Drowning in RPGs

I’ve been playing a good deal of Pokemon Black and White — partly because it’s my journalistic responsibility as a video game writer, and partly because I am a 12-year-old with a beard.

It’s not bad. Bryan suggested that it’s the most refined Pokemon game to date, and he’s probably right. Still, for all the improvements, I can’t help but think it could use a few more tweaks. I’ve come up with a few ideas for how to improve the next incarnation:

  1. Get rid of the text box in battles. Seriously, it’s useless. When I select “Scratch” I don’t need to see a text box that says “Oshawatt used Scratch!” If you must maintain the attack names, have them pop up above the Pokemon during their actual attack phase, and have an option to turn those animations off if people just want to recognize the attacks themselves. The same goes for “Super Effective,” “Attack UP,” etc. All of this can be solved visually and make the battles faster.
  2. Get rid of HMs. If you really want to keep abilities like Cut and Surf around for legacy of the crazy people who actually use them in battle, go for it. Make them TMs. But for navigating the world, just give me an axe and a surfboard. It’s ridiculous that we still have to basically circumvent the game flow and keep five-man teams with a sixth HM slave just to move around.
  3. Fix the PC system. There’s game balance value in only letting you switch equipped Pokemon in towns, but having two separate menu items for withdrawing and depositing is ridiculous. Seriously, guys, UI has had this idea solved for decades. While we’re at it, make the online connectivity menus less of a mess too.
  4. Give shared experience, without the use of special items. This is a game with literally hundreds of different characters. It wouldn’t kill you to let us upgrade six at a time by sharing their experience. This is another spot that it feels like I’m fighting the system to achieve a result rather than it simply being the fun, common sense option.
  5. In fact, just have group battles be the norm. I’ve played a couple in Black and White, and they’re just more fun.
  6. More abilities per Pokemon. I suggest letting each one equip six at a time, just to shake up the formula and make people rethink their strategies.

Obviously, these glaring flaws are the reason Pokemon is a horrible failure at retail.

  • Oh wait, no, it’s setting sales records. This is nice, but it also assures that Nintendo will continue to make the same Pokemon game for the 3DS, and onward into the future. Sigh.
  • I really liked Shadow Complex. So Fallen Frontier, by some ex-Bungie vets and with a similar look to Shadow Complex, has me pretty interested.

I got Dragon Age 2 in the mail today. I was already planning to play it, but now I’ll be reviewing it for Shacknews as well. Don’t expect me to talk about it much here, since I’ll be saving my thoughts for that. For now, suffice it to say it’s a little intimidating that I’m an hour into a 40 hour game with 10 days to play it. It’s like I got a part-time job and it is to play an RPG.

I can live with that.


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