Content of the article: "Is there a way to incorporate the “love and friendship” message of Pokemon into the game itself? Because right now it is an extremely hollow theme."
The Pokemon series rests on the themes of love, friendship, and teamwork (notably between the player and their pokemon). This is not just a theme of the games, it is the theme. It is a time-endured message that has persisted since the very first games came out in 1994. Every generation of Pokemon games incorporates it into the narrative. It not only is present but dominates the plot lines and narratives. The idea is that your success as a trainer is entirely dependent on how well you treat your pokemon and how much you two love each other and care for each other, to form a whole that is stronger than its parts.
… except this doesn't play out in the game mechanics at all. The actual optimal gameplay is to grind your pokemon and treat them like modular tools to be used and abused. Catch and kidnap a pokemon from its natural surroundings, dragging it kicking and screaming into the poke ball. Then force it to fight other pokemon over and over again until it reaches a suitable level for beating the next boss. Lather, rinse, repeat, until the game is over.
To Nintendo's credit, recent pokemon games have tried to patch this flaw somewhat by "humanizing" their pokemon a little – for example, introducing a disposition system where the pokemon will like/dislike you, and allowing you to do other things with your pokemon like contests and fashion shows. But it all feels pretty hollow because at the end of the day your pokemon are still tools to be coldly utilized to reach a goal.
Is there a way to change this? To guide players to actually demonstrate some form of affection and connection with pokemon? Obviously there is a limited extent to which this is possible, given that pokemon are not real and this is all just electronic bits and bytes on a screen. But other video games have done it. When I played through Mass Effect for example, I came out of it feeling a very real kinship with team members even though they weren't real either. So Pokemon should at least make an attempt at fostering something similar.
Perhaps incorporate plot missions where you actually instruct your pokemon to do stuff in the world (ie search for clues) instead of just sitting in their pokeballs waiting to be used during battles? Or have cutscenes where your pokemon come to the rescue when you're in trouble? I'm not sure exactly, but there must be a way. Otherwise the love and friendship theme of the games comes across as a big joke.
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