Pokemon Tower Defense 3: Legacy
With Pokemon Tower Defense Generations being released and added to on a monthly basis by Sam & Dan we thought we would open up the floor to comments on what fans would like to see in Pokemon Tower Defense 3.
Just before we do though, we thought we would give you some food for thought with our own reflections on 'Generations' so far and our preferred improvements.
Pokémon Tower Defence 2 – Improvements, Flaws, Options for the future in a Potential 3rd Game
I would imagine that due to the ever-evolving nature as a result of the updates it receives on a regular basis, that a Pokémon Tower Defence 2 is a game that is unlikely to exist until a time in the future that is sadly quite far away. I find it hard to criticise this game due to its outrageous number of positive attributes that include its addictiveness (which is almost narcotic in nature), its potential for expansion, the mixing of tower defence strategy with true Pokémon battle style, its adherence to the original graphics and music, and general ability to create a sense that you are actually playing an officially licensed Pokémon game. I find it quite miraculous in the first place that the game has converted me from a Tower Defence sceptic to an avid enthusiast of the genre, provided it is wrought with Pokémon and allusions to the original games for the first-generation Gameboy. Should the time ever arise that a third title is released, there are a number of features which I would put the icing on what is an already competently-baked cake.
Sam & Dan Coins (SnD)
One of the ways in which Sam and Dan are able to continue developing the game and produce weekly updates is the innovation of ‘Sam and Dan Coins’, or ‘SnD’ coins if you like to save a second or two in your pronouncing of already-short words and phrases. The idea is simple: SnD coins can only be purchased with actual, real-life money from the Sam and Dan website where you can enter your payment details and receive whichever amount of SnD coins you desire.
SnD coins transcend the regular in-game currency because they are the only coins with which you can adopt Pokémon in the Pokécentre (this is a website that can be accessed from the in-game menu but is itself external to the game). With these coins, you are able to ‘adopt’ Pokémon from the Pokécentre; the list to choose from is extensive and is actually the entire collection of the original one hundred and fifty one Pokémon that were available in the first-generation Pokémon games. All the available Pokémon are also at a very high level (level ninety to be exact) and therefore gives whoever owns them a distinct advantage in story mode. In spite of these advantages, I feel that the idea has the potential to isolate a significant number of players who may not be willing to part with their non-fictional currency in order to give themselves an in-game advantage.
While the idea of SnD coins is a positive one from the perspective of Sam and Dan as well as dedicated followers of Pokémon and the Pokémon Tower Defence Games, the requirement of parting with your hard-earned cash may not be a prospect that is as intriguing to the more casual player, or for someone who simply wishes to train up their Pokémon team without having to actually pay money for what is usually a non-paying experience. As one of these people I am referring to, I felt a little isolated and at a distinct disadvantage compared to those who are happy to buy SnD coins to further their quest. Should a third game of Pokémon Tower Defence be created at some point in the future, I would find it a very welcome improvement if there was a way to adopt Pokémon without using money that I thought I would never have to spend on a flash game.
Possible in Game Methods of Earning SnD Coins Would Be Welcome
One way that the above problem could be alleviated is to include in-game ways of earning SnD coins (or a usable in-game currency) that will allow you to adopt Pokémon that you would otherwise be unable to obtain. I’m not saying that Pokémon Tower Defence 3 does away with the current adoption system but it could certainly be made to feel less exclusive and restricted to those who are actually paying to improve their gaming experience.
To posit a fairly common system that is used in gaming, certain time-consuming or moderately challenging tasks could be issued to the player which they would have to complete in order to be rewarded with the ability to choose from a powerful that they can adopt. This way, a sense of exclusivity is maintained but the adoption system is not entirely closed off to the more casual Pokémon fan who thinks that having to pay for privileges in a flash-based internet game is a little outrageous. I enjoy owning a Charizard as much as the next person, but I would prefer not to pay real money for a fictional, pixellated version of him, and this is coming from someone who spent outrageous sums on Pokémon cards when they were popular.
Mystery Gifts With Even More Mysterious Riddles to Solve
Another example of such a double-edged sword idea in the game is that of the Mystery gift. In this section of the main menu, you are given the option of inputting a code which allows you to receive a weekly offering from Sam and Dan in the form of a Pokémon. The exact Pokémon changes on a weekly basis along with the code’s validity. To obtain the code, however, you are required to venture to the Sam and Dan website and solve a number of pseudo-riddles and answer various questions that are usually related to games of the tower defence genre on Sam and Dan’s website; only then is the code of the week revealed to you.
While this is an extremely clever idea that both continues to entertain long-term players on a weekly basis whilst simultaneously encouraging players to start playing other games that are created by Sam and Dan, it tends to exclude all but extremely avid tower defence enthusiasts from enjoying the full benefits of the Pokémon Tower Defence 2 experience; the level of tower-defence knowledge about other tower defence games that is required to solve the riddles and questions is dare I say a little greater than that of your average flash-game fanatic. On the other hand, the system is extremely popular and adds a completely unique dimension/degree of functionality and interactivity than any other flash game I have played before it; the ability to receive a shiny new Pokémon (which incidentally could occasionally be shiny in nature; this week’s gift is the first shiny Pokémon to be given away ) each week keeps the player engaged with the game and turns what is already an excellent tower defence game into a highly interactive experience which evolves more than the actual Pokémon contained within it.
I feel there could be a compromise out there in the ether somewhere; a compromise involving less difficult questions or at least a system that doesn’t involve some incredibly specific knowledge of games that many people may not be willing to take time to play. After all, my attempt at solving the clues became frustrating very quickly, leading to an angry googling of the problem and yielding results which told me the code anyhow. This is an easy solution which is tantamount to cheating, and one that would be unnecessary if obtaining the mystery gift code was a little easier for the unfamiliar gamer. An idea for the future ‘threequel’ of the series, perhaps.
