Pokemon X and Y Director Discusses Changes in Story

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Pokemon X and Y Director Discusses Changes in Story

Pokemon X and Y screenshot

Pokemon games have all had a consistent plot formula, but the director has other plans for X and Y.

The classic story of Pokemon is as follows: the trainer goes to the professor, chooses a starter, wanders from town to town fighting gym leaders, and occasionally fights a rival. Pokemon X and Y director Junichi Masuda has decided the team has had enough of that. X and Y are about the bonds between trainers and Pokemon as well as between trainers themselves.

"This time we wanted to make it a journey about you and your friends," Masuda said. "When you first meet the kids at the beginning of the game, you don't actually know them, so you're meeting them for the first time." Pokemon Black and White examined the bonds between trainers and their Pokemon through N's involvement in the story and his encounters with the player, but Pokemon X and Y will be the first to redirect its focus more to the bonds between friends, straying away from the solo adventure.

The trainer will receive his or her first starter from these friends, while Professor Sycamore gives the trainer one of the starters from Red and Blue. Masuda said this is because the professor is researching mega evolutions, and each of the original starters have a mega evolution.

Masuda said the tempo of X and Y is faster; he hopes this will keep people interested in playing the game. Furthermore, just traveling by foot is faster. This change was due to Masuda's personal experiences in France, where he said everyone outwalked him.

Despite the changes, X and Y look like they're going to still firmly be Pokemon games at their core, but each generation has brought its own changes.

Source: Polygon

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The Pokemon games have been getting more plot-focused since Generation IV, even III if you stretch a little. I'm interested to see how much changes in this iteration.

I'm looking forward to them mixing up the plot a bit and grabbing two starters. But, the most important thing stated in the article is how the walking speed will be a bit quicker. All my prayers have finally been answered!!!

*GASP!* TWO starting Pokemon?! He's a madman I tell you! A MADMAN!!!

:P Seriously though, Pokemon hasn't held my interested...mainly because the most "recent" portable gaming device I own is a GBA. It's nice to hear that they're at least going to try to mix things up with the plot this time seeing as how the one described in the article as the "standard" is pretty much accurate...the only thing it was missing was mention of a random Team (fill in the blank) that goes around causing mischief. Still, I wonder how far the plot will deviate, seeing as how it's supposedly the aspiration of all young Pokemon trainers to make it to the Pokemon League and become the Champion...and to do that you have to go from town to town collecting badges to prove your worth.

Like I said, it really doesn't apply to me since I won't/can't get this game, still it would be interesting to see if they FINALLY break free of the shackles that make this series as repetitive as the Dynasty Warriors series. Seeing as how I'm a fan of DW, though, I should mention that repetitive isn't necessarily bad. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I'd love it if they really challenged themselves on trying to make a good story for the pokemon games. It's such a well loved universe, but you barely see any of it in the games. I hear the manga is a bit better on this, but I'd love it if they'd put even half the time into world building as Bioware does (Say what you will about the story, making places and histories are one thing they do really well).

Hopefully he means this, and isn't just saying this to placate people who were tired of gyms-badguys-elite 4 formula like me.

Well, a faster pace than Black/White would be very nice. I only put about 7-10 hours into Black, but it was so laborious and tedious that I didn't want to continue playing anyway.

Still not sure how I feel about a greater focus on characters and story in Pokemon games, though; Mostly because I just don't think Game Freak is really well-suited to actually pulling it off. They're great from a mechanical and technical standpoint, but writing has never really proven to be one of their strengths in the past.

Still, this might be what reinvigorates my interest in the Pokemon games, so I'm interested in seeing what they do.

Mcoffey:

Hopefully he means this, and isn't just saying this to placate people who were tired of gyms-badguys-elite 4 formula like me.

Seriously, what else is there to do? Qualifying, entering, and eventually winning a regional tournament is really the only possible final goal for a game centered around a sport, even a monster-collection-based sport.

Yes. I'm saying Pokemon is a sports game, exactly like Madden or FIFA, with some RPG elements thrown in.

wait wait wait, hold up. We get to choose one of THE ORIGINAL STARTERS!!???
Before I was looking forward to x and y, now I am exited.

