Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

Imagine Game Freak gave us a new set of starters in a future generation, but instead of the traditional Grass-Fire-Water scheme, it’s a trio of types that have zero interaction with one another; say, Dark, Poison, and Flying. I can only imagine how the fanbase would react upon the initial announcement…

…BUT, upon reaching their fully-evolved forms, they adopt secondary types that are – you guessed it – Grass, Fire, and Water to become Dark/Grass, Poison/Fire, and Flying/Water, thereby simultaneously doing something new with the starters while still adhering to the tried-and-tested formula (and yes, I did choose those three types specifically so that each starter would have a double weakness, and not to each other). Obviously Game Freak shouldn’t announce the final forms prior to the games’ release to maximize that surprise factor. What do you think? Sound like a fun idea?

Honestly I think the initial fanbase reaction would be positive, because “a new starter type trio, even if it makes no sense” tends to get brought up a lot as a fun way to shake up the formula (if anything I suspect some people would be disappointed by the eventual return to Grass/Fire/Water, but whatever; you can’t please everyone).  I’m… sceptical; like, of all the things you could do to change Pokémon’s formula, “change the types of the starters” seems like maybe the tamest.

I think it’s weird to have a starter trio that adopts Grass/Fire/Water only at the final stage, because most of the benefit of having Grass/Fire/Water at all comes from how it functions in the early game; it introduces new players to the type system, it produces starters with distinct designs and powers that can each appeal to different people, it helps to set up the player/rival dynamic.  Like, if you’re not going to use Grass/Fire/Water at the point in the game where it makes sense and does useful things, why bring it back later?  Why not just throw it out altogether?  Does putting Grass/Fire/Water back into the final forms do anything beneficial, other than serving as a nod and a wink to people who’ve played a Pokémon game before?  And doesn’t starting from “these are the specific type combinations we want our starters’ final forms to have,” without already having designs in mind, create really severe constraints on what those designs can be?  To me, if you want to ditch Grass/Fire/Water but still have three starters of different types, it makes more sense to just pick three base types (using whatever rationale you like) and go from there.  More than that, though, I think if you’re going to create a new “pattern” for distributing starter Pokémon, there needs to be some rationale behind it that’s greater than just wanting a change – like, you’re going to use the starters to do something with the story, or introduce some new mechanic that the starters support. I don’t even know if it has to be a very good idea to win me over, but I need something.

(also, the Dark/Grass//Poison/Fire//Flying/Water trio ultimately results in the Grass-type losing to both the Water-type and the Fire-type, and I know this is just an example and a final version would have more thought put into it, but I can’t help but point it out when, even in our pie-in-the-sky thought experiments, Grass-Types Don’t Get Nice Things)

4 thoughts on “Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

  1. The FWG starting core always bugged me because before Gen V the games never actually *tried* to teach you the type dynamics. Starters being a standard Rock-Paper-Scissors and ballooning from there is a neat idea, but it only works if the game tells you that’s what they’re doing which they never did. Especially since one of the starters always gets magically wasped away.

    I had an idea way back when I thought I’d learn how to ROMhack (gave up when I shockingly learned that ROMhacking is hard). The idea was that you’d give the player all three of the GFW starters from the get-go to actually give you the chance to roll them, send them out again the first few types you come across in the first route or two and get a feel for them.

    Then after a handful of levels. Tell the player that they evolve using an item (call it Starter Stone). And that you only have *one* Starter Stone. So from there you gotta pick one to invest in (maybe give more Starter Stones post-game idk). That way you’ve had a chance to actually get a feel for what each of the starters plays like and they elemental flavor, *then* you pick your starter. Beyond the standard “yo, you a fan of monkeys, bunnys, or whatever Sobble is?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I really like this idea! I think it’d be cool to have the two other Starter Stones be available as rewards for doing optional things in-game.


  2. Well I was more thinking of switching things up just to make the games feel a bit more fresh to older players, without necessarily excluding some familiarity as well, though I do see what you mean. I suppose you could do a trio to represent some kind of trinity concept, like Ground, Water, and Flying to represent land, sea, and sky (would’ve been cool to have in Hoenn, huh?)


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