The Pokemon franchise has been around for quite some time now and has gained quite a following over the years. Many have grown to love the games, including most of the mechanics involved in them. With Pokemon Legends: Arceus on the horizon, many fans are speculating how that game will play compared to the mainline series. There are some Pokemon mechanics and design choices that may not have aged as well over time.
Some key features, including some that are iconic to the series, are due for a refresh to really give the series a feeling of being new. Both new and long-term fans would likely love to see some new innovation from the team behind Pokemon, and with Pokemon Legends: Arceus potentially changing a lot of things, now is as good a time as any to really shake up the franchise.
Easily the most impactful part of every Pokemon game is the regional map. It dictates the flow of the game, how players experience the region, and how the moment-to-moment gameplay flows together. Each region introduced in the Pokemon series so far has felt unique, as each region is based off of different parts of Japan and large areas out in the rest of the world. Many regions are based on different sections of Japan, but some regions like Galar, Unova, and Kalos, are based off other iconic places in the world.
While it's neat to have regions based on familiar areas, that premise can also be a bit limiting in terms of designing town and city layouts, as well as making the routes that connect them. Game Freak should start being more creative with its region designs and ditch the real-world comparisons. Not only will this open up limitless possibilities for what the region can look like, but it will also allow them more freedom to try new designs for routes, cities, and more. Fans may see a bit of this start with Pokemon Legends: Arceus next year, but that remains to be seen.
In redesigning the maps for Pokemon titles, Game Freak should re-evaluate how it handles the routes that connect major points on the map. If Pokemon Sword and Shield were the test run of a redesigned route system, then Game Freak is on the right track. Pokemon Sword and Shield's Wild Area served as a great open map that players could wander around in, and it even connected a couple key areas of the map together. It was Game Freak's first dive into a new type of route, and despite its shortcomings, it is generally a well-liked addition to the series.
The Gym Challenge has been a staple of the mainline Pokemon titles from the very beginning. The challenge itself has received little improvement over the course of the entire series, with only Sun and Moon/Sword and Shield making any real changes to the format. In Sword and Shield, after defeating all eight gyms, players squared off in a tournament-style event and challenged a handful of the leaders again with updated teams. Granted, this is more of a change in the Elite Four than the gym challenge itself.
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