Oh Bulbasaur how I missed you

Ehhhhh, I can't think of anyone who isn't at least near into puberty or isn't in some kind of suspended childhood that actually cares about the story. Most people who play Pokemon now play it for the metagame and battling of other trainers in-game.

2xDouble:

Mcoffey:

Hopefully he means this, and isn't just saying this to placate people who were tired of gyms-badguys-elite 4 formula like me.

Seriously, what else is there to do? Qualifying, entering, and eventually winning a regional tournament is really the only possible final goal for a game centered around a sport, even a monster-collection-based sport.

Yes. I'm saying Pokemon is a sports game, exactly like Madden or FIFA, with some RPG elements thrown in.

There's so much that could be done.
What if there was a group that was against pokemon catching that didn't turn out to be nefarious and stupid?
What if you could join the police force, or the safari zone rangers to catch pokemon poachers?
What if you joined the firefighters with your water types?
What if there was a group that was prejudiced against dark type pokemon that went against their religious beliefs?
What if there was a group against catching pokemon because they thought relying on basically magic beings was holding back human development?
What happens to people who catch too many pokemon at once and disrupt an ecosystem?
What about endangered pokemon? The show showed that people eat meat, presumably tauros and miltank meat, so what pokemon are protected against being eaten?

There are so many possibilities for new and interesting stories. That stuff was just off the top of my head.

Mcoffey:
The show showed that people eat meat, presumably tauros and miltank meat...

NO NO NO! BLAH BLAH BLAH, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!
Do NOT break the first unspoken rule of Pokemon. ._.

I like the fact that they're speeding up the game because a developer found people walked faster than he did. Quick, everyone who lives near a video game company! Walk as fast as you can all the time! Make gaming better!

TKretts3:

Mcoffey:
The show showed that people eat meat, presumably tauros and miltank meat...

NO NO NO! BLAH BLAH BLAH, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!
Do NOT break the first unspoken rule of Pokemon. ._.

It's the only media I know that shows the pokemon world as a place where people live, not just a few areas where people stand around waiting to tell the player one sentence factoids until they move on to the next gym. I haven't read the manga, so until then I work with what I got. :P

walk faster? eff that... fly me my pretty :P

image

Awesome! I remember being pleasantly surprised at the (relative) depth of the Gen V games story, so if the devs are focusing more on that then it can only be good. Maybe XY will end up as that rare breed of game, one with good gameplay and story at the same time! Thank you nintendo, for repeatedly showing me that buying a 3DS is the best thing I have done this year.

Mcoffey:

There's so much that could be done.
What if there was a group that was against pokemon catching that didn't turn out to be nefarious and stupid?

The faction of Team Plasma loyal to N

What if you could join the police force, or the safari zone rangers to catch pokemon poachers?

See: Pokemon Ranger. Also, The Looker.

What if you joined the firefighters with your water types?

Like a mini-game type thing? That seems kind of arbitrary no? There's already a pokemon equivalent to Hollywood and another to the Olympics and pageants.
Also, this kind of stuff does happen in Pokemon Rangers and Mystery Dungeons

What if there was a group that was prejudiced against dark type pokemon that went against their religious beliefs?

Nintendo would not bring religion into their games. Besides, isn't that basically a backwards team Magma/Aqua?

OT
I can't wait to see if the elite four or gym leaders can use Mega Pokemon. Hopefully there'll be more double and triple battle options too.

suntt123:

Mcoffey:

There's so much that could be done.
What if there was a group that was against pokemon catching that didn't turn out to be nefarious and stupid?

The faction of Team Plasma loyal to N

What if you could join the police force, or the safari zone rangers to catch pokemon poachers?

See: Pokemon Ranger. Also, The Looker.

What if you joined the firefighters with your water types?

Like a mini-game type thing? That seems kind of arbitrary no? There's already a pokemon equivalent to Hollywood and another to the Olympics and pageants.
Also, this kind of stuff does happen in Pokemon Rangers and Mystery Dungeons

What if there was a group that was prejudiced against dark type pokemon that went against their religious beliefs?

