When I started comparing Digimon World: Next Order to the Pokemon franchise last week, I had six points I wanted to cover. But in my personal time-worn tradition, I realised I was halfway through my list and the length had already ballooned up once again. They say less is more, but that seems to be a lesson I’ve struggled to take to heart when it comes to my writing.
I finally got my obsessive brain off Digimon World this past week, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not thinking about it. And here’s the fruits of this obsession.
Oh, is this something I’ve brought up before? Well I’m bringing it up again damn it. Now, I know that Digimon World isn’t the cornerstone on difficulty settings, but it has them. And you know what doesn’t ever have them? The Pokemon franchise. Making this argument seems like banging your head against a brick wall to be honest, for all the amazing things Nintendo does so well, allowing their players to curate their own gaming experience doesn’t tend to be one of them.
Simple things like remapping controls, accessibility options and difficulty setting are a rarity in Nintendo’s first-party games, especially the older ones. Something I’m adamant the Pokemon franchise sorely needs at this point, especially when they know full well that a significant segment of their consumers are grizzled 30-year-olds like myself.
The difficulty settings in Digimon World aren’t even that complex, they just make the opponents a little tougher and make the Digivolution requirements a little higher. I’ll put my hands up and say a simple sliding scale solution to the difficulty in Pokemon would no be ideal, but even if they don’t put a little more work into the game to make absolutely anyone use six Pokemon outside of the player and the champion, some options to make the game a little more challenging would be so welcome.
The Caring Element
Digimon World is a pretty systems heavy game because on top of the whole battling and training aspect of raising your Digimon, there are a whole bunch of more basic caring elements you need to worry about when it comes to the passing days. Eventually, these too become an avenue for training, but the need to feed, discipline and make sure your partners use the bathroom is a fun extra element that makes your partners feel more present in the world.
As Next Order is a sequel to the very first Digimon World, which itself was a video game directly inspired by the Tamagotchi spin-off that was the original Digimon virtual pet, this is obviously a holdover and nod to the franchise’s origins. In their defence, Game Freak have made moves to allow players to interact with their Pokemon more and more with the passing games.
Heart Gold/Soul Silver and Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee allowed Pokemon to follow the player in the overworld, and since X/Y, there have been options to interact with your Pokemon in a separate menu, play with them and feed them. But these features are all option and pretty extraneous. They’re fun little distractions that you stop interacting with altogether after a certain point.
Maybe the need to feed and care for a squad of six pokemon would become one layer of micromanagement too far, but it’ssomething I’d still be interested to see incorporate into the game.
Pokemon isn’t a game devoid of “projects” there is generally a ton to do if the player puts their mind to it. But in the endgame, a lot of this is somewhat community invented. Hunting shinies, building a competitive team, grinding Max Raid Battles. Most of these are things players do one their own, using the mechanics of the game to make their own fun in essence.
Instead, one grand overarching task programmed into the game would be really cool. Like completing the Pokedex, but a little more rewarding as you do it.
The best point of comparison is the building of the city in Digimon World. In both Next Order and the original game, as the player progresses the story, more Digimon join the city, and with each new citizen, comes one new service accessible to the player within the city to change their gameplay experience somewhat. Some in a major way, some in a tiny quality of life way.
It’s not just the building of the city I’d like to see in the Pokemon games though, its the layers of mechanics and tings to think about that are going on simultaneously that I feel Pokemon could benefit from. In the early parts of Digimon World, you only really have to worry about caring for your Digimon, but by the end you have farming to think about, recruiting to the city and then farming materials to build those services, choosing an evolution path for your partners when they die and regenerate.