As the champion of Alola, Hoenn, Kalos, Unova, Sinnoh, Johto, and possibly Kanto (am I still champion if I don’t defeat Red? I did beat the elite four and Lance) I consider myself a bit of a Pokemon fan. Just a Pokemon fan in general, because no matter how much I analyze my play throughs, I can’t decide which of my journeys was the best. Each time I beat the elite four I would write down my team and all associated details (nickname, level, gender, move set, if shiny, carried item, nature, and, ability) in my Purple Pokemon Notebook. So after spending all of my free time obsessing over which was the best, I realized that I couldn’t put one over the other because for every awesome feature one game had, it didn’t have something from another. I then decided to completely ignore the plots, Pokemon, dex entries, and characters. Mostly. I may of strayed from that just a bit. Instead I tried to pick out the best features found in each generation that I felt could of carried over to more than one game. Really this is just a wish list for what I want in the next game. For the sake of simplicity I’ll put features found in Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby under Kalos as the most of the changes in there appeared in XY first, but other remakes will stay with their region.
Generation 1 (Kanto)
For Kanto the thing really shines to me is the rival. ENTER NAME HERE (I’m Batman and In America are fine choices) is somebody to routinely test your growth throughout the Kanto journey while heckling you from the sidelines. He’s a Grade A Jerk and that’s what makes it so fun to take him down a peg every time no matter what type advantages he has over you. The rivals in following games are alright, but they just don’t have the same feeling.
Also, your starter, the Pikachu that follows you around in Yellow stands out in this generation. At first it’s none to pleased to have a trainer (much like the cartoon version), but it soon warms up to you and its fun to watch it become a formidable partner throughout the game. It goes beyond the typical walking Pokemon as this guy has a unique personality that evolves throughout the game.
Generation 2 (Johto)
In the DS remakes Johto has walking Pokemon, and it’s just about the coolest thing ever. The first Pokemon in your party follows you around (even keeping its shiny sprite!) and you can turn around and see if its happy or found you an item! This charm is something that reminds me every time why I love each of my cute Pokemon outside of battle and it’s honestly the feature I miss the most.
Traveling to Kanto and being able to be Champion twice is too cool. It’s nice to challenge the Kanto gym leaders with a brand new team and once again reach the hall of fame. I spent much more time in Lavender town than was needed just listening to the updated theme and thinking about how the place became much brighter.
Apricorn balls are basically free items and I love them. A free pokeball is the best kind of free item, because I never catch anything on my first throw. Also you can just having the running shoes set on the touch screen. No more pressing B! It sounds really lame, but after so long it’s pretty convenient.
Generation 3 (Hoenn)
This game introduces two of my favorite things; secret bases and double battles. The double battles are just what they sound like and some Pokemon really play well off of each other with perhaps one having an attack like surf that hits everyone on the field and the other maybe having immunity to said attack. The secret bases allow for customization as you can buy furniture and plushes and decorate your space however you want.
You also have a father. Seriously, he runs the gym and interacts with you and everything! A first for the game where theres only a mother and perhaps a brief mention of the father (I still think Professor Oak should do a DNA sample).
Out of all the games so far I believe that generation threes Emerald offers the best melding of story lines. Pokemon commonly made third versions that put the two counterparts together such as Yellow, Platinum, Crystal; but those were almost the exact same story with some added features. Sapphire and Ruby had two different ‘evil teams’ and in the Emerald game both had a chance at the spotlight and they fought for it. It felt like a real conflict where theres more than two sides to a story, and the type advantages where a bit more balanced instead of being too overpowered or weak based on what starter you choose.
Generation 4 (Sinnoh)
The two experiences in Sinnoh that stand out to me would have to the the Villa and the Underground. Both seem to make the game more personal as the player can obtain their own home in Platinum, slowly buying more furniture as other characters come to visit. It’s fun to see the different interactions everyone has to the Villa, and just a nice detail that a person who became champion is now a homeowner.
The Underground is also rather unique with many features such as mining, sphere trading, multiplayer features, and the return of secret bases. Much like generation three this allows for a sense of customization beyond the Pokemon team itself. Now if only we could have that AND character customization in the same game. . . . .
