Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Top 5 Things Pokémon Should Borrow From the Digimon Games

Being a pretty big Pokémon fan (who am I kidding, a massive Pokémon fan) I always assumed that Digimon was nothing but a bad ripoff of the big Nintendo/Game Freak-franchise (just like any big selling franchise ends up spawning loads of copies, like Harry Potter/Twilight clones all over). They have trainers that battle with creatures that end in -mon? They evolve? Puh-leese. And the fact that I hadn't heard much more about it than that just cemented my assumption that everything about Digimon was bad compared to Pokémon (the logic of a child). Until I for some reason stumbled upon a game - Digimon World - and decided to try it, because why not. And found out that Digimon is actually not a bad game at all, that it in fact has a lot of features that I wish Pokémon would've had or at least get around to implementing anytime soon (X & Y *cough*).

Not only was I wrong about that however, turns out it's not even that clear which game came first or if any ripped off the other. Digimon seems to based off of another Bandai toy - Tamagotchi, rather than Pokémon, so although Pokémon was released a bit earlier (1996 vs 1997), the idea for Digimon had probably been around since before then. Not to mention that Pokémon might be based off of Tamagotchi as well and in the end you have a soup of ideas where it's just not fair to call any of them a rip off from the other. Let's just be pleased to conclude that either way, we ended up with some really good games and that's pretty much all I care about in the end.



Admittedly, if I had to choose only one of the two, I would easily choose Pokémon over Digimon. I don't even know if Digimon has a TCG (but I bet it does) and I never watched any of the anime. Digimon World for the NDS is still the only game I have played of all the Digimon games and I haven't even completed it. For all the good things about Digimon there is still just something about Pokémon that makes it better, in my opinion. Be it something as abstract as "feeling" or maybe the simple fact that it completely overwhelmed me when I was young and that Digimon just never got the chance to do that. Pokémon definitely has a better story and music than Digimon, that's for sure. Nevertheless, here are the top 5 things I wish that the Pokémon games copied/borrowed/got inspired by from the Digimon World games.

5. Speed actually makes a difference
In the Pokémon games, having a Pkmn with more speed than another does one simple thing - it allows it to hit first. It always bothered me that having 1 more speed or 100 more speed than X pkmn didn't make any difference, you still "only" got to hit first. Getting to go first is a good thing, sure, but it still makes the stat seem a bit pointless to me, especially since there are many ways to compensate for low speed, like loads of hp or defense.

In Digimon however, the more speed you have, the more hits you get to do before the enemy. If you're fast enough you can get to do two hits or even three before it's the other Digimons turn, giving that stat some real value and visible result. The way its implemented in Pokémon makes me feel like the developers thought that speed was a stat they needed to have in there, but they just didn't want to do anything with it. In Digimon, speed is a stat as good as any of the others and it adds some real tactical value to the battle. And no matter if you have a lot of hp or defense, if you have to take two hits for every one you get to do, you're still up for a challenge.

4. Gearing up
In Pokémon, the only way to change the stats of your pkmn (besides leveling them obviously) is to buy them or find stat changing food, things like Calcium, Iron or Protein. These are expensive and hard to come by, and best of all, they change a stat by 1. Yes 1. Obviously this is to make sure you don't overpower your pkmn too much, although everyone does that anyway by simply farming them to level 99 before going in to the Pokémon League. Surely there could be better ways to be able to tweak your little fighters a bit without making the game too easy?

Clearly this is something someone has thought about already -  by LRFL Deviantart


How about being able to gear them? Nothing fancy, maybe a bit of armor and a weapon, or a pretty accessory to put around your Charizards arm (if he'd let you), that make them just a bit stronger and different from all the other wild pkmn that you run across (I don't really count the Hold Items). Digimon lets you do just that. The gear not only increases some of the basics stats, it can also give you extra resistances against certain schools or status changes (like Paralyze or Poison) or allow you to use certain skills as long as the item is equipped. To me, it gives me the feeling of being able to personalize my fighters a bit more, adding yet another layer of tactic to the fighting and it gives me an option against harder enemies - rather than having to farm ten extra levels, I can choose to buy some nice, expensive gear to give me the upper hand. And if there is anything I love, it's choice.

