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So hello and welcome! You are probably wondering what this is. In my Pokemon Rejuvenation playthrough I played the game very differently than most people as instead of a focus on beating up and showing off my skills against the leaders, I actually focus more on the game as a whole having screencaps of huge sections of the plot. One of the most famed things is my rants where I go off on some incident or writing sin I see in Rejuv. Occasionally talk about other games, usually outside of Pokemon. This is a little bit different as I want to take on something in a more positive tone focusing on stuff that normally doesn't get talked about or often gets glanced over. I'm never going to do something generic such as "How to make a good character" as that's just written instructions and not something for people to think or talk about. I put opinionated in the acronym as these are my views or ideals and not everyone is or should agree with everything I say. If you disagree with them, I strongly encourage to speak out as it helps people broaden their horizons. Now let's kick this thing off with a bang! Commander's Opinionated Gaming Articles Pokemon's 1st Generation - The Forgotten Foundation I remember when I was around the age of five, I began discovering the beauty of video games. I didn't really enjoy them as the ones I had did not suit my tastes. When I was five, I knew I was a jrpg gamer as the only game in my five game collection that I connected with was Pokemon Blue on the Game Boy Color. Funny how I only got to Brock until a year later when I finally became the champion. I'd consider Gen V the best Gen in the franchise, but now that I look back, Gen I is my favorite and while the nostalgia talking, it's those experiences that keep me as a Pokemon fan. I understand why people could say Gen I is terrible to today's standards or that it's the worst generation, but maybe after reading this article many of you will have a different perspective on the origins of Pokemon. I'll start out by explaining what games were like back then. Video games were viewed by parents as being a sin or evil contraption so parents were against buying them for kids. Most games were designed for short sessions as well due to technology. I know around the N64 and PS era they were getting quite popular with Nintendo being the kid friendly console and the one parents jumped to. Most game I had were action or platformers based off popular shows and such which...actually weren't that bad. Most of them were a "get game over and start from the beginning again." I can't remember too much about the games as we had very little play time. I do remember when I got Pokemon Blue Version. Little me loved it since I didn't have to worry about dodging hazards and pits to keep playing. My fondest memory of my first journey wasn't getting my first mon, wasn't meeting and fighting Gary, nor was it catching that Pidgey. We have to forward a little bit to a little place called Viridian Forest. As a five year old, I was overwhelmed when I saw I could go three different ways and had no idea which way to go. I went right and somehow made a loop back to the beginning. Over time I figured it out and on repeated playthroughs I love figuring out the best way to get all the stuff and fight all the trainers (and to this day I still believe the isolated patch of grass directly to the left of the field is the only place to catch Pikachu). Nobody told me anything about it or gave me directions through. I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally made it to the end. When I reached Pewter City, I didn't know much about it so I walked around a bit until a guy told me about a gym leader and showed me the gym. It was then and there my journey as trainer stopped as a man named Brock destroyed me time and time again until I gave up. I could see why people wouldn't like Gen I due to its story, but it's a game designed around the fact it doesn't have a story. It works quite well. The game only forces two tutorials: how to catch a Pokemon and battle a gym leader. The rest of the game pretty much is you going on an adventure and exploring new places. Viridian Forest is actually a tutorial of how the game works. You have many different paths that eventually lead to the same destination. You can choose to go to a linear path by the number routes, or you can simply and see if any new places opened up. If you removed Pokemon Reborn's plot, I feel it recaptured this sense of Gen I perfectly even if you do not enjoy bits an pieces of it (who actually likes riding upwards through cycling road). This is a really old RPG mechanic that dates back way, way, way before video games were a thing from a little thing called DnD as your adventure changed based on your choices and no session was ever the same. Now we jump into modern day where I want to talk about Gen VII for a minute. I just barely got past the first island in Pokemon Sun before I just stopped playing. The game had some charm, but honestly I felt it was just not very good if I could get that far into the game and not enjoy it. You go through three hours of tutorials and on the second island they still find ways to block you off. I want to say the first island had 10 or so road blocks stopping you from progressing. Gen I had two road blocks from the start all the way to Misty. If I actually counted all the roadblocks on the