This E3 was a decent hit for Nintendo. Some of us thought that Nintendo would have the worst E3 ever, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild managed to pull lots of viewers. The new Zelda was the most talked about game at E3. What we have been shown so far is completely different from recent Zelda games. It is an open world game that roots back to the original Zelda for the NES, allowing full freedom and having a multitude of ways of beating the game.
I believe that change in the Zelda formula is the reason why Breath of the Wild has gotten so much attention. After Nintendo showed the first Zelda Wii U/NX trailer, they transitioned to talk about the new Pokémon games, Sun and Moon. What they shown in the demonstration is not much. It is mostly just visual changes and a few new Pokémon, nothing of interest to me.
And I talked to myself, this feels mostly the same. Why am I thinking that? Why have I not been invested in Pokémon in a while, despite Pokémon having its 20th anniversary? Then it hit me. The reason it has gotten stale for me is because there has not been a big change to the formula with the main Pokémon games in a long time.
While the newest Zelda dramatically changed its formula, the goal for the Pokémon has always been the same. Players travel across a region to collect 8 badges and become the champion, very straight forward. But that is what Pokémon has always been for 6 generations, and it has never deviated from the formula since then. Why not change into something more interesting like collecting Shadow Pokémon in the Gamecube games? That would be a refreshingly new goal.
I notice the same patterns for the Pokémon themselves too, each one designed to fill in a niche. I see Pokémon designed to be first ones players meet in the first route, the trio legendaries, the powerful dragon type Pokémon, two main Legendaries, two fossil Pokémon that players can resurrect, a starting bird Pokémon used to help a player use the HM Fly to get other areas, etc. I can go on about it. That was only the start of my observation.
I used to be a huge Pokémon fan when I was young, do not get me wrong. I played all the main games from Ruby/Sapphire to X/Y. I collected many Pokémon toys in my youth and memorized every move, ability, and type Pokémon have. But there was something about Pokémon that was missing that made me question whether or not memorizing all of this stuff was worth it in the long run.
As I gradually got older, I began to play more games and finally pinpointed the reason I do not play Pokémon as much, particularly with games like Undertale and Yo-kai Watch. In Undertale, every monster a player encounter has an interesting personality that makes them likeable and memorable. In Yo-kai Watch, Yo-kai have a voice and personality. Yo-kai have the ability to inspirit people with various relatable problems that happen to people everyday like memory loss, having a cold, etc. What do Undertale and Yo-kai Watch have in common? They CONNECT to players in interesting ways.
I believe that connecting is the missing thing that prevents Pokémon from realizing its great potential.
While the Pokémon creatures do look cool, cute, and extremely polished in design, there is not much personality players can get from these Pokémon that make them likeable outside of design. When Pokémon tries to have personality, all that the Pokémon can really do is be epic or cute to their trainers. I consider that, in my opinion, to be a waste of character design and potential. There are lots of creatures in media who do not talk much like Snoopy or Stitch, but even they convey a better personality and connect more than the Pokémon themselves that make those characters particularly memorable.
And sure, we have huge steps for Pokémon like Mega-Evolutions and new Pokémon types like Fairy, but their personality still does not change to make them anymore interesting. Those are particular problems for me, because the Pokémon themselves are the biggest hype factors for the franchise. If all my Pokémon can do is act cute and look cool, I would rather stop playing the game.
The same can be said for the Pokémon anime for recent seasons. Through observation, people can see the same things. Pokémon that act cute/cool, Ash’s goal is to become the master, the same theme of believing in his Pokémon, filler episodes that do not contribute much to the story and Ash’s character, and him losing the Pokémon league. That is not something I would watch over 100 episodes over just to see Ash progress. I have not seen anything new that makes the recent Pokémon anime worth watching. Not even Ash finally getting a romantic partner like Serena in the X/Y anime interests me, because his overall character is pretty stale.
And I get it, Pokémon are suppose to be like animals players see in the wild. They are not suppose to have these fleshed out personalities. But considering Pokémon are the creatures players catch and battle with, they are the creatures players are suppose to connect with. And I do not feel any connection with my Pokémon as I play through more of the main game compared to other media that handle creatures well.
Yes, one could argue the growing character connection is through its RPG levelling up system and through Pokémon Amie, but most people care more about the growing stats that make their Pokémon more powerful than the actual character/personality the Pokémon has. Thus, it results to not having the feeling of an actual bond between their Pokémon. Thus, making the Pokémon themselves not being very memorable. Without a real growing connection being made to the player and Pokémon, they feel like robots designed to obey a player’s every command, making the overall experience feel stale.
Sometimes, I feel like Game Freak has been trying to focus too much the younger audience for each new Pokémon generation. I feel they ignore suggestions from older fans on what can be done to appeal to older demographic. There is a reason some fans decide to stop playing Pokémon and move on to other things years later. There is a reason why X/Y was not as well-received by Pokémon fans because of it being too easy and being too helpful with level grinding. It is that lack of real connection between the player and his/her Pokémon.
That is just how I feel about main Pokémon games currently. I have not completely abandoned Pokémon though, I am still interested in the side stuff like playing Pokémon Go because it is a new way to play Pokémon. I appreciate what the main Pokémon games have done to my life, but I think it is time for me to let it go to explore something new that provides more substance. But what are your thoughts? Do you disagree? I am very interested in your opinion! I would love to hear it!