Too Higher Ratio of Multiple Enemy Battles to One on One Battles
One of the features which I enjoyed less about the Story Mode is the relatively high ratio of multiple-enemy battles to on one battles with wild Pokémon. Instead, most battles involve multiple Pokémon that walk across the screen with the onus on you to move your Pokémon around into the appropriate position to attack the opponent that you wish to target. Even though most battles are fought in this way because of the tower defence format (and to allow you a chance at catching more Pokémon while taking less time while also gaining the maximum amount of experience), battles do take place against single opponents, and I would like to see more of them; partly because they remind me of the format of the original Pokémon games, but also because I find the constant stream of enemies quite annoying because fighting multiple enemies detracts from the battle feel of the game and the tactical aspect of Pokémon in the first place. I feel that the game contains (and will contain) enough battles with multiple enemies without the fights with wild Pokémon being in the same format for a majority of the time. After all, 1vs1 battles are what the game is really all about.
Battles that Reward More Experience Points Please
Not only would a sequel to the game benefit from more battles against single opponents that are tougher to beat, but it would be a refreshing if the battles yielded more of an abundance of experience points. Though I understand the requirement of the game to contain a certain number of multiple-enemy battles, I feel that a compromise could be reached where some areas have increased numbers of classic one on one battles which made Pokémon such an incredible game to play.
Leading on from increased experience points would be the ability of your Pokémon to evolve to higher levels in the game, possibly even leading to the maximum of level 99 which was seen in the original game of Pókemon.
One of the features that (as far as I can see) appears almost completely pointless and serves very little purpose (at this stage of its development which it is currently at, anyhow) is the Pokéresearcher mode that can located on the main menu. In it, you take the form of Professor Oak (the best and most badass researcher in the whole of the Pokémon universe) and are able to walk around a map that consists of an outdoors area filled with trees and some patches of flat ground and dirt tracks.
Further Clarification on the Ability to Spawn Endless Pokemon
The only instructions available appear to be at the top of the screen, encouraging you to click on the map in order to spawn the Pokémon that is currently selected in the drop-down menu to the left of it. Though this did not cause any problems in itself, it is a shame that no further instructions or further information is available within the game to explain the purpose behind your ability to spawn an unlimited number of Pokémon on the map which are selected from the dropdown menu that I previously referred to.
If I was to take the title of the mode literally, then I would expect to be able to perform some kind of quantifiable research on these Pokémon that yields results and is useful to me in some way, or at least benefits my progress in the game somehow. Sadly, it appears the only research that takes place is wandering around watching the Pokémon behave in the same manner as they do in the wild in Story Mode.
To describe the mode as fruitless would be to jump the gun a little, because I have no clue what Sam and Dan have in store for this mode, but as it stands it feels somewhat pointless and I can’t really see where the idea can be taken at this stage. Should a Pokémon Tower Defence 3 be released, it certainly wouldn’t harm the game to include a Pokéresearcher option, but I would definitely like to see some more functionality such as being able to perform Professor Oak’s research in a laboratory setting, including features such as testing the Pokémon’s moves, behaviour, weaknesses, and strengths; perhaps you could earn items such as TMs and HMs (items which allow a Pokémon to instantly learn a particular move) depending on the results of the research. My point being that for a mode with the word ‘research’ in the title, there doesn’t appear to be very much actual research going on: it appears the scientific method has taken a leave of absence for the time being.
As a relatively recent addition to the game, I can acknowledge the fact that this mode may still be in its infancy and is going to be given some sort of overhaul or addition that will quash my doubts and offer the player a research-based function which allows you to pick apart the behaviour and attributes of different Pokémon. Even though it is indicated on the Sam and Dan blog that you are able to witness the interactions and behaviour of the Pokémon you choose to spawn, there appears to be very little going on when you do so. My point here is that an explanation of the mode would be beneficial, and the mode (as it stands) adds nothing worthwhile to the Pokémon Tower Defence 2 experience unless you happen to be extremely bored of the rest of the game. Even then, it isn’t going to quench your thirst for entertainment; Pokéresearcher will leave you extremely thirsty in that department.
Chunkier and More Complete Updates Would Be Ideal Although Not Realistic
One final quarrel with the game lies with the weekly update process itself. While I am most definitely not issuing a slamming critique of the updates themselves (I am aware that a considerable amount of consistent and constant work goes into the updates), I often feel fairly frustrated that when opening the game, you are simply not looking at the finished article. Perhaps a point will arrive in the future when all possible updates have been applied and the game can be referred to as its ‘final version’, but until then, the levels will always be incomplete, bugs and inconsistencies will remain in the game, and above all, I simply don’t wish my progress to be capped by the relative developmental progress of the game. The most recent update included a gym battle, for example, but this is as far as you are able to play; the player is now left waiting for the next update in order to progress any further, with the risk that the next update may not offer much more progress in the way of progression through story mode.
Perhaps a sequel to the game could benefit from an update process that is more cumulative in nature; instead of issuing frequent, incremental additions, perhaps development could go on for longer periods of time with updates being released fortnightly or perhaps even more infrequently. This way, the issuing of every update would be more impactful and would offer considerably more playability instead of simply a few additions here and there.
Due to the outrageous levels of enjoyment that I derived from the game, it almost pains me to offer the above criticisms and ideas for improvement. I feel that the next Pokémon Tower Defence title would greatly benefit from the above considerations and that (at least in my point of view) a more well-rounded experience that is more loyal to the original Pokémon games would be the result. Until such a time that Pokémon Tower Defence 3 is released, I will happily immerse myself in the sequel, because in all honestly, no one has yet come up with a superior Pokémon experience.