|Game Freak, you (don't) got some 'splainin to do!|
When I finished watching the Nintendo Direct that Nintendo broadcast on YouTube early yesterday morning, my first reaction most decidedly was not "Well, this will get a lot of folks up in arms!" I was too excited, a grin plastered across my dopey face. I couldn't remember when I had been more thrilled at the thought that in less than 10 months, I'll get to play a new Pokemon game.
Looking around online, my opinion is not as common as I expected. There are a lot of folks who are excited like me. They're discussing which of the new starter Pokemon they'll use when they start their adventure. To my way of thinking, this is the correct response to the video, which spent 7 minutes teasing the game's new visual style, region and a few of the new critters that populate it, while promising that more Pokemon surprises--even beyond the game itself, it seems--are on the way.
There are different opinions, though, and the people who have them are quite passionate. While I and many others are delighted with what Nintendo and Game Freak showed, there are many players who feel that the developers are lazy, fearful and unambitious. Those developers are being mocked for not finally ditching turn-based battles in favor of real-time brawls, for not presenting an open world on the scale of the one featured in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for failing to incorporate MMO elements, for not including extensive backstories for the villains and mature or "hardcore" elements like something Monolith Soft might produce, and in general for making Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield (as they are called) look too similar to the many Pokemon games previously released.
I find the suggestion that the new Pokemon games need to be more "hardcore" rather laughable, to be honest. This is a series that still caters to players of all ages, with a strong preference toward younger players who are surely looking forward to playing through a new adventure without mom and dad having to watch over their shoulder to help them read or appreciate complicated dialogue. Those kids would probably get bored of Shakespearean soliloquies from the game's villains in quite a hurry. And to be perfectly frank, so would I. They don't really have a place in the mostly soothing world Game Freak maintains.
Real-time battles strike me as a terrible idea, for the same and for similar reasons. But then, I was one of the people who was quite vocal about my distaste for such a change when Dragon Quest's developers were considering it, back in the day. Not every series needs to have "real-time" battles. Stripping away the strategic elements and the emphasis on ingenuity in favor of reflexes and combos doesn't inherently make an RPG's combat system better. I consider it a turn toward the worse, actually. Some players like to be able to take as long as they wish to make decisions about which Pokemon to use, and which string of abilities will best topple an enemy crew.
Here I feel it also makes sense to point out that the Pokemon franchise has in the past flirted with other ideas, and quite aggressively. Those other ideas just don't always show up in "mainline" games like Sword and Shield. There are all sorts of offshoots, including Pokemon Rumble and the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, even Pokemon Conquest. A lot of those titles are definitely designed for more experienced players who want something different from the norm. They tend not to do as well on sales charts, because they're not quite what a lot of returning Pokemon players actually prefer.
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|hastypixels - February 28, 2019 (02:25 PM)
I can think of at least once instance where reinvention has done a franchise no favours, and is now looked back on with disdain. There was that time Microsoft decided that reinventing Bomberman was a good idea, and the aesthetic didn't jell with the expectations of the fans. It was all serious, gritty and 90s as hell, and most of all didn't capture the identity the game banked on.
It was promptly forgotten and never saw release, thankfully. At the time the change seemed to fit the new identity of the Xbox 360, which was more multiplayer focused than ever, sporting Halo and that Final Fantasy Online thing.
We're at the point now with franchises that we expect them to be available to us at regular intervals, like Saturday Morning Cartoons. Pokemon is one such game. Its iterations are predictable, consistent and vary little between releases. Just like the meals we get from the fast food joints we attend. Maybe we get the chicken burger, but usually we stick with the hamburger, because we're too tired to make much of a fuss about it.
Pokemon doesn't have to reinvent their wheel, they just need to spruce up last season's model so that it sparkles when you look at it before plunking down your cash. I don't see a problem with that. It's not as though the players who want something different are starved for options - just how many of those protesters are parents, anyway?
I'm looking forward to another Pokemon title - I've played through three of them now, and the idea of a comfortable, predictably enjoyable game for my Switch is a really pleasing one. There are times when I don't want to exert the sort of energy that Breath of the Wild or even Super Mario Odyssey requires.
|honestgamer - February 28, 2019 (02:32 PM)
The Bomberman game you're talking about did release, at least here in the US, and I've reviewed it on this site. It was... not good.
|JoeTheDestroyer - February 28, 2019 (05:22 PM)
Grimdark, open world, real-time Pokemon sounds cringey to me. As you mentioned, it's a game aimed at families and kids. Doing something more "mature" seems like adding edgy material where it doesn't need to be. Just... don't. Don't do that.
Also as you mentioned, I could see an open world or MMO Pokémon game working as a side entry, maybe.
I haven't played Bomberman Zero, but it looked awful and I've avoided it as a result.
|hastypixels - March 14, 2019 (08:49 PM)
Good gravy, it did? I guess that's what happens when obscurity swallows you whole.