Do you want to read a pretty long thing by me about the Pokemon franchise, the new games, the kind of game it is and why critics tend to get the wrong end of the stick about it? YOU PROBABLY DON’T! But I’m linking it anyway.
I think there’s a wider argument to be made about texture in games and why it’s a tough thing to talk about. I’m sure someone put up a great link about exactly that recently and I will delve through the likes to find it later.
This is really great Tom!
I enjoy the bildungsroman stuff more and more with each game if possible. Even as each game’s NPCs get more and more explicitly ”Hey Kid! There’s no “i” in team! let’s battle - ahem in the spirit of friendship, PAL”.
My feeling that the ‘big’ change might be making something of ‘bonding’ with your team and making happiness/bonding levels more important than they are right now. At this point, making your pokemon ‘happy’ is a really simplistic (and boring!) trudge of loading someone up with a soothe bell. The worst thing is that the motivations for making your pokemon happy are scant and one-off. The only in-game effect having a “happy” pokemon has are a few evolution events, and an effect on the moves Frustration and Return.
I of course am a TOTAL SAP, and try to ensure all my pokemon reach max happiness by the time you meet a happiness rater at the Pokemon Fan Club, but it would be very nice for happiness/bonds to have far more effects on your squad. Hmmm. It could be harder to cheer up a ghost type, for example…
*Pokemon NPCs would write the best Eurovision track ever. If only Japan were eligible to enter!
If this was the case it would become EVEN MORE like a Sports Sim - it used to be that players in Champ Man (eg) were mostly wooden-headed lunks who lived only to play the ball, but now they have personalities, goals, friendships, nuanced morale etc etc.
CAUTION POKEMON MECHANICS DISCUSSION FOLLOWS:
Friendship is a good thing for them to expand, I agree. Usually the issue with big mechanic changes in Pokemon is that if you introduce a new variable it can break transfer between older and newer games: maybe they will do this even so*! But the last time they did was between II and III (introducing Abilities) which is a while ago. Happiness is in there already though - so you could do a nice tie up between Natures, “personality” (“likes to eat” etc.) and happiness, to make a matrix of in-game goals a Pokemon might want to achieve, and add a bit of depth without needing to create new stats.
I doubt we’ll see a lot of mechanic shifting though, they’ll be concentrating on implementing StreetPass stuff, which since you are the only IRL person playing it I know outside my family will mean more pub/burrito time! A win!
*we’re now at the end of a brief period where you could play all 5 generations of Pokemon on the same machine (an old school DS) - counting the Gen I/II remakes obviously.