first island of Gen VII, I'd probably be undershooting it. The freedom to explore is a very important element in game design and it feels like it has been neglected more and more over the years and it's not just with Pokemon either. Now I want to talk about gym leaders. I want you to take a moment and think of as many of the original Kanto leaders you can think of. Now I want you to think of as many of the Unovan leader. This is an assumption, but you probably thought of the first three Kanto leaders before you thought of the names of the first gym leader(s). The real kicker is that the Unovan leaders are more fleshed out characters than the Kanto ones. Heck, all but one gym leader in Kanto are not even relevant to the game's plot which you don't meet any of them outside the gym...except one. Something Gen I did was rarely have gym leaders drive progression forward. I believe you could even do events out of order. Misty was a tough gym leader and you were supposed to go through Nugget Bridge to be strong enough to face her. There was no man outside her gym stopping you so you could defeat her before even meeting Bill. I also believe you could fight the rival twice before being forced to challenge her in order to reach Surge. You can even explore Rock Tunnel without flash. I don't even think you had to face Koga until Victory Road. So why on earth are gyms that could be easily skipped so remembered? Their characters didn't need development nor much screentime to give insight to their character. Surge was an army veteran which we haven't seen anything regarding this since. Brock was a shirtless guy with that Onix. These small little things left such an impact onto us it's why you can recall these people. Outside of Gen I, I feel the leaders who have small quirks or little things to them that really stick out and are remembered, but it won't work as well on post-gen I since we were expecting it or take it for granite. It's the more relatable ones like Flannery or Norman who are remembered. Now you're probably thinking: what does this stuff relate to fan-games? And I'm about to give you your answer. I understand linear paths and designs are a necessary evil as non-linear designs take much, much more time to develop. My issue is regarding the increased importance of gym leaders since Gen V came out. Pokemon, at its core, is about the player going on an adventure and immerse themselves in the world. Reborn styled games do the complete opposite. Actually, I could group a large amount of Pokemon games for doing this. Leaders in these games are anything but just someone who was given a job to test and train trainers. Many of them are involved in the plot on numerous occasions. They sometimes even team up with you to stop the big bad. Most are also regarded in high authority and take action when issues arise. I definitely could understand why a writer may think it is important for gym leaders to be relevant and incorporated into the plot, but we go back to the Gen V vs Gen I argument before. It does not make the leader a better character. Making gym leader active in the game's plot may actually be hurting more than helping. This goes back to the repeated cycle that Pokemon is about "A player going on a journey." I feel this process is lost as there's always a character around driving you one way or another or telling you what you need to do. Often the segment you're in is about them leading into a gym battle with them in order to progress and learn about another leader. I sometimes have wondered if the protag was even relevant at points as all they were there for was to beat someone in a Pokemon battle before another character and the villain act upon each other trying to defeat each other sometimes in a battle of wits. This brings up the blame that this is the fact that it's a silent protagonist why they are irrelevant. I want to remove this from the equation as a silent protagonist in a group could be very relevant, but it requires tactical writing. Some games like Persona do it by giving you choices to be able to use your voice throughout the game without forcing a certain personality onto the protag. Others like the Paper Mario series have Mario use expressions and emotions (which Golden Sun you get to choose them) to feel more alive. The best method would be to move the perspective back to the player and not the conflict. In other words, make it so the player has to act in a scene instead of a focus on building the characters. The best way to do this is to remove gym leaders from the plot. I am not saying that gym leaders can't be active in the plot, but I'm merely saying don't include them there because they are a gym leader. I can think of numerous side characters who were memorable and fleshed out who never appeared in the main plot scenarios. That reduces the amount of characters you need to use and focus on. You also open up a window for more freedom and design of how the fan-game will work. Actually, could you just picture a Pokemon game where you never had to face a single gym leader until the very end of the game? Having the first gym leader use level 40s when your team is level 20s could just add a layer of exploration and discussion. The game also wouldn't be about defeating a gym leader to get past a segment but like most RPGs defeating a boss to progress forward. Maybe when you get to a town, Ho-oh has gone crazy and is attacking and burned down a couple houses