Since its foundation, the Pokémon series has offered a compelling alternate take on the JRPG genre. The franchise has given players plenty of good memories as they adventure through different regions with their Pokemon. There is often a rigid formula to this adventure, with trainers needing to work through eight gyms and defeat other foes along the way. Some spinoffs like Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon Legends: Arceus have significantly changed this formula, but it still holds true in the games, even if more recent titles have provided alternatives to normal gyms.
Regardless, Pokémon remains a worldwide smash hit, with games routinely selling millions of copies. The formula, old as it is, has been built to last. that said, Pokémon fans would like Game Freak to experiment more in some areas, like the games going back to supporting every Pokemon again. Other common complaints involve the series’ almost universally low difficulty right up until the Elite Four, and the post-game content in modern entries feeling underwhelming. Pokémon is slowly making advances and reconsidering its design elements, but there is one simple addition a future game could do to make it instantly more appealing. After so many years of being a leader in the RPG genre, it feels overdue for Pokémon to have a New Game+.
New Game+ is Great for Extending Playtime
New Game+ is a recurring feature in RPGs and other games. Most of the time, it allows the player to take some of their progress from a completed playthrough back to the beginning of the game. These bonuses can include levels or gear, and sometimes even include characters or other things that don’t make narrative sense to be present for the beginning. That’s just New Game+ in its most simple form, however. Some games do much more with the feature, such as raising the difficulty, adding new story content, or even allowing for specialty runs. the tales franchise is especially notable with its Grade system, allowing players to purchase certain bonuses or restrictions when transitioning between playthroughs.
In general, New Game+ is a robust feature to have and can serve as an easy way to give a game some replay value. Even at its most basic, some players will still feel thrilled by the chance to crush their old enemies with endgame stats. Others will value the new story perspectives and gameplay experiences that New Game+ can offer, a version associated with the NIER games but also in other titles such as Final Fantasy Type-0. Still, others relish the challenge, as New Game+ can substitute for a hard mode in a game that doesn’t have difficulty selection. the Dark Souls games employ a stacking New Game+ system, allowing the player to keep everything they had while also increasing enemy health and damage with each run.
How Pokemon Would Have to Change to Fit New Game+
Considering the feature’s proliferation throughout JRPGs, it seems odd that Pokémon has yet to adopt it. There are actually several reasons for this, as core tenets of the series may need to change to accommodate this new feature. for one, Pokémon titles already have a post-game that opens up after the credits. Initiating New Game+ to reset story progress would require abandoning its often repeatable content, and the player would need to be warned of this. NG+ would also raise the question of how much post-game content is necessary, potentially leading to it being reduced. Perhaps even more important is that players restarting the story might get the chance to select another starter Pokemon. These special creatures are normally restricted to the initial choice or online trading, so Game Freak would need to think hard before allowing such a sacred element to be changed.
A New Game+ would ideally help players bring their Pokemon up to level 100, but doing that would involve raising the level curve of the whole game. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, as having New Game+ setting up its level curve so that endgame wild Pokemon and trainers would be nearing level 100 would help the player strengthen their team without too much grinding. Having trainers and wild Pokemon in the first Routes be 10 to 20 levels higher would feel refreshing, and would make catching early species of Pokemon feel more incentivized. Still, the player’s old high-level team would still be there, and steamrolling old content would get boring after a while.
New Game+ Could Offer Many Benefits to Pokemon Trainers
A smoother trip to level 100 and a second starter still sounds like excellent incentives for certain kinds of players tackling New Game+. There are potentially more bonuses than that, however. If Game Freak permits trainers to select a second starter on their second playthrough, then it makes sense that any mutually exclusive Fossil Pokemon or NPC trades would also offer their alternate rewards. Pokémon New Game+ would probably only allow for one repeat loop to prevent players from easily farming special beasts, but it would only take a couple of such creatures to incentivize a Pokemon collector to take the plunge. That should ensure that online multiplayer can let NG+ players interact with everyone else, as it’s unlikely that a Pokémon New Game+ would raise the potential strength of a participating trainer.
The same can’t be said for enemy trainers, however. Pokémon is in need of a harder difficulty, and New Game+ would be the perfect place to put it. Knowing that players would have the skills and Pokemon to defeat the regional champion would allow Game Freak to increase the difficulty and complexity of the second run. Enemy trainers would not only have higher-level Pokemon but would also employ competitive strategies and held items more often. Alternate battle formats like Double Battles could become more widespread to surprise players. It would also be fun to see a mainline Pokémon title take after a fangame and make impossible boss teams out of legendary Pokemon. A lot can be done with a New Game+ option in Pokémonand hopefully Game Freak will recognize this in the future.
Pokémon Scarlet and violet are set to release in Holiday 2022 for Nintendo Switch.
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