The time has finally come for me to discuss everybody’s newest obsession, Pokemon GO. Can you guys believe a whole month and change has passed since the game was first released for iPhone and Android devices? New territories are still being introduced to the game for the first time, while those who’ve had the game for a while continue to discover what it means to be the very best like no one ever was. Players have been traveling across the land, searching far and wide for their next big catch. And I know it’s our destiny to become real Pokemon masters.
Aren’t my puns super effective?… No? Okay, I’ll stop.
I’ve been playing Pokemon GO since the game first came to the United States, and since then I’ve played the game at least once a day. I’m currently a Level 18 member of Team Valor, who has registered 73 Pokemon to the Pokedex so far. (I’ll be Level 20 after evolving everything with the Lucky Egg). As a casual player of Pokemon games and former viewer of the anime, I took to the game’s nostalgic vibe and collectible aspect. It’s an excellently fun game. Though I think everyone agrees it can be better.
I came up with five new features that I think can make this game even better. These proposed features involve items, gameplay mechanics and extra options that currently don’t exist in the game. I’ll be avoiding the more obvious requested features like trading, breeding, bug fixes or Gen 2 expansions, all of which have already been deemed by Niantic as confirmed or possible additions. The following are things that aren’t discussed that much, but I believe people would really like to see.
You’ve probably thought of these, too. If you have and wish to add something to that discussion, leave your thoughts about it in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas, as well.
1: Evolution Stones
I’m pretty sure a lot of die-hard Pokemon fans have already thought about this, but it’s definitely something worth discussing. For the uninitiated out there, there are in fact two ways to evolve Pokemon in the games and show. You can do it the conventional way, by exposing your Pokemon to battle and allowing it to gain XP; or in Pokemon GO’s case, you catch a bunch of them and evolve the strongest one. There does exist a much quicker option if you happen to possess an evolution stone. Marked by the elements, a stone exists for every Pokemon type (fire, water, psychic, grass, etc.). Simply use the correct stone for your Pokemon of choice and wa-lah! New Pokemon added to the Pokedex.
I’m sure you can imagine the possibilities of such an item now. In fact, I believe these will be instrumental for every Pokemon GO player. By a show of hands, how many of you have a Pokemon in your collection that you’ve only ever seen once? I know you’re out there. You either hatched it from an egg and never found it in the wild, or you just got lucky one time. Now it just sits there mocking you and your life choices, because you’ll never be able to evolve it lest you take a trip to another part of the country where that Pokemon is common. Imagine if you just so happened to have found that Pokemon’s stone at a PokeStop. Prepare to kiss that hole in your heart goodbye as you show that Pokemon who’s boss by evolving that sucker.
Some people may think that makes the game too easy and eliminates the challenge of finding that Pokemon in the wild. I’d argue that there will always be benefits to finding Pokemon in the wild. Higher CP Pokemon are a necessity for those who frequent gyms, and the trick is only a minor advantage if the Pokemon has three forms. Plus, Poke stones can’t give you non-evolving Pokemon like Snorlax or Aerodactyl.
If people really feel it’ll eliminate the challenge of the game, then insert minor drawbacks for those who do use Poke stones. Similar to the games, a Pokemon that evolves too quickly doesn’t learn all of its moves and isn’t as strong. Those could be options to balance the game out and encourage exploration. Whatever you do, though, don’t make it microtransaction only! Let players find it in a PokeStop or earn one from leveling up. Don’t be cruel Niantic.
2: Online Multiplayer Matches
If there was one thing that disappointed me more than any non-existent feature in the game, it’s the fact that I can’t battle my friends. The only means of battling currently is via gyms where your fighting a bunch of AI opponents. You can battle the gym alongside your friends to take it down faster, but why can’t you fight the actual person beside you? What good is it to go around claiming to be the very best if you can’t destroy the other person’s hopes and dreams by defeating they’re prized Dragonite in battle? It just feels meaningless.
What I want is a way to compete against my friends and family, just like in literally every other Pokemon game. Though, let’s take it a step further. You have friends in multiple areas of the country, and one of them is mouthing off about being some kind of Pokemon champion. You want to teach them a lesson? Let there be online multiplayer!
I understand why this might have been cut from the current version of the game. Everyone knows about that famined potato farm Niantic likes to call their servers. Thankfully the servers are pretty functional now, but imagine how much stress and strain multiplayer matches would cause, let alone non-local multiplayer. However, if Niantic continues to improve their server quality at the rate that they are, I don’t see it being that far-fetched of an idea. (Pun slightly intended).
I know that Pokemon GO isn’t like the handheld Pokemon games, either. In fact, their battling system relies solely on spamming the screen until you or the opponent run out of HP. That’s not strategy. That’s math. Math sucks! But who’s to say they won’t improve the gameplay in the future, and make it something worth training for?
Build-up the servers, expand on the battle system, and then introduce multiplayer. People will lose their minds!
