The Real World with Pokémon, or the Pokémon World?
The questions, comments and concerns of a Generation Y-er
“Pokémon Go,” the mobile app that put the Pokémon franchise back into the general public’s voluntary consciousness, has failed to appeal and is not as fun as the Pokémon games on Nintendo’s consoles. Speaking from the perspective of a Generation Y-er, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s Pokémon was the biggest cultural phenomenon ever conceived.
After 2002 or so, it went from “cultural phenomenon” to just a normal popular franchise. But in July 2016, the franchise has returned to its former “cultural phenomenon” glory. It has made the news positively and negatively, made lots of money for Niantic and Nintendo, and is a top downloaded app for mobile phones.
Pokémon Go needs no introduction. What does, however, need an introduction is how it’s played since it isn’t as well-known to those not playing or not interested in playing it. Sure, it’s known as an augmented-reality game where Pokémon appear in the real world for players to meet and capture by throwing Pokéballs at them. But there are some intricacies to this mechanic as well as the rest of the game. For one thing, players have to aim their Pokéball throw correctly. After, is the usual probability equation that decides whether or not the Pokémon is caught, a series staple.
As for PokéStops, whether businesses, establishments, landmarks, or even World Wonders like it or not, a sizable amount have become pit stops for players to stock up on supplies. Some of these places have taken advantage of this to encourage clientele to return whether it be for the game or not.
So where exactly did it go so wrong? Believe it or not, I just don’t think all those features are enough to keep me playing. In the three times I’ve played it on the phones of friends I was with at the time, it bored me. Sure, I blame myself for having terrible throwing aim that allowed a few Pokémon to escape; no blame to the game for my bad coordination. Even the walking around is an excellent idea but the fact that there is not much else to do other than walk around and capture Pokémon is what holds this game back. PokéStops, Gyms, and the Teams are nice features, but it still doesn’t make this game much of an experience for me. I just get an overwhelming sense of “Well, okay, I just did that.” And so, what more am I seeing in Nintendo’s Pokémon games?
As all Pokémon fans know, Nintendo’s Pokémon games have most of those features in it: the walking around, the capturing of Pokémon, the battling of other trainers, etc. A few of those are common in the RPG genre, to be precise. These things all sound alike, so how is it that I find it better when the main games do it and find it boring when “Pokémon Go” does the same thing?
The short answer is one word: variety. The long answer is that in addition to all of those usual features, there’s even more to do in the games’ worlds. All the games have a general plot to them, for one thing. And they all have a giant world to explore, which is almost all of the fun in the games. The old proverb states that “It’s the journey, not the destination,” and that serves as a great description of the game experience. Sure, it’s satisfying reaching the various Pokémon Gyms, villainous team headquarters, and the Pokémon League at the end. But the player sure had a great time getting to each of those locations, right?
But in addition to all the usual stuff, the games go above and beyond to give the player a fun experience. As the generations went on, more and more extra features were added to each of their worlds. The original Red and Blue (or Green on the Japanese side) Versions had a Game Corner (read: casino) to have some fun in as long as the player’s in-game money lasts. That same generation’s Yellow Version added a well-hidden surfing mini-game for the player’s Pikachu to take part in. Come the next generation, even more features would be added to the world. Gold, Silver, and Crystal Versions implemented a time system that dictated special in-game events. Certain NPCs only appeared on certain days of the week, the player could participate in a radio show every Friday for a chance to win a prize (only in Crystal Version, though), and then some.
The next generation’s Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald Versions added Pokémon Contests, which can be thought of as talent shows. Emerald Version in particular added a new location called the Battle Frontier, which was a testing ground for the most skilled of players. One generation after that gave us Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum Versions, which kept the Pokémon Contests and the Battle Frontier. In addition to that, there was included an area where the player could walk with their Pokémon. The Pokémon Contests, though kept, were expanded; they gained three rounds instead of just the one. Black and White Versions of the fifth generation gained a multitude of new features including a film studio, sports arenas, a musical theatre, and even certain locations changing depending on which version was played.
For example, Opelucid City is a modern, technologically advanced city in Black Version and an antiquated, old-fashioned city in White Version. All of this applies to their direct sequels Black 2 and White 2. And then the newest generation comprising of X and Y Versions added Super Training, Pokémon-Amie, Wonder Trading, and trainer outfit customizations.
And all of that is just for the main games unique to their generations. From Generation 3 onward, previous generations’ games got enhanced remakes that had features of their own. FireRed and LeafGreen Versions had exclusive mini-games playable only with a wireless adapter. HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions had a customizable Safari Zone, and Pokéathlons. And the recent Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire had an overhaul of the Secret Base and Mirage Spot features.
“Pokémon Go” does not have even half that many features in it, which ultimately makes for a rather shallow experience that would not leave much of an impression. It might be fun just to waste some time, but as a gaming experience, it’s very lacking.