Nintendo would not bring religion into their games. Besides, isn't that basically a backwards team Magma/Aqua?

OT
I can't wait to see if the elite four or gym leaders can use Mega Pokemon. Hopefully there'll be more double and triple battle options too.

Team Plasma is stupid, and the same with Team Magma. The antagonists are all cookie cutter Snidely-Whiplash types. It's boring.
Pokemon Ranger was a poorly recieved spin-off. I was mostly spit-balling with the firefighting thing, but it goes to show that there are a million ways to engage yourself in the world that Nintendo just aren't doing. Why doesn't Nintendo want to push the envelope even a little bit? Why not make the gyms a set of side quests, while having an actual story for once?

It's really sad that the biggest change Nintendo can think to do is make pokemon go Super Sayan.

Ugh. I'm kinda tired of the whole "pokemon are your closest friends now love this adorable little lightning ball" message. Sure they're cute, cool, and I have connections with some of them, but the Pokemon universe can be much more than that. I KNOW IT'S IMPORTANT TO LOOK AFTER YOUR PETS AND NOT TO PULL ON THEIR TAILS NINTENDO. I'm not a monster....well, to animals.

At least I can have that Blastoise. It's mega evo looks even more badass than his final form, plus Squirtle was the first pokemon I ever chose. *sniff* I remember teaching him Mega Kick after coming out of Mt. Moon.

...I also remember getting the shit kicked out of me by Misty too :(

They make it sound like the Gen V games stories weren't very interesting and world building enough. What I liked about the story in Black and White was that it did more than usual formula without making it too story driven. I hope they just replicate what they did in Gen V story wise, that was good enough for me.

Edit: I totally missed the whole journey with friends part of the news. Again, they already did a great job with that in Black and White, Cheren and Bianca would always be nearby, but not over-bearing. I would rather the Pokemon journey not become some kind of group effort, but maybe it will be interesting, who knows?

I always thought it would be cool if the main organization was actually trying to prevent a larger, eviler organization/force from carrying out their plans. For instance, what if, say, Team Galactic had to imprison Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie in order to prevent a rogue agent from using their red gems to awaken Palkia and Dialga? I think it would make an interesting story if executed properly.

search_rip:
walk faster? eff that... fly me my pretty :P

image

You and your petty birds...

Speaking of awesome things that fly, Charmander and I are going to get nicely reacquainted after so many years.

soandnb:
I always thought it would be cool if the main organization was actually trying to prevent a larger, eviler organization/force from carrying out their plans. For instance, what if, say, Team Galactic had to imprison Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie in order to prevent a rogue agent from using their red gems to awaken Palkia and Dialga? I think it would make an interesting story if executed properly.

That kinda already happened in pokemon emerald with magma trying to keep aqua from releasing kyogre by getting to groundon first.

CrazyCapnMorgan:
I believe he can HM02

Sure he can HM02, but is he pretty? :P haha :P

CrazyCapnMorgan:
Speaking of awesome things that fly, Charmander and I are going to get nicely reacquainted after so many years.

aaaah, yes, Charmander.... I'm really torned between picking him or Bulbasaur as a second starter to see the Mega Evolution... many people love him but I never really cared about Squirtle...

Mcoffey:
It's really sad that the biggest change Nintendo can think to do is make pokemon go Super Sayan.

Digivolve*
Going super saiyan would be same appearance + golden hair and glowy auras - sonic already nicked that one.
The new pokemon temporarily evolve, though a device the trainer keeps with them, and then change back to their rookie form afterward. That's totally digimon :P

------
The OP just makes me think they need to hurry up an implement mutiplayer then. If it's all about you and the group of friends, (and we already know they really won't go the mmo route) then having drop-in/drop-out mutiplayer seems like something that could work well. Go into some option, invite nearby people, begin adventuring - you and 1 or 2 others.

RJ 17:
*GASP!* TWO starting Pokemon?! He's a madman I tell you! A MADMAN!!!