3. Raising your Pokémon yourself
In Pokémon, the only raising done is leveling your pkmn. You can also pair pkmn together and see if they lay eggs, and then you have an egg to hatch. But most of the raising job is actually made by the owners of the Daycare Center. You just leave them there and pick them up after a while hoping they've turned into something fancy (which is based on steps I think). Wouldn't it be more fun to have a more active role in your pkmns life?

In Digimon, the Farm to raise your Digimon is required but I would probably prefer it to be more of a side-hobby if ever implemented in the Pokémon games. Just like the whole Beauty Contest thing (which I never really did), it's something to do on the side if you feel like putting more time into your pkmn. The Beauty Contest is boring compared to having your own Farm however. In Digimon, you can have several Farms that are designed to hold different type of Digimon, you can have several Digimon in each Farm and you can customize your Farms to raise certain stats with your Digimons. By questing and especially fighting wild Digimon, you collect food for your Farms, and your Farm Digimon gather money for you in return.
Although the Farm is required in Digimon you actually don't have to put much time into it if you don't want to, but if you like the whole idea there are loads of things to do. It makes the Daycare Center seem so half-assed and I would totally love to be able to put some time into all those pkmn that just gather dust in the PC instead. Imagine being able to let them run free instead, with mutual benefit for you both?

So green and lush (spriters-resource.com)


2. Multi-battles as standard
I'm going to be a bit sacrilege here and say that considering how much time you put into battling in Pokémon, it's not actually all that interesting. Although the battling in Pokémon in a way is what the whole game is all about, I've always felt like there is so much unused potential in the concept. I can understand that they wanted to start out with a very simple style initially - but it's about time to heat things up a bit, and having just added another pkmn to the fight over the course of 7 Generations (Red/Blue, Gold/Silver, Sapphire/Ruby, HeartGold/SoulSilver, Diamond/Pearl, Black/White, Black2/White2) is frankly insulting to most pkmn players intelligence. As you should've noticed so far from this post, I think pkmn simply could do with a bit more tactic and depth, especially to its battling system.

This is something that Digimon does much better. I agree there is something very intense and personal about pitching your awesome Alakhazam that you've put so much time into, against that last pkmn of smug-faced Gary. But the really epic battles of pkmn make out maybe 5% of the game, the other 95% are mostly grinding random Zubats and other low-level pkmn that really should know better than to attack you at all. There are the occasional different-styled battles to spice things up in pkmn, but they're few and to be frank, a bit awkward.

In Digimon, every battle is a multi-battle. You can have up to three Digimon in battle and you can meet up to five (I assume, since there is room for five, although I have never met more than three). Whenever one faints you can replace him with relief-Digimon on your bench (or revive him of course), just as in pkmn. Throw in the added level of effect that different speed has on your fighters and you get random battles that stay interesting and a lot less monotonous way longer than most of the pkmn battles do. I have yet to flee a Digimon fight, whereas in pkmn you eventually get to the point where you just don't want to spend PP on something that is 50 levels below you (which is another Pokémon could learn from Digimon, having a base skill that doesn't cost any form of move points!). In Digimon, you get a list of Digimon turns, and with some planning and clever use of moves you can avoid taking damage all together, if you focus your fire on the right enemy. Each battle has more elements to keep track of and more choices that change the outcome, keeping even simple battles fun. Pokémon could definitely learn from this. X & Y are going to do this a bit more, let's see if they do it better than previous games. (And, slightly unrelated - all Digimon get experience from a fight, not just the ones in the battle. How awesome would that be in Pokémon!)

