that the games should be harder, and secondly, that the Pokemon games should be made for adults. I won’t waste your time with either of them today.
For one thing, unless you play competitive Pokemon, you probably couldn’t handle a difficult Pokemon game. There’s no shame in it – not too long ago I wrote about getting my Arceus handed to me while dabbling in competitive myself. Also, just play Temtem. It’s right there. Go do it.
As for the fact it should be made for adults, I mean… it’s a kid’s game. That’s just what it is. It’s fair enough to suggest maybe the story could stand to be a little different in Gen 9 than that of the eight previous gens, but if you’re asking for a Pokemon game to be more like Dragon Age, Skyrim, or Yakuza, here’s an idea – why not go play those games? After Temtem, of course.
That’s not to say games can’t borrow from other games. Call of Duty and Halo directly borrow from GoldenEye, and every other shooter on the market borrows from one of those two. Pokemon should learn from other games. But it’s Pokemon. It’s more successful than all of those games – whether or not it should be more like an adult RPG is irrelevant, what’s clear is that it’s not going to be. That doesn’t mean Pokemon needs to hold an Everstone forever, but it does mean we need to (please) stop writing the same two things over and over again.
Pokemon spin-offs are where it’s at. While the base games have largely repeated themselves, adding minimal extra features and slightly improving the graphics with each new iteration, the spin-offs are far more experimental. We have dungeon crawlers, RTS games, photography sims, puzzlers, fighting games, party games, racing games, and even the incredibly niche ‘games to play while brushing your teeth’ genre. It could stand to commit further in the party and racing genres, especially with how hard Pokken goes, but the diversity is there and shows no signs of slowing.
If you just go from Red to Gold to etc all the way up to Sword, then yeah, all Pokemon games are all the same. You’ll get no argument. If any game is too big to fail, it’s Pokemon, and it’s a shame that The Pokemon Company hasn’t viewed its huge fanbase as insurance to try something a little different. But if you’re only playing the base games, you’re deliberately avoiding what Pokemon has to offer.
In the last ten years, Pokemon has had exactly three great games: Pokemon Go, Let’s Go, and New Pokemon Snap. None of them are traditional Pokemon games. The closest one is Let’s Go, which despite using Pokemon Yellow as a foundation, specifically introduced atypical ideas to the formula that have since been repurposed into the main series. Pokemon: Legends Arceus, set to launch next month, could do the same with its more open environment and new ideas to refresh the stale turn-based combat system.
Pokemon might take ideas from these spin-offs in Gen 9, but it’ll still be two versions, with three Fire-Water-Grass starters, where you beat eight gym leaders then the Elite Four. It won’t change that much. But other experiences are out there for you. I realise that very little, if any, of what we write might be taken as serious advice for video game developers. I can’t make a video game; I could barely make a CD rack in DT. The last guy to have this job burst into tears when he tried to make a door. Most people who write about Pokemon doing something different aren’t expecting things to change, they’re just explaining why they should. But hey, I get it. We all get it. Go play a different game please.
Fresh, experimental, different Pokemon games are out there – they’re just waiting for you to play them.
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