Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Future Pokémon Gyms wishlist

I really enjoy the way that the Elite Four of the various Pokémon games switch up with each new generation. While the generation V dynamic of Fighting, Psychic, Dark, and Ghost is easily my favorite in the series, the games that preceded Black and White did a similarly good job of keeping players on their toes. The gyms, however, tend to stick to a balance of new and old. Generally speaking, there are four that follow the original types introduced in Red and Blue, with the rest either following suit or adopting some of the typings from generation II onward. Below is a list of the eight gym typings I think would make for an interesting combination – if not in the upcoming X and Y, then perhaps in a future Pokémon title. (Please note: these gyms are not listed in any particular order, unless specified otherwise.)

Flying – While Normal type gyms have often been encountered early on, a Flying type gym would present a similar moderate degree of challenge without any of the Pokémon under the gym leader’s ownership feeling too overly powerful for the first real hurdle of the game. The only starter at risk would be the grass starter, but assuming players could catch an Electric or Rock type within the first route or so, this would be easy enough to balance.

Steel – Heavy on defense, the Steel battles are some of the longest lasting. This is due not only to the fact that Steel types are only particularly weak to Fire and Fighting Pokémon, but the fact that Steel types, by and large, are dual types. Skarmory is Steel/Flying, Steelix is Steel/Ground, and both Metagross and Bronzong are Steel/Psychic. The presentation of non-Steel moves would be sure to keep players on their feet.

Fairy – The newest type to the world of Pokémon, Fairy types exist primarily to knock Dragon types from their long-standing status as being among the best Pokémon of all. Having the Fairy gym placed late in the game would serve that purpose well, and similarly reward players who used less ‘mainstream’ Pokémon which Fairy types are weak to.

Dark – The only typing to never have a gym assigned to it, Dark Pokémon are quite plentiful. Obvious choices for use by the respective gym leader might be Umbreon, Aobsol, or Mightyena, as they are all pure Dark types. However, similar to the Steel type scenario I mentioned above, there are plenty of dual types that fit into the category of Dark Pokémon that would make for a more dynamic and challenging battle, like Houndoom’s Dark/Fire, Weavile’s Dark/Ice, Bisharp’s Dark/Steel, Sableye’s Dark/Ghost, and Hydreigon’s Dark/Dragon.

Ghost – Ghost Pokemon are among my favorites, and the gym battles with Morty and Fantina among the most intense for their respective generations. With Honedge already revealed as a Ghost type for generation VI, I think it is safe to assume this will not be the only Ghost type Pokémon encountered in X and Y. Again, in the pattern of Steel and Dark, Ghost type Pokémon like Mismagius, Dusknoir, and Cofagrigus are decent picks on their own, but arguably more interesting would be combinations like Drifblim’s Ghost/Flying, Chandelure’s Ghost/Fire, and perhaps even Rotom’s Electric/Ghost.

Bug – Previous Bug type gyms have followed a typical formula of everyone therein owning two easy-to-beat Pokémon, while the gym leader has two similar Pokémon, the only real challenge coming from their third and final Bug Pokémon. There’s a lot to pick from in the Bug category, with Heracross, Ninjask, Crustle, Escavalier, and Galvantula having dual typings of Fighting, Flying, Rock, Steel, and Electric respectively.

Ground – As the gym battle with Clay in the generation five titles made apparent, there are a lot of dual types that fall under the banner of Ground Pokémon. These include the most obvious Ground/Rock combo displayed by Rhyperior and its pre-evolutions, as well as less immediately exploitable combos like Gliscor’s Ground/Flying, Flygon’s Ground/Dragon, and Claydol’s Ground/Psychic, as well as a slew of strong, adaptable Pokémon who share Ground as their secondary typing (i.e. – Seismitoad, Mammoswine, Camerupt, and Nidoking).

Fighting – As with most of the other types on this list, the Fighting category has a fair number of dual types like Croagunk and Breloom who share the typing as secondary to their respective Poison and Grass primary typings. But the best picks for a Fighting type gym leader are, in my mind, those that are either pure Fighting types, like Machamp, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Hitmontop, Hariyama, Mienshao, etc. Heck, even Medicham and Lucario would make fine additions, as their primary typings are both Fighting.

The Elite Four – You may be asking yourself, “where are the more common typings?” Well, that would be the twist at the end of the game. While most Pokémon games pit you against gyms designed to test the mettle of your starters early on, I think it might prove interesting to save Fire, Grass, Water, and Electric for the endgame – a complete inversion of what players have come to expect from the series. As for the League Champion, I think it would be best if he/she took a jack-of-all-trades approach, much like Blue did in the Kanto region. It would force players to carefully strategize, while also presenting an intense and overall exciting final battle.

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