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Individual Values: A Pokémon Feature - Week 21: Old Friends, Old Rivals

Jonathan Higgins

Welcome to the twenty-first week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday morning. Also! I'm extending my Mew giveaway to give you guys more time to enter. If you're interested in other Individual Values pieces where I discussed narrative, check here and here.







Old Friends, Old Rivals


Here“s a question for you, Pokémon Faithful: How many of each game“s friend/rival characters can you name from memory? The easiest one to recall for most of you, I imagine, would be Gary Oak/BLUE. A lot of you probably started with Red, Blue and Yellow versions...and the character was reintroduced in the next game in the series, too. Since most of you are playing through Pokémon ORAS as well, I“d bet May/Brendan and Wally would be easy to recall. What about the others, though?


The Pokémon games have followed the same formula for so long that many characters you share your journey with become barely recognizable over time. Many supporting Rivals like Barry, Cheren, Bianca and Serena are a lot harder to recall because their roles in each game“s plot are ancillary at best. They don“t achieve anything noteworthy. BLUE became League Champ, so you“re forced to fight him at the end of the game; it“s kind of hard to forget that. Silver (is that his canonical name?) was the son of Giovanni, so he was often intermingled in Team Rocket affairs.


But what do the other friendly nemesis characters sprinkled throughout the series accomplish? I think it“s a real problem. And I think addressing it by creating stronger supporting characters that do things... like appear in other games (even if it“s as minor as a special battle in a specific spot once a week, or something) and actually play an integral part in the plot would fix a lot of issue“s with Pokémon“s plot feeling too basic, at times.




There are so many Professors, so many Gym Leaders, organization leaders, and what have you...that their accomplishments are kind of forgotten two or three games down the line. Cyrus, leader of Team Galactic, promised that he“d “be back for revenge” during all of the Generation IV games. Why has he never come out of the wood-works, especially with Palkia/Dialga/Giratina being theoretically available in the wild again?


Why bother creating Lysandre and Team Flare in the first place, when the exact same means could be accomplished by a character like Cyrus who...well, has a history, wants revenge and could try to take over the world again (this time using the Legendaries of X&Y)? I think Pokémon“s overall plot could be a lot more interesting if they weren't afraid to bring back other organizations and supporting characters--have them grow, become involved with the player. Imagine, instead of Serena from X&Y, you fought alongside Barry as your X&Y trainer, who“s grown up a little and come to visit Kalos on the hunch that Cyrus might be there trying to plot something. He could make clever remarks on how you fight like his old friend (the trainer you played as from Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, of course).


Pokémon plot-lines follow the same simple premise so often that...it“s not really difficult to resurrect old teams instead of creating new ones. It“s not out of the question to bring old rivals to new regions and have them play slight roles in new stories to make them more easily recalled, and market Pokémon games with a little stronger, more involved stories...while still maintaining a consistent formula that“s enjoyable for players of all ages.



I guess I“m writing this with hopes that a possible Zinnia in Pokémon Z, a story that blends both the Kalos and Hoenn regions, could pave the way to old rivals and organizations returning in future generations of Pokémon, instead of creating new ones.

Am I crazy, or am I onto something? If you can recall some of the teams, their leaders, and rivals from past games...what are some of your favorites? Are there any you“d like to see return? Be sure to let us know!

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