Pokemon Spin-Offs We Want (But We Won’t Get)
Last week, Pokemon Rumble Blast came out on 3DS, and a lot of people are going to buy it because the word "Pokemon" is on the box, but the game is not very good on its own. Here’s why: it’s a ridiculous use of an incredible franchise. The premise of wind-up Pokemon figurines fighting each other in some kind of Twilight Zone gum ball machine toy world is bizarre, and beyond that, the game is repetitive and way too easy.
Nintendo is notorious for this type of thing, especially when spinning games off of popular franchises--ESPECIALLY POKEMON. They never want to take a chance and spend any significant amount of money on developing these “extra” games, and so they’re marketed in order to get a little extra money out existing fans instead of bringing in new ones. So we end up with weird stuff like Pokemon Dash and Hey You, Pikachu!.
What a riveting gameplay experience!
I mean sure, sometimes there’s a random good-ass game that might come out of this. Throw enough shit against a wall and some of it will eventually become Pokemon Snap. Still, literally anyone could come up with cooler ideas than that for a Pokemon game. It’s not really a tough task. I feel like we might all have that same basic fantasy ideas for them. I mean, we’ve all sat around and drunkenly yelled about how dope these ideas would be, right? I’ve merely written them down, in all their glory. Check these out Nintendo. They’re here for you. To make. For us. To buy. Because we would. Okay, here we go:
Pokemon: The Fighting Game
Likelihood of this game actually existing at some point: 20%
The most central idea in the entire world of Pokemon is that they battle each other. All of society revolves around only this. Children are allowed to freely roam the land, away from their legal guardians, in hopes that eventually, they’ll be the best at it. It’s a serious and passionate part of life for these people, and sometimes these creatures are so badly beaten that they need to be rushed to a nearby hospital and revived. So why is the video game representation of this combat so polite?
Taking turns attacking is a perfectly acceptable way to battle in the main games. It’s a handheld RPG that’s all about strategy and planning. But why when they decided to strip the story away and bring battles to home consoles did they decide to do exactly the same thing, only now in 3D? Unless you live in an apartment with Brainiac, Sherlock Holmes, and Genghis Khan, glorified rock-paper-scissoring is not the most exciting way to unwind with your friends. In the Pokemon Stadium games, they literally had to add addictive little mini-games, just so that you wouldn’t be as bored when you played it.
Battles didn’t happen like that in the cartoon! The Pokemon should be proactive! If Pikachu’s gonna get slammed by Onix’s Earthquake, he should be able to dodge that shit. Make it a fighting game like Street Fighter, and we keep the chess-like strategy ballet of the main series, but add the frantic action and pace of a real fight. Plus, it would just look really cool.
Caption: Holy crap! Just look at this and try not to weep!
This is a video of a fan-made game that took a page out of this book, and it looks amazing. Think of all the possibilities! Right away, I’m seeing six character tag-team matches, a support move-type thing where the trainer can come in and use an item, alternate shiny costumes, a single-player campaign where you unlock badges, and an online Pokemon League Championship powered by leaderboards and monthly internet tournaments. Getting Capcom involved isn’t even out of the question. In the past, they’ve trusted them with Zelda, another huge franchise of theirs, and look at how successful the Oracle, Four Swords, and Minish Cap games were! And then, imagine all the crossovers! POKEMON VS CAPCOM IN 2016. LET’S DO THIS.
Pokemon: The Elder Scrolls Game
Likelihood of this game actually existing at some point: 5%
The story of a Pokemon game revolves around a kid on a journey. Between towns, he travels through expansive wilderness areas and caves, fighting monsters, leveling up, and collecting items. Aside from the main quest to become a Pokemon master, he sometimes encounters NPC’s with smaller side quests for him to do, and there’s plenty of places to go and things to see that have nothing to do with the story. Sometimes you’re joined by a companion for a short while, but you never really form a deep relationship with anyone, and most of the time it’s just you, alone with your Pokemon, and a little list of chores you need to get done.
If I took the word Pokemon out of the game description above, I bet you wouldn’t even be able to guess what game I was talking about, and if you tried, I bet you’d guess either Elder Scrolls or Fallout. If only there was some way to combine the two and-OHGEEWHATAGREATIDEA.
A wild Poochyena appeared...and is now floating above a rock...Fallout has a lot of bugs, okay?
Imagine if there was just a game called Pokemon, and the wilderness was huge, like Oblivion, and you could just see all the Pokemon running around in it. It’d be fantastic. The plot would go so far beyond the weird ones we get in the main series, the world would just feel so much more real. Exploring caves would be fun, and leveling up your Pokemon via a complicated skill tree could really be rewarding. Flying around on the back of a Charizard above the world in real time is also an incredibly attractive prospect.
The plot wouldn’t even have to be that far off from that of the main series. Of course, this would have to be a console game, so there might need to be more than one region in the game, which would be nuts, but the franchise really does lend itself well to being adapted into a game like this. Some stuff could even be better, like finding TM’s in the wild, or searching for shiny Pokemon. I’m like, sitting here and literally getting giddy about the idea of catching a glimpse of a Shiny Bulbasaur through the trees, and proceeding to like, track it. It’d be so dope!
