I know, this conversation has been done before. To make it clear, I am familiar with the arguments for why there shouldn’t be Pokemon games aimed at an adult audience. Pokemon is considered a kids’ franchise, and adding adult themes could result in backlash from parents who bought their kids an adult Pokemon game without knowing any better. Considering its long history of being strictly for kids, changing this up would be a huge risk, one that Game Freak will likely never take. In addition, the argument could be made that if many adults that like Pokemon are still buying the games, anyway what would be the point of making a new set of games?
First, while there are still many dedicated Pokemon fans in their later twenties and early thirties, there are also plenty who have lost interest in Pokemon over the years. Like me, they’ve struggled to find the same plot and gameplay style invigorating year after year, game after game. And while it’s true that many of the people who used to be Pokemon fans but lost interest are being replaced by new young fans who are entering the series, imagine what kind of money they could make if they catered to everyone? Instead of simply letting the new generations replace the older ones who have lost interest, cater to them all and make a hell of a profit.
But I want to make it clear that an “adult Pokemon game” doesn’t have to be packed with adult themes. We don’t need more violence or the coverage of topics of abuse, sex, or vices. When I say it would be great to have an adult Pokemon game and that it could actually work, I’m talking about rejuvenating the plot and the dialogue. I’m talking about putting some serious effort into the improvement of the AI in the games. These two things alone would make a world of difference in the gameplay experience.
Hear me out—what if we got a Pokemon game that, instead of centered around a ten-year-old going on an adventure to achieve their dreams, it starts with a character in front of a computer, obviously at work. The plot could be about an unhappy or unfulfilled person who missed their chance to go on the adventure of a lifetime when they were ten. Maybe their parents didn’t let them, maybe they were too nervous—the possibilities are endless. So, at the start of this game, one of the younger trainers (likely another ten-year-old just starting their Pokemon journey) says something to inspire you. They help you realize it’s not too late. You can still set out and achieve your dream of becoming a Pokemon champion. You can still achieve your dreams, despite your age. This would add a flavor of relatability while still maintaining that sense of positivity and wonder that we all know and love about the Pokemon series. The message would remain light and inspirational.
Then, in addition, the difficulty of the game could be much higher than that of the current games getting released. No more gym leaders with three Pokemon, no more enemies using “leer” or “tail whip” over and over, and no more trainers who don’t know how to utilize on super effective moves or the swapping out their Pokemon. The game would actually be a legitimate challenge—perhaps the first challenging main Pokemon game (since we all know the Pokemon Stadium games were at least a challenge).
I whole-heartedly believe that through rotating between releasing a Pokemon game in the kids’ series and releasing a Pokemon game in a new adult series, Game Freak would be swimming in riches even more than they are now. And if the adult games are made in a way like I’ve laid out, they shouldn’t have to ever worry about complaints that the games were too dark or bad for kids if, by chance, a parent does pick up the wrong game from the store. Game Freak would certainly be getting my money.
Next: How Banjo-Kazooie Kick-Started My Love For Video Games
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Stephanie is an Editor at TheGamer, solidly aligned chaotic neutral. Though her favorite game is Fire Emblem: Three Houses, she vows to do everything in her power to one day see a Legend of Dragoon remake. Absolutely nothing can top her immense love for The Lord of the Rings.
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