Pokémon Black & White Bonus Diary: What The Future Holds – Part 2

By Ishaan and Laura . March 20, 2011 . 4:29pm

While playing through Pokémon Black/White, Laura and I recently had a chat about the future of the Pokémon RPGs, particularly with regard to the Nintendo 3DS and all of the improvements it allows for, that weren’t quite possible in the past.


This is a follow-up to part 1 of our talk, which dealt in communication. Part 2 deals with battles and the move list for the Pokémon games. Do note that these are just the opinions and ideas of two Pokémon fans, and we certainly don’t expect our opinion to have any sort of impact in shaping the future of the series.


Ishaan: I realize another thing I really want from the next game is for the move list to start over from scratch.


Laura: …never going to happen, haha. The move list needs cleaning up though.


Ishaan: Yeah, probably not. It might scare away people. But I would like to see a lot of these moves just…done away with.


Laura: And less of them…breaking themselves.


Ishaan: There’s so many doubles. I’d like to see more buff moves that actually give you incentive to use them.


Laura: Well, part of it is to account for Pokémon morphology. Like Tackle vs. Pound. Tail Whip vs. Leer.


Ishaan: Well, more trickster moves, I mean.


Laura: …dude. You have no idea. There are so many of those already. Like Trick Room…reverses everyone’s speed order. Magnet Rise…automatically grants Levitate. Smackdown removes Ground immunity. Cross Chop destroys all barriers. Please…no more…


Ishaan: But they aren’t obvious! They need to be presented in a more obvious way.


Ishaan: One I instantly figured out and took a liking to was Wake-up Slap. That was hilarious. I used it against the Normal type Gym in Black/White.


Laura: Please…don’t get into trickster moves and buffs. They are horrendous. Like, they’re too good.


Ishaan: But they aren’t obvious at all. To the average player, there’s no incentive to use them.


Laura: Well, to the average player…you don’t care. The opponent isn’t going to come up with some diabolical strategy using Moonlight, Toxic, Faint Attack and Confuse Ray…


Ishaan: But they should!


Laura: No…they shouldn’t… That Pokémon was unbeatable. It’s really, really hard. I don’t think you realize…it’s incredibly frustrating, and it made me want to throw my game against the guy’s head.


Ishaan: I’d just like to see the game being more demonstrative of its strategic elements. Like Hypnosis or Yawn + Wake-up Slap. Instant connection. I took to it immediately. It was genius.


Laura: Oh, like their names?


Ishaan: Well, just make them more obvious, however you do it. Whether it’s names or making more moves compatible.


Laura: We need more stuff like that yelled out and slapped in our face? Most guides have stuff for that…


Ishaan: I think we need more transparency than there is now, so that you don’t have to go looking up a guide for it. Make the game more self-contained.


Laura: You can’t…it’d be too complicated. Drive away the kids they want to attract.


Ishaan: It’s Game Freak and Nintendo…this is the sort of thing they’re masters at.


Laura: Yeah, and they decided to keep EVs a secret…and never told the kiddies about it, haha. Or IVs for that matter.


Ishaan: EVs are a whole different matter. Stats are “boring.” No one cares unless you’re a hardcore player. But moves! Moves are fun. And animated.


Ishaan: That’s my point. Hypnosis + Wake-up Slap is such an obvious combo, even I understood it right away after only coming back to the game properly after years. It’s simple, and has uses in multiple scenarios.


Laura: But, if they threw every strategy at you, it’d take hours to read them all. What do you want them to say? “Use with Hypnosis?”


Ishaan: Right now, you have to admit, the majority of players power through battles.


Laura: Of course, That’s how you play singleplayer. It would make training a bitch otherwise…


Ishaan: But you shouldn’t! Shouldn’t singleplayer should help you train for multiplayer?


Laura: No, I think multiplayer is for the "elite," while singleplayer is…more casual. If you mixed the two up, singleplayer would be too hard.


Ishaan: But we already talked about how Pokémon is about communication, so all the more reason they’d want to push multiplayer, no? They need to stop treating them as two separate things. Make it easier for people from SP to ease into MP. Not limiting communications to Pokémon Centers is in Black/White is a step in the right direction.