Also, a bunch of other spin-off games could sort of be built into this one. Imagine a Pokemon Snap-style photography side quest, or being able to enter a Pokemon Stadium-style tournament within the world of the game. You could even have the option of joining Team Rocket and doing quests for them, or even joining a faction like the ones in Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness. Maybe try to deal with the mystery of Shadow Pokemon. IT COULD ALL BE IN ONE GAME, DUDES. Put that in your Wii U and smoke it.
Pokemon: The MMO
Likelihood of this game actually existing at some point: 40%
A weird thing I’ve always noticed about Nintendo is their tendency to make multiplayer gaming super-complicated. All the friend codes, link cables, controller attachments, and retail games that require each player to have their own GBA literally make me want to shit. Unfortunately, Nintendo also makes some of the best multiplayer games, Pokemon being one of the most rewarding and consistently fun. Wouldn’t it be great if Nintendo just moved all of the multiplayer components online, and let us all play together at once?
Ah, the holy grail for all Pokemon fans I’ve ever known: a massively multiplayer online game release. It would take the tried and true formula for success that Pokemon is known for and really make it a team effort. Imagine really raising a team with your friends, and battling other players without having to go through with the ridiculous Pokemon Center Wi-Fi club ritual, or just like, you know, voice chatting online while you grind for Effort Points. Incredible concepts, true, but this would just barely be the tip of the iceberg.
You could even tell this guy how to PokeCenter!
Imagine creating your own Team Rocket-style crime syndicate! How amazing would that be? Or spending time working as a Safari Zone attendant, feeding the Pokemon and keeping track of them for conservation purposes. There would probably be different classes of trainer, too. Imagine being able to choose between a hardcore champ like Ask Ketchum or a thoughtful (albeit disturbingly Rape-y) breeder like Brock, or between traveling the world winning battles and becoming a local Gym Leader. Boners, everyone? (Lady boners, ladies?)
You could also pretty much cram any of the content I mentioned as part of the Elder Scrolls game into this, and if it had as much support, and released expansions as often as World of Warcraft, it would be hard-pressed to fail. Release it on a struggling handheld like the 3DS, and not only would that problem be fixed, but you wouldn’t be able to walk through a Starbucks without bumping into some weird little kid in a hoodie, sliding his sticky little fingers over that touch screen, sipping a Frappuccino through a straw. They’d be everywhere! Most popular game in the world, hands down. It’s probably one of the top ten biggest geek dreams in the world.
In fact, while doing research for this article and grabbing pictures, I found a bunch of fan-made versions of all these spinoffs. An MMO is probably the toughest fan project I can imagine, but while I could barely find one example for the other two types of game, there are AT LEAST three fully functional unofficial Pokemon MMO’s online RIGHT NOW. Whoa. Also, like, get on there! It’s fun!
Pokemon Noire: F*ck You, It’s An Officer Jenny Cop Drama
Likelihood of this game actually existing at some point: 0%
Alright, so yeah. I know. Up to this point, the list has basically just been me talking about how cool a bunch of ideas people everywhere have already had are. I’m sure your skin is tingling and your hair is standing on end, but don’t stop there! If you do, you’re limiting yourselves to parts of the Pokemon world we’ve already seen. If you consider what’s only implied, the possibilities for games are endless. Besides, if Nintendo gets to actually spend money developing a game where Pikachu runs around trying to collect pieces of an ancient stone in an amusement park built only for Pokemon, I’m allowed to tell you exactly how f**king sweet Pokemon Noire would be, and it starts with everyone’s favorite Pokemon policewoman, Officer Jenny.
Jenny is literally the face of the Police Department in the Pokemon Franchise, and oddly enough, it's not the name of any one single person; rather, Jennys are an entire class of person, all of whom look almost identical and use Pokemon in the line of active police duty. But really, what the hell does this mean? How does one become a Jenny? Where do their get their trusty Growlithe police dogs? What does your family think when you become one? Do you have to have surgery? These are but a few of the questions that could be answered in my black sheep dark horse Pokemon spin-off, Pokemon Noire.
The case that makes you, the case that breaks you...
But seriously, how cool would this game be? Imagine cruising around huge, beautifully rendered Pokemon cities on your motorcycle, and instead of battling or catching them all, you’re hunting down gritty Poke-Criminals police procedural-style, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence, slowly putting the pieces together along the way, stopping to fight only when a suspect is resisting arrest, and using your trusty Growlithe instead of a Beretta 9mm pistol. I would love to see a tale of political corruption and greed set in this world, and it’d be fun as heck to be Officer Jenny, following it all the way to the top, Chinatown style.
Outside of the context of trainers and battling, there isn’t really much material exploring the relationship between everyday people and their Pokemon, and a character-driven thriller of a game like this one could really make leaps and bounds in examining this dynamic. The world would begin to live and breathe on its own, finally free from existing only as a means of teaching children to try their hardest and to be nice to their friends.
In conclusion, Nintendo, you owe a game like this to all the fans who’ve been around since the beginning and are too old for the weird wind-up toy gameplay your offering us. I mean, I love Pokemon, and its not like I didn’t immediately buy this game, but for goodness’ sake! Let me be a fan and still have my dignity! Come through for once! For us. For me. For YOU, Nintendo. Do this for YOU. How great would it be if this article was a perfect 10.0 review and not a slightly embittered fantasy island daydream? Pokeball’s in your court.