Pokemon Horizons has been showcasing new ball after new ball since it aired. With a main character who wields the enigmatic Ancient Ball to the experimental balls of Karna, should the handful of new balls showcased in Pokemon Horizons be included in franchise video games?
How Could Experimental Poke Balls be Integrated Into Pokemon Video Games?
There’s been a stable number of Poke Ball varieties in the main Pokemon games since Silver and Gold, originally released back in 1999. Since then, few new versions have been designed. Origin Ball, Strange Ball, and upgraded balls weren’t available until Pokemon Legends: Arceus launched. Only two new Poke Balls, namely the Beast Ball and Cherish Ball, were added to the list in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
The small number of Poke Ball varieties isn’t due to lack of imagination, however, as showcased in episode 29 of Pokemon Horizons. Here, we meet Karna, the owner of a Poke Ball factory, inventor of specialty balls, and collector. She has a large variety of unique ways to catch new companions, though some still need a few bugs worked out. Of note are:
- Bomb-Bomb Ball
- Boomerang Ball
- Chase Ball
- Rocket Ball
Should Experimental Balls Appear in the Pokemon Video Games?
I’m of the notion that adding anything new to a game is generally a great idea. However, new Poke Balls, especially those that can potentially fail to work, add many different mechanics, and so these rules need to be worked out, programmed, and tested, all of which take time and dedicated staff.
Also, there must be an in-game reason for all these new items to appear. If the Bomb-Bomb Ball were to suddenly be listed at a shop in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, why is it there? Why wasn’t it there last time you shopped? Narratively, a plausible explanation needs to be weaved in that answers potential questions from players and characters, maintaining a sense of immersion.
The addition of new Poke Balls, as well as other potential experimental items, could be easily executed in a DLC for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. The storyline around them is written thanks to Pokemon Horizons, so there could be an expansion based around Karna. There are different routes that could be taken, but introducing new Poke Balls to the main games isn’t as easy as it initially appears.
Thankfully, there could be other opportunities to highlight the experimental nature of designing an effective Poke Ball. Plenty of players like simulation games, which is what a Poke Ball factory setting could turn into. Crafting and fine-tuning different balls shown in the game, fulfilling orders for clients, and collecting rare balls could all be gameplay modes.
Another idea is a game set at the various academies focused on a ball design competition. Or possibly one that not only focuses on the outside appearance and additional functions of the device, but the design of the interior, as well.
I believe these other modes would offer ways to explore and highlight this part of the Pokemon world that we often overlook. Just how long does it take to make a new Poke Ball? Is there an approval process or committee when you try to get them stocked at a PokeMart? Not only would this further expand the potential of the franchise, but it could also reach new audiences by employing different game genres.
Experimental Balls in Pokemon GO!
PoGO! is the best existing setting for Karna’s experimental Poke Balls. The different seasons and events already present are the perfect conduit for introducing new balls to the series. You already have a Pokemon Professor, three team leaders with various interests, Team GO Rocket, Wormholes, Ultra Beasts, and Paradox Pokemon. What would be a better environment to have a Boomerang Ball or Ancient Ball included?
We also need to take into consideration that the mobile game only has five types of balls available:
- Poke Ball
- Great Ball
- Ultra Ball
- Master Ball
- Premier Ball (used when catching Raid or Rocket Pokemon)
Not only that, but the Master Ball was only added in the latter half of 2023. Trainers have been functioning with a very limited selection for over five years. Even if the team at Niantic didn’t want to add something as a permanent feature, they can be temporarily added as a quest component.
Karna could be added as a quest giver, asking players to help test out a specific ball, how effective it is, whether it breaks, etc. It could last a week or two or even be a paid storyline. This platform, however, is perfect when it comes to supplementing main gameplay with limited-time items.
This would also give players something new to enjoy. New content, new items, new game mechanics. While Routes, Parties, Classic Community Days, and more are great features, being able to experience using a new ball will spice up the itemization people focus on.
It’s exciting to see the large variety of balls, both new and old, being shown in Pokemon Horizons. With the English language release happening on February 23, 2024, there’s plenty of time for The Pokemon Company International to develop something for fans. Whether it’s exploring the area and testing out experimental balls in a DLC, a special quest in Pokemon GO, or a new game entirely, these balls should definitely be included in the franchise’s video games.