Laura: If they employed "strategies" into SP, it would become annoying. And besides, they do do some of that already, like Thunderwave + Confuse Ray is one of the most common…or used to be. And it doesn’t teach you anything except a single combo, in exchange for hours of "I HATE YOU ALL."


Ishaan: It teaches you a single combo that encourages you to want to try and learn more cool combos.


Laura: Yeah, that’s what the basic combos are for, the ones you pointed out…and they’re already explained in the game via their names and descriptions. They’re already doing that much.


Laura: I don’t get what you want…they already have the descriptors there. People just have to read. The only thing I can think of is more obvious attack names, and that’s pretty superficial. The complex strategies are just a hodgepodge of attacks you put together after having read their descriptions.


Laura: Everything is there in the game already. The only things not there are the exact percentages of the effects. Flamethrower burns 10%. Will-o-wisp is 100%.


Ishaan: No no, name/description is fine. Maybe what I want is for them to introduce more of those moves early on.


Laura: Instead of Tackle?


Ishaan: Well, Tackle is most welcome.  But let’s not have the same Tackle/Leer for the first three hours.


Laura: So you want more "breakers," like that Patrat with Bite in Black/White.


Ishaan: Okay, no…let me explain this contextually. Say your Pokémon evolves. It wants to learn a new move. My first instinct is to get rid of a buff because they’re the least "immediately" useful. So if there’s a good reason for me to hang onto Leer or whatever, the game needs to tell me.


Laura: Decreases defense? It does tell you that in the description…


Ishaan: Right, but why would I want to waste a move performing Leer if I could just attack twice instead? Instead, maybe they could convince me to keep Leer by allowing you to see a skill-tree of the Pokémon throughout its evolutionary process.


Laura: Well, that’s something I thought would work great…especially if you do that Researcher occupation thing you were talking about earlier. They do need to improve the Pokédex. I never understood why they didn’t do that.


Laura: But anyways…Leer and Tail Whip and Defense Curl…they always have their time and place…but you’re right in that they’re not the most useful, because it’s one stage. It’s like an introduction to buffs and debuffs.


Laura: And then you get…Steel Wall, Swords Dance, Agility. And then…man…


Ishaan: So they need to…help you visualize that stuff more? If by your own experience, Leer + Tackle largely has the exact same effect as Tackle + Tackle, you have no reason to hang onto Leer then.


Ishaan: Stuff like Rain Dance + Thunder is obvious because Thunder is low-ish PP, not 100% accurate. So you’d rather buff it first.


Laura: It’s not a matter of PP…it’s kill before you get killed, haha. But then, what do you want them to do?  Program better moves for lower levels?


Ishaan: I…don’t know how it’d work best. Game Freak probably have access to all kinds of data that we don’t, like player trends and tendencies. I’m sure they’ve thought of this stuff. So, according to all that data, they need to make improvements…and they will, I’m sure.


Ishaan: But the “how” is the question. A skill tree could definitely help. It’d help you chart out an evolutionary path, even with deciding when you want to evolve your Pokémon.


Laura: Well, yes…I mean, I always go to Serebii.net just to see when to evolve, what to put on a Pokémon eventually.


Ishaan: That’s what I meant by “make it more self-contained.”


Thanks so much to everyone that even bothered to give these weekend pieces a read, and for joining in the discussion!

Read more stories about & & & & & & on Siliconera.

  • Hard mode for veterans
    Regular difficulty for casuals

    • kupomogli

      There is a hard mode. It’s called SMT Nocturne.

    • I agree, a hard mode should be offered.

      • Suicunesol

        Multi-player. There’s your hard mode.

        (Battle Subway is pretty challenging too.)

      • Ren

        Play it without grinding or undeleveled. That should be hard enough for you.

        • No grinding or being over leveled? Dude this is an RPG, why would someone subject themself to that?

