The Compulsive Squire

Where Outstanding Humour Meets Desperate Boredom

5 More Unnecessary Pokémon Features

Saying there were only 5 logical issues with the Pokémon series is the video gaming equivalent of saying George Bush only made 1 or 2 errors in office. Only a mind having gone severe mental trauma could forget their numerous errors in judgment. Some may consider ignoring the Community Reinvestment Act but funding the Alaska Bridge to Nowhere a very serious issue. I say ignoring a competitive metagame rampant with Sword Dance/Sand Rush Excadrill and Speed Boost Blaziken but creating the ‘dusk’ color palette, is a trifle more dire. And I will spend the better part of a lifetime pointing that out with a large, blog shaped foam finger.

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that drawing up the initial list of Unnecessary Pokemon Features cleared 5 entries quicker than the Saw series. So while a lot of joy, endeavor and good sport has gone into my Pokémon career, like all things I love, it’s ultimately subject to misdirected ridicule and similes of genital disfigurement. So, like a randy priest left alone with an innocent altar boy – let’s open this up. Starting with…

Dream World

Nintendo’s embracing of the online market has been like a man in his early 30s trying to lose his virginity; awkward, hesitant and everyone else has done it already. Its detached yet stranglehold treatment of online community was one of the Wii’s biggest critiques. Well in 2011 that all changed when Pikachu and pals took on another brave new frontier, the world wide web! …Well, after Diamond/Pearl introduced the GTS in 2007…and what a brilliant “screw you, we’re current” move that was. Yes, with just a few clicks, a game sync, a few short tutorials and another new 12 digit friendcode you can enjoy all the fun of watering trees and room-to-room dungeon crawling via your Pokémon pal’s forcibly induced comatosed delusions. Great, right?

Dream World’s expendability lies in several Kangaskhan pouches – content, necessity and longevity. Back before the days of dial-up connections (and let’s be honest, during), Nintendo harboured a strong ideal that everyone only played video games after assembling 4 extra friends in their living room. 3 more to play Mario Party and 1 to phone guard so any subsequent Diablo LAN parties went uninterrupted. Now, finally, Nintendo are making moves showing the public they’ve moved on from that idea, however does the Pokémon franchise need to be innudated under the wave of new media? Not that I’m complaining at advancement, but when an assortment of mindless, low objective minigames atop a forested Kami’s lookout (or the ‘Island of Dreams’ as they like to call it) is the best result, you may as well leave it alone. Theorically Game Freak could compartmentalize them into a catridge, stick an even thinner Pikachu drawing on top and sell “Pokémon Party 3DS” to masses ensuring revenue for Keldeo years. In that case they won’t have to bother with the tri-weekly maintenance break or (like prior to Pokémon Black/White 2’s release) an epic Global Link revamp. How long can it last? Rebuilding Pokémon’s online front every generation from now on would be like regularly buying a new puppy. Get the chew toys, house train it, familiarise it with family, and then dump it a year and a half later for a faster, more graphically appealing puppy.

Let’s hope sooner or later ‘Pokémon Party Rover’ figures out how to transfer enigma berries from the game into its own garden.

“Sent to the PC”

Ok, it’s about time that Bill and his Storage System sluts came clean about this whole sending Pokémon to the PC bollocks. The notion of an instantaneous breakdown of biological tissues, digital reconfigurment for perfect preservation and immediate transport into limitless server space has been a load of $#!+ since the off. For one, how does the pokeball know you’re carrying 7 Pokémon?

No, what we’re dealing with here is a cover-up. And one of epic proportions. One that goes all the way to the top. Even higher than Pokémon centers, the Elite 4, even the day care couple. Anyone before who came close to ruffling it were silenced, Snorlax styleé. All evidence against it, burned like Nineteen Eighty Four set on Cinnabar Island. Think about it, do you actually see your Pokés transform into a ball light and vigorously ram themselves into the nearest computer screen? No, this ain’t Digimon. The only proof you have for its logical legitimacy comes via a man caught wearing a clefairy costume. This thing couldn’t scream conspiracy anymore if you cut Unown crop circles in the Safari Zone spelling “the truth is out there”.

Then again, the Game Freak development team could simply be insane. There are a vast number of potential explanations conceivable for limiting a trainer’s roster, and they were all shunned in favour of Mr. Tajiri’s bugs-across-the-link-cable-inspired idea of ramming a Caterpie into your CD drive. After The Great Pokémon War the player’s deceased relative could have left them a large mansion to be used solely for the care of excess Pokémon maybe. Did it honestly take 12 years to realise a farm is a perfectly reasonable way of storing animals? I’d much sooner believe that when the pokeball clicked that final time, Prof. Oak (with the god-like sentience that stops me riding bikes indoors and whipping out my Super Rod on a Lass) appeared instantly on a Harley-Davidson, smoking a snivy’s tail and hurling sexist slurs at Prof. Juniper down the Xtransceiver just to relinquish me of the over encumbrance brought on by 12lbs of paralyzed Horsea.

On a Pokémon professor’s income, indefinite fuel consumption is much easier explained than the Pokémon Box Minesweeper System.

Honey Trees

Be honest, before you saw that image, did you even remember/know what a Honey Tree was? If not, allow me to introduce Sinnoh’s attempt to make itself unique and memorable, alongside Pokémon Dress Up and Sticky sticky mud.