3
there's gonna be a Torchic giveaway to go along with the launch as well.

which means an all fire starter team for me.

cause some trainers, just want to watch the world burn .....

Some_weirdGuy:

EHKOS:
It's really sad that the biggest change Nintendo can think to do is make pokemon go Super Sayan.

Digivolve*
Going super saiyan would be same appearance + golden hair and glowy auras - sonic already nicked that one.
The new pokemon temporarily evolve, though a device the trainer keeps with them, and then change back to their rookie form afterward. That's totally digimon :P

------
The OP just makes me think they need to hurry up an implement mutiplayer then. If it's all about you and the group of friends, (and we already know they really won't go the mmo route) then having drop-in/drop-out mutiplayer seems like something that could work well. Go into some option, invite nearby people, begin adventuring - you and 1 or 2 others.

You quoted the wrong guy but I just realized you're right. And the funny thing is that it's completely justifiable since Digimon was a rip-off of Pokemon in the first place.

Two starters? Good lord, man... it won't make much sense to take both Fennekin and Charmander... but I'm gonna.

werewolfsfury:

soandnb:
I always thought it would be cool if the main organization was actually trying to prevent a larger, eviler organization/force from carrying out their plans. For instance, what if, say, Team Galactic had to imprison Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie in order to prevent a rogue agent from using their red gems to awaken Palkia and Dialga? I think it would make an interesting story if executed properly.

That kinda already happened in pokemon emerald with magma trying to keep aqua from releasing kyogre by getting to groundon first.

I think they were doing that just to prevent the other team from interfering with their own plans; not necessarily for the good of mankind. Both of them were evil in Emerald. I'm talking about Team Not-So-Evil over here, doing something, and either Mr. Evil or Team Evil doing evil stuff like taking over the world or wearing socks and sandals together. You spend some time trying to thwart Not-So-Evil's presumably evil ambitions, only to realize that both of you share the same enemy, and thus work together or something to stop it.

Sheo_Dagana:
Two starters? Good lord, man... it won't make much sense to take both Fennekin and Charmander... but I'm gonna.

Pfft. I'm gonna be taking Fennekin, Charmander, Torchic (with Speed Boost ability, hell yeah!), Litleo (Pyroar evolution looks amazing), and Tyrunt... Because its evolved form Tyrantrum looks BADASS!

image

The last spot I'll save for whatever Water Pokemon catches my eye. Might just trade over a Froakie if that Pokemon Bank can be accessed at the beginning.

soandnb:

werewolfsfury:

soandnb:
I always thought it would be cool if the main organization was actually trying to prevent a larger, eviler organization/force from carrying out their plans. For instance, what if, say, Team Galactic had to imprison Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie in order to prevent a rogue agent from using their red gems to awaken Palkia and Dialga? I think it would make an interesting story if executed properly.

That kinda already happened in pokemon emerald with magma trying to keep aqua from releasing kyogre by getting to groundon first.

I think they were doing that just to prevent the other team from interfering with their own plans; not necessarily for the good of mankind. Both of them were evil in Emerald. I'm talking about Team Not-So-Evil over here, doing something, and either Mr. Evil or Team Evil doing evil stuff like taking over the world or wearing socks and sandals together. You spend some time trying to thwart Not-So-Evil's presumably evil ambitions, only to realize that both of you share the same enemy, and thus work together or something to stop it.

That would mostly be ruby/sapphire then wouldn't it?. In Sapphire you don't even fight Team Magma and they don't even try to awaken Kyogre with it being flipped around in Ruby version

Have you played Black And White/ B&W 2? Team Plasma/Neo Team Plasma seems to match up with what you are asking for.

Fractral:
Maybe XY will end up as that rare breed of game, one with good gameplay and story at the same time!

If that's the case...
SOMEONE CALL YAHTZEE!!
Tell him to refind his 3DS... He's got another Pokemon game to review... in October...

OT: I can't wait to name my character Travis for no particular reason and be able to showoff my two starters to those that have given up on this series (i.e. my best friend)! And then, in the next game, add in moral choices that will decide if you want to be a good trainer, a bad trainer, or a trainer who DOESN'T want to be the very best like no one ever was...

