Pokemon, why did you get so complicated?


Remember those heady times when Pokemon was so simple you could play it on a calculator? Ah, those were the days. In fact, remember calculators? Ah yes, those were the days indeed.

I used to think that I would never get old, that I would always understand the younger generation and modern technology because I grew up with it all. But there's one thing I feel that I've lost touch with: Pokemon.

Pokemon got complicated. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, and I'm not saying Red and Blue were the peak of the series - that was probably Gold or Ruby, mostly because I just really liked my starter Pokemon back then. And although I do think the recent Pokemon games are good in their own way, there was a beautiful simplicity in some of the earlier games that they miss.

Why can't I now help but worry about EV and IV stats? Why can't I just beat the Elite Four with my starter Pokemon, a bird I've had since the beginning, some random creatures I think are cute, and a tonne of potions? What do you mean I have to have a Shy Tyranitar and a Curious Rhyhorn?

Mewtwo can evolve now? What the hell is the Pokerus? Are you telling me my Charmander has an STD?

I understand that Pokemon can be a very competitive, intense and strategic game while also being a game in which I get to name bunch of fluffy animals things like 'Butts' and 'Cakehole', but it must be a little overwhelming for new players coming to the franchise.

I once went to a Pokemon tournament hosted by Johnny Vegas where he and I bonded over the fact that the large group of 11-15 year-olds seemed to just inherently understand the complicated stuff that goes on behind those console screens while we stood back, baffled but impressed. I sort of wanted to ask them what they knew about premium bonds or PPI just to get the upper hand, but I didn't.

So yes, sometimes I wonder if nothing has changed and actually I'm just looking back on my childhood with nostalgia goggles, but then I see things like Mega Evolutions and realise I can't be alone in thinking that things have got a bit out of hand. Did you know that there are now over 700 different monsters? If I mentioned Bastiodon would you know if I was talking about a Pokemon or a hip new indie band? Me neither.

Don't get me wrong, later games have brought some cool new features - the weather cycle, the day/night cycle, condition-based evolutions (within limits) - all good ideas that make the world seem more real and engaging. But it feels like some have also made the game unnecessarily more difficult. Why am I feeding my Feebas poffins to raise its beauty stat just so it can evolve when I should be blowing my money in the casino like a normal functioning adult of the Pokemon world?

So here's my proposal for the next generation of games: just strip it back a bit. I'm cool with the way the Pokemon games look now. Very pretty. Very colourful. The 3D is a nice touch. But let's stop churning out new creatures like God on a tight deadline. For the developers to add 100 new species each generation seemed like an unnecessarily difficult challenge, so 72 in X and Y was a welcome compromise - but even 50 would surely suffice. It also makes the Pokemon Professors look incompetent. Oh, you only just noticed 500 new species just flapping around the land? How the hell did you get the title 'Pokemon Professor' in the first place?

Sure, maybe keep some of the cuter new Pokemon, the ones that don't look like Digimon cast-offs. Have you seen Cinccino and Sylveon? Yeah, they can stay. But Diggersby? What the hell happened there? The improved dialogue and more in-depth plots are good too, but Mega Evolutions? Blast off. Fairy type? Go away.

Call me an out of touch old grump, but am I the only one who'd like the next set of Pokemon games rein it in again just a bit?