Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Regarding Pokémon X & Y

I thought that I should put my overall thoughts out there regarding the upcoming sixth generation of the Pokémon franchise.
Overall, I like the Pokémon franchise.  I have some criticisms of it, but most changes seem to be just a little fiddling about, not much good or bad about it.  There are a few things that, for me, are kind of a big deal, so I'll lay them out here:
  • Making TMs infinite-use takes away a large part of the benefit of breeding.  Now, aside from egg moves, (sometimes) hidden abilities, and just getting more of some hard-to-get-but-still-breedable species (starters, Snorlax, hard-to-get slots/Safari pokémon, etc.), the main benefit has to do with EVs and IVs and all that math-behind-the-game stuff.  I generally don't like this sort of thing in thematic games, anyway:  While I understand that a fair computer game must have numbers and rules behind it, it really detracts from the spirit of the game.  
  • They keep taking away things that were just fine.  This is somewhat lesser of a point, but I still find it weird that apricorns and contests were removed and not put back in.  
  • Held items are good!  I know that this was introduced in Gen II, but this was one of the most meaningful additions to the game.  
  • Abilities are also good!  See above.  
  • There are far too many pokémon to reasonably catch them all.  This was addressed slightly in Black & White, in that Unova had no overlap in pokémon with previous regions, so it was easy enough to just pretend that the (apparently 150) were all that there were, but it's still kind of an issue.  
  • Catching them all is no longer the goal of the game; defeating the Elite Four is the new goal.  I know that both have always been goals, and this is essentially a plot/story thing, but this is still kind of a big deal for me.  The main character is no longer a budding naturalist, but is instead a glorified cockfighter.  I always understood that the player's goal was to defeat the Elite Four and become Champion and so on, but I also knew that this was just a smaller goal on the much longer path of catching all of the known pokémon, in-game.  I think that the reason that they don't keep this model is for the reason that I mentioned above, that there are way too many pokémon for that to be at all feasible.  In the first five generations alone, there are now 649 pokémon (I had to look it up), not counting whatever's coming out this fall. 
  • The addition of  the Dark and Steel types seemed unnecessary at the time, but they've meshed well with the other types, so I'm fine with it.  
  • Making the physical/special quality of an attack independent of its type is an interesting way to increase the complexity of strategy.  
  • I still dislike the wall between generations two and three.  
  • As with so many modern games, I dislike the increased dependence on external web-based stuff to get everything.  In this case, the Pokémon Dream World is what Gen V uses, and it's actually being shut down over the course of the next six months or so.  I don't at all mind the use of personal peripherals to augment a game, such as the PokéWalker for HeartGold and SoulSilver, since that's entirely in control of the game's owner.  If I take care of it, I'll be able to use my PokéWalker (with new batteries, of course) decades from now, whereas the Dream World will be gone forever.  
 I had a big gap for a few years, when new Pokémon games came out faster than I could be aware of them.  Emerald came out before I finished Ruby, but I didn't feel that it was that big of a deal, since it would just be a re-hash of Ruby and Sapphire, anyway.  FireRed and LeafGreen came out and I didn't even know; at the time, I wasn't aware of the two/three wall, since I hadn't gotten around to it.  Diamond and Pearl came out, and then Platinum.  I was lucky enough that, by the time that I got back into Pokémon, I could still find HeartGold and SoulSilver in stores, so I got them while the getting was good.  (That reminds me:  There's a used video game shop two towns over, which I was meaning to check out some time.  I still should, since they might have some of the missed games.) 
Whatever happens, I plan to more-or-less drop my current games when X and Y come out, partly because the few people that I know who do play Pokémon keep very current on it, and partly because of things like limited-time code pokémon and the like, that require keeping current to get the most out of the experience.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to get the same experience as everyone else, at least for a time, and be able to get a feel for it as a current event, rather than as a game. 

One other thing:  I like that Gen VI will be a global release, rather than our having to wait half a year or whatever for it. 

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