Generation 5 (Unova)
For game mechanics nothing stood out to me in Unova, but the characters more than make up for that. But in terms of features there’s one thing that separates itself from the rest. N. That seems like a really short reason, but N is probably one of my favorite characters, acting differently than other ‘friendly rivals’ as he truly does like you and yet still disagrees with you. He’s almost the anti Silver in that the plot ties him to the player, but he doesn’t seem to mind all that much. For Unova he counts as an ‘impressive feature’.
Generation 6 (Kalos)
It’s the little things that matter, and Kalos made me realize this with the fact that the player could sit in chairs. It’s such a small detail, but honestly one of the best and I was sad to see that it was absent in Alola. Kalos has many benches strewn across the world and you can sit in all of them. I imagine that these are the real life benches in France where the hero sits down and has a nice cup of coffee while taking in the scenery.
This is also the game to introduce character customization, and if any feature should remain for the future of Pokemon, let this be the one. When it disappeared in ORAS I was admittedly heartbroken (I did not like the females stupid hat) and I breathed a sigh of relief when it returned to for Sun and Moon. Choosing hair and clothes isn’t what comes to mind when Pokemon is mentioned, but I like to keep a bit of a theme to match my Pokemon. Also the character has an ambiguous age, depending on how you customize your character you can look anywhere from twelve to twenty and the commentary from the NPCs don’t explicitly say your age, unlike other games (looking at you Alola).
This is also one of the first Pokemon games to be in 3D, and it looks impressive. Little rocks that were hard to identify in early games became huge boulders. The camera angles changed in some areas allowing for a better look at the night sky that deserves an in game post card. The art for these games has evolved throughout the years and while Unova was great, this was beyond anything I could of hoped for.
Other smaller but notable features were the nicknames a player could have, traveling Pokemon animations (that Lapras used to be imagined in games, now we can see it) and Pokemon Amie (nintendogs for Pokemon with mini games). Mega evolution also makes the list, but I didn’t really use it that much.
Generation 7 (Alola)
The biggest thing people note in Sun inMoon is the lack of HM’s and for good reason. No longer do I have to be careful if I have a Pokemon that can learn the needed move and then give up a precious move slot for it. It’s also really cool to just have the power to call on a Pokemon to do a service whenever I want.
The other broken tradition (if you don’t count Orre) is the absence of gym battles. Instead each island has a trial that must be completed and instead of badges the player can receive Z crystals which allow Pokemon to preform special moves accompanied by over the top animations. Some of these moves are even exclusive to certain species allowing perks for the trainers that don’t evolve their Pokemon.
Another new feature I really like is a new time of battling called Pokemon Royal, basically a free for all with four players. The battle ends once somebody has their entire team knocked out and the winner is the person with the most kills and most Pokemon left standing.
In Alola, Amie seemed to be reborn in the form of Pokemon refresh. It’s basically nintendogs, but instead of the mini games Amie had you can heal the status conditions you get in battle. Other small things such as seeing trainers during battle come to mind, they could have easily just kept that out, but by putting it in they really bring the battle to life.
The final two features that I need to mention are the Alolan forms and the Champion title. Alolan forms are a different take on some of the original 150 Pokemon and like real life species it shows how a different environment can change a species over time. Personally I have an adorable Alolan Ninetails named Io, and she’s climbed her way into my heart. The other feature that’s really cool is that in this game, as the first Alolan champion, you have to defend that title. In previous games if you take on the elite four again and fight the other champion earning a pat on the back, but here everyone steps up to the plate to give all they got and the player needs to pack all their potions to be prepared.
As A Series
Last of all and probably the coolest part of playing Pokemon is the story progression and tie ins between the games. In our Johto journey we can travel back to Kanto and see whats changed since our adventures there such as the gym leaders and checking up on Red’s mom. Colosseum and Unova have their sequel games that show how the games story impacted the regions and whats changed in the years between the current adventure and the last. Agent Looker appears here and there throughout the games, and it always brings a smile to my face when he, once again, enlist the help of some kid to do his own job. Alola in the celebration of twenty glorious years brings back Red, Blue, and the Alolan version of Professor Oak to remind us that even if we aren’t playing in Kanto, these stories carry over. Whether it be a mention of team rocket or making fun of the silent protagonist, any reference to a previous game puts a stupid smile on my face. Pokemon is a game where even with 100% completion and the credits rolling I still feel the need to say “And the journey continues”.