Pokemon is undoubtedly one of the most famous and beloved video game franchises out there, but like every other game, the main Pokemon game series has one glaring problem that its linear story telling and lack of branching paths , that they can learn a thing or two from Fire Emblem.
Going further, the main line of Pokemon games has always followed the trend of splitting their games into two different exclusive versions, and sometimes even three in some scenarios with Gen 3 of Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald as well as Gen 4 with Pokemon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum.
But all of these version exclusive releases offer no difference between the games other than just different Pokemon exclusives. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire had at least some content differences with the game’s respective villain organization into Team Magma and Team Aqua, the trend of which unfortunately didn’t continue with future Pokemon titles.
Which begs the question of why bother selling two different exclusive versions if the story for both would be exactly the same and minus the extra points if you’re going to sell a sequel to a game that has roughly the same plot exact but sprinkled with a bit of new content.
Of course, you can make the argument that version exclusives exist because they allow players to connect with each other by trading their version exclusive Pokemon with each other, but these days trading is done via the wireless. So instead, why not have the release exclusives offer different story paths, or at least have players choose from the different stories, something like Fire Emblem Fate or Fire Emblem Three Houses.
In Fire Emblem Fates we discover the story that spans three different routes after Chapter 6 with Birthright, Conquest and Revelations where we have different scenarios featuring the peace-loving country of Hoshido, the country in search of glory from Nohr. and the hidden kingdom of Valla. Meanwhile with Fire Emblem Three Houses they pretty much did the same thing with Fates where we were given three different routes or four if you include the Church Route – Silver Snow but instead of separating them into different versions of the game, Fire Emblem Three Houses lets you experience it all in one game.
That’s not to say the branching stories offered by Fire Emblem are flawless, heck I can go on about how repetitive it was to play through the academy arc in Three Houses where their story was pretty much the same for the three routes but just with different characters. But it would be greatly appreciated if Pokemon included varied story or content elements between exclusive game releases like in Fire Emblem.
Personally, Pokemon could have the potential to be much more interesting if it followed the concept of branching story paths. As perhaps an example of a cool concept if they allowed players to join the evil organization, they even teased us in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon with this dialogue option:
Linking branching stories in relation to Legendaries coverage as well as different locations for version exclusive Pokemon games could also be a way forward. Again I would like to touch on Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire and how we were tasked with dealing with Team Magma and Team Aqua in their respective hideouts which admittedly isn’t much but hey that was a step in the right direction.
Theory worked out here, but Pokemon Diamond and Pearl could have done something with the concept of time and space where the game could have tasked us with dealing with the anomalies caused by Dialga and Palkia. Imagine in Pokemon Diamond where you had to travel to places where time stood still and where you could see living creatures and environment trapped in time or with Pokemon Pearl where you had to travel in an airplane where the concept of space simply does not exist.
It’s not even out of the realm of possibility considering the extent of some side content for the mainline Pokemon games with like the Ultra wormhole quests in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon where you travel between different wormholes or with the Delta episode in Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire where you literally go to space.
All in all I really wish Pokemon were like Fire Emblem doing something different for the version exclusives instead of just throwing different Pokemon variants and leading to battle the Legendary Pokemon from the box cover and to call it a day.