What could Generation IX bring to the franchise?
There is a brand new Pokémon game on the way and you what that means: fans like me speculating to no end about everything we want out of it! Pokémon Scarlet & Violet is, after all, not just the upcoming entry in the Pokémon series but also the start of a new generation of Pokémon. This means, aside from an influx of a 100 or so new Pokémon, the introduction of a lot of new ideas, gameplay mechanics etc.
Already, Scarlet & Violet has set itself up as the first ‘true’ open-world game. What more could it bring? I have no idea but I do know the things I would like to see.
Let’s dive in!
Let’s start this list by what I would like to see the most. Difficulty settings. Pokémon is primarily aimed at kids. The games are made for them first and older players like me second. As it should be. However, this does mean that there are design decisions made with kids in mind that to a veteran player like me are a bit frustrating. The difficulty is among them.
Since 2013’s X & Y, Pokémon games have become increasingly easier. Good for kids, who won’t have to worry anymore about getting stuck or something like that, but bad for older players. When a game is too easy a lot of the fun (can) dissipate. Like I stated in my review, Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl (BDSP) is, for me, the prime example of this. The implementation of a difficulty setting (easy, normal and hard) will give players like me the more challenging Pokémon game we want without it impacting the kids’ ability to pick up and play the game in any negative way.
No new gimmicks
Every new generation has new features going for it. Gen II had the Day/Night cycle while Gen III introduced Double Battles, just to name two. Pokémon always had the annoying habit of cutting these nice features for the next game, Gen III had no Day/Night cycle and we haven’t seen different seasons since Gen V to name yet two other examples.
This habit has, in my opinion, gotten worst ever since X & Y. These games introduced Mega Evolution, a temporary new evolution for certain Pokémon that gave them a new look, a stat boost and a new ability. I liked Megas, but they were undoubtedly unbalanced. Too powerful. Sun & Moon added Z-moves to the mix, a near-instant win button, while Sword & Shield did away with both and introduced Dynamax/Gigantamax. A combo of both gimmicks.
What I find annoying about these gimmicks is that they, well, are clearly gimmicks. Where the Day/Night cycle and such felt like new features to enrich the franchise, these things very much feel like tricks intended to attract attention and publicity, to be used in the marketing to draw kids in while their actual implementation is lacking. The more they introduce and leave the old ones behind, the less interesting and fun they become.
So Game Freak, please. Don´t introduce a new one with Scarlet & Violet. They don’t need it; the open world is good enough.
New regional forms and evolutions
That said, there’s one ‘gimmick’ that I want to see return. Mainly because I feel it’s not a gimmick. It’s an aspect of the Pokémon World that makes sense to be there. That also helps with a problem the series has been facing. New regional forms.
Regional forms, introduced in Sun & Moon, are more like actual Darwinian evolution. These Pokémon are still considered the same species but with an altered look, different typing and stats as a result of adapting to a new environment. Galarian Corsola, for example, became a Ghost-type and gained an undead appearance after the rising sea temperature in Galar caused the decay of its habitat. An interesting mirror of real-life coral, no? Sword & Shield went a step further and also introduced unique evolutions for these regional Pokémon, like Sirfetch’d.
Redesigning old Pokémon puts them back in the spotlight, allows them to be improved and helps alleviate the ‘Pokémon conundrum’. Instead of creating a new Fish Pokémon you could give a spin on Feebas, for example. Keeps the Pokédex from inflating so much while still providing new designs.
Some new community element
One of the best new features Sword & Shield, and one I highlighted in my review of the game, brought is the Raid Events. To this very day (as of writing, that is) Game Freak rotates in new Raid Events every month. To be honest, I’ve stopped participating in them. It’s always the same story, a few different Pokémon can be found in the Dynamax Dens with one of them having a high(er) chance of being Shiny. Even alone, it usually doesn’t take any longer than an hour or two to find said Shiny.
|The Wild Area Raid Evens are nice but have grown stale over time. To much repitition. |
Improvements to post-game battles
Battling is the backbone of the gameplay of the core series. I hope that Scarlet & Violet will offer up some good post-game options for players who want to keep on battling. Pokémon has had battle institutions such as the Battle Frontier, Battle Maison and Battle Tower for players to tackle and test their battle prowess after they completed the story. I, however, have always found these institutions lacking. It just doesn’t have anything for my skill level.
The battles of the story are too easy while the battles of these institutions, which are designed with competitive Pokémon in mind, are too hard and limiting. I want 6 on 6 single battles in which I have to think about strategy, held items, some team synergy etc. Battles that challenge me but are not on a competitive level. I and a lot of others, find the bar too competitive simply too high. A battle level in-between the game´s difficulty and competitive would be very much appreciated.
There are a lot of features from Pokémon Legends: Arceus (yes, I will point out my review here as well) I want to see Game Freak carry over. The way moves are learned and re-learned, Pokémon not evolving automatically anymore etc. One of those features is one I wanted in a Pokémon game for a few years now. Side-Quests. PLA has over 120 ‘requests’ for the player to tackle. From running small errands for the people to solving Pokémon-related mysteries.
Side-quests give players a (light) narrative-driven activities to tackle. They give the game some more meat on its bones and give players more choice in how to approach their adventure. I don’t expect another 120 side-quests but if the game had even 50 side-quests, quest log and all, that would be excellent.
Story for event Pokémon
Last and, well least, to be honest, is a return to the old ways when it comes to those Event-only Mythical Pokémon. Back in Gen III-V, those Pokémon didn’t just appear in your Party/Box all gift-wrapped. You would be given a (key) item that activated an in-game event. BDSP, remakes of Gen IV’s Diamond & Pearl, have this type of events.
As of the time of writing, BDSP players can get themselves a Darkrai. The Member Card Key Item unlocks not just Darkari but also access to a closed house in Canalave City. Sleeping in the bed teleports Newmoon Island where you’ll test your mettle with Darkrai. Even if these ‘stories’ are barely 2 minutes long, they add so much to the proceedings. Makes the Pokémon feel special and is a chance to show off their personality and power.
Also, what makes obtaining these Pokémon more rewarding? Catching a Ball after a nail-biting battle or entering a code and magically finding it in your party?
I don’t expect all of these things to show up in Scarlet & Violet. New Regional Forms is really the only one I would be heartbroken over if it doesn’t find its way in while a difficulty setting would make me jump out of my chair. If they make it in or not speculating on it, thinking about what these games could bring and what could improve the series overall, remains fun to do. Remains fun to write down and then later see if I got anything right.
to that moment!