Unpopular opinions

Codraroll

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The Exp. Share is the game's Easy Mode. It's probably not going anywhere.

I agree with stage7_4 above here: The games are almost as difficult as they can be, if you don't have everything memorized. Knowing the type chart, relative power and usefulness of moves, and even the typing of the Pokémon you encounter gives you a huge, huge advantage the games can't really be designed around. New players would be completely lost if everything turned challenging according to our standards. Of course the games are easy when you know how to make optimal choices in every situation from the very beginning.

My stance on difficulty in Pokémon is simple enough: If you want a challenge, make one. Also, I somehow doubt you could make a Pokémon game truly difficult with the current mechanics, at least without making it frustrating in the process. Grinding will overcome everything, but is quite tedious and should never be a requirement to proceed. A competent AI trainer can be beaten by devising a counter-strategy, and whipping up a counter-strategy to a set team with a set strategy is second nature to Smogonites. Is the foe using weather? Change it. Relying on boosting? Phaze. Switching a lot? Use entry hazards. We're so used to finding the perfect solution that, even if the games required it, we'd still do it without much thought. But if you're not used to it, the games would tear you to shreds and just be frustrating. All in all, I think it's nearly impossible to make the game fun to play for everyone while still giving experienced players a challenge. We simply have to make our own difficulty.
 

Codraroll

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I think that if more opponents had more Pokémon, or even full teams, that would make it more satisfying.
That's also true, and a great point.

Thinking about it, what many of us might be missing from the Pokémon games isn't a sense of difficulty - it's a sense of achievement. Despite the fancy graphics and that one Pokémon you may not have seen before, battling a Gym leader / other boss doesn't feel as epic as it should. They answer to your challenge with three or four Pokémon, which means that even when the battle goes against you, you still feel like you've got a comfortable amount of cannon fodder on your side. You have the upper hand from the outset. You can afford to lose three Pokémon for every two you knock out, since even when you're losing more than you're winning, the opponent will run out of Pokémon much sooner than you. Plowing your way through a three-Pokémon Gym team feels somewhat anticlimactic, since while you understand that the foe can't be too hard for design reasons, at least there should be some sensation that he was at least trying. You should feel like you just beat a great trainer, not just like you KO'd three Pokémon sharing a typing. There should be some strategy for you to overcome, or a full six-on-six battle, or at least a really fearsome/memorable Pokémon to face in every boss battle. Something to remove that sensation of having the advantage.

I suppose the Champion is meant to feel more powerful than anybody else when (s)he is the only trainer in the region with six Pokémon, but that falls flat since there's always one other trainer who also has a team of six: The player. When you're able to carry six around Pokémon for the entire game, it doesn't overwhelm you when you face an opponent carrying a team of five. You think "why hasn't he got one more?". In more egregious cases, you may think "this supposedly super-strong villain hell-bent on destroying me tries to do so with three Pokémon? Half a team? Come ON..." A team of six isn't treated like a marvel, it's presented as the norm, and rather than thinking "wow, he's got a lot of Pokémon" you think "everybody else aren't trying".

That, I suppose, is why the Pokémon games feel too easy. It is so obvious that the designers deliberately eased the challenge. By utilizing small teams, or not using any particular strategy, opponent trainers feel like they're not making an effort. You go into Gym battles with the inherent advantage of carrying twice as many Pokémon as the Gym Leader, and usually proceed to sweep their team with your one appropriately-typed team member. You're the upperdog, and your win is predictable. That's an aspect that ought to be addressed. The games don't necessarily have to be that much harder, but it shouldn't feel like you're meant to win whenever you face a supposedly tough opponent.
 

Pikachu315111

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I think an interesting experiment would maybe adding in level caps which raises as you get each badge. It would be much easier to scale difficulty and maybe add some challenge back in as the answer won't be "just train your Pokemon until they're over leveled". Also for battles against Gym Leaders, Elite Four, and the Champion maybe having the player use the same amount of Pokemon would also make defeating them a bit more rewarding (you're using the same amount of Pokemon as them, their Pokemon would be leveled close or to the level cap, and upon defeating them you not only get the Badge but also a level cap increase (and maybe see some Pokemon level up because of it as, though the won't level, a Pokemon at the cap would still gain experience like the Shadow Pokemon in the Colloseum games)).

