Cutting your teeth through Hoenn doesn’t seem to be the status quo anymore – and that just doesn’t sit right with us. Will Pokemon ever be difficult again?
Pokemon was far more than just a game that occupied an entire generation – it was a rite of passage. As such, it’s with a heavy heart that we have to address a qualm we have with the current state of the games. Are you stiting for this? You should be. Here it is: the modern games are far too easy.
Listen, before we go any further, we will be the first to admit that complexity and difficulty can still be found within the franchise – but we also must blast Nintendo for holding it back until the credits roll and the game becomes a competitive breeding and battling simulator.
Pokemon was always about the types, the team, and the training that went into making sure you could wipe the shit-eating grin off Joey and his “top 1%” Rattata with aplomb. Unfortunately, over the last decade and a half Nintendo and The Pokemon Company have undertaken significant work to ensure that today’s generation of young gamers can live out the fantasy of being the best there ever was without the requisite effort.
Now, we’re going to put our Dark Souls fanclub shirts away and admit that an overly-punishing and inelegant difficulty curve is horrid game design by any standard – but the lengths that the Pokemon games have been diluted are to the level of every poor neutered Pokepal out there.
We recently gave Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Moon a whirl, and what we’ve found is that one could just as easily get through from the opening title to the final crawl of the credits just by mashing the A button. Arguably, the only difficultly to be found is when you’re spamming Pokeballs and stun effects in a bid to capture a legendary, or when you’ve borked up your party rotation and find yourself taking a Water type up against an Electric.
We understand that Nintendo has every intention to maintain the stranglehold that it has on the adolescent market, but their desire to ensure that every player who picks up a cartridge has gone severely awry. We’re not saying that every child needs to be subjected to the original Mt. Pyre from Ruby and Sapphire, or have their dreams repeatedly crushed by Miltank’s brutal Rollouts, but handing the world over on a silver platter the moment the player touches down is ridiculous.
Sure, there’s plenty of content to challenge yourself once you’ve unlocked the entire map and found yourself challenging other players or whatever form the Battle Tower has taken this time around, but you’d be lucky to have any energy left over after mindlessly spamming one button for the duration of a campaign lasting over 10 hours. Hell, we salute you if you managed to avoid dropping into a catatonic state at some point through the monotonous slog.
It’s a shame, then, that the level of fidelity and character within the contemporary Pokemon worlds doesn’t match the effort put into the gameplay. Alola single-handldly takes the crown as the prettiest Pokemon game to date, and its islands are a joy to explore. All of that spectacle doesn’t make up for a near-faceroll experience, however.
Perhaps we’ll have to wait and see what Nintendo have planned for their final installment on the 3DS system, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. With the amount of content the team seems to have packed in there, there could indeed be a challenge coming down the pipeline. Only time will tell though, so maybe we ought to hop outside and burn some frustration off with a jaunt around the block with some Pokemon GO…