WHAT? NINTENDO IS EVOLVING?!?
Since 2015 Nintendo fans and gamers alike have been speculating about the details of the big N’s latest addition to their hardware family, the Nintendo “NX”. While the usual line up of familiar faces, Zelda, Metroid and Mario have either been confirmed or are a solid bet on Nintendo’s new home console there has been one omission, Pokémon, and I think it is time for it to join the party.
Before everyone starts to scream blasphemy for forgetting Game Freak’s latest additions to their portable Pokémon series; Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, scheduled for release later this year, I am talking about a different Pokémon experience, a fully realised console experience, that breaks the well-worn traditional Pokémon formula.
However Nintendo may have different ideas, as they are not known to feel comfortable with changing the formula behind their most iconic IPs, often sticking to tried and tested trends that fuels a sense of nostalgia and familiarity in Nintendo players old and new alike. That was until the unveiling of The Legend Zelda: Breath of the Wild during one of their Nintendo Direct steams that showed a new approach to the beloved boy in green. Open world exploration, a working physics engine and wait…oh my god, did he just jump!
This is a new Nintendo, a forward thinking Nintendo and as the name of their new console ‘NX’ suggests a step away from tradition. There are some trademarks of Pokémon, such as having two versions with exclusive Pokémon on each, which promotes trading and interaction between players, that should stay. But with that in mind how could Pokémon’s core gameplay evolve and grow on Nintendo’s new platform? Well I’ve had some ideas…
1. Give Me Them All!
How many Pokémon do you think there are from Gen 1 or present day? Any ideas? According to the latest Pokémon wiki, not including the new additions announced for Sun and Moon, there is a mind spinning 721 in total. With the larger memory capabilities of a console compared to handhelds could we finally see a single release with them all? (Excluding the traditional version exclusives of course).
2. A Whole New (Open) World!
One thing that the fan’s reaction to Link’s new open world adventure proved is that we want to explore freely, without the guidance of restricted movement or linear game design. Allow us to explore and discover a new region ranging from flowing grass fields, large open cities, treacherous fiery volcanoes, mountainous terrain and vast water areas full with various catchable critters suited to each environment; I would even accept a full rendered cave full of Zubats and Geodudes if it meant I could discover it on my own accord.
3. No More Random Encounters, Let Me See Them!
We have all been there; out of repels and just three more steps away from the exit of a Zubat infested cave, then the same alarming sound and flashes indicate yet another by the numbers encounter with your favourite fantasy nocturnal creature. The random battles mechanic made sense during early versions of the series due to the necessary memory requirements to render and program all 151 Pokémon, but it always felt like a game of chance, as I paced up and down the same patch of pixelated grass hoping for the virtual odds to deem me lucky enough to encounter that god damn Pikachu I have spent an hour searching for!
Instead each creature could be fully realised within the game’s world, living and breathing in its appropriate habitat for us to encounter for real. I remember that sense of awe when I first saw my favourite Onix “Rocky” appear in Pokémon Stadium on the N64; but was ultimately disappointed as there was nothing to compare its sheer scale to apart from my opponent’s Vulpix. Witnessing Pokémon within a realistic setting would give a sense of scale to these magnificent creatures, wither it be a delicate Caterpie crawling on neighbouring trees or an epic Gyarados crashing through the waves.
4. Poké Behaviour And Hunting Them Down.
In addition to allowing us to witness each Pokémon within a 3D environment, Game Freak could also give each creature an appropriate personality and behaviour trait. It’s not like they would have to spend an extensive amount of time sat around a writers’ table discussing how each Pokémon would interact with its surroundings as each one has a mountain of descriptions from the many versions of the game as well as its popular anime series. Furthermore learning and understanding each Pokémon’s traits and behaviour patterns could be fundamental to searching and capturing them, encouraging players to learn more about what makes each creature unique instead of focusing on its statistics.
Just imagine it, your searching for a Shellder in its natural habitat; the beach, at night time, and you spot several blue shells sticking out of the sand. Upon approaching them you can hear a faint muffled “Shelldar”. Upon scanning the crustacean with your Pokedex (which I will delve into later on) the familiar robotic voice tells you “At night, this Pokémon uses its broad tongue to burrow a hole in the seafloor sand and then sleep in it. While it is sleeping, Shellder closes its shell, but leaves its tongue hanging out.” Well, you better come back during the daytime to have a chance of adding it to your collection.
5. Built For Purpose.
Nintendo has never been known for basing their console experiences on raw processing power since they stopped putting numbers on consoles to acknowledge how many ‘bits’ it can process; very rarely do you hear the word ‘teraflop’ thrown around a Nintendo conference. For them it is, as Reggie Fils-Aime explains, “not about specs…its about the experience”, which started with the now standard motion controllers of the Wii to the dual screen addition of the Wii U. If early patent releases and speculation are to be believed it seems Nintendo’s NX will follow suit in its use of dual screens and blurring the line between handhelds and home based consoles.
What does that mean for my Pokémon console dream? Well, it means that, like the 3DS version of the series, you have a separate screen for all your menus, map and inventory without needed to clog up the screen from all the beauty of the new open world. During combat it would be a familiar set up of your moves, items and current roaster all at your finger tips while the battle ensues in glorious HD on your TV screen, it would even keep your move selection a secret from your friends as you battle each other using two controllers on the same screen, adding tension and suspense to each fight.
In addition you could use the new gamepads second screen as a camera like device to scan Pokémon you find within the games world, similar to No Man’s Sky discovery scanner, by holding it up and aiming your reticle to scan your newly discovered creature. After a short while the Pokémon would be registered and a brief explanation could come through the controllers speakers in a familiar monotone voice. That’s right, your controller could actually be a working, scanning all knowing Pokédex!
I’ve even considered amiibo into this with a new “Pokéball” amiibo, by placing it onto the NX controller you could store your strongest team of 6 Pokémon to take on your travels. You are figuratively placing your Pokémon into a Pokeball, how has this not been done before?
The change to Zelda’s formula and the overly positive reaction from the fans is a clear sign that Nintendo need to shake things up a bit. I really do honestly believe that if this concept became even close to reality it would sell systems, I would certainly be in line!
Well that’s all of my ideas! What do you think? What would you want from a Pokémon console release? Anything you would change or keep the same? Any other cool gameplay enhancing ideas? Sound off in the comments below and lets get our geek on!