That said the villain team's boss still should use a team of full six. Their underlings having less is understandable, but if you're the boss you should have six.
 
That's also true, and a great point.

Thinking about it, what many of us might be missing from the Pokémon games isn't a sense of difficulty - it's a sense of achievement. Despite the fancy graphics and that one Pokémon you may not have seen before, battling a Gym leader / other boss doesn't feel as epic as it should. They answer to your challenge with three or four Pokémon, which means that even when the battle goes against you, you still feel like you've got a comfortable amount of cannon fodder on your side. You have the upper hand from the outset. You can afford to lose three Pokémon for every two you knock out, since even when you're losing more than you're winning, the opponent will run out of Pokémon much sooner than you. Plowing your way through a three-Pokémon Gym team feels somewhat anticlimactic, since while you understand that the foe can't be too hard for design reasons, at least there should be some sensation that he was at least trying. You should feel like you just beat a great trainer, not just like you KO'd three Pokémon sharing a typing. There should be some strategy for you to overcome, or a full six-on-six battle, or at least a really fearsome/memorable Pokémon to face in every boss battle. Something to remove that sensation of having the advantage.

I suppose the Champion is meant to feel more powerful than anybody else when (s)he is the only trainer in the region with six Pokémon, but that falls flat since there's always one other trainer who also has a team of six: The player. When you're able to carry six around Pokémon for the entire game, it doesn't overwhelm you when you face an opponent carrying a team of five. You think "why hasn't he got one more?". In more egregious cases, you may think "this supposedly super-strong villain hell-bent on destroying me tries to do so with three Pokémon? Half a team? Come ON..." A team of six isn't treated like a marvel, it's presented as the norm, and rather than thinking "wow, he's got a lot of Pokémon" you think "everybody else aren't trying".

That, I suppose, is why the Pokémon games feel too easy. It is so obvious that the designers deliberately eased the challenge. By utilizing small teams, or not using any particular strategy, opponent trainers feel like they're not making an effort. You go into Gym battles with the inherent advantage of carrying twice as many Pokémon as the Gym Leader, and usually proceed to sweep their team with your one appropriately-typed team member. You're the upperdog, and your win is predictable. That's an aspect that ought to be addressed. The games don't necessarily have to be that much harder, but it shouldn't feel like you're meant to win whenever you face a supposedly tough opponent.
Adding onto this, I almost feel as if Game Freak is acting as though 3v3 is the standard for Pokemon battles (See: Secret Bases, Battle Spot Singles), almost as if you're meant to only use half your team in battle. However, they balance the game around the you having 3, but then balance the level curve around having 6. (Of course, the EXP. Share makes the number of team members irrelevant, but that's a whole other can of worms.) The end result is that you have the choice of in what way the game is too easy: Either because you're overleveled from having to train less Pokemon, or because you have a full team of 6 while everyone else has 3 or 4. The two ways to remedy this are a) tweak the level curve (Look to GSCHGSS to see how well that turned out), or, as you very well expressed, give NPCs more Pokemon.

The other issue is that GF seems to so desperately cling to the gimmick of monotype Gyms. It sounds good in theory, but when you, as the Player, have a (presumably) well-balanced and diverse team, it sort of detracts from the feeling of challenge and accomplishment if you can just sweep through their team with one Pokemon. In that case, it doesn't really matter if they have 1 mon or 6 - all it'll change is how much PP you use (Wulfric and Ramos are great examples since you can just bring a Charizard or Delphox and mash the Flamethrower button; do you really think that 3 more Ice-types will make it that much harder?). Instead, and I know I'm not the first person to have this idea, but what if you had Gyms based around different battle strategies instead? So you could have a Hyper-Offense gym, a Stall gym, a weather gym or two (in which shared weaknesses are covered for), a Hazard Shuffling gym, a Doubles gym, or even a gym based around Evasion, OHKOs, Swagger, and everything else that drives us Smogonites nuts.