3: Third-Party Service Assimilation
Pokemon GO had/has a lot of third-party software to help trainers out on their Pokemon journeys. Perhaps two of their most popular and beloved third-party services were Pokevision, a site that revealed the exact location of Pokemon in your area, and Pokeadvisor, a service allowing you to check your Pokemon’s IV and plan out your evolutionary strategy. These were useful and popular services that unfortunately required use of Pokemon’s server data. Niantic didn’t care much for that, or the fact that these sites might be making the game “easier”. As a result, neither service is available anymore, but their memory still lives on through the countless emails Niantic no doubt receives complaining about their cutting off of their favorite third-party site.
Here’s the thing. Instead of punishing players for creating/using features you were unwilling to supply, why not just recruit the people behind these sites and make those services part of the game? As you can see, there is great demand in a feature that shows a Pokemon’s exact location so they aren’t walking back in forth on the same sidewalk like an asshole finding the right spot. The fact that you’re adding a feature that shows Pokemon locations via picture proves that you realize this. And for every person who bashes Pokemon GO for not having any strategy, Pokeadvisor served to show people that they were wrong. Pokeadvisor literally inserted strategy into the game. Strategy is an instrumental component that can make your game last longer than other luck-based games or repetitive gimmicks that plague most mobile game trends.
The point is that there’s a lot of value in taking advice from the community. In a time where your PR game is in recovery mode, maybe collaborating with fans wouldn’t be such a bad idea. If you at the very least meet with the heads of these services and acknowledge them on your Twitter, you’d save a ton of face and probably even get some new ideas.
4: Spawning Events
To be clear, I’m not referring to the way legendaries will work when they’re finally released to the public. That’s a discussion for another time. No, this concerns Pokemon currently in the game. I’m of course talking about region-exclusivity. It’s bullshit.
Besides the five legendary Pokemon and Ditto (for some reason), there are currently four region-specific Pokemon all separated by continent. For example, my native North America is the only place you can find a Tauros in the world. Farfetch’d is an Asian exclusive catch, Europe got Mr. Mime, and Australia has dibs on Kangaskhan. As for the perspective South American players, rumor has it that you guys will get exclusive rights to Ditto.
On the surface, this is actually pretty cool. Each Pokemon is appropriate for that specific region, and it adds a bit more immersion to the experience of being a Pokemon trainer. However, that means collecting every Pokemon in the game is basically impossible. Granted, there is a way for, say, a European player to get a Kangaskhan that won’t require an expensive day trip to Australia. All they have to do is hatch it in an egg…right?
Apparently, while players have reported having a full Pokedex of 145, the idea of hatching the remaining Pokemon through eggs isn’t an exact science. The best I was able to find is that the odds of hatching these four are very unlikely. Even if you could, this makes the challenge of completing the Pokedex more of a game of chance than it already is.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against the idea of region-exclusivity. It should still have a place in the game, but might I suggest a happy-medium? If you create timed events for these four Pokemon to be available in other regions temporarily, you’ll not only keep momentum for the game alive but also accommodate the millions of players around the world who don’t have the luxury of around-the-world trips. This happens all the time in the main games, so it’s not too much of stretch.
5: Mega-Evolutions/Alola Forms
Now for something I don’t know too much about, but still seems awesome. Niantic should totally bring Mega-Evolutions and the upcoming Alola forms to Pokemon GO!
Perhaps one of the biggest draws for Pokemon X & Y a few years back, besides the fact that they’re revisiting the Gen 1 Pokemon, were Mega-Evolutions. These are temporary upgrades you give to select Pokemon that improve their overall stats and make them look substantially more badass. It was a fantastic idea, and added a new layer to these familiar faces as well as a ton of fun to execute. These were so popular that Mega-Evolutions returned in AlpaSapphire and OmegaRuby; they even found it’s way into Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U, as Charizard, Lucario and Mewtwo can activate their Mega forms.
It also made way for a similar feature in the upcoming Sun and Moon games, Alola forms. Despite having a much wider range of eligible Pokemon and changing the Pokemon’s type, Alola forms seem pretty similar to Mega-Evolution. We don’t know every Alola form in the games yet, but what we know so far is pretty cool, and gave way to this:
Take one good look at Alola Raichu over here, who is a Psychic type that floats on its tail, and tell me you don’t want to see that in Pokemon GO. Give me this and Mega Charizard X and I’ll gladly participate.
I’m pretty sure both of these will be added to the game eventually. Mega-Evolutions are coming because the concept is too brilliant to be overlooked. And adding Alola forms to Pokemon GO would be an excellent tie-in to Pokemon Sun & Moon. If you make the Pokemon GO community love the Alola forms, they’ll be more inclined to try Sun & Moon out. The only question is how would they be incorporated.
The easy answer is to make the stones available through PokeStops as I suggested for evolution stones. There’s also the microtransaction option…but let’s not do that. My idea is to make Mega-Evolving and Alola forms an incentive for battling with your respective Pokemon. For example, if you battle enough times with your Blastoise you’ll get a Mega-Evolution stone; the same goes for Volpix’s Alola form. That would not only encourage people to do gym battles, but also encourage people to battle with all of their Pokemon.
Whatever the case may be, you can’t deny that that wouldn’t be really cool additions!
Well, those are a few of my ideas. What about yours? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your ideas. Or if you have one of the four region-specific Pokemon, please leave your username and password so I can
steal it I mean take a look. (One day you will be mine, Farfetch’d!)
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!