          • Ren

            Last time I checked RPG meant Role Playing Game, not Grind Fest. Just because you can grind doesn’t mean that it’s necessary to play the game, actually, anyone who’s even decent at RPGs can play non-naturally-grindy(different from games like WoW, where the only objective of the game is grinding, or certain old games like FF1) ones without grinding and still do well. Your problem is that you think just because the game offers a certain option, that that option is inherently the way the game should be played, the ways of a scrub. Grinding is just a way to make the game easier for people like you who doesn’t like challenges. You ask for a hard mode, but if you want to play the hard mode you need to stop playing only on the easy mode and see that the hard mode was there all along, you just never actually wanted to play it. If you think that grinding is the only and the right way to play pokemon and most RPGs(which is actually false) it just means you’re happy at being ignorant of what’s right on your face and that you just can’t see the big picture, which is not bad but means you’re just scared of new and hard things. You’ll never grow if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, so don’t say things like that without even trying them, alright?
            If you still want to grind all the way through the game, then do it if it makes you happy, but don’t say that you’re good at the game or that the games resume themselves at that, because you can grind all you want, but even levels have a cap.

      • PersonaBull

        You want hard mode?

        Let me introduce you to the Nuzlocke Challenge. You’ll really grow to appreciate stat modifier moves and those poor (literally)sacrificial pokemon you throw out.

  • Suicunesol

    I’ve used Tail Whip and Leer more times in BW that I did in any other game before it. Let me tell you why.

    In this game, early on, there are moves that are designed to weed out players who use physical attacks constantly. One of those moves is Bide (which has existed since RBY). It’s an attack that absorbs the damage you deal, and deals it back with twice the force. Now, sometimes your Pokemon can down the enemy Pokemon before it can release energy. But sometimes your Pokemon can’t. When that happens, and if you blindly continue attacking, the enemy Pokemon will take your Pokemon out in one hit (it happened to me).

    Leer and Tail Whip are useful in this situation. Don’t attack while the enemy bides his time. Hit him with Debuffs. Two turns later, his Bide attack will fail, and your Pokemon can hit him hard due to the stacked debuffs.

    I think every veteran Pokemon trainer knows that, in the long run, Tail Whip and Leer aren’t useful. But they serve their purpose as debuffers at the beginning of the game when you need them (however few). Not everything needs to be useful in the long run. It’s up to the player to decide what attacks to keep in their arsenal and what to throw away. Making decisions is an important part of the experience in any game.

    As for including all sorts of useful information in the Pokedex, that would be nice. But it might also take away the sense of surprise and discovery you get when your Pokemon suddenly learns a new move, or begins to evolve. I suggest that the Pokedex update with that new information as the player moves through the game, rather than providing that information outright.

    • Dude, lol what!? I never even resort to using such terrible moves like Leer and Tail Whip and Ive played every game. They are just pointless and worthless and a waste of slot like (Growl, Sand-Attack, Poison Sting, Defense Curl, etc). In your bide case, the problem can easily be avoided by taking advantage of a type weakness or just utilizing sacrificial pokemon…deal the damage then two turns later put in a weaker pokemon that one doesnt care about, bam, they take the damage, then repeat. In my experience one only needs like three pokemon in the beginning of these games since the pokemon variety is so terrible at the start and one would just trade in their pokemon in the beginning anyway. From my experience Pokemon is just a game of brute force and in all case brute force prevails.

      I think the pokedex is filled with esoteric useless information at the end of the day. They should have a move encyclopedia or something.

      • Trust me dude, never underestimate stat modifiers. I learned this the hard way when my entire team got sweeped by my friend’s Snorlax one day. There is a LOT more strategy in pokemon then you think. The game is much deeper then simply deciding what type is strong against what ;)

      • Suicunesol

        And you know what? That’s fine. People have different strategies to deal with different things. You can go ahead and play your rock-paper-scissors and throw in your fodder Pokemon to faint for you. Fortunately, I don’t use fodder Pokemon. :) And I usually don’t switch Pokemon to take type advantages because the Pokemon I already have out can handle type disadvantages just fine. Can yours? :)

        In any case, I seriously can’t wait to battle you. You would be a lot of fun. :o

      • Ren

        Trist, you are a grinder, and as a grinder the only thing that matters to you is to make sure you are higher leveled than anything on your way and that you have your arsenal of super effective moves, but remember that levels stop at the 100th, and once you fight against someone on the same level as you, the way the game plays changes considerably. Your ‘experience’ is flawed, because you limit yourself to the same way of play as always. You even whined when you learned you wouldn’t be able to transfer your lv100 pokemon to power away through the game and would need to use weaker and unknown pokemon for playing the game. I’m not going to say taking the easy way is bad, since most people will prefer to grind than to loose one or more turns in a battle to pull a more complex strategy, but just because those moves never had any use for a power hitter like you, doesn’t mean they have no use at all. And remember that you can’t always have sacrificial pokemon to use or super effective moves at your disposal.

