Game Freak has forgotten what makes Pokemon fun

  • So what makes Pokemon fun?

    Is it the story? Doubtful. Even though the latest entry in the series, Sun and Moon, had a more character driven narrative than past games, it's hardly the reason people play Pokemon. It's important to remember that in Red and Blue, the first games in the series, there was almost no story. You just had a rival and an evil corporation that kept getting in your way. Gold and Silver picked up the story a tad, but Ruby and Sapphire were the ones that began tasking players with saving the world from some kind of high concept anomaly (which eventually became a staple in the series). But at its core, Pokemon wasn't founded on its storytelling prowess.

    Is it the gameplay then? Closer, but probably not. The series has yet to overall its turn based combat, which is starting to show its age. Pokemon battles are still as tedious as ever, where the player hits a single button, and is rewarded with a 3-5 second attack animation that they've seen hundreds of times before. Although it's undoubtedly a series staple, and can definitely have its fun moments, Pokemon GO has made it clear that it's the concept of Pokemon that gets people excited, not necessarily the turn based combat that the series is known for.

    Than what is the core ingredient that makes Pokemon fun? Well I'll just say it, because I can't think of a clever segway: It's the world of Pokemon itself. It's the joy of exploring a whole world of monsters and capturing some of your own. It's traveling a region from coast to coast in the hopes of becoming the best in the land. It's going into dark caves and abandoned buildings and dark forests to discovers legends that you can have for yourself! That’s what gets fans excited when they hear a new game is coming out; the chance to explore a new world filled with new monsters.

    And Game Freak thinks Pokemon is about the story? Really? By putting story into the game, you’re effectively breaking immersion by forcing the player to interact with characters and go to new locations regardless of their choice. Red and Blue had no story, and to me, it felt like the most genuine Pokemon experience. That’s because no one was constantly telling you where to go or who to talk to. Now in the new games, you’re set on a certain path with minimal chances for genuine discovery.

  • I generally agree, but you can also effectively incorporate story into the oldschool Pokemon formula. Look at how Gen 5 handled things. There was a progression of story beats, but there were also still side routes and extra areas to discover and explore. The story didn't railroad the player onto one set path, but once they arrived at certain milestone locations they would encounter progression of story as it was done in the older games. Cutscenes were reserved for only the most intense moments, and the rest of the story took place in the world through dialogue, so control would usually stay with the player. NPCs not even involved in the story progression encounters would still surrender more thoughts and lore on the happenings of what was going on when manually talked to. Everything came together to build a believable world without an over-reliance on cutscenes and controlling the exact path every player would take through the world.

    It is doable. The problem is just that GameFreak has been slowly trying to branch out to a formula that goes for the most "mass appeal" possible, so the games get dumbed down mechanically and choked full of flashy cutscenes to draw in the Pokemon Go players as well as others who found traditional Pokemon too tedious and uninteresting. Even you Bansisingh are asking them to evolve their classic formula, so you have to understand when they do weird stuff like Let's Go it is GameFreak trying to satisfy people like yourself. Sadly, vocal people value new gimmicks and innovation these days over more of a good thing.

  • When I was younger, say 10 or 11 years old in 2005, I played through Ruby absolutely thrilled. After that, I figured I cared less for Pokemon because I was getting older but that isn't the truth looking back because I still watch older episodes and play: Blue, Gold, Ruby, Stadium 1 & 2 from time to time. I think Pokemon in general just got hectic.

    The art style changed a lot after season 3 of the show. The show became more about fighting than on comedy and adventures. The games had these weird character designs and lore spill over. It just became too much. I don't even blame Game Freak. The whole thing started feeling crazier and crazier and more and more out of touch as time went on. I really draw a line in the sand after the Ruby games and if the new Switch ground up Pokemon after "Let's Go" were just the original 151 Pokemon, I'd be delighted.

    TL;DR - Pokemon stopped being fun a long time ago. My reason is more oriented at the show. I watched it for a fun adventure anime and it became a dime a dozen show with prolonged Pokemon fights with less adventure and storytelling. I think we all have a reason why we don't care much for it anymore.

  • @dipset said:

    if the new Switch ground up Pokemon after "Let's Go" were just the original 151 Pokemon, I'd be delighted

    Gens 6 and 7 were already packed full of Gen 1 pandering. Hell, Let's Go is a basically a Yellow remake. We definitely don't need more of that. If anything, again look at Gen 5, specifically it's first games, Black and White. Until the postgame you only ran into new Pokemon, totaling a number similar to the 151 from Gen 1. That's leagues better than leaning on Pokemon that are twenty years old and have been in over a dozen games already. I'm sorry, but the first 151 aren't anything special when you take off the nostalgia glasses. They've had their time in the spotlight. Maybe they can stick around in the background, but it is time to move on to new Pokemon.

