Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Towards a more balanced pokemon paradigm

I have decided that Pokemon has a terrible strength/weakness system (for reference, see this chart of Pokemon type effectiveness). You can start with a fire, water, or grass pokemon, but grass pokemon (pokemen?) seem to be at a big disadvantage. Five types of pokemon are x2 damage against grass, and grass types also deal less damage to 7 types (compared to 3 and 4 for fire and 2 and 3 for water). Additionally, this makes it so that one of the easiest strategies against a single-type pokemon gym-trainer is to simply train pokemon they're weak against. I was trying to think of ways to make the game better, strategy-wise. Here are some ideas:

-Instead of type weaknesses, make the weaknesses be associated with the pokemon's battle position. For instance, if a Squirtle is sitting there glaring at its opponent, it should be better able to dodge. Likewise, if they're in the middle of fury swipes, they could be taken off guard by a sleeping spell. Maybe the pokemon could have varying in-battle stats reflecting their psychological state (frustration, overall happiness, "calmness," something like that). That way you could adjust the traits for their status changes and not have strange things happen like a sleeping pokemon who suddenly wakes up and does a takedown.

-Starcraft: Pokemon. You choose what kind of trainer you are going to be at the beginning of the game. Zerg trainers get to keep up to like 20 pokemon at once, but their collective levels can't exceed [some number that changes gradually over time] and work better in packs. Okay, sorry, it's a terrible idea.

-Get rid of the hundreds of pokemon and just have like 25, with 5 types instead of 17. This way even casual gamers can actually strategize on what types of moves are better??

-Zelda: Pokemon. You have battling abilities as a trainer and your pokemon just kind of help. Never mind, that's stupid.

-Post-apocalypse: Pokemon. Have everything be brutally realistic. To catch your first pokemon you have to throw rocks at it, then nurse it back to health. You can train your pokemon without having it battle other pokemon (by throwing rocks at it and making it do laps?). If it dies, that's it! You have to teach it the rules of combat, and wild pokemon don't know these rules (in fact, you have to hunt pokemon down with your sniper-sight). You can sneak up on pokemon, but stronger ones might sneak up on you. In fact let's not call this one pokemon but something like "pack dogs" because that is kind of what I'm going for.

Maybe it's just that the RPG mechanic is both soothing and too-easy-feeling... but I feel like pokemon could drastically change everything and still be a fun game (though with their funding, it would be surprising if they didn't make a good one). I'm playing Pokemon White right now and I like feeling like I'm 12 again, but I'm also reminded by the things that now seem stupid about the game. It's probably the best of the Pokemon genre, but seriously, they could change a few things to make it more balanced/fun.

1 comment:

Balgram said...

One of the biggest things I ever wanted from a PokeMon game was the ability to actually CONTROL the PokeMon in combat. Give me a field and an opponent and let me at it Zelda style. I swore to myself that when that game came out I would buy it.

Then it DID come out. There's a game for the Wii where you play as Pikachu (and possibly other PokeMon, too?). You run around the field and you can evade attacks and dash about and shoot shocks and such things. When I saw it in Japan I was so happy. Then I noticed that 9/10ths of the gameplay was dashing about and answering stupid trivia questions ("How many psychic Pokemon are there?") in an attempt to make friends, and combat was more mini-game than main game.

I will rent this game in order to see what it is.

Still, that is the main thing I seek from PokeMon. I wanna run around as a trainer, actually SPOT PokeMon in the field and try to catch them, and when combat starts I wanna control that beast myself.