Pokémon have been added in several ways to Pokémon GO. Some of them have been held back longer than others, owing to their more unusual evolution methods and gimmicks in the main series titles. However, there is cause to consider that Niantic have taken too long on some, and also arbitrarily made others rarer than necessary, despite only niche reasons to do so (or, perhaps, monetary ones). Combined with rather short announcements at times, and there’s room for improvement from a player’s perspective. Let’s go through a few examples!
Clamperl, like Scyther, Slowpoke and Onix, is a Pokémon that can evolve when holding a specific item. Clamperl differs in that it has two possible evolutions which depend on the item held. How could this have been implemented? Maybe by adding both items? Making a single new item, or just forego it and give the character a choice between Gorebyss and Huntail? No, decided Niantic – it should be entirely random. A simplistic solution, yes, but an annoying one for Trainers.
Yet despite this simple solution, Clamperl was only recently released in Pokémon GO. Several generation four Pokémon were revealed before it, while only Jirachi and Kecleon remain missing from generation three (alongside a couple Deoxys forms). To add to the delay, it was featured in an event which lasted three sole hours. While Clamperl can still be caught after the fact, it is extremely rare. This compounds the issue of random evolution – 50 Candy can be wasted on an evolution you already have. And all this for the relatively boring Clamperl!
The event itself was at least an improvement in several regards to the Feebas event. The Research Tasks were more varied and less frustrating to complete within a three hour window, and the boost of Water-type Pokémon spawns gave the event more interest as well. However, issues such as a bugged task prevented players from participating for large periods of time.
Combine that with people who could not attend the three hour event in the first place given the three-day notice, and one reliant on having Stops in your area, and you have plenty of people struggling to find a single Clamperl, let alone enough for both evolutions – particularly if they are unlucky.
Smeargle truly has been the last Pokémon of its generation to be released (although for many arguably still easier to get than Heracross or Unown). Seeing generation four Pokémon before the second generation was completed is simply odd.
The reason for its delay? Its gimmick is the move Sketch. The implementation by Niantic to have it know moves of the Pokémon it is photobombing rather than dealing with coding in Sketch is decent enough. But putting it in Snapshot mode is strange. Kecleon would make more sense, and I certainly don’t think of the beagle Pokémon when I think of photobombing. While it’s an alright solution, it doesn’t make the most sense. Something more to do with the art of painting would have fitted – maybe, say, a feature to editing photos you take would have it appear with a splatter of paint would be more fitting. Then it could retain the same solution used for Sketch.
Shedinja and Nincada
Shedinja was only available to players during a sole month, and is sadly nigh useless from a battling perspective. The lack of Abilities means it remains a terrible choice in battles with its extremely low HP stat, and made for a boring month of Research Breakthroughs once active players got one.
Nincada meanwhile has been curiously rare. It was initially limited to Research Tasks which were exceedingly rare, then Egg only as a rare hatch, and at the time of writing is not available at all. This is a common Pokémon in an early route of its initial main series games – why is it so rare now? Ninjask is rarer than the likes of Salamence, and that’s just frankly weird.
Using the in-game weather feature to boost certain Pokémon is a decent idea. However, some Pokémon are limited to specific weather, such as Lotad which is rainy weather only. While this can make sense given its Abilities, it gains no boost in sunny weather despite its Grass typing. This was especially problematic when an issue spanning several months had resulted in extremely nerfed effects of weather – even when it rained, Lotad was nowhere to be seen.
Cacnea is another example, as it largely spawns only in sunny weather. But it’s a Pokémon known for being in the desert, and its evolution has Pokédex entries about becoming active at nighttime, not in sunny weather. Surely it should spawn more due to location rather than the weather? Incidents like these come off as Niantic fitting a square peg in a round hole – or rather, forcing Pokémon to fit a gimmick it has created itself rather than truly using the lore or history of the Pokémon.
Other “rare” Pokémon
Shinx and Buizel are strange choices for rare Pokémon in Pokémon GO. Both are common encounters in early routes in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, and they appear in other titles as well. However, in Pokémon GO Buizel is a rare spawn (initially not in the wild at all), Egg hatch (less than a 4% chance from 5 km Eggs) and Raid Boss, while Shinx is a rare hatch (less than a 2% chance from 10 km Eggs) and Raid Boss only.
Shinx is fairly popular so there is the argument that Niantic have made it artificially rare to encourage players to use more Raid Passes for it. From a lore standpoint though… it makes little sense.
Riolu makes more sense, as in its debut game it was a Gift Pokémon you could not find in the wild, given as a reward for participating in what was essentially a sidequest. It had been found in the wild in newer titles, but at a low encounter rate. However, you would be forgiven for thinking its appearance rates from Eggs – the only way to currently get it – are a tad low.
Spiritomb – done better
It’s not all bad though. Spiritomb was released differently via a Special Research set of tasks during last Halloween, and it was more involved and enjoyable. You actively worked for the Pokémon, it tied nicely to its basis and the key number of 108, and got some additional rewards out of it as well. Furthermore, players could work at the quest at their own pace! More of this please, Niantic.
The main downside, again, is the limited time nature of the event and lack of advance notice – while we could expect a Halloween event to happen, Spiritomb in this manner was a surprise, and the quest is no longer available to newer players. Speaking of…
Not enough notice
It has been a common complaint from players of late – lack of advance notice for events. While surprise events are no bad thing for mobile games, unlike most Pokémon GO relies on going out and about. Others can be played at your leisure at home. Advance notice is necessary for many players, especially if Niantic insist on three hour long events in the interests of increasing revenue as opposed to allowing players the best chance to participate. An event calendar for the month would be a step in the right direction. Events listed do not need to be named, but an indication of something happening would be exciting enough. They could also give dates for the next few Community Days in advance, as done a couple times last year. Why this has stopped is not clear.
The recent Shiny Meltan event fell victim to this. The announcement happened after the event had started, so the warning to players to not open their Mystery Boxes within a week beforehand was impossible to follow for many players!
In short, while Niantic have done some things fairly well and continues to make money from the Pokémon franchise, there remains a lot that could be improved. There are signs that they can hit the winning notes, such as with Spiritomb’s release and the improvements made to Clamperl’s event compared to Feebas’. But there are clear improvements that could be made, and a need to announce events with full details well ahead of time. Given the sheer amount of money Niantic has made, it seems fair to expect them to be able to address these points, but realistically it may be little more than a hope.
Edited by Aldo and Sheep.