5. Physical/Special moves. Prior Gen. IV
This issue was thankfully fixed in Generation IV, but after replaying Pokémon Ruby it’s clear just how much it stunts battles as well as the joy of discovering and using different Pokémon.
Prior to Generation IV, a Pokémon’s attacks were separated into Physical and Special moves depending on their Type, rather than the kinds of moves they were. All Ground moves were Physical, and Fire moves were Special, no matter what.
It simplifies battles by making certain Pokémon better suited for attacks that they can’t specialize in. Trainers had to pack strange variations of moves into their team to make the best use of their Statistics, instead of using the versatility of the Pokémon’s strengths and Type to better defeat particular enemies.
Back then, your Gyarados, which has an excellent Attack statistic, shouldn’t use moves like Bite or Dive because Dark and Water moves are always Special. To make full use of its stats you have to use Physical attacks like Hyper Beam or Thrash, both being Normal moves that don’t get a STAB bonus from Gyarados which is Water/Flying.
Also, you may not be able to exploit an enemy’s weaknesses because their statistics are designed to endure damage from a move Type it’s weak against, like an Aggron having a high Defense to resist Fight and Ground attacks.
Even with brilliant artwork, sound design and ‘charm’, your Pokémon became little more than guns that shot annoyingly specific bullets.
Again, this was fixed in Generation IV, so its irrelevance nowadays puts it at the top of this list. It doesn’t affect current Pokémon games but it does make replaying previous ones very awkward. Speaking of which…
4. No Safety In Replaying
I know this one all too well.
Now, the problem here isn’t that the story and controls of Pokémon games are so bad that nobody wants to play them again. It’s that you can only have one save on each game, so when you start again you lose EVERYTHING. This is something I know all too well since I restarted Pokémon Ruby after 300+ hours, permanently destroying a dozen level 100 monsters.
When the story of a Pokémon game is over you’re just left with a consistent cycle of battling with no emotional investment, just increasing a number. The best it offers is the ability to re-challenge the League, but if they allow that they may as well create a New Game + element.
This may not be an issue in areas like Japan, where you can go out to the street and yell “Anyone wanna battle with me?!” and you’ll get a challenger instantly. But in my isolated home of Australia, the story is all I have. And because there isn’t really an end to a Pokémon game it’s like you’re chucking away all your hard work when/if you choose to start the journey over.
It’s hard to catch a Kyurem, but it’s even harder deciding to wipe it from existence until you catch it again.
It’s expected for players to transfer their Pokémon to the next game to ‘save’ them, but you can’t send them back, so the latest installment in the Pokémon game franchise can only be safely replayed when the next one is released and can act as a ‘case’ for your ‘hard work’. Also, the games are very vast so spending hours training Pokémon and using TM’s feels like a waste when you can just spend time on the latest released game to keep up with everything.
What if I restart Pokémon Black and the following day somebody moves next door to me who has Pokémon White and a powerful Pokémon team? Do you think he’s going to wait 40 hours for me to buffer my Ferrothorn up to challenge him? Nope.
3. Weak VS Powerful Pokémon
I admit it. It’s about the numbers. I have spent so much time looking up statistics and moves for certain Pokémon on Bulbapedia that numbers is all it’s about now. It’s getting to a point where the Pokémon themselves aren’t being judged on their presence or artistic look, just what they can do and how well they do it. But that’s not why I like Pokémon. It shouldn’t be about equations, it should be about the world and the fascinating monsters.
I fell in love the first time I saw Cacturne, Bannette and Carnivine, but then I found out about their fairly standard statistics and I instantly lost interest. How do you think the artists feel when their work gets treated with such irreverence? Nobody is going to train a Pokémon that they know isn’t worth the time, and there’s a part of me that thinks it’d be best if all Pokémon’s stats added to the same overall total.
I’d like to think that players choose Pokémon they like and that suit their personalities, without crudely buffing up the most obnoxiously powerful Pokémon to slam into other obnoxiously powerful Pokémon like a game of Scissors, Paper, Rock…or Scizor, Masquerain, Golem…anyway.
