Opinion: Sorry, Pokemon, I'm finally over you
But I may be back soon
Pokemon Black and White 2 was released earlier this month. Did you pick it up? Actually, hold that thought - let me take a guess.
If you've played the original Pokemon Red and Blue, I'm going to guess that you did not pick up Black and White 2. And you don't intend to.
On the flip side, I would assume that if you're more of a newbie to the series - say, having had a bash at the original Black and White but not much more - then Black and White 2 was on your 'buy on release day' list.
This might suggest that because the generation of gamers who grew up with the series is now all old and wrinkly, it'd rather just mumble "bah, humbug" than dare to have some fun. However, it's far more likely that we old folk are just a little sick of being spoon-fed the same old junk.
That's why, after many years of giving Nintendo the benefit of the doubt, this is the first Pokemon game I will not be buying.Don't play it again, Nintendo
I'm clearly not alone in my feelings regarding the state of Pokemon.
While it has received good reviews worldwide (including a Gold Award from our very own Peter), Black and White 2 is in fact the worst reviewed Pokemon game to date (if we don't count all the rubbish spin-offs, of course).
Scroll through the reviews, and you'll see the same argument made numerous times.
"Pokemon Black & White 2 doesn't deviate from established formula", "You have been here before, and you'll be back again", "You can't help but feel like you're following in your own footsteps."
And while it's a bit too early to discuss sales figures, we already know that when the game debuted earlier this year in Japan, 1.6 million units were sold in the first few days. That sounds impressive... until you discover that the original Black and White attracted 2.6 million sales over the same period.
The fact is that no matter how many little bells and whistles Nintendo attaches to the base concept, every Pokemon game plays out in exactly the same manner. Those of us who have been playing since Red and Blue haven't just grown old - we've grown bored, too.I'll be back
Despite dodging Black and White 2, I doubt that I'll be staying away from the Pokemon series for good.
The next instalment will no doubt be for the Nintendo 3DS, and with that transition comes the potential for new features and fresh ideas.
We've just seen what can happen when a classic franchise is redesigned for the 3DS, for the latest Professor Layton is one of the best we've played in the series. I'm counting on the next Pokemon doing the same.
But, what exactly could Pokemon do to win me back?
Well, how about that 3D open-world angle that everyone has been asking for since - ooh, I don't know - the dawn of man? The 3DS would no doubt be more than capable of handling an open-world environment, and there really is no reason to stick to the same old grid-based play any more.Alive and kicking (and punching)
Other things I'd love to see in a new Pokemon instalment: real Pokemon noises / character voice acting; more realistic-looking battles - with Pokemon actually striking one another; and anime-style cartoons as part of the story.
Honestly, the fact that none of these things has materialised yet in a Pokemon game is ludicrous.
Pokemon is still very much alive and kicking, but with clones of the series currently on the rise, how long before someone else comes along and does it better?
In my mind, it all rests on what Nintendo can pull out of the bag with Pokemon 3DS.