Sammy here with another “Alternate” article. This time however, things are a little different. Rather than discussing an in game feature I wanted to think outside the box. I would like to talk about the game as a whole, more specifically the style of play. The interactive features of a game are what differentiates it from a movie. Without this predominant component games would cease to exist. Pokémon has relied on its Role Playing Game (RPG) Turn Based mechanic for its main series since the very beginning. This play style started simple, but over the years it has been given more depth so it would appeal to a broader audience. Gamefreak have worked very hard to strike a balance between the casual, hardcore, young, and older players. It has created a system which is easy to learn but hard to master. To us Pokémon veterans it may not seem too difficult, however if you’re teaching someone who is new to the entire series, and you tell them about every aspect of the gameplay then their minds would likely melt. Over the years features have been added, and the gameplay has been tweaked. Some people complain about the system staying the same, that it’s time for something new and fresh. But let’s be honest Pokémon wouldn’t be the same magical experience we all know and love if they took this setup away. This is where spinoffs come into the picture…[spoiler]
Ever since Pokémon became a phenomenon it has spawned spinoffs here, there, and everywhere. In the early days you had classics such as Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Snap on the home consoles; to Pokémon Pinball and Pokémon Trading Card Game (one of my all time favourites which NEEDS a sequel) on the Gameboy. These days unfortunately the home consoles have been largely ignored. The GameCube era gave fans real hope of a fully fledged 3D adventure with the releases of colosseum and XD; however they never provided the freedom people wanted. Nevertheless they were great games, and it looked much more promising for the future. But then came the Wii, needless to say it didn’t deliver. Battle Revolution was a watered down Stadium whilst PokéPark was a light hearted adventure aimed at the younger audience, and focused more on mini games. To rub salt into the wound Nintendo stated that the main series would always be on a handheld, so it is unlikely we’ll ever get a similar game on a home console. But don’t cry just yet since new Pokémon spinoffs are still coming out thick and fast, so there is always hope. In fact Nintendo’s next generation console the “Wii U” offers a lot of promise due to its inventive new controller the “Wii U Pad”. Theoretically this makes the home console like a giant DS. What this means is that there is not only opportunity for new types of experiences, but also there is a great chance to put successful handheld franchises onto the console. So once again there is hope.
So whilst it is mostly bleak on the home console front, it is the complete opposite for the handheld as Pokémon games are booming. We’ve seen recent spinoffs on the DS turn into franchises (Pokémon Ranger & Mysterious Dungeon), and there have been numerous other experiments too including Pokémon Conquest. The aforementioned game is an important step in the series because it’s the first time (other than the cameos in the Smash Bros series) that Pokémon has been mixed with another game. The game is essentially Nobunaga’s Ambition with Pokémon elements mixed in. It takes place in a fictional region called Ransei which is set during the war torn states of feudal Japan. You are tasked with unifying all 17 kingdoms in order to bring peace to the land. It is a turn based game which feels reminiscent of Advances Wars and Fire Emblem. What makes the game stand out is the fact that the warriors from the Nobunaga series not only act like Pokémon trainers, but are actually involved in the battles too. Now I don’t mean they are stabbing the likes of Jigglypuff to death or anything sinister like that. Rather they are passively involved by the way of powering up their Pokémon during battle. They can also level up and evolve too just like their counterparts. It is the link between a warrior and his Pokémon that is key to being successful during the game. The same can be said for the partnership between Gamefreak and Tecmo Koei, as this is the key to this game being successful. Now the reason I talked about this spinoff was because I wanted to highlight the partnership between the two companies, and their two games. Conquest is a big step as it shows that Gamefreak are prepared to cooperate with other develops to bring something new to Pokémon. This excites me as a fan since we could potentially see a mash up with any game (though many are unlikely), and we could see Pokémon dip into some new genres. So finally here is the main focus, if Pokémon was to try a new genre what would it be, and how would it work?
First Person Shooter (FPS): POKÉMON DUTY: MODERN GYM BATTLES or POKÉSHOCK INFINITE?
Now before you boo and hiss at the very thought of an FPS, or the very mention of Call of Duty (COD) let me explain myself. I’m not for one second suggesting we give Pikachu a gun, or turn Garbodor into a bigger freak of nature than it already is. I’m merely speculating on how we could control a Pokémon from the first person perspective, and to use their powers to battle. The reason I parodied the titles of COD and Bioshock is because they’re two iconic series which offer two VERY different modern FPS experiences. One is mainly a competitive shooter which relies on quick reflexes, whilst the other focuses on single player storytelling, combining shooting with supernatural powers. Bioshock is probably the more feasible option (think Pokémon setting with Bioshock gameplay elements). They could implement the move sets in a similar way to how Bioshock handles its powers. This means you could shoot out a Thunderbolt or a Flamethrower in the same manner as shooting out plasmids, but minus the hands (check YouTube if you want to see how Bioshock is played). Now I don’t know how the others moves could work, and I know it may sound a bit too farfetched; however I haven’t been thinking about it for hours on end, this is just an idea which happened to pop into my head. It also made sense to mention the genre due to the mass market it has in the industry. I mean what if you did mix the most popular genre with (in my bias opinion) the best series on the planet? It could it be out of this world…
Racing: POKÉMON KART
I’m sure some of you saw this one coming, but with the likes of Mario and Sonic having their own kart racers it kind of makes sense for Pokémon to have one. It may sound like a shameful cash in idea, however with the right amount of effort it could be ace. Imagine having Pokémon themed tracks with all the nostalgic music you know and love. You could race through famous cities, caves, and routes etc where you have different distractions happening in the background. For items you could have a Pokéball which catches the racer in front, and makes them have to rapidly tap A to escape. You could have X Speed to make you faster temporarily. You could also have moves such as Earthquake which could bring all racers in front of you to a momentary halt; or Teleport to get you back in the race if you’re far behind. Though there would be a challenge to decide what the roster of playable characters should be, each one could have its own signature attack. You could even have flying races with the likes of Charizard racing Salamence for example. Now I know there was a game called Pokémon Dash for the DS which was a racer (does anyone remember?). However it was a top down game that relied on the player using their stylus to make the Pokémon run. It was decent fun, but would be better as a mini game for the main series. In fact it was probably part of the inspiration for the Pokéathlon.
[/spoiler]I could go on forever about the potential crossovers or genre changes that could happen, but then this would be an even longer article than it already is. Besides I want you to do all the hard work, and discuss what you would like to see happen. So what genre should Pokémon attempt to try? What crossovers could work? What about the age old question – Pokémon Smash Bros or Pokémon Fighter 4? Starring all your favourite fighting Pokémon. I leave it up to you. Let the battles commence!