Since starting us off in Kanto with a choice of Squirtle, Bulbasaur, or Charmander --over 20 years ago -- the Pokemon series has added plenty of fan-favorite features in addition to the over 650+ Pokemon since.
From the running shoes to 3D graphics, we've watched as Pokemon has held up and remained a worldwide trend even internationally. Those Pikachu plushness and Pokemon Go editions of your university newspapers aren't there because someone wants to spread diversity; they're there because people love Pokemon.
But, with all of the features they've added, some have had to be removed. Today, let's look at seven underappreciated features that Pokemon took out at one point -- whether due to censorship or a desire to try something new -- that we want to see return the next time around.
I understand the need to take certain minor features out in each new game, truly I do, but removing the ability to have our Pokemon follow us in the field continues to baffle me. In a series full of adorable times and events, there were few moments that had as much of a heartwarming factor as a Pokemon following you and letting you know that it was ready to join you for the fight ahead.
Whether it was a showdown with the Elite Four or your infiltration of the Team Rocket hideout, your Pokemon literally stood by you -- unless the area was too small for them to fit, that is.
March will mark the seven year anniversary of Heart Gold and Soul Silver's international release, meaning it's been seven years since a Pokemon handheld game that allows a pocket monster to follow you around the entire time.
Seven years? You know what else happened seven years ago? The New York Jets had some type of hope at the quarterback position! They had a reliable defense! We didn't live in a world where Young Thug and Lil Uzi was considered good rap music!
But in all seriousness, I can partially understand why this feature was removed once the series moved to its current 3D look; factor in the addition of 309 new monsters since the 493 we ended Generation IV with and it's a lot to ask a coder for.
At this point, though, I just want to have that true feeling of a partner at my side back. Even if it's not the ultimate, true-to-life addition that some fans may expect, just add this one feature back. Please?
"But Jake, Pokemon is a game intended for kids! If Game Freak and Nintendo add a rival who doesn't exemplify being nice and a potential romance interest, it won't appeal to kids and their parents won't buy the game!"
If you're worried about a no-nonsense rival being the thing that sets parents off in a series that has angered people for far worse (not that we think PETA's anti-Pokemon stance makes any sense though), then you're in need of some help. There has to be a Pokemon who can teach you to use your noodle.
One of the things that led to my disillusionment with the Pokemon franchise was it rapidly trying to become more politically correct and playing it safe when it came to the rival characters. In Blue and Silver, or the rivals in generations one and two, you had an arrogant smartass and a cold loner respectively; the former bragged to you about being one step ahead, while the latter was constantly in a moral battle as he tried to figure out if true power really was all that mattered in this world.
The rivals then served as foils to you, but the majority of our rivals since - aside from Cheren, who was awesome - have either been useless or gag characters that aren't meant to be taken seriously. Remember Tierno, the Majin Buu-looking dancing oaf from X and Y who asked to call you 'J-Miester' immediately after meeting you? This was our rival?
What happened to the days where our rival gave us actual motivation to beat them? What about when our rival had some sort of character arc? Instead, we've gotten such memorable opponents like ditzy blondes, a dance-loving idiot who looks like he ate the rest of his competition, and a weird-looking girl with no goals or aspirations.
Generation 7 had a chance to break new ground with Hau... but he didn't take his battles seriously and was always happy. Again, this was our rival? How was it possible in a game that felt so jarringly realistic and emotional at times we winded up with a rival who has no character?
But hey, at least he was better than Tierno!
I will get on my knees and beg if I have to when I ask the developers to bring back the Safari Zone. I don't care if it's not as customizable as the one from Heart Gold/Soul Silver, nor do I care if it has a step limit like in generations one and three.
All I want is some type of Safari Zone-like attraction where I can go in, catch rare Pokemon, and sell them on the black market trade them to my friends for their rare Pokemon.
Even with that 'I don't care' thing in mind, there is one thing I ask for: don't bring back the swamp from Sinnoh's Great Marsh. Just bring back a traditional Safari Zone, maybe implement some elements from the Friend Safari Zone, and let's get some nostalgia in here.
I know, some of you think I'm insane and that I'm just a Pokemon purist, but hear me out. Like others, I grew tired of the monotype gym system which had a challenge only on the first time you played. When it was revealed that Alola would forgo gyms for more of an island challenge type thing, fans were curious to see how it went.
And, from what I've seen, reception has been mixed to positive. Some people gave Sun and Moon credit for wanting to be different, but other fans were fine with gyms -- they just wanted a rehaul on the system.
With that said, I do think that if gyms are to come back -- which I wouldn't totally be against -- then they need to be different and have true 'themes' if they're to properly last. Generation III experimented with the gym system when they had Tate and Liza's double battle gym in Mossdeep, while Blue's Viridian City Gym in Heart Gold and Soul Silver lacked a specific type.
A pure ground or fire gym is useless at this point, but a gym that focuses solely on Trick Room users would be both fun and a challenge. What about a gym with an emphasis on combo moves (i.e. Rain Dance + Thunder) or even a return of the double battle gym -- but with different types?
Oh, and we actually need a dark type gym. How have we never had one when the type was introduced in Generation II?
If you bring gyms back, then you need to bring gym leader rematches back too. Getting gym leader rematches in some games, whether it was acquiring their phone number or getting a random call when you were in the middle of nowhere, was almost as big a pain as the Great Marsh's mud.
But, when you had a rematch with that one leader who nearly defeated your entire team with their ace -- or, if you went up against Steven's, in Generation III, SPECIAL SWEEPING AGGRON OF DOOM -- it was a challenge that you wanted to win. Even if some teams were easier than others thanks to the one-type focus the gym leaders had, seeing a flying leader bring out monsters that didn't just have the normal-flying type duo could sometimes make for strategic adjustments.
Though, Steven and his SPECIAL SWEEPING AGGRON OF DOOM never gained any levels in the third generation. What a shame...
"Gambling is bad. It can hurt kids! It can turn them into gamblers!" What was that I said about the rival earlier?
"If you're worried about a no-nonsense rival being the thing that sets parents off in a series that has angered people for far worse (not that we think PETA's anti-Pokemon stance makes any sense, though), then you're in need of some help."
- Jake (me) slide 3
Take no-nonsense rival out of there and replace it with the game corner. I understand the full-on removal of the Game Corner was done due to censorship of Platinum's game corners, especially in Europe and South Korea, but this needs to change.
There's nothing wrong with the game corner; it's harmless fun and it teaches kids that you can't always win in life. The better you get at something, the better chance you have at winning and buying better TMs for your team.
And to the soccer moms who will protest the game corner, I have one question for you. What's worse? The Game Corner, or the music you let your kid listen to? And speaking of music...
Players who hopped onto the Pokemon series starting with Generation V or later won't remember the GB Sounds, but this thing... well, just listen to the video above. If you've been around the Pokemon series as long as I have, those tears in your eyes are perfectly acceptable.
Why did I put the GB Sounds on here over something more memorable? We live in a time of nostalgia and, even if it's just chiptune versions of the current soundtrack, getting to hear the classic versions of the songs we grew up training our first Pokemon with is always a reminder of your past... and how far you've come now.
What classic, underappreciated Pokemon features do you want to see return? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!