With the advent of Pokémon Sun and Moon, a new era in Pokémon has dawned. Niantic’s breakout hit Pokémon Go could stand to learn from some of what makes Pokémon Sun and Moon the best Pokémon game ever. So how can Niantic incorporate lessons from Pokémon’s latest and best installment into its still highly-popular mobile game?
Make trials into daily events.
Pokémon Sun and Moon turns the tired gym formula on its head, innovating entirely new “trials” that the main character must undergo before battling the island’s kahuna. With four main islands and sometimes multiple trials per island, that means there’s lots more variety than “beat the gym leader, get badge, rinse, repeat.” One trial involves procuring ingredients, while another asks you to observe what’s different between several kinds of dances. This welcome change brings back the element of surprise. What will each trial bring?
By nature of being a mobile game, Pokémon Go is especially well suited to bringing the element of surprise. Pokémon Go ’s Halloween event saw a major uptick in the amount of daily users, indicating that there’s a sleeping hive of Pokémon Go players just waiting for a reason to come back. While the recently-implemented daily bonuses are a big deal, why not create daily event “trials”?
“Overrun with Bats: Catch 10 Zubat.”
“May the Best One Win: Take over 5 gyms.”
“Don’t Stop Believing: Run a gamut of 20 PokéStops in a single day.”
You get where I’m going with this? It’s not hard, it doesn’t take a genius, and the rewards are easy: whatever’s being sold in the microtransaction store anyway. Throw some lures, some eggs, maybe some backpack space, whatever. The point is to have just enough direction that the user has something to do aside from get mad at the 47th Rattata encountered that day.
Make trials into end-game exclusive activities.
Let’s say we don’t make trials into daily events. The Pokémon Go endgame is notoriously empty of content. Why not create trials to bring back players who have maxed out everything they could possibly do?
These trials would need to be a little more complex than the “daily event” version, and offer more incentives to complete, like perhaps a set of collectible badges that would be displayed on the user’s profile or would be visible if the user takes over a gym.
Activities exclusive to the endgame could be things like hatching a certain amount of X Pokémon type, using candies for something other than evolving a Pokémon, or even walking enough steps to unlock some mythical region for the player to customize. It might be a pipe dream, but even a massive XP bonus to help with the XP slog problem could be enough of an incentive to bring overleveled players back in.
More character customization.
Character customization could be part of Pokémon Go ’s bread and butter. Let’s not underestimate the amount of people who play Pokémon Go that are also into cute-looking avatars. Pokémon is a very customizable game - just ask anyone who’s into IV-breeding for the perfect battle Pokémon - and clothes are a simple enough way to help express that need for customization.
Pokémon Sun and Moon ’s customization options range from a variety of clothing styles and hairstyles to even being able to dye white clothes. Even Pokémon XY had a lot more clothing options than we’re used to having, and it remains an incredibly fun money sink.
For inspiration, Pokémon Go doesn’t have far to look. Nintendo’s Miitomo app might be a ghost town, but the clothes themselves, the whole point of the game, are still cute and fun, switching to different and limited themes constantly while adding more pieces to the core wardrobe.
Dare I suggest that sticking your now highly-customizable avatar in the real world for a selfie with their Pokémon could be more than enough fun to warrant a return to the app?
NPC Rivals from other teams.
Our little buddy Hau, always racing one step ahead of us, was a pleasure in Pokémon Sun and Moon . In Pokémon Go , we can choose our own teams, but with limited avenues to interact with other players, the teams feel rather meaningless. And more’s the pity with how cool the gym leaders look!
So why not bring representatives from the other teams to our doorstep, or allow us to call them with a limited-use item if we’re really itching for a battle? There’s already a battle interface we can use from the Gym system, and it would add just that much more flavor to team identities as well as to the game itself.
Do you have any other ideas for lessons Pokémon Go could learn from Pokémon Sun and Moon , or ways Pokémon Go can incorporate some of Pokémon Sun and Moon ’s ideas in a mobile-friendly fashion? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.