To me, Pokemon X and Y felt like Nintendo taking the series back to basics, and by bringing back all the original (Charizard!) Pokemon, it managed to get everyone I know playing the game again. And it was great! I'm in no rush for a full-blown sequel just yet--and judging by Pokemon history, we've probably got about another 23 spin-offs to get through before another mainline game gets released--but I've already started thinking about what I want to see in the future.
I love Pokemon, and Nintendo and Game Freak have turned their role-playing game into a fine art over the past 15-odd years. I wouldn't really want any changes there; the core game is already fine, if a little on the easy side. A lot of what I'd like to see in the next Pokemon game comes from what could accompany that main experience.
Search engine giant Google, between evading its UK tax bills and gobbling up everyone's personal data, released its own spin on catching Pokemon at the start of this month, with users able to search through Google Maps to catch them all. The Internet went wild.
I'm not a particularly modern guy when it comes to technology, but I see all the experts over at CNET repeatedly writing about things like wearable tech, and half the apps in the world these days seem to have you check in to places, count your steps, and do all sorts of outdoorsy things. Nintendo doesn't have the required chips and doodads in the 3DS to allow for all this, but what about having a game come with a GPS or--better yet--a dedicated mobile app that works in tandem with the new game?
Nintendo has sort of experimented with this before, with the Pokewalker pedometer that came with HeartGold and SoulSilver. It was really fun! Imagine taking it all one step further, beaming a Pokemon into your phone and being able to walk around all day with your new sidekick, who levels up, searches out areas for rare treasures, and even battles people you encounter along the way. You could take Pikachu to the Tate Modern, Snorlax to the Golden Gate Bridge, or Espurr to your local Walgreens.
Even better, what if you could actually catch Pokemon by wandering around outside. Nintendo is no stranger to having exclusive Pokemon you can collect by going into select stores. How about if you could catch all sorts of Pokemon just by going about your day-to-day life? I'd want to be able to catch them all in the game itself, of course, but I think it would be awesome to see that I've bumped into some new Pokemon between my occasional Twitter notification and constant spam email updates.
The World Plays Pokemon
I don't think anyone planned on Twitch Plays Pokemon becoming a big deal, but when it launched back in February, it quickly racked up tens of thousands of concurrent viewers. I ended up so engrossed that I was watching it when eating meals for days, and I shudder to think of the effect it had on my productivity in the office. What about incorporating more of these social experiments in the next game, then?
One idea I have is that you could loan out your Pokemon for two weeks to a faraway stranger, a sort of foreign-exchange-student scheme for Pokemon if you will, and see how different they've become upon their return. It goes hand in hand with having a more global sense of Pokemon--my Squirtle could go off and live in Paris for a month, and bring back a beret and all sorts of incredible items.
Or there could even be some kind of Pokemon Stock Exchange, where the values of Pokemon and items change based on how popular and unpopular they are with every user. I'd also like to see daily and weekly challenges, with shared leaderboards--a simple and common feature nowadays, but one that really keeps me going back to many games over and over again, and one that would be a perfect fit for Pokemon, I think.
Nintendo could--and probably should--even make its own version of Twitch Plays Pokemon, a quirky arena where you hand over your team of Pokemon to an army of players who all crowd-source their decisions in battle.
More Antics at the End
I love squaring off against the Elite Four, but all too often it feels like that's the end of my Pokemon journey outside of filling up the National Pokedex. While I can appreciate that there's a huge online element in each Pokemon game, I don't always feel like I'm dedicated or smart enough to actually take part--a lot of people playing Pokemon online are scarily good at Pokemon. So, really, I'd love to see more endgame content in the next game: more side quests, challenges, and objectives that help train me to be a better player and make it more likely that I'll be able to compete online. Pokemon is a far more technical game than most people give it credit for, but the main storyline rarely forces you to dabble in the minutiae of it all. The right endgame content, then, could finally make me feel like a real Pokemon master.