The Pokedex Meltdown from My Perspective

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A few weeks ago, during E3, the staff of GameFreak has revealed that not every pokemon from previous Pokemon games will be making it into the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield. Considering how entitled that people are becoming, it’s not hard to imagine that some of them would throw a fit when faced with the prospect of not getting everything they want.

What I didn’t anticipate was just how important it is to certain fans to collect over 800 of something, most of which won’t have any meaning to them outside of the act of collecting them. The sheer unreasonability of these interesting persons is exemplified pretty well in a reply that I got to an observation that I’ve made on this matter:

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This self-professed overlord of lunatics is taking the news so poorly that he’s willing to destroy the game company that gave them the game that he enjoyed to begin with. If there are any geese out there that lay golden eggs, this news might just put them on edge.

Now that the temper tantrums are dying down and the mouths emitting them are finally tiring out, we can finally start hearing voices of reason on this matter.

When I heard that not every pokemon from previous games would be making it to Sword and Shield, it really didn’t bother me much at all. This has to do with my previous experience with Pokemon, and with similar games.

When I first got into Pokemon, it was when I watched the first episode of the anime in 1998, when it debuted in the States. Since then, I also played the video games and the trading card game.

The Pokemon Trading Card Game (Pokemon TCG) was and is similar to other trading card games in that a few new sets are released every year, and that it didn’t take long before the multitude of different available cards made it difficult for new players to emerge onto the competitive scene, and making it challenging for the game makers to maintain a balanced game that’s fun to play.

To cope with this, the game makers introduced the concept of a standard competitive format which saw older cards rotated out, usually on a yearly basis. Seasoned players had to adapt to a continually changing competitive game, but that wasn’t much of an issue for them, because they remained interested in the game enough to continue buying new cards, and new players had an easier time getting into the game without having to concern themselves with hundreds (possibly thousands) of old cards that were no longer competitively relevant.

It’s because of this concept of rotation that the idea of leaving some less-relevant or meta-breaking pokemon out of a new Pokemon game makes intuitive sense to me. I’ve been playing games long enough to see the same principle applied to numerous other games, including the Pokemon TCG.

What’s more, we saw a similar practice in the Pokemon anime. Ash and Pikachu have been recurring characters, but eventually Ash got in the habit of leaving his old pokemon with the professor and focusing on new pokemon as he traveled to different regions. Even human traveling companions such as Brock and Misty have long-since gone their separate ways, and Ash’s core circle of friends have changed with time.

1484032488-3214bb8e28a979d1e3e0fe9b6cab30f5Not pictured: Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle.

It’s a simple fact of life that as time goes on, the resources available to a person changes, and these changes can result in a different life experience. If a person leaves one job and finds a different one, they’re no longer doing what they previously did for a living, and they might be making a much different amount of money. Their last job is no longer a factor in their living. If a person moves to a different area, they may have a different climate to become accustomed to, what’s convenient to them might change, and they’ll have a different set of neighbors.

One of the challenges of playing games like Pokemon is that they test a person to make better judgements over the course of the game, even as the amount of resources available to the player during gameplay changes, usually increasing, but in some cases decreasing.

Another matter relating to this to consider is that sometimes a game maker faces challenges while making games alongside Nintendo. This is due to a long-held practice Nintendo has had where, when they notice that a game is stalling in development, they’ll throw out all the assets and restart development from scratch, with only the ideas behind the game to go on. Game makers have come to refer to this practice as “flipping the table”, and it conjures an image of an abusive Japanese father getting upset and flipping a table over, allowing everything on it to fall onto the floor.

While this sounds extreme, Nintendo is usually justified in doing it. Sometimes, during the course of development, a game gets to be bogged down with features and other elements that weigh down the experience, or don’t significantly contribute to it. Development on a game can seriously slow as game makers struggle to decide which elements they can justify keeping, and a lot of time can be wasted on endeavors that turn out to be counter-productive. Sometimes, flipping the table is just what it takes to get development more focused, and the prospect of it happening may be daunting enough to get game developers focused on their projects to begin with!

With this in mind, let’s consider a few things we know about Pokemon Sword and Shield:

  • Mega evolutions aren’t going to be included in the game.
  • Neither are Z-moves.
  • Some character models, such as Wingull, aren’t animated very well.
  • There are poor textures on certain models, such as the trees.
  • Not every pokemon from previous games will be present.
  • All this in spite of the fact that a Pokemon game for Switch has been hyped for a long time.

When you consider all this, it becomes evident that Pokemon Sword and Shield have been stalling in development as the game makers have been struggling to incorporate gameplay elements from previous installments while at the same time trying to maintain a balanced game with a competitive element.

To those who don’t know Nintendo very well, the Sword and Shield gameplay demo, along with the news that certain pokemon and features won’t make it into the game, is considered evidence of GameFreak being lazy. But to those of us more familiar with Nintendo, it appears more likely that GameFreak has been struggling to include characters and features from previous games while still making a balanced and coherent gameplay experience that is to Nintendo’s liking.

While it’s easy to blame Nintendo for (possibly) obstructing progress on Sword and Shield, Nintendo usually only steps in to flip the table when progress stalls. When it comes to games that Nintendo licenses, their reputation is on the line, so there’s something in it for them to ensure that a quality product is released in a reasonable amount of time.

While there’s more that can be said, I think that perspective provides plenty to consider when it comes to the Pokedex Meltdown, or the National Dex Fiasco, or Dexit, or whatever you call it. Obviously, not everyone is taking the news well. If you happen to be in the Barboach fan club, it might be a tough time for you.

1 thought on “The Pokedex Meltdown from My Perspective

  1. Lloyd Frangos

    The reaction has been completely unnecessary, the total amount of Pokemon will go past 1000 I believe, there’s no way you can catch ’em all. But your comparison to the TCG is spot on, the VG competitive scene will have some sort of impact on the sort of Pokemon included in the game though in my opinion and I think there’s worse things about this game like Datamax thing.

    Reply

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