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.

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:”

[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:”

Anonymous asks:

Here’s quite a question, how do you think gamefreak decides to place pokemon where they are in the game. For example, some things make sense like placing a claydol in ancient ruins and such, but then somethings don’t make sense, such as placing smeargle among the ancient ruins of alph? Or

I think some more counterintuitive examples must have been cut off the end there.  This is a shame, because I actually do think that Smeargle living in the Ruins of Alph makes a kind of sense – Smeargle is (one of?) the only Pokémon who can do something like writing, which is what the whole area is themed around.  But in terms of the general process… Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

Cheshs asks:

You have no idea how excited I am for your opinions on S/M. The story was phenomenal, I loved the characters, all the new Pokemon, plot twists I didn’t expect … I genuinely and eagerly await your thoughts when you get the game! I just beat the main story with 58 hours clocked in.

An anonymous user also says, on a similar note:
“i’m genuinely excited for you to start gen VII because the new features remind me a ton of your “if I were in charge” series”

Well, colour me intrigued!  I thought generation VI was very well-done all around, and I approved heartily of a number of its new features, which addressed a number of the same things that “If I Were In Charge” was supposed to; I’m excited to see how VII might build on that design philosophy.  I’m scheduled to crawl out from under my spoiler-proof rock and begin my journey in Alola this Sunday (the 11th), so you can expect my initial ramblings either that day or the next.

Anonymous asks:

What are your thoughts on a potential Diamond and Pearl remake?

Eh.  On the one hand, I sort of think there are better things Game Freak’s designers could spend their time on – the original Diamond and Pearl are basically fine, I feel.  They hold up a lot better than the original Ruby and Sapphire did, anyway.  On the other, I suppose I wouldn’t exactly be averse to seeing the writers tackle the cosmic Pokémon of generation IV again, take a fresh look at them, maybe play around a bit more with their roles in the Pokémon universe, and try to do something interesting with the way myths and legends work in shaping our understanding of their world.  I guess that means I’m basically neutral on the idea.

brick3621 asks:

Are there any particular features from previous Pokémon games (like walking Pokémon or mid-battle dialogue) that aren’t in Gen VI that you miss?

Well, to be perfectly honest, I have trouble thinking of any features like that at all – which I suppose means that I don’t miss them, whatever they are.  It would be nice to bring back the walking Pokémon from Heart Gold and Soul Silver, now that you mention it; they were a nice touch.  I can imagine it being a bit of a drain on the graphic designers’ time and energy in the 3D world of generation VI, though.  The hilarious glitches from Red and Blue give the games a certain je ne sais quoi