Why Pokémon games are all the same

2 min read


I remember playing Pokémon Red on the Gameboy back when I was a tad younger and pretty much being spellbound, after choosing Charmander and battling my way through a bunch of elite trainers. It was kinda magical – but since then, just about every single main Pokémon game has remained the same – sticking to the same perspective and mechanics – with only minor visual upgrades along the way.

Series Director Junichi Masuda has explained why the core games are all so similar, not having changed much in the 15 years since the first game.

Likening the series to sports, he explained :

“Finding that balance every time is very difficult. But when you think about games, just like playing, for example, soccer and basketball, they’re games that have been around for a very long time.”

“The core gameplay of those – the core of how you play basketball and soccer – hasn’t really changed,” Masuda continued, “Over the years, there’s regulation changes or rule changes to those games, but the core gameplay doesn’t really change for those, and that’s how we kind of feel about Pokémon as well.”

I suppose the sports analogy rings true, especially if you consider sports games, which are iterative releases – adding minor tweaks and changes each year. That said, take a look at the FIFA of 15 years ago, and FIFA today – and the difference is remarkable.

I really think it’s about time Game freak did something to make the series a little more modern; the annual addition of an extra couple of creatures just isn’t cutting it any more. Only it seems like it might be; Pokémon Black and White 2, which is currently sitting with an 81% Metacritic rating. that’s despite being nearly the same game damned game that was released in the west in 1998.

If you could, how would you reimagine the pokermans?

Last Updated: October 2, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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