This weekend saw the announcement of a new Pokemon game, or at least it seems new. Ish. Pokemon Black & White 2 is the first time they’ve made a numbered sequel in the main series. I have to assume this is because they’re running out of colors, Black & White was so radically popular that they wanted to bank on the name, or this won’t be a huge enough change to warrant a full “color-change” sequel even by Pokemon standards. And when you look at how little the franchise has changed, that’s saying something.
I enjoyed Pokemon White, but it felt like it was still too beholden to some of the classic Pokemon tropes. It was certainly the biggest leap the series had taken in years, but that leap felt too stunted. In the end, I grew bored and never finished it. So as a helpful reminder, here are a few things Nintendo should consider for B&W2. Some are holdovers from my prior observations.
- No seriously, drop the HMs. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. The HM system has long been the series’ way of roping off sections of the world until you earn new equipment. But RPGs have been doing that for years, more elegantly, with actual equipment. The abilities themselves are mostly useless in combat, so it just renders one of our party members a wasted slot. Imagine if Final Fantasy 6 kept you from sailing to another continent until you wasted a precious ability slot on “Boat.”
- Get rid of the text boxes. Everything, from the ability name to the “Super Effective” can be handled better visually with more flair and less boring.
- Make a story that’s worth a damn. I know it’s Pokemon, and it’s not exactly meant to be Shakespeare. But it’d be nice to care about what’s going on for once. Maybe that means giving the main character an actual personality. If that’s what it takes, go for it. And speaking of which…
- Mix up the formula. Travel from Town A to Town B. Story event. Fight gym leader. Travel from Town B to Town C. Story event. Fight gym leader. Travel from… you get the point. Give us some other things to do. The game just can’t sustain itself when the entire process involves doing the exact same thing eight times. This goes hand in hand with the next point.
- Streamline. There is no reason the main path needs to be 40 hours. Make the game super-long with lots of sidequests for those who want them, but if you’re going to insist on making the quest repetitive and lack character, you can’t expect our attention spans to hold out that long.
- Give shared experience. With a roster of 400 creatures, it is absolutely ludicrous to level them up one at a time.
Yeah. I know none of that is going to happen.
- I’ve never seen The Boondock Saints, but I’m pretty sure the comments section of stories on the video game have told me everything I need to know.
- The PSN Gamers’ Choice awards always seemed a little backwards. You’re having people vote and offering discounts as a prize, but that means people will vote for the thing they want discounts on. Which means they’ll vote for the ones they don’t own, and have no ability to measure quality for. It’s a nice promotion, and I enjoy the discounts, but the process itself is bizarre.
- I cut a joke about how the new title for Project Draco sounds like a Dungeons & Dragons tribute band. Because it does.