Actually, now that I think about it more, another potential option could be that Gym Leaders refuse to accept your challenge if you have more Pokemon than them. It still wouldn't match the intensity (and feeling of accomplishment) of a full 6v6 battle, though.
 

DragonWhale

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My stance on difficulty in Pokémon is simple enough: If you want a challenge, make one. Also, I somehow doubt you could make a Pokémon game truly difficult with the current mechanics, at least without making it frustrating in the process. Grinding will overcome everything, but is quite tedious and should never be a requirement to proceed. A competent AI trainer can be beaten by devising a counter-strategy, and whipping up a counter-strategy to a set team with a set strategy is second nature to Smogonites. Is the foe using weather? Change it. Relying on boosting? Phaze. Switching a lot? Use entry hazards. We're so used to finding the perfect solution that, even if the games required it, we'd still do it without much thought. But if you're not used to it, the games would tear you to shreds and just be frustrating. All in all, I think it's nearly impossible to make the game fun to play for everyone while still giving experienced players a challenge. We simply have to make our own difficulty.
While seasoned pokemon players will be able to come up with counter-strategies to beat AI that rely on a certain strategy, the main issue is that the current AI has no strategy to counter which is the main problem imo. At least if there was a strategy then there will be enjoyment in finding ways to beat it, instead of "hey the AI hardly ever switches let me send in something that beats the current foe 1v1".

Sigh this discussion really makes me wish for a stadium sequel, because no pokemon game has come even close to stadium in terms of AI.
 
If I can share an unpopular opinion.

I think Gym Leaders as a whole should be saved until quite a bit into the game, like when the leveling curve starts to pick up a bit. Early game Gym Leaders tend to be either pathetic or hair-pullers with next to no in between.

Take Kanto for example: Brock only carries 2 Pokemon, with basically no particular strategy to them (hell, in Gen 1 proper they don't have a STAB), while Misty has her Starmie eating teams alive. After that the Gym Leaders kind of mellow out into being reasonable challenges if you don't prey on particular tricks (Dugtrio for Lt. Surge), but that's sporadic early difficulty. Similarly, Gen 2 has Falkner and Bugsy go down like chumps before they hit you with Whitney's Miltank and Morty's Gengar.

If the Gym Leaders took a little while to come into the picture, they could be properly balanced around the player having time to train. Misty's Starmie is supposed to be compensated by being one mon, but it's still evolved, higher level, and a sweeper for a point where the player is limited on options. It would also alleviate the issue of the Gym Leaders feeling like they're not really challenges: when I encounter the gym leaders so early in the game, they don't feel like milestones, they feel like chores I have to do to proceed with the game.

Gym Leaders also tend to cause problems with the pacing, and I think it was at its worst in Gen 4 (though others aren't immune to it). You have the encounters with the villain team over the course of the story, and usually the climactic battle with them happens after getting your 7th badge. It makes the last gym feel like a detour before going to the Elite Four and Endgame proper, doubly so in something like Gen 4 where you're in the middle of an urgent matter (investigating the lake trio) and you have to stop to fight Candice (which has no relation really) before proceeding with that objective.

For that matter, I think the progression with the villain teams and the Gym Leaders should be kept distinct in future entries. Besides the pacing issues, it really underlines the arbitrary roadblocks of the Gym Leaders in relation to other story events.

- Having them as the HM limiters could be remedied by withholding the HM or need for the HM until after the Gym Leader would (theoretically) allow its use.

- The two objectives in one story kind of dump on each others' pace when they keep interrupting each other.

- The Gym Leaders simply don't DO anything in the story. They're essentially like those monster boss fights you see in other RPG's that are just there to fill a boss instead of having any real story progression, like the Magus Sisters in FF4: there's a story relevant boss fight to follow, they're never relevant before, and they're never mentioned again. They only add a boss fight with no story significance and are purely a gameplay obstacle.

