I used to play Pokémon.
I still have fond memories of wandering around Pallet Town, of saving the world and crushing my rivals, of having my team of tiny monsters with fantastic powers defeating all who stood before me in my inexorable march to League Champion. I remember loving those virtual creatures like I would real life pets, giving them food and scritches from time to time by pulling out my DS from my back pocket.
And then I stopped playing.
Did I grow up? I don’t think so. I still think there’s a winning formula to Pokémon, and I’d be more than willing to come back to it at some point. But Pokémon would have to change. It would have to get a little smarter, a little wiser, and it’d have to stop doing some dumb, dumb things that just insult my intelligence.
In other words, Pokémon would have to grow up.
Oh my god, I did grow up. Ugh…
Well, whatever. There’s no going back now. I’ve seen too much. I’ve learned too much. And what I know now is that Pokémon does too many stupid things every generation to get me to come back to playing it.
What are those things? I’m glad you asked. Let’s go over them together, shall we?
15 Making Everyday Objects Into Pokémon
Part of the magic of Pokémon was how fantastic it was. These were creatures that may vaguely remind us of an animal that exists in real life, but has cannons coming out of its shell, or has vines for legs, or wings that are literally on fire.
Somewhere along the way, Game Freak thought it was a good idea to start making mundane objects into Pokémon, and they weren’t fooling anyone. Blastoise? Sure it’s a turtle, but it’s a turtle with cannons. Vanilluxe? It’s just an ice cream cone with a face. That’s not cool, that’s just dumb.
Then there’s Klefki (keys), Trubbish (a literal pile of garbage), Klink (two gears), Solosis (a single cell), or Sawk (a dude in a black belt). They’re mundane Pokémon. There’s no magic in them! I first need the magic to come back before I do too.
14 Only One Save File
I can understand back in the day technology was limited, and maybe the memory constraints of the Gameboy cartridge would only allow a single save file. That was fine. But we are a long way away from the original Gameboy.
Technology has improved vastly since then. The argument that you can only have a single save file on a Gameboy cartridge today because it doesn’t have enough memory is a bald-faced lie.
Beat the game and want to play it again? Too bad! You gotta delete your save, and all your hard-earned Pokémon with it. That’s an antiquated, crappy way to make a game and it needs to get with the times.
13 Sending Children Off On Their Own Without Any Supervision
Right after determining your gender (a whole different problem we will discuss at length later), you’re sent out into the world with your Pokédex to help catalog Pokémon for a lazy scientist. That’s been the start to every Pokémon game since time immemorial, and it has got to stop.
First off, it sends the completely wrong message as to what you should do with your children. Do NOT send your children off to become Pokémon champions without constant and direct parental supervision!
Second, what the hell is wrong with these scientists? Sending children to do their dirty work? That would be illegal in every country in the developed world, not to mention the fact the data they get back would be terrible. How can you trust a 9-year-old to take good field notes? This is sending the completely wrong message on proper scientific method!
12 Tall Grass = Death Trap
While we’re on the topic of sending Children off into the world, how about we linger on the subject of tall grass? Or how in every Pokémon game, some poor schmuck comes tearing out of the weeds, panting and bleeding, to warn you about how dangerous it is to go waltzing through the tulips without a little monster bodyguard?
Also, a bit of a mixed message with both sending a kid out to explore the magical world of Pokémon with nary a parent in sight, and then immediately scaring the crap out of the tyke by showing them how dangerous the foliage can be.
Seriously Pokémon, make up your mind.
11 Adding New Powers Every Generation
The latest iterations of the series are no longer content to simply add more Pokémon (to the point where there are now over 800 of them), they have to keep upping the ante. First, it was Mega Evolutions, where regular, perfectly acceptable Pokémon become turbocharged because they’re holding a rock that makes them go Super Saiyan. Then in Sun and Moon, it was Z-Moves where trainers and Pokémon “combine” to “attack with the full power of both.”
So that’s two animé tropes down, I guess the next generation will feature giant robots piloted by Pokémon?
The madness must stop. Bring Pokémon back to its roots of simple, paper-scissor-rock based combat.
10 Having Only Boy/Girl Option
I’d like to think we live in a slightly more enlightened time than when the original Pokémon Red/Blue was released in 1996. We know now that the black and white dichotomy of boy and girl isn’t something that is always true 100% of the time. Sometimes there’s in-between. Sometimes there’s neither. And sometimes maybe you’d just prefer not to conform to genre norms.
Whatever the case, it’s none of that nosey professor’s business what junk I have in my pants, which is irrelevant in the first place. A third option is desperately needed (which, by the way, exists in the fan-made Pokémon Uranium).
9 Can’t Auto-Catch Paralyzed/Asleep Pokémon
So I throw my Pokéball at a paralyzed Pokémon, and it somehow manages to struggle free. Despite being paralyzed. And, by definition, cannot move.
Sleeping Pokémon seem to have the same ability to writhe and break free from my Pokéball’s grip despite being unconscious. Why? How? So many questions.
We’re not even going to get started on the fact that a fainted Pokémon can still Fly, or Surf, or Cut down trees, or move heavy boulders, or eat enough candy to level up and evolve.
8 Pokémon “Faint” Instead Of “Die”
I get it. Pokémon is a kid’s game. We can’t teach children about the scary concept of death. It’s too scary. Better to let them believe that fire-breathing Charizard just made the other Pokémon faint. It’s easier that way.
Nevermind the fact we’re apparently abundantly comfortable with shoving our children out the door to explore the brave new world - death is where we draw the line.
