I've been replaying Pokemon White 2 lately, wonderful game. After beating it I lost a day or so at Pokestar Studios. I’ve always loved this diversion, and now it’s easier to pick apart why: at the best of times, each movie tests you on/teaches you a specific combo of moves, items, or abilities that show off how deep Pokemon’s battle system can be, and success is rewarded with these charming shorts showing Pokemon in relatively unique settings and situations for the franchise. It has a very unique appeal not replicated before or since, and honestly may provide a solid blueprint for helping more players bridge the gap from casual to competitive play.
Unfortunately…it can also be frustrating at times. While there’s a certain logic of act and react to the scripts, they’re not completely without randomness. It took me four attempts to film the second time travel movie because my foe kept landing critical hits—it took six attempts to luck my way through the second Giant Woman movie. If I choose the wrong move or dialogue option, that’s one thing, but when I make all the “correct” selections and still can’t earn the intended ending, it feels awful. Imagine if you were playing Sudoku and there was a chance one number could suddenly change and make the puzzle unwinnable. I also felt some of the scripts were a bit too vague to anticipate what I was meant to do, but it’s possible that’s also on me or a more expected level of trial and error; the randomness is the only design flaw I think is in serious need of being ironed out.
You could maybe argue that the issue is lessened considering you can still screen a movie with a bad or “strange” ending, and doing the latter can even give you special benefits. (Not to mention these minigames are completely optional, save the very easy first Brycen Man movie.) However, if you want to access every movie available, you need to get the intended endings from following the script—if you want to get the most out of this system, you’re going to need to overcome the randomness where it intrudes. Personally, I just find this a bit annoying.
Some other miscellaneous thoughts:
-I absolutely want this feature to return in some way, unlikely as it may be. I really do think these sorts of missions could be scattered throughout a game (which would make them easier to do along the way, unlike forgetting about it until you’ve beaten the game like I’m prone to doing) to teach the player advanced mechanics. And it’s just so much fun!
-It’s odd that they bring in Sabrina and only use her for one trilogy, and that she and Brycen are the only characters from outside the studio who get to join in. I’d like to see this expanded upon if the feature returns.
-Should it return, I would love if they integrated it with trainer customization and let us keep costumes after completing a series. I really want to be able to run around as the Sneasel Ninja.
-Love and Battles 2 is loathsome.
-The Ghost Eraser and Full Metal Cop series are tied for my favorite. The former is very well connected and, though it falters a bit, actually encourages understanding over violence throughout in a way I didn’t expect (and involves a Ghost/Dark type with Wonder Guard before Fairy was a thing); the latter is hilarious, changes things up by giving you a villain role, and Mecha Cop gets some actual character development by the end of it. Obviously none of these feature award-winning writing, but these series provide some neat ideas to work with.
-I still need to do Brycen Man Strikes Back Harder, but it’s late so I wanted to wait. Couldn’t stop myself from typing up this monstrosity, though…