        Once Gray comes out, try playing it making sure none of your pokemon can be equal or higher leveled than the gym leaders when facing them and by not allowing the use of supper effective attacks against them. It will completely change the way you see the game and show you where the actual strategy of the game lies and why multiplayer battles are considered as ‘made for the elite’. You’ll see your brute power amounts to nothing.

        • There’s really no need for personal insults here… :/

          • Ren

            Sorry, didn’t mean it as insults, tried to come up with a non harsh word for ‘person who sets his views and is afraid of trying to do things differently since the easy way already works’ but nothing came, and I bet he would either twist it or not understand or completely miss the pont if I put it like that. I’ll edit the post and remove them.

        • Hah, but I found a way around it. I can simply borrow someones completed game, trade my pokemon over from HeartGold and to their White, then trade from their White to my White as soon as I am able to trade over (which people said is quite early in the game), lol. Screw using weak pokemon!!! Did it for Diamond, Platinum, and Heart Gold.

          The most I do is use all those calciums and etc and pp ups and hp ups cause I am usually bleeding money in the game, I think my strategy of just power plowing through the game is greatly enhanced thanks to this.

          Ive still just seen no use for the stat modifying moves, mainly because, as I always say in the turns wasted using those, one could have used Hyper Beam, Thunder, Blizzard, Draco Meteor, etc to obliterate and devastate the opposing pokemon.

          • Ren

            Like I said before, completely missed the point. EV training your pokemon to have high attack or special-attack won’t really get you anywhere if you have to fight with people on the same level as you. Go play Shoddybattle or Netbattle for a bit and you’ll see what I mean by what said.

  • I must say. I am glad that Nintendo keeps EVs less obvious for younger players. Because nothing is more joyful than wi[ing out your younger cousin’s team of all legendaries with a magikarp :3

    Also as c competitive player I just want to say. Stat decreasers are basically useless, stat increasers…..those rock B)

    Here is my only request Nintendo, make a spec. atk version of belly drum or curse please~

    • How young is young, kids these days can go online and check out that stuff. I never understood why its even hidden.

      • Young really doesn’t matter. Most casual players don’t even know what EVs are; they wouldn’t even know what they were looking for since the game itself makes barely any mention of EVs or IVs. Heck back in high school, I used to have a lot of friends who thought they were beasts at pokemon just because they trained all their pokemon to 100 and gave them all the biggest power moves like fire blast, hydro pump, or hyper beam.

        Also as for why its hidden. I guess its for those who are willing to put in the time and the effort to research and train get something worth it in the payoff.

  • I think I vehemently disagree with the multiplayer is for the elite line. Assuming this game is supposed to be a “childrens” game and that the social aspect was the underlying aspect to the creation of the game, how is a social aspect for the elite? I think I would have to agree about the transparency. I cant see what isshu there would be in included more on all of that stuff, and hey information to help the masses get interested, heh, even just in the moves encyclopedia suggested strategies, etc (as well as a purging of the moves and redoing them, more dragon moves, more steel moves, eliminate weak dud moves…)

    Actually, I think Mr. Ishaan says everything that I feel on the matter honestly.

  • SonicRulez

    Ishaan seems very resistant to research. No game on the planet has all of its data contained easily accessible to the player. Occasionally you have to look it up and Pokemon has always been like that. It doesn’t break the game either. Go to your Pokemon’s summary to see what each move does and determine for yourself if you wanna use Tackle twice or Leer > Tackle. I think any attempt to boost buffs/debuffs would create a dependence on them which Pokemon doesn’t need.

    • No no, I’m not resistant at all. Well, okay…maybe a little bit. I played a LOT of Pokémon Crystal back in the day and did the whole EV/IV training and breeding thing like a maniac.

      The problem is, these days, time just doesn’t allow for that sort of thing, and that’s fine. Advanced strategies can always be kept hidden away, like Laura’s example of Confuse Ray/Toxic/Moonlight/Faint Attack. But it would be cool if you could map out your evolutionary chart in the game itself, instead of having to look up a FAQ.

  • Asura

    Sadly, one player mode and multiplayer mode HAVE to remain different. The only way to overcome that is for you to be healed after every single battle. And then it’s basically Battle Tower/Battle Subway.