For that matter, I liked BW's final bosses better than other entries. Every other game, the Champion caps off your journey, but as evidenced by the HoF format and post game trainers that are supposed to be challenging to your post-game team, it makes it feel less special since I could easily believe most of these NPC's and even my rivals could have done this same thing. Post game takes away from the gravity of this accomplishment for difficulty. Stopping N and Ghetsis felt more satisfying to me because this is something the game made clear I had to do, and it feels less like a story afterthought than "okay, beat Cyrus, now just 2 more hours to clear Volkner and the Elite Four," especially because the Villains have much more presence than the Elite Four (and even the Champion in most games).
 
On monotype gyms and their difficulty:
The problem isn't the fact that Gym Leaders use monotype teams. It is that they use badly balanced monotype teams. They don't plan for their weaknesses. Water Gyms don't carry Water types that have types that handle Electric or Grass attacks, etc. when they are available. Any one who has played Monotype can attest to this problem.

I also agree on the problem with the number of Pokémon opponent's use. Start with three Pokémon in the Gym Leader's team for the first, then by the time of the fourth Gym, have a full team of six for any major NPC (Gym Leaders, Team Admins, Team Bosses, Rivals, and the Elite Four) with 4-6 for minor NPCs. That would help.
 
On monotype gyms and their difficulty:
The problem isn't the fact that Gym Leaders use monotype teams. It is that they use badly balanced monotype teams. They don't plan for their weaknesses. Water Gyms don't carry Water types that have types that handle Electric or Grass attacks, etc. when they are available. Any one who has played Monotype can attest to this problem.
It's kinda like how Viola surprised a lot of people that started with Fenniken because of Surskit. The only problem is that this was the exception rather than the rule.
 
There are some other exceptions to the rule - I remember enjoying Crasher Wake because all his Pokémon are fast and powerful, but also he had a Gyarados which isn't weak to grass, and a Quagsire which is immune to electric. He actually covered his weaknesses.
Gen 3 to an extent also helped Koga because the Weezing family now had Levitate.
 
Elesa was kinda fun. Her two Emolgas spread damage between them via Volt Switch, and you couldn't afford to tank the hits with Grass types since Zebstrika had a Fire move. I didn't have a rock type then, though. YMMV. And for some bizarre reason I found Grant weirdly difficult. No idea why, but I was very embarrassed about it at the time.

Even as kids, you remember the tough battles more than the easy ones. There's a reason people still talk about Brock in Yellow and Misty's starmie, though they went too far the other way. The type chart might be incredibly complex for someone starting out, but a game being difficult yet doable for any age group is a real virtue, and I feel GF may be overemphasizing the apparent lack of attention and effort in today's kids and missing this in a baby/bathwater, forest/trees kinda setup.
 
On monotype gyms and their difficulty:
The problem isn't the fact that Gym Leaders use monotype teams. It is that they use badly balanced monotype teams. They don't plan for their weaknesses. Water Gyms don't carry Water types that have types that handle Electric or Grass attacks, etc. when they are available. Any one who has played Monotype can attest to this problem.

I also agree on the problem with the number of Pokémon opponent's use. Start with three Pokémon in the Gym Leader's team for the first, then by the time of the fourth Gym, have a full team of six for any major NPC (Gym Leaders, Team Admins, Team Bosses, Rivals, and the Elite Four) with 4-6 for minor NPCs. That would help.
There are a number of exceptions to this rule, especially with gen 4 and above. (Hint: Maylene and her Lucario!!!)
 
I don't remember how many remember the C-Gear, or should I say, one of the displays: the amount of battery power your DS has left. I was battling Morimorto (who I didn't even know existed), and was reminded of this nice little feature. It was nice, not having to go to the menu to see how much power you have left (or in my case, how much of my play quota for the day is left). Unfortunately, it seems this little feature has been dropped.
 
