A Saga With Depth
In terms of franchises that offer big challenges for completionist players, few come bigger than Pokémon and the Pokédex. The only problem? There’s already more than enough Pokémon to make catching ‘em all a task rivalled only by addressing the racist attitudes of your grand parents. These days, there’s more chance of your Grandma chillaxing with Snoop Dog than of you completing your National Pokédex, a vicious field project that currently contains nearly 650 unique Pokémon.
So what can a new generation of games on 3DS bring to the table? More Pokémon? The mere thought alone is terrifying, regardless of how successful the latest host of ‘mon from Black and White proved to be in relation to the overall gameplay. Despite those that wish Pokémon had stayed in the 151 (There’s an Azealia Banks parody in there, somewhere!) an ever-growing cast of characters is part of the series’ charm. What isn’t excusable is the shortcut of shoe-horning in more Pokémon and quantifying it to be a grander experience. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to complete my Pokédex, if the entire story is over before I even begin to start catching ‘em all, I’m going to grow bored that much quicker.
With all these Champions returning, is it not high time that we pay them a visit in our next adventures?
Even though Black and White offered up a very strong story (and Diamond and Pearl before them brought an impressive narrative longevity) no point in the franchise’s recent history has come close to eclipsing the vast challenge of Pokémon Gold and Silver on the Game Boy Color. The game’s second region and sixteen badges in total essentially doubled your adventure and limited the “Dear God, how boring is grinding?” aspect of the game considerably. Catridge space has come a long (long) way since those days so there’s now no excuse for a Pokémon game to be limited to eight gyms. With the implementation of the Pokémon World Tournament in Black 2 and White 2, Pokémon on the 3DS could see the player take the challenge to them, travelling to several regions across one adventure.
Stronger Hardware Integration
While you may think Pokémon is relatively stuck in the past in terms of 3DS integration, it’s been laying the ground work for quite a while. You may have noticed that the 3DS operating system allows you to pause any 3DS game mid-action and return to the home menu to access other apps before returning to your playthrough. “So what?” you may be asking, “is that even a big deal?” Well when Nintendo has already released an app that lists all the data you could possibly want to know regarding the moves, strengths and weaknesses of a whole host of Pokémon it most certainly is.
While serious Pokémon trainers currently have to consult the likes of Bulbapedia or Serebii during gameplay to find out which moves and strategies to utilise, the introduction of Pokédex 3D will bring this experience into your system and, more importantly, take it back into the hands of Nintendo. And while DS games can’t be paused mid-gameplay, the fact that future iterations of the series will be holds great promise for this feature. Another matter of interest is that Game Freak have already rendered 3D models of all existing Pokémon as part of the app, suggesting that they’re likely to feature in a future title. Since the franchise’s developers love to reuse and recycle content (the fact that Pokémon Stadium models were still showing up in GameCube titles is evidence enough) don’t expect this to be last you see of them.
Could the next generation of Pokémon feature this level of visal flair? The graphics already exist!
Elsewhere in the realm of integrating Pokémon with the 3DS’s unique capabilities, Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 are set to release with an eShop accompaniment in the form of the aforementioned Pokémon Dream Radar. A spiritual sequel to the likes of Pokémon Snap, players will be able to exclusively catch alternative forms of certain legendary Pokémon from Black and White by uncovering the Pokémon in the real world in a similar vein to Face Raiders. With the next entries in the series focussing purely on the 3DS (and being able to jettison the comparatively lo-tech DS) more of these experiments should be brought into the main game itself, offering more variety to catching, battling and communicating. Small touches such as using the console’s gyroscope to cast a line while fishing for Pokémon or searching for items in dark caves by using the 3DS’s camera could bring the lovable but relatively flat world of Pokémon to life.
Regardless of what makes it into the next entries in the Pokémon series on 3DS, we’ll definitely be playing them but we’d love to hear what you think should be changed about the gameplay experience for the sixth generation! Be sure to tell us your big ideas in the comments’ section below and whether or not you think our suggestions are likely to make the final cut.
Tomorrow in the exciting conclusion of our See Me in 3D feature: Kevin Knezevic discusses the Metroid franchise and its belated return to the world of handhelds.