…And suddenly I find myself farming Safari ball Pokemon in my Gen IV games.
Coming to think of it the Safari Zone minigame is one that could be easily ported to mobile devices and still be connected with your main Pokemon series game. It’s not quite related with the battle engine that we all known and love in the main series while it retains the “gotta catch them all” attitude that made the games famous in the first place. Actually, Pokemon Go already feels like the expanded implementation of Safari Zone, minus compatibility and with a Yokai-Watch-esque battle system thrown together to look better. It’s not the kind of gameplay that keeps me going back for more though, without the main game compatibility is just a quirky practice, a side game that could be anything other than pokemon -anything with monster catching and tiny bits of exploration-. I’m apalled that the Safari Zone never got made into a proper games with proper level design in their conception.
After a few hours of safaring I realize exactly how featureless most of the wild locations feel. Some effort has been made into Gen V and Gen VI games to make things feel livelier: double battles grass, rustling grass/moving water, different colored grass to signal different encounters (or water ponds were you don’t need to use Surf to the same effect) and it sort of works up to a point. However these things would seem a logical step to properly build a Safari Zone and none has existed back then! And then there is poke radar and friend safaris that were done in a scale too small to be featured in extra games. The way Safari Zone was improvised in the Hoenn remakes was seriously lacking. Improving the maps where Safaris are carried is a nice first step to actually make the mini game more fun!
Also it’d be great to make it more interactive, it could be sort of a stealth game where you want to force a pokemon to move into a certain direction: make it like in strategy games where certain terrains give you an improved catch rate against certain Pokemon, make it so they can come with special moves or that they are identifiable. You can also make a tracking system where you can follow the same Pokemon from one area to another, a bit like roaming pokes, but only inside a secluded area (a bit like Monster Hunter). It’d be cool if you could spot them when they are resting or drinking water or call them into the open for further interaction.
The idea of catching Pokemon without a team on your own is very nice. Sort of scary too. If you ever want to crossover Pokemon with a survival horror game that’s the path you should follow. Yeah! I can see it already: Pokemon Snap X Fatal Frame. Make it happen Game Freaks :p