Do you remember back in 2016 when Pokémon Go came out? It took the internet by storm. Everyone wanted some part of the action, from becoming a source of influence to countless memes to introducing new members to the Pokémon franchise.
Even though it’s not official yet, Generation 9, the ninth region and set of Pokemon within this 26-year-old franchise, is expected to be announced soon.
The big question is: how can Game Freak make Pokémon Gen 9 the best yet?
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Choosing a region is one of the most important things for a new generation. That said, it’s been a long time since we had a region based on the southern hemisphere. There are so many cool and crazy animals in Australia; for instance, we could get a fire/poison snake because we all know there is no shortage of snakes in Australia or have a water/ice platypus. The legendary Pokémon could be a rainbow serpent based on the indigenous Australian myth.
And how about a Pokemon Ranger based on the late, great Steve Irwin? There could be a side quest where we can go and fight forest fires with him and tame particularly tricksy Pokemon.
But most importantly, make the world feel alive. Not just with Pokémon, but with human connection between the regions. Pokemon worlds are always well made but rarely integrated, and Gen 9 would be a chance to put that right.
Spicing Up the Formula
Now, this might be an unpopular opinion, but I think that the Pokémon formula is becoming a bit redundant. We get a new starter Pokémon and start our quest to challenge and conquer the eight gyms. Then we take down an evil organization and become a champion, that’s it.
That doesn’t mean we stop trying something new. There should be an emphasis on innovation, experimenting with new things while sticking to our roots. Game Freak can accomplish a lot without straying too far from the Pokémon formula.
To clarify, catering to the now all grown-up audience of Pokémon, there could be an optional hard mode, better level scaling, and gym leaders with a whole six membered Pokémon team. Is that too much to ask for? It’s time we get rid of the notion that Pokemon is a child’s game and start creating optional content for its adult fanbase while keeping the spirit of Pokémon alive.
Game Freak has introduced some great ideas to Pokemon over the years. They introduce interesting mechanics such as the secret bases in Hoenn, digging in Sinnoh, sequels and difficulty options in Unova, flying on Latios in Kalos, and so much more.
Pokemon Frontier and Difficulty
It’s about time the Pokémon Frontier makes a comeback along with an interesting rival. I want to be engaged and thrilled during my playthrough, not use the EXP share to have my team be over-levelled before every opponent that’s supposed to be difficult. We’ve had different iterations of the Frontier such as the Maison or Battle Tree, but nothing quite hits it like Emerald’s Battle Frontier.
Now, the game is basically Rock, Paper, Scissors, but without any of the challenge or mystery. You’re told what move will be super effective so it’s a given you’ll press it and win. Game Freak needs to learn from Atlus’ Persona 5 Royal and deliver a turn-based system that feels fair and fun.
Megas have to be the coolest evolution they’ve ever added to the game, and the worst offense when they removed them. How could they bless our eyes with Mega Charizard X, giving it a Dragon typing, and then take it away forever? Megas are some of the best designs in the entire series. They carry their own weight, it’s a fourth evolution stage, balanced by the fact that you can only use it once per battle. Z-moves, while not as impactful, was definitely a feature I enjoyed.
They gave Pokemon their own signature moves, presenting us with some of the coolest animations in the franchise. It wasn’t just a move, but what gave the Pokemon from Sun and Moon personality. I loved seeing Incineroar jump in the ring or Decidueye fire its arrow. It’s possible Z-moves never make it back due to the competitive nature of the games, but Megas have to return at some point.
Narrative and Characters
Pokemon has a grand mythology, but it feels so shallow. We have concepts such the irregularity in space and time, a war between land and water, and the way light is affected by the sun and moon, yet it usually follows some evil corporation wanting to steal that power for some twisted plan.
The Unova region from Pokemon Black and White did a great job of exploring the mythos more deeply. It brought us a captivating ideology about the entire concept of Pokémon slavery and strong character arcs with characters such as N. It felt like a darker, more mature world that acknowledged older series fans.
Events and Post-Game
If the first section of the game is to become the champion and save the world, the second step should be about the discovery of the world and Pokémon, and more importantly what Pokémon mean to us and our own growth. Recently, the Detective Pikachu movie explored the relationship between Pikachu and the protagonist at a personal level. So, for a game all about Pokémon, we hardly forge bonds or have a dialogue with our Pokemon. Generation 9 needs to emphasize the relationship the player characters holds with its starter Pokemon, at the very least, similar to how the Persona 5 confidant system levels up relationships between its closely-knit cast.
And can we please get some cool in-game updates when a legendary Pokémon is reveal and released? Game Freak generally gives away Pokémon as gifts in certain retail stores or through the Wi-Fi, calling them Network Events. This is a poor way to handle the situation as it isn’t distributed worldwide, and if it is, then it’s a simple downloadable content as opposed to the interesting expansion areas we got in Diamond and Pearl during the Generation 4 games. Take us back to the time where we had to find Shaymin in its garden or walk on invisible stairs to reach Arceus.
Open World and Graphics
Pokemon Sword and Shield’s Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra brought us some of the best Pokemon landscapes in the entire franchise, but we are looking more than that – we know they can have a fully immersive open world, so let’s hope we can get that dream fulfilled with Generation 9.
Reigniting the Pokémon Spark
There hasn’t been a pair of pseudo-legendaries since having both Metagross and Salamance within Generation 3’s Hoenn region, and I would love for it to make a comeback in Generation 9.
Do you remember roaming the Sinnoh region of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, and how spotting a new creature that felt so familiar yet was completely new? These kinds of evolutions would make Generation 9 feel like a love letter to long-time fans. So it would be nice for Generation 9 to incorporate these aspects and elements from previous Pokémon games.
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