arrived. With gym leader relevance: you gotta beat a guy to even climb the mountain to face it or have to face it, then defeat the gym leader to get to the next town. Without their relevance: you'd be climbing up the mountain ASAP due to the urgency to help these people. The gym could be locked, but it wouldn't stop you from adventuring forward after defeating the Ho-oh since that event is what progresses the story. Actually no, that's not a good enough example to understand this. I need to give a scenario. Scenario: An evil time has an Ice Artifact that they plan to use freeze a temple which many call their home Case 1: You make contact with a girl outside who tells you that they need to stop this group in order to save her home and her people. You continue forward in which you have another conversation mid-way through where the girl wonders what has happened to the civilians where she thrusts a guy up to a wall to tell her. The man responds that they were ordered to escort all civilians outside the temple from harm's way by his boss's orders and begs for her to let go. She does but threatens she would not be so friendly to his co-workers if a single wound had been caused by one of them. The two of you then make it to the top in which the leader and girl get into an argument. The leader tries to explain that what they're trying to do is for the good of all man-kind, but the girl interrupts calling them out on their lies forcing you into a battle. Afterwards, they retreat in which the leader drops a contact card which the girl picks up. The girl then thanks you saying that she'll be ready to battle you on the first floor for a gym battle. Case 2: The player has heard from the village elder outside that her people have been booted out of the temple. The player then explores and battles grunts of the evil team one of which is having an argument with a civilian. The player can intervene in which the civilian thanks them and serves as a healing spot for protecting him. When the player reaches the top, they meet the evil team leader who sees that you may be reasoned with unlike everyone else. She explains that what they're trying to do is create a special field in order to draw out Kyurem who has been terrorizing and freezing people to death in their nearby village. She then asks if you still wish to stop them. If you answer yes, you are forced to battle her in which she flees dropping a key card. If you choose no, she thanks you for understanding, but when she attempts it, it's a dud. While the plan failed, she is glad you understand their goal and gives you a card and how to find their base if they ever need anything from them or wish to join their group. The player then can go downstairs and talk to the residents and even challenge their gym leader or just move ahead. No matter which option you pick as a favorite, the same exact scene occurs with the same exact outcome with the only difference being adding one more person to the scene. The biggest difference is that the player makes the decision and not a different character. Now you can't always have the player alone as sometimes characters are needed to drive the plot or make things interesting but they should be well thought out. I guarantee that one person is going to try this and then say "These scenes aren't very good or work well since no extra character is there to respond" in which I will simply respond "Then why did you use a silent protagonist?" You can make a silent protagonist in a very good story, but it requires you to make them all the more active. So Gen I had some ideas that GF stopped using or backed away from for valid reasons, but can a modern day game really used the concept of freedom and exploration and have a very solid plot? Yes it can and its name is Xenoblade Chronicles. I could name other games, but this is one that's easy to recognize (if you don't and have a Wii/Wii U, it's become really cheap on Amazon). The game does go a certain direction but there are so many paths and secrets to find. Many of the side characters also don't overstay their welcome. In fact, some games have taken inspiration from from Xenoblade as they opened up their worlds and made them with the focus of exploring and many ways to get to one destination. The solo silent protagonist isn't as easy to think up of an example for. I can think of solo protagonist in RPGs who were successful, but silent is harder. Drakenguard isn't an RPG...Metroid aren't RPGs either...Dragon Quest IV might count. Someone let me know of an example of a game that isn't Pokemon as most of the ones I've come up with have party members with them. I could name plenty with the gym leader concept serving as a side thing such as Paper Mario, Tales of Symphonia, and who could forget Pokemon Colosseum. As time passes, the quality of game will ever increase and do things would could not imagine, but sometimes it's important to journey back to the origins so that what made a series great isn't truly lost forever. I feel that games are pushing to make characters relevant and active to make them memorable, but Gen I showed us that you can make a memorable character even if they appear only for 10 seconds. It's not about how good or strong the plot is when it comes to Pokemon, but the journey getting there to the end. As a very famous Pokemon Professor once said: "Your journey is about to unfold. A world of dreams and adventures with Pokemon awaits. Let's go!"