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How Pokémon Has Managed to Stay Relevant All These Years

/ May 18th, 2016 No Comments

Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon

Pokémon games have always utilized new technology and ideas to continue a gradual progression, but what will be new in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon? Nintendo recently announced a launch date of Nov. 18 on 3DS for the games, so fans of the long-running series can finally stop holding their breaths.

But not much is known about the next pair of Pokémon titles. Sun and Moon will both feature a few exclusive Pokémon as well as a specific legendary Pokémon to catch. The little that can be gleamed from gameplay footage is that the games will take full advantage of the capabilities of the 3DS. Yet, there is already a lot of excitement over Pokémon Sun and Moon. Kids can still be seen holding Pikachu dolls and sporting Pokémon merch. How has Pokémon managed to maintain its relevancy through decades?

Pokemotion

Each new Pokémon game hasn’t necessarily been a major leap forward for the series, but there has been a lot of progress made through console generations. With each new Pokémon entry (or duo of entries) comes a new region, a new story, new Pokémon and new moves. From enhanced graphics to new methods of transportation, there have been many changes in Pokémon over time that have resulted in less grinding and more rewarding gameplay.

Online trading and battling has evolved in numerous ways, whether through efforts to make local connections easier or introducing the option to do blind battles and random trades. The ability to just press a couple buttons and automatically be matched for a Pokémon showdown or pick a Pokémon to trade for another shows how the game has changed to meet the needs of its players.
 

Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon

Three more things for your mom to call Pikachu.

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Marketing for Pokémon is incredibly varied depending on where you live. Japanese fans are sold a more cooperative journey to take with friends. They are encouraged to share exclusives and go through the experience of catching ’em all with others. In the U.S., it seems like there is more emphasis on fighting your Pokémon against your friends’ monsters. It’s like dogfighting for kids!
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Of course, video games are not where Pokémon stops. With each new iteration also comes new merchandise, toys and animated series spin-offs. This cycle not only appeals to current Pokémon fans, but also introduces the franchise to a whole new generation.

Variety is the Spice of Types

There is a downside to all this and that is purely complication. Every new Pokémon game becomes more and more complex. This can make it difficult for an old-school Pokémon player to all of a sudden jump back into the franchise.
 
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Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon

I’ll be damned if I let anyone with a level 100 Magikarp be a Pokémon master.

The Pokémon franchise has managed to avoid losing players by sticking to the same basic formula. With Pokémon Sun and Moon, you will once again be asked to choose between three starter Pokémon, a grass, water and fire type. Your basic goal in the game is the same as it always was, and Pokémon battles, despite an upgraded look, are just as simple to control as they were in Pokémon Red and Blue.

The more things change, the more the stay the same. Pokémon manages to strike a perfect balance between new and the same, and the catch ’em all mentality extends well beyond gaming.

 

Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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