So many things are handed to you in the new games. The player is absolutely discouraged to find anything on their own or spend time away from the main plot, because nothing’s there. Everything you need is handed to you during the story.
Gift pokemon were always a thing, but you had to go out of your way to find them.
In X and Y? FREE VERSION OF ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL POKEMON IN THE GAME, WITH A MEGA STONE THROWN IN.
FREE SECOND KANTO STARTER.
GAMES AREN’T MEANT TO BE HARD.
And don’t lie and say we never had to use them.
We all used that lucario.
We all used that second starter.
WHAT ABOUT A FREE LATIAS/LATIOS?
WHAT IF WE JACK UP STORY LEGENDARY CATCH RATES TO THE POINT OF BEING DISAPPOINTINGLY EASY?
Imagine if the new games were challenging.
No need for HMs.
THE EXP SHARE.
A map marker pointing you where to go at all times.
Rotomdex constantly popping up on the bottom screen and telling you what to do and where to go.
Remember finding the magma hideout in Emerald? You had to actively hunt it down.
That must’ve been hard for kids who don’t remember anything. Like the fact that Norman was the fourth gym. In the remakes, you get approached by characters at several points and teleported to where you need to go.
I always say no because i’m a strong, independent petulant fanboy who don’t need no handouts.
The games are so easy, exploring would be a total waste of time. You could just catch 6 random pokemon right at the start of the game, and then exp share them to 20 levels above all the important battles and bam. Clean sweep.
Sun and Moon are almost offensively restrictive at times. They have this great, looping world design, where the islands are more or less a big circle with a bunch of other roads in the middle.
HOWEVER, it seems they made the world before they made the story, because it has to pull so many excuses to make you go the wrong way, it makes the cameramen blocking the lake in gen 4 seem like they have a valid reason.
This includes a stoutland just sort’ve… being there in the middle of the road, characters constantly telling you to do certain things, and at one point, having a long talking cutscene, then locking you in a room until you talk to someone else, then letting you go. There’s even one point where a route is blocked by a barricade until you beat one of the trials, then you can get past the barricade, but you’re immediately blocked from actually travelling down that route by a ride pokemon blockade, which you’re immediately given upon entering the route for the first possible time. The route leading up to the barricade is open to you until you beat that first trial, even though you never have to go down it, so what’s the point of all this?
One of these blocks was just redundant. Maybe just remove the trigger to get the ride pokemon until after you beat the trial, and then the player can feel like they could be rewarded for seeing this and coming back later. In fact, you don’t see this particular ride pokemon barricade at all until this point in the game. It’s literally impossible to encounter it before you get to the route. You don’t even see this ride pokemon blockage again until you get to Vast Poni Canyon, the only genuinely great dungeon in the game.
If i were some pseudo-intellectual critic who thought that i was smarter than i actually am, i’d claim that all of these were examples of ludonarrative dissonance (when the game’s narrative conflicts with it’s gameplay), however i fully understand how braindead stupid i am so…
Instead i’ll say this:
I’m not doing the story because i care about the conflict, or Lillie, Gladion, Hau, The Ultra Beasts, Lusamine, etc.
I’m doing the story because the game will not allow me to continue exploring this fantastic world and finding new pokemon UNTIL i do my time and get RSI hammering the A button while waiting for everyone to stop talking so that the next roadblock will move.
You may be thinking “but they had roadblocks in previous games” and… well yes they did, but to clear them, you had to go and find things for yourself. The fact it was possible to MISS THE ITEMS is what made them actually fine, because it was all part of exploration. In Sun and Moon, it’s literally impossible to miss one of the Ride Pokemon, whereas in older games you’re expected to find HMs yourself. The only HM that was on the mandatory story path and you get given, as i have already covered, is Cut, aka HM01, aka the first HM you HAVE to use, aka A SUBTLE TUTORIAL.
Remember how Cut used to be able to cut down tall grass?
Well it definitely could. Up until gen 3 you could use cut to cut down an AOE area of grass around you, which i found really useful when venturing in the middle of a route and all my pokemon had been beaten up, so i just… cut down the grass and got back slower but easier.
The grass would grow back when you reloaded the area, so it was just an easy thing to sneak through. In gen 3, hyper cutter also increased the radius that you could cut around you.
You wanna know how i knew this?
It was on a Trainer Tips sign, and i just remembered it.
Wow, non-mandatory information in a pokemon game, delivered in a one text box sign in a random field in FRLG, and not told to you in an overly long cutscene. Because apparently gamefreak used to know how to reward exploration and understood player agency.
Oh man i just used another buzzword, only this time i think it’s just a nice term and not overused.
If you haven’t heard it before, let me explain.
Player agency is the term used to describe players’ ability to impact the game world of their own volition. The best example of allowing total player agency is New Vegas, where you have just about every possible choice the player could make for the ending, and even other impacts on the world, taken into consideration. The Wild Card ending has the Yes Man, who is an always unkillable, never hostile NPC, with his pacifism having a valid in-universe reason, being reprogrammed to be infinitely agreeable and happy to help just about anyone. The reason it’s impossible to permanently kill him is so you can always get the Wild Card ending, which is the ending that involves you yourself taking over new vegas and kicking everyone else out. This ending exists because Obsidian knew that player would probably resent being told what to do every single step of the way and constantly being derided even though they’re doing basically everything on their own, so unless they were playing a certain character, they’d want to take the strip over themselves. Maybe even go on a killing spree and wipe every single other faction off the face of the mojave, because you can kill every single non-child non-yes man NPC in the entire game.
Anyway i’m getting off topic… i just…
New Vegas is so good.