Home Analysis Sequel Soliloquy: Pokemon

Sequel Soliloquy: Pokemon

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Pokemon

Sequels are everywhere. When a game company sees a formula that works, you can’t really blame them for sticking with it. One such formula that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, is the one contained in Pokemon. The question is, were the sequels worth it? It’s a controversial topic and most who say they dislike the new Pokemon are written off as nostalgia gamers. With the news of Pokemon Sun and Moon coming out holiday 2016, I think it’s important we figure out if it’s really worth it. For this, we’ll have to look at Pokemon in generations (barring reboots), starting, of course, with the beloved Gen 1.

From 1996 to 1998, the first generation of Pokemon was released internationally as Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow (Green being exclusive to Japan). This introduced the first 151 species of Pokemon along with 15 types. It had a simple formula that mixed pet raising games with RPGs that created something that people ate up. This game had no easy way other than glitches. There was no running, the bike was unwieldy, the inventory system was terrible, and the trainers were not easy to beat. Puzzles weren’t obvious and sometimes made things difficult for younger players. It was the beginning of something, great in its own right, but still needed improvement. That is where Gen 2 begins.

Generation 2 introduced another 100 species and added the Dark and Steel types. With more color and perhaps a slightly better plot, the second generation improved upon the original in just about every aspect. It included mechanics that are still used today, including the date and time system. Never again did you wonder what time it was because lo and behold, you could check right in your game to find out that, yes, it is two in the morning and you should’ve gone to bed a long time ago. How could you sleep, though, when you just had to catch that nighttime-only Pokemon or do that event that only happened after dark? I remember getting excited every Thursday for the bug-catching tournament. This is also the generation where secondary types began, with Pokemon like Scizor and Steelix boasting this new mechanic. We also got genders and breeding as well (thank you, ditto). Generation 2 has been highly-acclaimed by fans for improving on the series a lot and even allowing you to go back to Kanto, the generation 1 region. However, my favorite was generation 3.

Pokemon All Games

Source | Flipboard.com

Generation 3 included Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. Whenever I’m geeking out, this is what I refer to as the ‘Golden Age of Pokemon’. This was the beginning of new and interesting battle mechanics, like double battles. This was the beginning of gorgeous graphics and really organized inventories and Running Shoes, thank everything. The story for each game was at least altered and Emerald even merged the two for a new story instead of the same thing in all three games (a long-time complaint from many fans of the series). Pokemon had personality types now, could participate in contests for ribbons, eat PokeBlocks, have their own sprites. However, the date and time feature was reduced and became nearly useless in many cases and the Apricorn Pokeballs from generation 2 are unavailable in favor of ones you can buy in Pokemarts. Still, the puzzles weren’t terribly confusing (though I will admit to having to look up Braille) without being easy. 135 Pokemon were added to this generation, with only two having any relation to previous Pokemon.This is the generation I love best, and I, personally, tend to cite the next few as when it started to go downhill.

While generation 4 wasn’t terrible, it didn’t have as many improvements as the last two generations. The biggest changes were wi-fi connections and the graphics. Mostly, everything else was just slight improvements over what had been present in the third generation. Though they did bring back the day and night system, which I appreciate, I think this was when the improvement on Pokemon began to slow. Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum were good games in their own right, but were a little lacking when compared to the previous generation. Many also feel that this was when the creativity of the Pokemon themselves began to diminish, however, considering that some original Pokemon were far from creative (example: ekans aka snake), I’m inclined to disagree. Every generation has it’s region clones (beginning flying types anyone?) and there really are only so many things you can turn into a Pokemon. I think this was a bigger problem in the next couple of generations.

Generation 5 is probably the saving grace of Pokemon sequels. Others may feel differently, but  Black, White, Black 2, and White 2 were great games. While the Pokemon were a little too similar to early Pokemon, everything else, for the most part, was pretty well done. The mechanics were interesting, the story was probably the most well thought-out since generation 3, perhaps even better, and the graphics were incredible when you look at where Pokemon started and where it is now. My biggest complaint was that it was made too easy. The EXP Share made training simple, and there was hardly ever a challenge, at least for the older fans like myself who had dealt with much more difficult generations. The best thing about this generation was the story and mechanics. Instead of having a third game with nearly identical content, they made sequels with a new story that gave people a reason to buy them, other than them being  Pokemon games. The phenomena mechanic was a little addicting and the new kinds of battles added an interesting twist to things. Add to that the version exclusive locations (rather than just version-exclusive Pokemon), generation 5 was worth getting every game.

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I wouldn’t say the same for the sixth generation. The game came with a measly 72 new Pokemon, a small number compared to previous installments. While the graphics were absolutely amazing, that’s one of the only things I can compliment in this generation. The new Fairy type was lackluster, a perfect excuse to make more Pokemon in order to balance the types a bit more, but made older Pokemon all or part Fairy-type instead. With only 37 (compared to Ghost and Ice at 35) Pokemon with the Fairy type, and less than half were made in this generation (if my calculations are correct). I know there was a good bit of both excitement and outrage when they announced they were adding a type (something that hasn’t been done since the second generation), and I’m hopeful that they’ll make some decent new Pokemon for the Fairy type. I will admit that the renewed focus on the virtual pet side on Pokemon was a decent addition to the mechanics. Super Training unbalanced the game a bit, making it even easier than the generation prior. If they keep this mechanic, and I do think they should because it’s a good idea, they need to try to balance the game again and rethink the difficulty level. The character customization would be great to keep as well, though I know it was made as part of this generation’s specific motif based on beauty and art. Overall, the game’s details and mechanics were better than the core game, which I think is a problem.

So, should Pokemon be making sequels? I think the answer is still just a tentative maybe. They obviously still have some ideas up their sleeves, but they need to do some balance work for Pokemon Sun and Moon. Honestly, I just want a game where you could go through every region on a world-wide journey to catch every Pokemon and stop some world-ending disaster that takes you from Kanto to the newest region, perhaps with new level caps to keep it interesting or a Pokemon World Championship where every Pokemon is the highest level possible so it takes some strategy and not just easy brute force to win (and maybe with three save slots because I really think it’s about time this happened). However, I don’t work for Nintendo and can’t make these decisions.

Do you think there should be more sequels? Disagree with my analysis? Let me know in the comments!

Rebecca is forever a Nintendo-junkie and game design student. She favors action/adventure and RPG games, though she won't object to sitting down with The Sims every so often.