Everything We Want From the Nintendo Switch Pokemon Game
So last week at E3 Nintendo has announced the development of a Switch Pokemon game. While we’ve had games like Pokemon Snap and Pokemon Stadium in the past, this will be the first RPG Pokemon game we will ever have seen on consoles. Nintendo fans have been bemused for years, wondering why Nintendo has not made this move generations ago. But for now, all is forgiven with this exciting announcement. Without any gameplay, trailers, or even screenshots, we’re left with a lot of space to fantasize about what this game can deliver. So here is a list of all the things we want to see from the Switch’s Pokemon game.
Open World Map
After the Nintendo’s latest (and possibly greatest) success with Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s easy to suspect that the Switch Pokemon game will be more or less a Pokemon re-skin of the Hyrulean continent we explored with Link. Nintendo would be fools not to make their game in the highly successful open world style of Breath of the Wild. I, personally, would prefer the “go your own way” gameplay this would allow, rather than being forced down linear pathways through forests and caves that the handheld games produced. I would also prefer to be locked out of a region because the Pokemon there are simply too powerful rather than because the path is blocked by a guard that I simply can walk around or fly over.
Also, the ability to see a dark forest full of bug types or wintery tundra with ice types and not just go there and check it out would be infuriating, while the alternative would be exhilarating. Maybe I don’t want to wait until I’m practically finished with the game to capture myself a Lapras, you know? And don’t give me none of that overworld crap that is the bane of RPGs everywhere (ex, Ni No Kuni).
On the topic of open world games naturally, comes the necessity for a compelling way to travel. Running shoes and bicycles are classic, but I would also enjoy ways to integrate your Pokemon into navigating the world. While “fly” in the handheld games served as fast-travels, I think being able to literally soar on the back of your Charizard would be much more fun than instantaneous teleportation.
And the ability to make navigation more open based on the discovery of certain Pokemon, or faster based on their level, would really drive players to level up or capture as many Pokemon as possible. I want to fly on my Zapdos, swim with my Tentacool, and ride on the back of my Ponyta. Make it happen!
Speaking of catching Pokemon, I don’t want to be thrown into a randomized battle every ten steps. While I wouldn’t mind if a Spinarak fell down from the canopy of trees occasionally, or a Rattatta jumped out of tall grass, I don’t want these battles to be a surprise that bogs down my journey. I would prefer to actually see the Pokemon wandering the world from a high vantage point, not randomly spawn underneath my feet. I want to see an Ivysaur lumber through the forest with terrifying weight.
And no, I don’t mind being forced to fight occasionally, but make it feel real. Make them chase me until I have no choice but to turn around and battle. And shouldn’t some Pokemon want to run from me sometimes? Why would an Abra force me into a battle sequence if it’ll just teleport at the first opportunity?
Turn Based Battle
Speaking of battle sequences, let’s not mess with the ol’ tried-and-true method of turn based gameplay. In the best of circumstances, taking a turn-based franchise and making it a real-time action game (like Final Fantasy XV did) is divisive, and rarely praised. And I don’t know about you, but the Pokken Tournament’s arena gameplay abandons all the strategy that the traditional Pokemon games valued, leaving a mess of gameplay that merely looks like a flurry of different colored effects rather than planned attacks. I don’t need the wild Pokemon to actually wait for you to make your move, but maybe a timed meter before their next shot. This will give us enough to think fast rather than simply mash the attack buttons.
I know I bashed on Ni No Kuni’s overworld maps, but the gameplay could work with some fine-tuning. I like that Oliver’s (the main characters) health was important to the battle system and that he was within the battle zone instead of calling commands from outside. Rather than blacking out if all your Pokemon faint, why not give us a last minute chance to flee or use a potion before we ourselves are defeated by a wild Pokemon?
On top of me not wanting random and forced battles with wild Pokemon, I also don’t want to immediately thrust into a battle with every Joe that makes eye-contact with me. Why would that even happen? What can that possibly do but stunt the flow of gameplay? While I see that you can’t very well play a Pokemon game without some forced battles, I would prefer for them to be part of a quest or side quest. Or at least tweak the system so that weak opponents don’t thrust me into a battle that I’ll easily crush.
If I’ve leveled up high enough, or have enough badges, weaker opponents should just let me be. Or give me battle arenas or regions where I can choose to go and fight random opponents. And by the way, let’s not make every opponent use the same “type”. Pokemon games have been way too easy to dominate because every trainer in a region always has the same Pokemon. Who thinks using all water types is a good strategy? Nobody, that’s who!
I’d also love for some multiplayer. I’d probably be blown away immediately, but the option would be nice. And while it would be cool to be able to trade Pokemon with people, I don’t want to be forced to trade a Pokemon to evolve it, which is required for the coolest Pokemon like Machamp and Alakazam.
The Pokemon Themselves
I know it’s popular to disparage the later generations of Pokemon, but in this situation, we simply shouldn’t include them. For one, creating 3D models for each and every Pokemon plus their own animation for every attack takes a lot of time. If Nintendo did that all generations of Pokemon (like, eight, right?) we would never see this game get completed. They should really just release this game with the first couple generations of Pokemon. Maybe release more as part of an expansion, or wait for the following game.
Also, the eggs. Finding random Pokemon eggs, or breeding them, is a great way to encourage players to go out into the world because eggs traditional require a certain amount of travel before they’ll hatch. And having another incentive to travel would be great (if it’s open world).
And finally, don’t scrimp on the legendaries! Seriously, if Nintendo forces players to pay for a Mew or doesn’t include Mew at all, people will riot. I know legendaries might break the game, but just don’t allow them in multiplayer matches, or have them attached to lengthy side quests or difficult conditions.
Remember the feeling you had in Breath of the Wild when you came upon the Master Sword? Imagine that, but instead, you find a sleeping Ho-Oh. Or you follow a series of quests about a lab experiment gone wrong until you finally reach Mewtwo, recently escaping his test tube. Making players work to find a legendary would give them a sense of gratification while making them buy one for $2.99 just leaves them sore.
New Art Style
While we probably expect a cell shaded, cute and vibrant world that we’ve become accustomed to from the games and anime, I just want to remind Nintendo that they’re not married to that art style.
While I can’t imagine they’ll ever do a BloodBorne-like world of Pokemon with oozing teeth and vicious claws (as cool as that would be), they could do something closer to the Twilight Princess vibe rather than a Wind Waker one. I don’t know what I would prefer, I just know that a change in art style would be very intriguing.
And finally, the story. Breath of the Wild’s Adventure allowed players to go in any direction they wanted, and that freedom was in large part the success of the game. This can become a Nintendo tradition if they wanted.
The Switch game could offer several main quests: 1) Catch them all, 2) Get all gym badges, and 3) save the world from Team Rocket, or Magma, or whatever the latest gang is. Hell, put all the nefarious Teams in the game. While the saving the world story could be a more guided experience, I’d like a game that let me collect badges and Pokemon in any order I wanted. Is that too much to ask?
What do you think? What do you want in a Pokemon game? What’s a deal-breaker, if they leave it out of the final product? Let me know in the comments or tweet me at @chadmwilson
#Everything We Want From the Nintendo Switch Pokemon Game