The map designers went to spec savers?

For a while, I’ve been considering getting a 3DS for Pokemon XY. Funds are good, there’s a cheaper model or coming out, and I’ve been wanting that Shinobi title as well. But quite frankly, I have no motivation to play anymore Pokemon games. Black and White are going to be my final entries.

The game boasts a lot about it’s features including 3D battles which aren’t even new, trainer customization which isn’t enough to justify a purchase (though still nifty), the stupid “horde battle” system where you fight 5 pokemon at once makes no sense and seems like an arbitrarily desperate addition, Fairy types don’t sound appealing in the slightest and they don’t make any real sense in themselves, having battles that are limited to certain pokemon based on terrain (though realistic) is unneeded (sky battles), etc. None of these features really seek to make the game much more exciting but further bloat the game to convince people of how new it is. When I hear there’s a new feature that catered to easier EV training, my interest dropped completely. The games are still successful (maybe not as much as before), but it feels like a key ingredient is missing. These new Pokemon games seem to be obsessed with features that don’t really do a damn thing for you.

I remember when Gold and Silver first came out and a lot of the adverts were going on about “a new world to explore”. All this stuff about “Do the Johto!” and what not. The fact that you had a new region to explore was considered a feature in itself amongst having new pokemon to catch and train. And I think that’s one of the reasons Pokemon keeps selling.

People in general have an inherent desire to travel and explore the world. No one likes being couped up in one area of their lives for a long time (which was why being stuck in level 2 made us crazy back then). You want to get out more, you want to see new places, new people, and just have some grand adventure in a massive world. And Pokemon just taps into that desire. It felt like you really were a part of the game world in a sense. Along with capturing and training Pokemon, you might just run into a random stranger’s house or some small town, each with it’s own history, mythos, or what may have you. It was different from other RPGs in that you were just expected to run around and try to save the world (which, unfortunately, is what Pokemon turned into nowadays), so having NPCs that talked about shit you didn’t care about felt natural and… idk, “organic”. Each place you visited also had personality. If you went to Celadon City and then to Vermillion City, the atmosphere is completely different from each other. People have different values and outlooks on life much like in the real world. Just because you found one cave in one part of the region didn’t mean the next cave you go into will have the exact same atmosphere (most of the time). You know? Pokemon was like a book without pages, you really did go places.

Even the Gym Leaders had personality. They were treated like human beings instead of just random NPC code. Some would be out “doing something” like random dates or just out crying about their problems before heading into a match against you.

After Ruby and Sapphire, Pokemon Worlds feel more artificial than need be. One big animu clusterfuck about the power of friendship and “prepubescent kids save the world from big evil criminal organization that wants to rule the world”. The worlds themselves have less of a priority and take a back seat to a long a tedious narrative about the evils of the big bad group of evil doers. The worlds get much smaller and less complex (BW map is a giant ass circle for pete’s sake) further adding to it’s artificiality, and the NPCs now go on and on about the game’s features. The C-gear which I doubt anyone bothered to use is king of gospel in Unova. And I swear if I had to hear anymore about that global terminal and the need to save my game every once in a while. Hell, I’d take those “top percentage of Rattata” phone calls over those that go giddy over the ability to trade pokemon over the internet.

The problem I find is that Pokemon World’s are dependent on the evil teams to compel you to move forward. The towns and sub dungeons no longer carry a nigh realistic presentation of how real world towns and people are, they’re just locations on a map that you have to visit to complete a quest. All just so you can defeat this evil time. The games no longer feel like adventures as a result.

So the most advertised features are no longer about new worlds (or hell, even new pokemon) but silly features that they think enhances the gameplay. I don’t feel that people ever get excited about “new features” in video games outside of characters, their abilities, and the worlds you get to explore. Personally speaking, Poke-amie or w/e sounds like shoving Nintendogs features into the game. And the fairy type is the most uncool typing ever introduced. At least Dark and Steel had a bit of edge to them. At worst, these features feel as though they were added to show off hardware capabilities than actually adding something to the game (Horde/Sky battles). As a result, the game world suffers (its like they recycled BW’s map and added another circle in X and Y) and becomes smaller and recycled from previous games.

Trip part is this decay in game world design also creped into Zelda games. Link Between Worlds feels more artificial as the game outright tells you that you need specific items in order to enter dungeons and cannot be accessed until you have purchased an item. Playing Skyward Sword, I can safely say that its the most mechanical Zelda game of all time (the game even admits to this via Goddess Hylia “planning everything for you”). So it seems to be an inherent problem at Nintendo in which the game worlds are no longer important to them. For Pokemon, it’s a sad ass case.

There’s no real excitement anymore. Pokemon games are now just going through the motions of choosing your first asset and going through to predetermined towns and routes just to fight the evil teams. All with pointless features you will never use.

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