Time for Pokémon – The Next Generation

February 5, 2011

In the advent of the soon-to-be-launching Nintendo 3DS and the fact that I plan to wait for its first revision (thx for infecting me with that idea, sigh), I turned around a gave the existing Nintendo DS-library a closer look. And I figured that there´s enough stuff to keep me well entertained for another 1-2 years. Right now, I´m playing Pheonix Wright: Justice for All and it´s fantastic. Then I´ll start the Professor Layton-series, to prepare myself for the 3DS-crossover. And aside from these older titles, Pokemon Black Edition should bear a near infinite amount of entertainment. Having said that, I thought how great it´d be if the Pokemon-series would see a rather drastic make-over with it´s inevitable 3DS-sequel.

Yeah, new clothing doesn´t equal growing up!

I´ve been one of the biggest complainers about GameFreak´s lazy efforts with past installments of the Pokemon-series, and yet I bought every new generation on day 1. And it seems this weird behavior will continue. But that´s the last Pokemon-game for the NDS, the next one´s going to be a 3DS-game, and Satoru Iwata, boss of Nintendo, himself recently mentioned that a Pokemon-title for the new handheld is underway. Whether that´s a main entry or some spinoff doesn´t really matter. What matters is that 2D-sprites won´t get all the little monsters very far in terms of a 3D-effect, so some kind of more drastic change in terms of visual is to be expected.

However, this could also make for the starting point of new generation of Pokemon-trainers in the franchise´s timeline. Specifically speaking: Have Ash Ketchum grow up! It always felt like a missed opportunity, seeing how the original Pokemon Blue/Red-players have grown up long time ago, yet Ash Ketchum is still the young star of the anime-series. How much more enjoyable would it have been, if that brat actually grew up in a similar time frame as the series´ fans? Anyway, that obviously didn´t happen. But it´d be fine to make it happen at any point in the future just as well. Have Ash Ketchum become a legendary master-trainer that´s told to be traveling the most dangerous, unknown parts of the world. And have there be a new main character, a new boy around the age of 14, who´s the new center of the anime, and will then meet the adult Ash in some of the episodes. “Epic” would be the correct word here.

Why I care? Because whenever I decide to sink into a franchise, I´d like that franchise to evolve, to keep on grasping my fascination. Besides the fact that I´d love the RPG-games feature more of the anime-show´s characters and plots, a “Next Generation” for both games and anime seems like a highly enjoyable event, that´s all. When the RPGs have to change into 3D-games finally, use that to introduce other changes, too. And when that happens, change up the anime, as well. It´s a matter of keeping it fresh, and let´s be real: Both games and anime have lost most of their freshness for a long time now.


Iwata: Bringing people online on Wii/NDS was a bitter learning experience

October 9, 2010

In a news-article on Siliconera, head of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, talked about the stronger focus on online-features regarding the upcoming Nintendo 3DS-handheld. He called it a bitter learning experience to get people online with Wii and Nintendo DS. It is still in the dark if 3DS will feature any (strongly) improved online-capabilities, since Iwata focuses talk on 3DS´s wlan-features, called SpotPass and Tag-Mode, that exist to use set up hotspots to connect to the internet. Something that might work for Japan, hardly for the USA, and definitely not for Europe.

However, people are criticizing Nintendo´s online approach as whole for a long time now. It has to be said that Nintendo most likely doesn´t have “crappy online” just for fun. Biggest evidence of that is the warning-screen that pops up every time you start your Wii or NDS. Not using any different technology in terms of “being dangerous”, it is only Nintendo that “has to” use these warnings. That, in combination with the emphasis on friends code, should make clear that Nintendo actually fully addresses to any kind of danger that could come from using their systems. It might be a hassle for adult gamers to be have no choice of being protected by these decisions, but it can´t be argued that it works. Anyone who has ever used Xbox Live and voice-chat knows what a more open system brings alongside.

The other reason is that Nintendo is Nintendo. Instead of giving gamers the obvious, they´re looking for something unique. There was an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto many years ago where he was asked about online-gaming (I think it was before the GameCube´s launch), and his answer was basically: If we cannot create new kinds of games by using the internet, we have no interest in that. We don´t want to simply put our existing games online without any innovations.” So, while online-multiplayer is vital to a lot of enthusiast gamers, it surely isn´t anything special or unique. I´ve wondered myself what new game-genres could be made, besides online-multiplayer and mmorpgs. Seems that Nintendo hasn´t come up with an answer, either, yet.

Less JRPGs is a good thing

June 27, 2009

These days there are often discussion about JRPGs. Where are they, why aren´t they selling anymore and is a certain system doing worse because it isn´t the number one-JRPG-system anylonger? But my answer to all of that is: The less JRPGs, the better!

Back in the days, JRPGs were the best type of game for a majority of gamers. Even in the beginning of the recent generation of consoles, future success was marked by the number of announced JRPGs. But here we are, and Microsoft´s 360 has the most JRPGs, yet even that isn´t that much. Wii also has many JRPGs, but not a single high profile-title of that genre. If you want JRPGs, the NDS is your system of choice.

To me, i am rather happy about the decline of JRPG´s popularity. Don´t me wrong, i loved them…5-10 years in the past. Big adventures and such, awsome. But now we have games that let us have these big adventures, without the resticition of non-gameplay, where you cannot interact with the game world, except for clicking the X- or A-button on every place until something happens…that´s not interaction, sigh. Also, JRPGs suffer from their archaic battle-system. I often hear from JRPG-fans how that´s not true, how there are games with innovative battle-systems and what not. Well, guess what: As long as i cannot have direct control over my character, it still sucks. There is no fun in watching a group of emos bashing random monsters until one side´s stats show to be inferior. Even exceptions like the Tales of-games don´t have such satisfying combat as many western RPGs. And speaking of emo, the cast of JRPGs simply sucks. I´m not complaining about stereotypes, because there only are stereotypes nowadays, but i complain about always the same kind of setup…at least that´s what it feels like. Add to that that people at the age of 30 are considered “old”, and you have all the negatives.

This is one hundred percent subjective, but to me, western RPGs are infinitely better than JRPGs, because they put YOU, the player, into an adventure. When you play Oblivion or Fallout 3, it is YOU that explores that world. Whereas in JRPGs you follow a preset path within a tightly preset story. Or, to conclude this entry:

I´d rather watch an anime than playing a JRPG. No silly battle-system, no silly grinding, no load-times, and only that what is the best part of a JRPG: Story and cutscenes.