WOO!! Now, I can't wait for Pokemon Z... where my character would most definitely be name Kakarot... or Bulma... I haven't yet decided... (Maybe Mr. Satan...)

TKretts3:

Mcoffey:
The show showed that people eat meat, presumably tauros and miltank meat...

NO NO NO! BLAH BLAH BLAH, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!
Do NOT break the first unspoken rule of Pokemon. ._.

"WE DO! WE DO IT FOR YOU, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!"

-Pikachu, PokeAwesome

Mcoffey:

2xDouble:

Mcoffey:

Hopefully he means this, and isn't just saying this to placate people who were tired of gyms-badguys-elite 4 formula like me.

Seriously, what else is there to do? Qualifying, entering, and eventually winning a regional tournament is really the only possible final goal for a game centered around a sport, even a monster-collection-based sport.

Yes. I'm saying Pokemon is a sports game, exactly like Madden or FIFA, with some RPG elements thrown in.

There's so much that could be done.
What if there was a group that was against pokemon catching that didn't turn out to be nefarious and stupid?
What if you could join the police force, or the safari zone rangers to catch pokemon poachers?
What if you joined the firefighters with your water types?
What if there was a group that was prejudiced against dark type pokemon that went against their religious beliefs?
What if there was a group against catching pokemon because they thought relying on basically magic beings was holding back human development?
What happens to people who catch too many pokemon at once and disrupt an ecosystem?
What about endangered pokemon? The show showed that people eat meat, presumably tauros and miltank meat, so what pokemon are protected against being eaten?

There are so many possibilities for new and interesting stories. That stuff was just off the top of my head.

Okay...

#1, #4, & #5: So what if there was any of those groups? How does that affect the game play in any way? Why, in game terms, would you care? They have no direct quarrel with you, and have basically no effect on your life regardless of your activities, like Team Plasma before they start bullying people and generally being dicks. And if they do start bothering you, how exactly is that any different than any other Team? specifically Old Plasma, Magma/Aqua, and Galactic, respectively? Or are you saying you want the option of joining a Team? Is that really worth giving up the chance to be recognized as "the very best, like no-one ever was"?

#2, #3: Mini games at best. In fact, those are mini games from Pokemon Stadium 1&2... also Pokemon Ranger already exists.

#6: Nothing happens because pokemon aren't as vital to an ecosystem as some anime episodes would have you believe. Lore states that most pokemon exist inside a pocket dimension, similar to the Dark World, until they appear in tall grass or under specific circumstances. An ecology-based game in the Pokemon universe wouldn't be a terrible idea, though, but it would be awfully similar to pretty much every Firaxis game ever made... or Digimon.

#7: The same as real animals, the ones that are difficult/dangerous to catch, are toxic in some way (disease-ridden, poisonous, etc.), are more valuable as tools/pets, or simply don't taste good. Besides, Farfetch'd and Slowpoke are the only pokemon confirmed to be edible. Again, like #1, so what? What about this motivates the player to play? what exactly is the player going to do about it besides solve puzzles and complete mini-games and thus setting it apart from the likes of Pokemon Ranger or Dream Radar?

Don't get me wrong, these are good ideas and premises, but they're neither core mechanics nor central themes... yet.

2xDouble:

Mcoffey:

2xDouble:
Seriously, what else is there to do? Qualifying, entering, and eventually winning a regional tournament is really the only possible final goal for a game centered around a sport, even a monster-collection-based sport.

Yes. I'm saying Pokemon is a sports game, exactly like Madden or FIFA, with some RPG elements thrown in.

There's so much that could be done.
What if there was a group that was against pokemon catching that didn't turn out to be nefarious and stupid?
What if you could join the police force, or the safari zone rangers to catch pokemon poachers?
What if you joined the firefighters with your water types?
What if there was a group that was prejudiced against dark type pokemon that went against their religious beliefs?
What if there was a group against catching pokemon because they thought relying on basically magic beings was holding back human development?
What happens to people who catch too many pokemon at once and disrupt an ecosystem?
What about endangered pokemon? The show showed that people eat meat, presumably tauros and miltank meat, so what pokemon are protected against being eaten?

