I started Pokémon Sun minutes after it’s North American launch, and within 15 minutes of starting the game, I found myself texting my friend for some clarification. “Is Hau supposed to be my rival?”
“He’s less of a rival and more of a competitor.”
“Okay because he just showed up for a battle, with the Pokémon that is weaker (by type) than the one I selected.”
And my friend really didn’t have a response for that. Apparently, this rival turned challenger was something that had been changing over the years that I hadn’t really noticed. I was mesmerized by the new Pokémon and the new 3D nature of the game to realize that the challenge had completely evaporated. After talking to him, I remembered the days that I used to be terrified upon my Rival’s appearance. Seeing Red and Gary show up was always a stress-inducing situation, they had chosen the stronger type, in Pokémon’s rock-paper-scissor power structure, they were usually 2-3 levels above me, and blacking out and waking up at a Pokémon center was a risk that could not be overlooked with confidence.
Although wandering aimlessly looking for my next objective was borderline infuriating in Pokémon Yellow, it’s the first thing I miss upon encountering this game. Starting up my game, I am greeted with a little happy face on the map telling my exactly where to go – and for me, this is a problem. One of the reasons I could never put down the first few generations of Pokémon was because I literally could not put it down. Abandoning the game mid-objective would result in my starting the game and having no idea where I was, what I was doing the last time I played, and where I was supposed to be going. I had to power through the game or I may never complete it. Some of the newer games remedied this by adding a journal feature, telling you what was going on in-game the last time you played, but by then challenge had been removed in other areas and my interest was waning.
Off the bat, some may argue that I am playing a children’s game. That I’m expecting challenge from a game made for 12-year-olds, and if I want thought-provoking story and a challenging experience I should look elsewhere. But my argument to that is two-fold. Game Freak, Pokémon’s publisher, knows exactly who is buying their games. They know that nostalgia sells and that a big part of their player base is already into the second decade of their lives. And my second argument would be that the games used to be harder. It’s not just that I’m getting older, so I’m learning to play more efficiently, the game has changed. Whether it’s been dumbed down to have a lower barrier to entry, or because – well I can’t imagine another reason why a developer would remove challenge and by proxy, curiosity, from their game.
I haven’t even reached my first trial, so I cannot speak to the specifics of the game – if I reach that far I will do so – but I posted this because I wanted to know: How do you guys feel about Pokémon Sun and Moon? Do you feel it’s regressing in both story line and challenge? I mean, an Exp Share for the entire team? What is grinding a sin now? Or am I just imagining it, making it all up, and in need of a new fix?
Let me know, in the comments below.
– The lack of challenge in Pokemon has resulted in players no longer feeling accomplished once they’ve finished it, or being too bored to even get to the end.
– They’ve taken out the MacGuffin. With so many Pokemon, all of which are within reach, there’s no longer anything to fight for; no ultimate goal.
– Them lowering the barrier to entry has alienated the players that have been playing for the last twenty years, and ultimately: Pokemon has lost its bite.