Ash’s abandoned Pidgeot asks:

I was reading old reviews and chuckled at your disgust for Ash and Pikachu’s magical friendship bull$h!t but it made me curious as to your feelings on Let’s Go incorporating aspects of it into gameplay (Pokemon curing themselves if status conditions, enduring one shots, i.e.)

I haven’t played Let’s Go (maybe it does something new I’m not aware of), but those things have been in the games since X and Y, haven’t they?  Pokémon with high affection stats from Pokémon Amie (in generation VI) or Pokémon Refresh (in generation VII) can cure themselves during battle, endure attacks, dodge attacks, score extra critical hits, maybe a couple of other things I’m forgetting.  I actually kind of like it, since it gives us a reason to care about our relationships with our Pokémon – something that, up until generation VI, didn’t really have much gameplay effect outside of some fairly niche things like Return/Frustration and a handful of evolutions (of course now we have to figure out what the hell the difference between “friendship” and “affection” is supposed to be, since they sound like pretty much the same thing and are broadly characterised the same way, but are apparently totally independent).  I think one of the big challenges for Pokémon’s game design is the disconnect between the fantasy of partnership, spiritual bonding and, frankly, magical friendship bull$#!t that’s always been core to the series’ ethos, and the… well… somewhat interchangeable, even disposable nature of individual Pokémon as gameplay elements (how many baby Pokémon have you hatched and then immediately released into the wild while IV-breeding?  I have no idea – which in a way is kinda the point – but I’m pretty sure I’m in quadruple-digit territory).  I’m glad that the last few sets of games have seen efforts to try and resolve that tension.

jeffthelinguist asks:

I am the true Jeff, not that impostah. By the way, you can’t prove I am him also indeed….you could ask him and he’d say no, but how do you know he’s not messing with you and he and I aren’t one and the same.

But for reals though, here’s a legit question:. Do you think Ultra sun/moon was a proper goodbye to all the handheld games? (If we don’t count the switch as a handheld game)

Listen, I’m not here to adjudicate who gets to be Jeff.  If there are multiple Jeffs-claimant, you should settle it like adults: in a secret death battle in a remote swamp, fought while under the influence of potent psychedelics, with no witnesses, no safeguards and no remorse.  To be clear, I have no interest whatsoever in knowing the course or outcome of this challenge.

Anyway.

Don’t we count the Switch as a handheld?  I mean… I know it’s not just a handheld, but it is designed to be usable as one.  I’m not sure what would constitute a proper goodbye, or really even what there is to say goodbye to.  I didn’t expect anything in particular from Emerald as a farewell to the Gameboy Advance.  Conversely, expecting something special from the last game on a particular console kinda seems like it’s letting all the other games off the hook.

jeffthelinguist asks:

So… armored evolution. I think it’s not gonna be a thing and I think it’s stupid but… what do you think about the rumor? How would you feel if that was implemented?

I wouldn’t rule it out, honestly.  For those not following, the place this rumour comes from is a 4chan post from a few days before the announcement of Sword and Shield, which correctly predicted the names of the new games, and that they would be set in a region based on Great Britain, so it’s not wildly improbable that this person had some actual insider information (of course, even if they did, they might have had real information on the names and region, but then just made up other stuff to troll everyone, because… like… it’s 4chan, guys, come on).  One of the other predictions made therein is that Sword and Shield will introduce “armoured” evolutions, of Pokémon including Zeraora, Charizard, Flygon and Mewtwo.  And, I mean, you know you’ve wanted armoured Mewtwo since 1999, and Nintendo has just filed for the Japanese trademark on “Armoured Mewtwo,” and oh hey, they’re remaking that movie in 3D this year for some goddamn reason, and my respect for the Pokémon Company is just tenuous enough to believe that they would do that solely to plug an “armoured evolution” of Mewtwo.  A further prediction from the 4chan post is that Meltan will somehow be involved with all this, which… I mean, honestly, yeah; Meltan should start pulling its fµ¢£ing weight already.

Continue reading “jeffthelinguist asks:”

Mega Bidoof asks:

Do you think Game Freak will continue to add new evolutions to existing Pokemon now that mega evolutions exist?

I think the two are largely unconnected.  Think about it: generation V had no new evolutions of existing Pokémon, before Mega Evolution was introduced, and generation VII featured neither.  In fact, the only new evolution of the past three generations – Sylveon – actually coincided with the introduction of Mega Evolution.  It’s true that both serve a similar thematic purpose; they both give a new generation of games a more concrete link to Pokémon’s past.  I agree that new evolutions seem to be on the way out, but I think the “replacement” concept to fill that role, if any, is much more likely to be the continuation of regional variant Pokémon.  Mega Evolution is generation VI’s mechanic and tied to the history of Kalos and Hoenn, just as Z-moves are generation VII’s mechanic and tied to the history of Alola, just as the Dream World was generation V’s and has not returned (though the hidden abilities it unlocked remain).  The concept of regional variation, by contrast, doesn’t carry mechanical or worldbuilding baggage, and innately lends itself to being reused again and again through new forms that express the personality of each new region.  Even that, though, is not certain; the designers may have liked regional variation as a feature of Alola specifically, expressing the unusual paths that evolution can take on archipelagos in the real world.  To me it’s most plausible that generation VIII will feature no new evolutions of existing Pokémon, no new Mega Evolutions, and no new species-specific Z-moves (I’m 50/50 on new regional variations), instead spotlighting some other entirely new mechanic that will be tied to the history of the new region and the plot of the new games.

