The Pokemon Company and developer Game Freak have recently announced the upcoming Pokemon Black and White Version 2 games on Nintendo DS. They follow the very successful Pokemon Black and White titles, which are the 5th generation of the core Pokemon RPG series. As a dedicated fan of this series, I would surmise that these new titles are meant to satisfy our cravings while we wait patiently for the inevitable announcement of the next generation of the series on the Nintendo 3DS. It is strange that Nintendo didn’t force them to develop for the previously struggling 3DS with a pair of titles guaranteed to sell gazillions. Some people are rightfully disappointed that the next pair of core titles will be released on hardware less powerful than a modern graphing calculator, but as a fan I’ll play almost anything developed by Game Freak, as they consistently produce fun and addictive titles that always raise the bar in the series.
Like it or lump it, we’re going to have to wait a while longer for Pokemon Gen. 6 on 3DS. Pokemon Black/White was an admission by Game Freak that their fans have grown up, and while these games did so many things right they didn’t take them quite far enough. Now that the much more powerful 3DS is here, Game Freak has a huge opportunity to take Pokemon to the next level.
To get them started, I present here for the developers my top 10 suggestions of features and improvements that fans will expect to see in Pokemon Gen. 6:
#10 – Replace the Safari games with a Pokemon Snap clone
This is my most unlikely-to-happen suggestion, but when hoards of giddy gamers collectively shatter the heavens with squeals of ecstasy and throw massive bulging heaps of money at Nintendo, perhaps they’ll have the good sense to finally develop a full Pokemon Snap 2 title.
#9 – Update all of the Pokemon cries. Period.
The nails-on-a-chalkboard compressed shrieks sound no better today than they did in 1998 on the original Game Boy, only today there’s no excuse for the lack of better voices. Either make the cries less offensive to my ears, or make them largely say their names as was popularized by the Pokemon anime. If it’s good enough for Pikachu in Pokemon Yellow, it’s good enough for everyone.
#8 – Take full advantage of StreetPass and SpotPass
With the 3DS there are many opportunities for StreetPass/SpotPass Pokemon and item trading. Perhaps people you pass would show up as trainers on some route or battle center so you can battle them or you could put up items you don’t need for SpotPass trade with the chance of getting something better. There is a lot of new hardware functionality in the 3DS that deserves more than lip-service from the next generation Pokemon games.
#7 – Make the story epic
The storyline and characters in Black and White are an attempt to capture the more mature fans that have grown up catching-them-all. We expect Game Freak to keep raising the bar and present even more ambitious tales in the next series.
#6 – Have room for more than one save file!
Consider it a complement that I want to go back and replay the game all over again with a different strategy, but I don’t want to relinquish my epic team and all that experience. Multiple save files have been standard in RPGs for decades. If I want to replay the game I have to buy another one, but that’s the point isn’t it? Come on Nintendo, stop being so greedy! The core Pokemon series is already their best selling franchise (yes, even better than Mario), so letting players have 2+ save files isn’t going to hurt anyone, especially when they’re flocking to purchase the new Pokemon Snap we talked about.
#5 – Implement dynamic 3D battling, but keep the action fast-paced
Now that we’ve seen Pokedex 3D, there’s no going back. The battle style in Black and White was actually very good, now just do it in 3D. There is even an opportunity to introduce a more active battling system with dodge mechanics (like they do in the anime and other RPGs), which would satisfy old and new fans alike.
#4 – Embrace a fully immersive 3D world
Black and White made great strides, such as 3D Pokemon Centers and Gyms, but the 3DS is capable of so much more. I’m expecting a huge improvement in graphics for Pokemon Generation 6. Now that we have the circle pad on the 3DS, can we finally say “sayonara” to the archaic D-pad-bound directions of movement?
#3 – Have a better sense of scale
I never could figure out why towns and cities are larger than the spaces between them. Routes need to be longer with more varied terrain. I did notice in Black/White that most of the interesting places are off the main road, which is fine, but the distance between two bustling cities should at least be more than a few city blocks.
#2 – Give players more team-building choices early on
Give early routes a wider variety of encounters to give players more options to build their teams. Typically each route has had maybe 4 to 6 different Pokemon that you can randomly encounter in the grass. Why not set each route to have 10 to 12 unique Pokemon?
#1 – Do not invent another 150+ new Pokemon
We know you were scraping the bottom of your creative barrel with the last set in Black and White. With over 650 Pokemon to choose from in a dizzying variety of type combinations, there is more than enough to keep fans busy. Although, a new set of starters and perhaps two new “box-cover” legendaries would be a great way to keep things exciting.