Unova, home of the Generation V games Pokemon Black and White and Pokemon Black 2 and White 2, introduced a mechanic that can easily be overlooked. Seasons were a very minimalistic mechanic, one that had mostly aesthetic changes, but allowed time periods to stand out from one another. Some changes, however, were season-exclusive, and gave players something to look forward to from month to month.
Unlike seasons in the real world, seasons rotate every month, beginning with Spring in January, Summer in February, Autumn in March, Winter in April, and the cycle continues.
During the Spring season, the Pokemon Deerling and Sawsbuck could be found in their Spring Form, which are predominantly pink-colored variants of the Pokemon. In addition, rain is more prominent in areas and route music varied slightly. As far as battles go, Cynthia can be challenged in Undella Town, various dancers can be found at the Rondez-View Wheel in Nimbasa City, and N battles with his spring team in BW2.
During the Summer season, Deerling and Sawsbuck can be found in their Summer Form, taking on a predominantly green appearance. Besides that, you can find more NPCs in Undella Town, you can find Stunfisk in Striaton City at night, and some Pokemon encounter rates differ. N will use his summer team.
During the Autumn season, Deerling and Sawsbuck can be found in their Autumn Form, taking on a mostly orange appearance. In addition to that, one can find fallen leaves on Route 20, though some areas may be blocked off. In addition, the water in the Castelia Sewers (BW2) will be found drained. As expected, N uses his autumn team in his castle.
During the Winter season, Deerling and Sawsbuck can be found in their Winter Form, with a mainly white coloration. Snow can be found in many places, such as Twist Mountain and Dragonspiral Tower, but some places may be inaccessible. Hail and rain are also more common, and Casteliacones will not be sold in Castelia City. Finally, N uses his winter team in his castle. His teams differ in every season–mostly Water-types in Spring, Fire-types in Summer, Ground-types in Autumn, and Ice-types in Winter.
Despite the slight changes that some seasons bring, to the more obvious changes that others bring, Generation VI chose not to bring back this feature. Currently, there is no sign of seasons in Sun and Moon, though it is too early to conclude. From my personal point of view, it would be a phenomenal and painless idea to bring seasons back for a variety of different reasons. Not only do they bring variation to the game month after month, but they can encourage player exploration long after the game wears out its initial run.
While Black and White only introduced two Pokemon that have a form change depending on the season, it would not be a bad idea to include more creatures that adapt to the change in temperature. This idea would be well suited with the new Alola Forms, which are variations of old Pokemon based on Alola’s diverse microclimates. Perhaps these climates are also diverse enough to go through distinct seasonal rotations, causing a change in a Pokemon’s appearance, or even further, its typing. Based on the currently known Alola Forms, it seems likely that only Generation I Pokemon will be receiving these alterations. For Pokemon that appeared in later generations, seasonal changes would be a pleasing alternative.
As mentioned previously, some seasons had more of an impact on Generation V than others. From restricting/allowing access to certain parts of the map, to making certain trainer battles available, there were surely reasons for trainers to wait until a new season rolled around. Whether it be to gain a new item or engage in a new confrontation, each season seemed to differ from the other, which made for an interesting, varied experience. Personally, after playing the last two titles in the Pokemon series, I have always found myself out of anything to engage in after a month or two of game time. After completing the main story, catching the majority of findable Pokemon, and wearing out the simplistic battle facility, I am out of options. As one who does not play competitively or find enjoyment in breeding for perfect Pokemon, there is a shortage of options other than the general amenities. In Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, legendary hunting kept me going a while longer, but I often found myself bored with seeing the same terrain over and over. If Pokemon games were to start introducing seasonal changes, each location would feel like a breath of fresh air after a certain period of time.
I am interested to see how Sun and Moon handle the day and night cycle, however. Lots of rumors seem to have the recurring “longer night in Moon, longer day in Sun” prediction, which could surely be plausible and tie into the villainous team’s motives. Perhaps these cycles will function similar to seasons, in the sense that it may be “too dark” or “too blinding” to explore certain areas until a later point in the day? Besides, encounter rates already vary based on night and day in some titles, as well as evolutionary methods (Espeon and Umbreon, for example).
Without reverting to the harsher “they did not have enough time” or “did not care,” excuse, perhaps Gamefreak did not believe that players would have interest in such a minimal alteration to the overworld. However, it’s the little things in Pokemon that truly make games memorable. There are times when I think back to Pokemon Black and White, and in the midst of a deep, emotional plot, the one thing that stuck out to me was when all of the Gym Leaders rounded up and stood by your side against Team Plasma. That is a moment that I will never forget in the history of the franchise. For me, it sends a very powerful message to trainers, showing that even those you conquered can stand by you in a time of need. You may have overpowered them, but your sense of understanding and aptitude does not evoke jealousy, yet pride in your abilities.
This family and friendship motif has long made its way into the Pokemon franchise, and grows with each title. For example, while one can argue that rivals are getting friendlier and more competitive, it is evident that there is a sense of friendly rivalry, which can surely be applied from a real world standpoint. I quite enjoy being able to compare the in-game rivals to those around me on a day-to-day basis. Not many in a real-world perspective can relate to the competitive, somewhat overconfident attitude of Gary or Silver, which takes away from that connection one makes with a Pokemon title. It’s the fact that someone as simple as a character can evoke emotion that makes the Pokemon series great, and loved by many.
With that said, seasons are just one of the many things that make Pokemon unique. The ability to connect a game to what you can see in your own world, like a rival, truly makes for a powerful experience. A simple overworld change can go a long way, especially with the extent it can be taken to. Of course, seasons do not have to have effects like making a whole island difficult to navigate, but just simple alterations that keep players coming back can suffice. It would be interesting to dig deeper into Alola’s lore as the seasons go by, perhaps due to the varied Pokemon encounters or trainer appearances. Even simple aesthetic changes will cause me to open my 3DS and smile at the sheer amount of thought and attention to detail.
But, of course, wishes vary from person to person. While it is difficult to hate such a simple aspect of the games, there are probably some who are indifferent about this concept returning. As someone who finds value in the changes it brought and the emphasis on continued exploration, it would be fantastic to see it return in Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. Regardless, they are shaping up to be fantastic titles and will continue to bring more changes to the ever-expanding world of Pokemon. With hopes that the seasons mechanic will return, check back next Wednesday for another opinion-based feature on Pika News Network.