Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pokemon Generation 6 and 7's Traded Pokemon Obedience

The obedience level cap of traded Pokemon has always been stupid.

You know what I’m talking about: that strange gameplay limitation present in the Pokemon series since the first generation which dictates that if a Pokemon you got in a trade from someone else is at a high enough level, it won’t listen to your commands during battle unless you’ve gotten far enough in the game to earn a badge guaranteeing obedience up to an appropriate level.

Well, I think it’s stupid. What the hell does this achieve, really? Yeah, fine, it’s a balancing mechanic, making sure that anyone who gets a Level 99 Mewtwo in a trade doesn’t just sail all the way through the game without trying. Okay, sure, it works for this purpose, but, uh, who the fuck cares? Balancing mechanics are supposed to make the game more fun and properly challenging for those who want it to be. Well, for anyone who wants to keep their game properly balanced, they could just not use the damn overpowered Pokemon they got from the trade! Or is it that Nintendo doesn’t want you going from the beginning of the game to the end too fast? Because Bahamut knows you want to take the time to really savor those thoughtful, rewarding stories in the first 6 generations of Pokemon, right?

Good lord, I think I just gave myself heartburn from sarcasm overdose.

Yeah, sorry, but it’s just dumb. Trying to forcibly dictate how fast the player’s allowed to progress in the game seems pointless when it’s a 1-player venture like this, and it ain’t like the battle system of Pokemon is so complex and articulate that it would be a great loss to make it easier than it already is. Why would Nintendo want to limit the usefulness of the trading feature like this, anyway? From Day 1, the more trading goes on between Pokemon players the better, since it means more people are playing, and thus have purchased, the game.

It’s not even set up intelligently! Pokemon from trades gain more experience points from battles, so if any member of your team is going to hit a level limit earlier than they should, it’s them! The system is set up to make the traded Pokemon grow faster, and then punish them for it!

But you know what? As annoying as it might have always been, particularly for one such as myself, who attempts with each game to import his favorite Pokemon for a new adventure (it just isn’t a Pokemon game if I’m not leading the charge with Mewtwo, Gardevoir, and that wonderfully absurd flaming kung fu chicken), it’s always been a minor frustration, minor enough that even I never thought to rant about it before--and Alexander knows that says something; I've written rants complaining about stuff like the size of a game's treasure chests. It’s an unnecessary and unwelcome gameplay balance, but negligible overall.

Except now, in the sixth and seventh generations of Pokemon. Now, this mechanic is really stupid.

Regardless of all else about it, there was nothing in the games themselves that outright contradicted the concept of the disobedient trade Pokemon. The idea is just that once they get too strong, they don’t listen to you because you’re not a good enough trainer. Simple, if arbitrary.

But in Generation 6 and 7, see, Pokemon battles have been given a little more personality than ever before.* In Pokemon Moon and Sun, your Pokemon’s affection towards you has a direct influence on their combat capabilities--get them to love you enough, and they get more experience points, occasionally dodge attacks and survive otherwise lethal blows, snap out of status ailments more reliably, and so on. Along with these tangible battle benefits, there are various messages that occur during battle that give it some flavor, according to how your Pokemon feels about you. Messages like,

“Oranguru is relaxed. The sight of you might have made it feel more more secure.”
“You and Oranguru are breathing in perfect sync with one another!”
“Oranguru is looking at you with intense and determined eyes!”
“Oranguru puts on some Barry White!”
“Oranguru asks you if this is your first time...”

Maybe a higher critical hit rate ain’t the only benefit the trainer’s getting from their Affection-maxed Pokemon, know what I’m sayin’?

So here’s my question: how does it make any sense when the Pokemon you’ve brought up to the highest level of Affection by grooming and feeding it constantly suddenly decides, at the instant it passes an arbitrary boundary of experience points, that it no longer gives a rat’s ass about you? It’s not like the Affection level lowers at all, or anything. This Pokemon still absolutely worships you, even as it snubs you for the unworthy scrub you apparently are.

Hell, even the battle messages don’t change at all! I bring my traded, Affection-maxed, over-leveled Ninetales into combat, and every between-turn message is about how much she wants to make sweet disturbing Poke-love to me, while every actual turn she takes involves her pretending I don’t exist. Stop making my glorious ice fox into a subpar Tsundere, Nintendo!

So yeah. This mechanic, which was always stupid, nowadays makes no sense whatsoever. ‘Love is fickle’ doesn’t need to be a gameplay feature!

* I’m going on knowledge graced me by the esteemed Ecclesiastes in terms of Generation 6, as I didn’t play that one. But Ecc’s a pretty cool and reliable guy, so I’m assuming he’s correct on this.


  1. The story of Pokémon, more than Dumbass Crooks and Collect-a-Badge, consists of the team and tactics you use over the course of the game. The trainer is merely a narrative vehicle that moves the actual characters through the world. Lv100 Mewtwos and Lv80 Charizards diminish that concept to the point that the core premise of the game is lost in ways that mere powerlevel doesn't describe.

    A savvy player can maintain a self-imposed cap below the obedience threshold and still unleash war crimes on their given region. But those too young or inexperienced with the idea of Pokémon are at risk of their experience being cheapened through no intentions of their own. These days, this is the only thing stopping Wonder Trade from being the most counter-productive idea ever put into a game.

    My nephew transferred the demo Greninja to Sun, because he's a massive Greninja fan. He was willing to deal with a jerkass of a mon, amd the wasted turns kept the thing from steamrolling the game. He can tell me about trials and trainers in ways he would have never enjoyed had his Lv30-something win button worked reliably.

    Everyone else can stare wistfully at their pokebank gods and stroke their 3DS screens for all I care.

    [i]I’m going on knowledge graced me by the esteemed Ecclesiastes in terms of Generation 6, as I didn’t play that one. But Ecc’s a pretty cool and reliable guy, so I’m assuming he’s correct on this[/i]

    So long as you know that it's at your own peril.

    1. Be that as it may, it's still highly illogical and dumb when occurring in conjunction with the Affection system.

    2. Union rules.