I have been playing Pokemon games for 18 years but I still got excited when I heard the announcement for Pokemon Sun and Moon. This will be the 7th generation of main series Pokemon games I will play. Pokemon is a rare series that really doesn’t stumble much and never falls. They don’t take many risks, which can leave the newer games feeling… stale. Everyone has their dream list of inclusions for these new games to make them fresh and new again for us old players. This is my list.
Active Difficulty Settings: If you’re like me, you’ve been playing Pokemon for nearly 20 years (or 20 years on the nose if you grew up in Japan). At this point I have mastered the basic system of strength, weaknesses, and general battling purposes. I’d love to see a difficulty setting available. Not just an “easy”, “medium”, and “hard” setting but maybe a more complicated difficulty. Ideally, it would be built into the game as an algorithm that increases difficulty for people breezing through battles and decreases it for newcomers struggling.
A Reason for Defense: I’m not a competitive player. I build my Pokemon for offense first, leaving only a few status moves (sleep, paralysis, etc.) for catching wild Pokemon or those epic battles where your opponent heals itself over and over. The main game really lends itself to having a powerhouse team. It’d be great if some component tipped the balance, forcing me to get defensive. Which leads into…
Battles that Don’t End in KO: I’d love to see a change in Pokemon battles in the main game. Maybe timed battles that can end in decisions or style points for utilizing strengths and weaknesses. Heck, I’d be down for mini-games within the main story that act as challenges, kind of like the Nintendo Remix, forcing me out of the safety of the classic “fight until someone passes out” style of gameplay.
A More Intelligent Story: I know these are kids games, first and foremost, but kids aren’t stupid. If the number one cartoon movie currently out as of writing this (Zootopia) can deal with sexism and racism, then surely we can get a Pokemon game that deals with more intellectual ideals. The first movie touched on it, but wouldn’t it be interesting if we met characters that were strongly against Pokemon fights? What about the social structure that allows 10 year old kids to run off and become trainers? What about school? I’d love to see the society of the Pokemon world be discussed more in the main games.
A New Plot: As a result, it’d be a perfect time for a new story and plot all together. Every main game has the same basic outline. You’re a child leaving home with your starter Pokemon to win your badges and topple the Elite Four. Along the way, you’ll have a rival and get involved in stopping some nefarious activities… Oh, and run into a legendary or two. It’d be great to see this formula tweaked somewhat, somehow. What if you were a bit older with a new backstory? What if you had a primary goal that wasn’t become a Pokemon master, but that eventually became something you had to do to accomplish another goal?
An Open World: In the main Pokemon games, you go from city to city and gym to gym, acquiring badges. A feature sadly missing is the ability to vary your routes. It’d be nice if you could battle each gym leader in the order you wanted to. This would be extremely hard because of the leveling system, but maybe the choices could be simpler. Branching paths could allow for decisions on which of 2 or 3 gym leaders to battle first, or which of 2 or 3 areas to tackle first. I could also imagine a secondary story region allowing you this option, after the main story.
HM Moves: Everyone who plays these games knows that all of the HMs - other than surf and possibly fly - are kind of useless in battle. This means that you’ll either stick the moves you need to complete the game onto your team, taking up precious space for better moves, or you’ll have a junk Pokemon in your squad for when you reach and area that requires that HM. I’d love to see HMs either work like a key item, being able to use them without teaching the move, or changing them to be more important in battle as well.
Cooperative Story: Online battling and trading has been tons of fun. I can get on my 3DS and play against someone from another Japan. I can trade for a Pokemon I need with someone from Brazil. Why not really build a story mode around online play? I’m not saying kill the single, offline game. What I’d love to see are chances for friends to jump into each other’s stories, battling trainers or even competing for gym badges together in the main story.
New Starter Types: Excluding Yellow, we’ve basically had one Pokemon formula since the games started when it comes to your starter. You can have a fire type, a grass type, or a water type. Now these all have secondary types, but the fire/grass/water question is always on the table. Why not have fun and make the starters something interesting? Perhaps they could be like Eevee, evolving based on your actions and items, rather than having one standard type. Or just starters of other types. Why not rock/electric/flying? Why not fighting/ice/bug? Game Freak could even go crazy, and allow us our choice of 4 or 5 different starters.
Player Customization: Pokemon is a basic, fun game designed around the design to capture cute little monsters and battle each other. No matter how old you are, you’re imaging yourself running around with your own Charizard (if you’re awesome) or your own Klefki (if you’re a weird loner). Some semblance of customization of your character have come and gone. Why not really hammer home the choices and fun that makes Pokemon what it is, by building in a much better customization into your game? There’s no reason you can’t make a wider variety of skin tones and hair. I’d even want to see Pokemon Sun and Moon go entirely crazy, allowing me to be a 32 year old white man with a mohawk or a 10 year old black girl or a 56 year old Asian man or a whatever I am, or want to be. In a game that has been getting stuffed with more and more features that seem superfluous, like news reports and Trainer PR videos, why not take a game that is so important to many people’s lives and allow them to really be part of the experience?
If even half of these features show up, I can finally see a little cartoon version of THE Kurt Broz running around with my dark type starter, involved in a story about the morality of Pokemon captivity, with battles of increasingly grueling difficulty. Through, if it’s still a 10 year old kid running around on a quest to be a Pokemon Master, defeating Team Insert Name along the way, I’ll still enjoy the game and obsessively catch them all.