  • I'm in a weird place where I love gens 1, 2 and 3, really don't like 4 (almost to the point of hating it honestly), didn't even get into 5 despite playing White, actually really enjoying 6 despite all its flaws, but then hating 7 more than ever.

  • @mbun

    "Let's Go" calls itself a Yellow remake but any game with the catch-anything-that-moves formula that Pokemon Go uses will never be played by me. The mentality to have 800 types of every Pokemon makes it a mindless and meaningless product in my eyes.

    My point is less about the Gen 1 and more about the game being simplistic. I also don't think my love of Gen 1 is nostalgia glasses. The TV show and video games were at their best from Gen 1-3 imo. Then they started being designed differently: very clean lines, gloss, metallic colours, etc.

  • @dipset said:

    any game with the catch-anything-that-moves formula that Pokemon Go uses will never be played by me

    I'm not a huge fan of it either. Feels wrong to mass kidnap them and shovel them to Oak for EV boosting items.

    I also don't think my love of Gen 1 is nostalgia glasses. The TV show and video games were at their best from Gen 1-3 imo.

    The writing of the tv show during Indigo League was really good and certainly got lazier and fell off later, as soon as Gen 2 Johto started I'd argue, especially after having just watched it all during the Twitch marathon. The dub considerations for Pokemon no longer being the phenomenon it used to be in the west is mostly what's "ruined" the anime since Gen 4, but the original is still quite good. The beginning of XY's anime is what I'd argue for as the best the Pokemon anime has ever been, and what I've seen of SuMo's anime is good to great so far as well. Returning to real animation over relying on CG has helped vastly with that.

    Like I've argued a bunch now, I think Gen 5 Unova is overall the best the games has been, but I'll concede that there's just something funky about the Gen 1 and 2 games that makes them feel special that has been lost over time as sprites became standardized and then turned into 3D models, Pokedex entries started repeating themselves, and it was no longer acceptable to show a trainer holding a whip or a certain Ice Type to have black "skin". That's why people freaked when the Spaceworld '97 Gen 2 beta hit the internet, because it was this dose of the lost magic that made everyone fall for Pokemon to begin with that's faded away as everything has gotten more clinical with the franchise. If only they were more willing to take risks again, then we could have the best of both worlds today.

    Then they started being designed differently: very clean lines, gloss, metallic colours, etc.

    While I'm not a fan of the meme era of this image, it continues to illustrate a point today relevant to this convo:
    what if

  • I just want a third person Pokemon game with camera controls with souls level design and a good story, I've seen fan games with a deeper story than all pokemon games, in sun and moon the story was almost decent but it was ruined by Lillie changing her hair cut and cloth, it feels like the game is made for 5 years old kids, also with the power of the switch i hope that they put all 700+ pokemons in the game.

  • I'd love a well-executed Pokemon MMO personally.

    I'll see myself out before ya'll roast me at the stake.

  • @a7x458 said:

    with the power of the switch i hope that they put all 700+ pokemons in the game

    They've been maintaining the total number, so unless that changes now, that's actually the norm to be expected, Switch's power irrelevant. Let's Go is basically a Gen 1 remake, and the only reason that one is limited to 153 plus Alolan Forms is all the overworld and ride animations for them all.

    @SabotageTheTruth That's not a roast-worthy opinion. It is just the kind of thing everyone thinks of and TPC would only do more as a last resort, since any success found doing that would take away from new games releasing, and they'd rather keep selling two new full priced versions than one expansion for an ongoing MMO that costs more to run in the longterm. I too would love a well-executed Pokemon MMO. I just think that thing is decades from happening and basically will signal the end of the franchise.

  • @a7x458

    I want basically Ni No Kuni but with Pokemon battles. That's the dream. Same can be applied to Dragon Ball (Kid Goku) for that matter. I've desired this for so long.


    Do you have a good website link for watching the Pokemon English dub by chance? I'd love to watch the XY anime if you say its great. Really missed the good writing of that original series. Just a really special feeling I get watching that.

  • @dipset I didn't watch the dub, which I know is somewhat worse cause they stopped licensing the orchestral background themes outside Japan and replaced them with generic music instead, on top of the voice acting and OPs and EDs being much worse, but I know Netflix in the states has XY and XYZ available to watch on it right now dubbed in English. Also, when the Twitch Pokemon marathon comes back, it is going to play from Diamond and Pearl through the end of XYZ if you'd rather watch the dub there with Twitch chat.