All of this is, of course, as likely as not to be proven completely wrong within the next couple of weeks (heck, maybe even days).  I don’t do predictions; it makes me ill-tempered.

Dosidicus Giygas asks:

There’s an interesting parallel in Gen I between Eevee’s three original evolutions and the three Legendary Birds in terms of typing. Fire, ice, and lightning are common elemental distinctions in RPGs with magic/energy/psionics/whathaveyou, so it makes sense that Pokemon would draw from this tradition for inspiration, though it’s a little odd that there is a discrepancy between Vaporeon (Water Type) and Articuno (Ice Type). Any thoughts on why that is? Furthermore, why didn’t Game Freak apply this logic to the starters, who are halfway there anyway? For something more varied/interesting? For a better justification of type balance?

Type balance isn’t exactly right, because I don’t think it’s about fairness, or at least not entirely, but it’s something like that.  Grass/Fire/Water has this nice rock/paper/scissors relationship that serves as an easy and intuitive introduction to one of Pokémon’s core mechanics, which is a pretty valuable thing for new players.  It doesn’t really work if you try to shoehorn Electric in there, because thematically there just isn’t an obvious relationship between Electric and Fire.  Other games that use Fire/Ice/Lightning don’t usually have “type advantages” in the same way as Pokémon does; several iterations of Final Fantasy, for example, have Fire and Ice being strong against each other, with Lightning doing its own thing (often being strong against mechanical enemies); Final Fantasy X adds Water as a fourth element to form another opposed pair with Lightning.  Pokémon just has different needs to those games.

Continue reading “Dosidicus Giygas asks:”

Sid-cada asks:

Occasionally, once in a few generations, Game Freak will take the time to go back to the older Pokémon’s Pokédex entries and take the time to update and add new information to them, rather than recycle the same facts. My question is, do you think that it is worthwhile? How much effort do you think it takes to add new facts to an older Pokémon? Would that time have been better spent on refining the newer things? Or are the new Pokédex entries really not that important and noticeable?

I like it a lot, mostly because one or two Pokédex entries aren’t really enough to cover all the angles on what might make a Pokémon interesting or fully develop the concept.  The fact that Pokédex completion, as of generation VII, is now decoupled from any one save file (Pokébank can now display all possible Pokédex information of all the Pokémon you’ve captured on any of the games you own) I think helps to put all of this stuff front-and-centre a bit more, and emphasise the accumulation of information across multiple generations.  A lot of this stuff really helps to fill out the world and give us a sense of its ecology and culture – especially in Sun and Moon, where many old Pokémon (even those without Alolan forms) have Pokédex entries that describe how they live in Alola or relate to Alolan Pokémon, in keeping with generation VII’s greater focus on world-building and developing the character of the region itself.  I’ve been thinking about doing a sort of “Pokédex appreciation” series – trawling the Pokédex for interesting bits of trivia we’ve learned about Pokémon over the years, because frankly I do regularly learn new things about old Pokémon that surprise and delight me.  Would that appeal to anyone?

[A Foursome with Chris Pratt, Grant Gustin and That Garbodor Evolution] asks:

I know this is pretty broad and vague, so no pressure to answer it super deeply and completely, but I’ve found it to be a pretty fun thing to think about and I’m curious to know what you would say to it.
Which specific set of Pokémon games do you think had the most missed opportunities, or could be some of the best games in the series but fell short? (That can be in terms of the story, the gameplay or anything else you think you’d want to be changed about them.)
And if you were put in charge, not of making a NEW set of games or changing the series as a whole but just of fixing up that one set of games, what would you want to do to it to take advantage of that potential?
(By “set,” I just mean a pair like Black 2/White 2 or a single game like Platinum, not a whole Generation or every game taking place in one region, haha.)

That is one confusingly recursive name you’ve given yourself there.

So… I feel like in almost all of them there’s something I would change.  Heck, in almost all of them there’s probably something the designers would change if they could; no one ever gets to put everything they want into their game because time and budget constraints exist, even for a franchise as successful as Pokémon.  And I have a really peculiar love/hate relationship with Black and White specifically, because those are the games that started me writing this blog, and I think they are in some ways the best games in the series but in other ways deeply “meh.”  I guess a lot of my old “If I Were In Charge” article series is kiiiiiind of a response to this question with reference to Black and White, but also not at all.  Assorted thoughts on why Black and White are interesting here, here, here, here, here and here, and although I don’t 100% stand by a lot of it anymore you can also pick up something of what annoyed me about Black and White from my assorted reviews of 5th generation Pokémon from 2011.

All that being the case, let’s talk a bit about a completely different set of games instead. Continue reading “[A Foursome with Chris Pratt, Grant Gustin and That Garbodor Evolution] asks:”