There are so many possibilities for new and interesting stories. That stuff was just off the top of my head.

Okay...

#1, #4, & #5: So what if there was any of those groups? How does that affect the game play in any way? Why, in game terms, would you care? They have no direct quarrel with you, and have basically no effect on your life regardless of your activities, like Team Plasma before they start bullying people and generally being dicks. And if they do start bothering you, how exactly is that any different than any other Team? specifically Old Plasma, Magma/Aqua, and Galactic, respectively? Or are you saying you want the option of joining a Team? Is that really worth giving up the chance to be recognized as "the very best, like no-one ever was"?

#2, #3: Mini games at best. In fact, those are mini games from Pokemon Stadium 1&2... also Pokemon Ranger already exists.

#6: Nothing happens because pokemon aren't as vital to an ecosystem as some anime episodes would have you believe. Lore states that most pokemon exist inside a pocket dimension, similar to the Dark World, until they appear in tall grass or under specific circumstances. An ecology-based game in the Pokemon universe wouldn't be a terrible idea, though, but it would be awfully similar to pretty much every Firaxis game ever made... or Digimon.

#7: The same as real animals, the ones that are difficult/dangerous to catch, are toxic in some way (disease-ridden, poisonous, etc.), are more valuable as tools/pets, or simply don't taste good. Besides, Farfetch'd and Slowpoke are the only pokemon confirmed to be edible. Again, like #1, so what? What about this motivates the player to play? what exactly is the player going to do about it besides solve puzzles and complete mini-games and thus setting it apart from the likes of Pokemon Ranger or Dream Radar?

Don't get me wrong, these are good ideas and premises, but they're neither core mechanics nor central themes... yet.

You're right, they're not. I was just listing off potential things that could be done that weren't the usual gyms/badguys/elite4 formula. Skyrim, and Bethesda games, in general have shown that people love big worlds that make sense and feel alive(to a reasonable degree). Having those groups exist (And have deeper motivations besides "Hahaha! Mine is an evil laugh!") to interact with and aid/hinder adds depth to the world, and makes it feel less like a box of people standing around waiting for you to talk to them.

And Pokemon Ranger wasn't very good. Having the developers who know what they're doing include some kind of job system or roles you can take on besides wandering trainer makes the world feel bigger.

Honestly if Nintendo wanted to just blatently rip off Bethesda, while retaining the turn-based combat, I would have no complaints. Their stories may suck, typically, but at least Bethesda tries to engage with the player on a level besides "be the best, just because". I'm not even talking about being open world (Nice, but not necessary), just simple world building. It's something they've never really bothered with and it makes their games feel very shallow to me. They obviously don't care about this place, so why should I? Why bother trying to be the best or catch em all, when they're just gonna toss out a hundred new ones next year?

Mcoffey:

2xDouble:

Mcoffey:

There's so much that could be done.
What if there was a group that was against pokemon catching that didn't turn out to be nefarious and stupid?
What if you could join the police force, or the safari zone rangers to catch pokemon poachers?
What if you joined the firefighters with your water types?
What if there was a group that was prejudiced against dark type pokemon that went against their religious beliefs?
What if there was a group against catching pokemon because they thought relying on basically magic beings was holding back human development?
What happens to people who catch too many pokemon at once and disrupt an ecosystem?
What about endangered pokemon? The show showed that people eat meat, presumably tauros and miltank meat, so what pokemon are protected against being eaten?

There are so many possibilities for new and interesting stories. That stuff was just off the top of my head.

Okay...

#1, #4, & #5: So what if there was any of those groups? How does that affect the game play in any way? Why, in game terms, would you care? They have no direct quarrel with you, and have basically no effect on your life regardless of your activities, like Team Plasma before they start bullying people and generally being dicks. And if they do start bothering you, how exactly is that any different than any other Team? specifically Old Plasma, Magma/Aqua, and Galactic, respectively? Or are you saying you want the option of joining a Team? Is that really worth giving up the chance to be recognized as "the very best, like no-one ever was"?

