Full-scale Pokemania has gripped the Dealspwn office today,following the reveal of Pokemon X & Y. Since Black & White 2 rekindled our deep and dormant love for the franchise, we're having trouble concentrating on anything else.
However, we do feel that Pokemon X & Y needs to advance the series in several key areas - in terms of gameplay, presentation and storytelling - in order for Pokemon to evolve and fulfil its potential. If only there was a way of telling you about it in a convenient format that's easy to read and relatively quick to write.
Wait, what? It's a Tuesday? Well, seeing as we have ten major things on our Pokemon X & Y wishlist, there's only one thing for it... it's top ten time!
10: Character Customisation
The joy of Pokemon is that we're in the adventure. It's us; you, me, whoever's playing the game becomes the main character.
So... how hard would it be to give us a little say over how our character looks? Just a few hair styles and skin tones would be enough - and would make the game that much more immersive.
9: Integrated 3D Pokedex
Pokedex 3D Pro would be a useful tool for trainers if it was actually part of the game, rather than divorced from the proceedings as a pricey and weighty download. Give us this functionality as standard, please - though you can keep the quizzes for the iOS app.
8: Hardcore Mode
With games like Dark Souls proving immensely popular, not to mention the resurgence of Roguelikes, it's tempting to suggest that Nintendo should try to capitalise on our gluttony for punishment. And what better way to do so than to officially recognise the Nuzlocke Challenge?
Though many variants exist, this voluntary metagame completely changes the way you play Pokemon. Once a party Pokemon faints, for whatever reason, you have to treat it as permanently dead and release it at the next Pokemon Centre. The emotional bond you form with your party becomes that much tighter as the stakes rise higher, testing your nerves and willpower to the limit.
Go on. Put it in as an optional mode that doesn't allow trading but yields greater XP rewards. What's the worst that could happen?
7: Less HMs, More Awesome Abilities
Hidden Machines are one of the laziest obstacles to progression I've ever seen, not to mention that we've often had to ruin some of our favourite Pokemon by turning them into 'HM Slaves.'
Instead, why not let Pokemon use the abilities they already have to interact with the world? Perhaps water Pokemon could put out fires, while fire Pokemon could start them to light the way? Electric Pokemon could power up generators. Ghosts could pass through walls. The anime continually shows how Pokemon can use their abilities to help out in the world at large, so why not give us a taste in-game? Even if it's only optional.
Of course, I'm not saying that we should get rid of HMs altogether. Losing the ability to fly or surf would be ridiculous.
6: More Roleplaying
We're not asking for Mass Effect here. We don't want Skyrim. But giving our character just a little more stake in affairs beyond randomly getting sucked into some ridiculous scheme from time to time might be nice.
Hugh, the rival from Black & White 2, shows us that a trainer can have believable motivations beyond simply wanting to 'catch them all' - though that still needs to be the focus of course.
5: Bigger, Better, Beyond 3D
The jump from DS to 3DS should herald more than just 3D graphics and gimmicks. Significantly more powerful hardware could allow Game Freak to create truly bustling cities to enjoy, dynamic environments, a thriving population of trainers and greater scope for real exploration alongside the classic Gym battles and catching. Factor in day/night cycles, seasons and weather, and we'll have ourselves a thriving world to live in.
To be honest, we'd like to see 3D handled subtly, such as the large circular rooms and towns in Black & White 2 that scroll around the player's position. That'd look fantastic once you ramp up the slider.
4: Easy Transfers
One of the biggest hurdles with any new Pokemon generation - especially when it's on new hardware - is transferring Pokemon. Many of us have taken our favourite Pokemon through successive games, and the procedure can sometimes be more than a little time consuming.
We reckon that a 3DS eShop app could be the answer: a small downloadable program that acts as a 'middle man' between DS Pokemon editions and X & Y. Dream Radar already does something similar, though it's only one-way. Nintendo would have to find a way to stop players copying the app from the SD Card (and hence cloning Pokemon), but it's clear that the 3DS provides plenty of opportunities beyond graphical grunt.
Oh, and if you're wondering about that mecha Pikachu banner, the fantastic concept art from Alexey "Karanak" Pyatov was just too awesome to waste.
3: Moar Snorlax!
Snorlax is the best Pokemon ever.
2: AR Battles, Super Streetpassing
The 3DS' twin cameras could allow Game Freak to achieve the Holy Grail of Pokemon battles: fighting in real life. In the playground. The office. The street. All you'd have to is find an opponent, throw down an AR card and get ready to rumble.
We'd also like to see plenty of Streetpass functionality incorporated into X & Y. Perhaps trainers you cross paths with could randomly appear in the game with their chosen team, getting more powerful every time you encounter them.
1: Context & Perspective, I Choose You!
Pokemon Red & Blue were great games primarily because they were excellent RPGs. Even though the classic Pokemon formula was set in stone, they hid linear progression behind something that felt like a believable world (by series standards). Sadly, every successive title became less and less willing to disguise the conveyor belt of gyms and HMs behind meaningful context.
Consider this: in Pokemon Red & Blue, we had to battle our way into a corrupt company to lay hands on a Ghost-finding scope, which we then had to use to storm a undead-infested tower, battle the shade of a murdered Marowak mother and obtain a flute... to wake up Snorlax who'd fallen asleep in a critical location. We had to obtain Surf by exploring the Safari Zone. A grateful captain gave us Cut because we helped him out (or rubbed his back, at least). It was a perfect fusion of player progression and genuine storytelling. The result was that Kanto felt like a real world, and we felt great because we'd earned every upgrade.
But in Pokemon Black 2 and White 2, NPCs just conveniently showed up gave us everything. HMs. A bike. A film career. A shopping mall. Not because we deserved them or earned them, but because we just need them to progress and Game Freak couldn't be bothered to find a more immersive way to handle it. The fact that we were going through the motions has never been more obvious.
We'd love to see Pokemon X & Y trying to make its game world feel like a real world, a place that we can dive into for hours at a time and feel part of. We'd love a little context to put the linear progression into perspective.
Either way, October can't come soon enough.