It’s a little beyond bizarre to bestow children with the burden of scientific progress while simultaneously shielding them from the facts of life. Then again, maybe kids wouldn’t be so gung-ho about engaging in virtual cock-fighting if their pets actually died when they were done.
So it’s about business. I get it. But Phoenix Downs are a thing in other games. We can just make Pokémon into necromantic cock-fighting. That’d be better, right?
7 Each Generation Gets Progressively Easier To Play
Either that, or I just got progressively better at Pokémon, but I have reason to suspect that the game has been targeting a younger audience for some time now.
First off, there’s the issue of Gym Leaders. Back in the early days of Pokémon, circa Gen I through Gen III, Gym Leaders typically had a massive level advantage when compared to the surrounding retinue of trainers. This meant that the player either had to display some game knowledge and build a team with type advantages, or they had to level up their Pokémon to compete. Nowadays it seems the Gym Leaders have Pokémon at far lower levels, making those final battles far easier.
But the worst offense here is how often the latest generations of Pokémon games will simply heal your entire team after every fight. Random battle with your rival time? Rival heals them post fight. Been tromping through a forest for a while and your team is getting whittled down? Some random nurse shows up to heal you. It makes it so players no longer need to manage their resources and stock up on potions before venturing into the wild unknown.
6 Move Deleter And HMs
Ahem. HMs can die in a fire. There, I said it.
It’s not that I have a problem with HMs, per se. They perform a vital function in that they limit where a player can roam, preventing them from accessing areas of the game they shouldn’t be able to. That’s fine. My problem is that after HMs are taught, they cannot be unlearned without the help of a so-called Move Deleter.
That sucks. If a Pokémon can be as easily coded as a build-it-yourself website, then I should be able to delete those moves when they’re no longer necessary. This hassle of a Move Deleter makes it so I can’t have my favorite Pokémon learn the move they need, when they need it, and get rid of it when they don’t. It makes it harder to plan your move sets as you’re playing the game, and makes the necessity of an HM mule a thing.
It needs to stop. Stop it, Pokémon. Just stop it.
5 Grind Of Pokémon Breeding
Breeding. Say it a few times. Sounds awful, right? Well, so is the act in Pokémon.
First off, you gotta get a breeding pair. A male and a female of the same Pokémon will work, but there’s also this weird family tree business where two Pokémon of different species can also breed. That’s not really how genetics work, but whatever.
Then you gotta wait for an egg. This can take awhile unless you decide to hop on your bike and just ride around town for awhile. Then you come back, and magically your two different species have popped out an egg. Cool.
Then you gotta hatch your egg, which means yet more cycling around town because your egg will hatch after you’ve taken a certain number of in-game “steps.” What this effectively means is that you hold down the d-pad in whatever direction and wait for the game to announce your egg is hatching.
That’s not even the worst part.
Whoever thought up IVs (or Intrinsic Values if yo’ nasty) can jump in the dumpster fire that I threw HMs into.
IVs are a way of making sure that every Pokémon is unique stats-wise even after they’ve been fully trained and leveled. It makes it so certain Pokémon are just intrinsically stronger or weaker than others. For the longest time it was a hidden value, but in the latest generation, you can actually see it. It’s set at birth, and can never be changed.
But via a complicated method of breeding outlined in the picture above, you can affect what IVs your Pokémon is born with. It takes multiple (i.e. hundreds, if not THOUSANDS) of breeding iterations before you get a Pokémon with perfect IVs.
If you want to play competitive Pokémon, this is what you do. It’s a completely stupid waste of time, which is why Pokémon Showdown exists.
3 Always Having A Rival
You know what? Not everybody needs a rival. You don’t always need some childhood opponent to drive yourself to improve. Sometimes people do it on their own. That’s what school is for.
But of course school doesn’t exist in the world of Pokémon since we’re sending out kids on life-long field trips to the Pokémon league, so I guess you need a rival.
My problem with the rivals is that they’re getting progressively less rivalry. In the first and second generations, the rival was a real jerk who just got in everyone’s way and wanted power for its own sake, teaching children the important lesson that power corrupts. The latest generations just make the rival to be a friend you engage in competition every so often, with no lessons at all.
If there’s going to be a rival, make them a douche I want to punch.
2 Terrifying Descriptions Of Pokémon And Then Never Actually Showing It
Let’s read a few random Pokédex entries. Ah, here’s one:
Chandelure - "Being consumed in Chandelure's flame burns up the spirit, leaving the body behind."
So every Pokémon I kill - sorry, “faint” with my Chandelure is just a soulless husk? Creepy. Let’s do another.
Victreebel - “Once ingested into this Pokémon's body, even the hardest object will melt into nothing.”
This is objectively false, as I’ve used a Victreebel before and it never melted any of the Pokémon I fought with it. Oh, I found a good one!
Oranguru - "Deep in the jungle, high in the lofty canopy, this Pokémon abides."
The Oranguru abides, my friends. The Oranguru abides.
The Dude references aside, if the in-game description of my monster is terrifying, then I want to see it being terrifying, otherwise, I feel like I’m just being lied to.
1 Completely Incompetent Villains
In every Pokémon, the player somehow gets involved in a world-ending plot by some villainous criminal enterprise, and every time they’re stopped by that very same player. Who is a child.
Seriously? Every single super villain in Pokémon can be defeated by a child? Often without even being level 60?!
Ridiculous. Preposterous. Absurd. And yet it happens every single game.
Pokémon needs a villain that actually is competent enough to stand up to a child. Maybe it’s time for those villains to admit that they’ve fallen behind on their schooling from all this world-wandering and Pokémon fighting, and they desperately need to get an education so they can stop being foiled by a child.