Welcome to the first article of the ‘Features to Improve’ series. I believe I speak for most of us gamers, when I say that many of us see the Pokémon game developers as gods. They’ve created something that we spend hours on, something that probably has had a huge impact on our lives… But at the end of the day, they’re just people like us, consequently unable to achieve perfection, and that’s where feedback plays its part. Some features within the Pokémon games were unfortunately flawed, and here we’ll review these features to add another perspective of how they could be improved upon.
First introduced in Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (RSE), the third generation games, the Water type Pokémon Feebas is considered to be unique because of the game mechanics concerning how to catch it. Catching Feebas is a real challenge – it is a tedious and monotonous process which many people have given up upon very quickly. The fact that the process is never explained in the game, and that the mechanics aren’t even hinted at, has led me to wonder if this was purposefully made this way. Something which may have just been added to extend the gameplay time and immerse the player ended up, for all intents and purposes, frustrating.
Let’s review how annoying it was to find Feebas since its debut in the third generation.
Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald
The only way to catch Feebas was to fish with any Rod in Route 119. This Route follows a long, winding river. However, you couldn’t just fish anywhere for Feebas in this Route. There are 400 ’tiles’ (a position in the overworld – moving up, down, left or right results in moving to a different tile) making up the river. The problem is, only six out of 400 randomly generated tiles actually had Feebas in them!
Does that sound hard enough? Well, that’s not all! Feebas is not the only Pokémon you can encounter there, meaning that even if you were fishing in one of the right six tiles, you might not encounter it. You had to try multiple times on each tile to be sure.
Where Feebas could be found was also bizarrely tied to a feature all the way on Dewford Island. On the island is a hall where Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) will repeat a ‘Trendy Phrase’. You could change this Trendy Phrase by talking to a boy outside Dewford Hall. Doing this re-randomizes the six tiles Feebas will be in.
The really annoying part about these mechanics however is that the player would have no clue about it! The game doesn’t hint that you can only find Feebas in six measly tiles in the Route, nor that the Trendy Phrase resets those tiles. If you ever want to catch Feebas in RSE, it’s better to stick with the same Trendy Phrase and look out for those tiles by trial and error.
How to evolve Feebas into Milotic was left unexplained as well. In order to do so, the player had to maximize Feebas’s beauty stat.
Diamond and Pearl
Okay programmers, now you’re just being mean. What have we ever done to you? This is the most evil mechanic that you will ever encounter in any Pokémon game. Feebas is found on only four out of the 800 tiles in the basement of Mt. Coronet. Just like in RSE, Feebas is not the only Pokémon available in the area and can be captured with any Rod. The main problem was that the four tiles are re-randomized every day, meaning that you had to make sure that you could spend all day trying to catch Feebas, or you would be forced to start over when the day ends.
Black and White
Luckily in the fifth generation games, the chances of finding Feebas were substantially improved. Fishing on Route 1 with a Super Rod has a 5% chance to find Feebas, but… Fishing on rippling water gets you a neat 60% chance to find Feebas. You can even fish and catch Feebas’ evolution in Milotic, something that is exclusive in the 5th generation games.
Due to the lack of the beauty mechanics, the evolution method was changed in the fifth generation games, and instead a new item was introduced, ‘The Prism Scale’. Trading Feebas with this item is the only way to evolve it into Milotic.
How to find this item is not explained either. There’s only two ways to find it: 1) lying on the ground in Route 13, Undella Town, or 2) 1% chance of finding it with the ‘Pickup’ ability, from level 51.
Now what? Let’s take a look at the flavor text: “A mysterious scale that evolves certain Pokémon. It shines in rainbow colours“. This is the closest it gets to a hint at how to evolve Feebas. At least it’s better than the lack of explanation about previous methods in earlier games…
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS), the remakes of RSE, have a clear improvement of this feature. There’s a 5% chance to encounter Feebas with any Rod anywhere in Route 119. See how the process gets easier? Not only that, but during the daytime you have a 100% chance of finding Feebas underneath the bridge in Route 119. The same happens if you fish during night time around a rock in the south part of the route.
It was hard enough to find Feebas in RSE, but they decided to increase the challenge in Diamond and Pearl to an absurd level. However, finding Feebas gets easier in Black and White and substantially easier in ORAS; solid proof that even geniuses like the Pokémon creators can make mistakes and learn from them. I call this an improvement, even if it took a few generations to get fixed.
Written by JohnnyMustang.
Edited by Astinus, bobandbill, Jake and Sylphiel.
Cover image by Rivvon. Other images courtesy of The Pokémon Company.