What will remind us of the fourth generation?

The legacy that Diamond and Pearl offer to leave
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  • Sunday, April 23, 2006

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This opinion piece has been written by SPPf by Eszett. It expresses the views of the writer, not necessarily those of Bulbagarden networks.
This is an opinion piece by Thrakim. All views expressed are of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Bulbanews.
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Ever since the first handheld Pokémon RPGs were created and released, each generation has left some sort of legacy on the franchise as a whole that has served to steer the paths the games have taken throughout Pokémon's decade-long existence. While some things, such as the Pokémon offered in each new generation, are very noticeable and bound to make an impression on the franchise regardless of the circumstances, other things are more subtle and harder to notice without closer inspection. Keeping this in mind, some generations have left a less noticeable footprint than others, contributing fewer Pokemon and features to the game as a whole, yet ultimately every generation gets a share in the stakes.

Clearly the generation that exudes the most influence is none other than the first generation that began the whole franchise. This not only left a lasting memory of its presence, but also established the quintessential foundation upon which every other generation has been constructed. Of course, the Pokémon from this generation remain the most enduring relic as with every generation, but such things we take for granted, including the bird's-eye view and the availability of TMs such as Earthquake and even the presence of HMs, were all laid down by this generation. Just as every American president has decided to use a cabinet for his executive advisers despite having the opportunity to do otherwise, every subsequent Pokémon RPG has used the same methods that were applied in these first Pokémon games.

Despite its shortcomings, the second generation did leave a considerable impact upon the franchise as a whole. Keeping many of the same features as a testament to the ability for the older generation to endure through the times, it added a fair deal of color to its presentation on account of being developed for the aptly-named Game Boy Color. While many found its comparatively meager selection of Pokémon inferior to the original offering, even though generating two new types in Steel and Dark but being chock-full of nigh-useless pre-evolutions, what these Pokemon did serve to fulfill was an exposition of the greatest feature given to the franchise by way of the second generation; namely, breeding. This opened up a huge realm of unprecedented possibilties, outfitting Pokémon with never-before-seen movesets and providing an endless realm off of which to base future mechanics for later games. Other innovations such as trading between generations, happiness, and the time system met or will meet success with later generations, and Crystal's advents of signs signifying the entering of cities and routes in addition to the move tutors have been subjects for elaboration all started in the second generation as well.

As of now, it is difficult to tell what the third generation will leave in its wake. Noted by many for its more elaborate, intricate Pokémon designs and the availability of more choices of land transportation, namely the two varieties of foot travel and the two choices of bike, by all accounts does the third generation have its own unique twist that it will use to influence the design of later games. As the roster of Pokémon available to the user continues to bulge, the National Dex and Regional Dexes were established to keep a check on assorting which Pokémon belonged in which realms. The new data format, while shattering backwards compatibility as a regrettable necessity, gave rise to the possibilities of implementing natures, genders, a new EV system and the full split of the Special stat, which started in the second generation. This also allowed for Pokémon to adorn ribbons, which could be doled out at strategic times during contests and upon beating the Elite Four. This merry influx of useful and fun features is bound not to be forgotten by the gamers or the developers any time soon.

Having said all of that, which precedents will the fourth generation bring to the table? Could we be seeing a higher standard in the selection of TMs given to us? Could we be seeing more than 50 TMs? Perhaps a better variety of climates? Even some more varied HMs that aren't all Water moves? Personally, I am hinging on these aspects and even more to change, considering we are receiving such unexpected innovations as tradeability between handheld games designed for two entirely different consoles and a pure Flying-type, Perap. In addition, advents with the online capabilities of these games are bound to be an enduring aspect of the franchise for many years into the future. Essentially, methinks this game, this region, and overall this generation will prove to be the Renaissance of Pokémon that will allow it to emerge fully from the thick shell of deeply-ingrained tradition.