What do you think of the original game concept of having to eventually battle the opposing Pokemon yourself should all of yours be defeated?
I think it might be…
…okay, you have to let me have that one; you were asking for it.
So, I don’t think we actually know for sure that trainers were going to take part in combat. That’s one interpretation of some of the old concept art for Red and Green and all the trainers from Generation I who use whips, but as far as I know no-one from Game Freak or Nintendo has told us “yeah, we were thinking of letting you fight them yourself.” Regardless… I think if you include that, Pokémon has to be a fairly different game and world from what it ended up being. Mechanically, the trainer is going to end up acting like a seventh Pokémon, but it’s one that you can’t change or do anything interesting with, which is weird and jarring in a game that’s otherwise about building a team from hundreds of choices. So, in order for it to not be a drag, you have to build a whole bunch of new systems and options for trainer combat, or maybe systems where you can optimise your trainer for either direct combat or other things. That sounds interesting, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve even had a bunch of ideas for different abilities that trainers might have (haven’t we all?), but it sounds like it would be a nightmare to balance, especially if you want trainer combat to be a last resort, and you probably need to devise a whole separate experience system. And do you use any of this in battles against other trainers? If not, then it’s going to be a minor enough part of the game that you might as well not bother (because how often do you expect players to lose their entire teams to wild Pokémon?), but if you do, then what on earth does that do to the concept of what a Pokémon battle is? If you beat your opponent’s Pokémon after yours have already lost, do you fight your opponent hand-to-hand? Even if you aren’t fighting other trainers one-on-one, the world clearly feels a lot more dangerous this way; like, in the games we have, your Pokémon are knocked out and you run back to a Pokémon Centre with them, and wild Pokémon don’t pursue you at that point. If you’re fighting a vastly more powerful opponent by yourself as a last-ditch effort, what does that imply about the stakes? Like, I don’t know if the Pokédex quest was a thing at this point in development, but is Professor Oak sending you out into the wild to catch Pokémon, knowing full well that they will try to kill you? Clearly this isn’t something you can just plug into Pokémon as it exists; you have to start from the beginning and I think there’s potential for the end result to turn out either better or worse.