The Greatest Strength of the Pokemon Franchise: Evolution Todd Black October 23, 2013 Features, Nintendo 2 Comments Red. Blue. Yellow. A Nidorino and a Gengar. A grey brick to play the game on, and the question, “What is Pokémon?” Six series later and Pokémon is one of the greatest franchises in video game history. But what made it survive this long? It’s as simple as it is obvious. Evolution. [quote_left]“Every single generation had an evolution; from Red, Blue, and Yellow to X & Y…”[/quote_left]Now when I say evolution, I don’t mean Pokémon evolution, although that was a big part of its success. I mean game evolution, evolving the game from what it was to what it could be. Evolving the look, the feel, the gameplay, the world, sometimes big changes, sometimes small ones, whatever it took. Every single generation had an evolution; from Red, Blue, and Yellow to X & Y, evolution is what has made the Pokémon games such a great gaming franchise. Birth of a Legend: It started as a simple idea. Pokémon was conceived because of its creators love of collecting insects. When he saw that kids were spending more time indoors, the more he thought that creating a game similar to what he loved doing would be great. As history has proven, he was right. Pokémon was a revelation as much as it was a revolution. RPG’s had been around for a while, they’ve also had parties, abilities, and switching out characters before, none of that was new. However, how Pokémon did it, how it did not limit players by telling them who to have, or who to raise, or what attacks to keep, was freedom that a lot of players had not had before. With the promise of being able to collect all 150 Pokémon, as well as being able to use them in battles and trade them with friends, Red and Blue would set the standard for future Pokémon games. In the beginning…. A New World Full of New Surprises: After the mega success of Red, Blue, and Yellow, the question became: what next? Game Freak, and Nintendo, answered by delivering a new region, new Pokémon, and new mechanics that would evolve the game. Gold, Silver, and Crystal, added so much to the franchise. Players immediately noticed the graphical overhaul of the game and there was also a new Day and Night cycle that occurred in the game. This really lent to the feeling that we were living in a true world, there was a time mechanic that allowed the game to know when it was day and when it was night. Certain Pokémon only appeared at night, and it was awesome. Add to that the fact that certain events only happened on certain days and you have a recipe to keep players hooked all week long. But more than that was the additions to the gameplay and how Pokémon were raised. Steel and Dark creature types were added to the already big roster. Pokémon were now allowed to hold items and use them to boost their stats or heal them in battle. This change has resonated throughout the series and remains a crucial part of Pokémon battling today. To many though, the greatest evolution was Pokémon breeding. Pokémon were given genders and players were now able to breed Pokémon via eggs. This was a revolution that spawned the birth of “Stat Trainers” who breed their Pokémon with the stats and moves they want. Gold, Silver, and Crystal, also added more strategy in that they split the Special stat into Special Attack and Special Defense. These stats have become a critical component for breeder and stat trainers. Gold, Silver, and Crystal offered a whole new take on the Pokémon world, little did we know we were just scratching the surface. My, my, what a difference! Double Downs, Natures, and Contests Oh My: The next generation, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, did change the game in many ways, including different villains depending on what version you choose, new additions to the battles, what players could do afterwards. and Pokémon in general. Most notable is the addition of double battles, battling two Pokémon against two Pokémon. This addition, and the rules that were added to it, gave trainers a new way to battle and new strategies to make. In Emerald, the addition of the Battle Frontier gave trainers a whole new challenge after the game was “beaten.” With new challenges, and new experiences, trainers jumped at the opportunity to test their skills. Then there were Pokémon Contests, where players were able to show off their Pokémon in a way other than battling. Here, Trainers were competing against other Pokémon and Pokémon Coordinators based on their condition and moves in front of a panel of judges. On the Pokémon side of things two major additions were added: Abilities and Natures. Abilities gave Pokémon certain inherent powers that could be activated during battles. Such as Static, if a Pokémon does a physical attack on one with Static, they can be paralyzed. Nature affected the stats of the Pokémon, certain natures give boosts in one area while decline in another. These gave great joy to trainers as it added more complexity and gave them new reasons to breed their perfect team. The Hoenn Region was expansive and gave players even more places to explore in many different ways. Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald continued the great evolution that Pokémon had become known for. Double Battle! Online Refinement: Of all the games, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum might be seen as the ones with the least amount additions. But what they did add was noteworthy and paved the way for the next two generations. The biggest addition was the use of Wi-Fi. Why? Because in previous games we had to have either the link cable or the wireless trader to connect with people, and even then it was just with people we knew. A whole world of trainers was out there, but we couldn’t connect with them before Diamond and Pearl came along. With the Nintendo Wi-Fi network, and the Global Trading Station, we could lift the walls and borders to trade with anyone. It was a true revolution, one that remains to this day. Add that to the Underground where you can trade, build bases, and interact even more with other trainers, and you got a truly interactive game world. Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, for those who love their stats and categories, added a third category to attack types. Now there were physical attacks, special attacks, and status attacks. A small difference, but it added an additional layer of depth to the combat system. Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, added new meaning to the world of Pokémon trading, while also boosting better graphics and the first use of 3D in the games. These additions evolved the way players interacted in the game world, and with each other for future generations. Refining is not a bad thing. Improving the Basics: Black and White went back to basics in one aspect, and went deeper in another. Aside from Rotation Battles, Triple Battles, Combination Moves, and the like, the Unova region was meant to be a separate entity, meaning that the only Pokémon you would see and catch are Unova Pokémon. No more Zubats and Geodudes everywhere! But where it went deeper was the story. The introduction of N and Team Plasma added a new depth to Pokémon stories. The question of whether Pokemon were slaves was raised and though you could see the endgame you had to wonder if it was true. The sequels to Black and White expanded upon the story even more, truly giving an overarching story we had not seen since Gold/Silver. Black and White won the hearts of many fans, old and new, with its return to the basics of the game while adding new, and exciting features, like more battles and an epic story. How could it be topped? More and more Pokémon! Welcome to the New Age: Not offend the fans of Pokémon X and Y game but I’m going to gloss over it. Why? Because it just came out, and you can read all my thoughts and feelings about it in my review. I will give you some highlights though. Mega Evolutions, Pokémon-Amie, Wonder Trading, Sky and Horde Battles, Fairy Type Pokemon, and of course, fully 3D Pokémon and environments. The game is something to behold and again touches upon the true evolution of the Pokémon franchise. If you haven’t experienced X & Y yet, do so, you won’t be disappointed. No text necessary for this. Did Someone Say an Evolution? Pokémon is a franchise that never seems to run out of ideas. The moment we think it’s done, it comes out swinging with something to keep us trading, and battling, and capturing our Pokémon. [quote_right]“The only question is: What new types of gameplay, Pokémon, and worlds are we going to experience next?”[/quote_right] Evolution is the process of adapting to survive, what better term to define Pokémon? In a world where games and franchises struggle to come up with new concepts to keep the players going, Pokémon always comes out on top. The sales of X &Y are already huge, and it’s only been out about a week and a half. We know there is going to be a seventh generation. The only question is: What new types of gameplay, Pokémon, and worlds are we going to experience next? What’s the next Pokémon evolution? I don’t know, but one thing still holds true to this day. No matter version, what style you play with, how you go about your game, you still Gotta Catch’em All! Blane You forgot to mention the addition of Shiny Pokemon that was technically introduced in Gold, Silver, and Crystal (Red Gyarados). Todd Black I never knew about Shiny Pokémon until I looed at an article one day because I had never heard about them nor encountered them before.