So…Who else is super hyped this week? You all should be anyway; a new Pokémon game was announced. Not only is it a new game, it’s in 3D. Actual 3D not 3D graphics, we are actually getting a step forward in the series. From the trailer it is obvious that the 3DS’s capability to display in, well 3D, is going to be the major drawing point. So I’m super excited. However, I’m also a little disappointed in myself. I find myself in the same place I was with the WiiU. Yes the game will undoubtedly be well made, well crafted and well thought out. However there is a good chance that the game will also be basically the same as all the others. So, since I have nothing else to write about this week, I’m inviting anyone reading this to join me on a little self introspection into why I’m hyped, and whether I am right to be.
I’ve been a huge Pokémon fan, since I saw a friend playing an American import of Pokémon Blue in 1998. From that day I pestered my parents into getting me the game. I can’t really remember how long I pestered them for, but I know it was long enough for me to do enough household tasks to build up the £30, or however much it cost. I remember the day I got the game very clearly. We were on the way to visit my Nan, as we did every Saturday of my childhood, and we stopped off in town. I pretty much ran from the car park to Electronic Boutique (oh yeah! Back before Game bought them out). When we got to the shop there wasn’t a single copy of Pokémon blue. I was most devastated. I had to get a copy of Pokémon red. I didn’t realise as a kid that they were basically the same game. On a side note this day also marked a key moment in my life as a gamer. You see this was the first game I ever bought for myself. Not the first game I ever had bought for me mind, that was Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine; which I finished on a black and white TV, but that’s off the point. So anyway back to the story. I purchased the game and went to my Nan’s. I remember sitting in her house just wanting to go home so that I could play the game. I really wanted to play this game so bad. When we finally got home I ripped of the packaging and put it in the Gameboy and my obsession proper began, (once more my first obsession was Sonic, but I was only allowed to play on that downstairs, when my parents weren’t watching TV. This was the first time I had unlimited access to video games). I could continue this story for pages and pages, but I need to get back to point.
As established I’ve been there since the beginning. So I’m allowed to be hyped about the next Pokémon game. This game is going to be in full 3D. The graphics are going to be smoother than ever before, gone are the sprites and in their place are fully animated character models, the perspective system from black and white seems to have been improved on. Of course I’m basing all of this on a short trailer that was shown recently. But it does look to be a step forward in the games. An example of this movement is very evident in the trailer. When a wild Pikachu appears the game zooms into the grass and shows the Pokémon before going into the battle screen. As small as this seems it shows that thought has gone in to using the extent of the ability of the more powerful handheld. If that’s what they are showing off in the first trailer, then what else have they done? I also got pretty excited about the desert landscape that was shown. It gave a sense of enormity. It made me feel like there was a large exciting world in front of me, which I was there to explore. This is something that I always feel is missing from the games. I always feel slightly restricted. I’ve never really felt lost in a Pokémon game, well apart from the first time I did rock tunnel and forgot to get flash. The games just don’t feel epic enough. Basically from the small trailer this games looks to be a leap forward, and as such I’m excited.
The thing is Pokemon games always tend to be the same. Every game you start off as a small town guy with dreams of being a big star. Then you walk into grass, a professor gives you a Pokémon and you go off to find fame and fortune. Along the way you find some kind of team trying to stir up shit and you beat them to the ground. When that is out of the way, you go on to be league champion. Same format every time. Black and White were slightly different, but only slightly. It was just more story driven (don’t get me wrong, it was a welcomed step). I can’t really talk about Black and White 2 as I haven’t actually finished them yet, I’ve been pretty busy. My point is that Pokémon could be more than it is. It could be much more open; you could explore an open world and truly feel like a small part of a huge story. The thing is Pokémon isn’t broken, so why fix it? I could field that point at most Nintendo franchises, but that’s off the point.
So let’s conclude. I’m looking forward to X and Y, but I want to approach them with cautious optimism. As much as I love Pokémon, and will play whatever they put out, with each game I become more and more aware of missed opportunity. I always feel like Pokémon is like that student who has great potential. They always do well in tests; in fact they often come top. But if they applied themselves they could become something great, but they are complacent. If X and Y turn out to just be minor improvements on the previous games, how much longer will it be, before people stop paying attention and move on? I know the thought will cross my mind. There is only so many times you can encourage the student, before you move on to the next prodigy?
By Matt Husselbury