    If you want the opponent to be somewhat smart and use decent strategies, that’s why Battle Tower exists in the first place by the way. You get stuff using Toxic, Protect, and Double Team (ugh…), you get Arcanines using Endure, having Salac Berry raise their speed, and then using Reversal, etc.

  • Yesshua

    I am entirely in agreement with this idea of Pokemon becoming more self contained. Right now, high level play is entirely impenetrable without use of Serebii.net to figure out evolution trees, move lists, stats, EVs, IVs, Berry effects, etc.

    I mean, I can understand not wanting to scare the kiddies away, I do. But couldn’t all this information be hidden somewhere deep in the menus for those of us who want to see it?

    • Asura

      Or you can have the next game use Wifi to directly link to Bulbapedia anytime you want to look something up, haha.

  • Raidou

    Since Day 1 of playing Pokémon Red all those years ago I’ve had the same thought.. Why on earth would I Leer + Tackle when Tackle + Tackle will do the same/even more damage.
    Any seasoned Pokémon player knows that if you genuinely attempt to use buffs/debuffs in for example a Gym match.. you won’t be getting that badge anytime soon.
    Moves that damage + buff/debuff are the way forward people!
    Tail Whip! Could clearly be a nice 30 power move with the defense debuff included!

    • Asura

      Any seasoned Pokemon player will probably say you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Gyms are a joke anyway. If you have type coverage you win, even when under-leveled. But it sure is a hell lot easier to swords dance and OHK instead of 2HKing and taking residual damage.

  • Jaxx-Leviathan

    I completely agree with Ishaan on the ‘early-buff/debuff’-issue. They are always the ones that go first for me too, even before Tackle (unless it’s just an upgraded move of the same, like ‘Bubble < Bubblebeam'). I like buffs like Hone Claws and non-Ghost using Curse, because they handle multiple stats and therefore feel more empowering than most single-stat buffs/debuffs. I also love the trickster-moves, doing something that sets up a sweet strategy is a lot of fun (I like to Soak my non-Water opponent with Octillery and then Charge Beam with same, or do that in a double along with Starmie then doing Rain Dance + Thunder). But I can also see Laura's argument in that it would alienate the young kids who might have enough in the relative simplicity it is now. So I'm thinking: keep it simple through the main story, then post-game you could perhaps unlock moves that are designed for sick strategies and combo's. They did kinda up the combo-incentive in B/W with some trickster-moves and such that works great in double and triple matches. Like the move-tutor moves for the three starters (can't remember the move names). Anyway, I enjoyed your chat.

  • kyuketsukimiyu

    I do really like the idea of making the game a bit more transparent via the Pokedex. I mean, would it be so hard to give us a move list or at least record a move list? And having a pokemon’s EVs and IVs be automatically kept track of via an extra page or couple of charts in the pokemon’s stat menu would not kill them. I don’t think it need be presented in a way that turns off younger players. Honestly, those who don’t care could easily just ignore it.

  • The best thing for the Pokemon franchise at this point in time would be for it to END.

    • Breaking 1 million pre-orders would probably disagree.

      • It can’t go on FOREVER, though. It’s gotta end SOMEDAY. Just like Final Fantasy.

  • Ishaan definitely has a point here about making it more of a local experience but I also think that Game Freak programming these hidden features really separates the men from the boys. Most of the casual gamers would get turned off by having a 300 page guidebook thrown at them early in the game on strategies and such. Making a strategy yourself, going the extra mile to learn about how to make your pokemon stronger and then having all that pay off is part of the fun.

    Also, oh god hell no to having NPC’s having their own strategies. Most of the time you are hauling ass through the game and battling trainers and gyms while your pokemon are severely underleveled and you are relying completely on type effectiveness. A strategy for NPCs especially status based strats would make this game more rage inducing than modern warfare 2. Game Freak did try this in black and white though, to some degree. The ace trainer girl on route 14 had a Purugly that had Swagger(confusion), Attract(immobilized by love), Body Slam(30% Paralysis), and some other move. MY GOD I had more trouble battling her than battling Champion Alder. Altogether the three status inducing moves left my pokemon with a 19% chance of attacking and 50% chance of actually hitting itself.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos