Improving Pokemon Stadium for the Wii U - rschuman Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Improving Pokemon Stadium for the Wii U

 

 

Over 12 years ago, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory developed a new Pokemon game by augmenting the creature battles from the 2D sprite based handheld games to a 3D eye-popping console experience. After receiving relative critical and commercial success, Pokemon Stadium and its spiritual (sometimes direct) successors have been a part of nearly every Nintendo console generation. The Wii-U will probably be no different, and with the recent and upcoming releases of Black/White and Black 2/White 2, that leaves plenty of room for speculation. After looking back on the previous entries to the series and envisioning the capabilities of the Wii-U, there are quite a number of features to hope for. 

 

 

Characters – Keep the character customizations from Battle Revolution and expand their options. Allow for more catchphrases during sequences like low health, Pokemon recall, and maybe certain attacks. I wouldn’t mind my trainer shouting “Finish him!” right before a KO worthy attack hits. Every handheld Pokemon game has been about the player's personal journey, so allow players to really make themselves stand out from (or blend into) the rest of the world.

 

 

Exploration – The Colosseum/XD series on the game cube got some flack from fans for focusing on a lackluster story over battles. The biggest thing that those games brought to the table though, was movement and exploration. Previous Stadium games were nothing more than a set of menus to click through in order to start each particular battle. While this was effective for the time, Colosseum let your avatar actually walk into the stadium, see the lobby, ride the elevator to your match, and interact with other NPCs.

 

These small features helped you feel like were a part of the world. You were a lone trainer on a journey that finally came to its next chapter during this particular tournament. Poketopia from Battle Revolution was a good start as a single city capable of hold all sorts of different stadiums. Let us walk the street to our destination match, stop by the lab, relax in your room (similar to Stadium 2), take in the sights, or any other available single player mode option. For those who want a quick set of menus to their destination, give the player a smartphone or PDA start menu that would allow for a seamless switch between roaming and battling.

 

 

Academy – Pokemon Stadium 2 contained a Pokemon Academy where new and/or inexperienced trainers could go to understand and learn various strategies and other advanced mechanics of the game. While this may seem superfIuous to fans of the series, I know even after playing for years, I didn’t think Rollout could be boosted if it was preceded by a Defense Curl. Black and White brought tons of new features such as the Triple Battle, Rotation Battle, and even new combo attacks. Give us the ability to study and test these features first hand. It also serves as a rather good excuse for an expansive tutorial for the casual or new players.

 

 

The Lab – The Stadium games also featured a Lab that would allow you to store Pokemon, use or store items, and even trade with friends if you didn’t have a link cable. Most players are going to be importing Pokemon from their DS cartridges. Unfortunately, the more recent games did this by copying the current party from the handheld to the console, and this had some problems. Need to make an item switch? Shut down and do it on the DS. Want to fight with a different team? Shut down, swap the party on the DS, and re-register. It’s a hassle and unneeded. Bring back the ability to sort all of that on the console where it’s quicker and easier. If you need a special peripheral to do it, then Nintendo should go ahead and do it. After all, if they’re willing to sell a Circle Pad or give out a special stand for Kid Icarus, Pokemon doesn’t need to be an exception.

 

 

Battle Modes – The original Stadium series featured tons of Battle Modes. The Gym Leader Tower let you fight your way through each gym, face off against the Elite Four, and ultimately face your Rival on the big screen. There were plenty of Tournament Cups for various levels of Pokemon, and even Battle Revolution featured Stadiums with special rules. The coolest modes, however, were the bonus bosses such as Mewtwo from Stadium 1 and Rival from Stadium 2. All of these modes need to make their way back to the new game.

 

Want to fight this guy?


Take cues from Pokemon XD and have bosses similar to Shadow Pokemon.  These Pokemon contained a new set of rules and moves to strategize against. Shadow moves were attacks that were super effective against any Pokemon that wasn't a Shadow Pokemon, and also provided a wide range of different effects and animations. It's also a good excuse to introduce some new Pokemon. Imagine that instead of fighting an ultra powered Mewtwo with a random moveset (Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, really?), how about fighting a Shadow Mewtwo with moves like Shadow Shock or Frozen Abyss (does that sound menacing?).  Before you start knocking on the idea, realize that Black 2/White 2 is already experimenting with something similiar. The more options available to test our various skills, the better. Also, try to keep as many of them unlocked and available from the start.

 

 

Rental Pokemon – They don’t need the best stats or the best moves, but please for the love of the game, bring back the full rental roster. Not every one has the DS games. Even those who have the DS games neither have every Pokemon nor are they trained well. This shouldn’t be a stumbling block into the experience anymore. The WiiU is going to have plenty of memory and I really don’t think fixed Pokemon data takes up that much space. Casual players don’t need to be turned off by their weak teams, or lack thereof. Some of us just want to see a specific Pokemon battle another even if we couldn’t obtain them in the DS games. Just let us play and experience what the game has to offer.

 

 

Multiplayer – Nintendo is getting a new network overhaul, so take advantage of it. Limit Friend Code use, and let us set up groups similar to Mario Kart 7. Allow for online tournament play and leader boards. Official sponsored Rank Matches and fully customizable rules would be a nice addition. They could even allow players to spectate official matches similar to Smash Bros. Spectator Mode. For local split screen, provide for multiple controller schemes. Besides the WiiU controller, utilize the 3DS or DS download play as a subsitute WiiU controller, or even keep the classic controller set up from the previous games. Options are aplenty so don’t be afraid to use them.

 

 

Prizes – Keep the prizes coming. Surfing Pikachus, special move Zekroms, game specific Pokemon, and items should all be up for grabs. To make it more interesting, allow trainers to ante up coins or Poke-Yen on matches, whether it’s their own or spectating a ranked match. That currency could then be transferred back to the game cartridge or spent on items in the console shop. There’s a ton of things that could be done here.

 

 

Battle (Sounds) – Seriously Nintendo, you need better sound. I’m not talking state-of-the-art 1000.1 channels of Surround Sound. I mean battle sounds. Some Pokemon can get away with the old analog library (Metagross is my personal favorite) but for others, it’s time to move forward. Give Rayquaza his movie roar, Pikachu its trademark babbling, everyone else a worthy cry. Attack sounds also need a reboot. I want to hear Blizzard howl, Thunder actually sound like thunder, and heavy attacks to have impact on my ears. No more wind chimes, sub-par speaker blips, and suppressed fire crackers. Atmosphere is important too. If there is a large crowd in the stand, keep the overture loud. If there are some waterfalls nearby, let’s hear the crashing water. Pouring down rain? Keep that drizzle sound coming. All of this plays an important role so make the most of it.

 

 

Battle (Animation) – Pokemon have been complacent to stand, hover, or fly in one place for far too long. It’s time to get the battles moving. When two Pokemon first come in contact with each other have them standing still or squaring off. After the first two attacks fly, watch them move, jab, and dodge each other in the center of the ring while each trainer selects their next attack. When those canned animations become too repetitive, swap cameras to the trainers, the audience, or even a sky view of the stadium.

 

Revolution had a good start for physical animations when one Pokemon would approach another to attack. Just increase the movement speed. Give special attacks the impact they desire, and have the Pokemon show it. Did that awesome Hyper Beam only do 2 damage? Don’t make the receiver flinch. Did a Poison Sting one-shot you? Make the target fly back. Most Stadiums games do this already to a well enough degree, but here is the biggest thing. When a Pokemon is downed and fainted, have them stay down. It’s weird to see a Pokemon take an Avalanche attack, fall to ground, get up with a smile, then fall over again. Every bit of damage and attack effect can be calculated before the animation takes place, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. This could also be used for more realistic dodging. Have a Pokemon with high evasiveness? When the attack misses, show the Pokemon dodging out of the way. If the accuracy is low and misses, show the attack flying to the left of the target. Pokemon could even look tired or exhausted during lower health percentages. Again, calculate before you animate.

 

Forgive the awful quality


Another nice touch would be custom animations for certain Pokemon. Surfing Pikachu pulls out a surf board during Surf, so why not have moves like Hydro Pump and Hydro Cannon shoot from Blastoise’s cannons? Zekrom needs a custom animation for Bolt Strike and Fusion Bolt. In fact, any Pokemon with a relatively unique move needs a custom animation. After all, they’re supposed to be unique so exploit it.

 

 

Battle (Crowd) – Every person involved in the arena needs to make it more engaging as well. When the camera shifts to the crowd, make the audience have some randomized cheering and expressions rather than simply shifting between pre-rendered frames. Give us a field referee waving knockout flags after a solid hit. Give the trainers more screen time too. If your opponent uses Screech or Hyper Voice on your Pokemon, have the trainer cover their ears (or at least look concerned) if they’re in the field of view. You could even have a (skippable) cut-scene where your character and the opponent walk in/out of the stadium with glory/shame during the beginning and end of rounds.

 

Most importantly though is the announcer. This game needs an announcer, and a darn good passionate one at that. An extensive library is going to be needed, but it’s not unheard of. Have the announcer professional announce Pokemon names at the beginning of a match, and then build excitement during different parts of the battle. Pull off a one-shot wonder in your first move? “Taken down on the word GO!” (Favorite line from Stadium) If a Pokemon looks weak from battle, have the announcer say something along the lines of “I don’t know if that Pokemon can hold on much longer”. During certain damage amounts, have the announcer cringe, ooh-ah, or other sound effects. It’s got to be at least somewhat convincing, not necessarily 100%, but passable. 

 

In fact, let's just kidnap this guy. He's dedicated enough.

 

Well, off the top of my head, that's about all I can think of. The WiiU is certainly going to be a step in the right direction for Nintendo, and let's hope they give it all they got.

 

What would you like to see in a new Pokemon Stadium game?

Is there a particular feature or gimmick you'd like to see?

 

I'm curious as to what you all think, so feel free to leave your opinions below. Thanks for reading!

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