What must, by now, be the hundredth generation of of Nintendo’s highly successful Pokemon franchise is currently in the hands of enraptured kids and obsessive-compulsives everywhere. Allaying our fears that the franchise has stagnated, there’s a new gimmick! Pokemon now comes with a tamagochi. Yes, that’s right: we can now take our beloved tamagochi-like creatures out of their virtual world, and place them in what is – to all appearances – an actual tamagochi.
Pokemon, you need to get your act together. I know, the formula has been working for a long time. You take the same game, make a new world map, and add a couple of new monsters to collect, and – ta-da! – it gets its own dubious colour, and cover art. I do not think that this is getting old, the same way that I do not think that the ocean is taking on an increasingly wet configuration. It has already become old. In fact, this became old so far in the past that I don’t think English has a tense for the temporal configuration that I wish to express.
There are many things that irk me about the current Pokemon offerings. I am irked that the DS touch screen was simply used a menu navigation aid. Think what majestic and imperial heights you could achieve with these novel input methods! I am irked that I have to sit through untold seconds of combat animations, and that turning them off simply makes my critters stand by animationless for those seconds. Seconds which – might I add – add up to minutes, hours and, dare I say, days over the course of a typical game’s span. Seriously, at the times that players are most engaged, when they could be doing something – anything – you would rather have them doing nothing? This is a distinctly frustrating style of play.
You know what I want from my Pokemon? I want an MMORPG. This is what the game always aspired to. I want to be able to level up my trusted party, sure. But I also want to interact with other poke-people. All the time. In real time. On the internet. I understand that the original games were not born into an internet-rich environment. I recall the days of Red and Blue, when an actual, physical cable was required in order to connect two GameBoys, and do battle.
Now, however, the very air around us is saturated by internet-bearing rays. You make Pokemon the game that it always wanted to be: a rich and vibrant world, full of rich and vibrant people. I don’t want to put to fine a point on it, but anyone – literally anyone, including that weird kid that nobody likes – is more interesting than the characters that populate the world of Pokemon. Could you really not think up two lines of dialogue for each character?
Here’s the pitch: Pokemon UniverseTM. You can play on your DS, your Wii, whatever, it’s cool. Wherever you are, the same loyal band of Pokemon are ready to fight for your honour as a trainer. When you play, travelling through this virtual world, you naturally interact with, nay: do battle with other humans – both near and far. This is the future; use it wisely.