1. Several evolution trees
In Pokémon you can occasionally find Pokémon with two evolutions, at best (unless you count from baby Pokémon, in which you can get three). There are exeptions (Eevee most notably) but the big majority of Pokémon only have one or no evolution however, although the constant addition of new games has given a lot of Pokémon evolution they didn't initially have, both good and bad ones. Evolving your pkmn is one of the most fun things you can do in the whole game series, if you ask me. It's unfortunate therefore, that it really could've been so much better.

Confusing? Fun! (ailover-sync.blogspot.com)


In Digimon, every Digimon has not one, but several evolution trees to follow. To evolve a Digimon you have to meet certain requirements, just like in Pokémon - reaching a certain level and sometimes also other things like holding a certain item or having killed enough of a certain type of enemies. Most Digimon start out as an "In Training", eventually choosing one of normally three "Rookie" Digimon, which in turn can continue on to Champion, then Ultimate and eventually Mega Digimons. The evolutions are usually quite different in style, allowing the player to customize their Digimon group into what they like and find interesting to play. But it doesn't end there. You can also Degenerate your Digimon, allowing the player to try different evolution trees depending on where they are in the game and what kind of fighter they need (only drawback is that you have to relevel them). This also makes it a lot more interesting to keep several of the same type of Digimon, because they can evolve into completely different styles in the end.

This adds so much fun to the evolution progress, and pretty much each level my Digimon gain I make sure to check out their Digivolution trees to see which path I want to take and what there is left to do to get there. The better evolutions are harder to get, adding extra challenge, or even giving things left to do on a Digimon that is already evolved to the max if you feel like changing its route into a stronger or simply different one. In the end this has me swapping around Digimon a lot more than Pokémon, trying different tactics, rather than just boosting up a few Pokémon to make sure I brute force the encounters (admit that is how most of you play Pokémon!).

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You could argue that some or all of the above things are ordinary or maybe unoriginal features of most rpg-games, and that the way Pokémon does it makes it special and should be left alone - why change something that works? Overall I agree, like I said initially I still prefer the Pokémon games and there is definitely something about them that make them more interesting. Digimon does feel a bit generic in style and I bond better with my Pokémon than I ever think I will with any of my Digimon, for many reasons. The above list is not meant for Pokémon to copy straight off, but I do consider some of them weaknesses in Pokémon that could be done more interesting - yet keep the Pokémon feel. Maybe what I really want is for Pokémon and Digimon to have a spin-off love child, keeping the best from two very interesting and fun worlds.

4 comments:

  1. I agree especially about the battling. Don't you think it would be fun to battle the elite four in multi battles instead of 1st pokemon... 2nd pokemon... 3rd pokemon... 4th pokemon... 5th pokemon... 6th pokemon... YOU WIN BUT NOW YOU HAVE TO DO THIS 4 MORE TIMES XD
    It would defiantly make it a whole lot more interesting if you could just battle with two at once

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  3. I liked this. The evolution chains opens the door so wide for online battles and strategies. It's no longer seeing a pokemon and just guessing which of the two or three strategies the player is using it for. With Digimon, just because we both have an Agumon doesn't mean we're going to utilize him in the same way. Completely different methods and chains means that there's a near infinite amount of strategy available. All they need is one serious game on the 3DS, advertise the hell out of it (Digimon World DS didn't do well because of lack of brand recognition) and watch as people realize how limited Pokemon really is. Plus with the whole "Digital World" location, they can make as many different locations as they want for any reason (the digital world in the anime isn't set in stone). There's also the issue with introducing new species. The digital world is a program that expands and changes, creating new monsters as it goes. Plus the Digimon designs in general are more epic and inventive than Pokemon IMO.

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    1. I agree with you, it definitely would make battles a lot more interesting. Obviously balancing would be a pain in the ass, but I am sure it could be done. Digimon deserves a lot more recognition than it's gotten, it has many game play elements that are really good. Sorry for the very late reply, I have not received comment notifications for a while it seems!

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