#2, #3: Mini games at best. In fact, those are mini games from Pokemon Stadium 1&2... also Pokemon Ranger already exists.

#6: Nothing happens because pokemon aren't as vital to an ecosystem as some anime episodes would have you believe. Lore states that most pokemon exist inside a pocket dimension, similar to the Dark World, until they appear in tall grass or under specific circumstances. An ecology-based game in the Pokemon universe wouldn't be a terrible idea, though, but it would be awfully similar to pretty much every Firaxis game ever made... or Digimon.

#7: The same as real animals, the ones that are difficult/dangerous to catch, are toxic in some way (disease-ridden, poisonous, etc.), are more valuable as tools/pets, or simply don't taste good. Besides, Farfetch'd and Slowpoke are the only pokemon confirmed to be edible. Again, like #1, so what? What about this motivates the player to play? what exactly is the player going to do about it besides solve puzzles and complete mini-games and thus setting it apart from the likes of Pokemon Ranger or Dream Radar?

Don't get me wrong, these are good ideas and premises, but they're neither core mechanics nor central themes... yet.

You're right, they're not. I was just listing off potential things that could be done that weren't the usual gyms/badguys/elite4 formula. Skyrim, and Bethesda games, in general have shown that people love big worlds that make sense and feel alive(to a reasonable degree). Having those groups exist (And have deeper motivations besides "Hahaha! Mine is an evil laugh!") to interact with and aid/hinder adds depth to the world, and makes it feel less like a box of people standing around waiting for you to talk to them.

And Pokemon Ranger wasn't very good. Having the developers who know what they're doing include some kind of job system or roles you can take on besides wandering trainer makes the world feel bigger.

Honestly if Nintendo wanted to just blatently rip off Bethesda, while retaining the turn-based combat, I would have no complaints. Their stories may suck, typically, but at least Bethesda tries to engage with the player on a level besides "be the best, just because". I'm not even talking about being open world (Nice, but not necessary), just simple world building. It's something they've never really bothered with and it makes their games feel very shallow to me. They obviously don't care about this place, so why should I? Why bother trying to be the best or catch em all, when they're just gonna toss out a hundred new ones next year?

Just because you didn't find the pokemon ranger games very good (I enjoyed them and thought they were just fine but I suppose that's the nature of a subjective experience) doesn't mean they don't count though.

And that's kind of the catch 22 Nintendo gets caught in when it comes to pokemon games. Pokemon snap was hella fun an put you in a different role (pokemon photo journalist) but it doesn't count because it's not a "real" pokemon game. Pokemon mystery dungeon has some of the best writing I've seen in a roguelike but it doesn't count because it's not a "real" pokemon game. Pokemon rangers has you doing something besides gym battles but once again not a "real" pokemon game. Gale of darkness was a perfectly serviceable 3D console rpg but, you can see where I'm going with this by now right?

The basic complaint about pokemon seems to be "Man Nintendo never tries anything new with the franchise, except when they do, but those don't count." Apparently people just want a vanilla pokemon game where you progress through a series of increasingly difficult opponents via turn based battle, but just do so as something other than a trainer? I just don't really so the point.

As to cardboard cookie cutter villains I found Plasma to be a little more Nuanced. Sure Ghestis was bugnuts but N, your primary rival figure, really believed he was doing the right thing. The whole game was about the idea that two people can do two different things and both think they're right, and might even both be right and wrong at the same time.
N's philosophy is not flawed, but his methods were. Black/White2 shows this when it introduces you to Neo Plasma, who still posit that pokemon should be given more independence but realize that ripping pokemon away from their trainers is not the best way to achieve that and in the meantime run a foster home for abandoned mons.

Either way I'm excited to play this game. I seem to be in a minority who like the shift towards friendly rivals as opposed to arrogant assholes and I like the attempt to treat pokemon themselves as more than a pile of stats, given that the games tend to emphasize forming strong bonds but have had trouble communicating that through gameplay.

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