Caught some… to hell with the rest

March 25, 2011 by Tim

Well, I played Pokemon Black until my DS died, and I can’t find the charger so I figure this is as good a place as any to stop talk about what I thought.

It was… alright.

I can certainly see where all the addiction comes from. It definitely has that element that appeals to collectors and completionists. I feel like I could start seeing what people were talking about in regards to strategy in later levels. At first the game really just felt like a fancy game of rock, paper, scissors, and though I’m sure some of that must persist through end-game, I can take people’s word that there’s a pretty competitive versus game at the end.

The story was pretty lame, but I knew it was a game geared towards a younger audience, so I wasn’t expecting much in the first place. I do applaud them for adding in Team Plasma, which is a group of “PETA-ish” trainers who don’t believe that Pokemon should be enslaved in these little plastic balls and forced to fight at the will of their masters.

It’s a very interesting topic, and from what I understand, a new one for Pokemon games themselves. However, as someone who loves animals, I found myself more often siding with Team Plasma, and it was odd to be playing the game and suddenly you realize you think your protagonist is the bad guy.

With that said, however, the entire time I was playing the game, in the back of my head all I could think was “This is it? Really? This huge franchise has been around this long, and this is as far as they’ve gotten?”

I didn’t play previous Pokemon games, so I can’t speak to the progression of the series directly. But playing this one that I buy… it still somehow felt like a game that really didn’t push its boundaries.

The graphics didn’t impress at all. The Pokemon are pixelated, static 2D images that very slightly “animate”, and by that I mean wiggle a little bit, enough for you to know your game hasn’t frozen. And from what I’ve read, this was some huge step for this generation of games. Apparently in the past they didn’t move at all? It just felt very bland for a game released in 2011, and especially from a franchise which is very popular and probably doesn’t have a problem turning a profit.

The gameplay got very repetitive. In a lot of instances I either destroyed my opponent, or got destroyed, swapped out Pokemon now that I knew what he was using, and then destroyed my opponent. A few things mixed it up, but not much.

I also think the game could have been streamlined a lot further. I feel like a lot of my time playing was wasted a few seconds here, a few seconds there, on menus or battle cutscenes I couldn’t just skip. After the hundredth time, I got it. You use ability X > your defense goes up > your attack goes up. Thank you for making me skip through ten screens just to get to my turn.

I feel like there’s a lot of potential for this genre of game that just isn’t being explored. I mean, it seems like Pokemon is the only one out there still putting this type of game out. There have to have been clones at some point, and they must have died off because they were all trying to do the exact same thing.

As I played, I kept imagining how awesome a game would be if we crossed Pokemon with the Monster Hunter series. Keep everything we love about going out, hunting monsters, using their parts to make armor, etc, but also add in an additional arm of the game whereby you also want to fight and trap said monsters (like you do in the MH series), but for the sake of owning and training them. You want young monsters so that you can, through a series of excersizes, domesticate and train them for battle. And then you can fight them against NPCs and players, or sell them to other players, etc.

And all in a nice 3D engine that allows you to participate in the world.

Or, a console/PC game that crosses Pokemon and Spore’s procedural generation technology. How is it possible that nobody has started work on that yet? Imagine the limitless range of monsters to collect and fight then? The procedural generation would work a lot like Borderlands’ weapons. You’ll come across a LOT of junk that you just sell, but every so often you get a really cool one with great stats.

Not only that, but the procedural system would open up the option to try and breed your monsters, to create crossbreeds, or through a number of generations, really build up couple of desireable stats. How fucking amazing would the trading aspect of that game be?

Ultimately, I don’t think Pokemon Black was a bad game, but it certainly seems like there are a lot of cool options that aren’t being taken advantage of. I’m probably not going to play it to the end. I didn’t hate my time with the game, but I do think there are more entertaining games out there, and I don’t have a lot of free time as it is. I hope that when they do another Pokemon for the 3DS, that they really try and bring it to the next level with something new.

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