Nowadays, it’s very unlikely for people to truly care about their Pokémon, especially when you can find out how foolish you were to train a Glalie to level 100……..idiot.
These clear differences also make many Pokémon seem downright pathetic. I used to believe that every monster had at least one skill that made them better suited to a situation than another. But since statistics, typing and moves are so easy to understand and exploit now, it takes away the magic. Why use a Seaking when you can use a Milotic? Why use a Sandslash when you can use a Hippowdon? It’s like the later generations are just ‘paving’ over their older creations and making them totally obsolete, other than to complete your Pokedex, which is insane.
A Pokémon may look cool, but in the end…it’s all about the numbers, and that brings me to number 2.
2. Too Many Legendary Pokémon
Pokémon Ruby was the first Pokémon game I ever played…and I didn’t catch Groudon. I was crushed. For all I knew, it was the only Legendary Pokémon in the whole game.
It was only until I visited a friend’s house months later that we both fought our way through Sky Pillar to reach what was essentially a mysterious rumor to us. Then we saw it…
After dozens of attempts that afternoon, it was ME who managed to trap Rayquaza in one of my Timer Balls, making me the most popular nerd in school. All my friends shoved their Gameboy Advances to my chest and pleaded “Catch it for me!”.
That is how you give a Legendary Pokémon some presence. Make them the ‘holy grail’ of the game and the pinnacle of a certain idea. Groudon is earth, Kyogre is water, Rayquaza is air and Deoxys is space (I guess). Put a few more in there to ‘pepper’ the land and you’ve got a complete and dynamic Pokémon world.
But then it got stupid…
Time, space, dimensions and a Pokémon that is essentially God! Why?! You can’t just give Pokémon some arbitrary hierarchy and then plop the next one higher on the list like a swaying totem pole. We enjoy these legendary Pokémon because they are, as their title suggests, legendary. We don’t (shouldn’t) care just because you put the ‘legendary’ title on them.
Aside from the boring Mew clones like Victini, Jirachi and Celebi, the worst offenders are the legendary musketeers. These Pokémon do not need to be legendary. They don’t represent anything like weather or the ocean, they’re just powerful creatures for the sake of it and we’re told they’re important for no good reason. If Volcarona and Spiritomb are not legendary then these don’t have to be either.
Generation V has almost three times as many Legendary Pokémon as Generation I, and it does nothing but hurt the world they’ve created. It not only lessens the impact of every other legendary Pokémon ever made, but it makes the ‘regular’ Pokémon seem unimportant and pathetic.
It’s too late to fix it now, but I hope that future generations (If there are going to be any) learn from their mistakes. In basically every hand held Pokémon game the ‘main’ legendary Pokémon has been what the story is progressing towards, and the mystery of the others just makes the world seem even more vast and interesting.
1. Effort Values
For those who don’t know, EV’s are tiny ‘stat points’ held within Pokémon that are rewarded to whatever defeats them. For example, if you defeat a Geodude, the Pokémon you used will get a small increase to its Defense when it levels up. It’s an idea that has the potential of opening up the Pokémon world and giving all the monsters a greater sense of identity and value. Instead it makes the idea of leveling up and making ‘perfect’ Pokémon hollow and mechanical.
It all comes down to numbers again. The focus of playing a Pokémon game is to become powerful enough to challenge others to battles, preferably people you know that also have the game. But instead of practicing against a variation of strong opponents within the game to level up your Pokémon quickly, you have to do painfully repetitive tasks to get the highest result from your Pokémon’s statistics.
It sucks charm from the experience and turns training and battling into a bunch of numbers that slam into each other.
There’s a lot of things that are amazing about Pokémon, but also a lot wrong. Some of these issues are getting some improvements in Black and White 2, and I hope that the Ruby and Sapphire remakes contain everything that’s awesome about the world. 2013 guys! That’s ten years after Ruby and Sapphire came out…make the remakes!