Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Wii U Pokémon Game We Deserve

As of late, the validity of the Wii U has been called into question. I say as of late, but really, since it was introduced it had been seen as "less than next gen". In many ways, many many ways, it is. If the Wii U had come out alongside the Xbox 360 and PS3, I don't think that would have been the case. However, it didn't. Nintendo tried to preempt Microsoft and Sony by releasing this "Wii 1.5" and hoping that being out earlier would help it sell. The thing is, I don't feel the Wii U's technical capabilities are holding it back. In fact, when I do play my Wii U, I'm pretty happy with the experience. The problem at launch, and even still now, is games. There was an up turn when Mario Kart 8 came out. As someone who bought the game, I can tell you it was money well spent. In my opinion, if Nintendo wants the Wii U to try to recoup some losses, they are going to need more than just Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros (which is coming out this winter). Since Pokémon X and Y are probably the best selling 3DS games by a wide margin, it's odd that Nintendo hasn't capitalized on this. They would make money, and the fans could get something they have wanted for a while: a viable console pokémon MMORPG.

The idea of a pokémon MMORPG isn't new. Fans have been whining about it, and some even making their own, for years now. The most common request is for a game that contains all of the regions. As many of you know, I have always been fervently against an "all region pokémon MMORPG". Having a game where all of the pokémon, regions, and items are available kind of defeats the point of versions. I really doubt Nintendo and Game Freak would abandon this for one game. If they ever do, that will likely be the last pokémon game for quite some time, like a grand finale. I don't want to see that happen. I do think a pokémon MMORPG should happen, but I have some ideas on what else this game should entail to make it successful (although admittedly the chances of it ever happening and containing all I suggest are about as good as winning the lottery). First off, I'll describe the aspects which should be pulled from the old games.
  1. Many older fans remember how good Pokémon Stadium 1 and 2 were, and long for their return. Some have even suggested the games should be released for download for the Wii U eShop.
    The main thing commonly cited are the mini-games. I think Nintendo should bring back the original mini-games in HD format, with a few more added in that take advantage of the Wii U controller's touch screen similar to NintendoLand. These should have friend leader boards where you can compare best scores, times, etc with friends. Although Stadium 1 and 2 also had a battling component, I'll discuss that later. They also had storage, but I really don't see the point of storing too many pokémon on this game when Pokémon Bank exists. Instead, the game should allow you to have enough storage space to store maybe 100 pokémon at best. In this case, the idea wouldn't necessarily be to store a ton of pokémon you just randomly caught, but rather pokémon you are proud of or battle with. Also, if you happened to store a pokémon that is a playable character in a mini-game, then you could play as that pokémon similar to how you could play as your own pokémon in the original Stadium minigames.
  2. Fans of the 3rd Generation would remember the console games that came out after Ruby and Sapphire: Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. These games scrapped many of the features of the Stadium games, namely large amounts of storage and mini-games.
    Instead these games introduced a console exclusive region, new storyline, and new battle mechanics in the form of "snagging" and "shadow pokémon". In many ways, Colosseum was just a way to get pokémon that were unavailable at the time (2nd Generation pokémon). XD, on the other hand, gave us pokémon that were essentially "micro-events". Each shadow pokémon could be purified, and when purified would know a move not normally learned any other way. For example, Shadow Lugia, once purified, would know Deoxys' signature move Psycho Boost. I think this is where the story mode of a Wii U game should go. It should return to Orre (the Colosseum/XD region), however a more northern area of it where wild pokémon are also present. In Colosseum, there were no wild pokémon at all. In XD, there were certain areas where you could find them. In this game, the tall grass would contain wild pokémon as normal. However, in addition to catching pokémon like normal, you would also have the opportunity to "snag" pokémon from the evil team's rosters and purify them, like in XD, to get rare moves and potentially Hidden Abilities. This would be a good way to give us some of the unreleased Hidden Ability pokémon (looking at you Contrary Snivy).
  3. For the Wii, we go the most watered down version of a console game yet, Pokémon Battle Revolution. There were a lot of things cool about PBR, but there was a ton missing. There were no mini-games, no story, and no new region. However, PBR did give us online battles and trainer customization which we really appreciate in X and Y. It also gave use the ability to create "trainer cards" with a registered team of 6 pokémon that could be used, even if our handheld versions weren't currently connected.
    I think this is what the Wii U version should do as well. It should be able to "copy" the pokémon currently in our Battle Box for use online, and perhaps allow for use to store 5 or 6 Battle Box teams that we can switch between. Then, if you want to change a team, you won't necessarily always have to connect your 3DS. Instead, you would only have to connect the 3DS when you make new teams or make changes to moves or items. PBR also gave us "events" based on progress in the game. The Stadiums did this too (ex. Surfing Pikachu), but PBR did it more effectively.
Ok, so we've got a game concept that contains 1) mini-games, 2) a story and rare pokémon, and 3) a good online battle engine. What we don't have yet, is anything new. Well, here are my suggestions.
  1. If we are returning to the Orre region, it should be possible to play co-op with a friend. All of the battles in Orre are double battles, so playing with a friend makes perfect sense. When battling an NPC, you and your friend are only able to use the first three pokémon in your party, which together gives you a team of six pokémon. If you are playing alone, then you could all six of your pokémon like normal. All pokémon caught go to Player 1, as you would likely be playing their file. Player 2 would be primarily there to help acquire items, help in NPC battles, etc similar to the support characters in previous Pokémon games. While playing, it would also be possible to interact with other people playing the game as well. However, they wouldn't just be running around and getting in your way. Instead, they would be standing around similar to what the NPCs do even though they are actually doing something in their own game. To challenge or trade with them, you would walk up to them and send a request, similar to how the PSS works on X and Y. In which case, they would get a notice on their screen and they could either accept or deny. Also, just like the PSS, this could be turned off if you just wanted to play the story without interruptions.
    Occasionally, Nintendo could release a rare pokémon into the game for people to catch rather than just having it as a download. They could still do downloads, but adding these "missions" from time to time would keep the game fresh. You never know when an "unnerving" Mewtwo might attack the Orre Colosseum or when Miror B. may show up in Agate Town with a strange new shadow pokémon.
  2. There should also be an area that focuses just on battles. I know I mentioned the battle engine from PBR earlier, but I think it needs a revamp. It's cool that we can battle our friends and random strangers, but the battles usually end up being the same thing over and over again. X and Y have done a good job with the "Special" rules in Battle Spot, but I think we can expand on it. Where that expansion needs to happen is the Battle Frontier. This game would need to have a Battle Frontier equivalent, but rather than battle NPCs under different rules, why not battle other people? Maybe after beating so many people, you would fight an NPC boss. You could even make the game have an "offline" mode if someone wanted to just fight NPCs. I would suggest doing it similar to the normal and super modes seen in the Battle Maison. Normal is NPCs, Super is real people.
  3. Stadium 1 and 2 had the option to battle the Gym Leaders and Elite Four from their respective generations. I don't think that should come back. Instead, we should get the return of the World Tournament from Black 2 and White 2. While not technically a new idea since it was in a handheld game, I think this would be a fun feature. You could even add the badges of respective leaders to your profile or trainer card in the game once you beat them in the World Tournament. 
Anyway, that is some of my insight. Feel free to complain about how that I think an all region game is a terrible idea. I will continue to think so.