Imagine wandering along Sinnoh’s Route 205. There’s a spirited swag in your step and a suspicious rustling in the tall grass that you decide it’s best not acknowledging. Suddenly, a sweet scent saunters along, slipping its way through your nasal passages. The surrounding fir trees and slightly worn signposting seem to clear a way as a mix of hunger and adventure overwhelm, compelling you to follow it like a Persian stalking a Goldeen (clearly unaware that horns taste less chickeny, more spike-flavoured). It’s comfortingly savoury aroma of mama’s cheri pie and private time with Uncle Sailor Thomas fills the air like a socially awkward Jigglypuff at open mic night – and it’s getting stronger with every step down the flower-lined pathway. The mind momentarily wanders to realise your current position amongst a gathering of windmills, however the overpowering sweetness grips the mind once more, dispelling any further awareness of now viciously shuffling grasses and the growing grey-red factory building. Quickly you find yourself standing bemused before a tree, seemingly solitary due its slight separation and the several shades of gold adorning its leaves. Immediately several questions absorb you – how has nature formed such an isolated spot of beauty and desire? Given the gripping allure of the scent on the wind, is this not the most prolific child abduction spot in all of Sinnoh? What’s that purple, unattended child’s balloon doing here and why is that bush now making muffled noises-…perhaps we should forget about that.

Creating new, interesting ways to apply pokeballs to creature’s skulls is all well and good, but when the method created involves pressing ‘a’ on a tree and waiting for 6 hours just to get a Combee, that deserves a spot on every cruelly-worded sarcasti-list on the internet. Speaking of Combee, which came first, the tree or the hive? Development-wise. Had the design for Combee been finalised with such incredible favour that Ken Sugimori felt it too great for lowly grasses alongside rift-raft like Floatzel and Staravia. Only the most regal and exquisite of settings befits the quiet elegance of a tri-honeycomb whose emotional range can be largely expressed via a combination of colons, parentheses and capital letters. Or did Junichi Masuda girlishly run away from a male grooming parlour before the wax had even been removed, leading him to wonder whether children around the world wanted to apply oozing drips of liquid gold to other bushy exteriors? Twas an idea so outrageous they had to invent a Pokémon just so it didn’t seem crazy.

If a sporadic break to appreciate the developer’s role in the creation of a video game doesn’t prove its pointlessness, I don’t know what will…

Phenomena

‘Phenomena’ are the sudden occurences that take place in the wild in the generation V main series. Namely they’re rustling grass, dust clouds, flying Pokémon’s shadows, and rippling water. Like the entry above, they’re another new, exciting method for encountering Pokémon…or a way to systemically hunt and kill every Audino in existance.

Similar to headbutting trees and overly attractive radio music, newfangled ways to happen upon our Poképals never last outside their own generation, so has phenomena done a good job while we’ve had it? Its done a good job of turning millions of players around the world to little more than moths hurtling themselves towards a light bulb. When the grass starts shaking, it doesn’t matter how much Audino blood you struggled to get out of your khakis, you drop everything and go for it. And while there is a chance that you’ll feel the pulsating ecstasy of discovery if you come by a Pokémon you’ve never met before, chances are you’ll feel emotionally devastated when you encounter a real battle before you even arrive at the phenomena spot. 1-0 to you tall grass.

The games offer no real explanation for the sudden water vaginas and the Dance of the Seven Sand Veils that take place across the Unova region. Is rustling grass what happens when an Audino tries to escape from the 6 o’clock beating by hiding behind a few blades of grass? Rippling water looks like what’d happen if Alomomola pronounced its own name to the water’s surface. I can only guess swirling dust clouds are Sandshrew landlords and Drilbur tenants embroiled in fiery arguments over the inflation rate of dirt mound flatshares. All situations unhappily interrupted by my awkward pokeball fuelled interjections.

So has phenomena been a worthwhile contribution? I guess that depends on your stance on mach punching Audinos in the face.

Mail

Did you know mail has always, and still exists with the main Pokémon games? Seriously. The ability to write and attach letters to Pokémon with the sole intention of communicating with other players those Pokémon were traded to has been possible from Pokémon Red and Blue right to (at the time of writing) Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. …I don’t think you fully understand.

Each new iteration of the Pokémon video game series goes through months and months of planning and research, programming and development, revisions and discussions about which features give the series its well-footed, time-tested, winning formula. What exciting new features it should adopt, what should be left out and what it should hold on to are all decided, scraped and decided again to ensure the best possible gaming experience of the time. And after all the working, playing and reviewing, time after time, generation after generation, Heart print mail is available in the PokéMart for $50? This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Everest of Unnecessary Pokémon Features. Mail, to this list, is what running and killing is to Assassin’s Creed. The be all, end all, and everything it stands for.

Every player has, at one point, tried using Mail. However once they saw it for the hollow, single-objective thing it was they (unlike Dream World) never engaged in it again. Think Nintendo Letter Box but no unlockable content. Young or old, no matter which game you start with, at one time you’re bound to curiously chance upon Mail, and you were lucky if you discovered it during the Webster/’Kenya’ the Spearow subquest of Gold/Silver/Heart Gold/Soul Silver then you didn’t have to pay the $50 waste-of-time investment fee.

Mail was clearly made to promote a sense of friendship and togetherness about Pokémon during trading, by attaching feelings and good-willed sentiments to faceless transactions. The only flaw in that being back in the days of link cables, people were only ever trading with their already friends whose faces were no more than a metre away. When Fire Red and Leaf Green’s wireless adapter came out, 2 metres. There is an argument for Mail finding its purpose (albeit it 11 years late) in the GTS adding that aforementioned kind touch to a sterile trade. Although y’know what’d be kinder? If that lvl 9 and under Reshiram was holding an Enigma Berry too.

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