Alright, listen here Nintendo. And Niantic, I want you sitting at this table too. I love Pokémon Go. It’s got spirit. It’s got spunk. But what it hasn’t got is a whole lotta stuff I want it to have. So pay really close attention while I carry on about what Pokémon Go needs to take it from being an amazing game that everyone loves, to my perfect ideal of the game. If you want to make me happy Ninteniantic then you’ll give some good consideration to the following.
One: Trading and Live Battling
I know you’ve said you’re adding them down the track, and they were in your first trailer. But what you’re really saying to me is that you’ve released your game too early. Sure, it’s all pretty now. Like a Togepi using charm, but it’s going to wear off eventually. What you need is a higher CP to keep your edge. And you should have come out with a TM39 and really critically hit the public. These elements are so crucial to the Pokémon experience that without them it’s really just a cute collectable game with a nineties theme.
Two: A Social Menu
You’ve created a massively multiplayer game without ways for people to communicate in the game? That seems like a really odd choice. You’ve given people ways to join factions but essentially said that it means nothing except the ways you interact with gyms when you approach them. It’s unbelievable what you’ve managed to accomplish in terms of people interacting with others in the real world. But a way to add them to a friend’s list, or speak in a team chat, or coordinate without the use of third party sites; just feels like it was a pretty obvious miss.
Three: Home Base/Pokémon Centres
I really cannot believe I have to say this. People bond with their Pokémon. It can cause people distress to have their beloved cute/highly violent creatures injured (my poor giant, hellboy-esque Kingler). These creatures aren’t a one-time use item. And potions aren’t a guarantee, you can’t even purchase them for real money (wouldn’t it be great if some of the PokéStops were PokéMarts?). I think it would be amazing if everyone had the option of setting up a home base so that when they attended there it could heal their team back to full. Even if you set it to a cooldown timer like the Gym defender bonuses. Failing this, some of the Pokéstops should be Pokémon Centres; a staple to the series since the very beginning.
Four: Gym Stats
When I wake up in the morning, along with my first coffee of the day I like to check in on my pocket monsters and see how many survived the night at their respective Gyms (the answer is always zero). I have to try and remember which pokémon was where. In Ingress there were portal keys that let you check in on the far away portals you were defending. I really need something like that here.
Five: Battle System
Correct me if I’m wrong here but the first Pokémon game came out in 1996 and the battle system was alright then. We’ve had that battle system since before we had colour in our Gameboys. SO WHAT THE HELL?! You replaced a system we’ve been working on for twenty years with goddamn tapping! A dodging system that might as well not exist and a two moves per Pokémon piece of crap that people have no control over. Sure, maybe you wanted to keep it simple as to get new people who couldn’t handle as complex a system as four moves (I was like six when I first played Blue…and not a particularly bright six year old at that). But you’ve replaced what was functional (and fun) with something that doesn’t work, requires internet speed to even consider getting to work right (and you’re struggling with servers at the moment) and is downright dumb. Okay…let me take a breath. I do love this game…but damn…
Six: Story Mode
Okay maybe you don’t need a dedicated campaign, but maybe have some challenges that tie into popups for Professor Sexyman and the other trio of relatively forgettable leaders. I love their design, but they’ve meant nothing really so far and they should. You’ve got a world to flesh out and I want to interact with cool characters. Get people to take Gyms, hatch eggs and get exercise (I swear this is all a conspiracy run by Big Health) and reward them by giving them a little more story, let them pick a rival (maybe even a real world one) or if you really want to let people have their own adventure, let them dictate a few outcomes.
Seven: Customisation Options
I figure this one is just a matter of time. But I’m a little hurt that the starting clothes had a red and yellow outfit but no blue. And I think three head, top and bottom options to mix and match aren’t really enough when you’ve got a fan base of what I’m assuming is about a trillion people. I guarantee that if you make customisation options purchasable that you’ll get my money.
Eight: Nearby Pokemon
Fix it. The beta had a distance meter. I don’t even mind if you just gave me a damn direction. But your feet system is about as useless as it gets. I don’t even bother with it at the moment.
I know that a lot of these ideas will eventually be implemented or improved upon. But it begs the question: why release a half finished game? Pokemon Go is already wildly popular. They succeeded with that. But is that because of the popularity of Pokémon or the greatness of the game? I honestly do worry about the long-term survivability of a game that people are frustrated with due to ongoing bugs and connectivity issues, coupled with lacklustre features. So please… I like that I’ve got people to play pretend with me in the streets and feeling like a child again. Make this game good so that it continues.
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