Pokemon co-op experiment is a flop, but that doesn't mean you can't …

by Kelvin

Galar Pokemon, a narrow island scarred by industrialization, is truly an ideal version of Britain. In a country I know of, British youths' favorite youth cooperative activities are visiting curry houses, drinking excessively imported beer and eating something that immediately fries their tastes like EMP. Sword and Shield enhanced that hobby by cooking a four-player curry. Surrounded by tents and hungry Pokemon at camp, you choose unconventional ingredients like sausages and berries, and work together to make sure your food doesn't burn while you fan the fire.

This is, of course, the lifestyle he aspired to: the only Englishman I saw who really curried in the field was television chef Nadiya Hussain, and he won the Bake Off. I can't help but hide the disappointment at the Sword and Shield approach to working together. Like many semi-online games today, this game is determined by the occasional hotspot, which is connected to a specially designed battle or minigame. But Pokémon last year: Let's Go shows the potential of the entire joint campaign. The only problem is implementation.


If you're the second player in Let’s Go, you’re basically a spirit destined to chase the game. While player one can pet Pokemon and comb their hair, even dressing them in uniform as precocious children, you walk straight through them. If you find an item on the grass, you can't pick it up. Instead, the best thing to do is to get the attention of your friends, who have a real impact on the world.

Every time a consequence occurs, like a conversation with an NPC, you will be airborne, disappearing so no one pays attention to you. Even the camera is clearly uninterested in your presence, clinging to player one as you run behind, like Kim Jong Un's bodyguards. Screen removal is a common occurrence, making you navigate terrain you can't see, until the game reluctantly finally returns you to view.

Flatten, gather, move forward – all of this is happening to people who really belong to the world, not you. This is less cooperative functionality, more social experimentation to see how undervalued you can make someone feel in the context of a video game.

(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB0UkSjbuWA (/ embed)

Fighting is the only place where you can train. There you stand next to your partner, working extra Pokemon on his behalf. Eventually, you can not only touch the world, but also swipe and hit, making a difference in the outcome of the meeting. However, in cruel irony, Game Freak was unable to balance this team's fights with more enemies. Their participation really takes the scales too far to benefit the player, to the point of boredom. Over a long period, it attracted the tactical thrill of the beloved Pokemon battle system

It's important to put Game Freak decision-making into context, because there is a tendency among hardcore gamers to forget exactly who Pokemon was made for. Let’s Go is a game for bonding sessions between nostalgic parents and their children.

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"There are some difficult battles with the coach in the game, so (the kids) may have a hard time," game director Junichi Masuda told Polygon. "They want to ask for help. We use support games to get around players who face obstacles."

Still, I think Game Freak may have underestimated the stubbornness and focus of preadolescent kids when faced with tough games. A generation of LucasArts babies can prove that.

Pokemon co-op experiment is a flop, but that doesn't mean it can't be fixed 3

There are also examples of developers who have managed to extend cooperative games during games and participate as Pokemon without obligation. None of the Game Freak contemporaries, true, but there is a strong role model in the West. Watch Divinity: Original Sin, a 100-hour adventure series more easily as deep and slow as your average JRPG.

The task of reconfiguring a game that is so big that it treats two players fairly but rewards the achievements of the other, allows them to shine without one of them defeating the other, well, it's scary not to start discussing it. The miracle of divinity is that it doesn't even try.

In its sequel, developer Larian has doubled down on the tension that comes with having two heroes vying for goods and glory, even pushing arguments during the dialogue. Divinity doesn't ask the player to have the same goal, even on the same screen. Instead, they are free to explore a completely different part of the world if they wish, returning together to share their loot and learn.

Not all lessons are compatible with Game Freak: Divinity Prints are litter boxes designed to be violently raped, while Pokemon is a long, straight cycle path waiting to be driven all the way. But the principle of maintaining player freedom in multiplayer mode, even when cutting a plot or an adventure step, is a Game Freak capable of exploring. There's never been a better time to try it: Pokemon community I still hate them.