I don't remember how many remember the C-Gear, or should I say, one of the displays: the amount of battery power your DS has left. I was battling Morimorto (who I didn't even know existed), and was reminded of this nice little feature. It was nice, not having to go to the menu to see how much power you have left (or in my case, how much of my play quota for the day is left). Unfortunately, it seems this little feature has been dropped.
I also liked that it showed the time without you having to go to a specific menu; even during battle. For some reason they didn't transfer this feature to Gen 6, but they did to Smash...
 
I don't remember how many remember the C-Gear, or should I say, one of the displays: the amount of battery power your DS has left. I was battling Morimorto (who I didn't even know existed), and was reminded of this nice little feature. It was nice, not having to go to the menu to see how much power you have left (or in my case, how much of my play quota for the day is left). Unfortunately, it seems this little feature has been dropped.
Honestly that battery feature saved me more often than I cared to admit. Until I got the DSi, the battery indicator color would turn green, to yellow, to red, but I am red/green color blind and together all three colors kind of blurred together causing the power to go out in completely inopportune times in other games. Luckily, the power display on the C-Gear saved my ass numerous times.

I guess they didn't show it in Gen 6 because the home screen showing the battery life and time didn't require quitting the game...but it did involve quitting wifi for whatever reason they felt was necessary.
 
You know what Pokémon doesn't get enough love? Torkoal.

Yeah, the Fire Tortoise from Generation III. I don't see enough people talk about despite the fact it is a cool design. It's part tortoise, part sauna rocks. It's honestly one of my favorite Pokémon.
The only problem with it is that it built wrong for a pure Fire-type.

It's not good for competitive nor for a playthrough.

It's okay, Torkoal. I'll always love you.
 
I hope GF does a bit of balancing in S&M. So many mons are just irrelevant and forgotten it's crazy, and will be even more irrelevant with the new gen 7 mons. Movepool and stat tweaks are always appreciated.
 

Codraroll

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I daresay that, when you have more than 800 monsters in the games (counting alternate formes and Megas, we've crossed that line already), some of them are bound to be forgotten and irrelevant. At any given moment they can have maybe a few dozen Pokémon in the spotlight at the most. The best they can do is keep cycling which Pokémon those are. Some bad 'mons got better in Gen III because of wonderful abilities, some other got better in Gen IV thanks to new evolutions, hidden abilities dragged yet another few out of obscurity in Gen V, and Gen VI gave us Megas that made terrible Pok´€mon terribly good. They're probably doing something similar in Gen VII too.
 

Pikachu315111

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Oops, went too far, didn't I?

Well I'll just summarize how they can improve Torkoal: make it like Heatran but with better defense (such as with a defensive Ability). I was actually was going to say it sort of like that but being Unpopular Opinions I figured I could maybe go into a bit more detail. I'll keep it simple.

Anyway, it's not only due to the sheer amount of Pokemon that some get forgotten, but also just some Pokemon are better than others (or nostalgia). I would also say originality plays a part in it too. Its hard to stand out if you're another normal looking bird or fish but if you're an animal that hasn't be done yet and look distinctly different you stand a better chance of being remembered. Now having good stats can circumvent that, but if a Pokemon has both good stats and a original design no doubt they're going to overshadow one who only has one or lacks both.
 
The music is and always has been the main thing I look forward to in Pokémon games.

"My data is the same as yours, but it's better than yours." This is the essence of legitimacy arguments. (Can't remember who said this first and if I got a word or two wrong. Let me know if it was you!)
 
You know what Pokémon doesn't get enough love? Torkoal.

Yeah, the Fire Tortoise from Generation III. I don't see enough people talk about despite the fact it is a cool design. It's part tortoise, part sauna rocks. It's honestly one of my favorite Pokémon.
The only problem with it is that it built wrong for a pure Fire-type.

It's not good for competitive nor for a playthrough.

It's okay, Torkoal. I'll always love you.
I agree! The two main reasons why it is forgotten is that it isn't good competitively and has no evolution. They should have given it a mega in ORAS. I do like Torkoal in the anime on Ash's team in the anime though...
 

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