Since Pokémon was originally created for Game Boy, the fans have been crying out for a home-console version, one that improved upon the breadth and scope of the handheld games instead of performing as a shallow, battles-only affair. However, Nintendo seems to have turned a deaf ear to the wishes of the fans, offering us instead battle sims and limited RPG experiences instead of the epic scope of the tiny handheld games. It’s time for a change. It’s time to take the series somewhere entirely new: online.
Ok, ok, the series has technically been online since Crystal in Japan (thanks to the mobile phone adapter) and Diamond and Pearl in the US. One of the major draws of Black and White is the fact that, for the first time in the series, friends can link up their games and experience together what has always been a solo affair. Not a lot is known about the ins and out of this new connectivity, but it’s a step in the right direction– a step when Pokémon should have taken a leap. Pokémon needs to go to a persistent-online world.
Yeah, this doesn’t jive with Nintendo’s family-friendly online policy. The mere thought of anyone being able to interact with anyone online causes Nintendo to break out into a cold sweat. Yet we know it is possible: Monster Hunter Tri proved as much.
Nintendo needs to break Pokémon out of its solitary Poké Ball. The game was always conceived as a social game, one that required interaction with other players to be enjoyed to its fullest. Yet as the players who started the game as teenagers have grown and embraced the Internet, one of the most social mediums of information ever created, the games have remained firmly “local.”
There are inherent risks with bringing Pokémon into its own online world, but as the legions of fans of games like MapleStory, World of Warcraft, Second Life and even Farmville will attest, creating a virtual playground for you and your friends is the perfect to way to open up a game to a wider audience. Now is the time to do it, before another company provides a similar experience. And while I’m on the subject, where’s the online-enabled followup to Pokémon Trading Card Game?